Politics Wednesday – So Long, Mr. Santorum, and Good Riddance

I actually respect the public reason given for why Rick Santorum quit the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Parents need to be with a child they know will never make it to adolescence, not to mention adulthood. I respect him for wanting to make his ill child’s life full and happy for however long she will be with that family. There is nothing more devastating to a parent than to lose a child, and knowing since her birth that you were going to lose her, that your time with her would be short, is unfathomable.

I won’t even mention the months the family has been on the campaign trail, other, home-schooled children in tow, while Bella remained at home in the care of others.

Well, you knew the snark had to come in an some point.

In truth, campaigns are exhausting and debilitating for not just the candidate, and Bella was better off at home and not exposed to those rigors.

I don’t respect what’s probably the reason behind Santorum’s “suspension of my campaign,” which is that he was about to be rejected again by his home state. Rick, nobody thinks well of a quitter, especially one who quits when he knows he’s going to lose. Just a few weeks ago, he had a commanding lead over Willard Mitt Romney, a lead significant enough to encourage him to stay in the race and prolong it. As Republicans began to accept The Inevitable Romney, that lead shrank, then Santorum lagged behind Romney. Despite that hard shell of sanctimonious judging Santorum surrounds himself with, that had to hurt.

Of course, Santorum’s exit just encourages Newt Gingrich, who has vowed to stay in until Tampa, though what good it will do him is beyond me. Oh, wait. It’s no longer a campaign. It’s an extended book-selling, picture-with-Newt-and-Callista-selling tour, funded by people deluded enough to think Gingrich cares about them.

Ron Paul is still just your eccentric grandfather you wish you could relegate to a locked room in the house where no one can hear his backwards, racist ranting and worship of Ayn Rand. (Didja figure out why his senator son’s first name is Rand?)

And now we have the Inevitable Mitt, who stayed in his place in line, dutifully, like most Republicans, and waited his turn. Some people think this Republican penchant for “bide your time, and it’ll be your go” is somehow orderly and logical. At one time it was, but when the Republican Party was co-opted by first the pro-lifers (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) then by the wiggy Tea Party, from your perspective in line, you decide you have to lurch right as well. That’s why we got to hear Romney say he’s always been a “severe Republican.” No, Mitt, you haven’t. You were indistinguishable in some areas from a liberal Democrat, except for the whole Bain Capital, make a gazillion dollars and hide it in off-shore accounts thing.

Democrats are more like a pinball machine–bouncing from the likes of Carter to Dukakis to Mondale to Clinton to Gore to Kerry to Obama. Republicans always sneered at the disorganization (their term) of the Democratic Party, but from chaos we got President Obama, and that’s enough for me and a lot of like-minded people.

Over the weekend, when rumors of Santorum’s exit stirred, someone suggested that he should wait as all good Republicans do because in “eight years” he’ll still be younger than Romney is now. (The pundit’s assumption was that we’d have two Romney terms–fat chance of that.) After eight years, what will an older, more judgemental, more self-righteous Santorum look like? I shudder to think–except that he’ll have morphed into some Gollum-like creature no one can stomach, and that’ll be a good thing.

So, Republican Party, how’s that whole inevitability thing working for ya?

My thoughts go out to little Bella Santorum, that she may have a happy life without pain or suffering. She is the best of them.

Politics Wednesday–No KO, Again

Willard M. Romney was certain he’d score a knock-out on Super Tuesday yesterday, and, once again, he had to settle for a split decision. In the key primary–and national election–state of Ohio, Romney beat Rick Santorum by just one percentage point. Santorum won Tennessee and Oklahoma, Newt Gingrich won Georgia (not a surprise), and Romney’s hope to lock up the nomination so he can concentrate on President Obama was dashed. Yay!

Romney spun it well, but so did Santorum. And Gingrich again, as he did after Florida, gave what sounded like a victory speech–victory as in “I’m in Bizarro world where multiple third and fourth places mean I won.” Ron Paul, well, you didn’t hear a peep from him, but he’s still there, like the loony relative you don’t send invites for family functions, but he somehow finds out and shows up.

What the results show is that Romney, the pretend conservative, has difficulty winning in the deep south. His Florida and Virginia wins aside–he and Paul were the only Republicans on the ballot in the Old Dominion–Romney has trouble appealing to the voters who traditionally go for candidates to the right of Ivan the Terrible. This could mean the primary battle will extend through the spring and into the summer, if Santorum continues to do well in southern states. Gingrich and Paul show no sign of dropping out of the race any time soon, even though it’s coming down to a Romney/Santorum bout.

I initially thought, yes, let it be Santorum; Obama will cream him. Besides, there’s no way people will vote in Rick Santorum as President. Then, I remembered I felt the same way about George W. Bush, and America elected him. Twice. Granted, Santorum’s social, economic, and policy positions make W look like a, well, Massachusetts Moderate, but if the Republican base can get motivated and if progressives stay home in a huff, Santorum could… No, I won’t put it in print. Just thinking about it will give me dystopian nightmares.

Romney, I believe, will be the nominee, after a long, protracted process that will leave him emotionally spent, and the President will be fresh as a daisy. The polls look good for the President now, but it’s March. We’ve got eight months to go, and we can’t take a single thing for granted. As the Republicans disinter the rotting corpse of the War Against Women and flail its stink about, we need to remember that few Republicans with national presence denounced Rush Limbaugh’s odious words about Susan Fluke; we need to remember that Republicans brought up the Blunt Amendment, which would allow any employer to not cover any medical procedure or medication for any one for any reason. (That was defeated, thank goodness.)

I can’t list all the things we need to remember come Election Day in November, but as a progressive who has been disappointed by some of the President’s policies, I know he has my vote. The alternative is just too dark and reactionary to consider.


One of my readers who thinks I’m an “ultra-feminist” (I am, but it doesn’t bother me.) can stop reading here, so his blood pressure doesn’t elevate.

The shenanigans of the Virginia Legislature–personhood bills, trans-vaginal ultrasounds, etc.–have made national news. Our reactionary-laden legislature seems determined to return us to the 1950’s in terms of many things, chief of which is women’s right to decide what to do with their bodies. It’s something men do without thought–who to fuck, when to fuck, whether to use protection or not–and for some reason don’t want women to do. To protest the legislature’s actions, several hundred men and women held a silent protest this past Saturday at Virginia’s capitol building in Richmond. Several of them stood on the Capitol’s front steps. The governor claims he didn’t send in SWAT, but it’s obvious he did. The police arrested people who were doing nothing except sitting and standing, handcuffed them, and locked them in a bus for nine hours for something that is normally a ticketable offense. (Hello, America; wake up and smell the police state.)

Last weekend at the Richmond protest, there was one sign that said it all for me, that reflects my sense of deja vu, my feelings about having to fight–yet again–to make sure women have the same choices men do, and here it is:

Politics Wednesday 4

This is probably going to come off as a movie review, but I’ll try to bring it around to politics.

I go to movies to escape reality, not to ponder the vagaries of life. The occasional thought-provoking indie movie is great, but most of the time I’m interested in action–car chases, shoot-outs, and a good looking actor who takes his shirt, or more, off. Hey, I may be old, but I’m not dead.

Anyone who’s gone to a movie with me knows if there’s anything aviation-related in the movie and it’s not correct, I’ll bitch and moan throughout the showing. It’s like listening to physicists’ complaining about how Star Trek gets it wrong.

And if the movie is about an era in history I’m familiar with, that’s just another possible nit for me to pick.

So, the George Lucas film “Red Tails” is about the human condition, about aviators, and about World War II. A potential strike-out, right?

I left this movie feeling so up-lifted after all the snide, coded racial baiting done by Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum for the past few weeks. Here was a positive story about the Tuskegee Airmen–African American men who flew bomber cover in an all-African American aviation unit and how they did it so well, despite the prejudice of the Army and their opponents. Yes, the movie is hokey in places, and I didn’t see the need for the love story, except to add a little pathos at the end.

A lot of the flying sequences are computer-generated because there are just not that many WWII vintage airplanes available to portray a large bomber group and its fighter escort accurately. But the CG is seamless in its integration with real flying scenes. All the maneuvers are doable, i.e., airplanes aren’t made to do things they can’t do without pulling the wings off. This is not to say a little dramatic license hasn’t been taken, because it has, but the important thing is the story of these men. That is correct.

I had the honor and the privilege of working with several of the Tuskegee Airmen, as they ended their careers in the Federal Aviation Administration and I began mine. It was a rare event for them to call attention to themselves. As one of them told me when I interviewed him for a story for the magazine I worked on, “We just did our job.” Another told me, “Being in America at that time meant we weren’t the freest of the free, but it would have been a lot worse under the Nazis, so there was no question but that we would fight for our country.”

They always had a good snippet of career advice for me since they had navigated being black men in an agency of mostly white men. I was a woman in a then mostly male agency. Work hard, do your best, and no one can deny your skill. That echoed exactly what my own father had told me, and I owe my career to him and them.

I remember in particular Mr. Weathers, who would stop in the hallway or in the cafeteria to ask me how it was going or if I needed anything from him for an article I was writing. I wonder how he would react to hearing Gingrich’s comments about food stamps and welfare. Mr. Weathers was actually Lt. Col. Luke Weathers, Jr., and he probably would have fixed an officer’s no-nonsense glare on the 4F reject from Georgia, and that’s all he’d need to do.

But that won’t happen. Mr. Weathers, like so many WWII veterans black or white, was buried last week in Arlington National Cemetery, with the dwindling number of Tuskegee Airmen in attendance. Mr. Weathers was the epitome of someone who was judged by the content of his character and not the color of his skin. Someone like Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum will never understand that. Never.

“Red Tails” was a movie the Tuskegee Airmen had long waited to see made. Yes, if you go see it, you’ll get George Lucas’ Hollywood-ized version of history. In this case, that’s not a bad thing.

Politics Wednesday 3

Several years ago I was mentoring a new manager in my division. Her secretary was my former secretary, and where I had no issues with the secretary’s work ethic or performance, this new manager did. So, I got them both in my office one morning to do some mediation.

Normally, I wouldn’t mention gender and/or race, but in this instance it was important. The new manager was a white female, born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan who admitted she didn’t see a person of color until she went to college. The secretary was an African-American woman, born and raised in the District of Columbia. She was the mother of two boys, both of whom had the same father, the man to whom she was married.

We started off with the typical mediation scenario, and we were making some progress toward improved communication. Then, the new manager decided she’d make an attempt to find common ground with the secretary.

“My family was on welfare and got food stamps, too,” she said, “and my sister has children out of wedlock.”

It truly wasn’t said with malice, but it was ill-spoken. After figuratively peeling the secretary off the ceiling–from which she had loudly proclaimed, “My family has never been on welfare, I’ve never had food stamps, and I’m married, and my mother and grandmother were married!”–I dismissed the secretary and tried to explain to the new manager what she had said was inappropriate. I asked her why she said it.

“Well,” she said, “I just assumed…” And we all know “assume” makes an ass of you and me.

This event was in the 1990’s, a decade past the welfare-queen lies of Ronald Reagan, but this woman, much like Newt Gingrich today, didn’t bother to check the facts.

Most of the people on welfare and food stamps are white because, well, more people in America are white. (Not for long, but that’s another story.) That’s the same reason most out-of-wedlock births are by white women. Yet, the Republicans have perpetuated the myth that black people are only interested in lining up for handouts from the government–your taxpayer dollars–that they don’t know how to work and don’t want to work, that they have no concept of a traditional family. The saddest thing is, some people still believe that.

Because of the ruined economy given us by the Republicans and their pro-rich people policies, we have a high unemployment rate and, as a result, more people than ever on food stamps. When you have a family to feed, you get over what everyone has told you is a stigma, and you’re grateful for the means to put food on the table.

Yet, Gingrich turns that statistic around to say, “Obama has put more people on food stamps than any other President in American History.” Wink, wink. You know what he means–black president, increase in food stamp recipients… Wink, wink. The South Carolinians in the debate audience Monday night got it. Gingrich received a standing ovation for his blatant racism. And he did it on purpose. He knew his audience. He knew he could get away with it, and he did.

The manager I was mentoring I can excuse–she was ignorant. Gingrich’s cynical play to the people who refuse to acknowledge the Civil War is over is unforgivable. Without ever resorting to typical racist language, Gingrich has shown us his true color–and it’s lily white.

Gingrich sees himself as a focal point in history–his words, not mine. He has done nothing to earn that distinction. Like the crass racism he exploits, he needs to be but a footnote to history. And a small one, at that.

Politics Wednesday 2

Yet another serendipitous day for political blogging–the morning after New Hampshire.

This “first in the nation” primary has always had a dampening effect on the momentum of a presumed front-runner–Johnson in 1968, Muskie in 1972, and, most recently–until yesterday, that is–Barack Obama in 2008. In the days before the primary, Obama had what appeared to be a solid lead; then, Hillary Clinton showed the rest of the world what I knew all along–she’s a human being. I’ll disclaim here and tell you I was a Clinton supporter right up until Obama won the nomination, and then I was an Obama supporter, and you won’t find a more stolid one than I. I fully understood what Obama’s election meant to African Americans: It was how I would have felt about Hillary Clinton’s election.

But I digress.

Last night’s NH primary seemed like a step closer to a coronation–the Republicans like those, I think because they haven’t given up visions of empires and emperors. In fact, I can see Romney as Napoleon, impatiently snatching the crown from the cardinal and placing it on his own head. Actually, he’s done it already. He’s been running for President for the best part of eight years, and he figures he deserves the nomination. He’s earned it with that square jaw and photogenic family, not one of whom has served his or her country in any way except as campaign props.

That Ron Paul polled in the 20th Percentile in the “Live Free or Die” state shouldn’t surprise anyone.

The tiny ray of hope for the Republican Party was Jon Huntsman, who surged to a decent third-place showing. I thought his put-down of Romney’s sneering disrespect of Huntsman’s service as Ambassador to China was perfect–“I will always put my country first.” What a breath of fresh air in a party whose “leaders” put their wallets or their presumed social and political status first.

Santorum and Perry are off the radar, unless the uber-conservative South Carolinian and Floridian voters can give them a little altitude. Gingrich is in limbo, teetering between falling off the radar and presenting a serious challenge to Romney in the South. Wherever he ends up, I’m sure Callista will be standing there, hair and make-up perfect, that eerie smile fixed on her face.

The predominant thread among pundits–and in the exit poll results from NH–is that Romney is the “most electable,” the one who can beat President Obama. But here’s a photo I found yesterday on AddictingInfo.org that tells me the President may be harder to beat than the Repubs think. Can you imagine Mitt Romney in this picture?

Politics Wednesday

It was coincidence that my writing work plan sets Wednesday as politics blogging day, and the first such blog of 2012 comes the morning after the Iowa Caucuses. Coincidental but serendipitous. That throwback to the days of smoke-filled rooms, the caucus, left plenty to talk about.

First, Willard M. Romney got a win he can’t really puff his chest up about, and he appeared to be somewhat muted on the Wednesday morning gabfests. I believe that eight-vote margin is one of the smallest in election history, especially for a national office. The other bad news Romney has to take away from this is that, after essentially four years of campaigning, he won the same percentage of Iowa Caucus votes as he did in 2008. On paper, it’s a victory, but it must leave the taste of ash in Romney’s mouth.

Though he came in second, Rick Santorum is the real winner. He did in a few weeks what Romney took four years to accomplish–get twenty-five percent of the votes. A month ago, Santorum was in the low double digits, and he gained a lot of ground and even led by more than 100 votes on occasion throughout the evening. Of course, he gained that ground by appealing to the basest instincts of the white voter–by fronting that stereotype that black people don’t want to work and by doing his best imitation of Tim Tebow without bending a knee.

Ron Paul. What more can be said about him? He wants you to have the right to drink raw milk if you want. I grew up on a farm. I’ve drunk raw milk, and, Mr. Paul, you don’t want to know the crap (literally) that’s in raw milk. Paul wants to withdraw within our borders, have no foreign entanglements, and let everyone within those borders fend for themselves. He’s no fan of Lincoln because Lincoln got us into an unnecessary war. WTF? I say that a lot about Ron Paul. Yes, he’s grandfatherly. Yes, he sounds like the eccentric uncle who only comes to visit on holidays and upsets everyone, but one-fifth of the Iowa voters like his vision for America. And that’s scary.

And, can you imagine, Newt Gingrich got relegated to a somewhat distant fourth place? How dare they? How dare they ignore someone of his self-declared intellect? But you just wait. He’s not going negative. He’s just going to tell the truth. (Cheers and applause) His truth, of course, which is somewhat detached from our everyday reality. As a former federal employee, I remember Newt’s fit of pique when he and other members of Congress had to exit Air Force One from the rear stairs–he shut the government down because President Clinton wouldn’t acknowledge Gingrich’s odd notion he was the co-President, not Hillary. His suck-up to Santorum and his “watch out, I’m coming to get you” riff to Romney was pure, nasty Newt.

The Village of Texas is getting its other idiot back. How nice for them. It’s hard to believe there is actually a Texas politician who can make W look like a Rhodes Scholar, but, good old Rick, he proved there was. Perry brought nothing original to this campaign, and it serves no point to waste any more blog space on him.

I wonder how Michelle Bachmann feels this morning after all that praying for a miracle from the entity she knows makes miracles. I guess she didn’t pray hard enough because the miracle didn’t happen. She essentially came in dead last, since Huntsman, Cain, Roehmer, and “No Preference” together garnered less than one percent of the votes, and none of them campaigned in Iowa. As of this writing, she has canceled her trip to South Carolina for that upcoming primary and will hold a press conference later today. At least I won’t have to listen to her carping about being disrespected because she was a woman. The hypocrisy of someone who has done all she could to reverse or disdain the accomplishments of the women’s movement who then uses sexism as an excuse for her personal shortcomings just astounds me. I hope she’s back in Minnesota for good.

The real winner in my opinion–and others more knowledgeable than I agree–is, ultimately, President Obama. Many people think Romney is the “most electable” Republican choice when paired against the President. I think the square jaw and the whitener-enhanced smile only go so far, especially for someone whose profession was to shut down companies and move jobs overseas, for which he received tremendous remuneration. When it comes down to the person who represents my values, it’s President Obama. Mind you, I’d like to have a talk with him about a few things, but the hope and the change still do it for me.

Here’s the most telling thing. If you haven’t noticed, none of the candidates refer to the President by his title–it’s Obama or Barack Obama. Now, trust me, I had trouble uttering the words “President” and “Bush” together, but I always tried to say “The President.” (Or President Shrub when I was really pissed.) This refusal to acknowledge the President’s status is indicative of a privileged (because they’re white) section of society–they just can’t wrap their heads around the reality of someone in the White House who is not white.

What I took away from the Iowa spectacle was a post-caucus interview with a white man in his fifties. When asked why he voted for Romney, he said, “He’s the best one to beat [slight hesitation and the beginning of a sneer] Mister Obama.”

That says it all. Unfortunately.

Writing Work Schedule update:

Monday afternoon:

  • Edited the review for Linkage: The Narrows of Time Series (Volume 1) and sent interview questions to the author
  • Drafted a review of Loki and Sigyn: A Love Story
  • Morning: edited a short story called “The Drink” and sent it to an on-line critique group I’m in (got very constructive comments so far)
  • Afternoon: pulled out my 2009 NaNoWriMo manuscript and reviewed it to see if, with a few name changes, it could be a good candidate for a Kindle Publication
  • Morning: Blog on politics (see above)
  • To do for the afternoon: work on editing/revising a novel (depends on how tired and sore I am from coughing)