Monday morning’s 9 just barely interesting things

1) Mitt Romney and NASCAR — he’s just like us! (not) - Mitt Romney visited the Daytona 500 rally in Florida on Sunday, praising what he called a “quintiseentially American” sport. Asked whether the trip outside of Michigan was a sign of confidence that he would win the hotly-contested state, he replied, “No, it’s a sign of a guy who loves cars.” It’s what happened next, though, that has set the net ablaze. Here’s how CBS News described it: [...] Asked by the AP reporter if he follows NASCAR, Romney responded, “Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans. But I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.”

2) Rick Santorum’s NASCAR car “The Frothy” (but where are the brown splat marks?) - GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum hopes the car his campaign is sponsoring in the Daytona 500 today can have the same come-from-behind success as his campaign. The Santorum campaign is sponsoring Front Row Motorsports’ Car #26, a Ford Fusion driven by veteran race car driver Tony Raines, in the premiere stock car event of the season taking place today in Daytona Beach, Florida.

3) Rick Santorum is a Dangerous Demagogue - Rick Santorum is dangerous. There’s no other way to put it. He’s now saying things that could literally lead to the deaths of more service members serving in Afghanistan right now. Speaking in Marquette, Michigan, Sunday, Rick Santorum addressed an incident Sunday in which 7 U.S. service members were injured in a protest in response to U.S. military members burning a Koran. Santorum called the protestors evil, using the word repeatedly. He also condemned President Obama’s apology over the Koran-burning incident, saying that apologies only incite more violence because they are a show of weakness. Let me get this straight — apologizing for burning Qurans is a sign of weakness and will somehow lead to more violence? And repeatedly calling those who were offended ‘evil’ is supposed to help?

  • Car bomb hits airport in eastern Afghanistan - The blast comes a day after demonstrators hurled grenades at a U.S. base in northern Afghanistan, and a gun battle left two Afghans dead and seven NATO troops injured Sunday in the escalating crisis over the burning of Muslim holy books at an American airfield. More than 30 people have been killed, including four U.S. troops, in six days of unrest. Still, the top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan said the violence would not change Washington’s course.
  • Taliban: Blast was retaliation for burning

4) We Don’t Need No Education - “President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college,” Santorum sniped. “What a snob!” [...] Yes, increased knowledge tends to generate a more liberal world view. But it’s not a wild sci-fi conspiracy. It’s just reality. When you learn more about important things you tend to realize that the world is more complex and diverse than a GOP bumper sticker. College students are taught to think critically and independently by default due to the difficulty of the material — not through some kind of mandate. And this kind of critical thinking tends to produce a more liberal perspective rather than a lockstep conformist perspective.

  • Flashback: In 2006, Rick Santorum Wanted To Send All Pennsylvanians To College

5) Studies Refute Santorum’s Claim That College Makes People Less Religious - “Contrary to our own and others’ expectations, however, young adults who never enrolled in college are presently the least religious young Americans,” the journal concluded, noting that “64 percent of those currently enrolled in a traditional four-year institution have curbed their attendance habits. Yet, 76 percent of those who never enrolled in college report a decline in religious service attendance.” Or Santorum may have been referring to a 2006 Harvard study in which 62 percent of college Republicans said “religion is losing its influence on American life.” But that study negates Santorum’s larger point: It found that “a quarter of students (25%) say they have become more spiritual since entering college, as opposed to only seven percent (7%) who say they have become less spiritual.”

6) Sick man - So is the idea that the first Catholic president was sickening a big seller among Catholics these days? Who knew? I don’t think Ricky understands his history very well. Evidently, he was unaware that in 1960, conservatives thought of Catholics the same way think of Muslims today. He seems under the impression that America was a wonderful religiously tolerant nation until the horrible secularists came along and ruined everything. I guess he didn’t know about this, perpetuated, by the way, not by the secularists who didn’t give a damn, but by his favorite allies, the right wing protestants.

  • Does Ronald Reagan make Santorum want to ‘throw up’ too? - But I really wonder if Santorum is prepared to level the same accusation against Ronald Reagan: “We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate.” Hear the retching? That’s Santorum. Just wait till he finds about Vatican II.
  • Rick Santorum’s tiny mental Jesus is telling him lies - Kennedy did not say that “people of faith have no role in the public square,” nor did he say that “faith is not allowed in the public square.”  Not even close. Kennedy said that all people and churches should be created equal.  That’s it.  It’s a simple concept, really—one that Republicans, the self-styled masters of the Constitution, should have grasped by now.  Frankly, I can’t even begin to understand what Santorum’s Brain was thinking when it interpreted Kennedy’s speech as some sort of attack on faith and the First Amendment. It is nutbaggery most foul, and I simply do not get it.

7) How the 2012 Primary Has Revealed a GOP on the Verge of Collapse - many Republicans are already looking past 2012. If either Romney or Santorum gains the nomination and then falls before Obama, flubbing an election that just months ago seemed eminently winnable, it will unleash a GOP apocalypse on November 7—followed by an epic struggle between the regulars and red-hots to refashion the party. And make no mistake: A loss is what the GOP’s political class now expects. “Six months before this thing got going, every Republican I know was saying, ‘We’re gonna win, we’re gonna beat Obama,’ ” says former Reagan strategist Ed Rollins. “Now even those who’ve endorsed Romney say, ‘My God, what a fucking mess.’ ”

8) Putin warns attack on Iran would have “truly catastrophic” consequences - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia is concerned about the “growing threat” of an attack on Iran over its nuclear program, warning that the consequences would be “truly catastrophic.” In an article on foreign policy for publication on Monday, six days before a March 4 presidential election he is almost certain to win, Putin also warned Western and Arab nations against military intervention in Syria. “I very much hope the United States and other countries … do not try to set a military scenario in motion in Syria without sanction from the U.N. Security Council,” Putin said, according to a transcript.

9) AP News: WWII vet says nobody helped after he was carjacked - Brantley told The Associated Press said several people passed by him as he crawled, unable to walk because his leg was broken in the attack. The carjacker knocked Brantley down, took his keys and drove off in his car about 10:40 a.m. “I was trying to go in … and see if somebody could call the police and an ambulance because I couldn’t stand. I had to crawl – I tried two or three times to get up,” Brantley said Saturday. He said he was on way home from Bible study when he stopped to put gas in his 2010 Chrysler 200, which he recently bought to replace another car that had been stolen. “People were passing me just like I wasn’t there. … I was crawling and they just walk by me like I’m not there,” he said.