Working the Refs; or, Why Losing in WI Will Help in November

Here’s the big lesson from Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin last night: hatred alone isn’t enough to win elections on the Democratic side. Let’s face it: progressives, liberals, and blue dogs couldn’t get our shit together in 2004 to kick George W. Bush out of office, and that was in an officially sanctioned, regularly scheduled opportunity at overthrow. And don’t give me any of that “the election was stolen by Diabold” bullshit; we have to take some responsibility for the massive voter turnout being stymied in Ohio, for example, by a poor Election Day infrastructure, by long lines at polling places, lack of ballots, etc.

And yes, I know that, in many cases, Republicans controlled the local election board–and that’s my point. We have just as much responsibility to get engaged at the local level before a big election year–something the GOP has understood for a long time. This isn’t to say, of course, that Dems haven’t been making those same efforts–we have–but we have to keep trying.

As kos pointed out this morning, there’s an interesting cognitive/electoral split coming out of WI: although Walker won, exit polls conducted yesterday indicated that, if the Presidential election had been held yesterday, Obama would have beaten Mittens 51/44 in WI. So many of the Badgers who came out to vote yesterday pulled the lever for Walker–and would also have done so for Obama.

Kos goes on to argue that:

But the Right’s messaging tapped into voter discontent with the whole concept of the recall election itself. That won’t fly in November. Nor will Republicans win back the 18 percent of Obama supporters who pulled the trigger for Walker.

If anything, I’d argue that the Dems’ loss yesterday makes it more likely that WI will go for Obama in November and provides a necessary [if painful] lesson as to what we’ll need to do to ensure that the President is re-elected. The DNC, under the torpid leadership of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, can’t sit by and twiddle its thumbs.

We can’t assume that people power [as Howard Dean might say] and kick-ass GOTV alone can overcome the serious financial advantage that the RNC and the SuperPacs may bring to bear in certain states.

And, most important, we can’t spend all of our bloody time on MSNBC whining about how unfair it is that the Republicans are attempting to repress voter turnout among the poor and some ethnic minorities. About how Eric Cantor’s a douchnozzle. About how the RNC are clueless asshats who think women = caterpillars. They do, they are, and it sucks, but guess what? You can’t work the refs in an election, because, at some level, we’re ALL Ed Hochuli. We’re all the refs. And unless we accept that and focus on our own actions, on selling a positive message of what Obama’s second term would mean for the country, rather than simply bitching about what assholes the Republicans are [oh, and they are], we’re gonna lose. And that ain’t acceptable, in my book.

I’ll Make A Man Out Of You. With My Fists.

20120512-135647.jpg

So I had C-Span on this AM so that I could watch Mitt Romney’s commencement address at Liberty University.

Make of my sanity from that what you will.

But I was early, or Liberty was late, so, in the interim, I heard a series of calls from C-Span’s morning call-in program.

The conversation centered on the Washington Post’s article this week on Mittens’ dumbassery at a high school student, which, according to the article, centered on at least one occasion on physically assaulting a younger classmate whose haircut Mittens didn’t like.

So he gave the kid a new one. You know, while his buddies were holding the kid down, ignoring his crying and screams for help.

Totally normal behavior. For a sociopath.

Anyway, Steve from Haymarket, VA came in on the Republican line.

And Steve? Couldn’t see what the big fucking deal was about. Because, he argued, he’d been bullied at school, during his time at a military academy. No, not bullied, he said: hazed.

And that hazing had, he claimed, been just awesome for him. Being bullied makes you butch, makes you tougher, he argued. Turns you into the man you’re supposed to be. That’s what it did for him. Getting the snot beat out of him convinced him to take up weight lifting, exercise, blah blah blah macho, and goddamn it: Steve from Haymarket was grateful for it. And he didn’t understand why the kid that Mittens and his buddies “hazed” wouldn’t have “manned up” under such treatment.

Now what struck me wasn’t the bullshit notions of masculininty, or of what it means to be a “man.” How you become a man–through physical violence and intimidation, apparently.

It was that, for Steve, Romney’s participation in this kind of behavior–which Mittens hasn’t denied–is a good thing, is a selling point for Steve on why Mitt is the Right Man for the Job.

To be a man, it seems, means you have to be willing to beat masculine conformity into the bodies of others who are failing to live up to your expectations.

So what does that mean for a guy who wants to be the President, the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful military in the world? What about from a diplomatic perspective? Are “real men” only those willing to wage war, to push the physical assault of one kid out onto a multinational stage?

Certainly, I don’t care for Mittens, and I–like most people, I imagine–was bullied in high school. Not physically, for me, but bullied nonetheless. And over what my would-be tormentors perceived as my being a “lesbian.” Now, mind you, at my wee little high school on the edges of the East Coast Megalopolis, there were no constructive discussions of gender and sexuality, more out of ignorance, I think, than any sort of malice. I doubt the morons who tried to give me a hard time [in French class, no less! I think that’s my favorite part, in retrospect] even understood what a lesbian was, other than, perhaps, a girl who didn’t look “girly” enough to them.

So all that said: I’m not with Team Mitt on this one. [Or any one.] But I’m more freaked out by the notion that some people would see this kind of asshattery as a sign of Mittens’ leadership potential, of his potential awesomeness as the leader of the free world. And I wonder how many of said people would also claim to be “Christian,” to be followers of a religion that, ostensibly, is all about treating your fellow humans with dignity and respect.

Not sure what to make of that, exactly. But it doesn’t feel like something good.

The Vest Pulls Out


Rick Santorum has dropped out of the Presidential race.

And I? Am a little sad, perhaps.

No doubt: the man is a bigot, a misogynist, and a homophobe. And one of the worst order: a true believer who’s certain that it’s God who told him how and who to hate.

But he did the nation a great favor, accidentally.

He said things publically that most conservatives will not. He spoke the crazy to the people and started conversations that began “Rick Santorum” and “WTF”?

It’s more difficult now, I think, for Republicans as a whole to claim that they only care about jobs, that they’re focused on the economy, when, thanks in part to Santorum, they’ve been  shouting about the evils of birth control and Planned Parenthood and women’s health for three months.

So Rick: thank you for your service. For whipping out the ol’ talking points on porn, on abortion, on the steady degradation of the “American family” under Democratic economic policies and repeating them, straight-faced, into the camera. As a country, I think we’re better off having stared the crazy in the face than having continued to pretend that it wasn’t really there at all.

Oh, and thanks for being a good sport about the whole inspiration-for-hot-Wincest thing. Appreciate that.

First He Came For The Porn. And Then He Came For Me.


Rick Santorum wants to revoke your right to jerk off.

As this story from the [right wing] Daily Caller points out, the Vest has a [missionary] position paper up on his website in which he boldly declares his desire to focus the [throbbing] power of the Justice Department on the new Great Satan: porn.

Indeed, Santorum argues that:

Every family must now be concerned about the harm from pornography. As a parent, I am concerned about the widespread distribution of illegal obscene pornography and its profound effects on our culture.

As a producer AND distributor of “illegal obscene pornography”–some of it featuring you, Rick–I’d like to say: thank you. You are a living example of the horrors that await Americans who don’t masturbate.

Let’s begin:

For many decades, the American public has actively petitioned the United States Congress for laws prohibiting distribution of hard-core adult pornography.

Name one member of this “public” of which you speak. And you don’t count, Vest. Neither does Mr. Hat.

Then Rick channels his inner Catherine MacKinnon:

Pornography is toxic to [STRAIGHT] marriages and relationships. It contributes to misogyny and violence against women.

No wonder you hate porn, darlin’: you’ve got misogyny covered all by your lonesome, don’t you? [And notice the assumption here: women? We don’t use porn. We’re just used by it.]

I’m always amused when right-wing nutjobs break out the old school feminist talking points. And by amused I mean pushed into A Handmaid’s Tale flashback. Yes, baby, sure; that’s why you’re against porn. Because you’re trying to protect us women from the animal passions of you beastly, beastly men, whose passions are so hot and so easily aroused that they cannot. be. contained, goddamn it!

This is what I don’t get about this view of porn: doesn’t it assume that men are one Jenna Jamison [or James Deen] away from turning into Vikings? One porno too many at just the wrong moment and average Joe Zinfandel will be raping the nearest female-owned orifice, burning down the split-level, and sailing to San Francisco?

Does Rick Santorum really live in fear of his cock?

Look, there’s no question that porn has a history of exploiting women (and men) [see: Boogie Nights]. But so does capitalism. So are we all all Marxists now, Vest?  You wanna take on porn that’s “obscene”? Then go after child pornographers, those who exploit children for sexual and material gain. Leave the consenting adults out of your Jesus Nanny state.

Frankly, I have a hard time taking Santorum’s “feminist” ideals seriously. This is the same man who thinks that contraception is “a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” Who argues that there should be “no more leading from behind for America.”

I don’t know: “America: Catcher to the World” does have a certain ring to it.

Rick, do this country a favor: lock yourself in a bathroom with whatever gets you off–if you even know anymore–and take it all out on your cock. Leave the rest of us, the rest of our private lives, our desires, our bodies, the fuck out of it.

A Rush of Conspiracy


Rush, Rush, Rush.

You just can’t keep your damn mouth shut, can you?

Ah well.

So despite the “apology” he lobbed at Sandra Fluke last week, Limbaugh is still scrambling–not only to justify the three full days he spent spewing misogynist rhetoric at Ms. Fluke, but now to find the real killers, the real cabal that’s responsible for his behavior. Because, “apology” or not, there’s no way in hell Rush thinks that his behavior can be attributed to, you know, him.

Today, as this post over at Daily Kos suggests, Rush has upped the ante and gone for the full 9/11 truther:

The same public relations firm representing Sandra Fluke represents Game Change [the HBO movie about the 2008 campaign]. The same PR firm that handled Sandra Fluke’s episode is handling Game Change, and you know who it is?  Anita Dunn, formerly of the White House! The Mao Tse-tung admirer, by her own admission. Anita Dunn, Obama’s former adviser, is the PR firm for the movie Game Change and for Sandra Fluke. It’s all part of a plan. It is not accidental. None of this stuff just happened…It’s all orchestrated.

Dun dun DUN!

But you have to admire the sheer absurdity of what Rush is “arguing” here. I mean, +1 for the Mao reference, buddy. Next time, go for the triple word score and throw in Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright.

To be fair, Rush ain’t arguing a damn thing. He’s simply stating the crazy as loudly as he can, as often as he can, and hoping that volume and repetition obscure the complete absence of evidence that exists for any of his claims.

The first rule of conspiracy thinking: eliminate any talk of evidence or proof.

Unless it supports your belief, in which case, add it to the shouty talking points.

And any evidence that doesn’t support your theory is, in fact, proof that it’s correct, and that the real truth is being hidden from you by the UN in one of their black helicopters that carry the codes to the Harry Potter Doomsday Weapon that will turn every man gay and every woman into a PhD. Obviously.

And when that happens? Rush will have time enough at last to do…whatever it is he does with his dick. Except, oh yeah. Well. That might make even Burgess Meredith wince in sympathy, honey.

This Week In Male Hetero Fail (Thus Always To Tyrants Edition)

This is my boomstick! Not my transvaginal probe. Swear to god.

A friend and I were in a local restaurant/bar last night, eating, talking, trying to get some shit for school done. It was pretty quiet, being a Sunday night, I guess, save for one boisterous exception: a group of aggressively moronic dudes playing darts right behind our fucking table.

Now I have no problem with the individual elements here: dudes, darts, and beer. Fine. But this group took the elemental combination to new heights by tossing homophobia into the mix, which. Awesome. They’d divided themselves into two teams for their game, and their team names? The “gays” and the “lesbos.” Yes, in fact, they were so proud of these monikers that they not only repeated them [loudly] at every possible turn but also inscribed them on the wee chalkboard on which one of their ilk was keeping score.

So I don’t know for certain that these men were exclusively hetero; indeed, you could make a pitch for such aggressive posturing as being a cover for some sort of latent anxiety related to their own sexual identity, much less that of others.

Still. I strongly suspect.

So their dickishness [and my inability to formulate any sort of real-time response, vocal or otherwise], got me thinking about all of the male hetero fail that’s swirling around my home state of Virginia these days.

It’s not fair to consign all of heterosexual maledom into a universal. So take that as my caveat. [Indeed, a friend recently rapped my virtual knuckles for referring to him as “hetero” in a way that he took as a bit of an insult, which, ok, it may have been, but only unconsciously so. Hence me performing my bias so openly here.]

However, a handful of white, heterosexual men–many of whom ostensibly represent the fine people of Virginia–have been doing their damnedest over the past few weeks to make that truism harder and harder to uphold. So to speak.

Most of this idiocy centers around our state government’s attempts to pass a law that would have required any woman seeking the LEGAL medical procedure of abortion to have a transvaginal ultrasound. Oh, yeah. You’ve surely heard about this by now, thanks to the efforts of Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and The Rachel Maddow Show. Thus always to tyrants, indeed.

Currently, Republicans control both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion in our fair state. And although the person who drafted the state-mandated penetration bill is a woman, many of the bill’s loudest and most prominent supporters were the white men who dominate Virginia’s House of Delegates and our Senate.  Our right-wing social experimentalist governor, Bob McDonnell, had been touted as a potential running mate for the GOP’s eventual nominee [*cough*Mitt Romney*cough*].

However, once the transvaginal nonsense broke into the mainstream–both in Virginia and in the national press–McDonnell backed down from his heretofore vociferous support for the bill [and its equally insidious cousin, a so-called “personhood” bill that would redefine human life as beginning at conception. Good times!].

Now that the state-mandated penetration bill has been killed and the “personhood” bill has been sent back to committee [effectively tabling it for the rest of this year], you may be asking: of what new male hetero fail do you speak?

I speak, dear reader, of Delegate David Albo, who ostensibly “represents” district 42 in Fairfax, VA. Let me allow the gentleman from Fairfax to speak for himself–and it’s worth quoting in full, via Gawker:

I got Rita [Albo’s wife] some red wine, sat next to her, used my patented cool move. I invented this, it’s a United States patent. I went, “Ohhh, I’m so tired!” I then turn on the TV to find the Redskin channel. I know you think that’s weird, but my wife loves the Redskins more than she loves me. Got my theme music going, my red wine, looking at the Washington Redskins and I start flipping through the channels. And through the channels you have to get through the news stuff. And all the sudden on my big screen TV comes this big thing and a picture of a bill that has “Albo” on it. I went, “Wow! Holy smokes, it’s my name as big as a wall!” And the very next scene was a gentleman from Alexandria’s face as big as my wall going “trans-v-this” and “trans-v-that” and “they hate women!” and “we’re gonna—in that bill—she’s crazy!” And I’m like this with my wife. And the show’s over, and she looks at me, and she goes, “I gotta go to bed.” So if the gentleman’s plan was to make sure there was one less Republican in this world, he did it.

[If you have the stomach for it, you can watch the video of this display of rhetorical impotency here.]

As the commenters on Gawker’s story point out, Albo can’t even SAY THE WORD VAGINA, yet he professes a desire to legislate how and when the state should have access to it.

What’s almost as bad, I think, is his apparent assumption that if he wishes to have sex [shudder–why am I thinking of tentacle porn?!], then his wife should [by right] be in the mood. And I also love his assumption [a peek into his figured world, perhaps?] that it’s the talk of the transvaginal probing legislation that gets his wife “out of the mood,” as if she was already in said mood, given all of his careful preparation for seduction. Hey, at least he recognizes that talk of state-mandated penetration is, you know, less than alluring–as might be, dare I suggest, her knowledge that he supports such legislation of women’s bodies. Might not really make her want to, you know, give you access to her vagina, dude, knowing that you spend all day thinking up way to virtually worm your way into those of women all across the state. Just a thought.

And, to top it off, the Daily Caller website threw a video tantrum today over Rachel Maddow’s coverage of Governor Transvaginal Probe and his buddies. Seems the good people of the Caller don’t like Rachel using the word “vagina” on the TV machine. Loudly. Repeatedly. And in the context of GOP policies. [Also, note the totally squeamish way in which the blogger from the Washington Post presents this video. Can’t even bring himself to comment on it beyond a coy: “That’s as much detail as I’m willing to provide on this affair.” And the use of the word “affair”? No mistake there.]

So let’s add “vagina” and “transvaginal probing” to the list of words with which the dominant discourse is very, very uncomfortable–to the list of words I vow to now repeat early, often, loudly, and occasionally even in context–in a way that’s totally different, I think, from the heebie-jeebies that words like “anal” and “sodomy” give to said discourse.

Freedom’s just another word for liberal dogmatic thought

20120226-122406.jpg
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Earlier this week, President Obama called once again for all American children to have the opportunity to attend college. This isn’t a new idea for him; it’s one he’s touted in some form since his 2008 campaign, but one to which he’s returned repeatedly since last month’s State of the Union address.

For Obama–for a hell of a lot of other people–education offers freedom.

Unfortunately, in the world where Rick Santorum spins, a world where other people’s sex lives pose a clear and present danger to his own, freedom = slavery to “liberal” ideology, to thoughts that are critical of this country, her leaders, her practices. In a speech in Michigan on Friday, Santorum told an enthusiastic [geriatric] audience that:

President Obama once said that he wants everyone in America to go to college. What a snob. There are good, decent men and women who work hard every day and put their skills to the test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor. That’s why [Obama] wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image. I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his.

Yes, that’s right: America needs some of its children not to go to college so that those children can “work hard every day”–which, apparently, people with college degrees–people like Santorum!–do not do. Yup. We just sit around not fixing shit and watching the world go to hell as we stare at our degrees and drink pinot and sing the Marseilles. Man, Rick: you nailed it.

But let’s be clear: for the Vest, giving all Americans–read: black, white, latino, asian, rich, poor, southern, northern, first-generation, seventh generation, christian, muslim, atheist, jew, woman, man, gay, hetero, transgender, bi–the same chance to access higher education is akin to packing these young minds into the rhetorical Amistad and shipping them off to Marxistville. Learning = indoctrination in what Santorum sees as multicultural bullshit, gender equality, and the notion that no idea should be swallowed hook, line, and sinker without critical reflection and inquiry.

You fear ideas, man? You fear exposure to ideas? What does that say about the strength of your own convictions? Oh, that’s right: we’re not talking about what you believe–for you, it’s a given that those ideas are “correct,” grounded in your god’s law or whatever. For you, any idea that doesn’t match your Opus Dei-inscribed view of life, the universe, and everything is “liberal” and therefore dangerous and wrong.

Right.

Also, Rick, my love, you have a very strange understanding of how “teaching” works. I can assure you, as one of those “liberal” professors for whom you express so much contempt, that exposing my students to ideas, to perspectives that are unlike their own, does not automatically cause them to adopt those ideas. Far from it. Students are not obedient little sponges, darlin’–they come in just as resistant, just as married to the ideas they consider their own as any adult. If anything, I think, they are a weird paradox at 18, 19 years old: on the one hand, they’re open and pliant and more receptive to experience than ever before. But on the other, they recognize that openness, this newfound desire to be more than they are and they resist that, push back against their own wills with everything they’ve got; not all the time, not in every instance, but often enough so that their own identity–the one they’ve spend their adolescence and late teen years constructing carefully, so carefully–is not corrupted.

They’re smart, Rick; they’re so much fucking smarter than you give them credit for. And yeah, sometimes they change their minds but they’re the ones that do the changing, not me or any of my colleagues [not all of whom are the liberal bastions of idiomatic thought you seem to imagine].

And that’s what you’re really afraid of, isn’t it, Rick? Of your kids changing their own minds. Having thoughts that you didn’t plant in there with the spade of the Bible. It’s called growing up, man: it’s called becoming a human being. It has less to do with what job the kids end up getting, whether they’re on Wall Street or own a business on Main Street or care for kids with cancer or create their own comic series. It has much more to do with the way that the kids see the world, the epistemology that they fashion for themselves to help them make sense of their own existence and I know I’ve lost you now, baby, because I used the word “epistemology” and if you’re not careful, I’ll point right back to Foucault and that would REALLY piss you off, wouldn’t it, me citing the ideas of a gay French dude, right?

So, Rick, let me bring it back to a place that maybe you can understand, one where you won’t be smelling poppers and dreaming of Donna Summer as you read my text. I used to work for an amazing woman, a university president [stay with me, Vest: take a deep breath] who didn’t just believe that, as our university’s slogan said, “Education Offers Freedom,” she embodied this ideal. Both of her parents and her grandparents: all college graduates. Her parents: both teachers who moved from Chicago back to the South in the 1950s, going back to their family’s roots–to the roots of slavery–to teach those who hadn’t gotten out, not yet. She and her husband: both teachers early in their careers. She: president of a for-profit university [hey, you like that idea, right?] with an on-campus presence that encouraged students, faculty, and staff alike to come to her with concerns, questions, comments. She embodied the potential of education in her DNA, in her everyday actions, and in the genuine love and concern she felt for all of the students, even those she met only in passing, or only on graduation day when she handed them their diploma.

Rick, this woman’s life illustrates the truth of the axiom that education can offer freedom: from poverty, from circumstance, from history, and yes, from ignorance, from fear, from derision. But the key word here is CAN; education isn’t a magic bullet, it’s not the universal means of escape from the dominant ideology. It’s a tool, man, a tool to which all those who want it should have access. This is what the President means when he says that everyone should be able to go to college: everyone should have the chance to see if education is the key to their lock, an answer–never the only answer–to some of their questions.

Your fear precedes you, sir. Your desire to consign others to ignorance all in the name of “freedom” is repugnant and will only hasten your obsolesce as a political and cultural force.

Vestmentum Returns!

20120208-091352.jpg

The Vest returns from the dead! Again!

Man, you think Romney would have learned to burn the bones by now. Sheesh.

It’s like Newt and Santorum are trying to out-Carrie each other in this thing. Amazing.

I wonder if the mainstream GOP hatchets who came after Newt post-Carolina will try to do the same thing to the Vest. Let’s see: can’t attack his fidelity to his family (he’s so Catholic that he makes the Pope look lapsed). Can’t attack his record in Congress as easily as you can Newt’s, either, as he did not hold a leadership position and also didn’t have a hard-on for the camera like a certain former Speaker.

However, expect to see him nailed on the issue of “earmarks,” a word that makes the Tea Parties frothier than, well, you know. Still, that attack won’t trump his religious appeal to self-declared evangelical voters, I don’t think. Which is kind of amazing, since he’s so damn Catholic. 40 years ago, JFK’s faith was a liability; now, it’s one of the Vest’s biggest selling points. I suspect it’s also a lot of “Not Mormon” rather than “Yay Catholic.” Just keep mentioning those God and Jesus fellas, Rick, and the evangelical will keep dancing to your tune.

The Romney peeps are pushing hard against the “he fucked up” narrative pretty hard; they started launching preemptive this-is-no-big-deal messages to the press last night even before all of the (admittedly non-binding) results were in. [I wonder if the Vest would even want to play in contests that are ‘binding,’ but. Ew.] Still, Mittens has definitely lost the AM news cycle and it’s a big power up for the Vestmentum.

Dr. Paul and Newt were both under the media invisibility cloak last night, and they’ll have to fight a bit harder to get their message out–especially Newt. Paul is talking to a very specific subset audience and his campaign, it seems to me, is structured to appeal directly to that electorate. Newt and his flesh torpedo of a “campaign,” on the other hand–I have no idea who he’s trying to appeal to, now, other than people who are willing to buy his books.

His “No Sleep Till The Convention” strategy strikes me as hilarious and potentially profitable for our side and a real wild card for the GOP. His campaign is the political equivalent of a butterfly in the chaos effect–the hurricane warnings are up for Typhoon Newt, but how might that affect Hurricane Rick? All will be revealed, I suppose, as the GOP keeps writing the 2012 presidential race in real time.

Mittens, you’re great at “World’s Worst”

20120122-114148.jpg

In the ashes of last night’s primary in South Carolina, I look back at my (not terribly bold) predictions and reassess. Crowley, for one, is not impressed.

1. Whatever the fuck happens, Newt will declare victory. What do you know? The bastard won by 12%. In his victory speech, he did indeed trot out the “President Food Stamps” racist garbage, name dropped Saul Alinsky (insider baseball much, Newt?), accused the President of not being “American,” and shouted about his intention to “release the American people!” from the evil, “liberal” black guy who lives at 1600. So your standard Newt bullshit.

More interesting to me were his attempts at magnanimousness towards (in order) Santorum, Dr. Paul, and Mittens. This came after Santorum slobbered all over Newt during his concession speech. Hmm. I wonder if they are cooking up some anti-Romney tag team action for Monday night’s debate, or (as the really, really drunk) crowd at Newt’s rally chanted when he mentioned Rick’s name: “VP! VP! VP!”

I am not looking forward to what will surely be a masterful performance of bragadaccio and asshattedness from Newt during this week’s debates. Even my dad, who is firmly onboard the Obama train, keeps (reluctantly) praising Newt for his ability to think on his feet. Which, to be fair, Romney is so very, very bad at that it’s kind of an unfair contest. Maybe Mittens would benefit from some improv classes. Seriously. Hey campaign people, think about that one. Let’s face it: Mitt is already awesome at “World’s Worst.”

2. Romney will lose, then claim his campaign’s goal was just to be competitive. The first words of Romney’s concession speech: “This race is getting even more interesting.” Yes, he went instantly meta! Awesome. He did not, in fact, make the claim I suggested above, but he did emphasize that he and his people are prepared for the long long long primary road ahead; hey, they knew it would be a tough slog, sure. That’s why last week, before the debates, they were calling SC case closed and making noises about moving on to Florida. Oh, Mitt-bot.

What’s amazing to me is how he’s able to operate with his emotion chip missing. He has zero ability to connect with people, it seems, on rope lines, in his speeches, during debates–based on what I’ve seen on the telly, anyway. And I speak as someone who finds it difficult to interact with people; I know what that kind of discomfort looks like, what that awkward laughter sounds like. He’s just not comfortable doing it, and yet that’s like job #1 for presidential candidates. And he’s been running for eight years!! You’d think he would have learned to fake it by now.

3. Santorum will finish last (ahem) and yet refuse to withdraw from the race. Senator Sweater Vest did not finish last–that honor went to Ron Paul, He of The Sweater With Sleeves. Once the polls closed, though, Santorum’s people put word out right away that he would not be withdrawing from the race. In fact, there’s a piece in the New York Times today about how he sees his campaign going on for the long haul. Hoo boy.

I’m torn on this: Santorum staying in is a win for comedy, especially if he keeps trotting out his sons wearing matching sweater vests. But he is also nasty and divisive and, I think, genuinely hateful in his attitudes towards anyone whose performance of sexuality doesn’t meet his god’s definition of heteronormative excellence. And yet–and yet, he seems remarkably willing NOT to point out Newt’s utter hypocrisy in screwing around on two wives and yet lecturing the populace about the awesomeness of his values. I can’t understand this cognitive dissonance as anything other than any kind of hetero–even lying, cheating, non-monogamous, exposing your unknowing spouse to STDs hetero–is better than That Which Must Not Be Named.

The Pull Out Method

The awesome Mt. Atlanticus Minotaur mini-golf course in Myrtle Beach. This is the kind of crazy I can get behind.

South Carolina! Land of mini-golf and nice beaches and NASCAR. I love that MSNBC is touting today’s primary on their homepage as the “South’s first primary.” As if the South is its own country. Y’all, that battle done been fought and lost and you would be well-served to stop feeding the “South Will Rise Again” narrative that lies just below the surface of most goings on south of Richmond, Virginia. Okay?

Remember, the good folks of SC have the Confederate flag flying over in front of their state capital building. So you’re playin’ with fire here. And I say all this as a (reluctant) Southerner, born and raised. Though I did get the hell out of Dodge as fast as I could after high school.

So a few predictions for tonight’s craziness:

1. Whatever the fuck happens, Newt will declare victory. I’m telling you, even if he loses by 10 points (which Nate Silver says ain’t very likely), he’ll get up there and blast the media and shout about how much ground he was able to make up so fast. He will call Romney a “Massachusetts Moderate.” He may even whip out the “I will beat President Food Stamps in a debate” garbage, especially if he wins.

2.  Romney will lose, then claim that his campaign’s goal was merely to be competitive. There’s some great stuff out there today about Mittens’ attempts to “manage” expectations and to manufacture momentum by busing in Mormon college students from Virginia and DC to make his rallies look fired up and ready to go. I’m puzzled as to why Mittens said yesterday that he was “cautiously optimistic” about winning today; but then I also have no idea why he told right-wing radio host Laura Ingram yesterday that “of course the economy is getting better” when his entire campaign is based on the notion that Mitt is the only one who can SAVE the economy. Which would appear, by his own admission, to not need saving. Truly bizarre.

3. Santorum will finish last (ahem) and yet refuse to withdraw from the race. Despite all of the press nonsense last week about his “momentum” in SC, Rick is going nowhere fast. He’ll go on to Florida, but you have to wonder how much money they have on hand–FL is an expensive media market and the primary is almost always defined by TV ads. We shall see.