Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!! Tonight is the Florida Republican primary, and we’ll be live blogging it later on. This post is going to be a quickie, because I worked way too long on the one I put up last night. Still, I do have some interesting reads to recommend.

A couple of days ago, I read a fascinating piece by Emily Yoffe at Slate about the difficulty of adopting pets these days. It seems that if you want to adopt a pet from a rescue place, you have to fill out endless forms and go to great lengths to prove you’re worthy before you can be granted the privilege of taking home a cat or dog–or even a bird or hamster!

The article is really interesting and funny, so check it out. You won’t regret it. One of the most surprising facts Yoffe reveals is that 25% of people who are identified as animal hoarders are either past or present rescue workers!

I’m sure you’ve heard that Mitt Romney has been using a scorched earth policy against Newt Gingrich in Florida. The NYT had an interesting article on the reasons for Romney’s change in strategy.

In a call last Sunday morning, just hours after Mr. Romney’s double-digit loss to Mr. Gingrich in the South Carolina primary, the Romney team outlined the new approach to the candidate. Put aside the more acute focus on President Obama and narrow in on Mr. Gingrich.

Find lines of attack that could goad Mr. Gingrich into angry responses and rally mainstream Republicans. Swarm Gingrich campaign events to rattle him. Have Mr. Romney drop his above-the-fray persona and carry the fight directly to his opponent, especially in two critical debates scheduled for the week.

The results of that strategy, carried out by a veteran squad of strategists and operatives assembled by Mr. Romney to deal with just this kind of moment, have been on striking display here.

By this weekend, Mr. Romney’s aides were on the offensive and increasingly confident, with some combination of their strategy and Mr. Gingrich’s own performance swinging polls in Mr. Romney’s direction. Even as it acknowledged the damage inflicted on Mr. Romney by the past several weeks, his team suggested that it had learned a lesson about never letting up on rivals, especially if Mr. Romney wins the nomination and confronts Mr. Obama in the general election.

Some conservatives are really upset about what Romney is doing to Gingrich. They say he may win the Florida primary, but he’s hurting the GOP and probably making himself a weaker candidate against Obama. Here’s an excerpt from a post by William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection:

If you asked me even a couple of weeks ago whether the Republican Party could heal from the wounds of this election cycle in time to unite against Obama, I would have said ”Yes.”

I’m not so sure anymore. After the South Carolina primary the Republican establishment, and media supporters like Matt Drudge, launched Scorched Earth II on Newt, while pro-Romney pundits like Ann Coulter heaped scorn on the conservative and Tea Party voters who sided with Newt.

It may just be “not-beanbag” to the Romney campaign and its supporters, but people hear them loud and clear.

Two lines of attack have exposed a schism between the Republican political haves and have nots which will not easily heal: The attempt to rewrite the history of the Reagan revolution and the embrace of Nancy Pelosi’s partisan ethics attack and blackmail.

Another conservative writer and talk show host, John Batchelor says Romney and Gingrich are “setting the GOP on a path to destruction.”

The primary campaign nastiness between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich is exhausting Republican loyalists. What in Iowa was a feisty contest between the haughty Mr. Romney and the operatic Mr. Gingrich turned hollow in New Hampshire and harsh in South Carolina. By the close of the Florida scramble, with the Herman Cain Express back from the repair yard to hitch onto the Newt baggage car, what remains of the Republican dialogue does not appear likely to be of much worth for the fall campaign.

The solution to the puzzle may be to admit that the GOP has forfeited 2012 before the general election even starts. How did this happen so suddenly?

“That’s the great mystery of 2012,” a senior Republican journalist told me while watching the brouhaha in Florida. “We have the weakest incumbent president in 32 years, running on the weakest record in 32 years… and who’s taking the stage in South Carolina and Florida? It has to be the weakest field I can remember. Each of these candidates has in his character, in his history, in his idea set—never mind disqualifying—a guarantee for self-destruction. If Newt is the candidate, he’ll lose badly. If Mitt is the candidate, he’ll lose slightly less badly … So what you have is an almost complete guarantee that if these are the candidates, Barack Obama will be reelected.”

It seems to me that the GOP is experiencing a major schism like the one that spit the Democratic party in 2008. This will be interesting to watch.

Mitt Romney appeared on the Today Show yesterday to defend his new campaign strategy. I can’t embed the NBC video here, but you can watch it at this Atlantic Wire link. I think Romney comes off as both arrogant and passive aggressive. He also addresses (but doesn’t really deal with) Tom Brokaw’s objections to being used in a Romney attack ad.

“We’ll sit down with the lawyers, talk to the folks at NBC, and make a decision on that front,” Romney told the Today show’s Matt Lauer when asked if he would pull the TV spot heavily featuring a 1997 Tom Brokaw newscast about Newt Gingrich. What Romney said on Today sounded a bit more unsure than the Romney staffer who over the weekend said the campaign would not be taking down the ad.

Last night, Romney continued to “ridicule” Gingrich, according to Reuters.

A confident Mitt Romney solidified his lead in Florida polls and ridiculed Republican rival Newt Gingrich on Monday, calling his opponent’s attacks “sad” and “painfully revealing” the day before the state’s crucial presidential primary.

Romney’s self-assuredness was on full display during a campaign tour that felt at times like a victory lap, with the front-runner telling a crowd of 2,000 in Dunedin, Florida: “With a turnout like this I got a feeling we might win tomorrow.”

I can’t help but wish that Florida voters would wipe that self-satisfied smile off Romney’s face tonight. Amazingly, Andrew Sullivan shares my feelings.

I didn’t watch 60 Minutes on Sunday night, but Glenn Greenwald did: Leon Panetta’s explicitly authoritarian decree. Read it and weep.

That’s about all I’ve got. I’ll end with Charlie Pierce’s latest: Romney, Basking in a Ray of Reality, Faces Real Test It’s his take on the NYT piece.

I am supposed to write now about how Willard Romney, the only presidential candidate in history to run as his own animatronic double, got his swerve on, his mojo back, and his engorged pen… no, wait, let me start again. I am supposed to write about how Willard Romney, a man with the charisma of grass seed and the political principles of a moray eel, became a newly formidable candidate after his thumping by Newt Gingrich among the holy-rolling swamp-runners in South Carolina. I read in yesterday’s New York Times that, after failing the ultimate test of his Gooberhood, Willard fled to one of his several Fortresses of Solitude, only to emerge in Florida as a lean, mean pompadoured war beast:

It was a call to arms employing all the visible and invisible tactics of political warfare.

(Ed. Note: Did they paint their faces blue and eat the still-beating hearts out of live elk?)

Now you can go read the rest at Charlie’s blog, and then come back and share what you’re reading and blogging about.

41 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    Wow BB, you have outdone yourself with your last three post…

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Listening to Newt and Mitt attack one another is sure proof that the GOP has lost its way.

    Neither has the integrity to lead based on the amount of lies and evasions they carry as baggage into the race.

    Newt is just a nasty piece of work while Mitt is devoid of anything closely resembling truth.

    When you must stoop to the level of saying your challenger has denied “kosher meals” to senior citizens then whatever comes after lacks any form of serious substance.

    Suffering through the last 4 years of Obama is one thing but trying to imagine either one of these two empty vessels at the helm of the nation is frightening.

    To refer to this as a “circus” is an affront. It’s politics at its worst as it effects us as a nation to be served with the degree of shallowness this campaign has become.

    These aren’t debates but a slow descent into mindless vitriol that serves no one.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It’s really pathetic.

    • Sophie says:

      CNN pundits said yesterday that these debates make Romney stronger for the general just like the 2008 Democratic primaries made Obama stronger against McCain. It’s hard to pick a place to begin ripping into this.

    • dakinikat says:

      I was reading that the polls show how disillusioned the GOP is with their candidates and a lot has to do with both Mitt’s and Newt’s job choices. I’m just glad all this craziness is being exposed. The more light of day the better. The GOP needs to do some soul searching about its decision to play to the Southern Strategy and the American Taliban. Again, it’s just karma at work as far as I’m concerned.

      Sooner or later, the Dems are going to have to actually stand for something too if the GOP ever pulls it together. Right now, they are beneficiaries from this. The GOP has been rewarded for its continual move to the right just because voters are so damned ignorant. The more the negatives get into the local news, the sooner the cess pool can be cleaned.

      • peggysue22 says:

        I agree–the red meat waving of the shock jocks and Fox News set is coming back to bite the GOP in the ass. I’ve heard several analysts say that even Romney’s attack blitz will come back to haunt him because voters are weary of the nastiness, while real issues are not being discussed [or in Mitt’s case, they’re being discussed with contradictions galore].

        But the real crazies seem to be lining up behind Uncle Newt. In my mind, Sarah Palin has blown any credibility she might have had by jumping into the fray and waving the Gingrich flag. Gotta keep that Fox News contract relevant, I guess.

        I think we’re watching the Two-Party system self-destruct. No one is happy with the self-serving clowns being held up by the legacy parties. I got a haircut yesterday and the guy who does my hair [a diehard Republican] said the whole campaign was a sick joke. He’s not voting at all in 2012 [unless a miracle happens and the slate suddenly changes].

        • dakinikat says:

          I thought the Quitterella instructions to vote for Newt and piss of a liberal was pretty funny and stupid. I’m sure every Obama supporter would love to see Newt Gingrich win.

  3. Wow BB, so much to comment on. Let’s get started!
    – the rescue piece is good to a point. I don’t doubt that some rescue groups, which are staffed by volunteers, may be overly selective. However, if the majority were making adoption nearly impossible then how has Petfinder helped groups place over 17 million animals in homes? I’ve been involved in rescue (trap/neuter/return of feral cats primarily) for a number of years & know most of the rescue folks in Central Florida. Their goal? Find homes for the animals they are fostering – permanent, caring, loving homes. Regardless, they get called from shelters when one of their microchipped dogs or cats has been surrendered. A friend received a call about 2 cats in a shelter in California – for cats adopted in Orlando, FL! Cat rescues in our area are adamant about NOT declawing & I applaud them. But adopters do it anyway after signing a contract that they won’t. Two sides to every story and it’s a complicated, much nuanced story.
    – the John Batchelor piece made me wonder where he was during the Republican primaries in 2000. McCain has an illegitimate black child? Personally I think Karl Rove is the architect that began the nastiness in the political arena. Unfortunately the “people” love WWF and that’s what they are getting. Gone are the days, long gone, of the “gentlemen” campaigns. Catering to the baser instincts of “the base” has taken politics into the mud wrestling arena.
    -Leon Panetta’s defense of this latest outrage by the Obama/GW Bush Administration is beyond disturbing. And, not unlike the repeal of Glass-Stegall, the media dropped the ball by not blanketing the airwaves & arousing the thinking public to object. What I find interesting is the ease Panetta feels when talking about the CIA’s assassination activities. That’s been the business of the CIA throughout my lifetime, but it was covert. They have their fingerprints on the assassinations, regime changes in Central & South America, but always denied any involvement. Of course those weren’t US citizens, but the license to kill mentality is part and parcel of who & what they are & do. If there are any Washingtons, Lincolns or Jeffersons in our time, they’ve been laughed off the stage or silenced. The masses want blood, guts & gore. BRING IT ON!

    Just one final note. I have seen, repeatedly, the clip on Coulter bemoaning that unless Chris Christie joined the campaign then Romney – OH NO – would be their candidate. Now she’s on the Romney bandwagon. Those Republicans can turn on a dime.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I know people do adopt pets from rescue places. I just thought the article was fun to read. I personally would not try to adopt a pet from the Angell Memorial in Boston though. They do ask very personal questions, and they won’t let you have a pet unless someone is going to be home all day–even if it’s a cat.

      My sister-in-law loves animals, and has adopted quite a few, but the rescue people in her area know her and so she doesn’t have to go through as much questioning as other people do.

      I can understand why people who rescue abused animals become very protective, but I found it fascinating from a psychological point of view that so many rescuers end up becoming hoarders. When that happens, animals suffer and have to be rescued from the rescuers.

      I didn’t know that Coulter wanted an anti-Romney candidate. I’m surprised, because she was a big Romney supporter in 2008.

      • janicen says:

        My inlaws went through a similarly ridiculous process to rescue a dog. It did not involve merely filling out a lengthy form, there were several telephone interviews and interviews of their friends and acquaintances who would vouch for them. Even then, they were nearly turned down because they had a pet door in their home. They live on a multiple-acre property but have a very large (like about three quarters of an acre) area that is fenced in so that their pets can go out the pet door and romp about as they please. The people with the dog were horrified that they had a pet door, being concerned that a small animal could get into the house and potentially harm the dog they wanted to adopt. My MIL was told the only way they would be allowed to adopt was if they sealed up the pet door. My MIL refused saying that she would never do that. The pet door is on the lower level of the house where the dogs and cat sleep and that would be the pets’ means of escape in the event of a fire in the house. They were eventually allowed to adopt the dog, but they had to go through a whole lot to prove their worthiness.
        If you read the article linked, take a look at the comments. The fanaticism of some of the people comes through. I’m all in favor of protecting animals but when you start alienating people like my inlaws who provide wonderful, loving homes for their pets and who have personally donated and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the SPCA and for their local no-kill shelter, you might want to rethink your approach.

      • Didn’t find the Coutler video but here’s an article with the quotes from the video: http://dailycaller.com/2011/02/16/ann-coulter-this-country-needs-chris-christie/ I’m pretty sure that Jon Stewart has run that video several times.

  4. Some interesting reads on Mother Jones this morning:

    Walker recall & The Tea Party: http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/01/scott-walker-recall-tea-party

    And this on Florida’s crazy rep Alan West: http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/01/west-obama-pelosi-can-get-hell-out-united-states-video I saw part of the video last night – this guy is truly an idiot.

    And this: http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/01/a-10-f-35-air-force-budget

    • Pat Johnson says:

      He was horrible during his primary bid but the voters went with him just the same.

      Another “Tea Party Looney Tune” who I would hope is swept out in the next election cycle.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I think West’s district has been eliminated in the redistricting. I hope he sinks into well-deserved obscurity.

        • From the article it appears his district will be mostly Democratic. Florida voters passed a referendum in the last election on redistricting that is supposed to prevent gerrymandering. When it’s all said and done then we’ll know if it worked or not.

  5. foxyladi14 says:

    Those Republicans can turn on a dime.slipping and sliding. 😆

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Latinos won’t forget Romney’s anti-immigrant talk.


  7. quixote says:

    A while back, the media was gushing about how Newter’s pit bull persona was what the Repubs wanted because it showed he’d be on the attack against B0. I’ll be surprised if they don’t feel the same way about the Mittbot now that he’s started rolling around, saying, “Ex-terminate. Ex-terminate.” (Any other Doctor Who fans here?)

    The main thing the Repubs are looking for is someone who helps them dump on everybody. I think Mittbot’s biggest problem with them so far has been that he seemed too clinical.

    As for what it means in the general election, never forget that B0 has a variant of Newter’s disease. He gets visibly petulant under criticism, and he too needs adoring crowds during his appearances.

    However, none of any of that matters. All that really matters is the price of gas next fall, whether the economy feels like it’s improving, and whether there’s any rah-rah-boom military stuff going on.

    (Anybody know a good planet we can all move to?)

  8. Minkoff Minx says:

    There has been an equipment failure at an Illinois Nuke plant: Equipment failure may have caused outage at Byron nuclear plant – chicagotribune.com

    Officials are investigating the events surrounding a power failure at a nuclear reactor in northern Illinois, but believe they may have traced the cause to a piece of equipment at a switchyard.

    After the shutdown Monday morning at Exelon Nuclear’s Byron Generating Station, operators began releasing steam to cool the reactor from the part of the plant where turbines produce electricity, not from within the nuclear reactor itself, officials said. The steam contains low levels of tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, but federal and plant officials insisted the levels were safe for workers and the public.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Geez, I hate reading the news sometimes…
      L.A. teacher charged with lewd acts on 23 children – latimes.com

      A teacher who taught for three decades at Miramonte Elementary School in South L.A. has been arrested and charged with lewd acts on 23 children for allegedly tying them up, placing giant cockroaches on their faces and possibly feeding them his semen from a spoon.

      Mark Berndt, 61, was taken into custody Monday after a nearly yearlong investigation by the L.A. County sheriff’s special victims unit that began when a photo processor turned over pictures of some of the alleged acts to authorities.

      Capt. Mike Parker of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said the victims identified so far are 23 boys and girls aged 7 to 10 who had contact with Berndt between 2008 and 2010.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Isn’t Exelon the corporation that Axelrod did PR for and that Obama got gov’t assistance for?

      • bostonboomer says:


        Exelon has very deep ties to the Obama Administration. Frank M. Clark, who runs ComEd, helped advise Obama before he ran for President and is one of Obama’s largest fundraisers. Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, worked as a consultant to Exelon. Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, helped create Exelon. Emanuel was hired by Rowe to help broker the $8.2 billion deal between Unicom and Peco when Emanuel was at the investment bank Wasserstein Perella (now Dresdner Kleinwort). In his two-year career there Emanuel earned $16.2 million, according to congressional disclosures. His biggest deal was the Exelon merger.

        Emanuel e-mailed Rowe on the eve of the House vote on global warming legislation and asked that he reach out to some uncommitted Democrats. “We are proud to be the President’s utility,” says Elizabeth Moler, Exelon’s chief lobbyist. “It’s nice for John to be able to go to the White House and they know his name.”

  9. ralphb says:

    Janet Howell, Virginia State Senator, Attaches Rectal Exam Amendment To Anti-Abortion Bill

    To protest a bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion, Virginia State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) on Monday attached an amendment that would require men to have a rectal exam and a cardiac stress test before obtaining a prescription for erectile dysfunction medication.

    It was worth a try and almost succeeded. 🙂

  10. dakinikat says:

    The Charter schools down here in New Orleans have been a mess, but that’s not stopping our Exorcist

    Newt Gingrich wants the U.S. to return to the moon, but as challenges go he has nothing on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s school reform plans.

    Mr. Jindal wants to create America’s largest school voucher program, broadest parental choice system, and toughest teacher accountability regime—all in one legislative session. Any one of those would be a big win, but all three could make the state the first to effectively dismantle a public education monopoly.

    Louisiana is already one of 12 states (including Washington, D.C.) that offer school vouchers, but its program benefits fewer than 2,000 students in New Orleans.

    He’s just trying to subsidize religious schools, pure and simple.


    • dakinikat says:

      The unreleased analysis commissioned by New Schools for New Orleans, of the 2009 Stanford University, CREDO Study would have us to believe that the charters are so much better, that they out perform the Recovery School District direct operated schools. The scariest part of all of this is that New Orleans is being viewed as a model for educational reform by the rest of the country. In this reform we tout our “All choice” District as the opportunity for all of the children our local school board failed prior to the takeover, to choose better schools. We state that children have their choice of over 70 schools to attend in New Orleans; however, this assertion is mere propaganda. In truth, students only have the choice to apply to over 70 schools; many students end up in lotteries for the higher performing schools. Students not selected in the lottery don’t have a choice; they have to attend schools where available seats remain. Therefore, the schools that many students are left choose from, are the lower performing Recovery School District Schools. Thousands of students have found themselves trapped in RSD’s failing schools. Trapping these lowest performing students in RSD schools ensures that there will be schools to convert to charters because these schools will definitely be identified as persistently failing. Trapping students in failing schools should not be replicated as an academic improvement strategy.


  11. dakinikat says:

    Jonathan Chait at NY Mag: http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/01/why-mitt-romney-hates-republicans.html

    The Republican primary campaign has highlighted the barely concealed contempt in which Mitt Romney holds the electorate, especially the Republican electorate. One adviser has expressed his astonishment that GOP voters fall for clowns like Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich:

    “They like preachers,” the adviser said of the tea party demographic. “If you take them to a tent meeting, they’ll get whipped into a frenzy. That’s how people like Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich get women to fall into bed with them.”

    That is an insult putatively directed at Romney’s rivals, but which reflects heavily on the voters themselves. Another fresh insult comes today, by way of John Dickerson, who reports that Gingrich’s assault on Juan Williams worked because “‘Williams was a stand-in for Barack Obama in people’s minds,’ said one Romney adviser.”

    Gee, whatever could Williams and Obama have in common? Can this be interpreted as meaning anything other than that South Carolina Republicans are a pack of racist buffoons?

    Romney’s disdain for the electorate is one of his more deeply rooted traits. During his father’s 1968 presidential campaign, Romney wrote, “how can the American public like such muttonheads?”

    I find that contempt pretty well-founded, and it is a relief that Romney does not believe the nonsense he spouts during the campaign. But the persistent awkwardness of Romney’s campaign style reflects this basic tension. It’s easy to try to persuade somebody for whom you have basic respect. It’s persuading somebody whom you consider stupid — while you must conceal any trace of your disdain — that’s excruciatingly difficult. Romney’s awkward manner on the trail is the agony of suppressed contempt.

    • ralphb says:

      That still doesn’t make me like Romney any better. Just makes him a bigger hypocrite.

    • The motto of most of our politicians: there’s a sucker born every minute. They have to go through the voting public to reach their goal – elected position with title, power & mo’ money. Campaigning is an odious step in the process – having to smile, shake hands with the unwashed masses, listen to their boring stories, blah – blah – blah. I long for a time when there was a higher percentage of politicians in office who actually were there to represent the citizens & not the lobbyists/corporations who buy their votes on bills & policy.

  12. On Here & Now right now they are talking about this new service: http://reverserobocall.com/ You can record your own robocall and choose who you’ll be sending your message to.