The rage of Newt

Say what you want about Newt Gingrich, but the guy is a real heavyweight when it comes to chops. There definitely is a beast in his belly.
Gingrich scored perhaps the most memorable and controversial first-round knockout since Ali flattened Liston in their Lewiston, Maine rematch.
And Newt didn’t use a phantom right hand to do it in South Carolina last night.
Gingrich won the latest Republican debate in the opening minutes with his volcanic, venom-dripping response to moderator John King’s opening question about allegations by Gingrich’s ex-wife that he wanted an open marriage.
With fire in the eye of Newt, not only did Gingrich deny the account but unleashed a bombastic and brilliant reply by casting himself not as the victim of a marriage gone bad but of a biased liberal media waving pom poms for Barack Obama.
Central Casting couldn’t have conceived of a more perfect King Solomon role for Gingrich. In skewering King for leading the debate with such a question, Newt shifted attention from his well-chronicled marital indiscretions to the conservatives’ hatred of the media.
His ex-wife may view him as a Big Stinker, Gingrich truly is a Big Thinker with a quick and barbed tongue.
And the fire down below.

In the don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-something GOP derby, Perry quits and backs Gingrich; polls show Newt and Romney fit to be tied in South Carolina; and this just in: Santorum, not Mitt, won Iowa

The Republican presidential horse race is the perpetual news cycle that keeps on spinning during its run for the roses.
Another petal fell today, with Rick Perry ending the folly of his Oops campaign and endorsing Newt Gingrich with a gushy, “Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?”
Gingrich, more of a Mr. Hyde, had a Dr. Jekyll Thursday when six new polls revealed he’s in a virtual dead heat with Mitt Romney in South Carolina.

Meanwhile, it definitely was a Mr. Hyde dark day for Romney, who also found out more than two weeks later that he lost to Rick Santorum in Iowa.
I realize the folks in Iowa are slow, considering they live in Iowa. But I didn’t realize they count votes on their fingers and toes. Apparently some farmers who lost digits wrestling with their stubborn plows caused the fuzzy math.

Politics, not environmentalists, the oil slick that skidded the Keystone XL pipeline into a ditch

The end of the line, specifically the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, came today.
Which is the tar pits for America.
Republicans are about six exits beyond livid that the Obama administration killed Canadian energy company TransCanada’s $7 billion 1,700-mile pipeline linking the tar sands of Alberta to the refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
The GOP party line (seems to be a lot of line references in this post) is that Barack Obama in so doing is destroying thousands of American jobs and selling American energy security to the Chinese.
The irony here is that Obama didn’t cave to environmental activists. In fact, Obama was not opposed to the pipeline outright. He seems to have gotten over his aversion to dirty energy.
Politics killed the pipeline, which had been the heart of an oily squabble between Democrats and Republicans:
Republicans had long been trying to get a decision on the pipeline and attempted to force a decision prior to approving the payroll-tax cut — but eventually Republicans agreed that the White House had to come to a decision by February.
The primary reason for Obama’s rejection was because of the bed that Republicans made him, demanding a decision before the State Department could facilitate a full review of the pipeline’s environmental impact.
Beds usually are only bad news when they come with bed bugs. The bite by this bed bug created an itch too big to scratch.
Of course, another motive is that because the political fight had become so intense that approving the pipeline would have been branded a win for Republicans. Which is why the Keystone XL project became an election-year lightning rod in the first place.
And now that lightning rod has flipped the switch on an electrocution.

Straining the outer limits of redundancy, the GOP debates now reduced to entertaining sideshows with some truth and no consequence

There are certain things that are inevitable.
Sunrise (perfect for Wheaties).
Sunset (ideal for vodka tonics).
Death (it’s good to be a funeral director).
Taxes (sorry, Republicans).
Mitt Romney will be the Republican presidential nominee (suicide alert for conservatives).
Granted, Romney got dinged a bit Monday night in yet another chapter of the long-running serial of GOP debates that have descended into a fringe spectator sport like roller derby. Hell, even Buster Crabbe’s Flash Gordon serial of a distant yesteryear when my granddaddy was knee high to a grasshopper didn’t have these many episodes.
While Rick Santorum did briefly rattle Romney on, all of things, allowing felons to vote (now there’s a front-burner issue) and Rick Perry demanded that Romney fork over his income tax returns, Mitt never melted into a puddle and left the stage with his front-runner status and his teeth intact.
Forgive my digression for a moment, but folks oughta stop taking Romney to the woodshed on his income taxes.

If the tax rate on long-term capital gains is 15 percent and Romney derives his income from long-term capital gains, then he has no obligation to pay more than 15 percent. Nobody is patriotically obliged to pay more tax than the law requires.

After all, the man isn’t a saint. He’s a Mormon.

While these debates now are about as meaningless as NFL exhibition games, they do have their deranged moments of charm.

For instance, Perry woke up from his coma (way too late, mind you) and took the leash off his sassy inner cowboy.

Newt Gingrich continues to take petulance into unchartered waters as the condescending and reigning heavyweight champ of Big Thinking.

Ron Paul, who squeaks more than Mickey Mouse and has yet to find a suit that fits, riled up the fresh-off-the-golf-course Myrtle Beach audience with his anti-interventionism extremism.

And then had them laughing when he said that his only regret about his attack ad on Santorum was that he couldn’t fit more shots into the 30-second spot.

I shall miss this Traveling Carnival Show with more barking than a dog pound.

Captain Courageous

Perhaps Capt. Francesco Schettino isn’t the worst human being since Judas. But right now he’s the most despised man in the world, by a par 5.

Someday they’re gonna carve something very nasty on his tombstone.
Capt. Merrill Stubing of The Love Boat was Capt. John Paul Jones compared to this guy.
Five more bodies today were pulled out of the crippled cruise ship off Tuscany, and a shocking audio emerged in which the ship’s captain was heard making excuses as the Italian coast guard repeatedly ordered him to return and oversee the ship’s evacuation.

So much for the captain going down with the ship. This guy apparently has even less guts than the Cowardly Lion.
Prosecutors have accused Schettino of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship before all passengers were evacuated during the grounding of the Costa Concordia cruise ship Friday night.
The death toll nearly doubled to 11 today when divers located five more bodies, all of them adults wearing life jackets, in the rear of the ship near an emergency evacuation point.
The Costa Concordia was carrying more than 4,200 people when it hit a reef off the Tuscan island of Giglio when Schettino made an unauthorized deviation from the cruise ship’s programmed course, apparently as a favor to his chief waiter, who hailed from the island. His reckless and mindless decision to salute the island’s habitants has turned into a disaster of epic proportions.
What was this clown thinking? A cruise is supposed to be a lark for the passengers, not for the captain and crew.
Mario Palombo, a former captain of the doomed Costa Concordia with whom Schettino served as first mate for four years, told investigators that Schettino was too high-spirited and a dare devil.

“It was bravado,” said another former captain who worked with the ship’s owner, Costa Crociere. “Schettino was showing off, clowning around. It was incredibly stupid. I would sentence him not once but 10 times. The rock was clearly signed on all the shipping maps.”
After his folly became a nightmare he will see on the back of his eyelids for the remainder of his life, Schettino apparently had more of a recipe for chicken than Colonel Sanders.

Schettino has insisted that he stayed aboard until the ship was evacuated.

However, a recording of his conversation with Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco that emerged today indicates he fled before all passengers were off — and then resisted De Falco’s repeated orders to return.

And now Schettino is only under house arrest. Hell, they should chain his legs together, throw him into the sea, and see how long he can tread water.

Huntsman's out but did anybody even notice that he was in?

If a Jon Huntsman falls out of the Republican presidential race and there is nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Of course not.
Huntsman was the silent, invisible man on the campaign trail. He was a patrician who was standing in the wrong line when they handed out charisma. Even Joan Rivers standing next to Sofia Vergara wouldn’t be that overlooked.
The man is bright and looks presidential.However, Central Casting doesn’t pick candidates, although it definitely would streamline the process.
Huntsman simply had no shot. He doesn’t spout memorable sound bites, is too much of a lefty for Republicans and is scorned for being Barack Obama’s ambassador to China.
And we all know the GOP would love to send Obama on a slow boat to China.
Huntsman would have been embarrassed in this Saturday’s South Carolina primary, trailing even faux newsman Stephen Colbert in one poll.
Huntsman could never match the level of flash and fun his daughters, dubbed the Huntsman Hotties, brought to the campaign.
They, if not he, will be missed.

Obama makes a bold political chess move with a power grab to shrink the government

Barack Obama, not wanting to be the Incredible Shrinking President, asked Congress today for the power to shrink the federal government in an election year.

I am not making this up.
Of course, there just couldn’t be any political motivations involved here.
Yeah, right.
If you think not, I want to sell you Manhattan Island and the Brooklyn Bridge for 24 dollars worth of beads and trinkets. I’ll even throw in the Penn Street and Buttonwood Street bridges since they are losing more structural support than Newt Gingrich.
In proposing to close the Commerce Department and merge six trade and business agencies, Obama wants to inoculate himself against Republican cries that he is a big-government liberal who has presided over a mammoth government expansion.
Granted, you would think that Republicans in Congress would rather contribute to Obama’s reelection campaign than approve his request for expanded powers in an election year.
However, Obama has painted the Republicans into a corner on one of their own favorite issues.
While Republicans are smart enough to realize that a liberal never changes his stripes, they can’t walk on fresh paint without ruining their expensive leather shoes. Not surprising then that initial GOP reaction appears broadly positive.
If Obama gets the authority to shrink the government, even if it’s just a cut the size of a pinto bean, it will somewhat mute the campaign rhetoric of Mitt Romney.
And spoil some of the fun.

Pardon me but what's up in Mississippi, where convicted murderers are freed to go hunting?

It’s tough to live in Mississippi.

For starters, they fry a lot of brain cells for life trying to learn how to spell Mississippi in kindergarten.

Other brain cells get burned off by swampy, suffocating heat that melts two-lane blacktop like Scarlett Johansson melts hearts.

There’s a reason why there are no Ivy League schools in Mississippi.

There’s a reason why flag football players count “One-Mississippi, Two-Mississippi, Three-Mississippi” before they rush the quarterback.

And now this!

Folks in Mississippi gotta be scared to walk down the street, fearful they may be shot dead like possums or skunks or other rebel critters lamenting the loss of The War for Southern Independence.

Mississippi’s attorney general Jim Hood said today that the state may order a nationwide manhunt to find the four convicted murderers pardoned by outgoing governor Haley Barbour Tuesday.

“We’ll catch ’em,” said Hood. “It’s just a matter of time.”

The four were freed in one of Barbour’s last acts as governor — pardoning more than 200 convicted criminals.

Granted, a lot of governors do the same. But Barbour took this to an absurd other level. Like to Mars!

Late Wednesday night a Mississippi judge halted 21 of the pardons issued after Hood filed to halt some of the reprieves based on a provision in the state Constitution that insists pardons must be published at least 30 days in advance.

Barbour, who had considered a presidential run but thank God thought better otherwise, said they were given pardons so they could move on with their lives.

“Approximately 90 percent of these individuals were no longer in custody,” he said. “The pardons were intended to allow them to find gainful employment or acquire professional licenses as well as hunt and vote.”
Nothing like giving a convicted murderer a license to kill on the hunting trail. Because you never know just who or what he may be hunting.

Romney thisclose to having the nomination in his, ahem, Mitt

They say it ain’t over until the Fat Lady sings.

But just who is the Fat Lady these days? Kate Smith slipped on Flyers’ home ice singing God Bless America and hasn’t been heard from since.

So I guess it would be a wee premature to hand the Republican nomination to Mitt Romney. Still, the man is in the driver’s seat and not sure anybody else at this point is even in the backseat.

Not bad for a guy with all the charm of an adding machine (remember them?) and all the charisma of an irate landlord stiffed on the rent.

Romney took New Hampshire Tuesday, even he seemed to do a major pratfall on the way to the polls — getting crucified by his opponents as a brutal corporate chieftain at Bain Capital and inexplicably saying that he likes to fire people (though his remarks were twisted like a pretzel out of context).

Romney also has plenty of quarters and dimes bouncing around in his campaign coffers. He brought in $56 million in 2011 and that should afford him a TV spot or two in South Carolina.

What’s fascinating about the GOP race is that Romney apparently is loathed by the grassroots of his party. Conservatives would love to find a credible alternative. Then again, Kim Kardashian would love to find the right guy, too. Perhaps they are one and the same.

Maybe the only drama left is who Romney picks as his running mate.

If it’s Chris Christie, I guess the Fat Man sings this time.

A firing offense trails Romney like a timber wolf

Sound bites out of context. Used as political ammunition to bushwhack political candidates.

Call it the American Way. Call it democracy at its finest.

Whatever the moniker, Mitt Romney is under siege.

And on election day, there’s no moat to jump into or serfs to hide behind.

The folks in New Hampshire are supposed to be sweeter than maple syrup. After all, they don’t live in Jersey or Detroit.

No matter.

A New Hampshire crowd heckled Romney at a polling station today for saying at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast yesterday that “I like being able to fire people who provide a service to me.”

No matter that Romney was talking about firing insurance companies, who frequently have hearts colder than a New Hampshire winter.