Monday, January 30, 2012

The Voice of the Turtle Asks If We Are Ready for an American Spring

I got up to Lowell this weekend to see a 69-year-old play, The Voice of the Turtle, at the Merrimac Repertory Theatre. The late January weather has been unseasonably warm and sunny and has felt almost like an early spring.

The play is set over an early spring April weekend in New York City in 1943. The main characters are a sergeant on leave from the U.S. Army and a young actress living in an apartment in the East Sixties near 3rd Avenue. They are thrown together for the weekend through happenstance, and love blossoms as you might expect.

(Photo by Megan Moore)

A very lovely Hanley Smith plays the sweet young actress and a suitable William Connell plays the serviceman. I say suitable because a man can't watch him play opposite Hanley Smith without arousing a little jealousy. Megan Byrne rounds out the cast as the three who makes a crowd.

The servicemen is a little jaded being seven years gone from living the gay (1940s gay, not 2010s gay) life of a playboy in Paris before his family's business succumbed to the Great Depression and called him home to Pittsburgh. All he's got to show for that are his noncommissioned sergeant's stripes - a former one percenter in today's parlance. He's about to go overseas to fight for freedom, although as he says you don't ask a soldier what he's fighting for.

And that's where the play dovetails with our own times. The times they are not so much a-changin' as depressin' is the song we've all been listening too. But perhaps we need to open our ears to the song of the turtle dove:

My beloved spake, and said unto me,
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone;
the flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
the fig tree putteth forth her green figs,
and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

The Song of Solomon 2:10-13 (King James version)
It is coincidentally the anniversary of the Arab Spring, the well-intentioned pro-democracy movement that probably will not turn out well. So are we ready for our own American Spring? We are probably not going to find that at a tea party rally or an occupy camp. We may be looking for that in politics when we really need to look inside ourselves. In truth it's probably not something we can find by going looking for it. But you never know. I think I will listen for the voice of the turtle.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Newt Gingrich Suffers His Gettysburg in Jacksonville Debate

The CNN televised debate in Jacksonville, Florida may go down as Newt Gingrich's Gettysburg.

Yesterday won't be over until tomorrow and tomorrow began ten thousand years ago. For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o'clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it's all in the balance, it hasn't happened yet, it hasn't even begun yet, it not only hasn't begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances ...
Yesterday many were giving Newt Gingrich a 50/50 chance to win the Florida primary. From there he would stand a good chance of winning the Republican nomination and marching against Barack Obama in the fall election.

But tonight's debate in Jacksonville, Florida was a rout. Newt charged Mitt Romney on unfair ads, on investments, on immigration. And Mitt repulsed every charge. Newt, in full retreat after a Mitt countercharge calling Newt repulsive, couldn't even defend the grandmother ground on immigration:

Rick Santorum did make some inroads against Mitt Romney on health care. And Ron Paul came across extremely well. But for Newt Gingrich, who has lived by the debate, it was death by debate.

The Civil War raged on for 22 months after Gettysburg. The end in Florida will come when voters go to the polls on Tuesday, January 31. If Newt loses, the Gingrich campaign isn't over. But I suspect the moment before the debate opened in Jacksonville will be Newt Gingrich's high water mark.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Would You Tax this Ukulele Player as Much as His Secretary?

President Barack Obama says he wants to tax billionaire Warren Buffett as much as his secretary Debbie Bosanek. But can she play the ukulele? By the way, Mr. President, Deb prefers to be called assistant, not secretary.

Warrens says he has surveyed his staff and they pay between 33% and 41% in combined federal income tax and payroll taxes, whereas he pays just 15% on much of his income.

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Deb probably does quite well, and if any of her compensation has come in Berkshire Hathaway stock, she may well be a millionaire or multi-millionaire.

So the Buffett Rule question comes down to this: Should the very rich pay tax rates that are substantially lower than those who are merely very well off? No, they shouldn't. But is the answer to raise the tax rates on the very rich, or to lower the tax rates on everybody else?

The 15% tax rate on capital gains and qualified dividends is what's at issue. President Reagan's 1986 tax reform law put that rate at 28%, the same as ordinary income such as wages. But since then the top tax rate for high earners of wages and business profits has been pushed up to 35%, while the tax rate for capital gains and qualified dividends has been dropped to 15%.

There is another side to this, which involves payroll taxes. Ordinary wage earners pay into social security and that can be as much or more than their income taxes for some lower income taxpayers. High earners pay into social security too on their wages, but not on their investment earnings. Only their wages are counted for social security benefits, so that should even out, except that social security is a not a very good deal.

Fact: Nancy Pelosi Will Never Be President, Newt Gingrich, Maybe

Nancy Pelosi tells CNN's John King she knows something about Newt Gingrich and that is he will never be President of the United States:

I know something too, Nancy Pelosi will never be President. And that's a fact, not just a personal opinion or prediction.

Actually, the people who bet on such things only give New Gingrich a 6.3% chance of being elected President in 2012. Of course, he could also run in 2016, at 72. And long shots do sometimes win, or no one would bet on them.

We must remember that John King was a key part of the liberal media psyops campaign last week that propelled Newt Gingrich to victory in South Carolina last week. The other conspirators were Nancy Hass at Newsweek and the Daily Beast, Juan Williams at Fox News, and Brian Ross at ABC. Motive: Newt Gingrich would be a weaker challenger to President Obama in the fall election than Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney.

So what are Nancy Pelosi and John King up to here? The key may be what Nancy Pelosi also said about Newt Gingrich, "The Republicans, if they choose to nominate him, that's their prerogative. I don't even think that's going to happen."

Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents hate Newt Gingrich, and would never risk entering the Republican primaries to vote for him - unless they believed that was safe, that they could do that without running any real risk that Newt Gingrich might get elected President.

Now wouldn't it be funny if Democrats secured the Republican nomination for Newt Gingrich and then saw him elected President.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Newt Gingrich Still Playing Dog Ate My Homework on $1.6 Million Freddie Mac Contract

Only in Washington, DC can you get a 15 page consulting contract that goes on and on for clause after clause but when it comes to the scope of work only has the barest phrase in a sentence on your compensation:

"Consultant will provide consulting and related services as requested by Freddie Mac's Director, Pubic Policy in exchange for which Freddie Mac will pay Consultant $25,000 for each full calendar month during which Consultant provides services."
For such "consulting and related services as requested" Newt Gingrich reportedly received a total of $1.6 million dollars over 6 years through his K Street lobbying firm the Gingrich Group.

Newt and Freddie Mac have also been asked to provide the deliverables on this contract, so that it can be seen exactly what advice Newt gave to this controversial agency that was at the center of the housing bubble. That of course assumes he actually did any work at all. When the school boy says his dog ate his homework you can be sure the boy never did the homework.

Newt's story has been that he offered his "advice as a historian" and there is one clause in the agreement that may have been directed to just that. Section 5(g) provides:

Suggestions. While providing Services and Deliverables, Consultant may make comments and suggestions that are outside the scope of Services ("Suggestions"). All Suggestions are provided on a purely voluntary basis and, in the absence of a separate agreement executed by both parties, will not create any obligation on the part of Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac will have the right to use Suggestions in such manner as it elects in its sole discretion, without obligation of any kind to Consultant.
You can bet Newt did prattle on with lots of comments and suggestions and alternate history lessons outside the scope of what he was hired to do. Maybe, in fact, offering random musings was all he ever did to earn his firm this $300,000 a year.

The bailout of Fredie Mac and Fannie Mae will cost taxpayers a minimum of $154 billion. The damage to home values in the U.S. due to the financial meltdown has been much greater.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What Is Newt Hiding in Gingrich Holdings, Inc.?

Should politicians running for office have to release their tax returns? The argument that they shouldn't is outweighed by the fun of pawing through the politician's personal business.

Take Newt Gingrich, who released his 2010 tax returns last week. First, there are little things like seeing that he had $200,000 stashed in Bank India. Nothing illegal about that, and there's probably an innocent explanation. Maybe Newt did some consulting for that TV show Outsourced. I thought it was karma when that show got cancelled after two seasons last spring. Or maybe Newt got paid to do some outsourcing.

Newt's tax return also shows alimony of $19,800 and household employee wages of $14,774. That may shed some light on the motives of Newt's his ex-wife Marianne, the one who accused him of proposing an open marriage. Yep, my bastard ex-husband makes over $3 million a year and barely pays me more than his housekeeper.

Then there're the various Gingrich enterprises with names like Gingrich Holdings, Inc., Gingrich Productions, Inc., and Lubbers Agency Inc. (apparently named after a married daughter). Newt and his current wife Callista derive $2.97 million of their $3.14 million in income in the form of salaries and corporate earnings from the closely held companies, with no solid information as to where all those earnings came from. We do know a few years back that Newt did earn some serious money consulting for mortgage giant Freddie Mac, which subsequently had to be bailed out by taxpayers. But just how many other Freddie Macs are hiding in Gingrich Holdings? We'll likely never know.

And then there is the mystery of who actually owns Gingrich Holdings, Inc. The tax returns don't say, but cross-checking some of the numbers is revealing. Newt's Form 1040 Schedule A lists $68,493 in cash contributions to charity from his various companies. However the Form 990-PF for the Gingrich Foundation shows that it received a cash contribution from Gingrich Holdings, Inc. in the amount of $152,609. Since Newt and Callista only deducted 45% of that amount on their tax return, the inference is that someone else must own the remaining 55% of Gingrich Holdings, Inc.

That's a pretty powerful inference. Because if Newt and Callista's share of the $2,453,409 earnings from Gingrich Holdings, Inc. is only 45%, that means some unnamed person or persons earned $3,013,023 from Gingrich Holdings, Inc. So who owns Newt Gingrich? We already knew that he could be bought, that was the point of those ethics charges that caught up with him in the late 1990s. The question still to be answered is who may now own him (or 55% of his company).

Another tidbit is that when you add up all the taxes Newt and Callista paid in 2010 you come up with the princely sum of $1,159,260, or roughly 37% of their combined gross income. We should say thank you for that.

Also Newt and Callista, through their personal donations and Gingrich Foundation grants, gave $132,640 to charity in 2010. Again, they deserve a big thank you.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The View on Newt's Open Marriage

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Newt Gingrich's ex-wife Marianne has a supposed bombshell. She says back in the 1990s Newt wanted an open marriage. It becomes clear from listening to her that what Newt really wanted was to continue seeing his then-mistress Callista without getting a divorce from his then-wife Marianne.

But is that an open marriage? To me, that term implies an ongoing non-monogamous romantic relationship with one's spouse. Husband's who continue to support their wives financially and perhaps even socially while also keeping company with a mistress are doing something different.

Putting this in the best light for Newt, he gave his wife the option to stay married if that's what she wanted. Marianne wanted a divorce, which he gave her, and he married his longtime mistress. And a marriage, as they say, is always respectable.

Now here's where I'm going to engage in some speculation. One part of Marianne's bombshell was that Newt told her that Callista was down with the open marriage idea. If that's true, is she still down with it now that she is Newt's current wife? I mean, one reason you might have a $500,000 credit line at Tiffany's is to smooth over any jealousy issues from such an arrangement. Because nothing says I really love you more than an expensive trinket that can be taken straight to the pawn shop.

So, can we expect more questions to Newt on this subject? John King from CNN tried at the South Carolina debate last night and got booed for his trouble.

But let's parse Newt's denial:

"The story is false. Every personal friend that I have who knew us in that period says the story is false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false."
I think that proves too much. Marianne says she turned Newt down on the open marriage. So how would the personal friends know anything about there being an open marriage, if no one says there ever was one?

Here's the whole ABC interview:

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It's not news that Newt has gone through two divorces. The unasked question is not whether Newt Gingrich wanted an open marriage then but whether he is in one now and would be in one if he were elected President. Speculation aside, no evidence has been offered on that yet.

But don't worry too much about that. Back in December Newt made an unprecendented pledge that as President he would "uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others." So there will be no swingers night at the Gingrich White House. But if he loses the election, all promises are off.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Newt Gingrich Beats Juan Williams in South Carolina Debate

Newt Gingrich won the Republican Debate in South Carolina last night. Newt won by beating down Fox News commentator Juan Williams who was on the media panel asking questions to the remaining five candidates (Jon Huntsman, who dropped out over the weekend, was not missed).

Juan asked whether it was racist to call President Barack Obama the "Food Stamp President." That wasn't his exact wording but certainly the import of his question. The debate audience responded by giving Newt's answer a standing ovation.

But did Newt beat the other candidates?

Mitt Romney - did good enough to still be the man to beat.

Newt Gingrich - cemented his second place status.

Ron Paul - no real dent in his constituency which should be good for third.

Rick Santorum - he's the worst hurt by Newt's win and may have to settle for fourth.

Rick Perry - last chance to regain his credibility in the VP sweepstakes.

Update: Rick Perry may have sealed his VP fate by starting a beef with the country of Turkey by refering to it as "a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Stephen Colbert for President of the United States of South Carolina

"I'm just a one-man Lewis and Clark looking for my Sacajawea," announced Stephen Colbert in launching his exploratory committee for President of the United States of South Carolina.

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Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow attacks Mitt the Ripper:

"As head of Bain Capital he bought companies, carved them up, and got rid of what he couldn't use. If Mitt Romney really believes 'Corporation are people, my friend,' then Mitt Romney is a serial killer."

Jon Stewart, now President of The Definitely Not Coordinated With Stephen Colbert Super PAC, put it in personal terms, "Mitt Romney claims to be pro-corporations. But would you let him date your daughter's corporation?"

The thing about great satire like this is that it is never entirely clear who is being mocked. Are Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart mocking Mitt Romney? The rhetoric that Republicans like New Gingrich and Rick Perry are using against Mitt Romney? The ads that the Obama campaign has already started to run against Mitt Romney? George Stephanopoulos and the mainstream news media? The campaign finance system that will be used to fund both sides in the 2012 presidential election?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Thought I Was a Liberal Like John Wayne Too

John Wayne describes how we always thought he was a liberal until "a certain type that calls himself a liberal" reeducated him that he was right-wing conservative extremist:

Here is John Wayne's wisdom of the ages on wealth and income distribution:

"If you take $20 and give a dollar to every son of a bitch in a room, and come back a year later, one of the bastards will have most of the money. It's just human nature, and you aren't going to whip it with a lot of laws.
I quite agree. In my case, I always thought I was a progressive, from the old Republican school of progressivism. But many of the people running calling themselves progressives these days are in fact socialists. So I call myself a libertarian, and one day the socialists will come for that too. I suppose that's just as much a part of human nature as John Wayne's $20 bill.

Hat tip to Smitty at TOM, who never thought he was a liberal or a progressive.

Some John Wayne clips from The Alamo:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Newt Gingrich Goes to Town on Mitt Romney

Newt Gingrich spent the fall running a positive campaign, complimenting the other candidates, and staying above the fray. Then in Iowa both Mitt Romney and Ron Paul hit him pretty hard with negative ads.

The big hit is this 30 minute movie, which proves conclusively that people don't like to be laid off from good jobs. You can't help but feel for these people. What you else want to make of that may depend on your point of view.

But Newt has made several other jabs at Mitt:

Negative 30 second ads can be put together quickly. But are we to believe that this 30 minute movie was put together in just the last 2 weeks since the Iowa Caucus, or did Newt start production while he was still hewing to his positive mantra?

The story being told is that the film was shot on spec by Jason Killian Meath, who then approached Newt's Super Pac Winning the Future which "bought the film on Thursday for an undisclosed sum." Meath reportedly made ads for Romney in 2008 when working for a former employer. Perhaps he also lost a good job.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mitt Romney's True Colors in South Carolina

Guess who put this "True Colors" anti-Romney ad (below) together coming out of New Hampsire and going into South Carolina:

__ Newt Gingrich
__ Rick Perry
__ Jon Huntsman
__ Rick Santorum
__ Ron Paul
__ None of the Above

You pass the test if you guessed None of the Above. It was in fact the folks over at The ad goes after some Romneyisms:

"I like being able to fire people."

"Corporations are people, my friend."

"Let Detroit go bankrupt."

"Don't try and stop the foreclosure process, let it run its course and hit the bottom."

"I like being able to fire people."
They like that last one so much they used it twice. In fact, they made a whole ad around the "You're Fired" concept just a day before.

Problem, that "You're Fired" ad is kind of funny. And, actually, Mitt Romney looks sincerely human in "True Colors".

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jon Huntsman Lives Free (and Dies?) in New Hampshire

What a difference a week makes. Just look at the New Hampshire primary results from yesterday versus the Iowa caucus results last week.

Candidate New Hampshire Iowa Difference
Mitt Romney 39.3% 24.6% 14.7%
Ron Paul 22.8% 21.4% 1.4%
Jon Huntsman 16.9% 0.6% 16.3%
Newt Gingrich 9.4% 13.3% -3.9%
Rick Santorum 9.4% 24.5% -15.1%
Rick Perry 0.7% 10.3% -9.6%
Michele Bachmann 0.1% 5.0% -4.9%

The two constants as this race shapes up and goes on to South Carolina are Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. At the other end, New Hampshire has nominated Rick Perry as the next candidate to drop out, giving him just 1,752 votes. We'll see if South Carolina seconds that nomination.

Rick Santorum put all his chips on Iowa where he battled Mitt Romney to a virtual tie but had to settle for fifth place in New Hampshire.

Jon Huntsman skipped Iowa to campaign in New Hampshire, and you can see he was alternatively punished with last place in Iowa and rewarded with third place in New Hampshire. But it's not clear where Huntsman goes from here. He may fade just as fast as Rick Santorum.

Romney stooges conspiracy department: was Jon Huntsman's sole purpose in this campaign was to be waiting in New Hampshire to kill the momentum of the evangelical-supported candidate coming out of Iowa with a granite state shower? Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Alabama Beats LSU 21-0 for the BCS National SEC Conference Championship

Alabama (12-1) looked great in their 21-0 win over Lousiana State in the BCS National Championship Bowl last night on January 9. But Oklahoma State (12-1) also won a great victory 41-38 in overtime over Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl on January 9. Unless Alabama and Oklahoma agree to play next weekend, I am declaring a tie for the college football nation championship.

Will the BCS explain:

(1) How they can have 35 bowl games with 70 teams over the 4 weekends between December 17 to January 10, but can't put the best 16 teams into a playoff for the national championship.

(2) How they can have no college bowl games on Janaury 1, just because it was a Sunday, and not hold the championship game until January 10.

(3) How the national championship game can come down to two schools from the same conference who played each other earlier in the year.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Paulistas Paint Huntsman as Manchurian Candidate

This video is funny in a way that is completely unfair and arguably racist. Or is it?

Jon Huntsman has been trading on the sex appeal of his beautiful American daughters in these online videos:

Now it turns out he has two more daughters, one adopted from China (now age 12) and one adopted from India (now age 6), that didn't rate (make the age cut?) for video appearances with their older sisters.

The Machurian Candidate video was posted on the YouTube Channel NHLiberty4Paul, and so appears to be the work of Paulista supporting the candidacy of Ron Paul. Or is it?

Politico reports that the Ron Paul campaign spokesman Jesse Benton sent them an email denouncing the video: "The video is disgusting. Whoever put that up should remove it immediately."

Ready for Some Libertarian Mischief in MA-4

Son of Joe4Oil has just announced he is running for the Massachusetts 4th Congressional Seat being vacated by Barney Frank.

Officially he is Joseph P. Kennedy III but you will be excused if you confuse him with his father Joseph P. Kennedy II who has for years been running the Citizen's Energy program that provides heating oil to poor people with the slogan "No one should be left out in the cold."

You may not be excused if you confuse him with Joseph L. Kennedy (no relation), the Libertarian Party candidate who ran in the 2010 special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy, who was Joseph P. Kennedy III's great uncle. Confused yet?

That raises the intriguing possibility that Joseph L. Kennedy might run for the 4th Congressional District seat too. Joseph L. Kennedy would simply need to move from Dedham to neighboring Needham and he'd be in the district. Then there would be two Joe Kennedys on the ballot.

Republican Sean Bielat lost to Barney Frank in 2010 by 24,510 votes out of 227,140 cast, but that was before redistricting redrew the lines. In the towns of the newly drawn district, Republican Scott Brown won that 2010 U.S. Senate race over Democrat Martha Coakley by 26,314 votes. Add a little voter confusion to the mix, and we might see a 50,000 vote Republican victory in the 4th.

I am not suggesting a dirty trick is in the works here. But trading on a famous name does go against libertarian principles. So if you happen to share the name if not the fame, would it really be wrong to throw your name in the hat too? If memory serves, Joseph L. Kennedy was a pretty good political debater; he could come in from the cold and win one for the libertarians.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gingrich, Huntsman, and Santorum Join Rick Perry's Fight Against the 10th Amendment in Virginia

Rick Perry has been a big 10th Amendment fan, until it bit him. The 10th Amendment says:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
That gives the states a lot of leeway to make and enforce their own rules, and the state of Virginia had done just that by requiring petitions with 10,000 signatures to get on the state's March 6 presidential primary ballot. Texan Rick Perry and several other candidates came up short of that mark.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell does not have much sympathy:

"Heck, I did it twice. It can't be that hard."
Virginia wants to keep the riffraff off its ballots by requiring signatures from a nominally large but statistically insignificant number of voters (only 0.125% of the 8 million residents). You may think that's too much work to put a candidate through, but you aren't Virginia.

Perry's beef is with the requirement that all petition circulators be an eligible or registered qualified voter in Virginia. That means as a Texan Rick Perry can't even solicit signatures for his own campaign. Nevertheless, it would seem rather obvious that he could recruit or hire one of the millions of qualified Virginians to accompany him on his petition-signing drive.

Rick Perry's counter argument seems to be that requiring him to associate with Virginians violates his rights under the U.S. Constitution. That may win in court (although I doubt it) but would not seem endearing to Virginia voters.

Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum have been allowed to join the lawsuit. Gingrich lives in Virginia, so his failure to get the required number of signatures to be on the ballot is especially embarrassing even without the challenge to the 10th Amendment.

The great irony of this lawsuit is that the state of Virginia (along with other states and with the supposed support of Perry, Gingrich, and Santorum) is simultaneously fighting Obamacare on the grounds that the 10th Amendment means the individual states and not the federal government get to set the requirements for health care coverage.

The 10th Amendment is good for thee but not for me they say.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

You Like to Eat? You Think Farming Is Easy? Iowa!

Iowa Nice is not safe for work. Click here for the official cleaner version.

Update: close vote in Iowa tonight but here is the report I got from one Caucusgoer:

"Fun night at caucus wish we could of been a few points higher for Ron Paul :0) ... Top three are all excellent !!!"
Now that's Iowa nice.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Mitt Romney Waits at the Back of the Church

Tonight Mitt Romney stands at the back of an Iowa church waiting for the last bridesmaid to make it down the aisle and the organist to strike up "Here Comes the Bride."

It has been a long procession as a succession of bridesmaids wowed the assembled Republican congregation across the nation. In April it was Donald Trump. In May Tim Pawlenty. In June it was Jon Huntsman, who travelled the farthest returning from China for the occasion. In July Michele Bachmann. In August and early September it was Rick Perry.

Then came Herman Cain in late September, October, and early November. He lingered so long that many thought Cain would be the bride, until it came out he'd had a little too much fun at the bachelorette party. Newt Gingrich finished out November, followed by Ron Paul in early December and Rick Santorum in late December.

Over at, where the online wags bet on such things, Mitt Romney is given an 80% chance of becoming the Republican nominee. They give Romney a 48% chance of winning the Iowa Caucus on January 3 tomorrow night, with a 28% chance for Ron Paul and a 19% chance for Rick Santorum.

Things look much better for Mitt Romney after Iowa, with odds now giving him a 91% chance to win the New Hampshire primary on January 10, a 60% chance to win the South Carolina primary on January 21, an 80% chance to win the Florida primary on January 31, and a 90% chance to win the Nevada caucus on February 4. But those are the odds today, and they could very well change if Romney fails to win Iowa.

You see, this is a shotgun wedding. Mitt Romney is certainly Mr. Republican. As a successful businessman who served one term as a state governor, it is hard to think of anyone who is more Republican than Mitt Romney, certainly no one in the current field of candidates. But he isn't Mr. Conservative, at least in the eyes of the social conservative and tea party voting base of today's Republican Party.

Yes, Mitt Romney claims he is pregnant with the conservative cause. But the conservatives aren't all quite ready to believe it. You see, the state Romney was governor of was liberal Massachusetts. And while the truth of it is that he tempered his conservatism to the views of the voters who elected him governor to represent them, the conservatives still have insisted on DNA tests. With flip-flops alleged on health care reform and abortion, they aren't happy with the results.

And then there is the one flip-flop Mitt Romney would not make. Romney is a Mormon, a card-carrying member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mitt had his chance when marrying his wife Ann to switch to her mainstream protestant upbringing, but instead she converted to the LDS church.

Those latter-day saints are a big problem for many evangelical Christian voters and an even bigger problem for many liberal voters. When it became apparent that Mitt Romney would run for President in the 2008 election, Hollywood came out quick with the HBO series Big Love about a fictional fundamentalist Mormon family in Utah still practicing polygamy and the movie September Dawn about the Mountain Meadows Massacre of the Baker–Fancher wagon train in southern Utah on September 11, 1857.

So it is entirely possible that the groom will run off with one of the bridesmaids. Mitt was left at the altar twice in the 2008 election when he has passed over in favor of John McCain for the presidential nomination, and passed over again by McCain in favor of Sarah Palin for the vice presidential nomination. Even after Mitt Romney is finally called to march down the aisle, there is bound to be a tense moment or two when it comes time in March for the minister to ask for anyone who objects to the Mitt Romney nomination to speak now or forever hold their peace.

Putting Mr. Republican in a bridal dress doesn't mean to suggest this is a same-sex wedding. The Grand Old Party of the past was a man's man but in the last couple of decades it has completely lost its masculinity. Now the Republican Party has become all about show me that you still love me, constantly bringing up old shit, wearing its emotions on its sleeves, and always threatening to go home to mother. One can only hope that at the end of this process Mitt Romney will be allowed to take off the dress and put on the pants.

And what of Barack Obama and the Democrats? The betting line gives Obama a 51% chance of winning reelection.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mitt Romney Finally Comes Off the Ropes

While there was no debate last night, the start of the new year is a good marker in our ongoing count of Facebook support for the Republican Presidential candidates. Mitt Romney finally won a round, edging out Ron Paul to add more Facebook supporters in the last 2 weeks of 2011 than any other Republican candidate.

CandidateFri 12/16 NoonSun 1/1 NoonPickup
Mitt Romney1,220,6431,260,52139,878
Ron Paul635,626672,80337,177
Newt Gingrich216,905223,6706,765
Rick Santorum36,48441,0694,585
Rick Perry176,829179,9693,140
Jon Huntsman28,96630,6351,669
Gary Johnson145,446146,7091,263
Michele Bachmann460,043460,288245

Gary Johnson is a scratch, having quit the Republican Party to join the Libertarian Party this past Wednesday.

This race is fast coming down to a two-man contest between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. Indeed, looking at the past debate rounds, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are the only candidates who consistently finished in the money.

Event Round Period First Place Second Place Third Place
Reagan Library 9/7 to 9/8 Ron Paul Rick Perry Mitt Romney
Tampa 9/8 to 9/13 Ron Paul Rick Perry Mitt Romney
Orlando 9/13 to 9/23 Ron Paul Mitt Romney Rick Perry
Dartmouth 9/23 to 10/12 Herman Cain Ron Paul Mitt Romney
Las Vegas 10/12 to 10/19 Herman Cain Ron Paul Mitt Romney
Michgan 10/19 to 11/10 Herman Cain Mitt Romney Ron Paul
South Carolina 11/10 to 11/13 Herman Cain Mitt Romney Ron Paul
DC Neocon 11/13 to 11/23 Herman Cain Newt Gingrich Mitt Romney
Huck-a-bee 11/23 to 12/4 Newt Gingrich Mitt Romney Ron Paul
Des Moines 12/4 to 12/11 Ron Paul Newt Gingrich Mitt Romney
Sioux City 12/11 to 12/16 Ron Paul Mitt Romney Newt Gingrich
New Year's Day 12/16 to 1/1 Mitt Romney Ron Paul Newt Gingrich

Looking at Rick Perry and especially Herman Cain, one can only wonder what might have been. For Newt Gingrich, it has been too little too late as he is still 87,639 supporters short of crossing the Biden Line (Joe Biden currently has 311,309 supporters on Facebook).

Mitt Romney has been playing the rope-a-dope, taking punches from a protected stance as his opponents one-by-one tire themselves out. Ron Paul will go the distance, so Romney will have to beat him at the ballot box.