Quote of the Day

“As of today, Rick Santorum will be assigned Secret Service agents. This is the first time Santorum has agreed to use any kind of protection.” –Conan O’Brien

Romney Gets Ugly Win, Perhaps Enough To Make It To Championship Game But Not To Win It All

The primaries in Michigan and Arizona left the GOP nomination battle at pretty much the same place it has been in for the past few weeks. Mitt Romney still is the most likely nominee but questions about him remain. The victory was probably enough to silence talk of bringing in a new candidate, at least until we see the Super Tuesday results, but not enough to keep Romney from still looking weak. This football analogy from First Read is quite accurate:

If this were college football, last night’s Michigan contest was akin to the No.2-ranked team in the country winning on a last-second field goal (the score 41-38) against an unranked opponent at home, on Homecoming. That No. 2 team survives, gets to regroup, and keeps its championship hopes alive. But the way it won — UGLY — despite all of its advantages raises doubts among the sports writers and even fans about its chances against the No. 1 team. Then again, the goal is to make it to the BCS game and see what happens. And Romney essentially did that by winning in Michigan last night.

I think that it is also notable that if New Gingrich, who didn’t campaign in Michigan, wasn’t on the ballot, Santorum might have scored another touchdown and had the victory.

As with virtually every other Republican event this year, Barack Obama was again the winner. It is hard to see a Republican winning in Michigan after all the repetitions of their opposition to the auto bail out. No matter how Romney tries to spin his previous views and rewrite history, a majority of voters in Michigan realize that failing to bail out General Motors would have been devastating to the state’s economy. Joe Biden’s pitch that bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive will be effective in Michigan, and beyond.

Now its time for Mitt Romney to tie his dog to the roof of his car and move onto new states (or at least this might be the case if the dog hadn’t run away and had an exceptionally long life). He has the money and organization to probably win more delegates that Santorum, aided by problems for Santorum such as not being on every ballot, but he remains in danger if Santorum can regain his momentum next week. At present Santorum leads Romney by eleven points in Ohio. Santorum might be forgiven for losing a big lead in Michigan due to Romney’s advantages in the state. If Romney can repeat his Michigan come back in Ohio, and otherwise do well next week, he will probably be unbeatable. The way this race has been going, it is not hard to see Romney making another error to keep Santorum in the race.

Update: CNN projects that Romney and Santorum will split Michigan’s delegates equally. Santorum calls it a tie.

In What Universe Does This Promote Liberty?

Here’s another reason I don’t take the Libertarian Party seriously. Bob Barr, the last Libertarian Party candidate for President in 2008, is supporting Newt Gingrich. And they wonder why many people just see libertarians as Republicans who have smoked marijuana.

Michigan Votes For Republicans Today But Is Now Less Likely To Vote Republican In The Fall

The Republican primary battle is ending in Michigan and the candidates will be moving on to suck up to the voters of different states. Just watch. Tomorrow Mitt Romney will be telling the residents of other states that their trees are the ones which are the right height. At the moment it is not possible to predict the winner. Romney retook the lead in most polls but a Public Policy Polling survey did show momentum moving in Santorum’s direction at the last minute. Another last minute poll from Mitchell Research/Rosetta Stone shows Romney taking a slight lead in a race which could go either way.

In what might be a sign that Romney’s internal polls are not going well,  Romney is talking about the possibility of a Santorum victory:

Battling for his critical home state of Michigan on Tuesday, Mitt Romney accused Republican rival Rick Santorum of trying to “kidnap our primary process” by getting Democrats to tip the very tight race in favor of Pennsylvania’s former senator.

Flanked by volunteers at his campaign headquarters, Romney conceded that — as recent polls suggest — Santorum might win, and he pointed to his rival’s robo-calls encouraging Democratic crossover voters to turn out in the open primary.

“I think the hardest thing about predicting what’s going to happen today is whether Senator Santorum’s effort to call Democrat households and tell them to come out and vote against Mitt Romney is going to be successful or not. I think Republicans have to recognize there’s a real effort to kidnap our primary process. And if we want Republicans to nominate the Republican who takes on Barack Obama, I need Republicans to get out and vote and say ‘no’ to the dirty tricks of a desperate campaign,” the former Massachusetts governor said.

This is yet another flip-flop for Romney who has admitted to crossing over to vote in a past Democratic primary for strategic reasons:

ABC News’ Jonathan Greenberger Reports: Republican presidential candididate Mitt Romney offered a new explanation today for why he supported a Democrat in 1992.

That year, Romney, then a registered independent, voted for former Sen. Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Democratic presidential primary.  He told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, in an interview that will air Sunday on “This Week,” that his vote was meant as a tactical maneuver aimed at finding the weakest opponent for incumbent President George H.W. Bush.

“In Massachusetts, if you register as an independent, you can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary,” said Romney, who until he made an unsuccessful run for Senate in 1994 had spent his adult life as a registered independent. “When there was no real contest in the Republican primary, I’d vote in the Democrat primary, vote for the person who I thought would be the weakest opponent for the Republican.”

It would be devastating for the Republicans should Romney lose. Matthew Dowd raised the possibility of Republicans looking for another candidate:

“If Rick Santorum wins tonight it’s the equivalent of a 9.0 on a Richter scale. I mean it is going to shake Washington, it’s going to shake Republican establishment it’s just going to shake things to their very core,” Dowd told me. “And I think what you’re going to see are the conversations that have been going on behind quiet doors saying we need another candidate in this race.”

It is possible that GOP leaders could fudge the rules, which are vague as to the commitment of delegates to a candidate, to enable another candidate to win. Should they do this, I wonder how many unhappy supporters of the current candidates will feel betrayed by the party and stay home or vote Democratic. Keep in mind how angry many of the PUMA’s were about the defeat of Hillary Clinton, which was done fairly under party rules. Resentment could be even greater if party leaders alter rules to help a new candidate. Even should Romney win, the fact that Santorum has posed such a challenge to Romney has highlighted his weaknesses. Should Romney win narrowly, it might be important as to whether the media presents this as a win for Romney or a close win where Romney looked weak and failed to meet earlier expectations.

I doubt that Michigan would have voted Republican in the general election, but the state had been listed as a battle ground state. Dowd says this is no longer the case:

Ten days ago, Michigan was a major battleground state for the general election, Mitt Romney was looking to reconnect with the middle class in his home state, and Rick Santorum was gaining momentum after three big wins and looking at maybe becoming the first Catholic nominated by the Republican party. The Obama campaign was so concerned about Michigan being in play for the fall that it brought President Obama there to give a major speech and made plans to spend valuable ad dollars in the state.

But that was then.

Now, after the Romney and Santorum campaigns, Michigan is likely off the fall map of battleground states.  It looks again reliably Democratic – not because of anything the Obama team has done, but because of the nature of the contest between Romney and Santorum, which has alienated many independent voters and created a tremendous divide.  This isn’t a good sign as the Republican nomination contest moves into other battleground states like Ohio next week.

Quote of the Day

“Rick Santorum also said that global warming is politics, not science. And he said he’ll defend that position to the edge of the earth. “If I have to fall off…” –Jay Leno

Romney Continues To Fudge The Truth

Mitt Romney has an even bigger problem than his flip-flopping and lack of conviction. He lies. He lies a lot.  Beyond the examples in the linked post, just compare the real Barack Obama to the fictional one which Mitt Romney insists upon campaigning against. Now it was found that Romney recently described an event from his childhood which actually occurred before he was born:

When Mitt Romney regaled a Michigan audience this week with childhood memories of a landmark moment in Detroit history, it was a rare instance of emotional candour.

And, perhaps, an even rarer example of time travel.

Romney recalled he was “probably 4 or something like that” the day of the Golden Jubilee, when three-quarters of a million people gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the American automobile.

“My dad had a job being the grandmaster. They painted Woodward Ave. with gold paint,” Romney told a rapt Tea Party audience in the village of Milford Thursday night, reliving a moment of American industrial glory.

The Golden Jubilee described so vividly by Romney was indeed an epic moment in automotive lore. The parade included one of the last public appearances by an elderly Henry Ford.

And it took place June 1, 1946 — fully nine months before Romney was born.

The timelines suggest Romney could well have been conceived that day. But it is inconceivable he was actually there.

Perhaps Romney heard the story when young and created a false memory of the event. Another possibility is that Romney has quite a bit of difficulty telling the truth.

Posted in Mitt Romney. Tags: . 2 Comments »

The Oscars

Something is seriously wrong if the dog from The Artist doesn’t go home with an Oscar and a big box of dog treats

Update: No sign of the dog so far. I hope Mitt Romney didn’t tie him to the top of his car.

Update II: The dog was shown in the audience. I’m glad Romney didn’t get to him.

Update III: There have been a lot of Oscars going to the French tonight. The Republicans will probably go ballistic over this

Separation of Church and State Makes Rick Santorum Vomit

Rick Santorum attacked the views of John F. Kennedy regarding separation of church and state today. Without realizing it, he was also attacking the views of many of the Founding Fathers, as well as the views of Ronald Reagan. Last year Santorum had said, “Earlier in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech, and I almost threw up. You should read the speech.” Kennedy had said:

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.”

Santorum defended his remarks on This Week:

Santorum defended his remarks, telling Stephanopoulos that “the first line, first substantive line in the speech, says, ‘I believe in America where the separation of church and state is absolute.’”

“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” Santorum said. “The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”

He went on to note that the First Amendment “says the free exercise of religion — that means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square.”

“Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, ‘No, faith is not allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate.’ Go on and read the speech. ‘I will have nothing to do with faith. I won’t consult with people of faith.’ It was an absolutist doctrine that was abhorrent at the time of 1960.”

Later in the interview, Stephanopoulos asked Santorum, “You think you wanted to throw up?”

“Well, yes, absolutely,” Santorum replied. “To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up.”

Santorum’s claim that separation of church and state means that people of faith are not allowed in the public square is false, and certainly is not what John Kennedy had said.

John Kennedy’s view on the separation of church and state corresponds with the view of the Founding Fathers who created a secular republic, realizing that this is the best way to protect freedom of religion. Santorum’s views are also counter to the views expressed by Ronald Reagan in a speech at Temple Hillel on October 24, 1984 (emphasis mine):

We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.

This is just one example of why Ronald Reagan would no longer be welcome in a Republican Party which has moved to the extreme right. Maureen Dowd wrote about the GOP–Ghastly Outdated Party in yesterday’s column, quoting one of many Republican strategists who fear that the Republicans are becoming out of touch:  “Republicans being against sex is not good,” the G.O.P. strategist Alex Castellanos told me mournfully. “Sex is popular.”

SciFi Weekend: Secrets of Fringe and Alcatraz; The Economics of Building The Death Star; Community, Inspector Spacetime and The Game of Thrones Returning; Nude Shots of Kate Middleton on Californication?

The last two episodes of Fringe have included major advances to the plot in the alternative time line as Olivia began having memories from the Olivia of the original time line, we encountered the Nina from the universe, and Peter entered the mind of an Observer. The big revelation was that problems were caused by Peter having a child with Altlivia instead of Olivia. Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman were interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter last week, and Collider has a more recent interview:

Was the Observer intel something you’ve been wanting to reveal for awhile now?

WYMAN: Well, we always said that you’d find out about the Observers this season, and that we’re going to investigate them a lot more. So, we’re excited about it all because the Observers are a highlight. For us to constantly break what you think you know, and re-set and have viewers go, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming,” that’s why we get up in the morning. It’s to take people on the ride. We’re excited about what’s coming up, too.

This season, there have been some really great singular cases and stand-alone episodes, but “The End of All Things” was mythology heavy and really speaks to the larger arc this season. How will that effect what viewers see in the final stretch this season?

PINKNER: Well, it’s definitely a game-changer, in that our characters learn a lot more, and the audience is going to learn a lot more, about the uber-plot of our season bad guy, David Robert Jones (Jared Harris). For Peter (Joshua Jackson), Olivia (Anna Torv) and Walter (John Noble), it’s going to start to unfold in ways that, hopefully, will be both really satisfying and challenging to our characters. It’s the 14th episode out of 22, and it’s very much a hinge episode that’s going to launch us into the back half portion of the season.

Do you already know what the final episode for this season will be?

PINKNER: No, we have not written the finale, but we do know what it is. We’ve known the shape of our season before we even started this year.

WYMAN: Fortunately, at the end of every season, we close the chapter and start anew. That’s the language of the series now, so it can organically come to a conclusion that we love.

How soon is it going to become evident what David Robert Jones’ (Jared Harris) uber-plan is, specifically, and how Olivia fits into it?

WYMAN: We can’t say anything, but just remember that, on Fringe, nothing is as it seems. There’s always a little more to the story behind the story. He’s definitely a large part, going forward. A lot of things will come full circle.


PINKNER: We’re well aware of how intelligent our audience is. We’re well aware that Fringe is a show that you really need to lean forward into and pay attention to and think about. It’s not designed to be a show that you can watch while you’re folding laundry. So, we’re well aware of the questions that our audience is inevitably going to ask. We’re well aware of how carefully they watch the show and hold us to continuity. We’re certainly aware of the debates that are going to occur. Our audience holds us to an incredibly high standard of continuity and emotional authenticity. We don’t toy with that, but oftentimes we write stories, in order to spark debate. We’re very determined to always give the answer. We don’t want to leave a lot of things open to debate, at the end of the day.

Episodes of Alcatraz have a formula in which a different prisoner from Alcatraz shows up in the present and must be apprehended every week. Some of the prison staff has also been seen in the present, but very little has been revealed as to what is really going on. Whether the show is successful as a genre show as opposed to a crime show with a twist will depend upon how the mythology of the show is developed. With cancellation of the series a strong possibility after this season, I have feared that we might be kept hanging without real answers. In an interview with TV Guide, executive producers Jennifer Johnson and Dan Pyne indicate that we will receive answers by the end of this season:

Is there a particular reason why Alcatraz prison became the focus point of the disappearance?
Yeah. There are theories that our characters have. We’ll talk about what those theories are by the end of the season, but they may not be the real ones. We’ll understand what Hauser thinks about it and what his think-tank thinks about it, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. We may meet a character by the end of the season who does know that specific answer, who probably has a lot more answers than any of the characters we’ve met so far.

Dissecting Alcatraz‘s Mysteries: How many ’63s are working with Hauser?

Will we learn who the powers that be are and what their motives are this season? Or is that a series arc?
Well, it’s a little of both. I think by the end of [Episode] 13 we’ll have an understanding of who that might be.
That’s the character that we were referring to. He might be part of the powers that be.
Pyne: But definitely by the end of the season there will be more of a sense of the game that’s afoot. We won’t be coy about it and keep holding back. There will be a better sense of what’s going on. We may not understand what the endgame is, but at least the players will become a little bit clearer.
It’s complicated because they don’t all have the same goals, which we’re going to hit upon before the end of the season. There’s almost a secret war happening between the ’63s, too. That all interplays with what their relationships were in the past when they were imprisoned or working on Alcatraz.

Is there a reason why some of the ’63s have gone against mission?
Johnson: We won’t say definitively, but we’ll give people the tools to have pretty informed theories about it.

What’s with the fascination with the number three — three keys, three bank robberies and three days of sniper shootings are just some of the few?
There may be more than one number clue.
Forty-seven is an important number, too. But we like three for its stability and the idea that it’s a triangle. We talk about triangles a lot and relationships that have three angles in them.

Dissecting Alcatraz‘s Mysteries: Who is Lucy, really?

Lucy had mentioned in the past that she was going to fix the prisoners with memory-altering experiments. Did she end up being a puzzle piece in the overall mystery of how the ’63s disappeared?
She definitely is a puzzle piece, yes. We may not stick with this forever, but right now, everything that’s happened in the past has happened chronologically in 1960. So, there’s still three years left before the jump. Clearly, allegiances change. Stuff happens in those three years between the time when Lucy comes to prison to start her experiments and 1963 when she obviously disappeared along with everybody else. Certainly, she has some answers to what might have gone on, but she also may not even understand. She didn’t understand at the time what was going on. It may be just now looking back at it that she can start to unravel what she saw.
Yeah, helping the team unravel by knowing the psychology of the inmates. But the Warden (Jonny Coyne) is very Machiavellian. He does not want the left hand to know what the right hand is doing. So, he may utilize different players for their different challenges. But part of his M.O. is not to let any one person know too much of what is going on.

Diego mentioned in the pilot that the Warden had died many years ago. Did he really or is he part of the missing ’63s?
It’s possible.

Will we discover how Lucy came to work with Hauser in the future and see more of their relationship in the past?
Yes. Definitely, 100 percent.
Their love story is one of the great triangles of Alcatraz.
It’s kind of the love triangle between Hauser, Lucy, and the jump itself.

Dissecting Alcatraz‘s Mysteries: Why is Tommy Madsen so important?

Will we find out what Dr. Beauregard (Leon Rippy) was doing behind closed doors at Alcatraz?
You may find out soon, in the next couple episodes. Then once you find out, you may be totally wrong, but you will see some of what he’s up to. He’s a little bit jealous of Lucy’s elevation to the prize poodle on Alcatraz, so he gets up to some hijinks that he maybe shouldn’t.

What can you tell us about the downstairs door that needs to be opened with three keys?
That we’re going to open it before the end of the season. We’ll understand by the end of the season what’s behind that door, at least one layer of it. It was very important to the Warden. There may only be one person that he shares that secret with.

We learned Diego was kidnapped at age 11. Will that come back into play?
That’s his deep, deep back story and a lot of what motivated his fascination with Alcatraz and with comic books. We won’t necessarily go there before the end of the season, but that is part of who he is as a character and why he became part of this team.

Dissecting Alcatraz‘s Mysteries: Hauser and Lucy’s past revealed

Once Rebecca does finally come face-to-face with Tommy, will she be able to let bygones be bygones and realize that he is still her family?
We know the answer to that, but I don’t think we can tell you.

What can you tell us about what is in store for her?
She begins to get a little bit more focused on solving the mystery of what happened to her partner and delving into that day and why he was there. It slowly leads her to some revelations about her partner about the larger mystery of Alcatraz and also about Tommy Madsen.
And what everybody is doing here present day. They discover that there are different factions of ’63s here in present day San Francisco and beyond.

Sarah Jones, who plays Detective Rebecca Madsen, also indicated that there will be pay off for the fans in the last two episodes in an interview with Collider.

Last week the political blogosphere debated whether the Death Star was worth building. Kevin Drum looked at the economics and found that it was a surprisingly cost-effective weapon. A post at Enik Rising argued that it was a bad investment, even if affordable. I bet that such debates prior to the building of the Death Star didn’t take Luke Skywalker into consideration.

Community returns on March 15. There will also be a web series of Inspector Spacetime, a British time travel show which began in 1992 according to Community. Geeks of Doom has more information:

Inspector Spacetime, the Doctor Who-spoofing character whose cheeky sci-fi exploits are vastly enjoyed by Community characters Abed (Danny Pudi) and Troy (Donald Glover), will soon be seen in his very own web series, but don’t expect to see any cameos from certain Greendale Community College students. Travis Richey, the Inspector himself, is producing the six-episode series independently.

You can expect to see the Inspector and his trusty sidekick Constable Reginald battle their arch-nemesis Boyish the Extraordinary and take on the Blorgons of Second New Old Earth 7 with the aid of the Inspector’s “optic pocketknife.”

Richey wrote to io9 to further clarify his intentions for the web series:

“Dan Harmon, Community, NBC and Sony have nothing to do with this web series. I pitched it to them after my first episode of Community, but never heard back from them one way or another. So I’m going to do it myself, with the help of fans. I’m launching a Kickstarter campaign in a matter of hours for an equipment budget, and the complete story can be read there.”

The Game of Thrones returns on April 1 (preview above).

The BBC made a pilot for a series loosely based upon Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently novels in 2010. A three episode series begins on BBC 4 on March 5.

Emilie de Ravin of Lost, who also appears in Once Upon A Time as Belle this season, c0-stars in a pilot for ABC:

Lost alumna Emilie de Ravin is set to co-star in another ABC drama series project,  pilot Americana, a soap about a famous fashion industry clan. It centers on iconic fashion designer Robert Soulter (Anthony LaPaglia), the patriarch of a sprawling family who just welcomed a new member, a young designer whose shocking arrival turns the family and the legendary label inside out. De Ravin, repped by Gersh and manager Darren Goldberg, will play Robert’s chic and outgoing daughter Francesca who is the head of events at Americana but Robert doesn’t consider her a candidate for the heir to his empire, which may have treacherous consequences. Michael Seitzman wrote the script, with Phillip Noyce, who helmed the pilot for ABC’s Revenge last year, directing.

Camilla Luddington, who played Kate Middleton in the Lifetime movie William & Kate, has more recently had a role in Californication. In last week’s episode she was repeatedly seen naked in scenes ranging from swimming in the nude to getting caught by Charlie Runkle while getting out of the shower. In is safe to assume this is the closest we will ever get to seeing any version of Kate Middleton nude on television. Pictures are under the fold if you are seeing this on the main web page (double click on the pictures for larger versions).


Jeb Bush Accurately Describes Current GOP Field

Jeb Bush, generally regarded as George’s younger, smarter brother,  has been receiving a lot of credit this week for saying what any sane conservative should realize:

“I used to be a conservative and I watch these debates and I’m wondering, I don’t think I’ve changed, but it’s a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people’s fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective and that’s kind of where we are.”

It is a shame he didn’t speak out when his brother was in the White House. While the Republican Party has moved even further to the right, the fact remains that George Bush was probably the most radical right wing president in our history, and few (if any) other presidents have done as much harm to the country as Bush.

I wonder if Jeb is laying the groundwork for a 2016 campaign, already realizing the importance of distancing himself from what could be a disastrous campaign in 2012. This assumes that the Republican Party will be more sane in 2016 than it is now, which is a very questionable prediction. It is easy for Jeb Bush to sound more sane now when he is not running. If he was a candidate for the 2012 nomination he might be forced to act just as insane as Santorum, Gingrich, Paul, and Romney.

There was a time when perhaps Mitt Romney would be the Republican candidate who tried to tone down the extremism and campaign as the sane candidate. Instead Romney has actually tried to campaign with claims of being to the right of Rick Santorum. As Bill Maher has pointed out, that cannot work:  “he can’t be to the right of Rick Santorum because there’s nothing to the right except Kirk Cameron and the Neo-Nazi Party.”