I was not at all surprised that Mitt Romney has again reversed course from a stated position during the primaries. This time he announced that he didn’t mean at all what he had previously said about FEMA, and is all for ensuring an adequate federal role for disaster relief. Of course, he said it in the middle of one of the largest hurricanes on record hitting our east coast, and at a time that his words from the spring saying he would send that responsibility to the states or to the private sector were being plastered across the national media. I guess he thought it was immoral before it wasn’t immoral.
The best sub-headline of the campaign so far, courtesy of the New York Times: “If Mitt wins, who will occupy the White House? It’s not a trick question.”
Throughout the primary and general election seasons this year, every time I think of Mitt Romney an obscure Woody Allen movie comes to mind. “Zelig” (1983) portrays an individual who becomes just like whoever he is around. If he is around Jewish people he becomes Jewish, around overweight people, he rapidly gains weight, and so forth. “Zelig” deserved much more recognition than it ever received. And I’m puzzled that it’s not being over-referenced by pundits covering the GOP presidential nominee.
There has been much discussion recently about a “War on Women” based on the nationwide debate about access to contraception, the brouhaha surrounding Rush Limbaugh’s name-calling of a young woman over testimony to a congressional panel, and laws enacted and contemplated regarding access to women’s health care in several states.
I’m not sure if the word “war” is the best description of what is taking place, but there is definitely a wide-spread ideologically-driven movement that is targeting women’s access to reproductive services and health care in general, and if continued will result in severe consequences to women’s health, and especially to that of poor women.
There is no overarching conspiracy here. What is happening is a loose collection of usual suspects in the form of religious-based, very conservative organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, combined with the frenzy of a Republican presidential primary season that features two ultra-right candidates trying to out-do each other in pursuit of the image of a mythical right-wing utopia. These candidates know that they are playing to a base of voters that has no qualms about cutting off government funds to anything except the military regardless of the practical consequences.
And our fair state is right in the middle of this mess. Republicans in the Texas state legislature have for years waged a crusade to place as many roadblocks as possible in front of women and young girls seeking to terminate a pregnancy. A parental consent bill was passed in 1999 requiring a minor to gain the consent of a parent in order to have an abortion, with exemptions (for those with potentially abusive parents) only granted with a judge’s permission. In 2003 a law was passed dictating that specified literature about abortion and its consequences (not all of it factually correct) be given to women prior to having the procedure.
Of course, it was the 2011 legislature that went beyond all reason, mandating a 24 hour waiting period and a sonogram (whether medically necessary or not). And then to top it off, the law that passed the legislature dictates exactly what the doctor is to tell his or her patient during a review of the results of the sonogram. I don’t need to spend a lot of time going over this, but the critics who say it provides for a state-mandated rape for those seeking first trimester abortions are pretty much on the mark. Any court with a modicum of common sense will declare this despicable law unconstitutional.
Super Tuesday has passed, and Mitt Romney has begun to pull away from Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich ever so slightly. But he still hasn’t scored enough of a victory to send his opponents the message that they should look for the exits.
In fact, if not for Newt Gingrich’s oversized ego combined with difficult qualification rules in Virginia, Romney would be reeling from a devastating blow delivered by Santorum on Tuesday, as he would likely have lost at least seven of the ten primaries and caucuses on that day. Instead, he won six of the states and cemented his status as the likely eventual candidate.
However, in what all the pundits considered the pivotal state of Ohio, Romney scored a less than one percentage point victory (37.9% to 37.1%) over Santorum, despite having outspent him many times over. There is no doubt in my mind that more than two-thirds of Gingrich’s 14.6% would have gone to Santorum if he hadn’t been in the race. It’s obvious that Romney needs Gingrich to remain as fodder over the next month to maintain the aura of inevitability as the eventual nominee.
Ohio, Georgia, and Alaska would no doubt have been Santorum victories were they head-to-head contests between he and Romney. I still consider Ron Paul to be nothing more than an interesting sideshow, whose supporters will likely split pretty evenly between the Republican nominee, President Obama, and voting third party or staying home in the general election. Paul will likely accumulate enough delegates to be a distraction at the Republican National Convention, but his effect on the presidential race beyond that will be negligible.
“It doesn’t matter who we elect.” It’s a phrase we’ve all heard on multiple occasions. And it’s one I despise. Because I’ve seen what happens when we elect intelligent public servants whose focus is truly on the public good. I’ve also seen what happens when we elect self-serving demagogues and ideologues.
“It doesn’t matter who we elect” is the modern political battle cry of the ignorant and lazy. Because the ignorant believe the pronouncements of those who sow the misinformation and deception intended to cause a large part of our huddled masses to vote against their economic self interest by keeping their focus on side issues like guns and abortion and prayer in schools. And the lazy prefer to take the easy way out when presented with an alternative that allows them to avoid doing the research necessary to cast an intelligent vote.
Which brings us to today’s educational reality in Texas. For the first time in my considerable memory, we will spend less per student on public education than we did the year before. And we are spending less by a considerable amount. Already ranked 41st in the nation in per pupil spending, we are taking our commitment downward by a full $538, which is a 5.7% drop.
Yeah, I know other states are making cuts in education too, but most of those cutting their commitment as much as we are didn’t start as close to the bottom as we did. Nationally, the per-student average is $11,463, a modest increase of $158 or roughly 1.5% over last year. Comparatively, Texas is now spending $8,908, or less than 78% of the national average. A $2,500 gap for each and every student is huge.
Unless we, the citizens of Texas, decide to turn this around now, this is the beginning of the end of the "Texas exceptionalism" economic bullshit. Without an educated populace, we will begin a rapid deterioration that we may never find the means to reverse.
What is it about our current president that makes a significantly large minority of Americans go stark raving mad? And I’m talking about otherwise sane, good, and moral people. There is something about President Obama that causes some people to commit slander, fraud, and character assassination, and to think it’s perfectly all right.
When confronted directly, they are shocked that someone like me would take exception to their deliberate lies about this president. Occasionally it’s a matter of passing along untruths that are either easily identified as lies on their face or are easily debunked with a simple Google search.
Yeah, I know President Clinton drove many of the same people beyond their normal capacity for sanity when he was president, but at least he gave them ammunition to go after him personally with his intimate dalliances with females not named Hillary. His political and policy successes, not to mention his beat-down of a highly partisan Republican congress during his last six years in office left his critics with little room to maneuver in public discourse.
I also know there were some personal cheap shots aimed at former President George W. Bush during his eight years in office, which I always found puzzling since he provided such an easy political target to attack on issues alone.
Over the past few years I’ve endured the spouse of a public official issue what could easily have been a threat to the president’s life (I knew better than to take this person’s rants seriously), as well as a store clerk that I see most every day informing me that “Obama is the devil!” He was serious.
In case you haven’t tuned in to the news over the past couple of days, the Susan G. Komen Foundation tried to quietly inform Planned Parenthood that it will no longer provide funding for breast cancer screening. Planned Parenthood has received money for this purpose since 2005 from the high-profile charity whose avowed mission is “to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures.” Last year the amount was $680,000.
The action of cutting off funds was bad enough. But its explanations so far have been downright insulting.
There is little doubt that defunding Planned Parenthood as part of its breast cancer screening program was politically motivated. Komen has been under pressure from right wing and anti-abortion groups to pull these funds from the beginning of the organizational relationship. Its founder, Nancy Brinker, is a major donor to Republican candidates and is reportedly close to the Bush family. And it recently hired Karen Handel, a stridently anti-abortion 2010 gubernatorial candidate in Georgia as its Sr. Vice-President for policy.
In a statement on its website and in a video released by Nancy Brinker, the Komen Foundation vehemently denied the decision was politically motivated, which is unadulterated B.S. It’s bad enough to make a decision completely contrary to one of their avowed tenets (“ensure quality care for all”), but to lie to the public completely destroys the credibility of its executives.
I have never been able to understand people’s fascination with Ron Paul. Of all the 2012 candidates for President, his followers are by far the most rabid, while the ideas he espouses are the furthest from mainstream American thought than any other candidate.
I get it that some who feel strongly about particular issues will latch on to Dr. Paul’s stridency and sense a kinship when their views find common ground. Opposition to the Iraq war is a perfect example. At the time of the invasion many liberals who knew little about Paul mistakenly assumed that he possessed a number of liberal tendencies.
But his opposition to the invasions of Iraq as well as Afghanistan was simply a byproduct of his extreme isolationism. He believes in zero foreign involvement, so of course he opposes our involvement in wars. But he also opposes agreements with other countries, whether for defense, trade, aid to poor nations, or for legal agreements. Had he been in a position of power during World War II, he would have led the charge (along with Charles Lindbergh) to leave the British to fend for themselves against the Nazis.
Rest assured that Congressman Paul’s concern was not for the Iraqis or the Afghans. His concern is that we simply shouldn’t give a damn about what happens beyond our borders.
So Mitt Romney easily won the New Hampshire primary. Ya-a-a-a-a-w-n!!!!!!
The news for me is that he couldn’t break 40% in his own backyard. Even 16% of his fellow moderates chose someone else – Jon Huntsman – apparently looking for an alternative alongside the hardcore conservatives.
In the face of most of the evidence and virtually all mainstream pundits, I’m still not convinced that Romney has this thing sewn up. If he can make similar showings against a single conservative in a more representative state, then I will acknowledge that he is destined for the nomination. But I’m going to wait and see how this thing plays out.
Reports are that representatives from a number of evangelical and conservative organizations are meeting at a Texas ranch this week to attempt to coalesce around a single conservative candidate. They are looking to derail the Romney train before it gets too far.
Ron Paul moved up from third in the Iowa caucuses to a relatively strong second in New Hampshire at 23 percent. But I just don’t see that his supporters are true Republicans (I know, there are exceptions; I’m generalizing here). They are not likely to stick with Romney or Gingrich or Santorum or anyone not named Paul in the general election, no matter what compromises Dr. Paul may make with GOP leaders to preserve his son Rand’s party support in coming years.
We’ve now experienced the first round of the fight for the GOP presidential nomination and the winner of the Iowa caucus is: Barack Obama. His chances for reelection trend upward as Mitt Romney stagnates and hard-right conservatives (collectively) garner the majority of votes.
It’s hard to see how anyone in the Republican Party outside of Rick Santorum is happy with the outcome. Mitt Romney, who actually came out eight votes ahead of Santorum, is still unable to break 25% of the vote in the face of the weakest field of Republican challengers in my memory. (I vaguely remember the 1960 election, and have paid attention to presidential politics ever since.)
The majority of Republican voters for some reason cannot bring themselves to vote for sane candidates. I consider Romney sane. I know that Jon Huntsman is as well, but he’s done. He needs to endorse either Romney or Obama and move on. I doubt an endorsement of the President could make him any less popular with Republicans than he is now, since he couldn’t break even 1% in the first contest.
Rick Santorum was simply at the right place at the right time. He is nothing more than a marginal candidate who filled a void left by the complete flame-out of every other hardcore conservative in the race. Those voters had nowhere else to go. With Michele Bachmann dropping out, and Perry soon to follow after South Carolina, Santorum may be able to gain some momentum by picking up their voters. It could happen as long as he picks up most of their donors as well. It’s still a long shot, though.