Debate Night 2012

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Tonight is the first Presidential debate between President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney. For a politics nerd like myself this is like the first round of the playoffs leading up to the superbowl, election day. Here are a few things I think both sides should do in the debate tonight in order to win over more voters.

Former Governor Romney

Be easy on the zingers

Reports are that Mitt Romney is practicing several zingers for the debate tomorrow. I am concerned. Let’s be honest. You need a certain level of coolness to really make a zing work and Romney just does not have it. It is going to be corny mark my word. He does need the zingers because those are the lines that people remember and discuss the next day at the water cooler. That is what Romney needs, he needs a positive comment replayed by the “liberal” media as he calls it. He needs to win here so treed lightly governor.

We need details sir!

The biggest substantive critique of Romney right now is he has failed to give us details on his plans specifically his tax plan. Specific details rather than what he claims the overall impact will be of his tax plan! When these issues come up Romney needs to balance attacking what Obama has done with a sprinkling of blanket statements but a large amount of details! That is what we are all waiting for even the Republicans are waiting on details.

Be genuine

Romney needs to appear that he genuinely cares and lets be honest that is nearly impossible for him. The democrats have played up this out of touch rich white man from the beginning and the recent leak of the “47% video” fell right into that only difference was that the elitism came from his mouth not the democrats! So how does he do that? Well what he should not do is be too empathetic it will come of as fake. I have heard that there are some great anecdotes that highlight a softer Romney that he refuses to use because he did not do these things to win an election they were just out of the kindness of his heart. Well Romney you are losing, it is time to bust those stories out and the debate is a great time for it.

Women, minorities and the poor

Romney is polling extremely low among women, Hispanics and African Americans and it does not seem like he cares. I do not think Romney can win the general election with only older white men voting for him. He is going to need to pull from another demographic. I will be surprised if Romney makes it through all of the debates without a question regarding women’s health issues ranging from abortion to birth control. Romney needs to find some balance between the male conservative, who has an odd need to control the reproductive organs of women, with the rights and desires of women to have their own autonomy when dealing with their bodies! He also needs to find a more attractive stance on immigration, which is another question that will be brought up in one of these debates. Advocating for self-deportation is not going to garner him any Hispanic votes. Although he needs to find a better solution here, I don’t see him doing it because the opposing side to this debate falls squarely among his supporters. He’s probably not going to win a majority of these groups over but a few percentage points would not hurt.

President Obama

Be cool you are winning!

Now is not the time for a Romney level debate gaffe, like the “wanna bet $10,000” comment made during the Republican primary debate. Obama needs to be cool as a cucumber and well thought out in his answers. Republicans are praying for a slip up because it could be a huge momentum changer in this race and that is exactly what Romney needs. Cool is what Obama does best so I am not too concerned. I will be surprised if there is an Obama gaffe in the debate, now Biden on the other hand that is a different story.

Add some zingers!

Leaders of Obama’s campaign have made it seem like zingers are beneath him. They’ve indicated that he will be highlighting the issues and speaking directly to the American people without the applause lines. Honestly I hope this was just bluffing because zingers are what make Presidential debates fun and there is so much material with Romney! An attack on “Obamacare” a zinger about “Romneycare” would fit right in. A line about his flip flopping would also be good! I hope Obama goes for it.

Don’t be to professorial

President Obama is a smart man. He actually was a professor at one of the top law schools in America. I think this is a strength and a negative all in one. He knows the issues well and can break them down but maybe not plain enough for all the American people. So I hope Obama takes a page from Bill Clinton’s book and just makes it plain to the American people. Speak directly about issues that they understand impact them. I think he can do this.

This should be a fun debate to watch!

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Toure’s post seems to answer the questions I raised. What do you tell your child and how do you prepare them for this? These are great suggestions but still, it’s sad that I even have to prepare my potential son for how the world will treat him.

Ideas

1. It’s unlikely but possible that you could get killed today. Or any day. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. Black maleness is a potentially fatal condition. I tell you that not to scare you but because knowing that could save your life. There are people who will look at you and see a villain or a criminal or something fearsome. It’s possible they may act on their prejudice and insecurity. Being black could turn an ordinary situation into a life-or-death moment even if you’re doing nothing wrong.

2. If you encounter such a situation, you need to play it cool. Keep your wits about you. Don’t worry about winning the situation. Your mission is to survive.

3. There is nothing wrong with you. You’re amazing. I love you. When I look at you, I see a complex human being with awesome potential, but some others will look at you…

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Raising African American Males in America: The Trayvon Martin Case

The Travyon Martin case has truly shaken me to my core.  As an African American woman I think about the potential of bringing African American males into this world and the problems they may face simply because of their race and their gender.  I can tell my hypothetical son to pull up his pants, be polite, follow all rules and laws, and be respectful to authority figures especially cops. I can even provide the best education that money can buy perhaps even an Ivy League education and yet someone will still look at my hypothetical son as a potential criminal or a threat.  Simply walking down the street with a hoodie on a rainy night in his neighborhood could raise suspicions.

After reading this case the thought crossed my mind of how do you prepare your child to go out into a world that has already judged them before even knowing his name?  I come from a law enforcement family and never feared law enforcement like many of my African American peers but I was still taught the realities that African Americans face during interactions with law enforcement.  The ironic thing is despite instilling African American males with morals and encouraging them to respect the laws of the land you have to tell them that despite following the law they still may be questioned as if they are a common criminal. That seems to put young black men in an awkward place that regardless of their efforts to live a virtuous life they may be treated the same as a criminal by the police and even self appointed neighborhood watch captains.

I look at the Martin case and say based on the facts that we know what could Trayvon have done differently?  How could his parents have prepared him for this type of situation, a young black male walking alone with a hoodie in a gated community?  I am at a loss.  In a statement the Sanford police chief stated that George Zimmerman, the man who murdered Trayvon, wished he could change his actions that night and he Trayvon probably would as well. I disagree. Trayvon was walking to the store to pick up a drink for himself and a pack of Skittles for his brother.  He was walking in the neighborhood that housed the home he was visiting.  He like Zimmerman had every right to be there.  Zimmerman admits that he was following Trayvon and also stated Trayvon was looking at him.  Is that not what Trayvon would have been taught by his parents? Always be aware of your surroundings are things my parents told me.  From there Zimmerman states that Trayvon began to run.  Toddlers are taught to run away from danger.  I would imagine that Trayvon thought a man staring at him from a vehicle was a potential threat to him.   Trayvon’s family likely told him how to handle interactions with police officers but it is important to remember that Zimmerman is not a cop and Martin’s response to him should not be judged as if Zimmerman was.

Then we know that an altercation ensued between Trayvon and George Zimmerman.  In a statement from his father, Zimmerman claims that he did not follow Trayvon or approach him but from the 911 tape it is clear that the initial interaction between Zimmerman and Martin was initiated by Zimmerman because HE got out of his car and followed Trayvon Martin.   Think back to what your parents told you to do in these types of situations.  A strange man who is significantly larger and older than you approaches you.  Zimmerman may have asked questions or he may have jumped to trying to physically apprehend Martin because it is clear that he thought he was a cop.  First it was instilled in me to not speak to strangers, or answer questions. In addition my parents told me to scream for help, and finally if all else fails you fight off the stranger.  That is what the evidence, particularly the 911 tapes, tells me that Trayvon did.  Trayvon did exactly what his parents likely told him to do; yet he is no longer here.

So again I say how do we prepare our young black males for the scrutiny that they ultimately will face?  They can approach a situation with all the things their parents taught them and still be murdered and the justice system is unable to pursue charges.  I honestly do not know the answer and that is truly what scares me.   So many young black men could easily be Trayvon Martin.  In addition to charges being brought against George Zimmerman, I hope that this case brings racial profiling to the forefront again, encourages changes in Florida’s self defense laws and even potentially regulations for neighborhood watch vigilantes.

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Previous Post

Great legal breakdown of the self defense laws that George Zimmerman is trying to use. Without a doubt Zimmerman, an armed self-appointed neighborhood watch capitan, was the aggressor. Stepping out of his vehicle and approaching Martin made him the aggressor! As the article states any action taken by Martin are self defense.

In America

Editor’s note: Carolyn Edgar is a lawyer and writer in New York City. She writes about social issues, parenting and relationships on her blog, Carolyn Edgar.  You can follow her on Twitter @carolynedgar.

By Carolyn Edgar, Special to CNN

(CNN) — Imagine the following scenario:

You are a 17-year-old boy in Sanford, Florida. You are visiting your father and his fiancée at your soon-to-be stepmother’s home in a gated community. You decide to make a late-night candy run to your local 7-Eleven. It’s nighttime and drizzling, so you are wearing a hooded sweatshirt. At the store, you buy a package of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea, then head back home.

As you are walking home, you notice a man in an SUV following you. The man gets out of the car. He’s a big guy who outweighs you by 100 pounds. He doesn’t identify himself as…

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Researching my Family History this Black History Month

As I have said in many of my previous posts I love History! One of first adventures with History was researching my own family tree beginning when I was about fourteen.  Working with my mother we started the process that I would later pick up about ten years later.  As an African American the information out there is limited but there is still a lot of information that is worth discovering.  For about the last two years I have researched primarily using ancestry.com my family history off and on.  I picked up my research again this month, ironically black history month.  The experience has hands down been my favorite research project.

My favorite genealogy moment was finding out that my great great great great  grandfather, a farmer, lived in Boone County, Missouri, the same county that is home to my alma mater University of Missouri.  Before I found a census record with his name John Barnes, I was unaware that my family lived in Boone County in the 1800s.  It was such a wow moment for me! Although I was born in Kansas City, I grew up in Houston but for some reason I decided to venture back to Missouri to attend college and stayed for law school.  It was like coming full circle for me!  Mizzou was founded in 1839 and my 4x grandfather was born in 1849.  I wondered if he was aware of the nearby college that young white students were matriculating to every year.   Was it even fathomable to him that some day blacks would be able to attend this institution?  Could my 4x grandfather even imagine that he would have two 4x great grandchildren graduate from this institution about 150 years after he was born?  I walked across a stage in a county where my ancestors were farmers and marginalized.  That honestly made my degrees from the University of Missouri mean even more to me.

This is a picture of my great grandfather Homer with his father Willie Sims.  Before this picture Homer had not seen his father since he was seven years old and believed that he was deceased.  Finding anything else on Willie Sims including his parents names has been difficult and one of my biggest frustrations in my research.  Researching your family history is a rewarding and a frustrating experience at the same time but I will say that it is totally worth it! Here are a few tips that I learned over the years.  I do not consider myself an expert in genealogy but I have found quite a bit so far.

1.  People did not use their “government names”

You are going to find varying spellings of your ancestor’s names.  Do not discount a record because the name is a little different, or a nickname. For example my grandmother told me that she had an Aunt Gussie and Uncle Babe.  I found a census record with those exact names, so I thought wow they really named this man Babe! Well then I found another census record that matched up with birthdates but the name was Isaiah.  Another example is my great grandfather.  His name was likely James Monroe Harrison but I constantly see the name flipped as Monroe James.  It could be that everyone called him by his middle name. The changing names makes for very frustrating researching, but the birth dates or years helps cut down the confusion.

My great grandfather listed here as Monroe Harrison but often referenced as James Monroe Harrison.  I am starting to think Monroe may have been his middle name but what everyone called him.

2. Can’t find birth certificates? Don’t worry go for death certificates!

Death certificates are actually better because they give more information than a birth certificate.  The state of Missouri has death certificates from all counties from about 1900-1961 online for FREE!  I found death certificates for a lot of my ancestors and they included not only their birth date but also their date of death, their spouses’ name, their parents’ name, the state their parents’ were born in, and what their occupation was.  It will also tell you how they died.  From a death certificate I confirmed a rumor that a great great grandfather died from syphilis! This is one document that if filled out in it’s entirety is a great source of information!

This is what I believe is my 4x great grandfather’s death certificate. Notice the different spelling of his name.  Here it is listed as Jno but other records including census records list his name as John Barnes. His date of birth and place of birth also indicates that he was born into slavery.

3. Remember important dates!

1890- In 1890 there was a census but unfortunately a fire ruined it about a hundred years ago.  I was SO mad when I found this out!  I think it may have held the information about my one elusive ancestor.

When slavery ended- Understand that there really is not one date for this and it really varies depending on the state.   I have kind of used the date of the 13th amendment, 1865, a few years after the emancipation proclamation was signed. This is benchmark date because before then you likely will not find you ancestors in census records.

-The Great Migration around 1910-1930 – This was the point where African Americans began to migrate north for better opportunities.  During this time frame I found my family moved from Southern states like Tennessee and Mississippi to Missouri.  This may be the time frame that you will find your ancestors moving as well so keep that in mind.

4. Don’t forget siblings!

At first I was only researching direct lineage and was not bothering with my ancestors’ siblings.  One day I got bored and started adding siblings and I discovered even more information just from them.  More importantly this will give you more sources for your direct ancestors.  For example my great great grandfather’s sister’s death certificate gave me an alternate name for their father, which was helpful with my research.

5. Realize that some information will be wrong and be open to conflicting information.

The main thing I find that is often wrong is birth dates.  I assume that many of them may not have really known their birth date.  Oral history is also helpful but can be wrong as well.  Be open to information that conflicts with what you heard from grandparents and others. Even more frustrating are official government documents that are completely wrong. Early on my in research I found my great great grandmother Gertrude’s death certificate which listed her mother’s name as Gertrude as well but no maiden name.  I was never able to find other supporting documents that her name was Gertrude but I went with it for about two years.  Just recently I finally found a census record that proved Gertrude’s mother’s name was in fact Cora and her death certificate was wrong.  I initially did not trust what my research uncovered particularly since my initial source was a death certificate but things seemed to fit with Cora better.  I was never able to find anything about Gertrude Sr. that fit other details I knew.  Once I switched to Cora I found a lot more information.

It is so easy for these things to happen!  Many African Americans could not read or write and had to depend solely on the staff at these government offices when filling out these documents.  That opens the door for plenty of room for error.   Then I cannot help but to question how their race played into how seriously their death certificates were taken by workers at these offices.   Then there is just plan human error on the part of the informants.   If they did not really know they may have guessed just to put something down.  Whatever the reason is you will find errors but you will have to use logic and other clues to find the real answer.

6. Keep your tree open!

If you decide to use ancestry.com to compile your research (I do recommend it) make sure that your tree is visible to others on the site.  Ancestry.com will not allow the public to see living people on your tree for privacy reasons..  This is a great way to find long lost living relatives as well as a source for more information for your tree.  Not long after I joined Ancestry.com I found one of my mother’s first cousin who she’d never met.  It was great to connect and share information.

Good luck researching! Let me know if you find anything interesting!

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My Childhood Idol

Long before I ever wanted to be an attorney, I wanted to be a singer just like Whitney Houston. As an 80’s baby I idolized her! I wanted to be classy like her, as beautiful as her, and most importantly I wanted to SANG like her.  Yes there is a difference between singing and SANGING and Whitney Houston is the epitome of someone who could SANG!  Her voice was so flawless to me, as a child she was what Beyonce is today for so many young people.  Eventually I came to the sad realization that God did not bless me with a unique beautiful voice like Whitney Houston but her music will always hold a special place in my heart.  When I was little I remember fast forwarding (throwback!) to the end of the Bodyguard to sing along to “I Will Always Love You”.  I called my grandmother so she could listen to me sing like Whitney Houston.  I was probably about five or six and oddly enough I thought I could really hit those notes!

Some called her voice a national treasure after great performances like the National Anthem.  I have to agree.   Her voice is a rarity, a once in a lifetime kind of voice.  So many of her songs are the soundtrack to my childhood, and I am so glad that she shared that voice with us for so many years.  Now that she gone, many are speculating on the how and the why and focusing on her demons. I choose to focus on the great music that she left behind for us to enjoy forever.   Rest well Whitney Houston!

Here are a few of my favorite Whitney Houston songs

1. I Will Always Love You- cliché to some but that was my song when I was little!

2. I Believe In You and Me- this was my favorite song from the Preacher’s Wife soundtrack.

3. I Love the Lord- Whenever she went back to her gospel roots it was always good!

4. Count on Me (with CeCe Winans)-  Really no reason other than it’s just a great song by two great artists.

5. I learned from the Best- mainly because of that long note she hits at the end.

6. I Have Nothing- a classic Whitney Houston song. I loved it as a child and still do!

7. When You Believe (with Mariah Carey)- when you combine those two powerhouses, the song is destined for greatness!

8. Who Would Imagine a King- this song was during one of my favorite parts of The Preacher’s Wife

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My take on Red Tails

 

A few weekends ago I traveled to the movie theaters to see Red Tails!  I will admit from the beginning I was not excited about going to see this movie because I do not like war movies at all. Then after George Lucas’ made his comments about the importance of supporting this movie due to Hollywood’s perception of black movies I thought ah dang I guess I will go see it.  Not to mention I am critical of the current popular black cinema, therefore I felt like I had to support this movie. Overall it was a good movie.  Here are a few things that struck me about Red Tails and the conversation surrounding it.

 

1. Corny but decent

That is how I would sum this movie up.  If you are expecting an Oscar level movie then please look elsewhere.  This movie is honestly a step up from a Disney movie but I think that broadens its appeal.  A relatively young child could see the movie and follow along for the most part.  The music reminds me of music from a GI Joe cartoon, a lot of the acting was subpar and it wasn’t the best script but despite all of these negatives I still enjoyed the movie!  The overall story of how the Tuskegee Airman triumphed even when their own superiors doubted them is what makes this movie good.

 

2. The Acting

Some of the acting was really bad but others stood out to me.   Other than Terrance Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. the actors in the movie are virtual unknowns.  That was an aspect that I liked, seeing so many black actors have a shot in a big screen movie.  Supporters of Tyler Perry always say he gives many black actors work but ironically I’ve never seen any of the actors in this movie in Tyler Perry movies.   I enjoyed the performances by Nate Parker (Easy) and Tristan Wilds (Junior) the most.  I look forward to seeing them in more movies. On the other hand I hope after this movie Neyo goes back to what he does best, writing music because acting really is not his thing.

 

3. The love story

I have quite a bit to say about this so bear with me.  A minor plot in the overall story is a love story between one of the black pilots and an Italian woman.  Keep in mind that neither of these lovers speaks the others language so the audience is to believe that despite that they manage to foster a strong love. Yeah right!  This portion of the story was boring and frankly unbelievable I could have done without.  Every movie does not need a love story for it to be a good story.   This part of the movie was noticeably absent from all the previews and write-ups that I saw too.  Without a doubt that was on purpose.  The target audience for this movie was African Americans. I bet some of the marketers felt that African American women would not support a movie with an interracial relationship.  Regardless of race, it was just a pointless aspect of the movie.

 

4. Where were the black actresses?

This movie was lauded as a great movie with an all black cast but there were no black actresses included! After seeing the movie I found an article that listed singer Jazmine Sullivan as part of the cast. Well I missed her in the movie, so I have to assume that her scenes were cut from the final product.  I wish they had included at least one black actress in this movie! At the very least it could have been a flashback.

 

5. The African American community rallied behind this movie

Red Tails did get a lot of support from the black community.  I tried to see this movie three times and each time it was sold out. Luckily the third time I purchased my tickets online ahead of time.  From social networks I saw a lot of my friends went to see it and enjoyed it as well.  It seems that George Lucas was successful in lighting a fire in the African American community.  After I thought about it a little longer I think Lucas’ comments were a little misleading.  When you take Tyler Perry out of the mix Hollywood has made successful and critically acclaimed movies with all black casts.  A few that come to mind are Precious, Dream Girls, Ray, and even Hustle and Flow.  I think this type of movie, a war movie, with an all black cast has had a hard time finding a strong audience and studio support.  Spike Lee spoke about these problems before when he released Miracle at St. Ana, also a WWII movie with a black cast.

I think the biggest surprise is that a George Lucas, the man who created Star Wars, would not be able to get funding for a movie. I would just assume that the powers that be in Hollywood would give his instinct some leeway considering it’s George Lucas!  It also makes me wonder what great movie concepts are out there with black-leading roles that are not being made?   I am definitely open to seeing more at my local theaters!  If Red Tails creates more support for a variety of black movies in Hollywood then I say great!

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Obama, Anti-Religion?

Obama Anti-Religious?

That is what Newt Gingrich wants us to believe.  During his speeches Gingrich has stated several times that President Obama is anti-religion. He then goes on to say that once in office (ha!) he will change all of the anti-religion policies of the Obama administration.  I was honestly very confused by this!  Despite rumors of President Obama being a Muslim, he is a Christian so why would he be waging a war against religion, particularly Christianity from the oval office?  Aside from being a Christian let’s also not forget the provision in American government called “separation of church and state”.  Well I decided to head over to Google and do some research on this issue.

From what I can tell it appears that Gingrich believes that a contraception regulation amounts to a war against Christianity.  A new regulation by the Department of Health and Human Services requires employers to provide contraception for their employees.   There are of course exemptions to these rules including Churches. Gingrich and others are up in arms about those who the exemption does not extend to, Catholic Hospitals and Universities.  In my mind that means they would not want a professor at Notre Dame to be able to have contraception covered under her insurance.  That is definitely not the entire Catholic Church as I was led to believe by Gingrich’s statements.

Of course the line between contraception and abortion has been blurred with Gingrich even claiming that the Obama administration is forcing Catholic churches to pay for abortions for their employees.  I wish we could make these two things very clear categories. For one I believe that giving people access to contraception lowers the numbers of abortion.  I have no stats to back this but it just makes sense to me!  If birth control is covered under a woman’s insurance, she is able to prevent a unplanned pregnancy through the insurance that she already pays for. We need to stop confusing two, it’s inflammatory and appears to be stoking the flames.

Catholics groups have argued that this rule stops their religious freedom.  I think it does something different, it allows the employees to have a choice.  If an employee follows the strict rules of Catholicism, which does not even condone the pill, then they will decide not to get a prescription through their insurance regardless.  If they are someone who does not follow this mindset but just so happen to work for a Catholic organization, I do not believe they should be prevented from making their own choice based on their own beliefs.  I guess the solution would be to hire people who adhere to your beliefs but determining this obviously creates other problems including privacy issues.

Call me crazy but I do not think this one little regulation amounts to a war on religion.  This policy seems to enable the employee’s religious freedom.  More importantly Gingrich’s claims constantly include the word “abortion” which runs contrary to the actual rule from the Department of Health and Human Services.  So I am going to label this Gingrich claim to be a complete exaggeration with a few untruths thrown in the mix as well!

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Political Season Has Begun!

The Iowa caucus marks the official start of the 2012 election season!  It was a historic caucus with the final vote coming down to just eight votes in favor of Romney.   Here is my rundown of the Iowa Caucus by candidate from the lowest finish to the winner!

Jon Huntsman– He did not compete in Iowa at all and has focused his time on New Hampshire.  Republicans have not given him a chance but I think he is a great candidate for the Republican Party.  I hope he takes a turn as the frontrunner like everyone else; he is definitely more worthy of it than some of the others.

Michelle Bachmann– Not much to say about her.  She lost her home state after winning the straw poll.  It’s time for her to pack it up, America clearly isn’t buying her brand of loony.

Rick Perry– Perry clearly did not think running for President would be this difficult.  He has faced some ugly campaigns in Texas and has always managed to win! Perry entered this race having never lost a political election ever. That is virtually unheard of!  Romney lost a bid for Congress as did President Obama and Santorum lost reelection.  I’d imagine Perry entered this race with a little arrogance, some of that comes from being a Texan too.  I also think Perry has gotten far on looks and charisma in life but it just was not working on the national stage.   The failure of his campaign falls on him.  He never had to fight his way to the top like many of the other candidates he came in on top!  He just never could handle the debates, and slowly dwindled.  After his disappointing finish in Iowa yesterday Perry said he is headed back to Texas to re-evaluate his campaign.  Sounds like he’s hanging it up but I would not be surprised if he stays around until South Carolina.  Perry and Gingrich (both Southerners) seem to think that state will be great for them.  Whether he continues or not this campaign is done, he is not making it to the White House.  Now as a Texan, I hope he doesn’t get his election mojo back anytime soon!

Newt Gingrich–  Look for Gingrich to really start going after Romney after his disappointing finish. The day of the caucus he called Romney a liar.  Those are fighting words!   Gingrich continues to speak out against attack ads targeting him. These ads are put out by Romney supporters who Romney claims he has no control over.   Romney may not technically have control over these groups but rest assure if they were producing ads that were running contrary to his message they would be calling them. Essentially Romney has approved these messages regardless of what he says.   Anywho, Gingrich’s complaints about these ads make him seem like a cry baby if you ask me.  Politics is an ugly game; play at your own risk!  He’s crying now but Gingrich will not be crying for long, expect him to start playing dirty too!  He does not have the money to go at Romney in a similar manner but he will use the debates for this.  During debates Gingrich usually tries to play the great unifier among the Republicans but that will be out of the door next time!

So why did Gingrich do so poorly in Iowa? I’d say his past came back to haunt him.   We have only had one president who was divorced before, Ronald Reagan.  Think about that even in modern times, even after the Marilyn Monroes and Monica Lewinskys only one president was divorced!  That says something about what Americans expect of our presidents even if we do not value the same in our own lives.  Gingrich has been married three times. His earlier marriages ended after he began affairs with his next wife.   I do not hold the extreme conservative viewpoints of the Evangelicals that make of the Republican Party in Iowa but even I have to question the man’s character based on his personal life!  Gingrich’s personal life got a lot of play after he took his turn as the top candidate.  I think that was one of the things that bothered Iowans.   I am not too sure how he will do here on out. His calm demeanor is starting to show cracks, and his extreme arrogance is showing more and more.

Ron Paul– Can I just say that he is one of my favorite politicians of all time in both parties.   I will leave his connection to bigoted statements aside for this post.  I just love that he is just about the truth whether his audience likes it or not. There is a lot of pandering done by the other candidates and  Paul is not going to do it!  It also cracks me up that he constantly wears what looks like a 15 year old off the rack suit! He clearly has no image consultant but that is what makes people like him! Is he extreme in his views, yes and I often do not agree with him but I give him credit for standing up saying what he believes! I think finishing third is great for Paul, it shows that he is no longer just a fringe candidate.  I don’t think Paul will win but his presence in the Republican primary can bring attention to unpopular views like not just jumping into a war with Iran as many of the other candidates have suggested.

Rick Santorum– Where did he come from in Iowa?? It seems like everyone has taken his or her turn at the top of the pack (except for poor Huntsman) and I guess it was just Santorum’s turn.  Luckily for him the timing of his rise happened to fall within the week of the Iowa Caucus.  This could create the momentum he needs to stay at the top a lot longer than the other candidates did but I do not think that will happen.  Santorum will likely suffer the same fate of Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and then Newt Gingrich.  They were all leaders of the pack for a few weeks then back down to the bottom.   The ironic thing is that Mitt Romney has sat back unscathed during this whole musical chairs episode.  We will see how he handles the new spotlight during the next debate.  He will now be front and center flanked by Romney and Ron Paul with former leaders Perry and Gingrich pushed to the nosebleeds.  I think he will choke.

Mitt Romney–  From the beginning Romney has been the most realistic candidate for the Republican party but for some reason he just cannot get the party to rally behind him! The “anyone but Romney” mission is alive and well.  It is to blame for the constantly changing frontrunner. Despite all of the negativity, Romney has run a decent campaign without huge blunders like Herman Cain or Rick Perry.   This go around Romney did not put has much effort into winning Iowa and still managed to have a fight to the finish with Santorum.  There is no excitement about it but Romney will keep trucking along and will be the last man standing.  So it’s time to face it Republican Party, Romney is your candidate for the general election, get excited.

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Shame on you Newt!

 

In the midst of the Herman Cain sexual harassment fiasco and the anyone but Romney campaign, Newt Gingrich has risen to the top of the Republican primary.  If you have read any of my last posts you know that to some degree this is good news to me because I am in the anyone but Herman Cain camp but I cannot say I like Newt Gingrich either.  For one he is arrogant.  Just watch him during the debates.  He has this air of I am smarter and better than everyone standing next to me.  That really annoys me.  His arrogance and ignorance came roaring out recently when he attacked Child Labor Laws and the American Poor.

In a defense of earlier comments promoting the repeal of Child Labor laws, Newt made more troubling statements.  Gingrich said and I quote “ Start with the following two facts: Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash’ unless it’s illegal.”  Now Gingrich did not provide any support for these “facts” probably because none exists! Although he did not explicitly say it Gingrich is likely speaking against the stereotypical welfare mom.  Gingrich (along with President Clinton) was behind many of the sweeping changes to the welfare system in the 1990s.   This stereotype is not by any means representative of all of America’s poor.  There are those who are considered the working poor, hard workers who unfortunately do not make a living wage.  In this economy there are many people who are unemployed and have fallen on hard times.  There are so many good people who fall in this economic class so why attack them?  More importantly why attack those who are the truly innocent victims, the children living in poverty.

Gingrich’s comments about work ethic also do not ring true or factual to me.  I grew up in a middle class home.  I saw my parents go to work everyday, food was in the fridge, I had a roof over my head, and I enjoyed many of my wants.  It was not until I got out on my own that I really understood all that it took for my parents to provide these things for me.  As a kid it all seemed effortless.  I would imagine that this is not the experience for poorer Americans.  They have first hand knowledge of the struggle their parents go through.  When an eviction notice comes it is hard for the parents to create the effortless façade.  These children live and see the struggle and may have developed an appreciation for their parents’ hard work long before I did.   I would argue that they might understand the aspects of working hard more than Americans that fall in a higher economic class than themselves.  Then when you consider that there are some American children who will be able to live off of the interest of a trust fund for their entire life, you have to question if they understand the value of the dollar or a hard days work.   There are likely children in every economic class that have little work ethic.

His original statement suggested that our country do away with child labor laws and have poor children serve as janitors in their own schools.  Can you just picture how that will work?  While all of the more affluent kids are headed off to piano and karate lessons Timmy is stuck behind to help clean the toilets at his elementary school because his family is poor. Now imagine how that child will feel.  Here is a child whose parents likely cannot afford to buy him the latest gadget or the trendiest clothes.  Children pick up on these things and Newt Gingrich wants to add to that by having them work in the school.  This also implies to this child that this is the type of work that you will be doing later in life so we might as well get you prepared now.  Your other wealthy classmates are focusing on their education because they can be doctors or lawyers but you are destined to be a janitor.  If we want to make changes in the lives of poor children, education is the key.  Although he did not come right out in say it, Gingrich seemed to imply that working should be an alternative to school for children from lower incomes.   A college degree can change that child’s live and the lives of their family as well.

The bottom line is Gingrich’s comments are just wrong.   They misplace where the focus should be in the time of need.  Let’s focus on getting the mom and dad of the poor American child a good job that can provide a living wage.  Our country should also be coming up with plans to retool our education system so that all American children have a chance to receive a great education not just the children of the wealthy.  More importantly let’s stop turning poor Americans into our nations’ punching bag.

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