Tag Archives: Wonkette

I, For One, Welcome Our Last 2010 Obama Scandal

Bryan Fischer:

President Obama likes the “U.N. Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” He says it can “help reaffirm the principles that should guide our future.”

The State Department added helpfully that although the declaration is not legally binding, it “carries considerable moral and political force and complements the president’s ongoing efforts to address historical inequities faced by indigenous communities in the United States.”

This declaration – which carries”considerable moral and political force,” don’t forget – contains this little gem of a paragraph, in Article 26:

“Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired,” and nations “shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources.”

In other words, President Obama wants to give the entire land mass of the United States of America back to the Indians. He wants Indian tribes to be our new overlords.

Joseph Farah at WND:

It’s about time!

Barack Obama has finally done something right.

I’m always asked by interviewers if I can think of anything Obama has done that is commendable.

Frankly, until now, he’s done nothing but plot ways to steal my wealth. But things are about to change.

Maybe you missed it, but Obama has endorsed a United Nations resolution declaring the rights of indigenous people that could mean large swaths of the U.S. will be returned to native Americans like me.

I’m hereby staking my claim to Manhattan.

Maybe you didn’t know I have native American blood coursing through my veins. I’m more well-known for my Lebanese and Syrian ancestry. But, truth be told, I have a fair amount of Indian heritage on my mother’s side. So this proposed redistribution of wealth is welcome news for me.

Where do I apply? I want to return wampum for Manhattan.

Alex Pareene at Salon:

Congratulations, 2010, for fitting in one more completely insane made-up right-wing scandal: Barack Obama is going to give Manhattan back to the Indians! Also the U.N. will help, because grrrr, the U.N.!

Earlier this month, Obama said the U.S. would support the U.N.’s “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People,” a non-legally binding promise to finally treat indigenous peoples with some small amount of decency after hundreds of years of the government murdering them and expelling them from their homes and forcibly relocating them to barren desert ghettos and now just letting them live in conditions of appalling, abject poverty. Bush refused to sign on to this, because, I dunno, it was from the U.N., and it might lead to frivolous lawsuits, or something? It’s a non-binding Declaration that basically says “we will be nice to indigenous people,” there’s no good reason not to support it.

But because hysterical right-wingers are hysterical right-wingers, they are seizing on this document as yet more proof that Obama wants to forcibly redistribute all the wealth, from productive hard-working Real Americans to swarthy welfare leeches. Take it away, World Net Daily!

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs

James Joyner:

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adoted by the General Assembly more than three years ago, says what Fischer says it does.  And it says all manner of other things that, while consistent with our current moral principles, would be absurd if applied retroactively.   Fortunately, after all the affirmations, recognitions, proclamations, and  acknowledgements, followed by 45 Articles that say very nice things, we come to the final article.  It negates all the others:

Article 46

1. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, people, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of the United Nations or construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States.

2. In the exercise of the rights enunciated in the present Declaration, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all shall be respected. The exercise of the rights set forth in this Declaration shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law and in accordance with international human rights obligations. Any such limitations shall be non-discriminatory and strictly necessary solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for meeting the just and most compelling requirements of a democratic society.

3. The provisions set forth in this Declaration shall be interpreted in accordance with the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, equality, non-discrimination, good governance and good faith.

Emphases mine. Recall that the United Nations is a body chartered under the principle of state sovereignty.  The people who passed this Declaration are representatives of its 192 member states.  Rather clearly, then, the Declaration was not intended to give non-state actors – indigenous groups living inside state borders — power over states.  Thus far, 143 countries have voted in favor.

Another clue in this regard is that the Declaration was issued by the UN General Assembly.   It’s quite literally nothing more than a debating society.  Each of the 192 states has equal voting power and the right to bring up matters.  But anything passed by the assembly is nothing more than a recommendation.  Indeed, that’s what the State Department announcement [PDF here] meant when it stated “The United States supports the Declaration which–while not legally binding or a statement of current international law–has both moral and political force [emphasis mine].”

Nonetheless, concerns over the ambiguity of the language is what caused the Bush Administration to withhold its approval.   Ditto, initially, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand — other notable countries with similar concerns.   All of them have since signed.  ABC reports,

The US about-face came after officials determined that the language would, in fact, not conflict with US law and the complex relationship between national, state and tribal governments. Officials said they waited until a formal comment period for soliciting tribal input had expired before making the move to support the declaration.

“We think it is an important and meaningful change in US position,” said State Department spokesman PJ Crowley. “Of course, as with any international declaration we have certain reservations which we will voice reflecting our own domestic and constitutional interest. The president thinks it’s the right thing to do… Even though it is legally non-binding we think it carries considerable moral and political force.”

So, what’s the point?

Well, it’s an affirmation of existing American and international principle.  While states have sovereignty, there’s been a growing consensus in recent decades that aboriginal groups–such as our 565 federally recognized Indian tribes,  Native Hawaiians, and Aleuts–should be given a wide berth in preserving their native customs, language, legal systems and so forth. Indeed, it’s established in the United States Constitution that the tribes have a high degree of sovereignty on internal matters.  (That’s why, for example, Indians can establish casinos on tribal lands contrary to the law of the states in which they happen to reside.)

So, is this just empty political symbolism?   Pretty much.

Wonkette

Joan McCarter at Daily Kos:

This is only slightly less kooky than good ol’ Colorado governor candidate Dan Maes’ great UN-taking-over-American-cities-with-bicycles conspiracy theory, but mark my words, it’s going to get traction. Pretty soon we’re going to be seeing it on Beck and then Limbaugh and before you know it, Michele Bachmann will be introducing resolutions on the House floor about it.

Ed Brayton at Scienceblogs:

Seriously, are they that stupid or do they know they’re full of shit? Anyone who thinks Obama, or any other president, is going to give Manhattan back to the Indians is either delusional or engaged in the most egregious demagoguery imaginable. And the fact that it won’t happen will not change their thinking one bit.

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Everywhere Around The World, They’re Not Coming To America

Jeffrey Passel and D’Vera Cohn at Pew:

The annual inflow of unauthorized immigrants to the United States was nearly two-thirds smaller in the March 2007 to March 2009 period than it had been from March 2000 to March 2005, according to new estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center.

This sharp decline has contributed to an overall reduction of 8% in the number of unauthorized immigrants currently living in the U.S.-to 11.1 million in March 2009 from a peak of 12 million in March 2007, according to the estimates. The decrease represents the first significant reversal in the growth of this population over the past two decades.

These new Pew Hispanic Center estimates rely on data mainly from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and decennial census. The unauthorized immigrant population is estimated using the widely accepted residual method, in which a demographic estimate of the legal foreign-born population is subtracted from the total foreign-born population. The difference provides the basis for estimating the size and characteristics of the unauthorized immigrant population.

The Pew Hispanic Center’s analysis also finds that the most marked decline in the population of unauthorized immigrants has been among those who come from Latin American countries other than Mexico. From 2007 to 2009, the size of this group from the Caribbean, Central America and South America decreased 22%.

Audrey Singer at TNR:

Loss of immigrants, particularly the unauthorized, may be the ultimate indicator of economic sluggishness. The fragile economies of most metropolitan areas in the Mountain West states and Florida ranked them at the top of the list for job loss, devalued housing prices, and foreclosures.

As my colleague Bill Frey has demonstrated, this decade has been a migration rollercoaster ride for some states. Nowhere was this more evident than in Florida which led all states with the greatest domestic in-migration rates in the early part of this decade, but between 2008 and 2009 lost more than it gained for the first time in forever. Nevada also saw a migration reversal on a smaller scale after gangbusters growth during the early years of the 2000s.

Thus, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates, because of the time period measured (through March 2009), may not yet have captured the greatest declines in unauthorized immigrants for these states that have seen abrupt u-turns in their overall growth and as enforcement capacity is strengthened at the border.

The only other state with significant unauthorized immigrant population declines was Virginia, a state whose elected officials have taken a strong public stance against illegal immigration. It also saw a mid-decade reversal of domestic growth, starting a bit earlier than Florida’s and Nevada’s.

The declines in illegal immigration to Florida and Virginia stand out for another reason. Among states with large total immigrant populations, they have some of the smallest shares of Mexican immigrants, about 7 percent of their respective state totals. That suggests that other origin groups are substantially making up the unauthorized immigrant population, defying stereotypes. Nationally, the Pew Hispanic estimates show about 60 percent of unauthorized immigrants are Mexican.

The new estimates and trends should provide a moment of reflection as we contemplate both our economic predicament and how best to change our laws and policies around immigration and border enforcement. As the United States recovers from the recession, immigrant flows are likely to increase, including those of immigrants crossing the border illegally and those who might see a fresh opportunity and decide to violate the terms of their visas.

Adam Serwer at Greg Sargent’s place:

One more thing that’s important to note from the report: “In addition to the decline in Nevada, three other Mountain states — Arizona, Colorado and Utah — experienced a decrease in their combined unauthorized immigrant population from 2008 to 2009.” That contradicts the arguments of supporters of Arizona’s SB 1070 and other border hawks that more restrictive laws are necessary because of a recent flood of undocumented immigrants. Although the report may still shed some light on why Arizonans feel that way: the larger trend is that, between 1990 and 2009, Arizona’s share of the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. increased.

The report also offers more evidence that the criticisms of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and other Republicans about lax enforcement on behalf of the federal government are overblown, let alone hyperbole about an ongoing “invasion” from across the border. While careful to state that “the data in this report do not allow quantification” of all the factors involved in the decline of the illegal immigrant population, it lists major shifts in the level of immigration enforcement and in enforcement strategies,” as one of the major factors that “undoubtedly contribute to the overall magnitude of immigration flows.”

None of this is likely to change the politics of comprehensive immigration reform. Since completely “securing the border” is beyond our technical means, restrictionists can always call for more enforcement in lieu of actually working on legislation.

Doug Mataconis:

This is yet another piece of information which seemingly debunks many of the centrally held beliefs of the political movement that is currently asserting that we are in the middle of an immigration “crisis.” Steven Taylor has posted here several times debunking other such myths, such as the idea that crime along the Mexico/Arizona border is at an all-time high, that Arizona itself is suffering through an illegal immigration fueled crime wave, and that the Obama Administration is not taking border enforcement seriously.

Before we start engaging in a wholesale immigration debate, it would be nice to get the facts right.

Allah Pundit:

It really is good news, but I’m seeing people linking/tweeting it as evidence that the great wingnut noise machine has once again hyped an issue that practically doesn’t. even. exist. Simple question: Notwithstanding the fact that deportations are way up under Obama’s administration, does anyone seriously expect the trend in lower illegal immigration to continue if/when the economy finally comes back? Illegals are no more recession-proof than anyone else; if the jobs ain’t here (especially construction jobs), there’s less reason to come. When the jobs return, so will they.

Note the hard numbers, too. We’re talking about the difference between absorbing a population the size of South Dakota’s and a population that’s “only” half the size of Wyoming’s each and every year. It’s an improvement, but I dare say that border isn’t secure just yet.

Wonkette:

Also maybe the “hassle the immigrants and deport them” tactic appears to be having an effect too, supposedly, according top pro-hassling-the-immigrants groups. But we have a long way to go! Consider the case of Atlanta, where a taxpayer-funded hospital cut off dialysis treatment for a bunch of illegal immigrants with end-stage renal disease last year. But now they’re backing down because it made them look bad and also some churches might agree to pay for it. How did the sinister illegals celebrate their cruel victory over American justice?

“That would make me feel real happy because continuing with my dialysis, I need it to live,” said Ignacio Godinez Lopez, 24.

God, can you taste the triumphalism? This is worse than building a dozen 9/11 mosques

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Buggin’ Out

Dorsey Shaw at New York Magazine:

Last night, The Daily Show devoted an entire segment to the very unfunny bed bug problem that’s sweeping New York. Thankfully, host Jon Stewart managed to bring the funny by including an informative, but disturbing clip from Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno series that featured the actress dressed up like a giant bed bug who emotes while getting penetrated by a penis that is actually a knife. And you thought Blue Velvet was weird.

Gulliver at The Economist:

BEDBUGS have been resurgent in America since the mid-1990s. But the situation has gotten out of hand in recent years. New York City, where bedbugs have been found in movie theatres and clothing stores, has been especially hard-hit. Now, USA Today reports, even workplace infestations are on the rise:

Nearly one in five exterminators have found bedbugs in office buildings in the U.S., according to a recent survey of extermination firms by the National Pest Management Association and the University of Kentucky. That compares with less than 1% in 2007.

“It’s a national issue,” says Ron Harrison of pest control firm Orkin. “Not all of us have to go to work and worry about it, but we all have to be sensitive to it.”

Most cubicle dwellers and corner office executives are blissfully unaware of bug problems. And many wrongly think infestations take place only in the homes of unclean folks or in college dorms. But bedbugs can survive in a multitude of eek-evoking settings, such as offices, movie theaters and libraries

The Internal Revenue Service, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, and even Time magazine have discovered bedbugs in their offices recently, according to the USA Today report. (The Economist‘s offices are still bedbug-free—at least as far as I know.) The problem, of course, is that bedbugs are highly mobile. They can travel on people and on the things that people travel with—suitcases, duffel bags, clothing, and so on. That’s why we business travellers have to be so wary. But there’s only so much you can do, right?

Jasmine Moy at The Awl:

So, I realized that my apartment was infested. Because never breathing again is not an option, I sought a solution.

Here is a short list of things that you should absolutely not do. Not only do these things not solve your problem, they’re expensive and time consuming.

1. DO NOT PANIC. Panicking leads to doing all of the things on this list.

2. Do not throw away your mattress. Even if you put a sign that says, “bedbugs!” on it, you never know who might pick it up, including someone else in your building, which means you’re making the problem bigger for yourself.

3. Do not buy a new mattress. If you haven’t thoroughly attended to the rest of your belongings, they’ll find your new mattress in no time.

4. Do not move. You’ll probably move them with you.

5. Do not bring all your clothes to the dry cleaner. It’s pointless, see above.

There are however a number of cheap ways to start combating the problem.

1. Get carpet tape (that’s the thick, double-sided stuff) and roll a line of it in your apartment doorways, which will keep them from getting in or out of your room/apartment. (Some have suggested outlining your bed with it, which seems extreme and is not aesthetically pleasing but would work as a preventive measure.)

2. Put the legs of your bed in small plastic containers and put ½ an inch of baby oil in the containers, which will keep bugs from getting into or out of your bed (they’re not good climbers).

3. Invest in mattress covers to cover your mattress and box spring.

4. Buy a gallon or so of rubbing alcohol and some spray bottles. Rubbing alcohol is your new best friend. It not only kills bed bug eggs, but also works as a repellent to keep them from laying new ones, and keeps them from biting you at night.

However, whatever the Internet says about being able to conquer the bugs all by yourself, I wouldn’t try it. Just as it’s unwise to get cut-rate Lasik, or fly to Mexico for plastic surgery, the risks outweigh the cost of paying a good professional.

My roommate had been working at a restaurant and the owner there recommended Mario to us. He was no-nonsense and comforting. He assured us that we weren’t dirty people and that we had nothing to be ashamed of. Just last week he’d seen a bedbug crawling on a guy’s shirt on the subway (oof) so really, you can get them any place! This somehow managed to make me feel both better and not-at-all better at the same exact time.

Before he could come and spray (fumigating almost never works in one shot, he said, and heating/freezing all your things costs a fortune and requires days in extreme temperatures, either below 10 degrees or above 115 degrees Fahrenheit), we had to take every object we owned, spray it thoroughly with rubbing alcohol, and bag it. Electronics could be given a once over with alcohol wipes. All clothes had to be put in the dryer for 10 minutes and bagged.

“When I get there,” he informed us, “I want all the bags in the center of each room, leave suitcases out, mattresses uncovered, all shelves and dressers empty. I will not touch your apartment unless this is done.” Yes, sir!

Over the course of the next week, as I carried load after load of laundry up and down my 5th floor walkup to the corner laundromat, I couldn’t think of anything worse that could happen to a person, short of terminal illness or loss of a limb. Even then, I assumed this had a silver lining: “Hey! Less body area to feast on!”

I sprayed myself head to toe in rubbing alcohol each night. I slept without covers and kept a flashlight next to my bed so that when I woke up in the middle of the night (I was being startled awake by nightmares several times an evening, go figure), I could try to catch them in the act. Why? I don’t know. Too afraid to kill a bug with my bare hands, I’d probably have just flicked it onto something else to burrow in.

Every morning I’d spend fifteen minutes inspecting every inch of my body to see whether a bite I had was a new one or not (some people mark them with pens, but that seems, to me, to call more attention to them than necessary).

You start looking for bedbugs on strangers on the train. You start imagining what kind of people let them get to the point at which piles of them are found in corners, and mattresses are covered like beehives. I was afraid to tell people I had bedbugs, afraid that if they knew, they wouldn’t want me in their houses. I wouldn’t blame them.

Bedbugs are, in a word, traumatic. But little by little, the bags started to accumulate. It turned out to be a great excuse to clean house. Any clothes that weren’t worth carrying up the four flights of stairs after their cleansing trip in the dryer went straight into a Salvation Army bin outside the laundromat. I invested in those vacuum seal bags, which conveniently also saved me a ton of storage space! I felt good knowing that all the clothes I was wearing were sealed in bags that no bug could penetrate.

Christine Egan at Huffington Post:

Dear paranoid, irrational, germophobic humans:

We understand from recent media reports that some of you have become infatuated — dare we say, obsessed — with us lately. We can’t blame you, but this madness really has to stop.

We live together, and yet we don’t know each other at all. You’re so critical, so judgmental, so hateful, so unwilling to work on the problems in our relationship. It’s sad, really.

Now, we don’t want to get into a whole name-calling thing here, but we think you’re being hypocritical — and we don’t take pleasure in saying so.

But you go to the beach. You sit outside. Mosquitoes bite you. You scratch, complain briefly, apply ointments, and perhaps suggest to your host that he invest in screens. But do you fumigate the boardwalk, set your host’s front porch on fire and throw away the sundress, flip flops or Bermuda shorts you were wearing on the night you drank frozen margaritas in front of the beach bonfire and got 17 mosquito bites? No, you do not.

Even worse, you go back to the beach, weekend after weekend, summer after summer, year after year — only to get bitten again and again. As if that weren’t bad enough, you consistently exhibit this same masochistic behavior at the lake (hideous horse flies), the mountains (odious black flies), and yes, even in your own home: We hate to tell you this, but your filthy pets have fleas, and your bratty kids have head lice. (Which is just plain gross. Please keep them away from us.) And do you wage war against the millions of no-see-ums in your backyard? Of course you don’t, because they’re tiny and have a cute name. Personally, we no-see-the-attraction.

So why the hell are you in such a panic over us all of a sudden — particularly in urban areas like New York City? We don’t spread disease (thank menacing mosquitoes for West Nile Virus and those ticks for Lyme Disease), crawl around your kitchen counters (have you ever seen an earwig? talk about ugly), or cause you any major harm. All we do is nibble you a little, and hell, lots of you don’t even feel our bites or end up scratching at all.

Sure, we may inadvertently give some of you an impressive reddish rash (we can’t help it), but do us a favor and please don’t call us “disgusting” or “nasty” in public. That hurts our feelings. Who do you think we are, anyway, pubic lice? (The very definition of disgusting. And we know you’ve had the crabs, by the way. We live in your bed, remember?) Furthermore, do you have any idea how many dust mites you reside with every day in your McMansions with granite counter tops, media rooms and cathedral ceilings? No, you don’t. And you sure as hell don’t want to, either.

Nina Burleigh at Time:

For reasons still unknown, bedbugs really seem to like the state of Ohio. The problem is so dire in Cincinnati that some people with infested apartments have resorted to sleeping on the streets.

Cincinnati created a Bedbug Remediation Commission in 2007 and, like other local and national governments around the world, the city is trying to mobilize strategies to control infestations of the resilient insects, which can hide in almost any crack or crevice and can go a year or more without eating. On Aug. 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a consumer alert about off-label bedbug treatments, warning in particular of the dangers of using outdoor pesticides in homes. The Ohio Department of Agriculture has mounted a more unusual response to the crisis: it petitioned the EPA for an exemption to allow in-home use of propoxur, a pesticide and neurotoxin banned in the 1990s out of concern for its effects on children. (See the top 10 weird insect mating rituals.)

Although the EPA rejected Ohio’s propoxur plea in June, the agency has scheduled an Aug. 18 meeting with state and municipal leaders to try to formulate an abatement strategy everyone can live with. Among the meeting’s participants: representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, no joke, the Department of Defense.

“We are hopeful that the outcome of this meeting provides a solution,” says Ohio agriculture secretary Robert Boggs. “Quite frankly, something needs to happen, and it needs to happen quickly.”

Adrian Chen at Gawker:

Sorry, we’re trying to be more copacetic about bedbugs. But, they’ve invaded the Empire State Building! Towering symbol of modernity? New York icon? Bed bugs don’t give a bed bug fuck. They’re taking it down, from the bottom up.The building issued this statement:

“Like so many other buildings in New York City, the Empire State Building had a small incident of bedbugs. The occurrence was specific to a uniform storage area in the basement of the building. The area has been treated and fully cleared.”

This tourist from Buffalo was pretty copacetic about it, though: He told the Daily News, “You would think that for $20 a ticket, it should not be infested with bugs.”

Wonkette:

Bedbugs! They’re destroying Freedom & Liberty even faster than Debbie Riddle and terror babies combined. In Ohio and several other states, the critters have become so unruly that local governments are calling on the feds — including the Department of Defense — to help find a solution.

Why is Defense the agency you turn to when plotting your War on Bugs? Because they issue Technical Guides on pest management and control. Also, bedbugs might become a national security issue because they scare Americans. Scaring Americans often leads to Americans declaring war, and war is the DoD’s bailiwick. See how that works?

Your Wonkette remembers early rumblings of Bedbug Fever back in the mid-aughts, before the problem reached Full-Blown Epidemic proportions. At the time we lived in New York City, which has since turned into a war zone in which bedbugs compete with cockroaches for territorial control. It’s like the Bloods and Crips all over again. Oh, and did you hear about those bedbugs who crashed the Manhattan movie theaters the other day? They’re worse than not-mosques.

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Another Primary Night: Hot State, Hot State, Cold State

In Arizona:

Eric Kleefeld at Talking Points Memo:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the Republican Party’s nominee for president in 2008, has won his nomination for another term in the Senate by a landslide, against the right-wing challenge from former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

With 11% of precincts reporting, McCain leads by 59%-30%, and has been projected as the winner by the Associated Press.

As we noted this morning, McCain was heavily favored to win going into today. To his credit, McCain recognized early on that there was a restive environment among the GOP base, shifted to the right, and refocused himself to not lose that crowd to the anti-illegal immigration champion Hayworth — and he also outspent Hayworth by a ratio of about 10-1.

Weasel Zippers:

McCain Crushes Hayworth in Arizona GOP Primary, Will Now Shape-Shift Back Into a RINO…

Allah Pundit:

I can’t believe, in this year of all years, we couldn’t find a better challenger for McCain than this guy. It’s 60/29 as I write this. What a travesty.

Wonkette:

You’ve still got John WALNUTS! McCain to laugh at for another six years, assuming his bullshit genes are strong enough to fend off death until then. And then he will return to Arizona to make some more hilarious commercials, looking for all the world like he has never once seen the Dr. Seuss desert all around him.

In Florida:

Alexander Burns at Politico:

Multimillionaire health care executive Rick Scott narrowly captured the GOP’s nomination for governor of Florida Tuesday night, shocking both Republican and Democratic insiders who believed the free-spending newcomer’s fortunes had taken a sharp turn for the worse in the final weeks of his campaign against state Attorney General Bill McCollum.

On a night that was supposed to favor political insiders from coast to coast, and even as another self-funding Floridian – real estate billionaire Jeff Greene – crashed and burned in the state’s Democratic Senate primary, Scott’s victory stood out as a triumph of scorched-earth campaign tactics and relentless outsider messaging.

Jim Geraghty at NRO:

Can this be right?

In the GOP primary in Florida, a foregone conclusion for Rubio, 787,122 total votes cast.

In the Democratic primary, an actual competitive race between Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene, 489,384 total votes cast.

UPDATE: Similar disparity in the gubernatorial primaries, although my assumption is that you get more votes in more closely divided and harder-fought primaries:

Vote in GOP primary for governor:  806,123 total votes cast.

Vote in Democratic primary for governor: 469,230 total votes cast.

Were Republicans more interested in their gubernatorial primary than Democrats were in their senatorial primary?

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline:

On the day of the Florida primary comes word of a new PPP poll that shows Marco Rubio 8 percentage points ahead of Charlie Crist in a three-way race also involving Kendrick Meek, who expected to secure the Democratic nomination. Crist has been leading in most polls I’ve seen, including the previous one by PPP, which had him up by 6 points.

The 14 point swing is due, not surprisingly, to a change in the dynamic with both Democratic and Republican voters. Democrats seem to be “coming home” to Meek, a traditional liberal Dem. According to PPP, they are now breaking for Meek 39-38, whereas before they favored Crist 44-35.

Republicans also seem to be “coming home.” Rubio’s 54-23 lead with GOP voters in July has now increased to 69-20. Crist still has his core of Republican support, but the undecided Republicans are moving into Rubio’s camp, if the latest poll is correct.

Crist faces an obvious dilemma. The more he reaches out to Democrats, the less popular he becomes with Republicans. But his real problem seems to be that, even as he has reached out to Dems, these voters are swinging towards Meek. And since Meek is an African-American, he has a large built-in advantage with a substantial portion of Florida’s Demcratic electorate. In addition, if Meek becomes the actual nominee, instead of just the leading contender in a tough race, more Democrats may be inclined to come home to him.

Even so, Crist is a formidable candidate; one poll certainly doesn’t change that. This race is best viewed as a toss-up.

Holly Bailey at Yahoo News:

After weeks of looking as though he might lose the race, Rep. Kendrick Meek soundly defeated financier Jeff Greene in Florida’s Democratic Senate primary — a major victory, since Greene spent more than $26 million of his own cash in the race.

With more than half the vote in, Meek was beating Greene by double digits. Greene, who led the polls up until about a week ago, had campaigned as an outsider, but Florida voters ultimately soured on his candidacy after weeks of bad press over his celebrity-studded yacht parties and thin political resumé.

But now Meek now faces an even more difficult challenge: Can he keep Democrats from defecting to Charlie Crist’s campaign? All summer, polls have found Meek running a distant third behind Crist, who quit the GOP to run as an independent, and Republican Marco Rubio — in part, because Crist has been pulling significant Democratic support away from Meek.

But a new Public Policy Polling survey out this week found that Meek has now a 1-point advantage over Crist among likely Democratic voters in the race — a narrow edge that has taken away Crist’s overall lead in the general election. According to PPP, Rubio now leads the race at 40 percent, compared with 32 percent for Crist and 17 percent for Meek. The poll’s margin of error is 4 points

And in Alaska:

Doug Mataconis:

The biggest news coming out of Tuesday’s primary elections comes from Alaska where incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski is fighting for her political life

Robert Stacy McCain at The American Spectator:

The New York Times, Roll Call and Anchorage Daily News reported this result cautiously — Murkowski was “imperiled” and “battling for her political life,” etc. — but with Miller at nearly 52% of the vote, it appears evident that the challenger has won an upset.

Shortly before 4 a.m., Miller campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto told me by phone he was “cautiously optimistic,” and a few minutes later, campaign scheduler Harmony Shields said that the result would, at least officially, be “inconclusive” pending completion of the vote-count later today. However, other sources close to the campaign said privately they were confident of victory.

The come-from-behind triumph of Miller — whom I profiled for the American Spectator in early July — would be the second time that Sarah Palin had dealt a defeat to the Murkowskis. She upset the senator’s father, Frank, to win the governorship in 2006, and her endorsement was a key factor in helping Miller, a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War, mount a strong surge in the final two months of the primary campaign.

David Weigel:

OK — you’re wondering how Joe Miller, a lawyer who has never won an election, is currently leading Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in a primary she seemed to have in the bag. Didn’t Murkowksi have all of the money? Weren’t Miller’s rallies pretty listless affairs?

Yes, but since at best Murkowski is going to win closer than any polls suggested, here are two things that affected the race. The first: The Tea Party Express threw around half a million dollars into the campaign on Miller’s behalf. That’s huge money in Alaska. Second: Measure 2, a parental consent ballot initiative, brought out pro-life voters who have never trusted Murkowski. Sarah Palin’s early endorsement also handed Miller credibility and media attention which, in a GOP primary, was more important than Palin’s increasing unpopularity in the state.

Summing it up:

Marc Ambinder:

Says John Dickerson: “The national lesson from the primaries today is clear: a;sdlfk jp9r;tyh##”

Hewing to my “good analysis is victory agnostic” nostrum, here’s what I’m taking away from a night of surprises and triumphs.

One: J.D. Hayworth was a wannabe insurgent who was toppled by his own arrogance. He was too smooth for a year where anyone who sounds like a politician…really, anyone who sounds fairly coherent and talks in crisp, reasonable-sounding, consultant-approved sound bites…is suspect, particularly for Republicans.

Two:  Show me a low turnout primary election, and I will raise you polling that just does not capture likely voter enthusiasm swings. But turnout in Alaska was high — higher, in fact, than expected. I’ve always wondered how you poll Alaska anyway, and the tightness of the race suggests that models up there aren’t working very well. BTW: it’s likely that a parental notification ballot initiative drove conservatives to the polls in Alaska, boosting Joe Miller, a Gulf War vet and ally of Sarah Palin’s, to striking distance and possible victory over incumbent Lisa Murkowski.

Three: It is fairly clear that the anti-establishment / anti-Washington / pro-radical revolution plankton are feeding more off Republicans than off Democrats. As the year has unfolded, it has become easier and easier for formerly fringe candidates to find funding sources, get key “outsider” endorsements and shock complacent frontrunners.  When it comes to the Tea Party factor, remember: about issues it ain’t. Bill McCollum was one of the attorneys general who filed a lawsuit against Obama’s health care reform bill. He is as conservative as a Blackberry at an Apple convention.  But he has ties to the state’s now-discredited Republican establishment (think of the indictment of the former party chairman) and his avuncular, amiable, comfortable-as-a-leather shoe style just doesn’t fit with the times.  Rick Scott didn’t need the money, but the Tea Party Express helped him build a volunteer base. In Alaska, the same group ponied up $500,000 to help Miller (probably) defeat an incumbent U.S. senator.

Four: For the four statewide races in Florida, 5 Republicans turned out for every four Democrats.  500,000 Florida Republicans chose as their gubernatorial nominee someone who the Democratic Party can easily label a “corrupt health care CEO” and not get sued for libel. Note: Sink outpolled Scott by 75,000. Obviously, a large chunk of the 500,000 Republicans who voted for Bill McCollum (last seen on Fox News, 24 hours a day) will enthusiastically support their new nominee, but Sink begins the general election, even in a Republican year, with a lead. Health care will be a major part of her race because Scott claims credit for running ads that substantially slowed down the progress of the Congressional debate and because of his own record.  Scott begins the general election with a pot of gold. Democrats will need to spend money to pick up a seat that could well determine how Florida is redistricted next year, which means that the White House and Congressional Democrats have a stake in what happens.

More Republicans voted for Marco Rubio than Democrats did for all four Senate candidates combined, an ominous and unsurprising sign that enough Democrats are probably going to align themselves with Charlie Crist so that Crist wins or Rubio walks away with the seat.

Five:  in Alaska, Sarah Palin’s endorsement does seem to matter. It’s not like no one predicted that Joe Miller could be the next senator; former Gov. Tony Knowles told me a month ago that Murkowski was not taking Miller seriously and that he could easily organize a campaign to beat her in the primary.  Absentees won’t be fully counted for a while, but Miller’s victory can be reasonably inferred from the outstanding ballots.

UPDATE: Murkowski concedes. Robert Stacy McCain

Michelle Malkin

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“N” Is For Newtie, That’s Good Enough For Me

John Richardson in Esquire:

She was married to Newt Gingrich for eighteen years, all through his spectacular rise and fall, and here she is in a pair of blue jeans and a paisley shirt, with warm eyes and a big laugh and the kind of chain-smoking habit where the cigarettes burn right down to the filter — but she’s quitting, she swears, any day now.

We’re having breakfast in a seaside restaurant in a Florida beach town, a place where people line up in sandals and shorts. This is the first time she’s talked about what happened, and she has a case of the nerves but also an air of liberation about her. Since he was a teenager, Newt Gingrich has never been without a wife, and his bond with Marianne Gingrich during the most pivotal part of his career made her the most important advisor to one of the most important figures of the late twentieth century. Of their relationship, she says, “We started talking and we never quit until he asked me for a divorce.”

She sounds proud, defiant, maybe a little wistful. You might be inclined to think of what she says as the lament of an abandoned wife, but that would be a mistake. There is shockingly little bitterness in her, and she often speaks with great kindness of her former husband. She still believes in his politics. She supports the Tea Parties. She still uses the name Marianne Gingrich instead of going back to Ginther, her maiden name.

But there was something strange and needy about him. “He was impressed easily by position, status, money,” she says. “He grew up poor and always wanted to be somebody, to make a difference, to prove himself, you know. He has to be historic to justify his life.”

She says she should have seen the red flags. “He asked me to marry him way too early. And he wasn’t divorced yet. I should have known there was a problem.”

Within weeks or months?

“Within weeks.”

That’s flattering.

She looks skeptical. “It’s not so much a compliment to me. It tells you a little bit about him.”

And he did the same thing to her eighteen years later, with Callista Bisek, the young congressional aide who became his third wife. “I know. I asked him. He’d already asked her to marry him before he asked me for a divorce. Before he even asked.”

He told you that?

“Yeah, he wanted to — ”

But she stops. “Hey, turn off the tape recorder for a second. This is going to go places …”

Back in the 1990s, she told a reporter she could end her husband’s career with a single interview. She held her tongue all through the affair and the divorce and even through the annulment Gingrich requested from the Catholic Church two years later, trying to erase their shared past. Now she sits quietly for a moment, ignoring her eggs, trying to decide how far she wants to go.

[…]
ctually, he grew up on a series of Army bases in Kansas, Georgia, France, and Germany. His father was raised by a grandmother who passed off his real mother (Gingrich’s grandmother) as his sister. His mother married his father when she was sixteen, left him a few days later, and struggled with manic depression most of her life. His stepfather was an infantry officer who viewed his plump, nearsighted, flat-footed son as unfit for the Army. By the time he was fifteen, Gingrich dedicated his life, he says, “to understanding what it takes for a free people to survive.” By the time he was eighteen, he was dating his high school geometry teacher. He married her a year later, when he was nineteen and she was twenty-six.It sounds like a complicated childhood, I say.

“It was fabulous.”

Fabulous?

“Lots of relatives, lots of complexity, lots of sugar pies, when I could talk my aunt and grandmother into making them. They had an old-fashioned cast-iron stove where you cut wood…”

Just as Ronald Reagan created an idealized version of an America that never quite existed, so has Newt. And just as Reagan curated a fantasy version of his own life, so, too, has Newt.

Aren’t you sugarcoating it a little bit?

“What do you mean?”

It sounds like a troubled domestic situation.

“It’s troubled if you decide that’s what it is.”

True, you can choose to look at the bright things. But there are also less bright things.

“There are for everybody.”

Yeah, but I’m asking you.

He doesn’t respond.

Both your fathers, the stepfather and the biological one, were angry men.

His expression is flat, and he answers in his scholarly voice, like a professor telling a legend from distant history. “I think by the time I knew Newt, my biological father, he was no longer particularly angry. I think Bob was very tough. But I look back now and I realize that Bob imprinted me in a thousand ways. He taught me discipline, he taught me endurance, he taught me to take the long view, he taught me the notion of teams, he taught me a depth of patriotism, he taught me to be prepared for things not to work — you sleep as often as you can because you don’t know when you’ll be able to sleep again, you drink water when you can because you don’t know when you’ll be able to drink again, you rest as much as you can because you don’t know when you’re going to rest again. If you come out of an infantry, World War II, Korea background, that is how the infantry functions. Well, it turns out that’s pretty good if you’re going to be a politician.”

Sitting in the Florida sun while she annihilates a long series of Benson & Hedges, Marianne Gingrich paints a very different picture. “He didn’t talk to his mother much. He just didn’t have patience with her. And she was pretty drugged up for a long time.”

But he said his childhood was like Norman Rockwell.

She laughs. “You’re kidding. That’s funny. Well, I liked his dad. He was outspoken. He was a down-home, practical kind of guy. But you know, he was a drinker.”

Marianne loves long stories, straight talk, and rueful laughter at the infinity of human foibles. Her eyes go wide when she hears his line about being four to Callista’s five. “You know where that line came from? Me. That’s my line. That’s what I told him.”

She pauses for a moment, turning it over in her mind. Then she shakes her head in wonder. “I’m sorry, that’s so freaky.”

[…]

But other days, Gingrich was bleak and hopeless. He was like a “dead weight” at times like that, Marianne says. You just couldn’t get him to move. The contrast reminded her of his mother and her manic depression, and she told him he needed help.

But Marianne was having problems of her own. After going to the doctor for a mysterious tingling in her hand, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Early in May, she went out to Ohio for her mother’s birthday. A day and a half went by and Newt didn’t return her calls, which was strange. They always talked every day, often ten times a day, so she was frantic by the time he called to say he needed to talk to her.

“About what?”

He wanted to talk in person, he said.

“I said, ‘No, we need to talk now.’ ”

He went quiet.

“There’s somebody else, isn’t there?”

She kind of guessed it, of course. Women usually do. But did she know the woman was in her apartment, eating off her plates, sleeping in her bed?

She called a minister they both trusted. He came over to the house the next day and worked with them the whole weekend, but Gingrich just kept saying she was a Jaguar and all he wanted was a Chevrolet. ” ‘I can’t handle a Jaguar right now.’ He said that many times. ‘All I want is a Chevrolet.’ ”

He asked her to just tolerate the affair, an offer she refused.

He’d just returned from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he’d given a speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values.

The next night, they sat talking out on their back patio in Georgia. She said, “How do you give that speech and do what you’re doing?”

“It doesn’t matter what I do,” he answered. “People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”

When they got to court, Gingrich refused to cooperate with basic discovery. Marianne and her lawyer knew from a Washington Post gossip column that Gingrich had bought Bisek a $450 bottle of wine, for example, but he refused to provide receipts or answer any other questions about their relationship.

Then Gingrich made a baffling move. Because Bisek had refused to be deposed by Marianne’s attorney, Newt had his own attorney depose her, after which the attorney held a press conference and announced that she had confessed to a six-year affair with Gingrich. He had also told the press that he and Marianne had an understanding.

“Right,” Marianne says now.

That was not true?

“Of course not. It’s silly.”

During that period, people would come up to Marianne and tell her to settle, that she was hurting the cause.

John Hudson at The Atlantic with the round-up

Dan Amira at New York Magazine:

Herewith, the ten most unflattering things in the profile.10. He lives his life based on weird metaphors about cookies:

“There’s a large part of me that’s four years old,” he tells you. “I wake up in the morning and I know that somewhere there’s a cookie. I don’t know where it is but I know it’s mine and I have to go find it. That’s how I live my life. My life is amazingly filled with fun.”

9. Nobody buys the movies he releases through the group Citizens United.

According to Bruce Nash of Nash Information Services, a company that tracks movie sales, these films — some directed by a man best known for a TV show called Bikes from Hell — are spectacular failures. “The most popular appears to be Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny, which is most likely selling a couple thousand copies a year through major retailers. Rediscovering God in America sells perhaps two thousand units.”

8. His health-care group doesn’t do what it claims it does:

Then there’s the Center for Health Transformation, another group Gingrich runs. On its Web site, it describes its work in Georgia as a model for all its efforts and says the “cornerstone” of its work is a group called Bridges to Excellence. But CHT “had zero role in creating Bridges to Excellence,” says François de Brantes, the group’s CEO. CHT helped with organization for one year and hasn’t been associated with them since 2008. The CHT Web site also singles out the “Healthy Georgia Diabetes and Obesity Project” as its major diabetes effort, but that was news to the American Diabetes Association. “We were not able to find any information about this,” says the ADA’s communications director, Colleen Fogarty. “The person that was in contact with them is no longer here.” It turns out that the CHT is a for-profit outfit that charges big health insurers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield up to $200,000 a year for access to the mind of Newt Gingrich.

7. He started to act crazy after being fined $300,000 by the House Ethics Committee — “yelling at people,” “slurping his food” during meetings, and just not “functioning.”

6. He steals lines from his ex-wife and passes them off as his own:

“[Current wife] Callista and I kid that I’m four and she’s five and therefore she gets to be in charge, because the difference between four and five is a lot.”….

[Ex-wife Marriane’s] eyes go wide when she hears his line about being four to Callista’s five. “You know where that line came from? Me. That’s my line. That’s what I told him.”

She pauses for a moment, turning it over in her mind. Then she shakes her head in wonder. “I’m sorry, that’s so freaky.”

5. He has no “real principles” except the “pursuit of power,” according to former Republican congressman Mickey Edwards, who’s known Newt for 30 years.

4. He doesn’t care about being a hypocrite: After Marianne questioned how he could give a speech on family values while carrying on an affair with his decades-younger aide (who became his third wife), Newt replied, “It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”

3. He wanted Marianne to just “tolerate” his affair, “an offer she refused.”

2. Regardless, he then announced that, though he’d been having an affair for six years, “he and Marianne had an understanding,” a claim Marianne denies. “Of course not,” she says. “It’s silly.”

1. He delivered divorce papers to his first wife — his former high-school teacher — while she was in the hospital recovering from uterine cancer. He broke things off with his second wife seven months after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Ben Adler at Newsweek:

Gingrich is certainly a savvy political strategist, but he has some serious political liabilities. This is a man, after all, who was carrying on an affair with a young aide while pursuing an impeachment of the president for the same thing. Today Esquire is up with a fabulous profile of Gingrich in all of his contradictions: his dark musings with nasty culture-war overtones, his confounding embrace of some big-government interventions, his family-values rhetoric, and his unusual marital history.

And it exposes how some of Gingrich’s demands for fantastical goals cannot realistically be achieved by the means he proposes. Case in point: Gingrich says President Obama should effectuate a regime change in Iran through tightened sanctions and funding for dissidents. Most Iran experts think the U.S. actually deligitimizes the domestic opposition by supporting them. And if sanctions could topple dangerous Middle Eastern regimes, then why did Gingrich say they were insufficient to deal with Saddam Hussein?

Nicole Allan at The Atlantic:

John H. Richardson’s profile of Newt Gingrich in Esquire paints a fragmented, confusing picture of a fragmented, confusing guy. Richardson’s central source is Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne, whom he divorced in 1999 to marry a congressional aide 23 years his junior. This is apparently the first interview she’s given about her ex-husband since their divorce, a fact Richardson milks for all its worth.

“Back in the 1990s, she told a reporter she could end her husband’s career with a single interview,” Richardson writes at the beginning of his story, implying that the next seven pages contain ten years’ worth of bottled-up, career-ending revelations.

Gingrich certainly does not emerge from the profile looking good, but then again, he didn’t emerge from his 1990s money laundering scandal and resignation from Congress looking good, either. Richardson’s profile is already generating buzz, but ending careers — probably not.

Justin Elliott at Salon:

Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife told Esquire that the former speaker cares more about getting rich than running for president. So we decided to take a closer look at who is funding Gingrich’s primary political committee, a 527 group called American Solutions for Winning the Future. A significant chunk of its funding comes from oil and gas and coal companies and wealthy real estate evelopers, with the rest raised in $100 and $200 increments from conservatives around the country, according to the group’s IRS filings.

American Solutions doesn’t appear to pay Gingrich a direct salary, but it has spent millions on private jets to ferry him and his staff around the country and generally allow him to promote his books and movies. (There are other groups, like Gingrich’s for-profit Center for Health Transformation, that may be paying Gingrich directly, but such information is private.) So far this election cycle, American Solutions has taken in over $20 million, and poured much of it back into fundraising expenses.

We’ve taken a look at the IRS forms that American Solutions files periodically showing what’s coming in and what’s going out. Here are some of the group’s biggest funders:

  • American Electric Power: Michael Morris, the CEO of this Ohio-based power giant, gave $100,000 last year. Along with generating lots of electricity, the company operates the nation’s largest power transmission network, operating over much of the East Coast and Midwest.
  • Plains Exploration and Production Co.: This Houston-based oil and gas company that operates in the Gulf gave $100,000.
  • Workforce Fairness Institute: A Washington, D.C.-based anti-union pressure group, the institute’s own source of funding is not known. It gave $150,000 to Gingrich’s organization this cycle. Its website says it is “funded by and advocates on behalf of business owners who enjoy good working relationships with their employees, and would like to maintain those good relationships without the unfair interference of government bureaucrats, union organizers and special interests.” Mark McKinnon, the longtime GOP operative and Bush aide, has been a spokesman for the institute.
  • Hubbard Broadcasting: Stanley Hubbard, a billionaire GOP donor from Minnesota, gave Gingrich’s group $100,000. He owns radio and TV stations in several states as well as ReelzChannel, a movie news channels on cable.
  • Devon Energy: A huge Oklahoma-based oil and gas production company, it has given American Solutions $250,000.
  • Arch Coal: Based in St. Louis, Arch boasts it provides 16 percent of America’s coal supply from 11 mining complexes around the country. That makes it the second largest coal producer in the country. It gave Gingrich $100,000.
  • Crow Holdings: A privately held Dallas real estate investment firm, it gave Gingrich’s group a whopping $350,000. Harlan Crow, son of the late real estate investor Trammell Crow, is active in a range of conservative causes including the Club for Growth and the American Enterprise Institute. He is a patron of Clarence Thomas and once gave the justice a Bible owned by Frederick Douglass worth $19,000.

Unsurprisingly, given the contributor list, American Solutions has run national TV ads opposing the cap-and-trade bill. But more than anything, the group is a vehicle for self-promotion for Gingrich, one that he benefits from financially.

Anne Laurie:

Please read the whole article. I’ve been extremely scornful of the idea of Gingrich actually running for President, as opposed to fan-dancing (or stripper-poling) a perennial round of first-class speaking junkets and high-visibility media appearances calculated to preserve the Gingrich™ brand’s valuable shelf-space in the Wingnut Welfare Walmart. But Richardson’s reporting suggests that the person most bedazzled and mislead by the non-stop hustling might just be Newton Leroy Gingrich, and that’s a dangerous thing indeed, because there is much further confirmation here that Gingrich is a bullet point on the Powerpoint timeline of Weirdly Charismatic Rightwing Sociopaths, probably the most significant version between Richard Nixon and Sarah Palin. Richardson includes stories of Gingrich’s unsettling behavior just before he resigned the Speakership that read like an opera bouffe version of Nixon during Watergate, and aggregates details of his personal and professional life that make Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes look like a rough draft

Wonkette:

Interesting! Also interesting: Newt Gingrich divorces his wives when they’re in the hospital with life-threatening diseases. And his organizations and money-making schemes since leaving office are pretty shady. Fun!

Time to give this man our presidency cookie.

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Aqua Buddha A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop

Ray Gustini at The Atlantic with the round-up

Jason Zengerle at GQ:

What’s truly interesting about Rand Paul and Baylor is not the issue of whether or not he graduated; it’s what he did at Baylor during the two-and-a-half years he spent there. As I discovered in the course of reporting a story about Paul for GQ, he wasn’t your typical Baylor student.

Baylor seemed like a natural fit for someone like Paul. Located in Waco, it’s the world’s largest Baptist University and has a long history of educating the children of prominent Texas conservative politicos. As the son of Houston-area Congressman Ron Paul, young Rand—or Randy, as he was known back then—appeared to be following in that tradition. But when Paul showed up in Waco, he didn’t conform to type. According to several of his former Baylor classmates, he became a member of a secret society called the NoZe Brotherhood, which was a refuge for atypical Baylor students. “You could have taken 90 percent of the liberal thinkers at Baylor and found them in this small group,” recalls Marc Burckhardt, one of Paul’s former NoZe Brothers. Sort of a cross between Yale’s Skull & Bones and Harvard’s Lampoon, the NoZe existed to torment the Baylor administration, which it accomplished through pranks and its satirical newspaper The Rope. The group especially enjoyed tweaking the school’s religiosity. “We aspired to blasphemy,” says John Green, another of Paul’s former NoZe Brothers.

And so the NoZe Brothers would perform “Christian” songs like “Rock Around the Cross”; they’d parade around campus carrying a giant picture of Anita Bryant with a large hole cut out of her mouth after the former beauty queen proclaimed oral sex sinful; and they’d run ads for a Waco strip club on the back page of The Rope. In 1978, the Baylor administration became so fed up with the NoZe that it suspended the group from campus for being, in the words of Baylor’s president at the time, “lewd, crude, and grossly sacrilegious.” During Paul’s three years at Baylor, according to former NoZe Brothers, if the administration discovered a student was a member of the NoZe, the punishment was automatic expulsion.

[…]

The strangest episode of Paul’s time at Baylor occurred one afternoon in 1983 (although memories about all of these events are understandably a bit hazy, so the date might be slightly off), when he and a NoZe brother paid a visit to a female student who was one of Paul’s teammates on the Baylor swim team. According to this woman, who requested anonymity because of her current job as a clinical psychologist, “He and Randy came to my house, they knocked on my door, and then they blindfolded me, tied me up, and put me in their car. They took me to their apartment and tried to force me to take bong hits. They’d been smoking pot.” After the woman refused to smoke with them, Paul and his friend put her back in their car and drove to the countryside outside of Waco, where they stopped near a creek. “They told me their god was ‘Aqua Buddha’ and that I needed to bow down and worship him,” the woman recalls. “They blindfolded me and made me bow down to ‘Aqua Buddha’ in the creek. I had to say, ‘I worship you Aqua Buddha, I worship you.’ At Baylor, there were people actively going around trying to save you and we had to go to chapel, so worshiping idols was a big no-no.”

Nearly 30 years later, the woman is still trying to make sense of that afternoon. “They never hurt me, they never did anything wrong, but the whole thing was kind of sadistic. They were messing with my mind. It was some kind of joke.” She hadn’t actually realized that Paul wound up leaving Baylor early. “I just know I never saw Randy after that—for understandable reasons, I think.”

Ben Smith at Politico:

Paul spokesman Jesse Benton didn’t respond directly to Zengerle’s question about the incident; I’ve e-mailed him to ask whether that story is true, and am also trying to reach the accuser.

UPDATE: Benton repeated his non-denial to me in an e-mail, adding: “We’ll leave National Enquirer-type stories about his teenage years to the tabloids where they belong.”

Josh Green at The Atlantic:

I’ll bet they were listening to Rush.

David Kurtz at TPM

Dan Amira at New York Magazine:

Just … wow. Kidnapping, drug use, sacrilege — how could the Paul campaign possibly explain all of this to its many conservative supporters?

Steve Benen:

A lot of folks had some rowdy experiences in college, but I suspect the number of Senate candidates who kidnapped a fellow student, forced her into some bizarre ritual, and worshiped the “Aqua Buddha” is fairly low.

This is, by the way, the same Baylor University that Paul didn’t graduate from, despite some suggestions to the contrary.

In the grand scheme of things, Paul’s radical ideology — he’s the one who opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act — is far more relevant than his ridiculous behavior in college. But given the right-wing ophthalmologist’s razor thin public record — he’s never sought or held public office at any level — incidents like these help flesh out a better understanding of Rand Paul’s background.

And as we’re learning, Paul is a weird dude.

Wonkette:

Anti-statist Senate candidatista Rand Paul didn’t actually finish college because he did well on his MCAT and got into Duke Medical School, which is actually sort of “bad-ass.” Now, according to Gentlemen’s Quarterly, it turns out “Randy” Paul was part of a SECRET SOCIETY at Baylor made mostly of LIBRULS who smoked POT and did PRANKS and put out a SATIRICAL NEWSPAPER criticizing the university administration. Nowadays, that sort of thing would segue you into a high-paying management-professional job at your Wonkette, but back then it turned you into an ophthalmologist.

UPDATE: Greg Sargent

Alex Pareene at Gawker

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I Thought The Worry Was Black Helicopters

Christopher Osher at The Denver Post:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are “converting Denver into a United Nations community.”

“This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed,” Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.

Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor’s efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes “that’s exactly the attitude they want you to have.”

“This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms,” Maes said.

He added: “These aren’t just warm, fuzzy ideas from the mayor. These are very specific strategies that are dictated to us by this United Nations program that mayors have signed on to.”

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs:

OK, we have a winner in today’s Crazy Dumb Fear-Mongering Sweepstakes: Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes, who’s convinced that the Mayor of Denver’s bike-sharing program is only the first step on a slippery slope leading inevitably to a United Nations invasion of Denver.

Don Suber:

That’ll cost him 5 points in the polls in Mork-and-Mindy Land.

Steve Benen:

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t literally laugh out loud at this. “That’s what they want you to think” is something of a comical cliche, used by those making fun of paranoid conspiracy theorists.

In this case, a leading Republican gubernatorial candidate — and Tea Party favorite — was completely serious. Maes went on to tell the Denver Post that efforts to promote bicycling and related programs seem like “warm, fuzzy ideas,” but they’re really “very specific strategies that are dictated to us by this United Nations program.” He added, “This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms.”

Honestly, is there something in the water this year? Is the RNC handing out crazy pills to all of its candidates?

In this case, Maes is concerned about Denver participating in “the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, an international association that promotes sustainable development and has attracted the membership of more than 1,200 communities, 600 of which are in the United States.”

There’s nothing especially nefarious about sustainable development — it’s actually a smart idea — and Denver joined the effort in 1992, more than a decade before Hickenlooper became mayor.

Unless, that’s all part of Hickenlooper’s radical plan, and he just wants us to think he wasn’t involved in 1992. In reality, he was plotting even then, teaming up with the Illuminati, the Loch Ness Monster, and Bigfoot, working together in some giant pro-bicycle U.N. scheme. All of this is, after all, “bigger than it looks like on the surface.”

Jocelyn Rousey at Mediaite:

Okay, Mr. Meas. A few things:

1) Define “U.N. community” without resorting to paranoid Michelle Bachmann-esque talk of one-world governments and the imposition of “European socialism” on America. Then, if don’t mind, could you walk me through the connection between initiating a privately-funded bike rental program for the city and the degradation of personal freedoms, please?

2) What exactly is so threatening about riding a bike? Just because Europeans love their bikes and Vespas doesn’t mean that by also liking bikes Americans will start pining for “European-style socialism.”

3) Just a technicality here, but Denver gets a lot of snow, which isn’t exactly conducive to biking. At best, Hickenlooper will end up with a seasonal U.N. community.

So, if you could just get back to me on that, that’d be great. Thanks.

Matthew Yglesias:

I don’t really think bike commuting is going to take America by storm next week, but it is a cheap and healthy way to get around that will appeal to some people. And since in addition to being cheap and healthy, it’s also better for air quality than driving a car, it makes perfect sense for municipal leaders to try to ensure that transportation infrastructure accommodates cyclists.

Wonkette:

Fortunately, once Maes is governor, every single bicycle lane in Denver will be eliminated to accommodate the coming wave of wider SUVs, and transit pass holders will be given dune buggies

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