Newtmentum? The GOP race just gets wackier.

No sensible observers probably thought it could happen. He’s easily the least charismatic and likable Republican politician running in the GOP primary, but it looks like Newt Gingrich has suddenly risen within striking distance of the current front runner, Herman Cain, and is tied with Mitt Romney, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll.

The only thing more surprising would be if John Huntsman, who some snarks insist is simply too sensible, knowledgeable, and, of course, too moderate to prevail with the current crop of Republican core voters, took the lead. That seems next to impossible — but despite his favor with some conservative intellectuals — few observers thought for an instant that Gingrich could ever rise from his position in the 2-3% support range to become a serious contender.

Of course, Newt’s fortunes have risen primarily because the previous three front runners’ fortunes have fallen.

Briefly the frontrunner, himself, slow-thinking Texas governor Rick Perry’s stumbling campaign has now fallen in the hole of his inability to think on his feet — and the viral videos of a speech where most observers have agreed that, despite his denials, he looked goofily drunk and, of course, his instantly infamous oops moment in Wednesday’s GOP debate, when he forgot a key bullet point in his personal remake government agenda — stumbling repeatedly for over 50 seconds as he repeatedly attempted — and failed — to remember one of the three federal agencies he maintains he would close if elected president.

Perry’s drain-circling comes as front runner Herman Cain’s ongoing — and apparently still-expanding — sex harassment controversy shows no sign of abating; we are now up to 5 accusers who have alleged unwanted advances — including claims of a crude physical groping incident. Even as Cain’s core supporters have circled the wagons — and supporters in the media like Rush Limbaugh have mounted an aggressive — some would say  embarrassingly vulgar and aggressive — campaign against the alleged victims of Cain’s harassment, the ongoing controversy appears to be eroding Cain’s support among moderate Republicans and, of course, Republican women, who, while not exactly ‘holding up half the tent’ in today’s GOP, will nonetheless be crucial to any Republican candidate’s chances in the general election.

And Mitt Romney, once considered a veritable shoo-in, is currently tied with Gingrich at 15% support within the party, with Cain still clinging to a 3 point lead at 18%.

Interesting times.


Character assassination? Now you’re playing on the right wing’s court!

The right wing media, with Fox News and shock jock Rush Limbaugh at the forefront, have launched a series of what they apparently hope will be preemptive strikes that will intimidate and silence any other alleged victims of sexual harassment and unwanted advances perpetrated by Herman Cain.

When  Sharon Bialek — who alleges that Mr. Cain subjected her to a crude physical assault, shoving his hand under her skirt toward her genitals and then pulling her head toward his own crotch —  came forward, she was immediately attacked by Limbaugh and others. Limbaugh has gone so far as pointedly pronouncing her name as “buy-a-lick” and making suggestive noises when he mentions her name.

When another alleged victim, Karen Kraushaar, came forward, Limbaugh cited a report that she had filed and then withdrawn a workplace complaint at a subsequent job, dismissing her as having a “pattern of whining.”

When Kraushaar attempted to assemble a press conference with others who claim harassment by Mr. Cain,  L. Lin Wood, an attorney hired by Cain to handle the wave of sex harassment claims gave a blunt warning: anyone contemplating coming forward with her own experiences at Mr. Cain’s hands should “should think twice.”

This New York Times article details the concerted efforts of the Cain team and their allies at Fox and other right wing media interests at trying to spin and shape  news of the allegations as well as discouraging other women from coming forward:

Cain’s Lawyer on Accusing: ‘Think Twice’

GOP candidates show little real interest in the economy

Republican politicians are often quick to claim business experience and economic expertise — but when push comes to shove, they often show a profound disinterest in the real economic machinery of our global markets.

Still, the utter lack of engagement on some of the most pressing matters facing the interrelated economies of Europe, Asia, and the Americas from the current crop of GOP presidential hopefuls is doing more than raising eyebrows.

In last night’s GOP presidential primary debate, CNBC moderator, Jim Cramer, finally had had enough nonsense from the Republican front runners, who almost uniformly shrugged off the European debt crisis.

“I would love it if we were independent,” Cramer said of the US economy. “It would be terrific to say it’s your fault and it’s your problem. But if this goes, the world banking system could shut down. Doesn’t that involve our banks too?”

More in the Los Angeles Times: GOP candidates at debate: Italy is Europe’s problem

Grasping at pine needles… how desperate are the RWM?

It sounds like a joke but, apparently, the Heritage Foundation, which considers itself a think tank (I’m thinking, at least in this case, that’s an overreach) is up in arms because the U.S. Agriculture department went along with a Christmas tree growers trade group that wanted the Ag department to impose a 15 cents per fresh cut Christmas tree surcharge that would go into a fund for the continued promotion of fresh Christmas trees (as opposed to artificial trees).

The program is similar to those long in place that promote milk, beef, and cotton — programs favored by the business groups involved and which, under Republican presidents, have been favored by many on the political right, as well.

The Obama administration, taking note of the brouhaha in a teacup, has announced that it will delay the Agriculture department’s 15 cent fee imposition — disappointing the business groups that requested it.

USA Today: Obama team delays Christmas tree fee

McClatchy Newspapers: Christmas tree farmers hope ads will stem growth of artificial trees

Pardon the acronym in the title. I’m no fan of the MSM or the LWM, either. I was just looking to shorten one of my typically long titles and hit on an acronym that certainly must have occurred to others, but which was novel to me… Mea culpa for one more piece of acronymic nonsense. 

But… the Onion does it…

The Onion does it and everyone loves them — why can’t he?

A Dutch “social scientist” — whose bogus science launched scores of headline-grabbing mainstream media stories — has finally come clean after being not just sacked for faking decades of data but being sued for wire fraud by his former university employers.

But — of course, reputable scientific publications wouldn’t be taken in by such patent fabrications, right? Would they not demand some of the same safeguards mandated by the Scientific Method which is a central ethos of the scientific world?

Think again…

From the Associated Press, presented here in the Australian —

Dutch professor faked data for years

All Koch’d Up?

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, a consumer group that has taken a stand against dirty money in politics, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Elections Commission that alleges that two conservative-aligned political influence groups gave tens of thousands of dollars of illegal contributions to the then-nascent campaign of pizza chain CEO-turned presidential aspirant, Herman Cain.

Prosperity USA was led by Mark Block, now chief of staff of the Cain campaign, is said to have loaned the Cain campaign about $40,000 in various considerations and services — which would be illegal under federal election laws.

Prosperity USA is a unit of the Tea Party-aligned Americans for Prosperity, which is funded in large part by the ultra-conservative, ultra-wealthy industrial investors, the Koch brothers, who fund a number of far-right groups.

Earlier today, Cain told a crowd that included David Koch: “I’m very proud to know the Koch brothers. This may be a breaking news announcement for the media: I am the Koch brothers’ brother from another mother.”,0,7236467.story