1.4 million wasted votes raise questions about early voting

Early voting is widely viewed as an advance in ballot access that provides a fairer election process for those who have trouble getting to the polls on Election Day.

But the ups and downs of the 2016 primary season certainly raise questions about employing an early voting system during a volatile nominating process in which candidates abruptly drop out, leaving their supporters with a wasted vote.

As the issue of votes for dropouts gains prominence, the Wall Street Journal has crunched the numbers and found that a combined 1.4 million Republican votes were wasted since the primary/caucus season began in February.

In three states – Vermont, Missouri and Arkansas – the number of votes cast for a candidate who had dropped out by Election Day exceeded the margin of victory for the winner in those states.

Jeb Bush leads this dubious list with 159,000 meaningless votes cast for the former Florida governor. He is followed by Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio. But tens of thousands of “blackhole ballots,” as the WSJ labels them, also were collectively cast for Rand Paul, Chris Chistie, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, and Rick Santorum.

Early voting is mostly responsible for this phenomenon as some states offer weeks of opportunity to cast a ballot before their Election Day. In Arizona, a month of early voting resulted in dropout Marco Rubio gaining a third-place finish last week even though he was no longer in the race.

In Mississippi, early returns showed Rubio in fourth place in a three-man race as Ben Carson was outpolling the Florida senator though the neurosurgeon had bowed out.

The question becomes: Why should we have weeks of early voting during a primary season in which candidates drop out at fairly unpredictable moments?

Sure, some voters cast their ballot on Election Day for an ex-candidate out of stubborn loyalty. But a voter who casts a ballot three or four weeks prior is taking a risk, and has no recourse if their ballot subsequently becomes immaterial.

In most states, the primary consists of a one-issue ballot on the presidency – and that is the case in all caucuses. In many cases, Election Day conveniently takes place on a Saturday. So, a slow process with long lines is not much of an issue (unless you live in Arizona). There is little need to offer many days of voting in advance in order to make the process run smoother on Election Day.

For those who have problems making it to the polls on a designated date, two or three days of early voting should suffice.

That’s obviously a better system than having 1.4 million ballots go down a black hole.

Photo/Flickr/Creative Commons.

Paul and Santorum quit GOP Presidential race

You’d think the Zika virus had hit the Republican primary the way the GOP candidates are dropping like flies. First Mike Huckabee, next Rand Paul and now Rick Santorum – all suspending their campaigns since the Iowa Caucuses on Monday. The irony can’t be lost on poor Rick.The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania eked out a… [Read more…]

Silly Comments for a Silly Presidential Election Season

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Fair Warning:

As we enter the 2016 presidential election silly season, what was once the GOP presidential candidates “Clown Car” has now grown into an oversized, overladen, over ripe “Clown Bus” packed with characters trying to attract the voters’ attention by competing to see who can offend the most people the most with their dog whistles and red meat “rallying cries.”

This writer has decided to join the silly season with a silly piece on these silly people’s silly slogans.

Readers beware. Should you decide to get off the clown bus, this may be your last chance.

Here we go.

When former Florida governor Jeb Bush announced his GOP candidacy for president, much of the attention was on the name/logo he chose to run under.

Rather than to run as Jeb Bush, he chose to run simply as Jeb!

The scuttlebutt is that Jeb Bush wants voters to forget and forgive that he is the brother of that other Bush and part of a passé dynasty.

Thus, GOP presidential candidate John Ellis “Jeb” Bush chose Jeb! from among a dozen possible name permutations.

Adding that exclamation point was brilliant. So emphatic! So definitive! Nothing more to follow — ergo nothing more to be embarrassed about!

But Jeb is not the only presidential candidate trying to put some distance between himself and his or her family legacy.

Two other dynasty candidates have omitted their last names from their campaign logos: Hillary and Rand.

It appears to this writer with a lot of time on his hands and with a lot chimeras in his head that it would be neat to figure out — if they had to pick a one-word logo — what names the candidates would pick to run under, or run from.

We have already discussed Jeb!

Let us look at Christopher James “Chris” Christie.

He has a problem.

Christie! would remind too many of New Jersey Governor Christie’s role in the “Bridgegate” scandal.

Christopher and Chris sound too much like Christie. So that leaves only James or, better, Jim! Short, slim and anonymous.

How about Michael Dale “Mike” Huckabee?

Huckabee! sounds too much like Wannabe!, so that is out.

Michael or Mike sound a little bit blah.

Dale does not go with the prestige and divinity of an ordained Southern Baptist minister.

That leaves only Huck! Strong and macho sounding — should certainly attract those women who “cannot control their libido.”

What does one do with Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz?

Born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban-born father who was later naturalized, he certainly doesn’t want a logo that would rekindle the “birther” specter that was so abundantly evoked with Barack Obama.

The Latino vote could be a problem for him. However, Cruz could solve it in the same way he handles campaign ads: Ads directed at Spanish-speaking votersen español, claro! — do not have a single word about immigration, rather about “fe, libertad, y oportunidad.”

The ads beamed at full-blooded Americans excoriate President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

Following this “business model,” the Hispanic logo could be “Eduardo Rafael Cruz” and the logo for real Americans “Edward Ted Cruz,” or simply, Eduardo! and Ted!, respectively.

On second thought, since Cruz seems to adore the prejudiced ground Trump walks on, how about a CruzTrump! ticket.

Talking about Donald John Trump, Sr., he faces similar challenges courting the “some” Mexican-Americans who he assumes “are good people.”

Trump! sounds too much like himself and like chump, frump, rump, grump, or the dumps he is receiving from NBC, Univision, Macy’s, Serta, NASCAR, etc.

Donald! might fittingly remind voters of a sideshow comic book character.

Shame Trump doesn’t have the initial “C” in his name, as Coiffe! would have been perfect.

But wait, proud Hispanics have already suggested a logo for Trump: ¡Pendejo! although the leading “upside-down” exclamation mark could pose a problem for Trump’s Anglo-Saxon keyboards.

Then there is Piyush “Bobby” Jindal.

Piyush! Nah! Pronunciations will be hard to predict and could “spell” trouble.

Jindal! Too close to jingle, jingo…Jindal.

Bobby! would needlessly risk comparisons with that great (Democratic) Bobby.

#AskBobby? Nah that was a miserable failure.

Ditching the one-word logo rule, “Les Bon Temps Bobby” would be just fine.

Now we come to Lindsey Olin Graham.

Lindsey sounds too feminine and, when combined with Olin, well, you get linseed oil. So, I guess Graham! it is, but without the crackers.

What does one do with James Richard “Rick” Perry?

James! or Jim! are already taken. Rick! Is reserved for Rick Santorum, below.

Ooops! might be great for brand recognition.

Cheating a little bit and running his three names together, we get JamesRichardPerry!

With such a three-word slogan, the former presidential candidate will hopefully remember at least two of the three slogan parts.

Dr. Randal Howard “Rand” Paul has a double-edged problem.

He has to be careful to both separate himself from his father’s (Ron Paul) legacy and not to be confused with Paul Ryan.

Howard! Is a possibility, but that could remind many of “the scream.”

That leaves Rand! Which, as St. Ridley Santos at the Powder Room writes, would “trade off the cultural cache of another Rand – Ayn Rand.”

Cara Carleton “Carly” Fiorina is the only female Republican presidential candidate thus far. If successful in the primaries she may have to run against Hillary!

Fiorina! sounds flowery and feminine enough to capture some of that female vote she’ll need, chauvinistic as it all may sound and be.

Marco Antonio Rubio

Marco! would readily remind voters of the game “Marco Polo” traditionally played in a swimming pool, which is filled with water, which would bring back painful, thirst-filled memories of Rubio’s “water bottle-gate” moment.

Rubio!? Marco is not blond.

That leaves Antonio! Latinos would love the link to Marco Antonio Solis’ beautiful songs and music.

No, not Tony!

Richard John “Rick” Santorum

After the last election’s embarrassing controversy with “Santorum,” Richard! John! Rick! — anything but Santorum!

Finally, we come to a group of candidates without much name recognition:

Benjamin Solomon “Ben” Carson, Sr.

George Elmer Pataki

John Richard Kasich

Scott Kevin Walker

Solomon! Elmer! Dick! And Kevin! are out.

So, let’s see how Ben! Pataki! Kasich! and Walker! play out this silly season.

That’s all folks. Now back to the real world of even sillier silliness.

Lead image: shutterstock.com

Follow Dorian de Wind on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ddewind99

The Return of the Sweater Vest

In 2012, former Senator Rick Santorum emerged from a crowded field of candidates from the Republican primary season to challenge Mitt Romney for the nomination. The field included a black man who was an early conservative favorite (Herman Cain) and luminaries Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, and even a Paul – Congressman Ron, not Senator Rand. After numerous implosions, both due to internal personality issues and Romney Super-PAC orchestrations, the field was narrowed to Romney and Santorum.

Today, at 5 pm EST, Rick Santorum is due to announce his second run at the brass ring in western Pennsylvania. As the ABC article mentions, most eventual Presidents have lost their first attempt for the Oval Office. Few remember Ronald Reagan’s assault on the Ford nomination in 1976; Romney and John McCain lost their first time out as well. The brand of Rick Santorum was blue collar, mainstream American and even had its own signature look – the sweater vest!

santorum sweater vest

As I see it, the five people who have the best shot of winning the Republican nomination have all declared. I expect Rick Santorum, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to be in the hunt after New Hampshire. Each of these men have a specific set of skills and attributes which will allow them to gain support, raise money and maybe even win delegates. I purposefully left out Jeb Bush for one simple reason; his own mother (Barbara Bush) has said enough to Bush White Houses and Momma Knows Best.

It is a wide open field for the nomination; however, like 2012, the way to the nomination may not be by addition but by attrition. If this scenario holds true, the candidate with the most experience in marathon running will win the nomination. Rick Santorum is well aware of the nature of the competition. When asked about possibly not being invited to the first debate in August, Santorum told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “It’s early. I don’t worry too much about where things are now.”

Santorum has name ID, a base of support who knows him and has shown the ability of making the most out of limited resources. He speaks to blue collar sensibilities and has extensive foreign policy experience. Most importantly, Santorum has never backed down from the left and has decades of experience fighting for average Americans. The Republican field is full of good candidates; Rick Santorum’s 2016 campaign will be one of a handful to watch closely.

Rick Santorum Says Men Who Father Kids with Multiple Women are “Sexual Predators”

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Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum says men who father children with multiple women are “sexual predators.”

BuzzFeed:  “Now these fathers leave the home and not just father children with that particular women, they father a child with another women, and another and another. We have created predators, sexual predators.”

More from Buzzfeed on Rick Santorum’s sexual predator comment:

“Another new statistic just came out in his book. A majority of children being born out of wedlock today in America are born in families where the father is in the home. But they’re not married,” said Santorum. “So they are born to cohabiting couples. So the majority of children born out of wedlock are born to cohabiting couples. And what does Putnam say about these? They stuck to them longitudinally, they never get married. Let me use that term, never, like one or two percent ever get married.”

“And he compared it when he was growing up in the 1950s and when children were conceived out of wedlock, what happened in the 1950s,” added Santorum. “We all know what happened in the 1950s and here is the amazing thing, this is Putnam saying this, 80 plus percent of these marriages succeeded.”

Watch Rick Santorum call men who father children with multiple women “sexual predators:”

This was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.

Cartoon: By DonkeyHotey (Rick Santorum – Caricature Uploaded by Cirt) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Rick Santorum Should Be Taken Seriously by the Media

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The 2012 runner-up has the best shot at being 2016 runner-up.
Image by Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

The mainstream media has almost unanimously counted Rick Santorum out as a factor within the 2016 Republican primary.  The former senator is often left out of polls, while Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee remain as resident firebrand bomb-thrower and religious right magnet, respectively.  But why is Rick Santorum being treated as a non-candidate when he has all but declared a second go at the presidency?  I’ve asked this before: Why is Rick Santorum being ignored?

There’s no denying it: Rick Santorum was the 2012 runner-up in the GOP primaryhad to admit, but some would claim that if you keep in mind the fresh crop of GOP contenders in 2016 and the weak 2012 bench, Santorum is not the usual “next in line.”  Rather, he’s just the Pat Buchanan to Mitt Romney’s Bob Dole.  That assumption is wrong.  Upon closer look, we see that Santorum is probably a fairly compelling 2016 candidate for GOP primary voters:

1.  Look at how many states he won: Santorum won as many states (11) as Romney did in 2008, yet posed more of a threat to the eventual winner than any GOP second-placer since McCain 2000 post-New Hampshire and pre-South Carolina.  You know which other second-placer got double digit states in a losing bid for the GOP nomination?  Ronald Reagan in 1976.  The next most was John McCain in 2000 with 7.  Santorum is by no means the typical “next in line” claimant, but he can make that claim with a straight face.

2.  Look at which states he won:  He came close to beating Romney in Michigan, reducing Romney’s 2008 margin of victory so much that even Romney had to admit he “didn’t win by a lot.”  Santorum also won Iowa, though his decision to not skip New Hampshire for South Carolina coupled with the election night vote totals giving the slim victory to Romney, lost his momentum and allowed Newt Gingrich to emerge as a competing Not-Romney candidate.  (Still, Romney’s close Iowa ‘win’ gave John McCain a chance to mock Romney, and McCain insulting Romney is always a delightful occurrence.)  Santorum also won Minnesota and Missouri.

3.  Iowa:  Rick Santorum is actively fostering the relationships he’s built in Iowa, the retail politics capital of the universe.  He won Iowa with a very clever and definitely lightning-strikes-at-the-right-moment strategy: Meet every activist in Iowa several times, visit all 99 counties over and over, make a decent impression and build up goodwill, and wait for everyone else to implode.  In 2016, Santorum will have no problem asking the same people to give him another shot and stick it to the GOP Establishment, because …

4.  What kind of people already voted for Santorum?:  Answer – people who will vote for him again.  Yes, many who voted for Santorum later in the primary did so because they couldn’t stomach Romney.  Did these GOP primary voters ever think it would be Santorum when it was first Bachmann, then Perry, then Cain, then Gingrich?  No, but they didn’t really have to hold their noses for Santorum, the way pro-Romney voters had to for Mitt.  They got comfortable with Santorum, and perhaps when faced with a choice between Establishment/”pro-amnesty”/”RINO”/hardly-Tea Party Jeb (because Jeb will be called a RINO), many of these voters will go with what they know.  After all, voting for the comforting policies of the past is the absolute core of Santorum’s conservative appeal.

5.  Foster Friess:  The multi-millionaire investor has already sunk millions into Santorum before and has pledged to do it again.  If you put $10 million giving national name recognition to someone within the GOP base, what’s $20 million more?  After nearly winning Michigan — losing, arguably, thanks to the near-endless Super PAC money being spent against him by Romney — Santorum said, “A month ago they didn’t know who we are but they do now.”

6.  The 2016 crop is actually not that good:  Marco Rubio is a dud with no constituency.  Ted Cruz, who is counting on a Barry Goldwater-esque once-in-a-generation far right wing nomination, forgets that the party establishment (yes, there is a very powerful party establishment still) really wants to win back the White House, that no one in the party likes him, and that he himself was born in Canada.  Scott Walker has the charisma and presence of a lima bean.  Paul Ryan is running for 2024, not 2016.  Rand Paul will be the nominee in 2020, not 2016.  Mike Huckabee is teasing a presidential run as he launches the Huckabee Post, a new online conservative news site.  Perhaps he’s keeping his options open, but Huckabee has been called the most successful losing presidential candidate ever — why spoil that?  Rick Santorum is actually more compelling as a now candidate than anyone else: Paul, Walker, Cruz, and Rubio will all have another shot, and Huckabee’s time is long gone.  Not Santorum.  Not Jeb.  Their time is now and only now.

7.  Rick Santorum has nothing to lose by alienating himself from the existing GOP:  Unlike even Ted Cruz, who will have to consider his future in the party, Santorum can keep on going throughout the primary against Jeb Bush until the money runs out.  This doesn’t mean that he’ll suddenly start winning later primaries after Super Tuesday once Jeb is the presumptive front-runner — it means Santorum can level real attacks against Jeb, and make the claim very early that …

8.  He is the last chance the GOP will ever have at remaining its “true” self:  While Ted Cruz lobs the real personal attacks against Jeb, Santorum will offer a more philosophical contrast, probably in the stage whisper voice he puts on when he wants to sound earnest.  He’ll make the “two roads” metaphor, offering himself as the last exit to the good old America, a nice hint to older, anti-immigration (and yes, racist) voters who don’t like the “browning of America.”  Santorum, after all, has a habit of revealing his true feelings about race when a primary’s under way, and no doubt he’ll fall into coded, if not blatant, language regarding Latinos, immigrants, and other non-white demographics.  Jeb’s racially blended family, however, is a fantastic political asset both within and after the primary, offering the GOP its compromise to the undeniable demographic changes.  (The contrast between Jeb and Santorum’s families will end up helping Jeb in the long run — Santorum will be taken as the old GOP, with Jeb seen as the new GOP.)  If Santorum doesn’t win, the GOP is no longer his GOP — he might as well be who he wants to be, and candidates who are who they really are most appeal to voters.

So what’s my point?  Is it that Santorum is a real threat to Jeb or even a real possibility as the 2016 nominee?
No.  Of course not.  It will be Jeb.  In fact, a rise in Santorum as the ultimate anti-Jeb will simply solidify Jeb as the Establishment/sane people/we-can’t-lose-down-ticket-races-and-the-House candidate even sooner.  Santorum winning Iowa and South Carolina will only make Jeb’s probable Florida victory more heavily promoted by the GOP-powers-that-be.  The GOP is very eager for a short primary — it’s even trying to change the entire process to keep it as short as possible and move the convention forward.  Any Santorum surge would be a disaster because it would drive the narrative that the GOP cannot learn from its past and that it is still mired in it.

And that narrative — the “GOP still is a place for Santorum/GOP is trapped in the ’50s” narrative — serves Jeb’s narrative, too.  Not only does Santorum scare any Paul Ryan or Scott Walker (or Chris Christie, if he even runs) supporters into falling in line behind Jeb, it also negates labeling Jeb a “candidate of the past.”  Santorum is thus the throwback, not the candidate named Bush.  The Prodigal Bush/”Jeb’s his own man” storyline that I believe will be the centerpiece of his biography is affirmed, and Jeb is free to win a nomination without anyone ever noticing that he is indeed the ultimate political throwback that deep down all levels of the right-wing are craving after eight years of Barack Obama.

By playing to his own strengths, the sweater-vested ex-senator from Pennsylvania plays to the former governor of Florida’s — and for this reason alone the media should be paying attention to Rick Santorum.
This piece was originally published on ClintonBush2016.com.

For more 2016 predictions, check out ClintonBush2016.com.

(Updated) Euthanasia of Young Children?

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Update:
As expected, the Belgian Parliament on Thursday amended the country’s 2002 euthanasia law to permit children of any age to “die with dignity” through euthanasia.

TIME reports that the Belgian Parliament approved the amendments “with 86 MPs voting in favor, 44 against, and 12 abstentions. The Senate had already passed the bill in December.”

However, there are strict conditions. TIME:

He or she must be terminally ill, close to death, and deemed to be suffering beyond any medical help. The child must be able to request euthanasia themselves and demonstrate they fully understand their choice. The request will then be assessed by teams of doctors, psychologists and other care-givers before a final decision is made with approval of the parents.

There has been an emotional debate on this issue with many last-minute appeals both in Belgium and abroad.

Read more here.

==

Original Post:

The issue of euthanasia is extremely delicate, sensitive, subjective — and controversial.

There are so many moral, religious, ethical, medical, emotional and legal aspects associated and entangled with it that one is certainly well advised to tread lightly and wisely when and if venturing into a discussion dealing with euthanasia.

Unlike 2012 GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum who made several ignorant and false claims about euthanasia in the Netherlands, I will try to withhold judgment and just report on a story that is making the headlines and one that, I am sure, will generate a lot of discussion and evoke a lot of emotions.

Santorum’s euthanasia rant focused on the Netherlands’ alleged forced euthanasia. He claimed that in that country euthanasia makes up ten percent of all deaths, and that forced euthanasia accounts for five percent of all deaths there. He also said that people are euthanized involuntarily because they are old or sick and further claimed that elderly people in the Netherlands don’t go into hospitals out of fear that they will not come out if they go in there sick — because of “budget” reasons — and rather go to other countries.

Dutch authorities, the press and the medical community expressed outrage at and roundly condemned, dismissed and ridiculed Santorum’s claims. But the fact remains that in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg — the Benelux countries — doctors are allowed “to take steps to actively end a patient’s life, usually by administering an overdose of sedatives,” but meeting very strict legal and medical requirements, conditions and reviews.

While euthanasia in general is controversial, it would be an understatement to say that euthanasia involving children is a contentious issue.

TIME reports that in Luxembourg an euthanasia “candidate” must be over 18 and that in the Netherlands children can request euthanasia from the age of 12.

However, “Belgium is expected to become the first country in the world to remove any age restrictions on euthanasia…after an emotional debate which split the medical profession over the best way to treat a terminally ill child with a desire to end his or her life,” says TIME.

Under the new laws in Belgium—which passed the Senate in December and are before the Lower House on Thursday—any child under the age of 18 could be considered, but only if they are able to express the wish to die themselves and can demonstrate they fully understand their choice. Their request must then be assessed by teams of doctors, psychologists and other care-givers, before a final decision is made with the approval of the parents.

This, “[d]espite last-minute pleas from within Belgium and as far away as Canada, lawmakers are expected to agree with the doctors who argued that in rare cases of unbearable and irreversible suffering, children should have the same right as adults to ask to die with dignity.”

Please read more here about how pediatricians, religious groups and parents are reacting to this — need I say again? — very controversial and emotional issue.

For example, the case of a “16-year-old girl who was suffering severe complications from leukemia and was lying in a hospital bed connected to tubes, waiting to die,” and the plea by a Canadian four-year-old girl, born with a congenital heart condition, urging Belgium’s King Philippe not to sign the law.

Image: www.shutterstock.com

Rick Santorum Likens Obamacare to South African Apartheid

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Once again a Republican is trying to rewrite history…..Rick Santorum is tying Obamacare to Nelson Mandela. Yes, he went there — compared Obamacare to apartheid. He claims Mandela fought against some great injustice in South Africa, and Obamacare is “front and center” in the injustice being perpetrated in America today. Wow. Absolutely unbelievable. Rick Santorum is the male version of Sarah Palin.

“He was fighting against some great injustice, and I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives — and Obamacare is front and center in that,” Santorum said Thursday on Fox News’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”

In a segment about the divisions within the Republican Party, host Bill O’Reilly brought up the death of Mandela, saying that while he disagreed with him and called him a “communist,” he still respected the South African leader and wondered why the GOP couldn’t bring the same approach to its disagreements. Source: Politico

It’s hypocritical of Bill O’Reilly to say Nelson Mandela was a communist, but yet he was a great man, while ignoring the injustices black South Africans endured. They also said horrible things about Martin Luther King Jr., but yet couldn’t even take a footstep in the shoes of either man. Neither Bill O’Reilly nor Rick Santorum can ever dream of having the global resonance Nelson Mandela had. It is absolutely despicable for Rick Santorum to compare Obamacare to Apartheid or even the injustices blacks endured in this country.

This was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.

Conservatives Against the Death Penalty

There is a long standing myth that opposition to capital punishment is the bailiwick of liberals and lefties. Ever since my work with former Senator Mark Hatfield (R-OR), I’ve known first hand that isn’t the case. Sitting together at a long table on a platform at a luncheon to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease research, all he and I discussed while waiting for the microphones to be turned on for the Alzheimer’s presentation was the abolition of capital punishment. After his retirement, Senator Hatfield participated in one final political campaign. A referendum to abolish the death penalty in his beloved Oregon.

Fine, Senator Hatfield was regarded as a moderate Republican, a RINO by today’s standards. He did not stand alone though, and many who stood with him were not moderates, but serious conservatives. You had to listen closely. They didn’t emphasize it much publicly. It wasn’t always what the conservative base wanted to hear. But, if you listened closely you knew that Pat Robertson had turned against the death penalty and that Bill O’Reilly’s most respected liberal was Mike Farrell because of Mike’s intellectually compelling work against the death penalty, a view O’Reilly shared.

Earlier this year, many conservatives who oppose the death penalty “came out of the closet” when Equal Justice USA helped establish a new organization, Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty (CCADP). Their statement of purpose gets to the heart of the matter,

“Questioning a system marked by inefficiency, inequity and inaccuracy.”

Would you be surprised to know that today’s edition of Red State calls on conservatives to reconsider their views on capital punishment? It’s true. Check out the link. Would opposition to the death penalty from Ron Paul surprise you? How about Oliver North? Here’s a list of some prominent conservatives and what they have to say. Let’s starts with those who are part of CCADP, then move to comments by others who aren’t officially on board – yet.

Those who have lent their names:

Richard Viguerie:

“…it’s a government system that kills people.”

Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice:

“Who amongst anyone is not above redemption? I think we have to be careful in executing final judgment. The one thing my faith teaches me—I don’t get to play God. I think you are short-cutting the whole process of redemption…I don’t want to be the person that stops that process from taking place”

Ron Paul (R-TX):

“I believe that support for the death penalty is inconsistent with libertarianism and traditional conservatism.“

Jeff Frazee, Founder and Executive Director, Young Americans for Liberty:

“…after studying the issue, I now strongly oppose the death penalty.”

Now some thoughts from other conservatives who have not officially lent their names:

Senator Rand Paul(R-KY):

“Even in the United States where we have the best due process probably in the world, we have probably executed people wrongfully for the death penalty, then found out through DNA testing many people on death row are there inaccurately.“

Rick Santorum(R-PA), supporting additional limits on capital punishment, though not abolition:

“I felt very troubled about cases where someone may have been convicted wrongly.“

Edward H. Crane, Founder and President, The CATO Institute:

“My own view on capital punishment is that it is morally justified, but that the government is often so inept and corrupt that innocent people might die as a result. Thus, I personally oppose capital punishment.”

John McLaughlin, creator and host of “The McLaughlin Group”

“The biggest government waste: The death penalty.”

Mary Kate Cary, commentator and former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush

“It’s becoming harder to justify the death penalty in the face of evidence that our system is flawed… For years, people like me thought that being tough on crime meant supporting the death penalty. Times have changed, and it’s time for conservatives to get on the right side of the death penalty argument.”

Rev. Pat. Robertson

“I think a [death penalty] moratorium would indeed be very appropriate.”

Christian Josi, Former Executive Director, American Conservative Union

“My fundamental problems with the death penalty began as a result of my personal concern …that it was inconsistent for one to be ‘pro-life’ on the one hand and condone government execution on the other.”

Tucker Carlson, The Daily Caller:

“I’m uncomfortable with the death penalty under any circumstances.”

Oliver North:

“I think Capital punishment’s day is done in this county. I don’t think it’s fairly applied.”

Ramesh Ponnuru, Senior Editor National Review:

“I’ve turned against the death penalty…”

John Feehery, Republican strategist:

“We should rethink the death penalty in this country. If even one innocent person is wrongly put to death on behalf of the state, for me, that is enough to get rid of it.”

Rod Dreher:

“I quit believing in capital punishment when I became convinced that the state is not trustworthy to use this power responsibly.”

George Will:

“Conservatives, especially, should draw this lesson…Capital punishment, like the rest of the criminal justice system, is a government program, so skepticism is in order.”

Donald McCartin, former conservative jurist who sent nine men to death row in California:

“[The death penalty is] a waste of time and money…The only thing it does is prolong the agony of the victims’ families.”

Roy Brown, former Montana State Senator (R), with my favorite, almost all inclusive, analysis:

“It might be easier to allow the death penalty to continue if it were less expensive than life in prison. If the courts treated rich and poor equally. If it truly was a deterrent. If everyone that was executed was guilty. Unfortunately the sad truth about the death penalty is it is much more expensive. The courts do not dispense justice equally. It is not a deterrent. And sometimes, yes, sometimes they are innocent.”

Kathryn Jean Lopez, Former Editor, The National Review

“I’m opposed to the death penalty.”

The lists, and some of the quotes, are shortened from the CCADP website. I suggest a visit to the CCADP website to see for yourself why some conservatives have publicly entered the anti death penalty tent. To them, I say, Welcome.

The Worst Kind of Egotists (and One Wants to be President!)

There really are people out there who believe that cooperation among people is dangerous. Really! Take this little horror coming out of the right:

President-unelect Rick Santorum made his triumphant return to the Capitol on Monday afternoon and took up a brave new cause: He is opposing disabled people.

Specifically, Santorum, joined by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), declared his wish that the Senate reject the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities — a human rights treaty negotiated during George W. Bush’s administration and ratified by 126 nations, including China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

The former presidential candidate pronounced his “grave concerns” about the treaty, which forbids discrimination against people with AIDS, who are blind, who use wheelchairs and the like. “This is a direct assault on us,” he declared at a news conference. …Dana Milbank, WaPo

Who the hell is “us”? Able-bodied white conservatives? A select group of Americans? Anyone who isn’t Chinese, Russian, Iranian, Cuban, Syrian, or Saudi Arabian?

Oh, I get it. It’s that the UN trying to take over the role of parenting in America. (Santorum has a severely disabled child.)

… Their spurious theory of a U.N. takeover of parenting was enough to lead Lee and Santorum to oppose a treaty that would extend American values worldwide and guarantee disabled people equal treatment, and freedom from torture and exploitation. ...Dana Milbank, WaPo

Sheesh…

Moving swiftly on…

Cross-posted from Prairie Weather

Obama Campaign Aims to Swift Boat Mitt Romney Over Offshore Bank Accounts & Tax Returns

Swift Boating of Romney

Obama Campaign Aims to Swift Boat Mitt Romney Over Offshore Bank Accounts & Taxes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Democrats are on a mission to “swift boat” GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in similar fashion as the Republicans did to John Kerry.  The Obama campaign continues to pound away at Romney’s “secret” investments in a newly released video. There’s nothing wrong with being wealthy, but when you are running for the highest office in the country, then it looks pretty bad that you have stashed away money in a few different countries — Switzerland, Cayman Islands and Bermuda — in tax havens. You are, in essence, skirting the tax laws in your own country.

How can you be trusted to have the best interests of the people on Main Street at heart, in as far as the tax code? Rep. Charlie Rangel once headed the powerful Ways and Means Committee, all the while having tax and ethics issues. Um, you can’t send the fox to guard the hen house.

The Obama campaign video says: “Mitt Romney is defying calls to release more than one year’s worth of tax returns. How long can Romney keep information on his investments in overseas tax havens secret? And why he did it in the first place? Time will tell.”

Some pundits have expressed their opinion on the Democratic attacks and on Romney’s campaign:

Alex Burns: “The Democratic attacks on Romney’s finances are based on circumstantial evidence and basically amount to: where there’s smoke, there’s fire. What’s inconvenient for Romney is that the smoke includes buzzwords like ‘Swiss bank account’ that tend to be problematic for him in focus groups.”

Mark Halperin: “We are at a potentially critical moment in the presidential race over the Democrats’ attempts to make Romney’s Swiss bank account, Cayman Island investment funds, and secret tax returns into what the Republicans’ Swift Boating effort was for John Kerry in 2004.”

Charlie Cook: “If President Obama’s campaign machine can define Mitt Romney before his own campaign even tries, my bet is Obama wins reelection.”

[…]

“Voters’ willingness to hire Romney is being severely damaged, at least in swing states, by the advertising efforts of the Obama campaign and Priorities USA, a pro-Obama super PAC. The ads are devastatingly tough, portraying the former Massachusetts governor as a private-equity version of Gordon Gekko, a heartless corporate barracuda who has made a fortune acquiring and looting companies, laying off workers, and ruining lives and communities.”

The notion that one stashes money away in foreign banks just because one can afford to and runs for the presidency as icing on the cake, doesn’t resonate with people on Main Street, many of whom are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. That’s bad for Mitt Romney. As Rick Santorum said on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney is the worst candidate to go up against Barack Obama in November. The Obama campaign is pushing Mitt Romney in a box by defining him as one who skirts the tax code and doesn’t really have a plan to fix what ails this country because he is out of touch with the needs of people on Main Street. Add his reluctance to release more years of tax returns to the mix. Even former Mississippi Republican governor Haley Barbour is saying that he should.

This article was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette

Romney, Obama and the Future of Europe (Die Welt, Germany)

Given the two candidates for the U.S. presidency, what do Europeans and in this case, Germans, have to look forward to? According to Die Welt columnist Alan Posener, “The good news for Europeans is also the bad news: it won’t make much of a difference who wins.” To put it another way, American leadership as Europeans have come to expect it is over – and weary-sounding Germans will have to pick up the slack.

For Die Welt, Alan Posener writes in part:

The first lesson drawn from Romney’s victory in the primaries is: The Tea Party revolution against the establishment is over. If one bears in mind those who were at times considered favorites – among them a businessman whose program consisted solely of a nine percent flat tax, and a Catholic fundamentalist who questioned the separation of church and state – then Romney, despite his right turn on health care reform and tax cuts, seems like a return to “business as usual.”

When George W. Bush – elected as the advocate of a “humble” foreign policy – announced after 9/11 an agenda that would use America’s position as sole superpower to bring peace to the world through democracy, continental Europeans were appalled. Many longed for a multi-polar world in which the E.U. would have greater influence.

In the eyes of the European public, Obama has mutated from a shining figure to a lesser one. And it turns out that there is only thing worse than aggressive leadership by the United States: the absence of such leadership. Might Romney succeed where Obama has been denied? Could he, like Reagan after the “malaise” noted by Jimmy Carter, infuse America with new confidence and help it gain new global importance? Could Obama accomplish this in a second term?

It’s doubtful on both counts. Whoever leads America during the next four years must above all try and get the economy back on its feet, reform the welfare system and end the bomb-throwing in the domestic political trenches. In foreign policy, the greatest challenge remains relations with the second most powerful country in the world – China. The good news for Europeans is also the bad news: it won’t make much of a difference who wins the 2102 election. Either way, we’re home alone, and not only must we get our house in order, but we have to pay more attention to the neighborhood than ever before.

READ ON IN ENGLISH OR GERMAN AT WORLDMEETS.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

The Netherlands: Normal Life for Dementia Patients

After Rick Santorum tried to give the Dutch medical system — and the Dutch people — an undeserved black eye with his outlandish claims on how the Netherlands deals with euthanasia, the New York Times reports on how one institution there provides a humane and respectful environment to older men and women suffering from severe dementia.

The residents at the Hogewey complex in picturesque Weesp, the Netherlands, live in apartments that “open onto a courtyard with benches, ponds and fountains, with beds of flowers in season.”

While confined to the facility for their own safety, the residents can participate in a variety of activities within the complex, they can shop at a small supermarket, attend functions at a theater, eat at a restaurant and cafe, participate in music, painting and gardening clubs.

The idea behind Hogewey is to put the patients in more familiar surroundings where they might “experience the smells and sounds of a normal household,” where they don’t have to sit alone.

The Times points to a World Health Organization report that forecasts the number of people suffering from dementia doubling by 2030, to more than 65 million, and tripling by 2050, as the world’s population ages. “The increase comes as governments everywhere struggle to contain the runaway costs of health care.”

Talking about cost, it costs $6,555 a month, to reside at Hogewey, where the patients live at six to eight to an apartment, and are cared for by two or more trained professionals. There are 240 staff members to take care of 152 residents.

Quite a steep price, and it is not clear from the article whether the Dutch health care system helps with the expense.

However, the Dutch government contributed $22 million to the estimated $25.2 million of the facility.

Read more about this unique facility here.

How Santorum Boxed in Romney

WASHINGTON — Rick Santorum’s departure from the presidential race could not come soon enough for Mitt Romney. In proving himself more tenacious than anyone predicted, Santorum dramatized one of Romney’s major problems, created another, and forced the now inevitable Republican nominee into a strategic dilemma.

Republicans may condemn class warfare, but their primaries turned into a class struggle. Romney performed best among voters with high incomes, and was consistently weaker with the white working class, even in the late primaries where he put Santorum away. And Romney cannot win without rolling up very large margins among less well-off whites.

At the same time, Santorum’s strength among evangelical Christians pressured Romney to toughen his positions even as the Republican Party as a whole, at both the state and national levels, has pushed policies on contraception and abortion that have alienated many women, particularly the college educated.

This is Romney’s other problem: Among college-educated white men, Romney had a healthy 57 percent to 39 percent lead over President Obama in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll. But among college-educated white women, Obama led Romney by 60 percent to 40 percent. This netted to a rather astounding 38-point gender gap, compared with a net 27-point gap among all white voters. (Thanks to Peyton Craighill of The Washington Post’s polling staff for extracting these numbers, which are based on registered voters.) Overall, the poll taken before Santorum left the race showed Obama leading Romney by 51 percent to 44 percent.

Thus the box the primaries built for Romney: He must simultaneously court evangelical Christians and working-class voters who have eluded him so far, but also reassure socially moderate women higher up the class ladder who, for now, are providing Obama with decisive margins. It’s not easy to do both.

Even if the most conservative Republicans who supported Santorum and Newt Gingrich largely fall into line out of antipathy to Obama, Romney still has to worry about whether they’ll be enthusiastic enough to turn out in the large numbers he’ll need. Yet if he concentrates on winning back upscale women, who now favor Obama by even larger margins than they gave him in 2008, Romney will only aggravate his enthusiasm problem on the right.

Romney’s predicament is Obama’s opportunity. The president is moving aggressively to take advantage of the class opening afforded him by the candidate of “a couple of Cadillacs,” “I like being able to fire people” and “corporations are people, my friend.” In a series of speeches in Florida the day Santorum withdrew, Obama hit repeatedly on the twin themes of fairness and opportunity. He called for a nation in which “everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody does a fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules,” while eviscerating Rep. Paul Ryan’s fiscal plan, which Romney supports, as a budget “that showers the wealthiest Americans with even more tax cuts.”

Most conservatives seem oblivious to the party’s working-class problem, but not all. Henry Olsen, a vice president at the American Enterprise Institute, says Republicans need to understand that the GOP’s success in the 2010 House races was built in less affluent districts at a moment when Obama’s approval rating among white working-class men was so low “that it was only a few points higher than Richard Nixon’s was at the time of his resignation.”

Olsen sees Obama’s echoes of Bill Clinton’s pledges to help those who “work hard and play by the rules” as shrewd politics aimed at rehabilitating his standing with such Americans. And in Romney, Obama faces a candidate whose “troubles in the primary electorate demonstrated his trouble in connecting with the white working class.” Romney, Olsen says, “has difficulties with his background, difficulties with his manner, some difficulties Obama shares.”

Romney isn’t losing downscale whites. The Post/ABC poll showed him leading Obama by 19 points among white voters without a college education. The problem: That’s roughly the lead John McCain had in this group in 2008, and we know who won that election. Obama, Olsen said, can lose the white working class “by a substantial margin” and still win because of his strength among African-Americans, Latinos and well-educated women.

Yes, it’s still early. Renewed economic jitters in Europe could spoil a fragile American recovery. But for now, Romney finds himself in a political maze with no obvious path out. He’s there partly because of his own mistakes, but he was also led to this point because of the unlikely strength of Rick Santorum’s challenge.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com. (c) 2012, Washington Post Writers Group

BREAKING: Santorum to Suspend Quest for GOP Presidential Nomination (UPDATES)

UPDATE II:

Fox’s Greta Van Susteren web site confirms what many expected egomaniac Gingrich’s reaction would be to Santorum suspending his campaign:

“I am committed to staying in this race all the way to Tampa so that the conservative movement has a real choice. I humbly ask Senator Santorum’s supporters to visit Newt.org to review my conservative record and join us as we bring these values to Tampa. We know well that only a conservative can protect life, defend the Constitution, restore jobs and growth and return to a balanced budget.”

Yes, Mr. Gingrich, we know that you know that you are the only conservative who can do all those marvelous things for America. It is a real shame, however, that very few in America think so.

====
UPDATE I:

Rick Santorum has now officially suspended his presidential campaign.

The New York Times:

“We made a decision over the weekend, that while this presidential race for us is over, for me, and we will suspend our campaign today, we are not done fighting,” Mr. Santorum said.

Mr. Santorum made the announcement at a stop in his home state of Pennsylvania after a weekend in which he tended to his three-year-old daughter, Bella, who had been hospitalized with pneumonia.

Mr. Santorum, who was holding back tears, did not exactly specify why he was ending his presidential bid. He referred to his daughter Bella’s illness, but said she was making great progress and was back home after being hospitalized over the weekend.

Read more here

=====

Reports are circulating that Rick Santorum is suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, “bowing to the inevitability of Mitt Romney’s nomination and ending his improbable, come-from-behind quest to become the party’s conservative standard-bearer in the fall,” according to the New York Times.

While I have been highly critical of Santorum in his bid for the GOP presidential nomination, I respect his decision — for whatever reason.

Whether he is ending his quest for the nomination because of personal reasons, such as perhaps, sadly, the medical condition of his three-year-old daughter, Bella, or because he sees the inevitability of the nomination of his main rival, Mitt Romney, or for similar reasons, he should earn the respect of both his party and his followers, unlike the other GOP wannabe, Newt Gingrich, who — in the minds of many Americans — is persisting in his folly solely for self-centered reasons under the guise of wanting to influence his party’s platform at the Tampa convention.

Santorum’s decision could also, as the Times says

[C]lear the way for Mr. Santorum to play a bigger role — and have a potentially bigger voice — in Mr. Romney’s campaign and perhaps in a Romney administration.

Probably, unlike what is in store for Mr. Gingrich.

Read more here.

Santorum Drops Out

Rick Santorum just flew the white flag.

Televised announcement imminent from Gettysburg PA.

The New York Times

Is Santorum History?

While campaigning in vain in Wisconsin last week, Rick Santorum claimed:

I was just reading something last night from the state of California. And that the California universities – I think it’s seven or eight of the California system of universities don’t even teach an American history course. It’s not even available to be taught.

Of course he was soon called on the carpet for such an outlandish “inaccuracy” — we are trying to be gracious here. Think Progress was the first one to call Santorum out on it:

In fact, of the 10 UC system schools, just one (San Francisco) doesn’t offer American history courses. But that’s because it doesn’t offer any humanities courses at all — it’s a medical school.

Meanwhile, Berkeley, Irvine, Davis, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz all offer numerous American history courses. All require students to take U.S. history before they can graduate.

Soon, many other media outlets followed.

PolitiFact.com, “sorting out the truth in politics,” has now published the definitive verdict, in addition to some background information.

First, the familiar needle on the famous Truth-O-Meter pegged all the way to the left, to “FALSE,” in every respect.

But, do those classes get to “the roots of who we are,” as Santorum said?:

Well, among the offerings at UC Davis is “The American Revolution, 1763-1790.” UC Riverside teaches upper-division courses on “Revolutionary America” and “The Early Republic: The United States, 1789-1848.” UC Santa Cruz includes a course on the “U.S. Revolution: 1740-1815.” UC Berkeley addresses, “The United States from Settlement to Civil War.” UCLA has “History of the U.S. and Its Colonial Origins: 19th Century” and “Constitutional History of U.S.: Origins and Development of Constitutionalism in U.S.”

To find out what Santorum was talking about, what he was reading, Politifact contacted Santorum’s campaign “to ask for support for his claim but didn’t hear back.” Sounds familiar?

Politifact then tried to trace Santorum’s reading material themselves. Read more about it here.

Politifact’s Bottom line:

Rick Santorum said, “I think it’s seven or eight of the California system of universities don’t even teach an American history course. It’s not even available to be taught.” While he appeared to be referencing a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece, he bungled the details — and badly. Far from “not available,” American history courses are offered at all but one of 33 state universities in California. We rate his statement False.

Actually, none of this really matters anymore, since Santorum is probably history himself now.

The Primary That Wouldn’t Die

I’m out. I’m just all out. I can read more, talk more, opine more. But really — how much more is there to actually say, that hasn’t already been said, about the Republican candidates remaining in the primary battle to be the party’s nominee for the 2012 general election?

Even his three wins last night, in Wisconsin, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, have failed to seal the deal for the delegate leader, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. For more background on last night’s elections, check out the exit polls and see how moderate the voters were in those three states, especially in comparison to several already-counted primary or caucus states; watch Romney’s victory speech given in Wisconsin, and see Santorum’s “we’re still going for it speech” from Pennsylvania.

Why is this fight not over?

Read the answer at the full post here.

Euthanasia in the Netherlands: The Real Story

GOP presidential candidate Santorum made the wrong kind of headlines a few weeks ago when he spouted the wrong kind of information on euthanasia in the Netherlands.

Among the claims he made were these:

That 10 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands are due to euthanasia.

That half of those deaths — or five percent of all deaths in the Netherlands — are people who are euthanized involuntarily.

Santorum also said that people are euthanized involuntarily because they are old or sick and further claimed that elderly people in the Netherlands don’t go into hospitals out of fear that they will not come out if they go in there sick — because of “budget” reasons — and rather go to other countries. Finally, that elderly in the Netherlands wear bracelets that say “Do not euthanize me.”

When a reporter from the Dutch television station RTL4 repeatedly pressed Santorum’s press secretary, Alice Stewart, to clarify Santorum’s incorrect figures and distorted statements about Dutch euthanasia laws and statistics, Stewart repeatedly refused to even acknowledge the question. At least three times she said “Rick is strong pro-life from conception to natural death,” or a variation thereof.

As far as I can tell, to-date, Santorum has neither apologized for nor corrected the false, misleading and offensive remarks and statistics.

While people are probably sick and tired of hearing over and over again about Santorum’s gaffes, I believe that when an entire country and its people are so mischaracterized and misrepresented by “one of our own” the least we can do is present the facts and the truth.

Well, the “Science Times” section of the New York Times has done just that.

Interwoven with the story about a somewhat controversial euthanasia advocacy group, “Right to Die-NL,” — a group that has created “mobile euthanasia teams to help patients die at home” — are the following facts and figures:

• Polls find that an overwhelming majority of the Dutch believe euthanasia should be available to suffering patients who want it, and thousands formally request euthanasia every year.

• Under the Netherlands’ 2002 Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Act, doctors may grant patients’ requests to die without fear of prosecution as long as they observe certain guidelines. The request must be made voluntarily by an informed patient who is undergoing suffering that is both lasting and unbearable. Doctors must also obtain the written affirmation of a second, independent physician that the case meets the requirements and report all such deaths to the authorities for review.

• Almost 80 percent of [euthanasia] deaths take place in patients’ homes, according to the Royal Dutch Medical Association. In 2010, the latest year for which data are available, doctors reported 3,136 notifications cases of “termination of life on request.” Serious illnesses — late-stage cancer, typically — lie behind a vast majority.

• Euthanasia is responsible for about 2 percent of all deaths annually in the Netherlands, according to Eric van Wijlick, a policy adviser for the association.

Finally, Mr. van Wijlick says that the euthanasia law is possible because of “the moderate and open climate we have in the Netherlands, with respect for other points of view.

According to the Times, van Wijlick acknowledges that it would be difficult to have this law elsewhere, because everyone in the Netherlands has access to health care, an income and housing.

“There are no economic reasons to ask for euthanasia,” he said, something that might not be true in the United States, with its for-profit health care system.

With respect to Right to Die-NL, even the open-minded, pragmatic Dutch think the group may be going too far. (The group is even “pushing to give all people 70 years old and over the right to assisted death, even when they are not suffering from terminal illness.”)

The Royal Dutch Medical Association and other organizations in the Netherlands have also voiced concerns about possible misapplication of the current law and possible liberalization of the law. According to the Times, “The conservative government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said there will be no changes to the law under its tenure.”

Read more here.

Cows, Pigs, Women and American Conservatives (The News, Switzerland)

How extreme have Republican Party members become? For Switzerland’s News, columnist Patrik Etschmayer writes that the ongoing Republican narrative about women, contraception and abortion sounds a lot like the way farmers talk about their livestock.

For the News, Patrik Etschmayer writes in small part:

A bill that was debated in the Georgia Assembly is called HB 954, and its purpose is to prohibit women from having an abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy – even if the fetus would be stillborn or if for some other reason, it must be concluded that the baby wouldn’t survive the pregnancy.

Georgia Representative Terry England, a Republican, argued for the bill with the following words: “Life gives us many experiences. I’ve had the experience of delivering calves, dead and alive – delivering pigs, dead and alive. It breaks our heart to see those animals not make it.” He then followed that up with nonsense that was even more incredible.

OK. Now the reasons for the conservative Republican war against women and their fanatical fight for unborn life (because life after birth is really of no interest, unless it joins the military or becomes pregnant) are clear: conservative Republicans see women as domestic animals.

The intention to force women to carry stillbirths to term – even if their lives are endangered – is at a level of perversity and inhumanity that is usually attributed to countries that follow Sharia law.

It cannot be a coincidence that these are hot-button issues in the former slave-holding, segregated states of the south, where hatred of the alien, outside world, is disguised behind a repulsive facade of piety.

READ ON IN ENGLISH OR GERMAN AT WORLDMEETS.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

Perry’s Hilarious Gridiron Performance — Where Will It Take Him?

In an opinion piece at the Dallas Morning News, columnist Carl Leubsdorf asks, “Where can Perry take his star ‘Gridiron’ role?”

My hometown newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, reprints the same column today, but with a different title: “Perry’s spirited touchdown of a speech may help him in 2016.”

While the Statesman’s title is somewhat more specific and less subject to misinterpretation — just imagine what some of the embarrassing answers to the Dallas newspaper’s rhetorical could be — the suggestions made by the author for Rick Perry’s renaissance just won’t work, in my humble opinion.

But first to Leubsdorf piece.

Leubsdorf, who admits to having been one of the Gridiron officers who helped pick Perry for the Republican speaker slot at the Washington annual Gridiron dinner, claims that the Texas governor’s performance at the dinner gave him “an opportunity to start rehabilitating his national image.”

What does Leubsdorf base this reassuring judgment on?

Well, Perry’s speech was “hilarious;” Perry poked “fun at himself and his fellow GOP candidates” (I thought he already did that during his debates to no avail); “[h]e remains attractive as a person,” whatever that means, and so on.

Oops, let me take that comment back, the one about “whatever that means” referring to Perry’s attractiveness. Perry clarified that himself in his Gridiron speech: “I like Mitt Romney as much as one really good-looking man can like a really good-looking man and not break Texas law.”

I have not seen videos of the Gridiron dinner — nor do I want to see them — but I am sure the audience just rolled on the floor laughing at that one.

And yes, Perry must have been hilarious. Not only did Leubsdorf think so, but:

Afterward, the press and political notices were glowing. “Perry steals the show at the Gridiron dinner,” according to the Washington Post headline. “I think he did himself some good tonight,” former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said afterward.

Now, if Barbour says that Perry did himself good, that is good enough for me.

But there is more. Even the “non-Conservative” Huffington Post had this glowing report on Perry’s performance:

Rick Perry spoke at the annual Gridiron Dinner on Saturday evening, where he won over the exclusive crowd with a series of jokes on gay marriage and his former presidential primary opponents.

[::]

Later during the dinner, Perry noted that he majored in “animal husbandry,” which he said is “what Santorum thinks happens as a result of gay marriage.”

Perry’s crack about Santorum appeared to be in reference to the former Pennsylvania senator’s infamous comments about “man on dog” sex.

And, again, I imagine that the “exclusive crowd” just hooted-and-hollered at those sidesplitting jokes.

To be fair, Leubsdorf does point out that “[w]hat really sunk Perry’s presidential bid was his lack of substantive knowledge about national and international issues” and that “Perry can get only so far by displaying the naturally friendly personality and genuine sense of humor that often did not come through in his 2012 campaign.”

Leubsdorf further admits that Perry does need to spend considerable time learning about “the complex issues with which presidential candidates have to cope…”

All true. But, in my humble opinion, Leubsdorf still misses the core issue here.

I sincerely believe that while the goofs, gaffes and ooops’ certainly did not help Perry, he was rejected by Republicans on the issues regardless of his “attractiveness” or sense of humor, and that he certainly would have been rejected by Americans during the general election because of his core views, ideology and hislack of knowledge of and experience in critical national and international issues.

While you can force-feed a candidate facts and figures — as was done with Sarah Palin — and even write his or her speeches (“word was that [Perry’s Gridiron] speech benefited from the help of noted GOP wordsmith Landon Parvin”), you cannot so easily change a candidate’s substance, prejudices, ideology and values — as is evident with the former Alaska governor.

Now, what was Leubsdorf’s question again?

Image: Shutterstcok.com

Look at Me: I Took on the Big, Bad New York Times (UPDATES)

UPDATE III:

The same newspaper that was attacked by Senator Santorum — through one of its reporters — says this morning that “taking heed of criticism, Santorum tones down attacks.” Meet a “more subdued Santorum” here.

Will his new-found mellowness be too little, too late?

UPDATE II:

And one more nail in the coffin:

According to the WaPo, “U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), considered by many to be a strong choice for vice president, has announced his endorsement of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination. Rubio declined to endorse before the Florida primary earlier this year, but he said Wednesday during an appearance on Fox News Channel that it’s time to coalesce around Romney.”

“It’s increasingly clear that Mitt Romney’s gonna be the Republican nominee,” Rubio said. “We’ve got to come together behind who I think has earned this nomination and that’s Mitt Romney.”

Read more here

UPDATE I:

One more strike against Santorum — and not from the New York Times:

The Washington Post reports that former President George H. W. Bush plans to endorse Mitt Romney tomorrow in Houston, “another sign that the Republican Party is coalescing around the former Massachusetts governor’s presidential campaign.”

Read more here

===

Original Story:

We all lose our temper at times. Some of us even use “expletives” or “no-no words” sometimes. Even the best among us do so.

Remember Vice President Cheney’s use of the F-word on the floor of the Senate? And Vice President Biden’s dropping of a different version of the F-word during the ceremony for the signing of the health care bill?

Yes, “we all do it.” But most of us feel bad about it immediately thereafter and probably most of us — if we were in a public position — would probably apologize for the loss of decorum.

I say most of us, because there are exceptions. One of those is Vice President Dick Cheney who, after telling Sen. Patrick Leahy to go and do something anatomically impossible with or to to himself, said he didn’t regret cursing at Sen. Patrick Leahy and that he felt better after the incident.

We just witnessed another exception to the norm.

On Sunday, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum used an expletive against New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny when Zeleny sought clarification about Santorum’s statement about his rival — and GOP front runner — Mitt Romney: “He is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama.”

When asked about his exchange with the reporter, Mr. Santorum said he had no regrets.

“I don’t regret taking on a New York Times reporter who was out of line,” he said. “If you are conservative and you haven’t taken on a New York Times reporter, you aren’t worth your salt.”

Just as Mr. Cheney did at the time — expressing pride at his bravado — Santorum went on “Fox & Friends” on Monday and crowed, “If you haven’t cursed out a New York Times reporter during the course of a campaign, you’re not really a real Republican, is the way I look at it …”

And to make sure that his “courage” was well rewarded, Santorum sent an e-mail to his supporters saying that he is “ready to take on the New York Times” (“I didn’t back down and I didn’t let [Zeleni] bully me”) and asking for a $30 contribution.

That amount happens to be roughly the cost of one month’s subscription to the Times.

I know because I just renewed my subscription. (And I know, I know, you just cancelled yours — the one you didn’t have.)

Getting back to Santorum, the sad part about not apologizing for one’s transgression — in fact, using such to aggrandize oneself — is that a person like Santorum then has to spend at least a couple of days debating the expletive, instead of debating the real issues facing our country, such as euthanasia in the Netherlands, the use of Spanish in Puerto Rico and, of course, delaying getting back to the wars on porn, contraception, gay marriage, gays in the military, etc., and explaining how President John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on the separation of church and states just made him want to throw up.

It is funny, but while expletives can be deleted, the impressions one creates afterwards by attempting to justify them or even boasting about them, just cannot be deleted.

Image shutterstock.com

When Will the Republican Fat Lady Sing for Santorum and Gingrich?


From “the spark is gone” to the “walking dead” is quite a jump, but the latter is how Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post characterizes the present phase of the Republican primary.

In today’s The Fix, a daily political weblog at the Post website, Cillizza begins with: ”This is how primary campaigns end — not with a bang but with a whimper. Or, more accurately, a whine,” and discusses the latest Santorum temper tantrum with New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny as the latest “in a series of head-scratchers from Santorum … and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich over the past week or so,” pointing to “a familiar pattern that typifies the final throes of candidates virtually certain to come up short in the primary.”

Cillizza also recalls Gingrich’s latest, shameful outburst when he called President Obama’s touching personal reflection about the killing of Trayvon Martin “disgraceful,” and quotes John Weaver, the senior adviser to John Huntsman’s presidential campaign as saying: “What we’re seeing are signs that the nomination battle is effectively over…The lashing out at the media and grasping of straws, as in Newt’s comments about the killing of Trayvon Martin, are indicators we’ve entered the walking dead period.”

Cillizza attributes this “walking dead” syndrome to the fact that these presidential wannabes (Santorum and Gingrich) have been non-stop on the road for a year or longer — they are worn-down, “the bone-tiredness and frustration … begins to set in” — and compares this campaign to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Democratic primary fight, “tired of trying to win an unwinnable race.”

He points out:

Their windows of opportunity, which were always open a crack (at best), have now slammed shut. The danger for both men is that they linger in the race so long past the point which they should that they tarnish the (mostly) positive impressions they have left on the Republican electorate in the race. (Kind of like how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar just kept playing and playing — and playing.)

Finally,” We’ve reached the end of the end — or damn close to it — in the Republican race for president. The only question now is when (or if) Santorum and Gingrich recognize it.”

I hear a defiant Santorum and a philosophical Gingrich claim, “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings “

So, regardless of bone-tiredness, good or “bad” math, these two diehards may be in it until the bitter end, unless some real fat lady in the “elite Republican establishment” croons some very convincing words in their ears.

But, me, a Democrat, worried? Heck no.

Read more here.

Image: shutterstock.com

GOP Presidential Primaries: The Spark Is Gone (UPDATED)

UPDATE II:
See the New York Times version of the sparks flying here

UPDATE I:

Apparently the spark is not gone — at least not with Santorum.

Santorum generated quite a few sparks on Sunday in a mini-confrontation with New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleni.

When asked by Zeleni, “You said Mitt Romney is the worst Republican in the country. Is that true?” a sparkly Santorum lashed back “Stop lying,” pointing his finger at Zeleni, claiming that he was only talking about Romney’s health care positions. “Quit distorting my words … if I see it, it’s bullsh*t.”

Proud of his temper sparks, on Monday Santorum bragged on “Fox & Friends,” “If you haven’t cursed out a New York Times reporter during the course of a campaign, you’re not really a real Republican, is the way I look at it …”

Then, in an e-mail to his supporters, Santorum again showed his steel mettle and his unique qualification to be president by proudly stating that he is “ready to take on the New York Times” (“I didn’t back down and I didn’t let [Zeleni] bully me) — and bravely asking for a $30 contribution.

Yes, the spark is back with this real Republican.

A video of the sparkly encounter can be viewed here

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Original Post:

It might just be me, but I sensed a bit of resignation, apathy, even inevitability in the run-up to, during and after yesterday’s GOP primary in Louisiana.

None of the usual cable news TV “pre-game shows;” no meaningless exit polling; no meticulous percentage by percentage, precinct by precinct counting and analyses of incoming votes; no dramatic winner projections and no “in-depth” analyses of the results lasting till the wee hours of the morning.

And where were the rousing victory speeches — Santorum spoke for a few minutes from a tavern somewhere in Wisconsin — and the lame concession speeches?

Where was the confetti and — for such a significant, momentum-altering landslide victory — how come no parade down Bourbon Street?

Where were the four GOP presidential aspirants as Louisiana Republicans weighed in, as those “critical” votes were counted?

I know, Louisiana was a shoe-in for Santorum, but we could have at least acted surprised.

I know that the Big Winner, Santorum, after all the huffing and puffing, only netted five more delegates than Romney out of the huge, critical primary, but we could have at least closed one eye.

Are Republicans perhaps finally seeing the inescapable Romney light at the end of the circus-like tunnel?

Are we — Republicans and Democrats — perhaps finally succumbing to RPF (Republican Primaries Fatigue)?

Are the inescapable results of the “delegate math” finally beginning to sink in?

Are reality, resignation, inevitability and perhaps despair taking hold?

But miracles do happen.

Perhaps Santorum might be blessed with a transplant of tolerance — and be able to keep that foot out of his mouth.

Perhaps Gingrich could be infused with a huge dose of humility — and perhaps his $2.50 gallon of gasoline could catch fire.

Perhaps Ron Paul could get a transfusion of gravitas — or he could win this primary on the basis of most entertaining candidate.

They are all possible miracles for Republicans.

Of course, the miracle Democrats are hoping for is that Mr. Romney misplaces his Etch A Sketch once he clinches the GOP nomination in Tampa.

Image: shutterstock.com

Rick Santorum’s Final Offensive to Woo America’s Voters

Buoyed by his victory in Puerto Rico, attributed to the Senator’s penchant for standing by his principles and telling it like it isn’t, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum intends to continue to speak his convictions from his heart, from his gut and from his foot-in-mouth.

Since he has Louisiana all sewn up, there is really no need to alienate motivate the voters there. Nevertheless, in the final hours before the Louisiana primaries, Santorum needs to tell those Cajuns that they must start speaking English and drop their cultural ties to that socialist republic, France, if they want Louisiana to remain a state in the Union.

But, looking ahead to Tampa, Santorum’s campaign has released a preliminary schedule for upcoming campaign appearances where the Senator will continue his visceral, provocative — but winning — approach of speaking his convictions and his principles — damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

The next Republican event happens to be the Presidential Preference and Congressional and Council Primary in our nation’s capital, on April 3. Alas, the Santorum campaign failed to get Santorum on the ballot.

If Santorum had been able to participate in the Washington D.C. primary it would have been interesting to hear what Santorum has learned from Puerto Rico and whether he would offer DC residents support for voting representation in Congress in exchange for their 16 delegates.

Nevertheless, because of the symbolism of campaigning in our nation’s capital and the nation-wide attention it will have, Santorum’s campaign has unveiled the following events.

In a rousing solo performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts — if he can keep from throwing up — Santorum will “sing” the evils of Jack Kennedy’s speech on separation of church and state.

Santorum will also cross the Potomac and pay a quick visit to the Pentagon to tell those generals who have so foolishly and ungodly embraced and enforced equal rights for our gay and lesbian troops, not to get too comfortable because on Day One of his presidency he will once again make Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell the law of the land, as God has willed it.

Finally, while in Washington, why not demonstrate his foreign policy savvy and speak to the European Union Delegation to the United States to condemn the wanton and rampant euthanasia going on in the Netherlands and to once again emphasize the “need to re-evangelize Europe…these secularized countries that are dying

Campaigning in Rhode Island — a state with one of the highest unemployment rates — for the April 24 primary, Santorum will reiterate that he doesn’t care what the unemployment rate’s going to be; that it doesn’t matter to him; that “there is something more foundational going on here.”

In Connecticut, also for the April 24 primary, Santorum is scheduled to address the Yale student body on the “snobbishness” of those wanting to go to college.

Moving on to the June 5 California primaries, Santorum will visit San Francisco to underscore his strong support for the Defense of Marriage Act and will elucidate the evils and dangers to our nation — to our very civilization — that gay marriage brings.

Perhaps, while in Los Angeles, Santorum will visit the Playboy Mansion and have a frank, heart-to-heart chat with the Bunnies there about the dangers of pornography and how he will crack down on it, when elected — not that Playboy purveys hard porn, but “that’s how it starts.”

Will Rick Santorum while campaigning in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for the June 5 primary elaborate on his “significant concerns about the impact of gambling on communities and families”?

And, last but not least, while campaigning in his main opponent’s home state of Utah for the June 26 primary, will the Pastor-in-Chief who has reportedly embraced the Catholicism of Opus Dei “frankly” continue to show Utahns the superiority of his religious convictions?

While final plans have not been hammered out yet, the Santorum campaign is considering equally frank and candid presentations on so-called women’s’ rights, abortion, gay and lesbian issues and contraception to organizations such as NOW, Planned Parenthood, Log Cabin Republicans, respectively, and companies such as Pfizer and Troyan.

As Esther J. Cepeda at the Holland Sentinel says:

By illuminating the courage of his convictions — his passionate opposition to birth control and abortion, as well as to elitism and naked political pandering — Santorum only grows in the eyes of conservatives who desire a moral leader.

We’ll see.

Study Reveals that Facts Don’t Matter to U.S. Conservatives (News, Switzerland)

Has the scientific method lost all relevance to conservative Republicans in America? The question is not new. But now, according to this editorial from Switzerland’s News, a scientific study conducted by researchers at Yale University shows that not only doesn’t the U.S. right put much stock in what is known as ‘scientific fact,’ but more educated Republicans are just as resistant to the fruits of modern scientific research as their less-educated associates.

The editorial from Switzerland’s News says in part:

Chief investigator Dan Kahan interviewed some 1,540 randomly selected U.S. citizens. The amazing result is that facts on specific scientific topics play no role when it comes to the more conservative segments of American society.

Those who show such resistance to the facts, interestingly enough, are not with low educational and social status. No – the more educated a person is, the stronger and more irrational is their rejection of scientifically-proven and peer-reviewed facts (conspiracy theories involving thousands of scientists are frequently mentioned). One cheerleader of the trend is ultra-conservative presidential candidate Rick Santorum

One commentator described the phenomenon highlighted in the study as “smart idiots” – and this involves topics other than just climate change. Technological risk, when reducing it would require restricting individual freedom, is denied whenever it applies to conservative elites – even if those risks are proven. And while it flies in the face of intuition, this is true the higher and more comprehensive a person’s education is. The survey results are unambiguous.

These so-called top-down individualists in America are served almost exclusively by the pseudo-news channel FOX News, which acts as a kind of “religious preaching” channel, amplifying and reinforcing the ideologically-correct views of conservatives. That the study failed to include the fact that religious values are more-or-less generally held in high regard is unfortunate. But U.S. resistance to facts about evolution, geology, astronomy, etc. by religiously-influenced people is indeed legendary. So it is perhaps no coincidence that political conservatism and religiosity often go hand-in-hand. But I digress.

READ ON IN ENGLISH OR GERMAN AT WORLDMEETS.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

The Three Political Parties of America

There are three political parties in the United States today, and they are all fielding candidates for the presidency.

The parties are the Republicrats, the Scared Religionists, and the Freedom and Peace Party.

By far the largest party is the Republicrats, who have held sway with their current platform since at least the 1940s. They are offering two candidates for president in 2012: their names are Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

Being such a large party, they have adopted a clever means of ensuring that they hold power perpetually: they split themselves into two wings called “Democrat” and “Republican.” This rather clever setup allows them to compete with each other in the formal competitions of American democracy by emphasizing different pieces of the platform, while ensuring that one of the wings will always hold sway, allowing them to implement their shared social democratic platform.

And what is this platform? It is a corporate socialist one. They stand for enlarging government, the replacement of individual civil rights with centralized programs, the redistribution of wealth from working individuals to the non-working but mostly corporate and special interests (their main sponsors) and a military presence throughout most of the world.

There are a number of ways to tell that their two candidates, Romney and Obama, are from the same party. Their have the same major donors (big banks, and other multinationals) — and the most important legislation that they both favor includes the Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act and most other bills that reduce our liberty (but always for our own good, and usually for our own protection).

The other two parties are smaller. They each have one candidate in the race for president. There is the Scared Religionist party, represented by Rick Santorum, and the Freedom and Peace party, represented by Ron Paul.

If you were to put the three parties simplistically on a one-dimensional spectrum — a single line — the Scared Religionists would be at the authoritarian end, and the Freedom and Peace party would be at the opposite, libertarian end. Between them, but closer to the Scared Religionists, would be the aforementioned Republicrats.

The Scared Religionists deserve credit for the clarity of their message, if not necessarily for the consistency of its content. Their view of the world was wonderfully encapsulated by their candidate, Rick Santorum, who recently said:

I am hopeful that some of the things we’re seeing with respect to the nuclear program [,] the United states is involved in — which, is on occasion, scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead. I think that is a wonderful thing … And if people say you, well, can’t go around and assassinate people, well, tell that to Al-Awlaki. We’ve done it. We’ve done it to an American citizen.

Clearly, members of the Scared Religionists are sure they know best for everyone, and so do not have to worry about such traditional limitations as due process or respect for life. (The last one is a little ironic.) Consistent with his view of how the universe is run, Santorum would seek to run the nation in a way that ensures, by force if necessary, that everyone else behaves “rightly.” To many non-members of this party, there is an apparent paradox that the Authority whose earlier work provided large lists of what is right, in some of His other books, asked that the judging be left to Him, and to leave everyone else to make their own choices.

Although the Scared Religionist party are all about the aforementioned ends (and The End, itself, for that matter), they are somewhat too scared to follow fully the aforementioned means (free choice, judge not etc.) — mostly because they are scared of how things could go down in the meanwhile if people very different from them get a big bomb, or God forbid, get married to a dog — I mean daughter — I mean member of the same sex…

Not only is the desired political ends of this party somewhat absolutist, its means are absolutist too: pre-emptive strikes and assassinations have, after all, rather “absolute” consequences. Of course, there is a very high bar that must be overcome for such extraordinary actions: the religionists must be really, really sure that they are right about the need for them. It is a bar they are good at jumping. (They have had a great deal of practice and jump it so the rest of us don’t have to.)

Last, but not least, there is the Freedom and Peace party. Their current candidate is Ron Paul. The media don’t say much about them, but when they do, you will hear that they are extremists. For example, they believe that we should be governed by law, including the Constitution, to ensure that we are not governed by the interested preferences of men — powerful or rich or both — since that would be tyranny. They don’t believe in going to war unless it is “just” and their elected representatives declare it. Related to that word, “just,” is their belief that people shouldn’t have their life or liberty removed without due process. They also believe that laws should not be so many and so complex that all citizens are in violation at some point in a typical day, since such a situation gives authorities undue power over citizens, and that too is tyranny. They also believe that the people who make the laws should read the laws that they vote on. (That they haven’t been very successful is indicated by the fact that last January, 43,000 new laws came into force. One wonders how on earth we held the country together without them.). One of their most extreme views of all is that if you make money honestly, you should be allowed to keep it, and if you lose it — and especially if you lose other people’s — you should be left to go bankrupt.

Paul’s platform, like that of Obama and Romney, is reflected in the origin of the donations he received: most of his money comes in small donations from individual Americans. From those who are defending with their lives the values of the Freedom and Peace party — the US Navy, Army and Airforce — he receives more donations than do all the other candidates put together.

Although the Republicrats have held power for many generations, they have made huge progress since 2001. From that year onward, the politics of fear have allowed them to move forward on massive violence internationally (against people) and domestically (against our way of life). The bailouts, TSA, elimination of 1st, 4th, 5th and 7th amendments (under the Patriot Act, National Defense Authorization Act, and other legislation) are all acts of fear as they all try to prevent bad things from happening. Only the Freedom and Peace party believes that the political energy used doing this could have been better used to make good things happen — which is done best by letting honest Americans get on with their lives without the imposition of thousands of unnecessary laws and the taking of trillions of their dollars.

I believe that not enough Americans are sufficiently mistaken to deliver a Santorum victory: culturally, his regressive party is in regress. And if enough of the USA stays sufficiently scared or absorbed in American Idol, Farmville and whatever other mass hypnotic media output is current prevailing, then the Republicrats will win again — this time. But all monopolies end eventually, and the most interesting aspect of US politics is its firmest long-term trend: all the polls say that the Republicrat and Scared Religionist parties are shrinking, most rapidly among those who will lead our great nation in decades to come, and that it is that third party that is taking up the slack.

So Much for Jeb Bush’s Endorsement

WASHINGTON – It’s another gafferiffic moment. It also confirms what conservatives have been saying about Mitt Romney from the start.

From Think Progress, who caught the exchange between a CNN host identified as a “comedian,” and Erick Fehrnstrom of the Mitt Romney campaign.

CNN HOST: Is there a concern that Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?

FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again.

At least this time it wasn’t Mitt Romney stepping on his own big win with a rhetorical blunder.

But the big Republican news of Jeb Bush endorsing Romney won’t last nearly as long or resonate as deeply as Fehrnstrom’s epic gaffe, which is sure to be in a anti-Romney ad and may even appear long before Obama’s team gets their chance at him.

Taylor Marsh is the author of the new book, The Hillary Effect – Politics, Sexism and the Destiny of Loss, which is now available in print on Amazon. Marsh is a veteran political analyst and commentator. She has been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and has been seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her new media blog.

BREAKING: Mitt Romney Wins Puerto Rico Primary (UPDATED)

UPDATE:

The Wall Street Journal reports that, in addition to winning the Puerto Rico Republican presidential primary contest, Mitt Romney wins “all of the island’s 20 delegates at stake because he took more than half of the votes.”

===

With 11 percent of the vote tallied, CNN is projecting Mitt Romney to be the winner of the Puerto Rico GOP primaries.

At this time, Romney has 82 percent of the vote, Santorum 9, Gingrich 3 and Paul 1.

If Mitt Romney receives over 50 percent of the vote, he will get to claim all 20 Puerto Rican delegates.

Two factors seem to have helped Romney and hurt Santorum: Puerto Rico’s governor has endorsed Mitt Romney and Santorum’s big foot-in-mouth statements about English being a requirement for Puerto Rican statehood did not sit well with Puertorriqueños.

Santorum was — after all — not a Senador Puertorriqueño

Image: Courtesy Shutterstock.com

Santorum Staff Scrambles to Erase Santorum’s Learn English Puerto Rico Gaffe

Former Sen. Rick Santorum is giving former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney a run for his money politically — and also as a foot-in-mouth news media’s dream gaffe machine. During this campaign Romney and Santorum have spoken in a way that makes Vice President Joe Biden seem utterly measured in his all of his comments. And Santorum’s latest is a classic: he suggested in Puerto Rico (while in Puerto Rico seeking the 20 delegates in Puerto Rico’s Sunday primary) that if Puerto Rico wants to become a state it would have to be an English only state, supposedly because it’s a requirement.

And today his staffers are scrambling to do damage control since their candidate was in Puerto Rico campaiging for in the GOP Presidential primary there:

The campaign of Rick Santorum was still dealing on Friday with fallout from the Republican candidate’s comments on Puerto Rican statehood, asserting that he never meant to say residents should be required to speak English before their island territory can become a state.

Santorum national communications director Hogan Gidley told CNN’s Early Start Santorum did not mean that speaking English should be a prerequisite for statehood, rather he was emphasizing the importance of English as the “language of opportunity.”

“I think he was speaking in broader context that it would be important for the people of Puerto Rico to speak English so they could have more opportunities in America,” Gidley said. “He’s a grandson of an immigrant and his parents and grandparents spoke Italian, but they had to learn English … the language that would make them prosper.”

When an aide has to say “I think” and translate his candidate’s comments it a)is not a good sign b)is a sign of spin damage control.

It certainly doesn’t sound as if that is what Santorum meant:

But campaigning in Puerto Rico Wednesday, Santorum spoke out in favor of statehood for the U.S. territory, with the proviso that Puerto Ricans should adopt English as their official language. Then on Thursday, Santorum repeated that statement after Puerto Rico’s nonvoting representative in Congress, Democrat Pedro Pierluisi, called Santorum’s comments “narrow and limiting.” Another supporter, Oreste Ramos, withdrew as a Santorum delegate.

In other words, there was immediate political fall out.

The Politico:

Rick Santorum’s spokesman tried to clarify his candidate’s recent comment that seemed to suggest Puerto Rico must adopt English as its official language, but himself stumbled in an interview Friday as he responded at one point, “I’m not sure of the law. So I can’t really speak to that.”

Earlier this week, Santorum told a San Juan newspaper that English has to be the island’s “main language” in order for Puerto Rico to become a state. After the comments drew attention and criticism, the former Pennsylvania senator suggested that the remarks were “maliciously” misconstrued, saying he meant that English should be a common language for all Americans.

n an appearance on CNN Friday, spokesman Hogan Gidley noted that Santorum was trying to convey the important role the English language plays in providing Americans opportunities to succeed in the United States.

“Most candidates have all been in agreement that, in fact, English should be the official language of this country,” Gidley said. “I don’t think that’s really a surprise or shock to anybody. The point that he was trying to make was, of course Puerto Ricans are going to speak Spanish. I mean, that’s their native tongue, that’s fine.”

And according to Gidley, Santorum’s attempt to point out that English is spoken predominantly in the U.S. was misconstrued by the press.

It’s important that Gidley and Santorum pointed that out.

Who would have ever known that English is spoken predominantly in the United States?

Voters might miss that fact. Of course, if voters already knew that, then that would suggest that isn’t what Santorum was trying to do at all, or why he repeated his comment twice (and lost a supporter). MORE:

“I think it’s a little bit overblown — I know the original comments were not only taken out of context but were actually misquoted and, in fact, he called that reporter out in the press conference subsequent to that first story and the reporter refused to change their question,” he said. “So it’s just part of the dance, part of what we do here.”

But Gidley ran into some trouble when host of “Early Start” Ashleigh Banfield asked for an explanation on what Santorum meant when he said that people in Puerto Rico have been denied economic opportunities because the government has not emphasized the importance of English enough, noting that he believed this to be “required under the law.”

What does all of this it mean? It shows that:

–this is not pretty.

–it will hurt Santorum in Puerto Rico if not finish him.

–Santorum has not learned from his bad experience with past utterances which obliterated his surge and in the end may have cost him the Republican nomination. When a candidate doesn’t show a learning curve, it suggests that he/she could be a dangerous investment for a political party that would have to put millions of dollars in the line for the candidate’s election. Santorum keeps shooting himself in the foot and then sticking his foot in his mouth.

(UPDATED) Southern Miss Band Members Chant “Where’s Your Green Card?” at Puerto Rican Kansas State Player

UPDATE:

Members of the Southern Mississippi band are looking at disciplinary action after directing a racially insensitive chant at Kansas State point guard Angel Rodriguez who, by the way, scored 13 points to lead his Wildcats to a 70-64 victory against Kansas State.

Southern Miss president Martha Saunders issued a statement after the game on the school’s Web site that read, “We deeply regret the remarks made by a few students at today’s game.

The words of these individuals do not represent the sentiments of our pep band, athletic department or university. We apologize to Mr. Rodriguez and will take quick and appropriate disciplinary action against the students involved in this isolated incident.”

Read more here

Disclaimer: Southern Miss is my graduate alma mater.

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Apparently it is not only GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum who has problems relating to the aspirations — and the language — of the people of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

How about this:

During their school’s NCAA Tournament game against Kansas State University today, members of the Southern Mississippi University band chanted, “Where’s your green card?” at a Puerto Rican Kansas State player. Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez, who was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and played high school basketball in Miami, Florida, was fouled while shooting during the first half of today’s game in Pittsburgh. As Rodriguez stepped to the foul line, the chants, reportedly started by Southern Miss band members, began.

As most Americans know, Puerto Ricans are American citizens.

Watch the video here, and read more about it here

Santorum: I Am your ‘Senador Puertorriqueño,’ But Don’t Talk to Me in Spanish (UPDATES)

UPDATE II:

Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez, who represents Illinois’ 4th District in Chicago, was born in Chicago and later moved to Puerto Rico, his parent’s birthplace, before returning to Chicago to attend college.

He has led the fight to expand citizenship education and English language proficiency programs for newly-arrived immigrants.

Gutierrez should thus know a little bit about Puerto Rico, Puertorriqueños and English language matters and issues when it comes to statehood.

He has now also reacted to Santorum this week proclaiming his desire to see English adopted as the official language in Puerto Rico as a prerequisite to becoming a state.

In an interesting article at the Huffington Post, Gutierrez starts out:

Seeing this crop of Republican presidential candidates pander for Latino votes is like watching some teenage boys learn to dance. It is awkward and embarrassing with plenty of missteps. And the last thing in the world they want is for one of their friends to see them do it. That is why the primary on Sunday in Puerto Rico is so entertaining. The candidates need the votes and the delegates, but their efforts to make themselves appealing to Latino citizens of the United States is so forced and ridiculous that it is painful to watch. Their attempt to court Latinos voters is so filled with hypocrisy that they all look like they can’t wait to get off of the island and get back home to do more of what they are good at: bashing and scapegoating Latinos.

Continue to read here.
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UPDATE I:

According to Politico, “Rick Santorum is working furiously to explain comments that appear to suggest the island must adopt English as its official language.”

And,

Santorum’s comments on the issue, according to El Vocero, riled one of his own presidential delegates — Oreste Ramos — who took back his endorsement.

Ramos said the requirement Santorum described would “clash with our sociological and linguistic reality.”

“As a question of principle, I cannot back a person who holds that position,” Oreste said.

But Santorum, speaking after walking a mile-long parade route here, was unruffled.
“We replaced him with Carlos Baerga,” Santorum told reporters. “Now I don’t know if you know who he was, but he was a great major league baseball player, second baseman primarily.”

“I’m a big baseball fan, so I met Carlos yesterday, and he offered to be a delegate.

That was awesome for me,” Santorum added.

Read more here

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Original Post:

When it comes to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, there are a couple of unusual aspects about the political relations between the “mainland” and that beautiful Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico (“self-governing commonwealth”), a Commonwealth that may one day become our 51st state (Puertorriqueños are scheduled to vote in November on a referendum to decide whether they want to pursue statehood or remain a self-governing U.S. commonwealth):

First, the four-million Puerto Rican people have no voting representation in either House of the U.S. Congress. They do have a “non-voting representative” in Congress, an elected Resident Commissioner.

Second, while the people of Puerto Rico can vote in the presidential primaries and can elect voting delegates to the national nominating conventions, Puertorriqueños not residing on the mainland — any of the 50 states or the District of Columbia — cannot vote in the general presidential elections.

Thus it should be no surprise to see both Republican and Democratic presidential wannabes doing their pilgrimage to Puerto Rico during the primaries to garner delegates — and money — but to see no trace of them during the general election.

For example, Vice President Dick Cheney paid a two-hour whirlwind visit to Puerto Rico in 2006 to collect $300,000 and Senator Barack Obama paid a three-hour visit in 2007 to collect $200,000.

So there we have GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum yesterday and today in Puerto Rico hoping to attract as many of Puerto Rico’s 20 delegates as he can.

But something funny — or rather embarrassing — happened while scavenging for delegates in Puerto Rico.

While Romney — also on the hunt for delegates — has given some positive vibes to the idea of Puerto Rican statehood, Santorum has stayed relatively neutral on this issue.

However, Santorum didn’t mince words when discussing conditions for Puerto Rico to become a state, and in doing so he not only mangled the Constitution, but also managed to inaccurately interpret U.S. law and to offend the heck out of many Puertorriqueños.

On Wednesday, Santorum said that if Puerto Ricans want their Estado Libre to become a state, they must make English their primary language. He also suggested that under American law, English must be the main language.

In an interview with El Vocero Santorum said:

Like any other state, there has to be compliance with this and any other federal law … And that is that English has to be the principal language. There are other states with more than one language such as Hawaii but to be a state of the United States, English has to be the principal language.

However, the U.S. Constitution does not designate an official language, nor is there a requirement that a territory adopt English as its primary language in order to become a state.

His suggestion that under American law, English must be the main language, is “not true” said the New York Times.

According to the Times:

Mr. Santorum reaffirmed his view to reporters after his first event Thursday, at a school for children with special needs. He said English was the language of opportunity and he expected most parents would want their children to learn it, but that it was not available in many schools.

[Today], at the Capitol, he said that some in the local media had misreported his comments to suggest that he wanted English as the “only” language, which is not his position. Nonetheless, he alienated one potential delegate, who said he would not back Mr. Santorum after hearing the comments.

The Santorum campaign then moved into damage-control mode, with Henry Neumann, the co-chairman of his campaign here, trying to soften Mr. Santorum’s views, saying that Mr. Santorum had only meant that it was important for young people to learn English.

But the damage may have been done.

According to Reuters:

Puerto Rico has about 4 million people and its population can vote in partisan primaries but not presidential elections. Puerto Ricans on the mainland have the same voting rights as other U.S. citizens.

Santorum’s statement may fall flat with Puerto Rican Republicans, who have always argued that issues of language and culture should be controlled by state governments and not the federal government.

It also could alienate the 4.2 million Puerto Ricans who live on the U.S. mainland, including nearly 1 million in presidential swing-state Florida.

[::]

Santorum also said that he does not support “at this time” allowing residents in territories like Puerto Rico to vote for president, although he said he was open to analyzing alternatives, such as allowing their votes to count in the popular vote but not in the Electoral College.

Aprenda la Constitución y la ley, Senador.

Image: Shutterstock.com

Rick ‘Ahmadinejad’ Santorum (The News, Switzerland)

Like Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum continues his nearly perfect record of derision from the international press. In this latest example from Switzerland’s News, columnist Patrik Etschmayer compares the elections in Iran to the Republican primary race and concludes that Rick Santorum is running for office in the wrong country.

For Switzerland’s News, Patrik Etschmayer writes in small part:

“Rick Santorum combines the worst of what Republicanism and Catholicism bring together in the public square without provoking his own immediate arrest. In the best Catholic tradition, he rails against the separation of church and state (this makes him “want to throw up”), and he is against contraception and all abortion, liberals, women’s rights, homosexuals, education and human rights for all people AFTER birth. He usually sounds like he would love nothing more than to undo all progress since the 17th century.”

Apart from their hatred of the United States and their desire to obtain a nuclear bomb, all candidates in Iran also agree that liberals, homosexuals, women – and human rights and contraception – must be defeated wherever and whenever possible.

Should Rick Santorum fail at the end – and it looks like he will – then he should certainly consider converting from Roman Catholicism to Shiite Islam, in order to enter Iranian politics. He would feel right at home in a country where gays are hanged and liberals are tortured, and he’d also be able to leave behind the separation of church and state, which just makes him sick to his stomach.

READ ON IN ENGLISH OR GERMAN AT WORLDMEETS.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

Rick Santorum’s Victory Speech After Winning Alabama and Mississippi: “We Did It Again” (Full Video of Speech)

After winning the Republican primaries in Alabama and Mississippi former Senator Rick Santorum declared: “We did it again.”
Here’s his full speech:

AL & MS: 3-Way Split, Santorum On Top

10:49 pm UPDATE – CNN just called MS for Santorum.

10 PM UPDATE – Alabama has been called for Santorum.

Polls have closed in Alabama and Mississippi. About half the vote is in in MS while only a small percentage of AL is in. 3-Way Split Too Close To Call between Santorum, Romney & Gingrich. Romney tends to win urban and suburban areas where the vote is slower to come in. Time will tell….