Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

I hate to tell you this, but there is another Republican debate tonight at 8PM, hosted by CNN in Jacksonville, Florida. We’ll be live blogging, as always. Being the twisted individual I am, I’m still enjoying watching the Republicans commit mass suicide, so I’ll be listening and updating even if no one else shows up. But I hope some people do! Now let’s see what’s in the news today.

I missed this in the run up to the SOTU last night: Speaker tells members what not to wear

Just seconds after an emotional tribute to Arizona Democratic Rep Gabby Giffords in the House of Representatives Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner – who got a little choked up in the moment – suddenly felt the need to remind members that there’s a dress code on the House floor.

Boehner recovered his composure after embracing Giffords, who had just handed him her resignation letter. He looked around the chamber, and announced, “the chair would remind all members to be in proper business attire when you come to the floor of the House.”

Apparently enforcing the House dress code is one of the duties of Speaker that Boehner takes very seriously.

On Monday night, Boehner ran through some of basic rules of decorum on the floor, including the one about proper dress. “Members should wear appropriate attire however brief their presence might be,” the speaker said. And to the wardrobe offenders, Boehner said, “you know who you are.”

Obama and Geithner shake hands after SOTU

I know everyone has heard the news that Tim Geithner doesn’t expect President Obama to ask him to stay on as Treasury Secretary for a second term.

“He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident,” Geithner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “I’m confident he’ll be president. But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury.”

Ralphb commented on the SOTU live blog that Geithner “looked like he’d been gut punched” when Obama spoke about making banks pay fees on “transactions to pay for mortgage relief/refinancing.” Apparently Geithner wasn’t clued in about that ahead of time.

I’m wondering if they’ve been leaving him out of some of the meetings since Confidence Men revealed that Geithner was dismissive of presidential orders. Check out the facial expressions and body language in the above photo taken after the speech (I made it big so you could see detail). To me that doesn’t look like a friendly greeting. What do you think?

According to Business Week (see above link) two possible candidates to replace Geithner are Catfood Commission co-chair Erskine Bowles and North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad–both horrible choices IMO.

Conrad, 63, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee who said a year ago he won’t seek another term, is “a serious budget hawk on the left, well-liked and respected,” Calabria said.

Bowles, 66, is the former co-leader of Obama’s commission that drafted a plan to reduce the federal government’s debt.

Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer lecturing President Obama

President Obama had another difficult interaction on Wednesday when he met wacky Arizona Governor Jan Brewer at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. From the Chicago Tribune:

During their brief encounter on the tarmac, intended to be a ceremonial welcome, Obama told Governor Jan Brewer that he disagreed with an account she had given of a meeting they had at the White House two years ago.

“He was a little disturbed about my book, ‘Scorpions for Breakfast,'” Brewer told reporters after the conversation. At one point during their chat, she pointed a finger at the president.

Brewer, who has differed with Obama over immigration policy in the past, handed him a letter asking him for a meeting to talk about Arizona’s economy when she greeted him. A White House official said the subject of the book came up after Brewer gave Obama the letter.

“The president said he’d be glad to meet with her again, but did note that after their last meeting, a cordial discussion in the Oval Office, the governor inaccurately described the meeting in her book. The president looks forward to continuing taking steps to help Arizona’s economy grow,” the official said.

I didn’t know she had written a book. In fact, I didn’t know she could read…. ABC News provides a little more detail on what the squabble was about.

Brewer complains in Scorpions for Breakfast that she and her staff were treated coldly by White House aides, prevented from taking pictures in the holding room outside the Oval Office and that their cell phones and cameras were “confiscated” by Secret Service.

“Too bad we weren’t illegal aliens, or we could have sued them,” she writes.

During her meeting with the president, Brewer said Obama was “condescending” and professorial, “lecturing” on his efforts to promote comprehensive immigration reform.

“It wasn’t long before I realized I was hearing the president’s stump speech,” she said. “Only I was supposed to listen without talking. Did he care to hear the view from the actual scene at the border? Did the opinions and observations of the people of Arizona mean anything to him? I didn’t think so.”

“He was patronizing,” she said. “Then it dawned on me: He’s treating me like the cop he had over for a beer after he bad-mouthed the Cambridge police, I thought. He thinks he can humor me and then get rid of me.”

After the interaction, Obama apparently walked away before Brewer finished giving him a piece of her mind (or what’s left of it), but she said she would “regroup.” I guess that means “get over it.”

In the run-up to tonight’s debate, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have been lustily attacking each other. Romney must be doing something right, because he’s now running neck and neck with Newt (36% for Romney and 34% for Gingrich) after being behind the former Speaker by 9 points a couple of days ago. Santorum is trailing at 11% and Paul 9% CNN reports:

Gingrich…disparaged Romney’s personal wealth when asked about the former Massachusetts governor’s call for illegal immigrants to deport themselves.

“I think you have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatic, you know, $20 million a year income with no work to have some fantasy this far from reality,” Gingrich said at a “Meet the Candidates” forum in Miami, later adding: “For Romney to believe that somebody’s grandmother is going to be so cut off that she is going to self-deport, I mean this verges — this is an Obama-level fantasy.” [….]

Romney….said in the candidate forum, hosted by the Spanish-language network Univision, that such attacks were “unbecoming” for a presidential hopeful….”It’s very sad for a candidate to resort to that kind of epithet,” Romney said of the pulled ad. “There are differences between the candidates on these issues but we don’t attack each other with those kind of terrible terms.”

Newt Gingrich was heckled about his work for Freddie Mac at a rally in Coral Springs, Florida yesterday.

It was quite a scene as a scrum of journalists ignored the candidate and turned to Cara Jennings, who heckled Gingrich in the face of intimidation from his campaign workers, threats from nearby supporters, and the two police officers who showed up to flank her.

“Do you work for the people or Freddie Mac?” Jennings shouted at the former speaker, who was on a platform in a parking lot about 50 feet away.

“I work for the people,” Gingrich responded.

The woman kept shouting, and Gingrich implored her to give others a chance to hear him. But Jennings kept it up, and Gingrich continued engaging her.

Mitt Romney, feeling pressure over the low taxes he pays, tried to claim that his “real tax rate is closer to 45-50 percent.” Think Progress provides a transcript from Romney’s interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos:

RAMOS: You just released your tax returns. In 2010 you only paid 13 percent of taxes while most Americans paid much more than that. Is that fair?

ROMNEY: Well, actually, I released two years of taxes and I think the average is almost 15 percent. And then also, on top of that, I gave another more 15 percent to charity. When you add it together with all of the taxes and the charity, particularly in the last year, I think it reaches almost 40 percent that I gave back to the community. One of the reasons why we have a lower tax rate on capital gains is because capital gains are also being taxed at the corporate level. So as businesses earn profits, that’s taxed at 35 percent, then as they distribute those profits as dividends, that’s taxed at 15 percent more. So, all total, the tax rate is really closer to 45 or 50 percent.

RAMOS: But is it fair what you pay, 13 percent, while most pay much more than that?

ROMNEY: Well, again, I go back to the point that the, that the funds are being taxed twice at two different levels.

Sorry Mitt, but you’re not a corporation, and besides, as Think Progress points out, most corporations don’t pay 35 percent taxes–in fact many corporations pay no taxes. Romney constantly tells out and out, bald-face lies. Is that de rigueur for the Mormon church, or does he get a dispensation because of all the money he contributes to them?

Brainwashed cult member Rick Santorum, whose campaign is going nowhere in Florida, appeared at a Baptist church in Naples, Florida. He told the audience that “the left” uses college education to “indoctrinate” young people.

“It’s no wonder President Obama wants every kid to go to college,” said the former Pennsylvania senator. “The indoctrination that occurs in American universities is one of the keys to the left holding and maintaining power in America. And it is indoctrination. If it was the other way around, the ACLU would be out there making sure that there wasn’t one penny of government dollars going to colleges and universities, right?”

He continued: “If they taught Judeo-Christian principles in those colleges and universities, they would be stripped of every dollar. If they teach radical secular ideology, they get all the government support that they can possibly give them. Because you know 62 percent of children who enter college with a faith conviction leave without it.” [….]

“I’ll bet you there are people in this room who give money to colleges and universities who are undermining the very principles of our country every single day by indoctrinating kids with left-wing ideology,” he said. “And you continue to give to these colleges and universities. Let me have a suggestion: Stop it.”

Santorum attended Penn State and went on to earn an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh and a law degree from Dickinson School of Law. But he’d rather have the proles stay uneducated so they’ll buy his crazy theocratic bullsh*t.

Santorum did have a license to practice law, but it has been suspended because he didn’t bother to pay his $70.00 per year fee to keep it active. He stopped paying in 1994 and was suspended in 2010. Maybe he decided being a lawyer was the devil’s work?

OK, that’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Monday Reads: What Hath Newt Wrought?

Good Morning!!

How would you like to have to look at that poster until November? Well, quite a few of the pundits are now saying that it could happen. It’s still unlikely as of today, but it’s pretty clear the Republican base simply doesn’t like Mitt Romney, and the only other choices are a crazy old man, a guy who wants to ban birth control and divorce, and Newt Gingrich.

It’s not looking so good for Romney, unless he can start to connect better with Republican voters. He’s still the overall front runner, but if he can’t win big in Florida that could change. Unfortunately for Romney, there’s another debate tonight, and 88% of voters in SC said the debates were very influential in their voting decisions.

I’m fascinated by what is happening to the Republicans, and I spent quite a bit of time yesterday reading opinions on what Newt’s victory in South Carolina means and what might happen next. I thought this morning I’d share some of what I read with you.

Howard Fineman says the Republican race for the nomination will now last “forever, or at least until May.”

The GOP calendar this year is more spread out than it was four years ago, which means that the contest was going to last until at least late April even if Romney had buried Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul long ago. But now that South Carolina has given a boost to Gingrich — and a small but important cache of delegates — it’s clear how long the campaign will last….

Four years ago, nearly 60 percent of all delegates had been chosen by the end of February. Republican officials wanted to correct for that this time around, but they may have overdone it. This year a mere 15 percent of all delegates will have been chosen by the end of February — and even if there were a prohibitive frontrunner (which there is not), no one could mathematically wrap up the nomination before April 24.

Fineman explains that the states have different rules for apportioning delegates. South Carolina is winner take all in each Congressional district. New Hampshire is proportional, so right now Gingrich probably has more delegates than Romney. He suggests there could even be a floor fight at the Convention. And former RNC chairman Michael Steele agrees, saying there’s now a 50-50 chance of that happening.

At Real Clear Politics, Sean Trende writes:

There is no good news buried in here for Mitt Romney. None. As of this writing, Mitt Romney is leading in three counties in South Carolina: Charleston, Beaufort (Hilton Head) and Richland (Columbia). He lost fast-growing, coastal Horry County, home of Myrtle Beach, by 15 points. He lost Greenville and Spartanburg, in the upcountry, by similar margins. He lost Edgefield County by 40 points….

According to the exit polls, Romney lost among every major category of voter. The demographic groups he managed to win include those with postgraduate degrees (18 percent of the electorate), people earning $200,000 or more (5 percent), moderates (23 percent), non-evangelicals (35 percent), and pro-choicers (34 percent). None of the leads over Gingrich in these groups were particularly large.

He says Romney is no longer the inevitable nominee.

Simply put, there are very few states where he can perform among the major demographic groups the way he performed in South Carolina and still expect to win. And remember, this is still in many ways the electorate that selected Christine O’Donnell, Carl Paladino and Linda McMahon as its standard-bearers — in very blue states with relatively moderate GOP electorates, no less.

This vote was an utter repudiation of Romney, and it absolutely will be repeated in state after state if something doesn’t change the basic dynamic of the race. It is true that Gingrich doesn’t have funds or organization, but he gets a ton of free media from the debates, and he has an electorate that simply wants someone other than Romney.

Trende says there about a 35% chance that Romney could lose the nomination now. It turns out that Romney did get some delegates from SC–a total of 2 out of the total of 25. That’s pretty pathetic.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Reads: No more…please!

Good Morning!

Did you catch the debate last night?  If you didn’t Wonk did an excellent job of hosting a live blog.

Presidential debates sometimes have their moments…a thousand points of light, Hillary is likable enough, I know there are more but I am just too exhausted to think of other fine debater examples. There wasn’t any gotcha moment last night, with the exception of Huntsman who was absent in the last few Iowa debates, the performance was pretty much the same as the last 12 or 50 GOP debates this past month.

Last night just emphasized the quality, or lack thereof, of the GOP offering. They are having another “forum” on Meet the Press today, so it will be yet another reason to sleep in this morning.

Here are a few links to get you caught up on what the media has to say about the freak show, I’ll save the best pundit remarks for last:

For a quick summary:  Five Takeaways From Saturday Night’s GOP Debate

When asked about those racist newsletters, Paul tried to pass off his hero-worship of MLK and his opinion on the unfairness of the justice system as proof he is not a racist. Ron Paul says he is not racist, slams drug laws as unfair to blacks

Paul said that Martin Luther King is one his heroes for practicing “the libertarian principle of peaceful resistance and peaceful civil disobedience,” and highlighted his understanding that the drug laws in the United States unfairly penalize African Americans.

Well, it still doesn’t answer the question about holding Ron Paul accountable for his racist newsletters. Ron Paul Calls MLK a “Hero”—After Newsletter Trashed Him as a “World-Class Adulterer”

If you need a refresher on what else these newsletters contained: 10 Extreme Claims in Ron Paul’s Controversial Newsletters

As far as Mittens is concerned. Meh…

Why Romney’s Answer on Contraception Doesn’t Add Up

Mitt Romney Is Confused About Iran Sanctions

Here is what Charlie Pierce had to say, see you could have just skipped over all the other links…I am betting most of you did. 😉

New Hampshire Debate: The Trickless-Dick Mitt Fix Is In, by Charles P. Pierce – Esquire

At this moment, I am still digesting the incredible farrago of gibbering nonsense, vengeful religious rage, political chickenshit, and Mandarin Chinese that combined to make the 45,670th of 62,390 scheduled Republican presidential debates the Level 4 biohazard that it was.

Oh yeah…you know Pierce take on the debate is going to be good.

In brief, Saturday night may have been the most naked piece of point-shaving and game-throwing since the 1919 World Series. I’ve seen fixed prizefights where the issue was more in doubt. The other candidates went so far into the tank for Willard that they may not dry off until next August. In the 1950’s, Frankie Carbo would have had them all killed because they made it look so damned obvious. Where was the promised Gingrich assault on the frontrunner? Where was the blood, the guts, the glory? Where was the damn slasher film we all anticipated? This was a waltz, and a clumsy one. If the people in that audience had any pride at all, they’d have attacked the ABC platform and demanded satisfaction for this massive piece of consumer fraud.

The coalescing has begun. The non-Romneys seem to be coming to grips with the fact that there’s virtually no chance that Willard isn’t the nominee. So, by and large, the rest of them started paying court staying away from him.

Pierce then breaks down the two things all this VP ass kissing accomplished.

1) Willard was able to get away with being even more banal than he usually is, except for that one moment when George Stephanopoulos tried to get him to give a straight answer on the right to privacy as derived from the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision in reference to contraception. “I don’t know any state that wants to ban contraception, George,” said Willard, running through all four of the expressions of which his face is capable, beginning with “Lordly Disdain” and ending with “Flog The Butler.” Stephanopoulos pressed on. (At one point, I thought he might throw a packet of Trojans at Willard and say, “These, motherfucker!”) Romney ducked, weaved, made his face work harder than he was, until he finally cried, “Hey, contraception works!”

Not exactly Webster’s Reply To Hayne, true. But not banal.

And:

2) Because they declined to be dicks to Willard, because they’re all going to spend most of next autumn getting sockless, drunk, and standing behind him on a stage, pretending they don’t want to hit him with their shoes, the rest of the cast decided to be dicks toward each other, toward the president, and toward large numbers of their fellow countrymen and countrywomen. Ron Paul called Newt Gingrich a chickenhawk, and Newt responded by saying that he’d never asked for his deferment, which he received because he was married at the time to the first of his future ex-wives. Paul came back at him. “When I was called, I was married and had two kids. I went.” Dr. Paul has a dickish side to him that has been heretofore covert. Not anymore.

However, not to be outdone…

Newt rallied his well-wrought dickness, though, right after a lengthy wrangle over gay marriage that might have been the most pointless discussion of that particular controversial issue ever conducted, by attacking the “liberal news media” for paying so much attention to discrimination under the law aimed at gay people, and none at all to the fact that Catholic organizations have been forbidden from arranging adoptions and performing other social services because they choose to practice discrimination based on religion. “There’s anti-Christian bigotry and none of it gets covered,” thundered Gingrich, who earlier in the discussion said that being nice to gay couples (Hey, you can visit your partner when he’s dying. Is this a great country or what?) didn’t mean adjusting the sacrament of marriage. It apparently has eluded his Holiness, Pope N. Leroy I, that not only is secular marriage not a sacrament, but also that a lot of Protestant denominations don’t believe it is, either.

Just go over to the link and read the whole thing…

The thing that stood out to me was the misleading remarks when it came to Obama and his weak liberal stance on Iraq, and his European socialist policies. Misleading is putting it mildly. Obama follows in Rumsfeld’s footprints

Defense analysts almost immediately drew the comparison between Rumsfeld’s vision and the one spelled out in Obama’s plan.

“It is easy to emphasize Asia, technology, and quality over quantity,” Pentagon adviser and Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst Anthony Cordesman said Thursday. “In fact, this is what Secretary Rumsfeld did.”

Center for Defense Information analyst Winslow Wheeler, a former congressional defense aide, said the Obama plan is “very much like Rumsfeld’s ‘Transformation’ agenda.”

What’s more, Wheeler said, the Obama plan’s shifting of the nation’s defense strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region “re-emphasizes the focus on the Air Force and Navy as the ‘transformative’ military services — Rumsfeld’s word, not theirs — but they seem to mean very much the same thing.”

As far as the European Socialist remark made by Newt, let’s go back to Pierce for a moment:

The trademark Gingrichian sneer was mostly leveled at President Obama, who, Gingrich said, “in his desperate attempt to create a radical socialist European model is undoubtedly sincere.” Ooooh, snap! Look upon my adjectives, ye mighty, and despair!

I won’t spend any time on the frothy dick, aka Santorum, you can read Pierce for that…

In other news…Musharraf Will Be Arrested on Arrival in Pakistan, PTI Reports

Pervez Musharraf, who resigned as Pakistan’s president in 2008, will be arrested on arrival in the country later this month, the Press Trust of India reported, citing a prosecutor.

Musharraf is a “proclaimed offender” and there’s no need for a warrant for this arrest, PTI reported today, citing Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, prosecutor at the Federal Investigation Agency. Musharraf lives in Dubai and London and plans to return to Pakistan on Jan. 25 or Jan. 27, according to the report.

In Texas, CVS Refuses To Sell Texas Man Emergency Contraception For His Wife, Suggests He’s A Rapist

A Texas man has enlisted the ACLU to help him sue CVS for gender discrimination after a pharmacist refused to sell him emergency contraception.

Jason Melbourne had already visited four pharmacies in search of Plan B for his wife when he was referred to a CVS in Mesquite, Texas, some 15 miles away from his home. They had one box left:

But when he finally got there, the overnight pharmacist, Minni Matthew, told Melbourne she wasn’t going to sell it to him.

In order for him to buy the meds, the pharmacist said, she’d need to talk to and see the ID of his wife, who was at home with their two young children. He asked why, and she pointed to the fine print on the medication’s box, which says it can only be sold to someone age 17 or older. Melbourne pointed out that he was well over 17.

“I’ve bought this plenty of times in my life, and it’s never been a problem,” he said. “Are you telling me every other place I’ve bought it from has been wrong?”

Didn’t matter, Matthew said, since the medicine obviously wasn’t for him.

Why don’t you show me the law that says you can’t sell this to a man?” Melbourne replied.

The situation got worse from there. Melbourne put his wife on the phone and even Googled the medication to show the pharmacist there was no law against selling it to a man. But “she didn’t want to see it,” he said.

That’s when a male pharmacy technician informed Melbourne that they didn’t want to sell emergency contraception to men because they might be giving it to “rape victims.”

Jezebel notes that Melbourne’s ordeal happened around the same time that a Houston CVS store refused to sell another man Plan B. CVS apologized for that last month, calling it an “isolated incident.” It wasn’t.

CVS isn’t the only pharmacy that has issues with selling Plan B to a man…

In fact, in 2010 ACLU received reports that Walgreens stores in Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma were refusing to sell emergency contraception to men. Walgreens relented when the ACLU confronted them publicly.

Moving on, yes I am too tired to keep this up much longer.

‘Whooping cranes plane’ runs afoul of FAA

Ten young whooping cranes and the bird-like plane they think is their mother had flown more than halfway to their winter home in Florida when federal regulators stepped in.

Now the birds and the plane are grounded in Alabama while the Federal Aviation Administration investigates whether the journey violates regulations because the pilot was being paid by a conservation group to lead the cranes on their first migration instead of working for free.

FAA regulations say only pilots with commercial pilot licenses can fly for hire. The pilots of Operation Migration’s plane are instead licensed to fly sport aircraft because that’s the category of aircraft that the group’s small, open plane with its rear propeller and bird-like wings falls under. FAA regulations also prohibit sport aircraft — which are sometimes of exotic design — from being flown to benefit a business or charity.

From Minx’s Missing Link File: An interesting health link for you today…

Radical liver surgery saves life of young mom, California first

A team led by Alan Hemming, MD, transplant surgeon at UC San Diego Health System, has successfully performed the west coast’s first ex-vivo liver resection, a radical procedure to completely remove and reconstruct a diseased liver and re-implant it without any tumors. The procedure saved the life of a 27-year old mother whose liver had been invaded by a painful tumor that crushed the organ and entangled its blood supply.

“During a 9-hour surgery the team was able to remove the basketball-sized tumor,” said Hemming, professor and surgical director of the Center for Hepatobiliary Disease and Abdominal Transplantation (CHAT) at UC San Diego Health System. “This is a surgery that carries a 15 to 20 percent risk of mortality. In this case, the patient would not have survived if she did not have surgery. This was the only way we could save her liver and her life.”

During the procedure, the diseased liver was detached from the body, flushed with preservation solution and cooled to a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius. This allowed Hemming to carefully remove the tumor from the liver in a bloodless field while preserving vital structures. Hemming then removed the tumor which weighed as much as the liver itself. Once the tumor was removed, the vessels were meticulously reconstructed. The liver was then successfully reimplanted.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: A few weeks ago I wrote about the Congo’s version of the Loch Ness Monster. Well, there is a guy heading into the jungle to find the Congo mokele mbembe. Dom Joly: If I’m munched by a mokele mbembe, farewell, dear readers – Dom Joly – Columnists – The Independent

I’m off to the Congo for two weeks. I’m still travelling the world looking for reputed monsters to put in my new book, Scary Monsters and Super Creeps. This time I’m going after the mokele mbembe, a dinosaur-type creature that is supposed to inhabit Lake Tele in the far north of “good” Congo.

In case you didn’t know, there are two Congos: the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) is the “bad” Congo. The giveaway being the use of “democratic” in the name – this is always a sign that it is not democratic and not much fun (see the German Democratic Republic and the Democratic People’ s Republic of North Korea). I’m off to the Republic of Congo to try to find the elusive beast that has apparently forced tribes of pygmies to build huge stockades around their villages.

Lets hope he doesn’t become lunch.

That is it for me, it is 3am and I just want to go to sleep. So if you come accross any typos…you know why.

What are you all reading and blogging about today?

 

**Updated**

The New York Times has a review of this mornings debate: <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/09/us/politics/romney-is-the-main-target-in-a-caustic-gop-debate.html”>Romney Is the Main Target in a Caustic G.O.P. Debate – NYTimes.com</a>


TGIFriday Reads

I live in Northwest Greater Boston in a town that is far from rural. However we do encounter wildlife in my neighborhood–skunks, opossums and racoons, for example. But yesterday afternoon, as I drove down the small road where I live, I had to brake suddenly for a large, imposing bird like the one in the photo. It was casually standing right in the middle of the road. I looked to my left and saw good sized flock of these birds, and suddenly realized they were wild turkeys. They were walking around in front of someone’s house. I was amazed.

It turns out that wild turkeys have been making a comeback in Massachusetts and have been invading a number of cities and towns around here. From The Boston Globe:

On a recent afternoon, Kettly Jean-Felix parked her car on Beacon Street in Brookline, fed the parking meter, wheeled around to go to the optician and came face to face with a wild turkey.

The turkey eyed Jean-Felix. Jean-Felix eyed the turkey. It gobbled. She gasped. Then the turkey proceeded to follow the Dorchester woman over the Green Line train tracks, across the street, through traffic, and all the way down the block, pecking at her backside as she went.

“This is so scary,” Jean-Felix said, finally taking refuge inside Cambridge Eye Doctors in Brookline’s bustling Washington Square. “I cannot explain it.”

Notify the neighbors: The turkeys are spreading through suburbia. Wild turkeys, once eliminated in Massachusetts, are flourishing from Plymouth to Concord and – to the surprise of some wildlife officials – making forays into densely populated suburban and urban areas, including parts of Boston, Cambridge and, most recently, Brookline.

In Winchester, a woman was “held captive” by a wild turkey.

On Tuesday evening, around 6 p.m., a Swan Road resident was pulling into her car [sic] when a wild turkey jumped at her and started to attack her vehicle as she was trying to drive it into the garage.

The woman said that this turkey did the same thing last week, and she didn’t call the police because she thought the animal had left.

“It kept attacking the woman at her house,” said Winchester Animal Control Officer, Jerry Smith of the 17-pound turkey. “It’s been doing it for a couple of days. We can’t have animals attacking people around town.”

According to the police report, she was able to close the garage door, but ended up being trapped, unable to get to her house, because the turkey refused to leave her property.

After 15 minutes “of being held captive” the woman called the Winchester Police Department to help her get into the house.

The responding officer saw that the turkey was still on the property. He got out of his cruiser and took a shotgun with him. As soon as the turkey noticed him, it charged and the officer shot and killed it.

Yikes! I hope those turkeys don’t start hanging around in my yard. In even more bizarre news, there is snow outside my house. Apparently, I got home just in time for winter.

Remember Omar Sharif? He starred in Dr. Zhivago back in 1965. The aging movie star recently slapped a female fan while he was on the red carpet at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The actor, who was nominated for his role in 1962’s “Lawrence of Arabia,” appeared to have lost his cool when a female fan interrupted him while he was posing for photographers.

The incident, captured by a TMZ camera, shows Sharif slapping and mildly pushing the woman, then spewing venomous disapproval at having been disturbed.

“My dear!” Sharif exclaimed in Arabic, as translated by the Washington Post. “I told you I’d get to you afterwards! I just said that and you’re standing here. Put something in your brain!”

In slightly more serious news, the Republican presidential candidates are still demonstrating their stupidity on a daily basis. Some examples follow.


Mitt Romney

It isn’t enough that Mitt Romney has crazy Robert Bork advising him on the Constitution. Now he has appointed another adviser who belonged to a violent Lebanese militia in the 1980s.

Walid Phares, the recently announced co-chair of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Middle East advisory group, has a long résumé. College professor. Author. Political pundit. Counterterrorism expert. But there’s one chapter of his life that you won’t find on his CV: He was a high ranking political official in a sectarian religious militia responsible for massacres during Lebanon’s brutal, 15-year civil war.

During the 1980s, Phares, a Maronite Christian, trained Lebanese militants in ideological beliefs justifying the war against Lebanon’s Muslim and Druze factions, according to former colleagues. Phares, they say, advocated the hard-line view that Lebanon’s Christians should work toward creating a separate, independent Christian enclave. A photo obtained by Mother Jones shows him conducting a press conference in 1986 for the Lebanese Forces, an umbrella group of Christian militias that has been accused of committing atrocities. He was also a close adviser to Samir Geagea, a Lebanese warlord who rose from leading hit squads to running the Lebanese Forces.

Romney has also clearly stated his willingness to sacrifice the lives of women to save fertilized eggs. In the Guardian, Tresa Edmunds, a Mormon, writes: If Mitt Romney’s anti-abortion crowd get their way, it could kill me

Mississippi is the latest state to support a “personhood” amendment – a law that defines life as beginning at conception and giving full legal rights to a fertilised egg. On a recent political talk show, Mitt Romney affirmed that he would “absolutely” support such an amendment to the federal constitution. Such a conservative law would have far-reaching consequences, rendering many forms of birth control, the morning-after pill and aspects of in-vitro fertilisation illegal, as well as eliminating abortion as an option even when deemed medically necessary.

This trend is also seen in the ironically named Protect Life Act, recently passed by the House of Representatives, which gives hospitals the right to refuse to perform abortions, even at the cost of a woman’s life. It is a terrifying time to have a uterus, but especially a mysteriously malfunctioning one such as mine.

My son was born weighing 2lb 4oz, at 28 weeks gestation. My pregnancy – which had been much longed for – was proceeding normally until all of a sudden a pain that turned out to be organ failure brought me to the emergency room. There, I was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome. My blood pressure was rocketing, my red blood cells were disintegrating and my platelet count was dropping. If I had managed to make it through organ failure, stroke or heart attack, I would have bled to death in delivery. Thanks to the tremendous care and expertise of talented doctors and nurses, my son and I are here to tell the harrowing story but, if things had gone differently, the only way I would be alive is if they had removed my son’s body from my womb in pieces.

Comments such as Romney’s casually tossed off “absolutely” make me shake with rage. When politicians are so concerned about the people they see as allegedly using abortion as birth control that they would let me die, I can’t help but wonder how they can dare say they care about the sanctity of life.

Edmunds is confused. Romney and the other Republican candidates care deeply only about “human life.” They obviously do not consider women to be humans.


Rick Perry

As everyone knows, Governor Goodhair hasn’t done very well in the Republican debates so far. Now it appears he is going to wimp out of future debates.

After a series of poor debate performances in the early months of his presidential campaign, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is backing off the upcoming GOP debate schedule, committing to just one of the next three events between now and Nov. 15.

Perry has struggled in the five debates he has attended since he joined the race in mid-August. At one, he fumbled an attempt to cast rival Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper. At another, bickering between Romney and Perry drew criticism that the candidates were acting juvenile.

Perry hinted at his frustration with the debates earlier this week when he told Fox News that participating in them was a “mistake.”

“These debates are set up for nothing more than to tear down the candidates,” Perry said. “…All they’re interested in is stirring it up between the candidates.”

Um… yeah. So? If Perry can’t take the heat, maybe he should get out of the kitchen. BTW, has he produced his birth certificate yet? I heard he was born in Mexico. /s


Herman Cain

At Huffpo, Dave Jamieson details Herman Cain’s long, enthusiastic battle against the minimum wage.

In his plan for economic “Opportunity Zones,” Cain offers a slate of proposals aimed at revitalizing depressed pockets of the country, including zero capital gains and payroll taxes within qualifying areas. Although it doesn’t say so explicitly, the Cain campaign’s primer on opportunity zones also suggests the possibility of rolling back minimum-wage laws in impoverished areas.

“Minimum wage laws prevent many unskilled and inexperienced workers (i.e. teens) from getting their first job and prices them out of the market,” the plan says, listing a number of potential “solutions” to urban poverty. Cain’s campaign did not immediately comment on his stance on minimum wage laws.

Minimum-wage protections are an issue Cain knows intimately. In his work as the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and later as president of the National Restaurant Association, Cain worked diligently in Washington and in the media to see that low-wage restaurant workers could legally be paid as little as possible, as In These Times has noted. In fact, Cain’s time in the restaurant business was marked by a long and largely successful battle against minimum-wage increases, and even today, some 15 years later, many of the nation’s waiters and waitresses have Cain and the restaurant lobby to thank for a federal minimum wage of $2.13 for tipped workers.

By 1995, when Cain was at the helm of Godfather’s, the federal minimum wage had already lost much of its purchasing power since the 1960s and 70s, and it hadn’t seen a bump in five years. When then-President Bill Clinton and Labor Secretary Robert Reich proposed raising it from $4.25 to $5.15, Cain emerged as one of the leading opponents of the pay boost.


Rick Santorum

Is he really still running for president? Apparently so. He has released a new ad targeting Herman Cain’s accidental pro-choice position on abortion. The content of the ad suggests that Santorum believes that aborted embryos and fetuses can “think.”


Ron Paul

Ron Paul isn’t really an objectivist or a libertarian, even though he claims to be a follower of Ayn Rand. He can’t be, because he wants the government to get involved in policing women’s bodies. But here’s an interesting post by Gary Weiss, the author of a new book about Ayn Rand’s influence on American culture that sounds like a fascinating, if disturbing, read.

Ayn Rand’s spirit hangs over the 2012 presidential race like the aftermath of a bad meal that, for some reason, we’ve all forgotten that we’ve eaten. In the run-up to the financial crisis the markets became a kind of Fifth Estate, the ultimate arbiters of American society. This was not a Republican disease; some of the most voracious deregulation took place during the Clinton Administration. It was as if a moral choice had been made, substituting the “wisdom of the markets” for admittedly flawed and sometimes grossly inept regulators. It made perfect sense, especially in an era in which the stock market averages rose by as much as 40% in one year, but today we know, or should know, that untrammeled capitalism doesn’t work.

But you’d never know any of this when listening to the Republican candidates for president, especially the one who most overtly embodies Rand’s philosophy: Ron Paul.

Paul is by no means a card-carrying Objectivist—his embrace of religion, and his views on foreign policy, makes him anathema to Randian true believers. But his embrace of the most primitive, extreme forms of free-market, almost-zero-government capitalism comes closest to Rand’s belief system of any in the Republican field.

What’s remarkable about Paul is how effective he is at putting forward his views, extreme as they are. Indeed, the unyielding, unwavering non-flip-flopping character of his opinions is perhaps his greatest asset. He is the best friend free-market capitalism has at present, as can be seen by his recent debate performances and especially his recent triumphant appearance at Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. The man exudes small-town charm while at the same advocating positions that would make life into hell for the great majority of his followers and listeners.

I’ll end with an article about the incumbant Republican President: ‘Bundlers’ for Obama Have Active Ties to Lobbying

Despite a pledge not to take money from lobbyists, President Obama has relied on prominent supporters who are active in the lobbying industry to raise millions of dollars for his re-election bid.

At least 15 of Mr. Obama’s “bundlers” — supporters who contribute their own money to his campaign and solicit it from others — are involved in lobbying for Washington consulting shops or private companies. They have raised more than $5 million so far for the campaign.

Because the bundlers are not registered as lobbyists with the Senate, the Obama campaign has managed to avoid running afoul of its self-imposed ban on taking money from lobbyists.

But registered or not, the bundlers are in many ways indistinguishable from people who fit the technical definition of a lobbyist. They glide easily through the corridors of power in Washington, with a number of them hosting Mr. Obama at fund-raisers while also visiting the White House on policy matters and official business.

{Yawn…} Another Obama lie…so what else is new? That’s all the links I’ve got.

What are you reading and blogging about today?