Open Thread

Cooking a NY strip and getting ready for some football. You? I’m supposed to go to a party at a friend’s house, and all the people I like will be there, but I am still looking for an excuse to not go and stay at home.

BTW- not to go all McMegan on you, but I just love this Breville convection oven. It’s just perfect for a single person, because I don’t have to heat up the whole stove for a single portion or steak. I just adore it and use it almost every day. I wish I had had it when I lived in a little apartment. Or hell, in a college dorm.

In the Annals of Small Government Conservatism

The right wing sure does love themselves freedom and liberty and avoiding oppression from an overbearing government, don’t they:

Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, has introduced a bill that would set specific “performance standards” for singing and playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at any event sponsored by public schools and state universities.

The law also would cover private schools receiving state or local scholarship funds, including vouchers.

Performers would have to sign a contract agreeing to follow the guidelines. Musicians — whether amateur or professional — would be fined $25 if it were deemed they failed to meet the appropriate standards.


The bill calls for schools to maintain audio recordings of all performances for two years and develop a procedure for dealing with complaints if a musician is alleged to have strayed from the approved lyrical or melodic guidelines.

Idiots. Godwin aside, this is the kind of sheer idiocy you see in totalitarian regimes like North Korea. These fascists really have no problem with a minister of culture rapping people on the knuckles for insufficient or inadequate gestures of jingoism.


This is, hands down, the lamest attempt to smear someone as anti-Semitic as I have ever seen. Just pathetic.

Open Thread: Back to the Book Tour

(Pat Oliphant via
Dave Weigel at Slate reports on “the Newt Un-Campaign” in Iowa on New Years Eve:

– Gingrich’s stump speech ranges from 19 to 25 minutes. There is no script. There’s a litany of brain-enhancing policy lectures. As he closes, he either enumerates “two quick things” or “three quick things.” The last “thing,” perennially, is his promise to challenge President Obama to seven three hour debates “in the Lincoln-Douglas tradition, with a timekeeper but no moderator.” This allows him to end with a zinger, when he “concedes” or “allows” Obama to use a teleprompter. I’ve never seen less than full-on, crowd-wide chuckles at that line…
– He sticks around. There was some “hah, hah, look at the implosion” coverage of Gingrich after his tour’s ambitions were scaled back, to three or four events a day. Gingrich uses most of the time to allow voters to meet him. He specifically reminds them, at the end of appearances, that they can get signatures or pictures with him or Callista.
– The 80s figure high up in the Gingrich stump. “Callista and I were at the Ronald Reagan Library on Reagan’s 100 birthday,” he says, “and we had lunch with former Secretary of State George Schultz.”…

Sounds like the ever-adaptable Swollen Amphibian has accepted, barring fortuitious accidents (Willard Romney being fatally bitten by a rabid Paul supporter, for instance), that he’s off the Campaign Trail and back on the Chautauqua circuit. If he can’t look forward to lecturing every American and the entire global community for the next four years, at least he can move Gingrich product, bump up the Gingrich speaking fees come 2013, burnish the Gingrich Brand for more shelf space in the Wingnut Welfare Wurlitzer Walmart. Given yesterday’s much-ballyhooed “tearful” storefront speech to Iowa’s Moms, I suspect he dreams of a post-November call from the OWN network, as he spins fantasies of becoming the “historian” verson of Dr. Phil…
On a less derisive note: How are plans for the upcoming calendar-change celebrations looking — or, in the case of our correspondents on the other side of the globe, proceeding?

Can’t have both

I’ve been reading about Ron Paul. Not the newsletters. Ron Paul has such an enormous body of statements and work in the non-profit public realm that there really aren’t enough hours in the day to pursue any additional inquiry into his entrepreneurial endeavors. Because this was big news in Ohio yesterday:

The Ohio Personhood Amendment will insert Section 16(b):
“Person” and “men” defined:
(A) The words “person” in Article 1, Section 16, and “men” in Article 1, Section 1, apply to every human being at every stage of the biological development of that human being or human organism, including fertilization.
(B) Nothing in this Section shall affect genuine contraception that acts solely by preventing the creation of a new human being; or human “eggs” or oocytes prior to the beginning of the life of a new human being; or reproductive technology or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedures that respect the right to life of newly created human beings.

I was looking at this:

H. R. 2533
To provide that human life shall be deemed to exist from conception, and for other purposes.
May 20, 2009
Mr. PAUL (for himself and Mr. BARTLETT) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To provide that human life shall be deemed to exist from conception, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
This Act may be cited as the `Sanctity of Life Act of 2009′.
(a) Finding- The Congress finds that present day scientific evidence indicates a significant likelihood that actual human life exists from conception.
(b) Declaration- Upon the basis of this finding, and in the exercise of the powers of the Congress–
(1) the Congress declares that–
(A) human life shall be deemed to exist from conception, without regard to race, sex, age, health, defect, or condition of dependency; and
(B) the term `person’ shall include all human life as defined in subparagraph (A); and
(2) the Congress recognizes that each State has the authority to protect lives of unborn children residing in the jurisdiction of that State.
(a) In General- Chapter 81 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
`Sec. 1260. Appellate jurisdiction; limitation
`Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 1253, 1254, 1257, and 1258, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any case arising out of any statute, ordinance, rule, regulation, practice, or any part thereof, or arising out of any act interpreting, applying, enforcing, or effecting any statute, ordinance, rule, regulation, or practice, on the grounds that such statute, ordinance, rule, regulation, practice, act, or part thereof–
`(1) protects the rights of human persons between conception and birth; or
`(2) prohibits, limits, or regulates–
`(A) the performance of abortions; or
`(B) the provision of public expense of funds, facilities, personnel, or other assistance for the performance of abortions.’

Here, from Jill Lepore’s excellent Planned Parenthood piece in the New Yorker, is what “no one wants to talk about”:

Lately, human-life amendments have been supplanted by personhood amendments, one of which appeared on the ballot in Mississippi this month. The Mississippi amendment reads, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization.” Personhood amendments could be interpreted to make several forms of birth control illegal, challenging not only Roe v. Wade but also Griswold v. Connecticut, which placed contraception under the protection of a constitutional right to privacy.

If a fertilized egg has constitutional rights, women cannot have equal rights with men. This, however, is exactly what no one wants to talk about, because it’s complicated, and it’s proved surprisingly easy to use the issue to political advantage.

She’s right. Conservatives and libertarians can seat as many round tables as they care to, but they can’t dodge this simple truth: if a fertilized egg has constitutional rights, women cannot have equal rights with men.

I Get By With a Little Help

Because of the gross incompetence of basically the entire GOP field, the Virginia AG is stepping in to save them from themselves (careful, link to Faux News):

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is intervening in the Virginia presidential primary dispute and plans to file emergency legislation to address the inability of most Republican presidential candidates to get their name on the ballot, Fox News has learned.

Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul qualified for the Virginia primary, a contest with 49 delegates up for grabs.

The failure of other candidates to qualify — notably Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry — led to complaints that the 10,000-signature requirement is too stringent.

Cuccinelli, who is a Republican, shared the concerns.

“Recent events have underscored that our system is deficient,” he said in a statement. “Virginia owes her citizens a better process. We can do it in time for the March primary if we resolve to do so quickly.”

A half a million people voted in the 2008 GOP primary there, but getting 10k signatures is too stringent? That’s pretty laughable, but, whatever. I’m in favor of more ballot access. Unfortunately, while Cuccinelli thinks millionaire Republicans need a hand, he and McDonnell still preside over one of the most onerous felon disenfranchisement regimes (.pdf), and in 2010 turned an objective process for reinstatement into a subjective mess.

I guess this really is the modern GOP at its core- one set of rules for the rich and the powerful, another set for everyone else.

The Cost Of The Payroll Tax Cut

Steve Benen is most likely correct when he notes the GOP “negotiators” in the Senate side of the payroll tax cut fight starting next month have no intention of extending the cut at all.  Senators Crapo, Barrasso and especially Jon Kyl being involved means the Republicans are signaling that they are okay with destroying any deal in an election year.

[T]he likelihood of there even being an agreement now borders on fanciful. Republican participants won’t be willing to compromise, and most of them don’t fear failure since they oppose tax breaks for the middle class on principle.

What about the risk of being blamed? Remember, as far as GOP leaders are concerned, the process itself offers cover. Instead of last week, when House Republicans became the clear villains, when the conference committee struggles to come up with a bipartisan solution, the party will find it easier to spread the blame around.

“It’s not our fault,” GOP leaders will say. “We tried to work with Democrats on a deal, but one didn’t come together. Oh well.”

For Republicans, it’s the best of all possible worlds: middle-class taxes would go up, the economy would take a hit, public disgust for Washington would be renewed, and the media would feel obligated to say “both sides” failed to reach an agreement.

Now Benen’s scenario depends entirely on the “Earth is flat, view differ” Village “journalism” that is so pervasive in the press, and with the election season officially beginning on Tuesday in Iowa, we’re already seeing the GOP also-rans work the refs.  The larger problem is that the GOP is basically trumpeting the fact they want to screw over the middle class, and the Village is more than happy to go along with the idea of “shared sacrifice.”

You have to be pretty cynical to think that the GOP will win this fight.  Sadly, such a level of cynicism is not only recommended, it’s absolutely necessary.