Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nope-Got No Sole

Okay—that title is lifted from a tweet from Jonathan Capehart, who documents the silliness of the “Shoe Truthers” with a trace of the exasperation any sane person might feel when examining the actual serious thought processes of people who might be a wee bit paranoid a lot.

I’m kind of an uptight thinker who seldom strays into the fanciful except to atomize a yet-more out-there notion—so let me boringly put a damper on this thing: there is obviously no way for any person to aim a shoe that they were wearing at a public figure and then hobble off scot-free. They are certain to be apprehended—any fancy of flight would prove, well, bootless.  Any collusion to plant a person in an audience to launch a shoe would involve some connecting factor, because once charged with a federal offense (and a savvy lawyer like Hillary Clinton would have known this much) any stooge paid off to, for some kind of reason, launch a shoe at her, would roll like the mighty Mississippi. Who would bargain away their freedom for X-untraceable amount of funds for a PR scheme? The sane folks who’d go for that are few and far between, and there are many limiting factors involved in employing someone who would not be classified as mentally fit.

And let’s consider the PR downsides, which are numerous. Getting smacked upside the old bean with a sneaker would be ungraceful, so one might study to avoid head to tennie contact. Ducking is, itself, a kind of submissive posture. The actual fact of anyone launching an athletic shoe at one implies unpopularity—there is no good reason anyone would want to portray that level of unpopularity. A “lone shoe-er” is a poor representative of anything like a “vast, right-wing conspiracy”, so activating sympathetic historical memes is out…leaving what exactly? A footwear fetish?

So fine, you are left with the spectacle of a former First Lady, US Senator, and Secretary of State ducking and covering from a podalic projectile because that’s the way she likes it. Uh huh? Uh huh. That is some serious stupid.  I do not know what to make of anyone who would stupid that hard.

(X-posted at Strangely Blogged.)

Posted by Vixen Strangely on 04/15/14 at 11:37 PM
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There Goes The Neighborhood!

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Okay, Reince, now we’re talking!  Looks like the RNC is getting its ground game going and bringing it to a neighborhood near you.

The Republican National Committee announced its “14 in ‘14” program in Charleston on Monday, calling for GOP female volunteers in the 14 weeks before the November midterm elections. The volunteers will recruit other women who are 21 to 40 years old to vote Republican and become involved in election season.

Republicans are asking the women to spend 30 minutes a week on election season outreach.

RNC Co-Chair, Sharon Day, unveiled the program Monday targetting purple-ish counties in West Virginia, Florida, Montana, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania with large numbers of independent and female swing voters.

According to Ms. Day:

You can see time and time again, it was no surprise that we didn’t win the Hispanic vote, we didn’t win the African American, Asian, women because we didn’t engage.

Bless their hearts . . . if only they had engaged?  Who could have known?

And then what? volunteers are going to describe the GOP’s brand-new totally pro-woman policy platform?  Better let the folks at the American Legislative Executive Council know—their hopper is still full of a list of horribles designed to make women and children’s lives a living hell.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/15/14 at 12:41 PM
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Bloody Lunacy

Tomorrow, in the wee hours of the morning throughout much of the United States, there will be a total eclipse of the full moon corresponding with Passover.  During a lunar eclipse, the Earth is positioned between the moon and the sun, and the moon is obscured by the shadow (there are two regions of shadow, the penumbral and umbral regions)- during a total eclipse of the moon (as opposed to a total eclipse of the sun or of the heart), sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere colors the moon a shade of red.  This reddish hue has inspired the term “Blood Moon” for eclipses of this sort.

Religious nutbars being what they are, whackaloon John Hagee believes that four coming lunar eclipses signal Earthshaking events, perhaps even the dawn of the “End Times”.  Religious fundies can even spoil the beauty of the celestial dance.

Religious people are often characterized as humble people, but I think that’s total B.S. Every religious fundamentalist sees him-or-herself as the center of momentous events, a witness to the climax of history.  In reality, each and every one of us is a tiny speck of matter on a slightly larger speck of matter, as Douglas Adams put it far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy, and I would add, not even a particularly distinguished galaxy at that.

We are not that important in the grand scheme of things, no matter what interpretation of an ambiguous passage in a book written by Bronze Age goatherders and passed through many translations over the course of the last couple of millennia is favored by a crazy religious fundamentalist in Texastan.  Get over yourselves, fundies.  Enough of this bloody lunacy. 

Cross posted at my eponymous blog.

Posted by Big Bad Bald Bastard on 04/14/14 at 05:48 PM
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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Free Your Mind

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Aiming at who-knows-what entertainment value, Fox News, on Friday, launched a “robust discussion” of the current state of racism in America.  Or, at least as robust a discussion as five white conservative pundits, including a B-list comedian, could have on that topic.

The timing of the program probably had to do with Attorney General Eric Holder getting all “uppity,” a few days ago, about being disrespected by Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and follow-up remarks by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) when he was asked if Holder had played “the race card.”

The discussion meandered along most of the well-trodden paths leading to Post Racism America.

Comments like these abounded:

This race thing is – you know, at this point, I can’t believe they’re still saying it.

I might even agree with you that there may be some racism left in America, but who cares?  Anyone who does or says anything racist is always punished for it immediately. So why do we even talk about it anymore?

Dana Perino even managed a deftly worded boy-who-calls-wolf admonition when she wondered if “playing the race card so promiscuously actually drains the power of calling someone a racist.”

Eric Bolling and Andrea Tantaros seconded the theme that most Americans aren’t even concerned about racism anymore.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/13/14 at 02:10 PM
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Friday, April 11, 2014

Mississippi Moon, Won’t You Keep On Shining On Me?

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One of the goals of the Republicans’ Growth and Opportunity Project aka The Rebranding is to win some elections.  One branch of the party, which is gradually coming to be known as Establishment Republicans believe that a veneer of sanity is the answer.  Those guys, and a handful of gals, mostly represent pre-TEA Party operatives beholden to “old money donors” and corporate sponsors.

Their opposite numbers are younger social and fiscal conservative upstarts with an anarchic streak—Libertarians and practitioners of diverse strains of extremism that appeal to new-money donors and disgruntled establishment tear-aways like the newly activist DeMint Foundation.

As everyone realizes, at this point, party disunity in a two-party system of government can result in unpredictable and sometimes disastrous results.

That was certainly the case in 2012 when Republicans only electoral wins were due to a weird alignment of the stars which cast the anamalous 2010 TEA Party wave coinciding with a US Census year.  Republicans made the most of that confluence and stacked their districts masterfully.  But we know, and they know, that their House majority is far from a mandate and the rest of the 2012 results were a train wreck for the GOP.

The Republican National Committee accurately assessed that something radical and tough-lovish had to happen quickly if Republicans were to avoid an even longer losing streak.  And one of the factors that the RNC zeroed in on was a class of insurgent, often barely qualified, fringe newcomers who loudly and proudly let their freak flags fly and managed to throw away a number of Senate seats that Republicans might have won.

Think Richard Mourdock, Todd Akin, Sharron Angle, Joe Miller, Josh Mandel . . . and one of the things that all of those failed Senate candidates have in common is a Club for Growth endorsement.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/11/14 at 02:30 PM
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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Ben Stein Likes Indoor Plumbing, Dislikes Poor People

Visine pitchman, former Comedy Central gameshow host, and ex-presidential speechwriter Ben Stein really wouldn’t hack me off, what, a couple times every five-six years or so? If he just wasn’t a pious hypocritical ivory tower word-weaseling douche canoe.

It isn’t the highest standard in the world. Many people have avoided being a hypocritical ivory tower word-weaseling douche canoe. He just isn’t living up to that standard, and I despair of his regular attempts at self-sabotage.

So, I point to an interview, which kind of turns on a thin dime so subtly that you might have to think a minute to realize that Stein is weaseling.

“Yes, the government designates many tens of millions as poor, but they almost always have indoor plumbing (which my mother did not have in her small town in the Catskills) and they are super nourished as opposed to mal-nourished,” he said. “They get food stamps. They get free medical care. They get vouchers for many of the needs of life.”

While he pities their plight, Stein pointed out that poverty was greatly reduced in scope and severity in the past century.

“In olden times, poverty was the common human condition,” Stein said. “In the USA, as recently as the Great Depression, poverty was commonplace. FDR might have exaggerated when he described one-third of the nation as ‘ill housed, ill fed and ill clad…’ But surely he was not far off.”

And his mother would be how old?  I bet nobody had color tv’s in her day either. And his solution is?

“Maybe, just maybe, if we let God back into the public forum it would help. I have seen spiritual solutions work miracles.”

And in his mother’s day, way back when, when the poor folks were really poor, and not the kind of fake-ass poor we have today—is he saying things were less religious then? Because, unless I’m really mistaken, most conservatives envision the past as being a little less secularized and hippieficated , and way more squared-away, God-fearing, and role-knowing. And yet the really poor folks were back in the day, he says. And his momma did not have indoor plumbing, he also adds.

Thinking about that: Are you saying your momma was godless and self-sabotaging, then, Ben? Because I do not think that proves your point, and you shouldn’t even be talking that smack about your momma. That isn’t decent.

(X-Posted at Strangely Blogged.)

Posted by Vixen Strangely on 04/09/14 at 11:27 PM
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American Taliban Mobilizing Against Gay-stapo

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Apparently the far right wants blood and they are doing all of the right things to get them some.

Screeching and fear-mongering over gays in our midst is nothing new for them but those who pay close attention to their antics are recognizing that we have entered a new phase—the mobilization and deployment of armed-to-the-teeth, anti-gay wingnuts who are coming around to a belief that they have a sacred mandate to eliminate the gay.

Guys like Scott Lively have been gay-bashing for a long time and are relatively harmless because their self-interest trumps their desire to scuff their Guccis in the trenches.  Up until recently, Lively would rather go to Latvia or Uganda, where he’s a bigger fish, and persuade some petty satraps there to go out and kill their own gays. 

He is evidently smart enough to know that the tiny minority of Americans nutty enough to support his agenda will never get much of anything done - at least, legislatively.  And Lively’s gay-bashing cottage industry of books, speaking engagements and his hate ministry Abiding Truth Ministries has barely netted enough to keep him in Crown Victorias.

So he’s decided to run for Governor of Massachusetts on a platform that includes “Your President, Barack Obama, Is a Fag.”

Meanwhile, Lively’s book The Pink Swastika has become something of a cult classic in the gay-hate microcosm.  The book explains that homosexuals are the true inventors of Nazism and the evil genius behind many Nazi atrocities.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/09/14 at 11:27 AM
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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Halting Evolution One Seat At A Time

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There’s this guy, from The Gopher State [State Bird: Common Loon], who was going about his American Dream, minding his own business, raising a family, working hard, getting his MBA on-line, and then—BOOM!

An incident happened! and suddenly, Aaron Miller knew that he must drop everything and get himself elected to Congress to save America from science-crazed, war-on-religion, constitution-shredders wrecking everything.

That “incident,” which has become a set piece of Miller’s stump speeches, occurred as follows:

. . . he shared a story about his daughter becoming very upset because she had to learn about evolution at school. He said his daughter told the teacher that she did not believe in evolution. He said the teacher expressed agreement with his daughter, but told her that they were forced to teach the lesson by the government.

When asked for further detail, Miller declined to provide the name of the teacher in his story.

So, you see, it was a father’s concern for his children that set Mr. Miller on his path to Washington, DC:

There’s a war on our values by the government,” Miller said. “We should decide what is taught in our schools, not Washington, D.C.

As a parent, of course, I can empathize.  I remember a similar incident, when my son was in high school. He came home one day fuming and obviously upset, because he told his math teacher he didn’t believe in calculus so he shouldn’t have to pass his class.  His teacher agreed that there really was no such thing as calculus but that he wouldn’t get into engineering school unless he played along.  Took him a long time to heal . . .

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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/08/14 at 10:16 AM
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Monday, April 07, 2014

Coming To A Deserted Schoolyard Near You

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An interesting item caught my eye this morning regarding the state of public education in The Peach State.  The article had to do with the mess that has resulted since Georgia passed HB 1133 a little piece of ALEC boilerplate designed to “starve the beast” of public education by siphoning off huge amounts of tax revenue that used to support public schools and bestowing it on private schools instead.

In fact, Georgia’s public education has been so negatively impacted that four taxpayers have filed suit against the state for failing to adequately fund under-achieving public schools, while diverting public funds to help pay for private religious schooling.  And that is only the tip of the iceberg . . .

According to PRWatch.com:

Despite widespread public opposition to the education privatization agenda, at least 139 bills or state budget provisions reflecting American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) education bills have been introduced in 43 states and the District of Columbia in just the first six months of 2013, according to an analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of ALECexposed.org. Thirty-one have become law.

You see ALEC’s task force on education, chaired by a for-profit private school corporation, sees the American educational system as a $500 billion sector of the US economy that is just ripe for the picking.  And they’ve been at this for quite awhile—Milwaukee, under Gov. Tommy Thompson [an ALEC alum] was the first city in the US to enact a school voucher program, in 1990.

Since then, similar programs have sprouted up all over the US.  In the 2012-2013 school year there were 16 states and DC offering “choice” programs covering nearly a quarter million students.  And for ALEC this is a two-bagger because not only does it divert public money to for-profit schools, those schools are typically non-union workplaces which undermines the power of public teachers’ unions.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/07/14 at 03:30 PM
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Saturday, April 05, 2014

Kochs Branch Out Into The Whine Business

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One of the many things that I love about the Internets is the opportunity it affords to be politically active without getting my head bashed in.  I was 18 years old in 1968 when my childhood friends started disappearing into jungles, or Canadian provinces, as the case may be. 

At that time, I learned that the most expedient way to express my grief and disapproval was to band together with the rest of my generation to make a very loud, often inarticulate, noise.  That behavior often resulted in my getting spit upon, derided and, on some special occasions, getting my head bashed or my pins knocked out from under me by fire hoses, for my trouble. 

Unpleasant enough stuff, but, as a rule, such encounters did not end as badly as Kent State.

Gradually, I learned that if one stood firm, kept faith and kept up the noise, it was, indeed, possible to make change happen.  Nowadays I’m way too old to get my head banged [or put myself in a position to, God forbid,  break a hip] but I still have an abiding belief in making noise.

It has taken me a few days to fully digest Charles Koch’s most recent lamentation, nailed up on Rupert Murdoch’s wailing wall for billionaires, the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal.  In case anyone hasn’t seen Koch’s op-ed, it was evidently far too important to put behind the pay-wall, where Koch’s target audience of Lying Libruls were unlikely to pay for the privilege, so you can find it here.  Very democratic . . .

Generally, I don’t much care for the Open Letter format but since my chances are slim for a one-on-one with Charles Koch, and my political beliefs won’t allow me to remain silent, I’m forced to rebut his opinions out here in the less populous reaches of the internet, where, nevertheless, worthy citizens of this republic still keep faith with the ideals that Mr Koch seems hell-bent to dispense with . . .

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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/05/14 at 10:05 AM
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Friday, April 04, 2014

Public-Private Poutrage

Modern conservatism in the US is predicated on a bizarre, ongoing inversion of reality. Item: an addled B-movie actor explodes the national debt and is lionized as a champion of small government. A cowardly, none-too-bright male cheerleader from a patrician clan is packaged and sold as a brush-clearin,’ neo-Churchillian cowpoke.

The party that bankrupted the country through ruinous, pointless warmongering and Wall Street wilding markets itself as the fiscally responsible foreign policy grownups. The party that allows a gun manufacturer flak organization to intimidate it into allowing terrorists and the floridly crazy to purchase unlimited semiautomatic weapons bills itself as tough on crime. Etc.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that conservatives’ perception of their ongoing defeat in the culture wars is exactly the opposite of reality on every level too. But that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh at the ahistorical ranting. Cue the Powertools, lamenting the resignation of erstwhile Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich:

So the liberals claim another scalp. This is something new in our history, as far as I know. Until now, private citizens could hold whatever political beliefs they wanted, and support political causes as they chose.

Ever heard of the McCarthy hearings? Where a wingnut senator persecuted private citizens and destroyed their livelihoods because of their political beliefs? See, when the party of free markets decides to regulate political beliefs, it does so via the government.

What happened to Eich is a free market phenomenon. You can make the argument that the companies and developers who balked at the prospect of working with a CEO who thinks gays are icky should have given Eich a chance. But the companies and developers are independent agents who are free to vote with their feet because freedom.

Over at Heritage.org, they’ve discovered the power of government policy in leading social change:

Policy should prohibit the government from discriminating against any individual or group, whether nonprofit or for-profit, based on their beliefs that marriage is the union of a man and woman or that sexual relations are reserved for marriage. Policy should prohibit the government from discriminating in tax policy, employment, licensing, accreditation, or contracting against such groups and individuals.

Okay, so you guys were for prohibiting the government from discriminating against same sex couples in tax policy, employment, licensing, accreditation or contracting, right? Nope.

Once again, the self-proclaimed anti-nanny state crusaders and champions of free markets are revealed as sniveling hypocrites. Hoocoodanode?

[X-posted at Balloon Juice]

Posted by Betty Cracker on 04/04/14 at 07:31 AM
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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

SCOTUS Shows Love for the Rainmakers and Buckrakers

In the home of the brave, free speech comes with a price tag, as the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 (No! Really?) decision in the McCutcheon v. FEC case, which basically gives rich folks the license to print ballots.

Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but here’s the deal—if putting your money where your mouth is, is a form of free speech, then some animals on this farm are obviously more equal than others, if laws that try to keep the rich from drowning out the voices of the not-so-much are seen as onerously violating the rights of the people who can afford to pay for this here microphone and mean to use it.

It kind of says, if you can’t afford to pay for the good sound system, you might as well shut up.

There was some dancing around in that decision about whether campaign financing was about quid pro quo—look, I get it. The decision for letting our politicians be bought outright was centered on not making it for each trick they turn out, but letting them perform on a retainer basis.  And that’s sweet, but let’s call it what it is. And let’s not pretend that our transactional political system isn’t about quid pro quo because the paymasters don’t give direction when our little dears can figure out what they are supposed to do to please Daddy without all that much direction.

Now, there might be an antidote to the influence of money in the form of a critical, tough, independent media who can cut through the “talk” of money and see to it that “bullshit” hits the road. A lot of our mainstream media might not necessarily recognize that cutting through the bull is their job, though. That’s kind of why I see blogging as important. Maybe this cosa nostra can strike a little bit back at the pezzanovantes that want to make peasants out of us. But otherwise, I encourage everybody to vote the fuck out of the GOP, because, let’s be honest, they are the most boughten and paidest-for. I’m all for kicking the Koch-machine—how’bout you?

(X-Posted at Strangely Blogged.)

Posted by Vixen Strangely on 04/02/14 at 10:08 PM
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Hobby Lobby’s Deeply Held Investment Convictions

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“Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions.… something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one,”  Hobby Lobby founder David Green, in an article for USA Today.

Well, at least since Day One 2012, when Obamacare compelled businesses to include emergency contraception in employee health care plans and David Green, owner of Hobby Lobby, decided to sue the government over that requirement. 

Before that, Hobby Lobby’s employee health care plan covered both Plan B and Ella which their brief, filed with the US Supreme Court, describes as “products that can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus,” which the Greens consider abortion.

Scientist’s refute that statement based on how the drugs actually work—to prevent fertilization, in the first place—nevertheless, it is the Green’s “deeply held religious belief” that the scientists are wrong and that they, the Greens, channeling their God, are right.

Now, some cynics might label the Green’s position somewhat politically-influenced and a whole lot hypocritical.  Evidently, the deeply held religious beliefs at the heart of their case struck them rather late in the game—a la Saul on the road to Damascus—knocking them off their ass, when President Obama commanded them to continue doing what they were doing.

But, oh dear, bless their hearts, that’s only the beginning . . .

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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/02/14 at 10:16 AM
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jersey Devil Doesn’t See Shadow—Springtime For Christie

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Ever have one of those weeks where everything just goes right?  Chris Christie sure did.  Almost.

First, the Gov was completely exonerated by his “very dear friend and pig-hunting buddy,” Deb Yang of Gibson Dunn, one of Christie’s go-to firms in matters legal.  New Jersey taxpayers will be happy to learn that the million bucks they paid for this “exhaustive internal investigation” of the BridgeGate and alleged abuse of federal Hurricane Sandy Relief funds proves, unequivocally, that their hands-on governor is not evil, he’s just not exactly on top of things that “don’t rise to the gubernatorial level.”

So far, the New Jersey state legislative committee and the US Attorney for New Jersey appear to be underwhelmed by Gibson Dunn’s report.  Maybe it’s because Gibson Dunn, like Gov. Christie, based their findings on zero input from those alleged principals, in the case, who have either resigned their administration posts or been fired by Christie.

Taxpayers did get at least a quarter million’s worth of hot office gossip, though, and a slut-shaming to rival a Limbaugh moment.  Gibson Dunn went with the “Woman Scorned” defense so we now know that, at some point after Bill Stepien left the Christie admin to be Christie’s eyes and ears in the Republican Governors Association, Stepien and Bridget Kelly dated a few times. 

For some esoteric legal rationale, Gibson Dunn felt compelled to spell out who broke up with whom in that relationship, thereby unleashing the unfortunate events culminating in BridgeGate.  Spoiler alert: Stepien dumped Kelly, ergo, he will be free to mastermind the Christie 2016 campaign.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 03/30/14 at 11:29 AM
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Friday, March 28, 2014

YA Romantic Fiction

Via Roy’s place, we have an account of Libertarian Fonzie (catchphrase “Ayyyyy is Ayyyyy!”) pinning his hopes for a Rand Paul presidency on a popular Young Adult fiction series and its movie adaptation.  After typical “don’t call me a Republican hack, A POX ON BOTH HOUSES!” Libertarian boilerplate, Gillespie gushes about his dreamy Randian protagonist:

Whether or not the Kentucky Republican actually wins the Republican nomination, much less the White House, is besides the point. The question is whether the politics of the future will be the same as the politics of the present. “I don’t want to be just one thing,” explains one of the protagonists in Divergent. “I can’t be. I want to be brave, and I want to be selfless, intelligent, and honest and kind.” If anything explains Rand Paul’s rising profile, it’s precisely his ability to be more than just one thing—a social conservative, a civil libertarian, a budget cutter, a decentralizer, and more. There’s no reason to fear— and every reason to promote—such divergence in our elected representatives.

Rand Paul is a decentralizer?  I must have missed all the antitrust legislation that he introduced since attaining his senate position.  Oh, well, I’m sure that young female voters will eventually see that Rand Paul and his political supporters have plans for their demographic

Back on Planet Earth, I have to note that Mr Gillespie is headed for a heartbreak if he believes that the popularity of a Young Adult fiction series will have any bearing when it comes to wooing millennials in the 2016 election… Even though the “Twilight” books were wildly popular, young voters didn’t throw their support behind a sparkly Mormon vampire in 2012.

This post is expanded from a comment I left at Roy’s place.  In response, commenter mds wrote:

Maybe if there had been some actual sparkle.

The vampirism sure as hell was real, though.

Cross-posted at my eponymous blog.

Posted by Big Bad Bald Bastard on 03/28/14 at 09:51 PM
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