Saturday, March 03, 2012

From My Collection: Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton

By Richard K. Barry

One of the best reasons to blog, or to write at all, is that it forces you to do a little research and maybe dig a bit deeper than you might otherwise into subject matter that interests you.

I love music and consider myself as much an expert as anyone who doesn't make a living at it. Not to be falsely modest because I play gigs around town in Toronto in a blues band and have a good working knowledge of a number of genre, but there just aren't that many hours in the day to know as much as I might like to know. So I write and pick up what I can along the way.

I don't mind getting things wrong from time to time, so, if I do, please feel free to correct me. Let's face it, most of the information I'm getting is coming from the internet, and we know how sketchy that can be. Books and liner notes provide some other stuff. Anyway, the point is that there is nothing malicious in any errors that might occur. It's just the start of a conversation if you want it to be.

As an exercise, I've decided to look through my own substantial music collection, see what's there, and maybe write a few lines about different recordings and post a relevant video more, again, as a learning exercise than anything else.

This morning I walked over to where I keep my vinyl and pulled out, completely at random, Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton. The album was released in the UK on July 22, 1966. Personnel on the record are John Mayall (vocals/piano/organ/harmonica); Eric Clapton (vocals/guitar); John McVie (bass/guitar); and Hughie Flint (drums).

(By the way, it seems that the Blues Breakers name sometimes appears as two words with a capitalized second word, and sometimes as one word. Imagine that, studio marketing departments being inconsistent).

One of the cooler things from my perspective is that a horn section was added to the recording with Alan Skidmore on tenor sax, John Almond on baritone sax and Dennis Healey on trumpet.

The Bluesbreakers was John Mayall's band, and are typically called John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. They went through a ton of band members over the years (complete list on the wiki) with Clapton being the most famous, as a member of the group in 1965-66. He had previously been with the Yardbirds and would form Cream with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker afterwords.

By the looks of things, this was the only album Clapton did with the Bluesbreakers.

Just because these things are never simple, Mayall used the name the Bluesbreakers from 1963 to 1967, dropped it for 15 years, and then started using it again in 1983 and has used it ever since. There appear to be just under 40 albums under that name but Mayall recorded with other configurations between 1967 to 1983, for what it's worth.

As the names suggest, the Bluesbreakers were a blues band.

The album in question here, Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, is about as straight-ahead blues as you can get with several tunes in the pure Chicago style like Otis Rush's "All Your Love" and Freddie King's "Hide Away." Mayall wrote or arranged five of the songs. Notably, Clapton debuted as a lead vocalist on the album with Robert Johnson's "Ramblin' on My Mind."

Other offerings are: "Little Girl" (Mayall); "Another Man" (arr. Mayall); "Double Crossing Time" (Mayall/Clapton); "What'D I Say" (Charles); "Key To Love" (Mayall); "Parchman Farm" (Allison); "Have You Heard" (Mayall); "Steppin' Out" (L.C. Frazier); and "It Ain't Right" (Jacobs).

As for the legacy of the album, in 2003, it was ranked number 195 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time and has also no doubt been one of the most influential blues albums of all time.

Here's a clip of a reunion concert of some sort with Mayall and Clapton doing Hide Away.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Friday, March 02, 2012

This day in music - March 2, 1983: The first CDs become available in the U.S.

(Ed. note: I would just like to note that this post violates my rule that this blog, like my car, be a Billy Joel-free zone, with the possible exception of "Piano Man." I like that song a lot. But far be it from me to censor Richard. Blame him, not me. -- MJWS)

Apparently, on March 2, 1983, CBS Records released 16 titles on CD in the U.S. The first CD to be manufactured was The Visitors by ABBA in Germany in 1982. The first album to be released on CD was Billy Joel's 52nd Street, which reached the market alongside Sony's CD player CDP-101 on October 1, 1982 in Japan. I guess that means the ABBA recording was produced before 52nd Street but released after.

And, to confuse things further, Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA was the first compact disc manufactured in the United States for commercial release, when CBS opened its CD manufacturing plant in Terre Haute, Indiana in September 1984. Discs previously had been imported from Japan.

I am not entirely sure which 16 titles were released in the U.S. by CBS on March 2, 1983, but 52nd Street was put out by CBS Records, so it stands to reason that it was one of the 16.

For the record, Rolling Stone magazine lists 52nd Street as among the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Here's "My Life" from the album, which, according to the YouTube post, was taken from a November 2006 performance in Tokyo.

(Cross-posted Lippmann's Ghost.)

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I am Rush Limbaugh's wife

I Am Rush Limbaughs Wife takemycountrybackHello. My name is Kathryn Rogers. You might not know me, but I am Rush Limbaugh's wife.

I felt it was time to come out of the shadows and respond to the hate mail we have been getting after what my husband said this week about women and contraception. By now you have heard the comments and are probably wondering, what kind of woman marries a man who says such things? How could a woman be willing to let a man who says such things kiss her? Touch her? Get into the same bed with her? Well, I wanted to let you all know the answers to these questions. I hope it sheds some light on the situation and opens up the conversation.

I am Rush's fourth wife. Yes, lucky number four, as I like to refer to myself. Rush and I met in 2006. I was working as a party planner and Rush was working the party. It was love at first sight. What I mean to say is that Rush thought I was totally hot. It took me a little longer, I have to admit.

Once I got to know him better, I really started to fall in love with him. How could you not? He is so handsome and cuddly, and so sexy. Sure he was married before, but that is only a testament to his wild nature, something I really love about him. Like for example, his first wife was named Roxy. What a slutty name, right? She was a sales secretary at the radio station where he worked at the time. I kid him by calling her his Loni Anderson.

Following Roxy, Rush married a college student who was an "usherette" at a baseball stadium. Her name was Michelle Sixta. I joke that it kind of sounds like "Sexta." He always cracks up when I tell him that. And boy was she a slut. She would use contraception without even telling Rush about it. Not that he ever wanted children. Why would he? Who would want those rug rats anyway? Life is too short and there is too much shopping to do.

Conquest number three for my Rushypoo was a horrid woman named Marta Fitzgerald. She was an aerobics instructor. Can you believe that? They met online. I mean, how slutty is that? This woman paid money to meet men on the Internet. You know who pays money to meet men on the internet? Loser whores! That's who!

People could argue that men pay a membership fee for online dating too. Just the other day Rush and I were talking about this and he had a great idea. If men are going to pay a membership fee to meet women, if men are expected to pay for this, then men want something in return -- videos of all the sex posted online so they can see what they're getting for their money. I thought that was great. I think he used that one on his show the very next day.

So all you sensitive people out there who are offended by how my Rush talks about women on his radio program, I say to you get a life! Rush requires a certain kind of woman to handle him, and it's not you! Jealous? He requires someone who is not a contraceptive-using slut. Someone who is willing to light his cigars, buy him oxycodone and hydrocodone, and protect him from all the hateful sluts out there who just don't understand him.

So stop hating on my man! On second thought, don't. All the hate on my husband actually improves his ratings. To me that means one thing -- I get a raise in my al-low-ance! Holla!! And there is this cute dress that I have had my eye on. It is this short, hot little thing that is so slu... I mean conservatively classy. You would love me in it.



Guest post by tmcbpatriot (not Kathryn Rogers, but close)

tmcbpatriot's informative and always entertaining blog, Take My Country Back, emanates from somewhere out in the Midwest. He writes passionately and as often as possible about a confused, mindless right wing hopelessly lost in the abyss of endless lies and misdirection.

Ed. note: This is the patriot's third guest post for us. His first was on how it's about the vagina, stupid and his second was on gay marriage and the end of the GOP. I'm a big fan of his blog and we're happy to have him on board.

I would just note, for what it's worth, that the fourth Mrs. Limbaugh is considerably younger than Dear Leader Rush -- like, more than 25 years younger. That should tell you something about Rush's view of women.

For more on Rush's sexist and indeed downright mysogynistic assault on Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown student he has repeatedly (and very publicly) called a slut and a prostitute for using birth control, see ABC News, Think Progress, and Media Matters. Here's what he said on Wednesday:

So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch.

It's amazing that any woman wants anything at all to do with this asshole. Obviously, he wants women to know their place. Right under his boot. Where he and his ilk can use and abuse them as they see fit.

(And if he thinks women who use birth control are sluts and prostitutes, then it must be that he thinks the overwhelming majority of American women are sluts and prostitutes. That should tell you a lot about what conservative men, and even some conservative women, really think of women.)

As for Ms. Fluke, I hope she fights back with every legal weapon at her disposal.


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What if Romney were an NFL franchise?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Via twitter:

Team Romney has spent $3.9 million on OH ads. Santorum + Newt combined: $1.6 million.

-- Alex Burns (@aburnspolitico)

Once again, we see that Mitt can only win -- whether individual states like Florida and Michigan or likely the nomination itself -- by grossly outspending his opponents. (And even then he has lost, like in Iowa and South Carolina.)

In sports terms, he's like the Yankees and the Red Sox combined -- but without any serious talent developed from within. (He has no "Core Four," just a bunch of overpaid free agents, and he can make up for any blunder by spending his way out of trouble and crushing his less-fortunate foes.)

But just imagine him in the NFL, a more competitive league with a ruthless salary cap. He'd be stuck with a bloated roster and no way to get out from under his own failure. Maybe by cutting veterans and restructuring contacts and by drafting smartly, but everything we've seen of him, keeping this analogy going, suggests that he'd be a miserable judge of talent and a poor player developer. I suspect he'd be a 6-10 team, at best. Maybe Santorum would only be 7-9, if even that, but Romney wouldn't be able to buy wins the way he's doing now.

Worse for Mitt, imagine him in a league with a salary cap and guaranteed contacts, like the NHL. He'd have no way of overcoming his weaknesses and failures and would be stuck in perpetual mediocrity, at best, while savvier teams spent the same amount of money far more wisely. He'd be the Toronto Maple Leafs, once able to spend their way out of trouble but now spinning their wheels and barely even competitive enough to challenge for a playoff spot.

There are a number of reasons why Romney will win this race, not least the general awfulness of his rivals, but when it comes down to it, it's the money, stupid.

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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Andrew Breitbart is dead

Conservative bully and agitator Andrew Breitbart, as you surely know by now, died earlier today "unexpectedly from natural causes."

He was 43.

However much I loathed the man, and I certainly loathed him a great deal, I do not wish here to speak ill of the dead. He was what he was, to the detriment of civil discourse, to the diminishing of conservatism, and to the worsening of American democracy.

And let us not forget that he himself did speak ill of the dead, just as he spoke ill generally. What goes around, comes around.

Still, there is sadness in death, including in Breitbart's, and one feels for his loved ones. They are not to blame for who and what he was.


One may not wish to speak ill of the dead, but honesty demands it sometimes. This is so very true in this case. As David Frum wrote:

And this is where it becomes difficult to honor the Roman injunction to speak no ill of the dead. It's difficult for me to assess Breitbart's impact upon American media and American politics as anything other than poisonous. When one of the leading media figures of the day achieves his success by his giddy disdain for truth and fairness -- when one of our leading political figures offers to his admirers a politics inflamed by rage and devoid of ideas -- how to withhold a profoundly negative judgment on his life and career?

How indeed.

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Let them get pregnant, like God intended.

By Capt. Fogg

What's worse than a bunch of creepy old man religious perverts conspiring against the health and well being of women? Well, perhaps a creepy young woman trying to make sure -- using copious amounts of taxpayer money -- to fight a requirement that health insurers cover the modest cost of birth control. Worse still, she's fighting something that in some cases is a medical necessity and in very many cases will prevent women from becoming unable to work and winding up in poverty and their children on public assistance.

Such things don't seem to matter to GOP apparatchiks like Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General who is suing the Federal Government over the Affordable Care Act, a law that is starting to provide health care to Florida's 4.5 million uninsured and access to contraception. As the ACA will come before the US Supreme Court this month, the redundancy of this suit is as obvious as the smug unconcern Bondi has for truth, justice and freedom from the tyranny of religious nuts.

Sold as another attempt at "smaller" government, it's really nothing but a power play by the Religious Rich to make their perverted, obsessive, inhumane and antique dogmas into public policy no matter the cost. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi may not be one of these foul, disgusting old men, but she sure as hell works for them while collecting a salary paid by the people she'd like to keep barefoot and pregnant and poor and in thrall to the superstition salesmen with the effrontery to use our freedom of religion and our tax revenues against us.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)


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NYPD spying on Muslim community damages trust, relationships

Guest post by Rabia Chaudry

Rabia Chaudry is an associate fellow of the Truman National Security Project and the president of the Safe Nation Collaborative.

A few years ago I joined about twenty other Muslim community leaders gathered to meet a regional outreach officer from a law enforcement agency. Many present had been living in the area for decades and were pillars of their communities. The officer introduced himself, noting that he had been in the region for over 15 years. He then mentioned that about 90 percent of his work, and the work of his agency, was in the Muslim community. We were shocked; none of us had ever met him before. We left the meeting feeling unnerved that there was so much "work" being done upon us without our knowledge. It was my first realization that the relationship between law enforcement and American Muslims was dysfunctional.

Training agents and officers that Islam is inherently violent, mapping Muslim establishments and mosques, infiltrating Muslim students at universities, and spying on Muslim leaders – these are only a few of the numerous stories recently uncovered about missteps taken by U.S. law enforcement agencies in their dealings with Muslims. The extent to which these invasive tactics have been unapologetically supported by officials such as Mayor Bloomberg, and apparently funded by the White House, has shocked the civil liberties world and eroded the trust of American Muslims.

The systematic dismantling by some law enforcement agencies, most notably the NYPD, of the goodwill built with Muslims over the last decade is truly puzzling. Studies show that there is no prevalence of radicalization amongst American Muslims, no correlation between religiosity and violence, and no reliable profile of a terrorist. Furthermore, Muslims have assisted authorities in foiling one third of all terror plots involving other Muslims since 9/11.

So the question must be asked: why do law enforcement agencies continue to engage in policies and tactics that, in light of empirical evidence, are futile in the fight against terror? Why are tremendous amounts of resources being wasted in monitoring and profiling communities of Muslims when the net result amounts to nothing more than notes on halal fried chicken joints or the number of times students prayed during a white water rafting trip?

Cynics may suggest that our law enforcement agencies are full of bigots and xenophobes or have no regard for civil liberties. However, I have more faith in those who risk their lives daily to protect us. The only reasonable explanation of the behavior of agencies such as the NYPD, LAPD, and FBI is that they sincerely believe that Islam is an intrinsically violent, radicalizing force and that Muslims are potential threats to security.

Such a conclusion is absurd not only to the nearly two billion peaceful Muslims in the world, but also to those who live and work alongside Muslims every day. Yet our law enforcement agencies continue to be taught that the Quran encourages violence, that religious and practicing Muslims view violent jihad as an obligation, and that peaceful Muslim practice deceit. According to "Manufacturing the Muslim Menace" (pdf), a comprehensive 2011 study by Thomas Cincotta of Political Research Associates, there exists an entire industry devoted to teaching law enforcement officers to hate Islam and Muslims.

It is said that you cannot build a tower on a crooked foundation. In this case, the foundation must be rebuilt. The only way to remedy the destructive education about Islam and Muslims given to law enforcement is to re-educate them. In fact, last year the White House and Department of Justice came to this very conclusion. They issued guidelines for trainers on Islam and Muslims and called for closer local collaboration between Muslim and law enforcement communities. The memo seems not to have reached everyone, however. Just recently, Tennessee approved law enforcement training by John Guandolo, one of the same Islamophobic trainers cited in Cincotta's study.

It has to be understood that American Muslims hold the highest stakes when it comes to keeping America safe from threats arising from rogue Muslims; no group has more to lose from a terror attack. Law enforcement must realize that it works from a place of common interest with Muslims and that the cooperation and trust of Muslims is essential to successful counter-terror operations. These understandings will only be internalized and reflected in policies and strategies when law enforcement agencies are re-trained on Islam and Muslims. Considering the significant damaging of trust in the past few weeks, it is time that law enforcement worked with Muslim communities instead of around them by making it a priority to arm themselves with accurate information about Islam.

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Erick Erickson gets it right about Romney

Sometimes in politics the despair of the other side is so palpable that you almost feel sorry for them. Almost. Such is the case with Erick Erickson, noted conservative pundit, who runs the website RedState, as he commented on Mitt Romney's candidacy after the Michigan primary.

Go on Erick, share your pain. We're here to help.

When you have a candidate few people really like, whose support is a mile wide and an inch deep, whose raison d'etre (a 4am fancy word) is fixing an economy that is fixing itself without him, and who only wins his actual, factual home state by three percentage points against a guy no one took seriously only two months ago, there really is little reason for independent voters in the general election to choose him if the economy keeps improving.

Seriously, putting it bluntly, conservatives may not like Barack Obama, but most other people do. And when faced with a guy you like and a guy you don't like who says he can fix an economy that no longer needs fixing, you're going to go with the guy you like.

If Republicans in Washington are not panicked and trying desperately to pull Bobby Jindal in the race tomorrow, or someone like him, the party leaders must have a death wish. Mitt Romney continues to run an uninspiring campaign only able to win by massively outspending his opponents to tell voters how much worse the other guys are. That may work in the primary, but it will not work in a general election where the President of the United States won't be outspent 5 to 1.

Well, that was fun.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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All Over But The Shouting, Of Which There Will Be Plenty

By Carl
With his narrow win in Michigan, Mitt Romney has all but sewed up the Republican nomination. Intrade puts the odds at 85-15 for a Republican ticket headed by Romney now. Nate Silver isn't quite so optimistic and points out any number of scenarios where Mitt could actually lose the nomination but they're based on machinations that will make your brain sore.
So, Quo vadis, Mitt? Where are you going? You're already handicapped in the general by a nasty, brutish primary that has had more negative advertising (SuperPACS included) than most general elections, and will likely not end anytime soon.
Your first major step will likely be to decide on a running mate. I believe he already has: Ron Paul.
Let's face some facts: Paul is a serial campaigner, and serial campaigners have a habit of becoming laughingstocks-- Adlai Stevenson springs to mind. And Paul is getting old. He'd be in his 80s in 2016. This really is his last chance. Since he's not going to win the nomination, and should he somehow win the Libertarian or Green nominations, he'd likely be off the ballot in any number of states, his last best hope rests in the GOP, and accepting the Veep nomination.
Now, this is not as crazy as it might seem at first blush and strategically, it's a pretty smart move for Romney. For one thing, Paul is about the only Republican who actually attracts young voters into the Republican fold. He has certified Teabagger status, and can draw fire away from Romney and force Obama to run against both men (deploying the otherwise useless Joe Biden, who's probably drooling at the prospects of smacking Ron Paul around.)
For Paul, the logic is simple: his largest most attentive national audience ever, from the convention right down to the concession speech, he will have national news coverage of the kind he has never and will not ever get. For a man with an overinflated sense of self-worth like Paul, this has to be a real attractive prospect.
For Romney, the attraction is obvious: money.
You heard me. Ron Paul's direct fundraising machine is unparalleled in the Republican party, and rivaled only by Barack Obama's. Too, his superPAC is not far behind Romney's in fund raising. Both of these components will be vital in any general election campaign as Obama will have am huge advantage as incumbent. A popular incumbent. A popular incumbent riding the coattails of a robust recovery.
These guys need money like a wino needs Ripple.
Note something else: Ron Paul running on the national ticket in 2012 probably opens a door wide for his son, Senator Rand Paul, to run in 2016 or 2020.
I'm thinking the former, but he may be persuaded out by Chris Christie partisans.
For his part, Romney really has few options. Rick Santorum is one, to be sure, since after this campaign, he's toast. About all he could realistically run for would be governor of Pennsylvania and I doubt Pennsylvanians will want him. Gingrich will never accept the Veep nod-- he'll probably just write another book-- and if you look around, there are precious few Republicans who would sacrifice their chances in 2016 to jump on board a crashing plane.
He could call on Mitch Daniels, who is about the only Republican who hasn't shamed himself this year, even though his SOTU rebuttal left a lot to be desired. Marco Rubio would only add another Mormon to the ticket with the added bonus of a "birther" problem.
For my money, Paul is the smartest gamble Romney can make here, and as I recall, Mormons are allowed to gamble.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Live-blogging the 2012 Wyoming caucuses: Romney wins, but it's really a tie, so whatever

Well, why not? But let's make this quick.

10:16 pm - With all the attention recently on Michigan and Arizona, you would be excused for not knowing that Wyoming has been holding caucuses, from February 11 to today. These caucuses in the state's 23 countries end with straw polls that determine the allocation of 26 delegates (with three more unpledged RNC delegates, so 29 in total). By comparison, yesterday's super-hyped primary in Michigan resulted in the allocation of only 30 delegates (given that the state had its delegate number cut in half for violating party rules).

10:21 pm - And Romney won. (Results here.) With 100 percent reporting, it's Romney 39, Santorum 32, Paul 21, and Gingrich 8. In delegate terms, it looks like 10 for Romney, 9 for Santorum, 6 for Paul, and 1 for poor Newt.

10:25 pm - Does this mean anything? Well, a win's a win, even by just a single delegate. And this win only serves to reinforce Romney's frontrunner status after yesterday's much more prominent votes. But of course Santorum can still claim something of a tie here, just as he can in Michigan, and he no doubt would have done better here had he not been such a late surger in the race (that is, if he's been seen as a viable alternative, and as really the only genuinely conservative alternative, to Romney earlier on).

10:34 pm - Anyway, only about 2,000 people actually voted. Any way you look at it, this was hardly a ringing endorsement of anything other than general apathy. These were just some hardcore partisans assuming disproportionate influence over presidential politics. Good for them, perhaps, but this wasn't exactly American democracy at its finest. 

10:38 pm - Alright, enough. Don't say we didn't show any love for... no, not The Cowboy State but officially The Equality State, which is rather funny when you consider what Mitt and Rick think of equality, whether it's for women, the non-rich, or anyone else not demographically privileged by Republicans.

10:42 pm - Come on back tomorrow for many more new posts, including one from Richard on Erick Erickson's rather unfavorable view of Romney, as well as a guest post on police/government spying on Muslims.

10:44 pm - Good night, everyone.

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Davy Jones (1945-2012)

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Olympia Snowe, Republican senator from Maine, decides not to seek re-election

How interesting is it that one of the most moderate Republicans in the Senate, Olympia Snowe from Maine, is not seeking re-election? 

The Washington Post had this to say:

In announcing her plans, Snowe, 65, emphasized that she is in good health and was prepared for the campaign ahead. But she said she was swayed by the increasing polarization in Washington.

"Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term," Snowe said in a statement. "So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate, which is what a fourth term would entail."

Snowe's retirement represents a major setback for the GOP's efforts to regain a majority in the Senate. As a moderate Republican, she may be the party's only hope to hold a seat in the strongly blue state.

According to the report, her announcement took the Republican leadership completely by surprise, noting that she had hired some heavyweight staff to help her in the campaign and that as late as Monday she had sent out an invitation for a fund-raiser.

Traditionally, Snowe has been one of the most moderate Republicans, though more and more, no doubt to fend off challenges from her right, she has been taking more conservative positions on a range issues. However, according to the just-released National Journal 2011 vote rankings, only her Republican Senate colleague, Susan Collins, also from Maine, voted with the Democrats more than Snowe.

In this strongly blue state, Snowe might have been the Republican's only chance to hold the seat, or as Nate Silver tweets, "We had estimated GOP's chances of holding Maine senate at 85% before. Maybe 20-30% now after Snowe retirement."

As important as that is, her decision not to run says volumes about how difficult it must be for moderate Republicans to maintain their sanity in the crazy world that is now the GOP. They are a dying breed, these moderates, and her decision reinforces the point that Washington is becoming more polarized by the day.

Perhaps she realized what she would have to become to secure her party's nomination, amidst claims from radical conservatives that she is a RINO (Republican in Name Only). Or maybe she decided that the Republican Party she once knew no longer exists, and it just wasn't any fun banging her head against the wall.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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The self-aggrandizing hypocrisy of Olympia Snowe

As you may have heard, Republican Senator Olympia Snowe is retiring.

Via twitter: 

Sen. Snowe: "frustrating... that atmosphere of polarization and 'my way or the highway' ideologies has become pervasive" in politics. 

-- Steve Brusk (@stevebruskCNN)

But what is the self-righteous, process-paralyzing, power-wielding, Republican-leaning "centrism" of Snowe, Collins, Nelson, Lieberman, Landrieu et al. if not a "my way or the highway" ideology and general approach to politics?

Besides, as Zandar reminds us:

Weep not for the Snowe Queen, because when it counted, she was a GOP whackaloon through and through.

Indeed she was (even if she's much more acceptable than the crazy Tea Party types currently in favor in her state). And now the good people of Maine can get back to their senses and send a Democrat to replace her in Washington. Preferably one who isn't of her ideological ilk.

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To No One's Great Surprise

By Carl
Mitt Romney pulled a double last night, ekeing out a victory in Michigan while swamping Santorum in a frothy heady victory in Arizona.
This re-establishes, temporarily, his status as heir-apparent to the Republican punching bag for Obama.
I mean, nomination.
Santorum had a double digit lead at one point, and despite heavy turnout by Democrats supporting Santorum (over 10%) in this open primary, he lost Michigan by a not-uncomfortable margin, when all was said and done.
This probably came two days too late. I don't know who's handling Santorum's press, but they need to be fired. Santorum should have been on FOX Sunday or one of the other talking head shows, expressing this, and since you can't fire the candidate, someone needs a sword to fall on. This was without a doubt the single stupidest irrelevant and clumsy things Santorum has said, hands down.
When he talks dogwhistles to his base, that's one thing and as stupid as it seems to you and me, it works for them so at least there's a rationale for whipping strawmen.
But Rick is Catholic. He's speaking to other Catholics ahead of a primary in a state that is filled with Reagan Democrats and their progeny. These are folks who were loyal Democrats from FDR on down, and who hold JFK up as a martyred saint, a throwback to a time when it was OK (for them) to be a Democrat . JFK was the first Catholic, only Catholic President.
Insult Kennedy, you insult their parents and grandparents. In a religion that places value on ancestry as much as Catholicism does, the last thing you want to do is make that kind of linkage, particular with such a visceral image as vomiting.
How Romney doesn't have this nomination sewed up already is beyond me. He's left an awful lot of money on the table, as they say in poker. He can't close the deal, and Super Tuesday is next week. He has the funding and the organization to do surprisingly well, but his own tone-deafness has allowed Gingrich and Santorum to hang around.
If they pull a few upsets out of the hat, it could be all over for Mitt, altho he'll never know it. He's too stupid to fall down.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Live-blogging the 2012 Michigan and Arizona primaries: Two terrible candidates and a GOP divided against itself


7:10 pm - Okay, let's do this. I'm still not quite over my extensive live-blogging of the Oscars two nights ago, an exhausting exercise, but politics beckons. Well, Republican politics. Certainly the Oscars are political as well, in a different but similarly ridiculous way. I'll be commenting throughout the evening, a lot, so keep checking back, with updates to this post, and Richard will be weighing in with his commentary as well.

7:16 pm - My predictions for tonight: Romney by 3 in Michigan and 17 in Arizona. Nate Silver notes that Michigan is too close to call, and of course he's right. Democratic turnout in the open Republican primary is helping Santorum a lot, but I don't think it'll be enough. Maybe, as a massive Santorum fan (in a way, or at least for today), I'm just being overly pessimistic, but I figure that Romney's huge spending advantage will help him in the end.

7:20 pm - From WaPo's Felicia Sonmez (via twitter): "Mitt Romney on Tuesday downplayed the significance of a potential loss in the Michigan primary, telling Fox Business Network, "If I were turned down by Massachusetts, where I have lived for the last 40 years and served as governor, that would be a little harder to explain."

Ah, yes, the expectations game. And for Romney, once the pretty clear frontrunner, it's all about lowering them as much as possible so that at the very worst he can walk away with a big win in Arizona and a close loss in Michigan and still look like a plausible option for Republicans, still the narrow frontrunner. He'd have a hard time explaining a loss in Michigan in his speech later tonight, but he could just ignore it by saying it was a tough race but now he's looking ahead, no mention of how he lost a state he's called one of his own, where he outspent his rivals by a wide margin, and where his name and organization really should have been enough to put him over the top.

Would it be harder to explain a loss in Massachusetts (where, of course, he won't lose)? Yes, but, well, no, not really, not to anyone who's being honest about what's going on (and who's being honest about Romney). He's a terrible candidate, a privileged rich douchebag (as I keep saying) who's widely viewed as a massive phony who will do and say anything for votes and who's deeply unpopular throughout his own party and particularly with the non-establishment. A strong candidate would have wrapped this thing up by now. Mitt's not a strong candidate. Similarly, a strong alternative would have beaten Mitt by now. No one thrown up by the right has been a strong alternative, including Santorum. This is why Romney will be the nominee. And why the party will wither from a lack of enthusiasm, with so many of the faithful, when Romney take the stage to give his acceptance speech in Tampa this summer, wondering what the hell just happened.

7:33 pm - Okay, I'm off to have some dinner. Be back soon with more.

8:05 pm - If you want to dig a little deeper in Michigan, Chris Cillizza has five counties to watch

8:12 pm - "What happens if Rick Santorum wins Michigan?" asks George S. I thought everyone knew that frogs will fall from the sky.

8:15 pm - Most Michigan polls closed at 8, but some are open until 9. Some results are trickling in... 41-37 for Santorum with 1% reporting, with Paul at 12 and Gingrich at 7. (You can find the results here. And for Arizona here.)

8:18 pm - It should be noted, too, that Michigan lost half its delegates by violating the RNC's schedule (that is, by moving up in the calendar). There are only 30 delegates at stake today, hardly enough to justify all the attention this race has received. But, then, this isn't about delegates, it's about momentum, about what it says about the race as a whole. And a win for either Romney or Santorum would be significant in those terms.

A Santorum aide said that they've already won Michigan: "No matter what the results are, we've won. This is Romney's home state." But that's just spin. Losing by a narrow margin would be something of a moral victory given where Santorum was just a few weeks ago and would allow Santorum to solidify his position as the only viable alternative to Romney, but Romney's been playing the low-expectations game, too, and with a win, no matter how large, he'd be able to solidify his position as the frontrunner and likely nominee, particularly in combination with a big win in Arizona.

But certainly a win for Santorum would be more significant than a win for Romney. Which is to say, Santorum would benefit from a win more than Romney would, as Romney was expected to win here and has had such a hard time staying on top of the pack. Put the other way, a loss for Romney would be more significant than a loss for Santorum, as a loss for Romney would reinforce the narrative that he is incredibly weak (which he is) and that Republicans are desperate for someone else to lead them in November (which they are).

8:34 pm - Not much to say about the results so far. Santorum's up 40-39, with just 71 votes separating them (but with results coming in fairly quickly now).

8:46 pm - Ron Paul's speaking to his supporters. An early speech, but, then, it's not like he had much to wait for. Coherent and engaging, he's making the same points as usual, some of them excellent (about civil liberties and American militarism), most of them the usual right-wing libertarian nonsense. If you've been paying any attention at all, you've heard it all before. But those excellent points deserve repeating, particularly given the way both parties trample all over civil liberties and promote misadventurous warmongering.

8:50 pm - And now for our first comment from Richard...

RKB: Romney's surrogates on the various election coverage programs are still playing the inevitability card. I guess that's the theme that got them this far so they have to stick with it, sort of like dancing with the one that brung ya, but it's a dangerous game. If Romney loses Michigan tonight, all talk of inevitability will probably end pretty quickly.

8:53 pm - David Corn tweets: "'This country doesn't need another war at all.' -- Paul's biggest applause line so far. Are these really Republicans? Check their papers!" They're RINOs, of a sort.

RKB: Howard Fineman on MSNBC is saying that Romney's people are focusing on everyone else's weaknesses rather than Romney's strengths. Chris Matthews called it the "If you think I stink (you should consider the other guy) strategy." The truth may be that Romney doesn't want people to think about him but rather about how much they dislike Obama and how supposedly unprincipled Santorum has been in the campaign.

8:57 pm - Markos Moulitsas tweets: "Results are still within margin." What does that mean? Click on the link or go to my post from earlier. (Briefly, it's about Democratic "support" for Santorum, which might be enough to put him over the top.)

9:01 pm - The networks are calling Arizona for Romney.

9:02 pm - Chuck Todd tweets: "Officially calling Romney the winner of AZ primary, winner take all of 29 delegates. MI is 'too close to call.'" Note: one fewer delegate than in Michigan. And Romney wins easily. Even if Santorum wins Michigan, this shouldn't be forgotten when figuring out what today meant. And with delegates in Michigan handed out proportionally in Michigan and winner-take-all in Arizona (correct me if I'm wrong on that), Romney comes away from today with the most delegates by far.

RKB notes Arizona call is based on exit polls.

RKB: With 20% reporting in Michigan, Romney is ahead of Santorum by a margin of 41% to 38% (74,893 to 71,289), according to CNN.

9:12 pm - Ana Marie Cox tweets: "Blitzer: 'Who could have predicted Romney would be struggling' in Michigan? People in Michigan, mostly." You're a genius, Wolf.

9:13 pm - Yes, Romney has surged into the lead. With 27% reporting, he's up 41 to 38. Now, can he hold on? Michigan exit polls show Romney winning 40 to 37, but Todd tweets: "Our models showing MI may be tighter than those leaky exit numbers folks floated on twitter."

RKB: It may be starting to look like Romney is trending ahead in Michigan. My sense is that it won't matter how much he wins by as long as he wins. It would be such a train wreck for him to lose that my guess is the establishment will swallow hard and throw everything they've got behind Mitt. This will be a wake-up call. They will have believed they dodged a bullet and will finally do what it takes to push him over the top.

My guess is that he wins by 5% and that the meme is that it's over now.

9:21 pm - Check out Cillizza on why Romney's win in Arizona matters: Because of the delegates he won in that winner-take-all primary. And: "Of course, this race for president isn't solely a battle for delegates -- a series of trench warfare battles fought in each state. There's also a symbolic national race going on -- one that is influenced far more by momentum than raw numbers." Hey, I said the same thing back at 8:18 pm! I guess this is the CW. Or just stating the obvious.

RKB: Karl Rove on Fox is predicting a 5-6% victory for Romney in Michigan, claiming that areas that are good for Romney have been slower to report. Rove sounds positively relieved.

9:43 pm - David Roberts (Grist) tweets: "If Wolf Blitzer didn't exist, no one would have to invent him." Line of the night.

9:44 pm - Bored yet? I am. Unless the race somehow tightens, which seems unlikely given how well Romney is doing in Wayne and Oakland counties (two highly-populated Detroit-area counties), it'll be as (I) expected, a clear (if hardly decisive) win for Mitt. And with Arizona already called and Romney likely to win by up near 20 points, well... what more can you say? (I can barely keep up with my twitter feed, and I don't even follow that many people. But there's a lot of repetition now.)

Richard and I have been saying this for some time now, but it does appear that Santorum has peaked and is now on the way down. Which means it's Romney's race to lose. Again. And he'll come out of tonight looking strong -- that will be the perception anyway, if not the reality (he's only strong in relative terms). Santorum may win the non-binding caucuses in Washington on Saturday, but it's hard to see him doing well on Super Tuesday next week. Ohio's the big one, and he's ahead there, but Romney will have the momentum and should be able to win there. Maybe Santorum does well in Tennessee's open primary and/or Oklahoma's closed one, and maybe also in Georgia (where Newt's ahead), but that'd be about it.

I think it's over.

RKB: The Republican spin is still that, should Romney get the nomination, the hard slog to get there will make him stronger as a candidate against Obama. I don't think so. What we are seeing time and again is that Romney is a lousy politician, and we've seen nothing to suggest he is getting any better. More than that, the more people see of him, the less they like him. And as the nominee, people will see a lot more of him.

9:57 pm - Jim Geraghty tweets (via my conservative friend Ed Morrissey): "Great news for Mitt: Looks like 2 big wins tonight! Bad news for Mitt: If the pattern holds, he'll screw it all up tomorrow morning." Let's hope so.

RKB: Romney is starting to open up a significant lead in Michigan, 40% to 36%, with a margin of more than 22,000 votes. CNN isn't calling it yet, so they must have reason to believe there is some volatility, but that's a lot of votes to make up with 59% reporting. It looks over. John King is calling it "almost impossible" for Santorum to come back.

10:03 pm - David Corn tweets: "Don't want to get ahead of returns, but I'm putting my college diploma back on the wall (and will start using hand lotion again)." Don't forget the porn.

10:10 pm - Howard Fineman tweets: "Santorum up with TV ads in every Super Tuesday state but Mass and Vermont. His people say they will focus on Ohio, TN, and even GA." It's his last stand. But it won't matter.

10:13 pm - Santorum speaking. NBC calls Michigan for Romney. Finally.

RKB on Santorum's speech:

Santorum's people are admitting that their guy screwed up over the past few days with his fooling comments about separation of church and state and on education. They are saying that they are going to get back to their core message on jobs and the economy.

Here comes Rick's speech.

Santorum looks crestfallen to me. I wonder if he knows that he had to win here to have a shot. and that it is probably over. Yeah, the thing that made him attractive in the first place was a certain sense of humility that he seems to have lost more recently. As he got some wind in his sails, he really was sounding like a goof.

He's talking about his mom and the fact that she got a college degree when that was rare. Could he be trying to get some of the woman's vote back? Now he's talking about his daughter Elizabeth. Too late, Rick. Women aren't going to vote for you.

Now he's talking about the big bad government that thinks it knows better what's best for Americans. Back to the faux populist message.

Gut reaction to Santorum is that he really is not ready for prime time. He's not impressive on the stump.

Funny thing is that CNN cut away from the Santorum speech to call it for Romney, and they haven't gone back to Santorum. It almost seems a little dismissive.

Ah, but Fox is sticking with Santorum, who by now is rambling. 


Oh man, Santorum is now starting to quote the Declaration of Independence. Is he going to sing, too?

I think Santorum just spoke of the men and women who signed the Declaration of independence. What? Women?


Okay, I now officially want Santorum to go away. Romney may be a douchebag, but Santorum is an idiot.

10:41 pm - Chuck Todd tweets: "Romney on MI: 'didn't win by a lot but we won by enough.' And the 'enough' = no major GOPers calling for new 'white knight' savior."

10:43 pm - What a horrible, horrible speech. Well done, Mitt. You have a great night, at least relative to expectations, and you blow it with your usual rhetorical bullshit. There's a reason no one likes you.

RKB on Romney's speech:

Ann Romney is at the mic doing the obligatory thank yous. She's not that bad. She should be running.

More jobs, less debt, and smaller government is what Romney is saying his campaign is all about.

My god, Romney is boring.

Still amazing that Romney and any Republican gets to blame Obama for not fixing Bush's economic mess fast enough.

Have to say that Romney looks relieved tonight. He knows he barely survived.

It does seem to be a more disciplined speech than is his norm. It's all silly cliches, but that's what he offers. Simple solutions for simple minds.

Ah yes, cutting taxes as a way out of the recession. That'll work.

As I said earlier, this victory should launch Romney and be the end of Santorum and the other pretenders. Romney is a disaster, but he's the one they've chosen.

Romney is also saying that Obama will not be restrained in a second term and will therefore be more dangerous.

Man, even Fox News seems unexcited about Romney. Funny.

10:53 pm - Romney basically begging for money from small-time donors after he just blew his massive load outspending everyone like mad is hilarious. 

11:55 pm - Took a break for Stewart and Colbert. Jon was especially hilarious tonight going after Romney's hypocrisy (over voting in Dem primaries) and Fox hosts spouting Republican talking points.

11:56 pm - So... what's the new narrative? Check out this ludicrous headline on the front page of right now: "Home run for Romney" (linking to this). Really? Look, I'll admit, and I've written it here, it was a big night for Romney. But only because expectations for him were so low. Sure, he won Arizona easily, but he's only ahead in Michigan by three points. I get how this works. He spins it as a win and the media, which play right along with the expectations game, give him a push, telling us that he's back, baby, back! But while it's certainly true that he's the frontrunner and likely nominee and that these results serve to confirm him in that position, he's really no stronger than he was before these two votes today. It's pretty clear that any genuinely strong and credible conservative alternative would be beating him. Lucky for him there hasn't been one. And it's certainly not Santorum.

12:01 am - The results: In Michigan, with 93% reporting, it's Romney 41, Santorum 38, Paul 12, and Gingrich 7. Three points. Who predicted a three-point win for Mitt? (Hint: Go back up to the entry at 7:16 pm).

12:03 am - In Arizona, with 80% reporting, it's Romney 47, Santorum 26, Gingrich 16, and Paul 9. That's a 21-point margin. I predicted 17. Oh well.

12:05 am - One thing we haven't talking about tonight... Newt. What now? He's still in the race, or so he said in his speech earlier this evening, but he was noticeably downcast, not the egomanical Newt we've come to know and loathe. But can you blame him? Even he must see the writing on the wall.

In my live-blogging post of the Nevada caucuses on February 4, I speculated as to the over/under, or rather before/after, of Newt getting out of the race:

At his press conference, Gingrich said he's in the race all the way to the convention in Tampa. He may mean it tonight, but things change and one suspects that he'll eventually change his mind. Unless Romney stumbles badly, which hardly seems likely, or Newt can somehow resurrect his campaign a third time with big wins on Super Tuesday on March 6, which also hardly seems likely, he has no shot at the nomination and will only meet more intense resistance within the party the longer he stays in.

Let's put the over/under (before/after) on him getting out of the race at, yes, March 6. Do you take the before or after? I might still take the after.

But if it's March 8, I think it has to be the before. There's just no way he lasts beyond a day after Super Tuesday. The pressure on him to get out will be immense, and even with his massive egomania and loathing of Romney it's hard to see him fighting on beyond that. He is, after all, a hyper-partisan Republican. Ultimately, he'll do what the party needs him to do.

Which is to say, I thought he'd make it to Super Tuesday but then get out the next day. What do we say now? Will he make it to next week? I'll still say yes, because he wants to win Georgia at least. But that will be that. I say he gets out on March 7. Oh, how the temporarily mighty, then sort of mighty again, have fallen.

12:18 am - Okay, that's it for me tonight. We've gone on long enough. We'll be back in the morning with new posts, including two on the retirement of Olympia Snowe. (Oh, Romney's now up by just 20 in Arizona!)

Good night, everyone.


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Save the RINOs

David Brooks is horrified at the prospect of Republicans putting survival over principle and eating their own:

Politicians do what they must to get re-elected. So it's not unexpected that Republican senators like Richard Lugar and Orrin Hatch would swing sharply to the right to fend off primary challengers.

As Jonathan Weisman reported in The Times on Sunday, Hatch has a lifetime rating of 78 percent from the ultra-free market Club for Growth, but, in the past two years, he has miraculously jumped to 100 percent and 99 percent, respectively. Lugar has earned widespread respect for his thoughtful manner and independent ways. Now he's more of a reliable Republican foot soldier.

Still, it is worth pointing out that this behavior is not entirely honorable. It's not honorable to adjust your true nature in order to win re-election. It's not honorable to kowtow to the extremes so you can preserve your political career.

Oh, really? He's worried about honor in a party that re-elected a felon in 1972, sold weapons to a sworn enemy and used the proceeds to back Central American terrorists, impeached a Democratic president for getting an adulterous blowjob while at the same time the chief accuser was getting his own horn honked by a woman not yet his wife, elected a president by constitutional legerdemain that doesn't pass the laugh test, outed a CIA operative for political revenge, and cheered on a racially-tinged rabble of white patriarchal know-nothing moochers whose mantra of ignorance became a frothy mix of blind hatred and xenophobia against a centrist Democratic president who happened to be black. It's going to take five years for the light from Honor to catch up with this gang.

All across the nation, there are mainstream Republicans lamenting how the party has grown more and more insular, more and more rigid. This year, they have an excellent chance to defeat President Obama, yet the wingers have trashed the party's reputation by swinging from one embarrassing and unelectable option to the next: Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum.

But where have these party leaders been over the past five years, when all the forces that distort the G.O.P. were metastasizing? Where were they during the rise of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck? Where were they when Arizona passed its beyond-the-fringe immigration law? Where were they in the summer of 2011 when the House Republicans rejected even the possibility of budget compromise? They were lying low, hoping the unpleasantness would pass.

The wingers call their Republican opponents RINOs, or Republican In Name Only. But that's an insult to the rhino, which is a tough, noble beast. If RINOs were like rhinos, they'd stand up to those who seek to destroy them. Actually, what the country needs is some real Rhino Republicans. But the professional Republicans never do that. They're not rhinos. They're Opossum Republicans. They tremble for a few seconds then slip into an involuntary coma every time they're challenged aggressively from the right. 

Oh, so now Mr. Brooks finally decides to stand up for the mainstream. It's a little late, don't you think? Like perhaps three years? Or thirty? He's a mite young to have been shocked and saddened by the McCarthy era or Nixon's Southern Strategy, and he might have dismissed the gentle condescension and fluffy bigotry of Ronald Reagan's "welfare queens" as just the pendulum swinging back against the dirty hippies, but he might have gotten a clue that the rot was setting in when Larry Nichols went after the Clintons with the tales of drug-running and Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) was shooting at a melon in his backyard to prove that Hillary Clinton murdered Vince Foster. So now he's telling Orrin Hatch and Richard Lugar to get in there and stand up to the bullies? Oh, yes, there's a winning strategy: "you and him fight and I'll watch."

Leaders of a party are supposed to educate the party, to police against its worst indulgences, to guard against insular information loops. They're supposed to define a creed and establish boundaries. Republican leaders haven't done that. Now the old pious cliché applies:

First they went after the Rockefeller Republicans, but I was not a Rockefeller Republican. Then they went after the compassionate conservatives, but I was not a compassionate conservative. Then they went after the mainstream conservatives, and there was no one left to speak for me.

Oh, very good: pull out the Martin Niemöller quote and go Godwin's Law -- evoking the Hitler era -- on them to put the cherry on top.

So you're finally worried about the RINOs, eh?  BTYFO ('Bout Time You Found Out), Bobo.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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