GOP Presidential Nomination

Actually, no…I don’t have to #FeelTheBern

Democratic candidates 2016

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the only person guy in the race that cared about cities until he dropped out…

Although it feels like it actually started on Inauguration Day 2013, the race for the 2016 Republican and Democratic Presidential nominations actually began last night with the Iowa Caucuses…or as I like to call it, Beginning Our 21st Century Electoral Process In A Place That Looks Like America Did In The 1700s.

For far too long, the Political Pundit Class has been abuzz with expectation about the Iowa Caucuses, who will win, who will lose, and what this means for the 2016 Presidential Race.

But you’re gonna have to forgive me if I’m already kinda fatigued with the whole process. While that’s been happening earlier and earlier as I experience presidential election years as your Mad (political) Scientist, I think that this year is some kind of record.

Why? Because when our political discourse devolves to the point that people are using terms better used to describe someone you might see on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,  count me out.

Let me explain.

By now, you’ve met all of the people who hope to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when Barack and Michelle Obama move out in 2017.

Until he lost the Iowa Caucuses last night, the Republican frontrunner was Donald Trump,a man who had managed to confound everything I ever learned in Political Science class by angering and offending almost everyone without dropping a point in the polls. He was beaten by Ted Cruz, a man who wishes he had that skill, thanks to Evangelical Christians.

(Am I the only one who finds it odd that the main group in this country that complains about ISIS and Muslim caliphates is the one group that wishes it could get away with creating a caliphate of it’s own?)

Marco Rubio, a guy who appears to have gone to the Sarah Palin School of Being A Public Official came in third, Dr. Ben Carson, who was the frontrunner at one time despite his propensity to compare everything (and I do mean everything) to slavery came in fourth, with former Hewlitt-Packard CEO (and Planned Parenthood video truther) Carly Fiorina, the Man With The Golden Mop, Gov. Chris Christie, and a whole bunch of guys that you’re not hearing a lot about including Rick Santorum, Sen. Rand Paul, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (who was supposed to be the frontrunner) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who makes too much sense to be considered for the nomination.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a man whose ad based on the Adele song “Hello” is easily the frontrunner for Worst Campaign Commercial Ever, dropped out last night. Paul joined him in the “No Longer Running” category earlier today.

Which brings us to the Democrats.

Anyone who thought that Hillary Clinton wasn’t going to make another run at the presidency after losing the Democratic nomination to Obama in 2008 needs to pass around whatever you’re smoking because it’s obviously the good stuff.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who was the only person talking about cities, dropped out of the race after falling to third in the Iowa Caucuses last night. What angers me most about that is how he was treated while he was in it….which was like a third eye. I get that in our current media landscape, paying attention to more than one or two things at a time is hard, but if folks would have tried it, the country may have benefitted.

Which brings me to the only person other than Clinton that the media seems to be paying attention to: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. He and Clinton were in a statistical dead heat in the Iowa caucuses, which Hillary won by the skin of her teeth and he currently leads in New Hampshire, another one of those states that determines America’s presidential candidates despite not looking at all like America does anymore.

Sanders, who has spent his entire time in the Senate as an Independent that caucuses with the Democrats, defines himself as a Socialist in a way that indicates that he knows what Socialism actually is. He’s filling basketball stadiums with people who are really taking to his message of breaking up banks, taxing the 1 percent, and providing a free college education and healthcare to everyone.

While I have some folks in my circle of friends that call Sanders’s ideas dangerous, I don’t agree necessarily. Free school for all might make it possible for me to get the last three classes I need for my masters. While I now have health insurance, something that diabetes made hard to get before the Affordable Care Act, single payer, Medicaid for All insurance could work.

But yet, I don’t #FeelTheBern, which has led to some really uncomfortable confrontations with friends of mine who do.

When I point out that much of what Sanders wants to do is going to be tough if not impossible because one or both house of Congress is going to remain in the hands of a Republican majority that’s come real close to committing treason a few times, I’m accused of an having an “irrational hatred” of their candidate.

When I ask about Sanders’s record when it comes to people of color or policies about things I find important like education or cities, I’m either told to “do your research”, something that I’d dare you to tell to a 85-year-old Super Voter, or and this is my favorite, to clarify my so-called “liberal bonafides” because I’m asking questions that make me look like a “shape shifter”.

No. I’m not kidding. I got called that by another Sanders supporter. That kinda did it for me. Like I said, when we’re using terms better suited to an episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s a problem.

Now I understand that people are passionate about whom they support politically. I get it. And I also know that because of how passionate you are, you kinda take it personally when someone doesn’t necessarily agree with you.

But as my late Mom always put it, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, something that Sanders supporters might want to take into consideration.

I read an article in The Atlantic a while back called “Here Comes The Berniebro”, which was a mostly flattering portrait of the young, mostly White men who are spending a lot of time on Social Media and in the streets to get you to #FeelTheBern.

While in most cases they’re harmless, some of them are, well, pushy.

In another article I read on the website “Jezebel” entitled, “Bernie Sanders’ Campaign is Concerned About the BernieBro” these guys have been going around harassing women who support Clinton and coming for the neck of anyone who questions their candidate, something I’ve experienced first hand.

To be fair, Sanders’s partisans aren’t the only ones doing this stuff. Ever talk to a Trump supporter? Whew! And I spent most of the 2008 Democratic Convention dodging Clinton’s rabid PUMAs (Party Unity My Ass for those of you who may have forgotten) and the vitriol they were bringing.

Like I said, I understand passion. But as someone who spends more than a little time in the Presidential Sausage Making Factory, a registered independent, and someone who reserves the right to demand an eloquent argument for your candidate if you’re trying to get me to support them, it’s time for those who have been resorting to name calling, browbeating, and other less than helpful means to try and push me, and others like me, into the Bernie Sanders Fire Pit to back off.

Otherwise, there may be a run on aloe vera as the Democratic primaries roll on…

Aloe vera, as you know, heals burns…

 

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The Chewbacca Defense

The Phillies probably could have used him tonight…

This is the first night of the Republican National Convention and I was a little hard pressed in terms of figuring out how to approach it from a Mad (political) Scientist perspective.

I thought briefly about starting this blog out with a picture of Hurricane Isaac but that would have been too obviously smart assed. You see, this convention started late because of the threat of Hurricane Isaac rolling through Tampa, Florida and taking several thousand Republicans with it.

It didn’t, of course. It instead decided to make the lives of New Orleans residents still smarting from the seven-year cleanup that is the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina more miserable by hitting that city instead. But instead of being glad that it missed Tampa and hoping that no one was hurt in NOLA, folks like former New Hampshire Gov.John Sununu criticized the media for pulling reporters like CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Soledad O’Brien away from the RNC and sending them to NOLA to cover the hurricane.

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh, who I’m convinced has jumped the shark using a jet ski these days, said that fears over Hurricane Isaac were due to a plot that President Barack Obama hatched as a means to get the Republicans to cancel their clambake.

Wow.

Then I thought about starting this blog with what I’d like to call the RNC Drinking Game. If you heard phrases like “American Exceptionalism”, “Take Back The Country”, “You Didn’t Build That” or any of the recent Republican watchwords, you’d take a drink.

But after hearing from many of my Facebook friends that participating in this game would lead to some serious cases of drunkenness, I decided against it. So I was stuck.

I sat through most of the speeches, including the ones delivered by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Rep. Artur Davis, Ann Romney, the wife of Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (who cracked me up when he said he had no problem with TEACHERS, he just didn’t like TEACHERS UNIONS) and I noticed one thing. They all kept talking about love, respect, and other things that were really kind of nice.

Only problem with that, one of my Facebook friends said, is that all of this talk of love and respect did nothing to address the economy, something that you need to address if you want to take the job of the current dude living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

It was during that discussion that someone who is becoming one of my favorite people, my friend Benet Wilson, solved my “how to write about the Republican National Convention” problem. Wilson, who is the go-to woman when it comes to aviation, tech, multimedia reporting, and a whole bunch of other stuff I know very little about, said that the GOP was using the Chewbacca Defense tonight.

Now what is the Chewbacca Defense you might ask? It is something that our friends from the television show “South Park” came up with. I didn’t know it because I hadn’t watched the show in a while. It’s a way to distract people to get what you want to done without alerting these people to the obfuscation until it’s too late.

Observe…

Now that didn’t make sense did it?

It wasn’t supposed to.

But it did make you laugh, which was the whole idea.

You keep people from understanding that what you’re hearing on television doesn’t make sense by obfuscating it with a whole lot of stuff that keeps you from getting around that conundrum. You hear people talking about love…and then realize that they don’t love unions or any of the other organizations that keep workers from being screwed over. You get a lot of people talking about the Buyer’s Remorse they feel because President Obama didn’t give them what they wanted…and you never ask the question “What about Congress?”

You hear Ann Romney talk about a “real marriage” and you hear the anti-Gay Marriage dog whistle, or at least that’s what my gay friends heard. And then just to end the evening, you hear about a Black, female CNN camerawoman who was insulted by someone at the convention who chose to throw peanuts at her and say that “this is how we feed the animals”.

To her credit, I think that Ann Romney did well in her speech. Her mission was to humanize her husband and I think that she did that, telling stories about their life together and how it wasn’t always possible to afford to put elevators for the cars in their beach home.

She kept talking about the high school dance where they first met, and how much he makes her laugh.

 In other words, she basically kept saying “Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor! That does not make sense!”

 (She also said that she wanted an America where we wouldn’t be jealous of someone’s success. I personally don’t think anyone’s jealous of Mitt’s success. However, when you leave the charred remains of several companies, the pensions of thousands of workers, and the dreams and aspirations of those workers in the dust that you trample on the way to your next triumph, it might make people want to give you the Pimp Hand. I’m just sayin’…)

But it’s going to take more than humanization. It’s going to take a plan that doesn’t balance the budget on the backs of the poor and middle class or create the kind jobs that make the dream of being able to spend more time with family for most single mothers, a dream that Ann Romney articulated during her speech, next to impossible.

You’re gonna have to do better than a Chewbacca defense in other words.

We still have two more days of speeches to hear, videos to see, and other RNC reverie.

Let’s see if we hear a good plan…or if the Chewbacca Defense rules the day…

In case you missed it, here’s Ann Romney’s speech…
   

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The "People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face" awards…

I think that this would make a good trophy, don’t you?

Because I know myself better than anyone, I decided a long time ago that I’d never buy myself a gun.

Why? Because my Jackass Tolerance has whittled down to nothing over the last 47 years and I may decide to bust a cap in a jackass when I come across one. Seeing that as a reporter I come across jackasses often, I’d probably be considered a serial killer if given a proper firearm.

But while being a reporter means that I come across jackasses often, the Torrent of Jackass has been more like a flood of late.

Between the battle over birth control, something that I thought we all had settled already, to Voter ID laws, to the very existence of Rick Santorum and the recent reminder that we all got that it’s still not safe to be a young Black man armed with a pack of Skittles in this country, I’m awash in jackasses.

But since I don’t have a gun, and for the reasons I’ve mentioned above it’s probably a good thing, the only course of action that I could see myself taking if I ran across any of the jackasses that have littered my path of late is to do what the gentleman pictured above, Muhammad Ali, was really, really good at.

In his heyday, Ali was probably one of the best at Punching People In The Face.

Now I understand that punching people in the face when you’re not in a boxing ring is illegal. And I also realize that many of the people who most deserve to be punched in the face for their actions of late have very large people that they pay for (or in the case of our elected officials, we pay for) to protect them from having folks like me walk up and, well, punch them in the face.

But if I knew that I could punch someone in the face, and not go to jail or get busted up for it, there’s a whole line of people that I’d love to take a swing at because of their special brand of red-hot ignorance… So it is in that vein that I would like to announce the inaugural People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face Awards.

Before we start, some caveats: First of all, the People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face Awards are not literal. I do not now, or will ever, encourage anyone to punch any of these people in the face. This is a metaphoric designation. Secondly, this is non-partisan. There are going to be people of all political stripes deserving of a (metaphoric) punch in the face as this goes on.

And thirdly, I don’t think that I should be the only one having fun with this. If you know someone who deserves a People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face designation, let me know. The Mad (political) Scientist Facebook Page will be up and running soon, so you can put your recommendations either here, on the blog, or on that page.

So now, without further ado, here is the first group of People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face Awards….


Because I believe that charity begins at home, the first of this week’s People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face is Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.

In all honesty, I didn’t know whether to nominate Gov. Corbett for his championing and signing the voter ID law that I talked about in a previous posting or for cutting education funding to the bone while allowing the Marcellus Shale drillers to make our water undrinkable for practically nothing.

But at a news conference in which he talked about how happy he was to sign a voter ID law that was totally unnecessary, Gov. Corbett was asked about yet another one of those Really Bad Ideas That Will Probably Become Law In Pennsylvania, a trans-vaginal ultrasound law.

Under this law, which has been passed in other connotations in places like Virginia, women would be forced to submit to an ultrasound featuring an internal probe before having an abortion. This is on top of the 24-hour waiting period that women are already forced to go through in Pennsylvania to obtain an abortion. His response made me say…”Wow! He should be Punched In The Face!

I sometimes wonder if the guys who come up with these laws have kids…and if so, if any of these kids are female. If you’re a dude who has female children and you can come up with some nonsense like this, I have to question how you can look these female children in the face without at least apologizing to them.

But then again, some of the most heinous of these laws that seek to take away reproductive choice have, believe it or not, been proposed by women. So what do I know?

The next recipient of a People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face Award is another person taking on the same topic: the reproductive freedom of the women in his state.

This entry comes from Georgia and it’s from the fevered mind of Rep. Terry England. Rep. England has proposed a bill that would make women who have been informed that their child will be stillborn carry the fetus to term and deliver it naturally instead of being allowed the more humane choice of having it removed.

Now we could talk about how doing that would lead to the mother possibly dying because carrying a dead body inside of you for any length of time has to be harmful. But in the mind of this Person Who Really Needs To Be Punched In The Face, it should be okay.

I mean, livestock do it all of the time…

So let’s review: Women with stillborn children should be forced to carry those children to term because hey, chickens and cows do it…so why can’t they?

As Forrest Gump would say, “Stupid is as stupid does…”

But as Your Mad (political) Scientist Says, somebody needs to be Punched In The Face…


Last but not least, my last People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face Award “winner” is another one of those examples of why you don’t have to worry about Your Mad (political) Scientist moving anywhere below the Mason/Dixon Line.

You see, while Pennsylvania has passed some really stupid laws based on some really bad ideas, most of those really, really bad ideas have come from the American South. Among those laws is a law that allows folks to, well, be able to shoot first and ask questions never if they feel threatened by someone. Notice I say “feel threatened”. This person doesn’t actually have to do anything to you.

And it is a manifestation of what happened when one of these laws was followed in Florida that leads to my making George Zimmerman and the Sanford, Fla. Police Department the last of my  People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face.

You probably know the story now. On Feb. 24, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin walked to a convenience store in Sanford to get a pack of Skittles for his little brother and an iced tea for himself. As he walked down the street with his hoodie over his head, town watch person George Zimmerman observed Trayvon as he was “walking around, looking about”.

By the end of the night, Trayvon was dead by the hand of Zimmerman, who had been the subject of a complaint from other residents regarding his Town Watch approach. He had called Sanford police when he first saw Trayvon…and the police told him not to get out of the car. But Zimmerman not only followed Trayvon around, but he got out of the car, fought with him, and later shot him.

Just in case you want to hear the 9-1-1 tapes connected to this incident, here they are:

My favorite part of the whole thing: when Zimmerman says “The assholes always get away…”

Now you have stalking. You have a guy shooting an unarmed kid. You have a guy disobeying a direct order from police. So tell me again why Zimmerman isn’t occupying a cell in Administrative Detention (where they put inmates that would get beaten to death in General Population) in Sanford?

Because the Sanford Police don’t think that Zimmerman has done anything wrong. They say that he’s a good guy and that this is a clean shoot.

Shenanigans! Shenanigans, big time!

Now I understand that Zimmerman has moved from his home and isn’t taking calls because people are threatening him behind Trayvon’s death. While I don’t think that’s cool, I also don’t think it’s cool that he’s walking around after shooting a 17-year-old armed with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea.

Notice that I haven’t even brought up the whole White Man/Black Kid thing…

But it’s kind of the reason why I hope the Department of Justice takes a look at this. It’s obvious to me that if we’re waiting for the Sanford Police to do something, we’re gonna have a long wait. Maybe the Justice Department will move a little faster. Or at all. That seems like the only way that the Martin family will get justice…

And that, ladies and gentlemen, ends this week’s People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face Awards.

Hope that you had as much fun as I did picking the winners! Remember: you can leave your own nominations on the blog here or on our Facebook page once it’s up and running. Thank you and Goodnight!

He’s got 99 Problems…oh, and he’s got that one, too…

Rush Limbaugh, and the Wrong Chick

If you’re having girl problems, I feel bad for you son..I’ve got 99 Problems, but a bitch ain’t one…

While I know that my liking this particular record might get me in trouble with my friends in the Feminist Tribe, I thought of this particular part of Jay-Z’s catalogue when the people in the picture above, radio host Rush Limbaugh and Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke, became part of the same universe.

For those of you who don’t know, there was a hearing a couple of weeks ago chaired by Republican Congressman Darrell Issa on the contraceptive coverage part of President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform plan. The idea behind the hearing was to give a whole bunch of religious leaders and other men a forum to complain, vehemently, about the fact that all employers, including those at religious institutions, would be made to provide contraceptive coverage to women as part of their health insurance.

(The fact that President Obama later decided to make the insurance companies themselves pay for the contraceptive coverage to assuage the religious leaders, who still want to cover such drugs as Viagra and Cialis by the way, wasn’t enough for them. It’s about controlling women’s choices. Anyone who tells you different is, well, full of crap.)

But anyway, I bring up this Jay-Z hit because I’m almost sure that at one time or another, Limbaugh has said the line that I started this piece with…or at least thought it. He may have had problems with angry people of color who didn’t like his latest racist screed, or with “feminazis” who pissed him off because they had the nerve to think that the stuff that came out of his Viagra poaching, OxyContin taking, misogynistic mail order bride catalogue owning mouth was beyond the pale, but as long as he had the fear of the Republican Party and a list of sponsors that included AOL, Allstate Insurance, and Netflix and other high-profile names, he wasn’t really worried.

Unlike his fellow shock jockers Don Imus, and Laura Schlessinger, Limbaugh appeared to have an Air of Invincibility. Like I said, because of his popularity with the Raving Right Wing, the Republican Party and his big ticket sponsors, he felt he could say anything…and often did. His forcefield was a reliable one that helped him survive any assault.

But I always knew that Limbaugh would go too far. While in my opinion he passed “too far” at least 10 years ago, I knew that when he finally hit it, he’d hit it big.

Observe…

When you’re calling a Georgetown University law student a slut and a prostitute because she dared speak out on behalf of a friend of hers who lost an ovary due to the birth control she couldn’t get as part of her university health care plan and couldn’t afford because of costs, you’ve officially gone too far.

Because of this, Sandra Fluke became the woman who pierced Rush Limbaugh’s Air of Invincibility.

And while the Republican Party is still too scared of Limbaugh to denounce him, (listening to the GOP Presidential candidates dance through the minefield Rushbo put them in was particularly hilarious)  individual Republicans like George Will are calling him on his nonsense and the firewall of sponsors he had is crumbling like a piece of day-old bread. As of this writing, 21 sponsors including AOL, Netflix and Allstate, have deserted Limbaugh like rats from a sinking ship. This tends to happen when the people that represent your profits start telling you that they’re not gonna pay your freight anymore.

(Personally, I knew that when Fluke ended up on The View, Limbaugh was done…)

While the sponsor desertions started slowly, they soon went from a trickle to a flood, despite what many have called the most non-apology apology ever uttered. Here it is…
 
For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. 



I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.


I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?


In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level. My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.


Insulting word choices? You call me a slut and a prostitute for three or four days straight to a radio listening audience that numbers in the millions, say that I should have to post my sexual activity to YouTube, and basically make shit up about me, and the best you can do is a self-serving apology that compares my reproductive health to a new pair of running shoes?! Really?!

Ms. Fluke is probably too classy to respond to Limbaugh in the way he deserves…so I’ll respond on her behalf because while I’m classy, I’m not Georgetown University Law School classy.

My response is to invite him to perform an anatomically impossible act…or to put it more succinctly, go fuck himself.

(Seeing that he’s into Viagra, that probably shouldn’t be that difficult….)

Now once upon a time, there’s no way that this apology would have been made in the first place. And if it was made, it would have been enough to satisfy the sponsors that have now left.

But that’s because Rush Limbaugh was usually picking on someone like a Hillary Clinton, or a Michelle Obama, someone that was at least as big as he was…or at least as public. With the possible exception of when he came at a 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton, Limbaugh has usually emerged unscathed from the outrage he produces.

Not this time buddy…and it’s about time.

Now I know that the Republicans who read my blog are going to start squealing about how Limbaugh is being unfairly persecuted, how the sponsors that have now left him should be boycotted, and how this all represents trying to abridge his free speech.

To that I call “Shenanigans!”

While the First Amendment guarantees that you have the freedom to say whatever you want, there’s nothing in the Constitution that says that anyone has to pay for your fruit stand in the Marketplace of Ideas. If you’re saying something that someone finds ignorant, abusive, or otherwise useless, they have every right to take their money and use it elsewhere.

Like I said, Rush Limbaugh has gone a long time without ever having to seriously face the consequences of the words coming out of his mouth.

But now he’s got 99 problems…

Take that, bitch!

Jay-Z, take us home…

Are you smarter than a Pennsylvanian?

Former PA Senator Rick Santorum…notice I said “former”

Because he’s probably the only photographer I’ve ever worked with that is as big a wiseacre as I am, one of my former colleagues at the Bucks County Courier Times, Harry Sircely, took a picture of me interviewing former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, the dude who is currently the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

I was covering a National Day of Prayer event in Bucks County at the time. Once a year, the folks who organize the annual Day of Prayer take this time to mix politics and religion in a blatant way instead of the more stealth way that it’s usually done. So naturally, Rick Santorum, a man who believes that this blatant mixing should be done more than once a year, would be a good guest speaker at one of these.

After sitting through a breakfast that for me consisted of a danish, a couple of slices of bacon (eggs from a carton and I don’t get along), a glass of cranberry juice and lots of coffee and listening to Santorum’s speech, I went to interview him. I guess that I must have asked a question that he didn’t like because the picture that Harry shot of Santorum and I is one of him looking like he wanted to punch me…something that I was kind of proud of, by the way.

Now I bring this up for two reasons: one, because it is yet another one of those Reasons I Refuse To Ever Return To A Newsroom On Purpose. I say this because there were times at the Courier Times that I felt like I was being hazed. Why? Because I felt like folks were sending me to places like the National Day of Prayer and the Christian Coalition Rally at the 2000 Republican National Convention as a test. I felt like the editors were saying “Hey, let’s send Denise to this and watch what happens!”

And secondly, I bring this up because the GOP is coming real close to putting Rick Santorum up as its nominee for President of the United States for 2012. He’s leading former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 10 percentage points in nationwide polls and is riding some momentum due to recent caucus wins and strong showings in GOP primaries.

As someone who is insane enough to follow politics, this says to me that any moderates remaining in the Republican Party are basically being told to “pound sand”! If you’ve noticed, all of the folks vying for the GOP nomination, even Romney who was at one time moderate enough to be elected governor of Massachusetts, is going so far to the right that they soon will be unable to make left turns. While this rightward turn may make someone like Romney a little more trustworthy to the hardcore true believers who will actually decide who gets to go against President Barack Obama in November, it may also make it harder to trend toward the center and attract independents when it’s time for voters to hit the polls.

But as a Pennsylvanian, the fact that Rick Santorum is having so strong a showing in the GOP primaries makes me say “Are y’all friggin’ nuts?!”

You see, having lived in Pennsylvania since 1996, I’ve found that the state that I call home can make my head spin so hard that I feel like Linda Blair in The Exorcist…or Nicki Minaj on Grammy night…whichever frame of reference works for you.

I truly believe that when Democratic political strategist James Carville described Pennsylvania by saying “There’s Philadelphia, there’s Pittsburgh, and the rest is Alabama”, he was being kind. I lived in the state’s Alabama section, so I’ve experienced this firsthand. Throughout that time, Santorum was our Senator, and while our other senator at the time, Arlen Spector, was known for being an effective statesman, Santorum was known for only two things: opposing abortion and pissing off gays and lesbians.

Because it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is to defeat an incumbent in Pennsylvania, Santorum kept getting elected. People complained vehemently about him, but he brought Alabama (and Dauphin County, which is where Pittsburgh is located) to the polls. He was from that area and folks tend to support their homeboys in the Keystone State.

However in 2006, the Democrats here in Pennsylvania got kinda smart. They brought Bob Casey Jr. in to run against Santorum, something that basically amounted to a name change. Casey is the son of former Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey, of “Planned Parenthood v. Casey” fame. (Google it.) A lot of pro-choice women in Pennsylvania were put between a rock and a hard place because no matter who won this election, they lost. It basically amounted to changing the seat from a hardcore, anti-choice Catholic Republican to a hardcore, anti-choice Catholic Democrat. Casey won…but women lost.

But the election did what it was supposed to, which was to get Rick Santorum out of office. Unfortunately, we’ve sicced him on the rest of you.

And here’s what that has meant so far…

He started out campaign season by telling folks in Iowa in a pretty matter-of-fact way “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them someone else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money…”

Now there’s a couple of things wrong with that statement: one, statistics show that there are more white folks on welfare than anyone else and two, the statistics I just mentioned mean that it’s not just black folks that aren’t working out there, it’s everybody.

However, Santorum didn’t stop there because that would be too much like right.

After offending African Americans, he decided to piss women off.

As part of that chunk of the GOP that refuses to recognize that the whole “keep ’em barefoot and pregnant” philosophy won’t work in the Age of Facebook, Santorum has become a general in the Fight Against Contraception. Because Health Care Reform requires religious-based employers who hire folks outside the faith to cover birth control for their female employees, Santorum joined a bunch of Catholic bishops in saying that this is a abridgment of religious freedom.

When President Obama compromised and told these institutions that the insurance companies themselves would provide the contraception and they didn’t have to, it still wasn’t enough for Santorum, who believes that contraception is a product of “radical feminism” and has “ruined the family and society.”

Heck, one of his surrogates said basically that women should go back to a more old fashioned brand of birth control…a Bayer aspirin between your knees.

(Oh, yeah! That worked…)

And don’t even get me started on his views regarding pre-natal testing (he thinks it’ll lead to more abortions…really…I’m not kiddin’…) and public schools (they shouldn’t exist…)

He’s also not really big on women in the military…or women in the workforce…or women doing anything other than bearing children and having dinner on the table when the man comes home from work…

(If he’s got a job, that is..)

But while he’s got problems with people of color and with women demanding their right to be something other than pregnant, Santorum saves his special ire for members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trangendered and Questioning community.

One of the reasons why Pennsylvanians finally showed Santorum the door is because his views regarding gay and lesbian issues were such that the entire state was being made a laughing stock because of them…that and the fact that gays and lesbians live in “Alabama” too…

In the World According to Rick Santorum, allowing gays and lesbians to marry will lead to allowing people to enter the bounds of holy matrimony with everything from their cousins to their family pet, which is why he’s since proposed abolishing the entire Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals because it struck down California’s Proposition 8 as unconstitutional.

Now when you want to get rid of an entire court of appeals over one issue, you’re kinda hardcore.

(Do I have to say the whole “How seriously should I take any ritual that can be performed legally by an Elvis Impersonator and that Michael Jackson was allowed to enter into twice” thing? No. Good.)

Now all I’ve given you is the highlights.

But I don’t think that I’ve explained to you why that picture of me and former Sen. Santorum features him looking at me like he wanted to knock me out.

One thing that I’ve always enjoyed about being a reporter is the fact that I have a constitutionally protected right to ask questions….even if those questions piss you off. If you don’t wanna answer them, fine. If you don’t like that I’ve challenged you, okay. But I have that right.

I exercised it with Santorum….and I think that I remember the question I asked. It was “If abortion is made illegal and women are made to have more kids, are you going to advocate that more money be added to the government’s allocation to public schools and for other assistance for these kids?”

Most of the time, asking conservatives a question like that, especially a conservative that counts among his legislative achievements so-called welfare reform, will make them look at you like they want to punch you in the mouth. But to me, it’s a legitimate question, especially since I know that you will greet these mothers and these children with a special brand of contempt if they’re hungry, homeless, or worse yet, ill.

To be honest, I get why Rick Santorum is doing what he’s doing and saying what he’s saying. He’s found an audience. He’s got a group of people in the hard right wing of the Republican Party that will not only listen to what he’s saying, but will slurp it up like a kitten drinks milk.

But if he’s the Republican nominee, the question is gonna be “Are you smarter than a Pennsylvanian?”

For years, Pennsylvanians allowed Santorum to represent them, but after a while, we grew tired of his schtick. It wasn’t doing anything for us. It wasn’t bringing us anything but ridicule. We decided we had enough.

While his schtick nationally might make social conservatives dance in the aisles because they might be one step closer to putting women back in their “place”, might be able to get rid of that “Black Muslim Terrorist” currently occupying the White House and will be able to put all of those gays and lesbians brave enough to serve their country back into the closet, Santorum hasn’t talked much about the one thing that everyone in America needs right now: a job.

Are you smarter than a Pennsylvanian?

We may find out come November.