Thursday, January 5, 2012

And So It Begins. Again.

And we’re off and running.

Well, perhaps “running” is the wrong word.

More like “careening wildly downhill while waving little pipe-stem arms in the air and screaming manically.”

Three hundred and fifty million Americans, and these chuckleheads are the choices?


I am, of course, talking about the Iowa Republican Caucus last night.

I didn’t have high hopes for this show in the first place, and in that regard it lived up to those expectations perfectly.  As the pilot episode for the upcoming reality TV series, America’s Dumbest Electorate 2012, there was nothing original.  Same predictable plot, same unlikable characters, same humorless formula, same tired laugh track, same lame jokes, same lowbrow studio audience. As I said on Facebook last night, it is during events like this where I really miss the slapstick antics of Herman Cain, because if ever there was a TV show that needed some gratuitous nudity, ribald shenanigans, and crass sexual innuendo it is certainly this one.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of jiggling boobs and ass grabbing on TV last night, but unfortunately not the kind to keep your eyes on the screen. 

The show could have used a car chase and some Kung Fu. 

And a monkey in a little silver vest playing a harmonica or a clever Jack Russell terrier riding a unicycle.

Maybe both.

The comedian Paul Rodriguez used to do this bit about how war was God’s way of teaching us geography.

…two week ago I didn’t even know what a Kuwait was! I thought it was like a fruit from New Zealand!

I think he might have been on to something.  It’s entirely possible that presidential primaries exist solely in order to teach us where the silly people live. By the time it’s over there are nice color coded charts that map out the places I should probably avoid for the next four years (Coincidently enough, those charts often tend to correspond to a geographic plot of this blog’s readership. For example, I don’t have a lot of fans in Iowa. Go figure. Maybe I should write about corn more. Of course, perversely that doesn’t explain why a significant fraction of my readership apparently resides in Texas.  I can only assume those folks are the secret underground resistance movement. Either that or they are fuming and plotting my untimely demise).  It sure would be nice if you could print those charts out in handy wallet size.

Now, Standard & Poor’s grades each state according to its financial viability. Here at Stonekettle Station we perform a similar service, i.e. we rank each state’s level of douchebaggery according to the SFMS – i.e. the Speculative Fiction Movie Scale (Battlefield Earth to The Princess Bride) – and last night I was forced to officially downgrade Iowa from The Postman to Pluto Nash.  I’m sorry to take away the dubious balding chick-movie honor of your Costner and levy a Murphy on you, Iowa, but it’s not like you haven’t been asking for it. Keep this up, and I’ll be forced to suspend your Shatner too (props if you catch all the references in that. You’re also a complete nerd).

I know, I know.  Pretty severe.  Be glad I didn’t downgrade Iowa all the way to Bicentennial Man, because I could have.

No, it’s not because Iowa republicans exercised their democratic right to vote for whichever idiot they chose, it’s because of the idiotic reasons they gave for voting for said idiots.

In the hour before voting started, I heard a dozen interviews with Iowans who still had no idea who they were going to vote for. They’d done no research. They had no idea of each candidate’s position. The only thing they were sure of was that they hated Obama and the country was going down the crapper.  After it was over,  and Romney, Santorum, and Paul were declared The Winner, The Other Winner, and third, respectively, the interviews seemed to come in three basic flavors of Kool-Aid:

a) “Well, I  really really really really really dislike Romney, I really like [Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann, Joker From Batman], but I voted for Romney because I hope he can beat Barack Obama even though I don’t really think he can.”  The logic apparently being, I’d rather have a Republican I don’t like and with whom I disagree and who I think belongs to some weirdo non-Christian cult in the White House than a Democrat I don’t like and with whom I disagree and who I think belongs to some weirdo non-Christian cult even though I consider Romney a slimy progressive elitist who probably can’t win anyway because the only thing that matters in the whole world is that I hate Obama.  Go team.

b) “Well, I really really really really really dislike Romney, so I voted for this guy Sanitarium, Sanitation, SarsaparillaSantorum.  I don’t really know anything about him, but, um, well, um, Mormon! Cult! Babies! America! And I heard that he loves the Jesus and hates the homos. Good enough.”  The logic apparently being: no way in hell he’s going to beat Obama, but hey at least he’s not Romney. He’s also Catholic and not Gringrich, or a woman, or from Texas. Go Jebus.

c) “RON PAUL 2012!”  The logic being, RON PAUL 2012! Frankly, I just don’t understand the infatuation with this guy.  He’s 76 years old and apparently doesn’t understand how the internet works – but about a quarter of Iowans think it would be spiffy if he was sitting in the big chair helming the most technologically advanced economy in the world. He talks up the whole personal responsibility thing, but won’t take personal responsibility for newsletters and tweets issued under his own name.  They hate Obama, but embrace a spoiler whose only real position is to siphon off half the independents and about twenty percent of disgruntled conservatives. Go Ross Perot.

Look, I’m not saying it was all bad. Every show has its high points.  Hell, even X-Men Origins: Wolverine had its moments (none of which involved Hugh Jackman, but still).

Michele Bachmann got voted off the island. I’d consider that worth the price of admission alone.  Her I’m-a-real-person speech last night after it was announced that the only candidate she’d managed to beat was the one that didn’t actually show up for the caucus was just plain hilarious. I’m a real person? Really Michele, you’re a real live person? So are gay people. So are non-Christians. So are liberals. So are the rest of us. Screw you, I hope you choke on your defeat. Go somewhere else and cry, you nasty selfish bitch.  Don’t let the door hit you in your skinny white ass on the way out.

Edit: You know, on second thought, Iowa’s rejection of Bachmann changes things.  I’m going to bump you back up to The Search For Spock.  You’re welcome.

Gingrich was doing what he considers humility.  Before the vote, when it was already apparent that he hadn’t been able to bullshit his way into Evangelical hearts despite a personal endorsement from God, he started lining up his excuses. It’s never Newt’s fault.  “It's probably that I'm too reasonable," Gingrich said. "And I should've responded to the negative ads sooner."  I’m too reasonable?  That’s why I lost. I’m too reasonable.  I fooled around on two wives because I loved America too much. Jesus Haploid Christ, and he calls Obama arrogant. What a pair of stones this guy has. I’m too reasonable.  It’s not fair. Romney ran attack ads. Boo hoo.  Newt seems to forget he’s the guy that invented this form of political campaign.  He stormed out of Iowa headed East, you won’t have Newt to kick around any more! If only that were true.

So far, Pray For Rain Perry’s hanging in there like a chad on a Florida punch ballot, but man if he can’t win in Jesus’ home state of Iowa, he doesn’t have much of a chance in New Hampshire. Probably why he decided to skip it altogether and head for South Carolina.  Frankly, if I was a South Carolinian, I think I’d be insulted by the insinuation.


Here’s the thing, normally predicting the outcome of primaries this far out is a sucker bet – Obama himself is a pretty good example of that.  But, I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that the Santorum Surge is a flash in the pan. Romney is going to win New Hampshire.  And he’s going to win pretty much everywhere else too. Romney’s going to be this year’s Republican candidate.  Bet on it.  And he’ll most likely name Marco Rubio as his running mate because even if he does manage to secure the nomination he’s a weak, weak candidate at best – not even as well liked by Republicans as John McCain was.  The only thing he’s got going for him is that Conservatives hate Obama.  Romney had better not make the same Veep mistake McCain did.

In the end, Romney beat Santorum in Iowa by a total of eight votes.


And he only got that because there weren’t any better choices.


It’s going to be a long, long year.

I just hope I don’t have to downgrade the entire country to Waterworld come November.


  1. So what you're saying is, if a Palin/Bachman ticket ever gets elected, we're officially at 'Twilight'?

  2. If the Palin/Bachman ticket ever gets elected, I would say that we are at 'Dr. Strangelove' or possibly 'Darkstar'.

  3. Random thoughts: Now I'm going to dream B5 dreams. (Is it me, or does that one Science Channel station ID animations look like a Shadow ship?)

    Our esteemed host says, "It sure would be nice if you could print those charts out in handy wallet size."

    Ah, but you have a smartphone and an e-reader now, no?

    The Paul campaign accuses the IA GOP of counting shenanigans, and I have to admit, the undisclosed location couunting thing does at the least lend itself to that kind of accusation.

    Mr Frothy Mix does, in fact, self-id as Roman Catholic (but has, by his own admission, never read all of the Bible). And you still can't buy a better actual line than "Santorum in messy three-way with Romney and Paul."

    And while Gingrich's new Contract on America had me wondering if his real name is Nehemiah Scudder, Santorum looks like the piece of dystopian fiction he's taking his ideal government from is The Handmaid's Tale.

  4. Waterworld? That is harsh. Hope it does not come to that.

  5. I may be a nerd, but I'm in good company.

  6. Santorum is not only Catholic, he's being looked at by CatholicVote (a political advocacy group) as being the candidate to support.

    As for the numbers of people actually voting, the information I'm seeing is that out of 2,250,423 eligible voters, 147,255 went to the caucuses - both republican and Democratic. Of those, 122,255 voted in the Republican caucuses, meaning that 5.4% of eligible voters had anything to say about who should be the Republican nominee for President.

    In the mean time, we can all watch the lawsuits against the Virginia GOP play out (a judge has now allowed Gingrich, Huntsman, and Santorum to join with Perry's lawsuit against Virginia’s GOP chairman and members of the State Board of Elections), the GOP continue their anti-Obama rhetoric (speaking of Santorum, he want Congress to sue Obama over appointing a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head during the congressional recess), and the three primary sections of the GOP (Tea Party types, rich white people, and far right Christians) haggle over who should be the nominee.

    I'm working on turning the whole thing into a drinking game.

  7. Santorum sounds somewhat more Roman Catholic (there are multiple flavors of Catholic) than the bishop of Rome.

  8. Look here now. I know that SOME Iowans are horrible idiots who can't be trusted to keep their hands out of the thresher, but that's mostly the ones in the western part of the state, which is practically the same as Nebraska and Kansas anyway. Those of us from the ENLIGHTENED part of the state wholeheartedly support Obama, and you have to remember that the idiots on TV were a self-selecting group. You more than most certainly know that not all people in a given geographical area are the same. And if you take away our JTK privileges I will ... I will... throw rotten corn cobs on your doorstep! Yeah, that's the ticket! Just kidding, of course. We Iowans are nothing if not reasonable. Republican goobers notwithstanding.

    PS: How 'bout that Santorum's-wife-had-an-abortion news, huh?!?

  9. You're right, gratuitous sex would have helped, at least more of it than what they managed to have. I would suggest that some gratuitous violence going beyond Kung Fu and car chases would have been helpful, but that would probably be a violation of some provision of the Anti-Patriot Act or the Fatherland Security Act, so I will refrain from saying such a thing. The saddest things about this particular reality show is that it lasts way more than one season and the prize is the Oval Office.

  10. We're not ALL idiots in Texas. Merely a majority of the voting public is.

  11. Vince, Warner: Thanks. I meant to type "...is Catholic and not Gingrich..." And typed "not Catholic" instead. Doh. In my defense, it was late and I'm suffering from a massive sinus infection that's making it hard for me to think. It's been fixed (the typo, not the infection. I've got to go see the doc today). Thanks again for pointing out the mistake.

    Iowa Babe: Heh heh. Yes, throw corn cobs please! Just not the rotten ones. I could use some cobs i the woodshop, I understand you can turn them on the lathe. However, as to your point, see, I live in Alaska, home of Sarah Palin and the Palinites, a state rated a clear Plan 9 From Outer Space. Everything is a step up from here. So, Iowa has that going for it, at least.

  12. Well, depite Iowa being downgraded and despite the appearance of these uninformed people (aren't most repugs that?)..there are a lot of Iowans who are liberal, who voted for Obama (he carried the state) and who will vote for Obama again. While the Rethugs were voting, the Demos held caucuses too and discussed how to reverse "companies are people" and other liberal things on the agenda for the democratic platform.
    This is one Iowan who DOES read your blogs...lol!

  13. Update: Upon reconsideration, I've decided to up upgrade Iowa on the SFMS. The post has been amended to reflect the new ranking.

    You're welcome, Iowa.

  14. I think your right about Romney being the choice of the current Republican Party. But, right or wrong, the current Republican Party is NOT voting in the primaries. The troglodyte right is. 75% of the votes were not for Romney ... and by all indications, about 65% were specifically voting against Romney (I'll give half the Paul voters credit for voting FOR Paul).

    I think Romney will end up with the nomination. But I also think he'll be so bruised that he'll be a shell candidate.

    And I don't think there is a VP that can overcome the 2 years of demonization from the Xtian right.

    I guess we'll see soon.

  15. "Secret underground resistance movement?"
    You might be right.
    When I visit my wealthy, proud-of-Rick, family in the Hill Country, I am asked to park my 2002 model pick-up facing the street so the neighbors only see my Disabled Vet plates and not my Progressive Texan bumper sticker.
    Former conservative isn't good enough in Texas anymore.

  16. Marco Rubio is almost as bad a choice as Palin is. If Romney picks he will loose any Hispanics that were thinking of voting republican.

  17. I know lots of Texans who read your stuff, myself included. We've been watching the whole Perry train wreck for what seems like an eternity. I'd like to say that nothing he can do will still surprise us, but I've been bad wrong every time I've said something like that.

  18. Hi, my name is Dr. Phil. I am a nerd.

    (Hi, Dr. Phil! Welcome to the First Step.)

    I dunno, Jim. I liked Bicentennial Man. I thought it was sweet. My guess is that you liked I, Robot more because it had car crashes and explosions and a hot babe scientist and Will Smith telling killer robots "Oh no you don't!"

    Come to think of it, despite the howls I hear from Isaac Asimov's grave, I probably like I, Robot more, too. (grin)

    Dr. Phil

    striat -- the type of jacket to fit on the Iowa candidates...

  19. Watching the news I saw Rick Perry interviewed where he called the Iowa Caucus process "quirky" and then said he thought he would do better in a state with proper primaries and "real republicans". I expect that most Iowans are thinking, "don't let the door hit you on the ass, jackass!" The low voter turnout indicates to me that people just weren’t excited about any of the candidates. I’ll bet if they allowed “none of the above” to appear on the ballot, it would win every time. Truthfully, until they can come up with a better platform than “we don’t like Obama”, I think this trend will continue.

    I’d like to support Iowa Babe by asking you to remember that Iowa Democrats in the last presidential election chose Obama.

    I’m frustrated by the non-stop complaints that the President didn’t do this or the President didn’t do that. Are people unaware that we have three separate branches of government and that those separate branches each have their own responsibilities? I would guess that 80-90% of the complaints that I hear that the President didn’t do this or that belong at the door of legislative branch not the executive branch. Given what the President has direct control over, I’d say he’s done a pretty good job.

  20. I'm with DerFarm on this one. Romney was not the worst governer we've ever had in MA, but back then he was a left of center Republican. He'll win through because he can morph every state into his "home state" in one way or another and is able to suss out what voters want to hear and then preach it. My guess is that Jeb Bush of Florida will eventually be the Republican candidate. Just what we need, eh?

  21. Jim,

    You do have at least a few readers here in Iowa. Not all of us in Iowa are batshit crazy, though the media has done pretty good at picking poor representatives of our state to showcase.

  22. Dana, why are you surprised that people don't realize we have three separate systems in our government? As far as I can see, not one of the Republican candidates has the foggiest notion how the government works. Newt thinks the executive branch should be able to tell the legislative branch to discipline the judiciary branch.

    All of them regale us with tales of what they are going to do when they are president. They seem to think that the president gets what he wants, when he wants it. Are they not paying attention? Or are they too busy preventing the current president from getting what he wants to notice?

    They seem to think they are going to be elected dictator for life.

  23. You have many Texas readers because Texas actually has some cities, and cities tend to have people who've actually been out of their state, seen a little of the world, etc. The population of Iowa is half that of the Houston metro area. I'm betting you Texas friends are in Austin, Houston, and maybe San Antonio, for the most part.

    And yes, we are the resistance.

  24. When Santorum loses to Romney in NH, he will be leaving to run a third party bid as the Norsefire candidate.

  25. In all fairness, Jim... Santorum is a much YOUNGER guy than Ron Paul and HE doesn't seem to understand how the internet works, either. I read a story on HuffPo yesterday saying that either he or someone from his campaign contacted Google and asked them to please remove the website(s)that define his name as a distasteful sexual thing-y. When Google told him they have no control over what other people post and that they are entirely INCAPABLE of removing anyone's webpage, the Santorum campaign said they can't believe that such a LARGE and well-respected company has no control over who "advertises" with them. When they suggested he contact the webmaster of the offensive website(s), he became CERTAIN they were simply passing the buck.

    To be honest, I didn't really have time to keep reading any further. I was on my way to the courthouse to sue the local phone book for publishing the address of a company that TOTALLY ripped me off!

  26. One more thing, regarding Rick the Prick:

    Even the Jeebus people noticed that when he prayed for rain, the gods set fire to his state.

  27. OK, Jim -- I am younger than both Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, and yet seem to have trouble with the internet. How do I subscribe to you on Facebook? Or does that fact that I don't know how to do that disqualify me in some way? I live in Massachusetts. What's our Sci Fi movie rating?

  28. I believe it's GINGRICH who's the haploid, not Jebus. Okay, wait-haploid is only one set of chromosomes, and since ol' J has/had one set of human and one set of HOLY SHIT IT'S GOD! chromosomes, I guess you're right. Never mind.

    wv: gical "Newtron is a bloated assigical, also related to a Santorum".


  29. Jim, I live in Texas too and have been enjoying your articles for a couple of years. We're not all batchit crazy here; a majority of voters in the larger cities in Texas voted for President Obama and would never vote for Rick Perry for anything other than maybe for him to move to Iran. Msny us were hoping he and $arah Palin would run off together to South America.

  30. I'm one of your Texas readers, Jim, and I can verify that we ARE part of the Sooper Sekrit Resistance Movement and we are mostly just hoping that Perry gets lost out there on the campaign trail and can't find his way back to Austin. The air's so much cleaner when he's not around.

  31. The only thing that could make this GOP dwarf-tossing contest less dignified would be if it turned out one of the candidates was also secretly an Elvis impersonator. Who did marriages. Who did the marriage between Britney Spears and Jason Allen Alexander and jutted his pelvis in time to "Hound Dog" playing on the boom box. *That* might make this GOP primary season less dignified than it already is. Other than that? Naw, ain't happening.

    -- Badtux the Sadly Amused(*) Penguin
    (*) Hey, dwarf tossing is an appalling spectacle. But you can't turn away from its perverse fascination when you see it happening, yo.

  32. Personally, I'm curious as to how the Republicans are going to steal the election. Jeb Bush can't hand his brother the election this time.

    I'm thinking they'll go for something more overt, since last time didn't get them punished.

  33. Thanks a lot Jim, now I have to go and re-watch those movies. Why couldn't you just use a multi-colored warning like the Bushies used.
    I can imagine a "Mystery Science Theater 3000" type of commentary for the next few thousand debates. UGH!

  34. Jim, Jim, Jim, I'm crushed, I tell you! I'm from Iowa but had to move away as there was no work for educated people...even back in the 60's! Does an ex-Iowan count in your book? I did make corn-cob jelly one year. We sold it at our church bazaar as "A gift for someone who has everything!" We sold out in one half hour! We lived in a very affluent area.

    My Grandfather was the only Democrat in Story County back at the turn of century (1900's) and four generations later we are still the enlightened ones, albeit we moved 50 years ago. There really are some Democrats left in Iowa and they did and will vote for Obama again. It's a nice place to visit, but wouldn't want to live there anymore..to many Fundies for my liking. We all moved and are turning the red states to Purple. Think you have to work in Alaska. My gosh man...you should all be blue in that frigid country!

  35. Knowing that the airwaves and news organs will be pimping this set of Republican candidates is terrifying if not madness-inducing. Bachman bailing ought to be a relief. Unfortunately, it just means more attention for the survivors. I wonder if there will be a convention candidate; Jeb Bush, Dr. Rice, Cheney. (Thunder on the soundtrack, followed by maniacal laughter.)
    A buddy says, no, it will be Romney. My buddy thinks Rob Portman of Ohio may be his Veep choice. Ohio will be big again. I'm hoping Jim will give us the coveted 'Caddyshack' rating. I'm afraid it will be 'Caddyshack II' again.

  36. Parrothead, by using the term "Sci Fi Movie" you have condemned us to the level of Attack of the 50foot Woman.

  37. Hi Jim--


    Vive la résistance!

    --written from an underground bunker somewhere in Central Texas

  38. I recall that the last time there was a caucus in Iowa, a woman (from the state, no less) explained what Iowa stands for:

    Idiots Openly Walking Around.

    No kiddin'. Yes, I've been through that state (in 1986, on my first coast-to-coast bike trip).

  39. We totally ARE the secret underground resistance! Thanks for restoring my faith in my state-there are apparently quite a few of us with sense!
    -Karen in Texas :)

  40. I agree with what's been said so far (generally both OP and comments), but there's a bright side to the Iowa situation. It seems clear that the Obama haters are divided as to whom should run against him, so there's still hope that this crop of Repubs may lack the muster to unseat our current president.

  41. I am so glad to see there are still some intelligent life in Texas. I spent 7 years in South Texas and left soon after the baby bush was elected Governor.

    I find it freaking unbelievable how so many voters are buying into these clowns. On one hand we have Newt who want to creat a dictatorship by taking out judges whose decisions HE disagrees with. Other make equally dumb statements about what they would do with executive powers clearly showing their total lack of the constitutional division of powers.
    Then they totally freak out when President Obama uses his power to do anything like appoint someone to head a government agency. If it was a GOP doing the exact same thing they would be piling on in showing support.

  42. I'm sorry Jim but I have already downgraded the entire US of A to Slipstream. That, my friend, is so far at the bottom of the well that you can't even see the light from it anymore. In fact it is leagues below Star Trek the Motion Picture.

    I didn't have any choice given every single person on the GOP caucus. The rest of the world knows it, the US knows it, but yet they continue to allow the "Idiot Brigade" to embarass the shit out of them.

  43. Awwww...I rather like The Search for Spock.

  44. "I just hope I don’t have to downgrade the entire country to Waterworld come November. "

    Surely we all realize that *December* turns into '2012' !!
    (I can't *believe* you missed *that* turkey reference Jim!)

    What terrifies me up in the 'Great White North' is that there are so many Republicans (Extreme Fundamentalist Christian Wackkos) who are actively working *towards* what they perceive as The End of Days.

  45. First wife liked Star Trek the Motion Picture, to the point of adopting the navigator's hair style. Startled the boy when she came to visit.

  46. Why waste your time on worrying about the GOP? Obama is a lock to win. He has more money than all of them put together. This has already been decided . Enjoy the next 5 years .

  47. I dunno, Anonymous, maybe because I'd like to see a couple of decent GOP candidates who aren't extremists of one strip or the other? Maybe because I think democracy works better when the guy in office has some actual competition. Maybe because I like having a choice between several candidates I actually respect.

  48. FWIW, I don't think Romney is an extremist, he just plays one for the Republican base. Which says more about the Republican base than about Romney. Which decidedly *is* something to worry about, regardless of whether Obama is a shoe-in...

    - Badtux the WTF Penguin

  49. We have too much competition. If one party would just run everything we can get things dfone. Republucans are not nominating another Obama. They will nominate somebody opposite him. What is the point. Do you want them to nominate a better version of Obama so you have competition to choose from .

  50. So I'm curious....is there a listing of the SFMS ratings that I haven't gotten around to yet or are these just random movie titles being pulled out that happen to apply?

  51. Droehke, I want to know too.

    I am also from Iowa, although I was born and raised in Ohio. Iowa is very polarized - it's like being in the Next-Gen episode with the time bubbles. One step, rational, educated person designing laser guidance systems for vehicles. Next step, frothing at the mouth, people rode dinosaurs, raise livestock for a living and don't care how many streams they kill ding-dongs.
    Yes, before your hackles raise, I know there are Iowans who raise livestock in a responsible manner. That is the third step....

  52. Droehke, I want to know too.

    I, also, am from Iowa, although I was born and raised in Ohio. Iowa is just very polarized - it's like being in the NextGen episode with the time bubbles. One step, and you're talking to an educated, rational person that is designing laser guidance systems for vehicles. Another step, and you're confronted with a frothing, people rode dinosaurs, abstinence will work, raises cattle or pigs for a living and doesn't care how many streams they kill, idiot. Before someone's hackles get raised, I know there are responsible livestock owners in Iowa. That's the third step.


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