Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Michigan and Arizona Results

Well, Mitt managed a win in Michigan with 41.1% of the vote to Santorum’s 37.9% with Paul, 11.6%, and Gingrich, 6.5%, well back. As expected Romney rolled to an easy win in Arizona with 47.3%. Santorum was second with 26.6%, Gingrich third with 17.8% and Paul was last with 8.5%.

That brings the delegate count to Romney 142 (56.1%), Santorum 59 (23.3%), Gingrich 32 (12.6%) and Paul 20 (7.9%). Romney needs 1,144 to win the nomination which is an eyelash over 50% so, at least so far, he’s on pace to win if just barely.

There is a non-binding caucus in Washington on Saturday and then comes March 6, “Super Tuesday,” where 10 states have activity and 480 delegates are at stake.

The big prizes Tuesday are Ohio, with 66 delegates, and Georgia, Newt Gingrich’s home state, with 76 delegates.

The latest available polls show the leaders as:

Georgia 76 delegates: Gingrich 34%, Santorum 25%, Romney 21.5%, Paul 8.8%
Massachusetts 41 delegates: Romney 64%, Santorum 16%, Paul 7%, Gingrich 6%
Ohio 66 delegates: Santorum 34.3%, Romney 26%, Gingrich 18%, Paul 10.8%
Oklahoma 43 delegates: Santorum 41%, Romney 20.5%, Gingrich 20%, Paul 7.5%

I couldn’t locate any recent information on the other six states. These numbers could easily change with the double victory yesterday but, if they don’t, I don’t see this race converging anytime soon.

The so-called experts think a protracted primary season would be bad for the GOP. They said the same thing about the protracted Democratic primary season in 2008, but it didn’t seem to work out that way.

Let’s be realistic. It’s the economy stupid. If the economy continues to improve and gas prices stay within reason, then none of the three whack jobs, Santorum, Gingrich or Paul has much of a chance against Obama. Santorum and Gingrich are too far right and Paul is just too weird. Any of them will self destruct sooner or later by saying something utterly stupid. They won’t be able to help themselves.

Romney is a different story. If he can play the economic drum alone and stay away from social issues, I think he has a very good chance of winning assuming the Mormon thing doesn’t blow up in his face.

That leads me to something of a quandary. Do I want Romney to win the nomination or not? Yes, as much as I distrust Mitt, having one of the other three running for president, even though I expect them to destruct, is just too risky.

When the effect would be so catastrophic, even a million to one shot is too high a risk.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Michigan and Arizona

I’ve always said that Evangelical Christians are the greatest threat to Western Democracy that has ever existed. These people have managed the trick of being the most blatantly self-righteous morons in the history of civilization.

They’re what’s keeping Rick Santorum in the GOP race. While Romney should win Arizona handily today, the Michigan race is too close to call due to the large margin of support for Santorum among Evangelicals.

Let’s review the situation. This is a man who says college is for snobs, who doesn’t believe in the Separation of Church and State and who mocked, while totally misconstruing, John Kennedy’s religion speech in 1960.

That this man hasn’t been laughed out of the political process is a disgrace; a disgrace that can be placed squarely on the shoulders of Evangelical Christians. If I needed any additional evidence that Christianity is a bankrupt philosophy unworthy of adherence or respect, the support of Evangelicals for this idiot would have more than adequately satisfied that need.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Catholic Church and Contraception

Ok, I understand that Catholic Church believes contraception is wrong. They look upon sex as necessary for procreation and ignore the idea of sex as entertainment.

I understand the position. I think it’s unrealistic, medieval and, given the world’s population just topped seven billion, idiotic but I know what it is.

Now let’s talk about the current uproar. Aside from the absurdity of a male dominated, and celibate males at that, organization making up rules about female contraception, we have the situation where the church hires non-Catholic employees to work in church affiliated institutions.

They have to. Even if employment discrimination wasn’t illegal, they would have to in order to get the mix of skills they need at a reasonable cost. It’s just a fact of life.

Similarly, they’re not going to attract the right people they need if they don’t provide reasonable benefits such as health care.

So the Church employs non-Catholics who do not share the view of the Catholic Church when it comes to contraception. So how is providing access to contraception through a third party health insurance company violating anyone’s religious freedom? If anything it’s supporting the religious freedom of the employees.

Catholic employees don’t have to use the contraceptive access if they don’t want to. It’s their choice. Non-Catholic employees should have the same choice.

In a secular society religion has no authority over anyone other than its own flock of sheep. It does have freedom of speech so it can try and persuade people that its view of morality is correct and people should follow it but it can’t force anyone.

In terms of a Catholic affiliated institution, since it hires non-Catholics, it’s an employer just like every other employer and needs to toe the line that applies to all employers.

Sounds to me like the church is asking for special privileges.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Let’s Talk Jeremy Lin

Another totally unexpected sports success story catapults into the media spotlight. Jeremy Lin joins Victor Cruz on the “where the hell did he come from podium?”

That podium is right across from the “I told you he wasn’t any good” podium where a smiling Alex Smith and Tim Tebow stand waving across at Jeremy and Victor.

Granted, being in New York often makes a story bigger than it is, but in this case, as incredible as it sounds, the story may be bigger than the hype.

It makes you wonder how many super stars we’ve lost out on simply because the so-called experts couldn’t recognize talent when they saw it.

Just before the Laker game I was watching ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption (PTI) with two of those “experts.” They were discussing the interview with Kobe Bryant where Kobe claimed he didn’t know much about Jeremy Lin. The key point was they both assumed that Kobe was going to torch Lin at the Garden that night. In fact, Lin torched Kobe! Bryant knows who Lin is now and will most likely be ready for him next time but wow!

I’m not sure Lin or Cruz or Smith or Tebow can sustain their performance. Lin took teams by surprise the first time around. Cruz couldn’t possibly have another year like the one that just passed because, again, teams know he’s there now. Some of Smith’s potential vulnerabilities were highlighted during the NFC Championship game against the Giants and what Tebow accomplished was just ridiculous.

Still, you never know. Youngsters could do a lot worse than having role models like Lin, Smith, Cruz and Tebow to look up to and emulate.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Your freedom ends where my freedom or safety begins

Conservatives can’t seem to understand this little point.

They’re always talking about “freedom,” however they never seem to consider that what they call “freedom” often has a negative effect on someone else. You do not have the right to endanger someone else with your “freedom.”

Your right to throw punches ends where the other guy’s nose begins. I might point out that this is the strongest argument the so-called pro-life folks have. If you can establish that a fetus has rights, then an abortion clearly violates this principle.

Another obvious example of this is Christians constantly trying to enforce their superstitions or morality on those of us that think they’re laughable. Constructing crosses on government land, school prayer and posting of the Ten Commandments are examples of this. So, to my mind, are “In God we Trust” and “…under God” in the pledge.

But there are other situations as well.

Conservatives arguing that the government shouldn’t regulate business or environmental standards because it violates “freedom” is a crock. As long as that “freedom” has the potential to harm me or mine you better damn well know the government can regulate it.

I feel the same way about guns. I saw a TV documentary showing a room of gun supporters nodding in agreement with some fool talking about how gun education wasn’t necessary. According to this bozo, all you need to know is where the bullet comes out. The number of people accidentally killed by firearms every year gives the lie to this position.

Guns are dangerous. So dangerous that I’d prefer it if 95% of the people who have them didn’t. Ignorance or stupidity coupled with a firearm is a really bad combination. A bad combination that endangers other people.

Like I’ve said previously, you can have all the guns you want, I’ll just regulate the bullets. I’d have no problem if the only people the gun whackos can accidentally shoot are other gun whackos.

The bottom line is that Conservatives, and especially Evangelical Christians, need to get over themselves. Your freedom, your morality and your rights, end where the where the other guy’s begin and that includes being safe from your stupidity.

Gay Marriage in New Jersey

The state legislature is expected to replace Civil Unions with Gay Marriage approval over the next two weeks. Governor Christie has said he will veto the bill and it’s unlikely the legislature has the two-thirds needed to override the veto.

On the same day that the New Jersey Senate is expected to vote, Governor Christine Gregorie is scheduled to make Washington the seventh state legalizing Gay Marriage by signing a bill already approved by the Washington legislature.

And the Zeitgeist moves on.

Christie believes the Gay Marriage question should be put on the ballot where it may very well win. If Christie vetoes the bill, that could be where it ends up changing New Jersey into a circus along with Maine for the next 9 months or so.

This year could well be a defining moment for Gay Marriage. The latest polls show that a majority of Americans now approve and the number of states lining up to legalize appear to be growing. In addition to Washington, Maine and New Jersey, there appear to be serious considerations in Maryland and Illinois.

I find it “ironic” that the same people that violently opposed Civil Unions in 2006 are now touting Civil Unions as the solution to the issue in 2012.

No they’re not the solution. Different is inherently unequal.

It should be interesting to see where this goes and whether Christie thinks better of his veto. I doubt he will so I’m hoping to be able to vote AYE for Gay marriage in New Jersey in November.

The Contraception Controversy

It feels like the 1920s. It’s incredible that we’re arguing about contraception in the 21st Century, but we are.

The big issue is whether institutions associated with a religion, such as universities and hospitals, must provide access to contraception as part of their health plans. The administration says yes, the Catholic Church says no because it views contraception as immoral.

Let’s put aside the fact that the Church’s position, with the world's population now exceeding 7 billion people, is idiotic, it is what it is. Does the Federal Government have the right to dictate to an employer what health benefits it must provide?

Well, starting with work place safety, minimum wage, overtime rules, vacations and other work related issues, it already regulates just about everything else. So why not regulate health care coverage?

It’s the old First Amendment getting in the way again isn’t it?

Church’s themselves would be exempt. So if you worked directly for the Catholic Church you would have no access to contraception in your health care plan. However if you worked for Notre Dame University, then you would have access.

If you exempt institutions associated with the Church, then what about businesses owned by Catholics? Why not exempt them as well? You have to draw the line someplace and I think the administration is drawing it in precisely the right place.

The Catholic Church really needs to pull itself out of the 16th Century.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri

It was a clean sweep for Rick Santorum which sort of makes you wonder what the people in those states are thinking.

Of course none of the votes are binding which sort of makes you wonder why they bothered.

The Romney camp is playing down the losses but, if nothing else, it extends the primary battle. Even if you include the non-binding votes from Colorado and Minnesota Romney, with 87, still has more delegates than the others combined. Santorum has 35, Gingrich 32 and Paul 13.

Of the four remaining candidates only Romney strikes me as even mildly rational. Strangely enough I find Santorum, even though I think he’s a moron, more acceptable than either Gingrich or Paul.

I still feel confident that Romney will get the nomination. It just appears that it’s going to take longer than previously expected.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Meanwhile, in Non-Super Bowl Related News.

Karen Handel, the reported anti-abortion architect of the Susan G. Komen decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood, has resigned due to what she calls “gross mischaracterizations” of the Komen decision.

Riiight, and pigs can fly and creationists are honest. Do we look that damned stupid?

And, in California, the 9th Circuit in a 2-1 vote has decided that the lower court was correct in declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional. Here’s the key quote:

"Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples."

The fights not over yet and you know this is going all the way to the Supreme Court but the precedents are piling up. All in all it’s been a bad day for the forces of darkness.

Move over Tebow

The Rector of Historic Trinity Church, Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper sporting a Giants cap, blesses the Giants floats as they roll through Manhattan during the Super Bowl victory parade.

This has got to be a picture for the ages.

I also got a kick out of George Will saying he was rooting for the Giants because it would make the most liberals unhappy. He needs to check which political party the New York Football Giants contribute to.

The Super Bowl Tickets III

Well, I’m back. I’m not exactly a conquering hero but I’ve lived a tale to carry back to the east coast from the heartland.

Let’s start with the game. I only read one article prior to the game by a sports writer that spoke about facts and myths surrounding it. I remember specifically his closing line predicting the game was “going to be epic.”

Well he got that one right didn’t he? Was it better than Super Bowl XLII? I wouldn’t go that far but it was a hell of a game. Talk about a roller coaster ride and heart palpitations. I’m really glad Belichick decided to let Bradshaw score because, if it had come down to Tynes having to kick even a chip shot field goal, I don’t think my heart could have taken the strain.

So the Giants win 21-17 and turn back the Patriots once again.

Now on to the experience.

The trip out went as well as trips out can go. There were a number of folks on the flight from Newark to Chicago that were headed for Indianapolis.

Chicago was Chicago. We caught some lunch in Chili’s since we had about a three hour layover and then found out our flight to Louisville was delayed due to “Operations” for 20 minutes. In other words it was raining like hell in parts of the Midwest.
When we finally arrived it was pouring. Nothing I could do about that so we grabbed our Hertz car and headed north on I-65. It was an easy drive to Seymour and I was entertained along the way by my daughter's various reactions to the Indiana countryside. She had never been west of eastern Pennsylvania before and if taking a farm girl to the city is a culture shock, then taking a suburban girl to farmlands is also a culture shock.

It took us about an hour to cover the 55 miles to Seymour and the Knights Inn was easy enough to locate about 300 yards from the highway. I was a little surprised that it consisted of single story room blocks. You know the kind where you park right in front of the room. I had two rooms but my daughter decided she didn’t want to stay alone. Finally she slept on the couch in my room and was quite content. I couldn’t cancel so I ended up paying for a empty room for two nights but that didn’t bother me one bit.

Right next door was a K gas station with a convenience store and an eatery called Ryan’s which was a buffet place. We ate breakfast at Ryan’s on Sunday but hit Applebee’s down the road for dinner Saturday night.

When we got back we went over an e-mail with a traffic survival guide I had gotten from the parking garage where I had a reservation. We fired up Google Maps on my travel laptop and traced and memorized the route they gave for locating the garage with the least hassle. The e-mail was a life saver. If they hadn’t sent directions I might still be wandering around trying to get to the parking garage.

We headed for Indianapolis Sunday around 10 AM under overcast skies but along the way the clouds broke and the sun came out. By the time we covered the 62 miles on I-65 North to Indianapolis it was bright sunshine.

From I-65 from got on I-70 West and got off exit 79B as instructed. Instant gridlock. I couldn’t even turn onto McCarty Ave to follow the “Super Route.” I finally figured out that much of the issue was cars attempted to enter a parking area and skirted around in the right lane. Turning onto Delaware was exciting because cars going north on Delaware were literally ignoring the traffic light on the corner of McCarty and Delaware. An Indianapolis police officer showed and put a quick end to that though.

All in all it took no more than ten minutes to turn left onto Delaware. We took that to Michigan, then turned left on Capitol in search of Maryland Ave. The e-mail had warned about pedestrian congestion at Capitol and Maryland and it was right. But with a little careful navigation we managed the left and the garage was right on the corner. We presented our voucher and the girl asked if we planned to be out by 6 AM. I blinked. 6AM!! Yeah, I think you can count on that. Along the way we had seen parking offers for anywhere from $60 to $175. I was more than content with my $99 prepaid parking.

The location was perfect and put us right in the middle of the activities.

My only real complaint was the idiotic arrangement for getting into the stadium. Basically they had the entire area closed except for one small entry. I asked one of the volunteers whether they were actually going to let us into the stadium or were we just going to admire it from afar.

The security was tight. Not only did they pat us down but we had to do the airport take everything out of your pockets and go through a metal detector AND they did a wand search after the detector. In an exchange that could only occur in the naïve Midwest a security type asked about if I had measured the lens on my camera. I assured him I had done so after reading there was a six inch limit and the lens was only five inches long. I suppose since I knew there was a six inch limit, he decided to take my word for it (I really did measure it and it really was five inches).

We had arrived in Indianapolis around 11 AM and spent about 4 hours taking in the party atmosphere around the stadium. I got saved by Jesus at least four times and had my first personal experience with the Westboro Baptist Church morons but generally it was pretty calm. I got a kick out of St. John the Evangelist Catholic church which was right in the middle of the chaos providing free face painting and inviting everyone to come in and take a rest. Above us were people sky lining between two towers constructed for the event. There were tents with food and bars, an ice sculpture and various decorations all over. In general the crowd was quiet, polite and thoroughly enjoying itself.

There were stages set up from local and national media including a big glass booth with the ESPN crew from which Chris Carter playfully teased the crowd outside. On one radio stage someone was doing an interview with a pro-Patriots analyst and Giants fans couldn’t resist drowning out the whole affair with chants of “Let’s Go Giants.” The female interviewer looked pretty upset about the whole thing.

I even got to introduce my daughter to the joys of White Castle burgers although I’m not sure she completely appreciated the experience.

Lucas Oil Stadium is gorgeous and I couldn’t believe how good our seats were. The Terrace Level was basically the mezzanine with five rows of seats. There were two permanent rows and three folding chair rows in section 520 located at the corner of the end zone on the Giants side of the field. We had row 1, seats 1 and 2 which were the seats most toward the center of the field. Sitting in the first row was great. Being on the end wasn’t so great as you had to get up every time someone exited and entered. We also had lots of company as standing near the bottom of the steps was a favorite picture spot.

There were rest rooms and concession stands right in back of our section and, since it was so small, there were no crowds at all.

Since the Giants won we stuck around for the trophy award ceremony, collected some souvenir confetti and wandered out around 11 PM. It was easy enough to find our way back to the garage which, surprisingly, was still pretty empty and we were out onto Maryland Ave in about two minutes. From there it was a short run in little traffic to I-65 South and the hour or so drive back to Seymour.

On Monday we ate in a Waffle House, where the waffles are as good as I remember them, and rewound the trip. The only complaint was the 40 minutes it took to get the luggage to the carousel in Newark. My limo driver told that it’s an intentional slow down by employees unhappy with the Continental and United merger. I have no way of knowing how true that is however. We got home around 11 PM.

So now I can say I’ve been to a Super Bowl. It was fun but there is no way you could get me to do it again.

How much did it cost? Good question. Tickets: $1,800, Airfare: $1,143, Lodging: $489, Rental Car: $85, Airport Limo: $250, Gas: $22, Parking: $99, Program: $20, Lanyards: $30, Beads: $5 (don’t ask), Food and Drink: $120. Add it all up and we’re talking around $4,042 for the two of us.

That’s more than it costs me for my three season tickets including parking which I’m sure is going to go up next year. I’m figuring at least $25 a ticket plus an extra $5 for parking.

And I’m not anywhere near the 1%.

Am I embarrassed that I splurged on something that millions of people in this country couldn’t afford? A little, but then again, I earned every penny of that $4,042 so why the hell not?

In the meantime my daughter has decided she wants to volunteer for Super Bowl XLVIII in the Meadowlands. I wish her luck. I'm watching from my recliner.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Susan G. Komen

The breast cancer charity started a small war by cutting funding for Planned Parenthood cancer screenings.

It has now, under enormous pressure, reversed course and says the funding will be restored.

So what was the deal here? Planned Parenthood is a favorite target of anti-abortion groups and they’ve managed to get House Republicans to start a “congressional investigation” of the agency.

This was the reason (excuse?) given by Komen for dropping the funding. The reality however may have more to do with a number of right wing anti-abortion folks at the higher levels of the Komen organization.

While the restoration of funding is welcome, I suspect that Komen has damaged its credibility irreparably with this little fiasco. I know they’re now off my list of organizations that I’m willing to support.

Alcohol Abuse

Everyone knows someone who drinks more than he should. Alcohol abuse is a daily problem for a lot of people. It’s especially an issue for an athlete however.

Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers has a history of alcohol related problems. He’s been sober for so long it appeared he had finally won his fight. Unfortunately, a report today indicates that he may have relapsed into his old habit.

I feel sorry for Hamilton, especially given his utter dismay over the incident last summer where a father fell to his death trying to catch a ball tossed into the stands by Hamilton. That wasn’t Josh’s fault but I can’t help wondering how often he thinks “if only” about that incident. If only I hadn’t tossed the ball; If only I’d thrown it harder; If only I’d thrown it differently and over and over.

That kind of thing could drive you crazy.

On the negative side Hamilton has always claimed that his Christian faith is what helped him overcome alcohol. Oh well, so much for depending upon Jesus.

If Hamilton wants to lay the alcohol demon to rest once and for all, he has to realize that he has to accomplish it all by himself because that’s what he needs to happen. You can’t substitute the crutch of religion for the crutch of booze. Both are equally unreliable and, ultimately, equally destructive.

I hope Hamilton works it out. I also hope he realizes when he does that he did it all by himself without Jesus or God or whatever holding his hand.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Gay Marriage Battle Grounds

There is a Gay Right firestorm brewing. The Long March is over and the counter offensive is in full swing. In Washington, Maine, Maryland and New Jersey the battle has been joined.

Washington is on the brink of legalizing Gay Marriage with support in both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office. However the opposition is promising a referendum to overturn the legislative action.

In Maine, Equality Maine has put the issue back on the ballot after losing in 2009. If Maine votes for Gay Marriage it would represent an enormous victory. Unfortunately the measure lost by a large margin in 2009.

In Maryland the governor is pushing the legislation and it is working its way through the legislature. The Maryland Attorney General, also a supporter, has warned that if the bill passes, the final battle will most likely be a referendum in November.

In New Jersey the legislature is pressing forward on a bill even though Governor Chris Christie has vowed to veto it. Christie has proposed putting it on the ballot. The latest poll in New Jersey, January 2012 from Quinnipiac University, found support for Gay Marriage at an all time high of 52%-42% so Christie is being very coy and trying not to jeopardize either his approval rating or standing with the Republican Party.

All of this means there could be as many as four Gay Marriage votes in November. Any one of which could become the first election approval of Gay Marriage. If I was a Gay Marriage opponent I would be afraid, I would be very afraid. A victory at the polls could very well break the dam of opposition. Imagine what four victories would do?

As I noted above, in the latest polls, New Jersey indicates in favor by 52%-42%; Maryland indicates in favor by 50%-42%; in Washington a poll indicates that the electorate would uphold the bill by 55%-38% and in Maine supporters claim that 54% are ready to reverse the decision of three years ago.

Still, we all know better than to be overly optimistic. A lot will depend upon how the presidential election goes and how successful the get out the vote campaigns are. The religiously based opposition has tended to have more success getting the faithful to the polls than the Gay Marriage supporters.

But can you imagine four election victories?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Rick Santorum is an Idiot

According to Santorum colleges are centers of indoctrination. Allow me to quote the moron in chief.

"It's no wonder President Obama wants every kid to go college. The indoctrination that occurs in American universities is one of the keys to the left holding and maintaining power in America. And it is indoctrination."

The problem Rick is that much of what you hold to be true is in fact false and universities focus on reality and not wishful thinking. I might also point out there are more than a few right wing Christian centered universities.

“If they taught Judeo-Christian principles in those colleges and universities, they would be stripped of every dollar. If they teach radical secular ideology, they get all the government support that they can possibly give them.”

One wonders what Santorum thinks is “radical secular ideology.” Evolution perhaps?

“Because you know 62 percent of children who enter college with a faith conviction leave without it.”

Maybe that’s because once someone with at least half a brain and an ounce of courage learns to think critically and learns about the history of Christianity, he would be something of a fool if he didn’t drop his faith conviction.

Why is it that religions and conservatives fear education? Perhaps because reality has a liberal bias and it is clear from every study that the the more intelligent an individual is and the more education he has, the higher the probability is he will reject both religion and most social conservative positions.

An educated population is necessary to effectively compete in a global economy but a man who wants to be the presidential candidate for a major political party doesn’t understand that.

Rick Santorum is an idiot.

Anyone who votes for Rick Santorum is an idiot.

And, until the party manages to expunge idiots like Rick Santorum from positions of influence within the party, anyone who votes for the Republican party is an idiot.

Romney Wins Big in Florida

Despite a temporary apparent surge by Gingrich, Mitt Romney has managed a big win in Florida with 46.4% of the vote. Gingrich was a distant second with 31.9% followed by Santorum with 13.4% and finally Paul with 7%.

So again the handwriting appear to be on the wall with Romney the clear frontrunner and most likely winner. Of course I’ve said that before.