The Morbid Emperor lives again…

What I’m about to write is how my increasing frustration with the Tea Party and the GOP are the main reasons why I am leaving the Republican Party and switching to an Independent. It’s a story about a young man who has a devoted interest in politics and has since he was 16 years old. In that time, I’ve transformed and changed my opinions more than Mitt Romney (a man who I’ll address later on). I started out as a center-left liberal Democrat, just as I was raised. Then, like all college kids who only begin to get a whiff of politics (and marijuana), I dabbled in Libertarianism for a very brief tenure. It was only until I became a Rudy Giuliani Republican (Social Moderate, Neocon on Defense, Fiscal Conservative) that I became adamant about my political beliefs and evangelized them to anyone within my range. For four years, I allowed myself to parrot tired and cliché Ronald Reagan quotes, castigate any part of government (except the military) and defend indefensible positions (the Iraq War, bonuses for Hedge Fund managers that were bailed out by the government, allowing health care companies to deny people coverage who had cancer). For four years, I was lied to and told that I would be accepted in the GOP, despite my moderate social views. For four damn years, I lived a lie and pretended to be something I was not just to try to change my identity and to piss off certain people in my life by embracing the chaotic and insane version of what the Republican Party has become today.

I remember the first time I started to actually care about politics. I was (and still am) a devout fan of extreme heavy metal. Now, for anyone not familiar with the lyrical themes of heavy metal, they usually consist of one of three topics: gore, personal trauma, an absolute disdain for organized religion (mainly Christianity) and an embrace of LaVeyen Satanism (a non-theistic version of Satanism created by Anton LaVey). But I wasn’t just a fan of heavy metal music. I devoted myself to the heavy metal lifestyle. Anything I could do to make it incredibly obvious to everyone around me that I was an ardent heavy metal fan I did so vigorously. This included wearing heavy metal t-shirts with grotesque and anti-Christian images or logos to school (knowing full-well they would be offensive to everyone around me), getting someone in my art class to paint an inverted cross on my head (ala Glen Benton of the death metal band Deicide) and ranting about how mad I was at anyone who claimed to hold religious beliefs (especially Christianity). I wanted everyone to know that I thought religion was an antiquated and irrational concept that encouraged herd mentality and was responsible for all things wrong in the world.

I was in my senior year of high school when the 2004 presidential election was happening. My economics teacher assigned us to watch the second debate between the Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry and the Republican incumbent President George W. Bush. I did so, and my initial reaction was that I thought it was the most boring thing I had ever seen in my life…until the question of abortion came up. Finally, I thought to myself, an area where I could use my hatred of religion and apply it to politics. President Bush gave the stereotypical conservative answer that he thought abortion was wrong and wanted to overturn Roe vs. Wade and likewise Senator Kerry gave the standard liberal answer and emphasized the importance of choice. Now, I didn’t have a fundamental understanding of the iconic Supreme Court case; I just looked at it from the perspective that there were religious nut-jobs in the country who were trying to use legislation to curtail women’s access to abortion. When I came into class the next day, my teacher specifically asked me what my impressions of the debate were. I said “if I were eligible to vote I would vote for John Kerry because I’m uncomfortable with having a very religious person in office and Bush’s views on abortion are proof that he’s a religious nut job.” My teacher smirked and made a subtle comment about how it was “interesting” that someone would base a decision like voting for president on an issue like abortion. I didn’t know it at the time, but what he really meant was that I wasn’t concerned with dignified and important issues like economics or foreign policy and instead focused on an insignificant social issue like abortion.

That moment will stick with me forever. It will stick with me because ultimately that is my one political opinion that has never (and will never) change. Throughout my interest in politics, I’ve always been pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. But then a funny thing happened during my freshman year at Pace University; I smoked weed for the first time and loved it (editor’s note: I still do and maintain the opinion that it should be legal everywhere). Then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, I heard there was a political party that advocated for the legalization of marijuana. It was the Libertarian party, and I was all too eager to sign up. Like most people who only casually understand Libertarianism, I only joined because I wanted pot to be legal and completely ignored all of their other policies (get the government out of helping the poor, helping people who’ve been discriminated against, helping people who want to go to college, etc.). While I did buy into Libertarians view of government (there should be none, just privatize everything), I began to have severe issues with their views on defense. Libertarians are typically against any form of intervention and frown upon massive defense spending.

I had started to become more hawkish (and conservative) after I saw how my professors would make eye-rolling statements about the War on Terror and talk about what a moron George W. Bush was. I became increasingly mortified with my professors and felt I was being indoctrinated with liberal, socialist and even communist views. I also became infuriated with living in the liberal haven of New York City. I stopped watching MSNBC and reading Media Matters and started watching Fox News and visiting conservative websites like The Weekly Standard, National Review and Right Wing News. I started reading about the history of the Republican Party and its great leaders like Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower. This was all happening during 2007, which was the year Hilary Clinton and (then) Senator Barack Obama were fighting for the democratic nomination. I watched as the media became infatuated with soon-to-be President Obama and exalted his celebrity status. By this time, I had become an ardent Rudy Giuliani supporter and defended everything from his changes on social views to his terrible appearance at an NRA conference where he answered his phone in the middle of a speech. Obviously, Rudy Giuliani was far from the first choice of most Republicans and conservatives and was constantly labelled as a RINO (Republican in Name Only), as was I for supporting him. But, I figured if Ann Coulter was on my side, who could fault me for supporting Giuliani instead of an authentically conservative candidate like current Kansas Governor Sam Brownback?

I began to notice how alienated I became the more I developed this conservative identity. I was almost purposely alienating myself from my liberal family, my fellow students at Pace University, and even among old friends who once considered me to be sane. But I didn’t care because I wore this newfound socially-moderate neoconservative Republicanism on my sleeve. I considered it a badge of honor when people (I assume that were liberal) would roll their eyes at me with writhing disgust when I would publicly discuss how awesome it would be to bomb Iran and how everybody on welfare was an unintelligent parasite. Did I have a certain amount of reticence about joining a party with the exact same people who five years prior I would’ve lambasted as religious psychos? Was I uncomfortable with the fact that despite my willingness to tolerate social conservatives’ status in the GOP, they weren’t willing to accept people like me who occasionally divagated from Republican orthodoxy? Sure. But it was too late. By this time, I became ensconced in conservatism and the Republican Party. I had already compartmentalized all my previous criticisms of these people and instead saw them as good people that I had minor theological disagreements with (I was still an atheist, just no longer outspoken). Thus began four years where I would constantly break my own cardinal sin; trying to pretend to be something I wasn’t.

By the end of 2007, it became clear that Rudy Giuliani was not going to be the Republican nominee for the 2008 presidential election. I didn’t really have a problem with Senator John McCain and instantly knew that I was going to vote for him the moment he won the nomination. Of course, everyone I knew thought I was crazy and could not understand how I couldn’t see the brilliance of the former Harvard Law professor. Of course, nothing I did mattered as John McCain was a terrible presidential candidate and had chosen an astoundingly unqualified running mate, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Even though I knew the pair would eventually face an ignominious defeat, I remained defiant and defended not only John McCain, but also Sarah Palin (a task that would prove to be incredibly difficult). Naturally, I was not pleased with the result of Barack Obama being elected President in November of 2008. But this was also when I started to question my newfound beliefs. Because it was at this point the Tea Party rose to become the most prominent force not only in the conservative movement, but also the Republican Party.

At first, I was able to tolerate the Tea Party. I ignored the idiots who held up “get your government hands off my Medicare” signs at rallies and instead focused on defending the flat tax, defending limited government and figuring out how our newly elected President would unleash his socialist utopia on the masses. But it never happened. Oh sure, I pretended like the stimulus package passed in 2009 was the worst thing in the world and would only lead to big government spending on projects that would fail. I ignored columnists who pointed out that without the stimulus, America would have been worse off in dealing with the worst financial crises since the Great Depression and instead held the conservative line. During the health-care debate, I adamantly opposed what I was told was government run socialist health-care but in reality was the same legislation that had been proposed by many Republicans (including the 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney during his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts). I felt myself becoming more and more uncomfortable with the conservative movement and the GOP, and found it harder and harder to defend their untenable (and extreme) positions. But I wanted to remain loyal to the party, despite my apprehensions and discomfort with the inflammatory rhetoric and behavior of Republicans in congress.

Naturally, since I thought of myself as a true conservative, I became enamored with talk radio. The very people who I used to mock through snippets of their rants on Media Matters I was now devoted fans of. I remember in March of 2010, I was driving in the car and listening to Glenn Beck. His guest was conservative author (and now conspiracy film-maker) Dinesh D’Souza. D’Souza was promoting his book The Roots of Obama’s Rage, and he discussed the basic premise which was that President Obama’s political views stem from the anti-colonial beliefs held by his father (who President Obama never even met). Beck immediately ate it up and felt he was presented with an accurate representation of President Obama’s foundation for his views on life, race, politics and even religion. He basically used D’Souza’s specious claims to justify his infamous “President Obama has a deep-seeded hatred for white people” comment that he made in June of 2009. After I got done listening to the interview, I immediately shut off the radio and pulled over. I had to stop driving because I was positive I was going to vomit. I couldn’t believe what I just heard. It was a defense of the indefensible. There was not even one iota of skepticism on Beck’s part. He just sat by and let a complete lunatic utter complete nonsense and make spurious claims to millions of people. I felt sickened and disgusted.

Unfortunately, this became the constant trend that would continue to destabilize my quest to become comfortable with my conservative political beliefs. In the following years, especially during the beginning of the 2012 election, I would hear something so crazy from people I would ordinarily look up to and revere, that it became impossible to defend them. I watched conservatives and Republicans say incredibly stupid and irresponsible things like Social Security is a Ponzi scheme (Texas Governor Rick Perry), Turkey is a country that is being ruled by Islamic terrorists (again, Rick Perry), the key to economic success is tearing down random departments of government (again, Rick Perry and retired psychopath Ron Paul) and that if President Obama is re-elected, we will turn into a “secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American” (Newt Gingrich). Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, another 2012 presidential contender, said that HPV vaccines made a child mentally retarded after one of the many Republican primary debates (or as most people referred to them, clown shows). To this day, I still question why Herman Cain was allowed to even participate in the 2012 presidential race at all (let alone why he was the front-runner for almost two months). It angered me to no end that the conservative movement was intentionally trying not to nominate Mitt Romney, a man who I was convinced would inject some much needed sanity into the GOP and pull swing voters and independents our way through his moderate social views and fiscal conservatism. I was hoping he would make the case that the new health care law (one that was based entirely on his approach to implementing near-universal health care in Massachusetts) is a good start but could be vastly improved. I was hoping he would repudiate the Tea Party approach to government and say that we need to do more than just advocate for low taxes and small government. I was hoping he would run as the pragmatic Governor of Massachusetts. None of this would come to fruition.

Romney ran on a platform the catered entirely to the Tea Party and shuttered at any notion of moderation. He refused to say he would accept a 10-to-1 spending cuts for revenue package during one of the primary debates. He picked Paul Ryan as a running mate and immediately endorsed his budget and approach to Medicare (turning it into a voucher system). When he said at CPAC 2012 that he was a “severe conservative”, I just told myself that was his attempt to suck up to social conservatives and the Tea Party (something which I understood was a necessary evil for Romney). I told myself the real Romney would come out after he won the nomination, a process that took way too long and ultimately ended up hurting him in the general campaign. But by the time he was actually nominated, I could tell that the pragmatic and moderate Romney was never going to show up. He had convinced himself that he really was a severe conservative, and the policies that he promulgated during the campaign ultimately reflected that.

By this time, I didn’t know what to do. By August of 2012, I was certain that President Obama would be re-elected. After watching a man I defended vigorously for over a year continue to self-immolate in the general campaign, I began to wish that former Senator Rick Santorum had won the nomination instead of Mitt Romney. It would have been so much easier to vote for President Obama in that scenario, as there was no way that overzealous theocrat (Santorum) would ever get my vote. I continued to tell myself that I would eventually come around and vote for the man I had previously defended, but I didn’t. September turned out to be an even worse month for Romney than August was (that was when the “97%” video was released). I saw Joe Scarborough that morning and basically had the same reaction he did. He knew the race was lost. He knew this videotape would cement Romney’s status as an out of touch plutocrat that didn’t offer any substantive policies to help the middle class. He knew that Romney’s advisors were telling Romney that his campaign didn’t have to elaborate on policy because there was no way that minorities and young voters would turn out in droves for President Obama like they did in 2008. He knew exactly what David Frum knew; that Romney was being twisted into pretzels to fit into something he wasn’t, and that the people who put the cement shoes on Romney would ultimately end up blaming him for sinking.

So I went in on Election Day and voted to re-elect President Obama. By 10:00 PM on Election Day, I saw exactly what I expected to happen and watched Virginia, Ohio, Colorado and Iowa all turn blue. I had hoped that this past election would be the reality check the Republican Party needed. I had hoped that this past election would serve as the clear warning sign that just opposing everything President Obama did and said was not an effective strategy to win elections. I had hoped that Republicans would learn the lesson that it was unwise to create a platform based on what the Tea Party wants since they have an approval rating of less than 20 percent. I had hoped for some sort of common sense to prevail. I was sadly let down once again.

The train wreck that is the Republican Party continues to get worse every day. After the election, I watched in agony as I witnessed Republican members of congress Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann claim that there were members of the Muslim Brotherhood giving advice to and in effect running our government. I watched in horror as I saw Rick Santorum, Senator Mike Lee and Senator James Inhofe claim that the U.N. Disability Treaty (that was signed in 1991 by George H.W. Bush) would enable the U.N. to come in and take handicapped kids from their homes. By the time I heard Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey defend Todd Akin’s views on “legitimate rape” and Richard Mourdock’s views about how pregnancy from rape is indeed God’s intention, I had lost all hope. I realized that all the trouble I went through to feel comfortable as a Republican wasn’t worth it anymore. In December of 2012, I officially left the Republican Party and became an Independent.

Despite all the inner turmoil I put myself through, I ended up learning a valuable lesson. That lesson for me was in order to be truly comfortable with yourself, you just have to be who you really are. About two months ago, Jonah Goldberg of National Review wrote a column that basically confirmed what I always suspected; Republicans and conservatives don’t want socially liberal, fiscally conservative minded people (like I once was) in their party. They only want ardent conservatives in their party who view concepts like moderation or compromise with complete and utter contempt. But by that time, I was all too happy to not be a part of that movement anymore. I’m happy being a moderate liberal.  I’m happy to have a president who governs as a moderate. Most importantly, I’m happy there’s still one party that has a place at the table for moderates, and understands the necessity of having an actual big tent.

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The Case for Military Intervention in Syria…

For the past year, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has used military force to slaughter innocent civilians all across the country, almost as if it were for sport. It’s not just protesters who are being murdered by the thousands, but also children and parents who are only guilty of sitting in their homes minding their own business. The Obama administration indicated today that the United States would not do more than enforce sanctions on Syria and supply humanitarian aid to the rebels and citizens. Of course, there were repeated calls for Al-Assad to step down on behalf of the administration, and it appeared supportive (but not optimistic) of Kofi Annan’s (United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria) peace plan calling for an immediate cease-fire from both sides.  But as the deadline for the cease-fire has now passed and the bloodshed still continues, the United States and the international community have a debacle on their hands in choosing not to further escalate involvement in Syria.

On the one hand, the Obama administration is being cautious in not sending weapons to a group of rebels that they consider even more unorganized than the militias we helped in Libya last year.  The Obama administration also knows that conducting air strikes would be difficult given the strength of Syria’s air missile capabilities. So naturally, the only measures the Obama administration have pursued so far are economic sanctions and forming an international coalition to denounce President Assad’s actions. But realistically, the United Nations plan was doomed to fail because it lacked the necessary measures of force to get the results it desired. President Assad has been defiant about not stepping down, and he has operated with total impunity. It is utterly absurd to assume that you can force a dictator out of power without giving him a reason to fear the repercussions of his actions. Sanctions are no doubt a powerful diplomatic tool to apply economic pressure to an enemy. But when you have a maniacal villain who doesn’t seem to be affected by a lack of income, it is all but certain you need a stronger measure than diplomacy.

About a month ago, Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman brought the idea of a Syria intervention to the table. They made it adamantly clear that they were not arguing for a unilateral response, but instead a multilateral one (similar to Libya) where we establish safe havens for the rebels, give them arms and training, and more substantial aid. Not only is this an entirely appropriate response to an international crisis of this magnitude, it is already in the playbook of the United States. We have taken similar measures in Libya last year and in Bosnia in 1995, and we did so without the presence of 400,000 troops (which is what the pentagon indicated it would have needed to enforce peace in Bosnia). It is incredibly hard for me to believe that we could not develop a military strategy that would establish sanctuaries along the borders of Turkey and Iraq and use these areas to train the rebels and launch bombs against the Syrian army. It doesn’t hurt to at least consider this option, or something of similar logistics. After all, we would almost certainly be remiss if we chose to stand idly by and let President Assad kill another 10,000 people.

Regardless of whether or not one thinks the United States does not need to enter another war (unilaterally or multilaterally), it is virtually impossible to deny that a military intervention would produce more results than the United Nations could ever hope to accomplish. With the support of our allies, we can work together to send a powerful message to President Assad and (indirectly) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It seems that France understands the perilous situation on the ground in Syria. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said today: “The Syrian foreign minister’s statements this morning, affirming an initial implementation of the Annan plan by the Damascus regime, are a fresh expression of this blatant and unacceptable lie.” The statement that Valero was referring to was made by Syria’s foreign minister Walid Muallem, who apparently told the Russian government today that troops were pulling out and they had begun to observe the cease-fire. Valero was right to call out Syria for the severely deceitful comment, as Syrian troops were still barraging cities today with brute force.

We must also be mindful of the fact that Syria is Iran’s most important ally. Every day that Bashar Al-Assad remains in power, Iran benefits from being able to train militants and terrorists who can easily cross over to neighboring Iraq and ensure chaos. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also directly benefits from the continued arrogance these two men display for democracy and western civilization. It props them up as immovable forces that cannot be swayed by the world’s only superpower. If we don’t stand up to Assad now (and Ahmadinejad soon after), we lose ground on two important aspects on our foreign policy: The first being that we will appear as if our global sphere of influence is shrinking dramatically. The point of becoming a superpower is that you have the ability to use force anywhere at any time, so why wouldn’t we want to use that force justifiably to stop the murders of now tens of thousands? The second aspect of our foreign policy that would be damaged in not standing up to Syria is that it would further the narrative that we pick and choose what dictators we fight.  If we stood up to Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, not applying the same force to Bashar al-Assad would send the wrong message and could invite other dictators to spread carnage.

Rather than lead the call to put forth a serious effort to remove the Syrian tyrant, the Obama administration is choosing to join the international community in verbally condemning President Assad to death. Unfortunately, it will not be enough. The United States and the international community already missed an opportunity to save over ten thousand civilians who did not deserve death. Now we need to focus on those who continue to live in fear of a murder brigade.  I stand with Senators McCain, Graham and Lieberman. I stand with Jackson Diehl and Jonathan Tobin. The United States and the international community need to intervene in Syria and put an end to the Assad regime. If we don’t, we lose another opportunity to stand up for democracy and send a message to our two biggest foes.  We’ve already let the United Nations try to handle this situation, and it has produced zero results. When you speak softly and neglect to implement the big stick, you give your enemies little reason to modify their abhorrent behavior.

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Rick Santorum Ends His Campaign…

Former Senator Rick Santorum ended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination today, stating that after “prayer and thought” he decided he was unable to continue his bid for the White House. This was entirely expected news, as Mr. Santorum cancelled his planned events for yesterday and this morning and instead held one event this afternoon that turned out to be his decision to extricate himself from the race. It was also expected due to the undeniable improbability of his chances of actually winning the nomination. Front-runner Mitt Romney currently has more than twice the delegates Mr. Santorum has and is well past the half-way mark to get the 1,144 delegates needed for the nomination.

 

There were certainly plenty of other factors that forced Mr. Santorum’s hand. His three year old daughter Bella and her illness (Trisomy 18) is something that he and his wife constantly have to monitor, and doing this from the campaign trail was surely daunting for the entire family. Bella’s recent hospitalization this past weekend was widely reported and Mr. Santorum took four days off from his campaign to visit her in a Virginia hospital. It was also the first indicator that Mr. Santorum might relinquish his quest for the nomination before the primary of his home state of Pennsylvania on the 24th, despite earlier claims that he would not concede anytime soon. Mr. Santorum has previously stated that providing the necessary care for his daughter amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, and his campaign was already in debt due to a lack of fundraising. By comparison, Mr. Romney was prepared to spend millions of dollars in ads for the upcoming primary in Pennsylvania.

 

Speaking of which, the upcoming primary in Pennsylvania was also a likely factor in Mr. Santorum’s decision to end his presidential aspirations. As previously reported, Mr. Santorum lost three primaries last week, including a pivotal race in Wisconsin. These losses not only increased the plurality of support for Mr. Romney’s campaign (in both popularity and delegates), but also the inevitability of his chances at winning the nomination. In fact, the inevitability became so apparent that shortly after the primaries last week, the polls in Mr. Santorum’s home state had drastically changed from as little as three weeks prior, indicating that although Pennsylvanians like their former Senator, they did not view him as the likely nominee. Mr. Santorum would have been faced with repeating a humiliating loss in his home state (he lost to current Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Jr. by 18 points in 2008). Adding to that loss would be four other likely defeats that day, as New York (which awards 95 delegates), Delaware, Rhode Island and Connecticut were already seen as very favorable to Mr. Romney.

 

There is no doubt that Mr. Santorum proved to be Mr. Romney’s most formidable challenger. He won 11 states in two separate regions of the country and was likely to win at least three or four other states in May. It is unclear at the moment whether voters in those states (Texas, North Carolina, and West Virginia) will continue to defy the Republican establishment and vote for former Speaker Newt Gingrich. There is a chance that voters will succumb to the likelihood of Mr. Romney as the nominee and bring him to the necessary delegates as quickly as possible, despite their preference for another candidate. After all, it is very late in the game and Mr. Gingrich currently only has 135 delegates from his victories in South Carolina and his home state of Georgia. Regardless, it is now official that Mr. Romney will win the nomination; the only question is whether he reaches 1,144 delegates in late May or early June.

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NRO Does the Right Thing…

Today I read that National Review Online would be parting ways with longtime columnist John Derbyshire, a paleoconservative who is known for a writing style that is insightful but often controversial. I had read only a few of his columns in my five years of being a political junkie, but none that I had read before were as nutty and indefensible as his now infamous article for Taki Magazine. The article is a reaction to the devastating Trayvon Martin case currently going on in Sanford, Florida, and is supposed to be a guide for how white parents should talk to their kids about black people. Instead of elevating our discussion of race and society, Mr. Derbyshire engaged in despicable stereotypes and outright falsehoods that not only look bad on conservatives, but also white Americans.

If you read the article, you will notice how Mr. Derbyshire constantly states that it is dangerous to be around a group of black people, especially if you’re White. I don’t know what the hell Mr. Derbyshire is thinking, but he seems to omit the fact that blacks commit crimes against other black people, not just white people or Asians. When mischievous kids or adults band together, they are likelier to commit crimes together, regardless of their race. The notion that black people who hang out in groups in public only do so to target random white people is not only inaccurate, but is also incredibly dangerous to tell your kids. Why would you want your kids to fear black people instead of having an accepting attitude towards them? How exactly is that going to decrease the supposed hostility that blacks feel towards white people? Also, what if your kid sees a black man or woman getting beaten up? Are you honestly going to tell them not to be a Good Samaritan and call the authorities?

It is morally reprehensible for any adult to tell their kids that they are of a higher intelligence because of their skin color. Parents should convince their children to become more educated and worldly regardless of what race or ethnicity you are. It is disgusting how Mr. Derbyshire differentiates between “dangerous” blacks and “intelligent and well-socialized blacks”, as if there are no unintelligent and socially inept people in the white community. Instead of telling his children to keep an open mind and judge people based on how they act, Mr. Derbyshire would instead tell his children to avoid befriending a black person if they live in a predominantly black neighborhood. Mr. Derbyshire would also apparently not take his kids to an amusement park if the customer base is overwhelmingly black. I could go on and on rebuking his nonsensical drivel, but to do so would only be redundant and by now you’re already aware of how breathtakingly stupid his column is.

National Review absolutely did the right thing by letting Mr. Derbyshire go. Conservatives (and right-leaning centrists like me) must not accept these outdated views on race. It is not only deleterious to the Republican Party; it is also harmful to our reputation of being inclusive and not judging people based on the color of their skin, but of their merit. You can bet this is going to add an 18 gallon tank of fuel to the “conservatives hate blacks” fire. When you’re a columnist, especially one on the right or center-right, you must be careful what you write and print for the sake of our movement. We will not attract people to our party with the kind of idiocy that Derbyshire purports. We will not attract the diversity the Republican Party so desperately needs. Does Mr. Derbyshire have the right to say whatever he wants? Absolutely.  But at the same time, publications like National Review have to be discerning about what they print and who they choose to write for them. Thankfully, Rich Lowry put the conservative movement as a whole ahead of any loyalties to Mr. Derbyshire.

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Rick Santorum’s specious delegate math…

Last week, struggling Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum had his campaign e-mail a memo to thousands of supporters disputing the current delegate count. According to CNN, his campaign is claiming that front-runner Mitt Romney only has a total of 571 delegates while Mr. Santorum has 342. Both numbers are completely false; as of today, Mr. Romney has won 657 delegates while Mr. Santorum has only won 273. So why is Mr. Santorum claiming he has more delegates than what’s actually being reported? Because his campaign is so desperate to stay alive after a series of losses (including three primaries from last week) that they have now stooped to distorting the accuracy of the delegate count in an ill-advised attempt to quell the increasing calls for him to end his campaign.

 

Let’s go over the first point he addresses in the e-mail: He claims that Florida and Arizona will award their delegates proportionally, even though the two states have already awarded their delegates to Mr. Romney. Doesn’t he remember that New Gingrich made the very same request just after the Florida primaries when he lost by double-digits? As Ed Morrissey noted today, the RNC has no sway with how states choose to award their delegates, and even if they did, it is far too late in the primary process to change the delegates that were already awarded. From the CNN story I linked to above: ”Florida Republican Party Director of Communications Brian Hughes told CNN his state’s rule was accepted by the RNC and therefore it will stay a winner take all state.” The point being, neither Mr. Santorum nor Mr. Gingrich are going to change the way a state conducts their primaries, so this is nothing short of a futile attempt to deny Mr. Romney the delegates that he earned.

 

The next point argument from the campaign memo brings us to the Texas primary being held on May 25th. According to this story from CBS News, Texas originally wanted a primary that allowed for allocated delegates so the state could hold their primary on Super Tuesday (March 6th). Then the Justice Department forced Texas to push its primary back to May because of the issues they are having with redistricting (i.e. the Justice Department is making the case that state’s new electoral maps do not protect minority voting rights). So now that it’s becoming clearer that Mr. Romney is the presumptive nominee, Weston Martinez of the Texas State Republican Executive Committee (and an ardent supporter of Mr. Santorum) is desperately trying to make the state a winner-take-all primary so that his preferred candidate has a chance to take this fight to a brokered convention. Despite Martinez’s claims that his motive is about “increasing Texas’ power in the nominating process”, it is painfully transparent that he is attempting to work with Santorum’s campaign to do anything they can to block Mr. Romney from winning the nomination. It is unprofessional and ludicrous to attempt to change the primary rules this far in the game, not to mention arduous. Santorum’s campaign and Martinez would have to get 15 out of the 62 members of the Texas Republican Party’s executive committee to sign a letter requesting an emergency meeting on the matter. From there, two-thirds of the committee would have to approve the change, and then Republican National Committee and Justice Department would also have to approve it. That hardly sounds likely.

 

Not only is Santorum’s campaign having an unsuccessful time convincing Florida, Arizona and Washington to award their delegates proportionally, it turns out they won’t even get all the delegates from North Dakota (a state that Mr. Santorum actually won). It was also reported that superdelegates are starting to move to Mr. Romney’s corner. So not only was Mr. Santorum’s campaign e-mail misleading and bordering on the delusional, it conveniently ignores the impossible steps it would have to take to take delegates away from Mr. Romney and change Texas’s primary system. Also, one can’t help but ask the obvious question: If neither Mr. Santorum nor Mr. Gingrich had the organizational capacity to get on the ballot in a state like Virginia, what makes them think their campaigns could strong-arm states into changing their primary system? All this is going to do is get more Republicans in Mr. Romney’s corner (including three congressmen from Texas) and further the obvious truth that the end of Mr. Santorum’s campaign is already here.

 

I would like to end this post on a sincere, non-partisan point: I am very happy to hear that Mr. Santorum’s daughter will be released from the hospital and is stable for now. Regardless of my opinion that he should not be our nominee, I extend my deepest sympathies to his family and hope that one day his daughter will no longer suffer from her terrible ailment. For those who don’t know, Mr. Santorum’s youngest daughter Bella (of age three) suffers from a chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 18, which causes severe developmental and medical problems for young children and carries on into their adulthood.

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It Ends Here for Santorum…

Mark Halperin reported on his blog at Time Magazine that Presidential candidate Rick Santorum is taking a few days off from the campaign for the Easter holiday. During that off time, he will be meeting with influential conservative leaders in Northern Virginia to discuss his standing in the race for the Republican nomination. Despite three significant primary losses this week and more polls showing ominous signs for his chances at winning the primary in Pennsylvania on the 24th (his home state), he has adamantly refused to drop out of the race this month. It’s not that there hasn’t been a significant number of calls for him to end his candidacy gracefully, but Mr. Santorum is still vying for a win via a brokered convention at the Republican national convention this coming August in Tampa, FL. Many other Republican politicians and columnists have already elucidated why a brokered convention would be deleterious to our chances of winning in November (which are already fading rapidly), and the need for Republican cohesion and unity has never been more mandatory and must begin right now.

It is understandable that conservatives wish that when the primary process started almost a year ago, they would be presented with a much better choice of candidates than the ones they received. Although signs of support from important demographics in the Republican Party (evangelicals, very conservatives and Tea Party supporters) are starting to improve for front-runner Mitt Romney, he still has to win back women and independent voters. His favorability ratings among women and independents have continued to dive as the primary race dragged on and started to include controversial social issues (i.e. contraception and abortion). Of course these topics were bound to come up at some point since this is a Presidential election and all issues are on the table. But the time has come to get the focus back on the economy, our insurmountable debt, foreign policy and energy. The bickering between candidates over who is more conservative than the other is futile. Mr. Santorum has already successfully established himself as the conservative alternative to Mr. Romney, despite the inconspicuous presence of Newt Gingrich’s campaign. This strategy still hasn’t worked for him, and at this point Republicans who would normally support him cannot deny how bleak his chances are.

Even if Mr. Santorum were to win in his home state of Pennsylvania on the 24th (which is still possible), it would amount to nothing at way too late a point in the game. Not to mention, Pennsylvania and Texas are not winner-take-all primaries and will allocate their delegates. Mr. Santorum has tried to change the ruling for the Texas primary so that he could keep all the delegates for himself, but both the RNC and Texas Governor Rick Perry have denied his requests repeatedly. Mr. Santorum can continue to try to persuade Mr. Gingrich out of the race, or go completely insane and propose a ticket featuring the two of them. But even if he could get Mr. Gingrich to drop out, it would still not be enough to stop the Romney juggernaut from obtaining the necessary delegates to win. Real Clear Politics has Mr. Romney up 33 points in the New York primary, which would award him 95 delegates. Mr. Romney is also very likely to win California and New Jersey, two other huge primary races with a hefty number of delegates at stake. Continuing the race further than Pennsylvania would be entirely pointless for Mr. Santorum and would only end up hurting the party and our chances in November.

Mr. Santorum can continue to contest that a brokered primary would be good for the party. However, almost everyone disagrees with that notion because they know it would turn into a food fight and would further distract us from our goal in November.  Let’s also not forget, the last time the Republican Party had a brokered convention, New York Governor Thomas Dewey was humiliated (along with the Chicago Tribune). The President and the Democrats are salivating at this possibility, as they know that the longer the primary race carries on, the longer they can sit back and observe the chaos while Republicans appear more disorganized and divided. As conservative columnist Ann Coulter points out, Mr. Romney has already passed the test of the vetting process. A brokered convention could lead us to nominating someone completely unprepared and we would essentially have wasted sixteen months strengthening our best candidate. Also, if Mr. Santorum could not win enough popular votes in the primaries, what makes him think he will come out a stronger candidate if he won the nomination through a technicality from a brokered convention?

To be fair, Mr. Santorum should be very proud of his come from behind candidacy. He was the unlikeliest candidate to provide the biggest challenge to Mr. Romney, and it’s clear rural and lower income voters admire and identify with him. I don’t think anybody predicted that Mr. Romney would win every single primary, but Mr. Santorum certainly won more primaries than almost anybody expected him to and outshined all the other contenders. However, while the primaries have likely made Mr. Romney a stronger candidate and forced him to become more focused, the primaries often resembled a clown circus and hindered our party’s image with the general public. The Republican Party cannot afford to further dampen our chances in November. Mr. Romney has already figured out that we cannot waste one more day in this primary process and has begun campaigning against the President instead of Mr. Santorum. The rest of the party needs to realize this too.

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Romney Sweeps WI, MD and D.C. Primaries…

Last night, former Governor of Massachusetts and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney emerged victorious in three primaries, cementing his status not only as the dominant front-runner but also as the likely nominee. He picked up 56 delegates from the primaries in Maryland and Washington D.C. (the latter of which he earned 70% of the vote), and 33 delegates from a very close primary in Wisconsin. Mr. Romney currently has an estimated 658 delegates, and is now officially past the halfway mark to the 1,144 needed to win the nomination. Despite winning a significant amount of counties in Wisconsin, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum can only expect to add an estimated 12 to 20 delegates to his total, which is currently estimated to be 281. The uphill battle for Mr. Santorum has only become more onerous and the likelihood of him besting Mr. Romney for the nomination is now borderline impossible, as he would need 72% of the remaining delegates to win.

 

In addition to the victories Mr. Romney obtained from the popular vote and delegates in Wisconsin, there were other encouraging signs from the statistics of the exit polls. Mr. Romney beat Mr. Santorum in almost all demographics including “very conservative” voters, “moderate” voters and strong supporters of the Tea Party. He also managed to come very close to winning the vote of working-class voters with an income between $30,000 to $50,000 and evangelical Christians. These are precisely the demographics he needed to begin to make inroads with, and Wisconsin was the perfect state to highlight those signs of improvement. However, the same dynamic repeated itself last night and Mr. Romney was clearly only able to win the state because of his massive support in the suburban areas of Milwaukee. He has to worry about whether these same rural voters who vote against him in the primaries will turn out for him in the general election. Otherwise, crucial swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania will end up going to President Obama in the fall.

 

In his speech last night, Mr. Santorum claimed he was at the “halfway mark” in the race and was going to provide an enormous comeback in the primaries next month. He may very well win a majority of the primaries in May as they are mostly taking place in states that are demonstrably more conservative than hose being held this month. However, last night indicated that this is clearly the beginning of the end for his campaign (though I would argue that actually began last month in Illinois), and it is long past half-time. He has virtually no time to come back in this race, and Mr. Santorum is in grave danger of even losing his own home state later this month. Quinnipiac’s latest poll in Pennsylvania only has him ahead of Mr. Romney by 5 points, and the same polling firm had him ahead of Mr. Romney by 14 points just three weeks earlier.

 

As I stated two days ago, four of the primaries taking place on the 24th (New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Delaware) are almost guaranteed to go to Mr. Romney. In fact, if Mr. Romney didn’t even set foot in any of these states to campaign in, he would probably still win by massive margins. New York in particular will provide him 95 delegates, and the total number of delegates he would win from Rhode Island, Connecticut and Delaware would be almost as much. Now that it’s looking to be close even in Mr. Santorum’s own home state of Pennsylvania, you can bet Mr. Romney will be executing his controversial (and mostly successful) strategy there of outspending his opponents by massive margins. It’s uncertain whether or not it will work since Mr. Santorum still carries a lot of support from his home state and the only area where Mr. Romney is favorable is the urban Southeast (Philadelphia). But even if Mr. Santorum wins Pennsylvania, it is unlikely to change the inevitable outcome of the race.

 

As always, I continue to cogitate why former Speaker Newt Gingrich is still in the race. He finished behind Texas Representative Ron Paul in Wisconsin and Washington D.C., the latter sitting just above the state he was born in (Virginia). He finished third in Maryland, but only beat Mr. Paul by one point. That’s probably because it was the only state he bothered to campaign in, just two days ago speaking to 150 people at a car dealership. There were reports that he secretly met with Mr. Romney a few weeks ago, and as a result, a number of speculations as to what they discussed permeated the political blogs and columns. Regardless of Mr. Gingrich’s refusal to drop out, it is safe to assume that he will not win any of the remaining primaries or caucuses. The only thing we can be certain of is that he will continue to rack up more debt and be subjected to further mockery.

 

It is also safe to assume that no matter how hard Mr. Santorum tries to deny it, the race is effectively over. I do not expect him to officially abjure his campaign until next month, as he still has a good shot of winning Pennsylvania in lass than three weeks. However, it will likely not be by the same margins Mr. Romney and Mr. Gingrich won their home states, Massachusetts and Georgia, respectively. The President himself tacitly implied that he too sees the race nearing its end when he excoriated Representative Paul Ryan’s latest budget proposal yesterday. The President quoted Mr. Romney saying he found the proposal to be “marvelous” and tied it to his vision for America should he get elected. Expect Mr. Romney to pivot to general campaign mode by continuing to ignore his opponents and launch a barrage of attacks against the President. Residents of Pennsylvania should also expect to see and hear a lot more from Mr. Romney over the next three weeks.

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