A Lack of a Clear GOP Front-Runner Might Lead to a Contested or a Brokered Convention

The GOP presidential nomination fight has lasted several months and now talk of a contested or a brokered convention is being taken more seriously.  Most Americans are not familiar with these terms, so what do they mean?

For the first time since 1976, the Republican presidential nominee might be decided at the national convention rather than on the campaign trail. A contested convention occurs when no candidate has the required 1,444 delegates to win the nomination. The Associated Press keeps a running tally of the current delegate count and here’s where it stands now:

 

Mitt Romney has 563

Rick Santorum has 263

Newt Gingrich has 135

Ron Paul has 50

 

When the GOP convention is held this August in Tampa, it is possible that no candidate will have the clear majority and then the delegates (people chosen to represent each state at the convention) will vote again.  This is when a convention is considered to be contested. The delegates vote on the convention floor.  It may take a ballot or two to determine a majority and then the convention would proceed as normal with the nominee for president.

The last GOP contested convention was in 1976 when Ronald Reagan challenged the incumbent President Gerald Ford.

That is not the only scenario, however.  If the delegates can’t agree, someone new could be brought into the field.  Some possible names being discussed include New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and even Former Governor of Florida Jeb BushThis would be a brokered convention.  Brokered conventions are rare and only occur when no candidate has a pre-existing majority at its nominating convention.  The last winning presidential nominee from a brokered convention was Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democrat) in 1932.

A brokered convention in 2012 would certainly be exciting.

 

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It’s a Mistake to Run Graphic Anti-Abortion Ads During Super Bowl

According to a Business Insider article, an anti-abortion activist will run a graphic commercial featuring dismembered fetuses during the Super Bowl.  This ad wasn’t subjected to the regular NBC screening which normally filters out objectionable content because federal election laws prohibit such censorship for candidates’ campaign ads. While this ad is certain to garner a great deal of media attention, it’s a mistake to air it.

The gruesome images are designed to shock and then change behavior.  The images will succeed in shocking, but they are not likely to have a significant impact on whether someone decides to have an abortion.

Consider the violent images of mangled cars and horrific accidents shown at high school assemblies throughout the country prior to homecoming dances and proms.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) created assemblies like these to prevent reckless driving and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  The theory is that by showing the tragic stories, teenagers will make better choices and drive safely. Do they work?  We still see a rise in drunk driving accidents following school campaigns despite more than a 20 year tradition of them. Similarly, have violent images of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq or any war prevented loss of life?

Many will be outraged by what will surely be perceived as an assault on the senses.  The Super Bowl audience is a diverse one.  Many small children watch along with their families.  These ads will anger many parents and that will not lend itself to people embracing the pro-life movement.  Instead it will only add fodder to those in the pro-choice movement who choose to vilify pro-life activists as extremists.

The argument that legalized abortion creates such a crisis that subjecting families to extremely gruesome images like the ones in this commercial are justified is a faulty one.  Valuing human life and family values requires taking a higher road.  The merit of the argument is cheapened when disturbing imagery is used. Sanctity of life should be preserved in all areas. We don’t want to see dead babies, accident victims or soldiers.

Instead, pro-life activists should take a different approach entirely and many are doing just that.  Consider the Time magazine cover story from 2007.  Providing medical information and assistance in a calm and kind manner is a far more effective way to positively influence behavior.  Visual arguments can still to used to persuade people to reconsider abortion, however.  Isn’t the use of ultrasounds a far better way to view a baby?

Will the changes to Mass strengthen our faith?

If it’s been a while since you have attended Catholic Mass and are planning to at Christmas, let me warn you that things have changed a bit.  Change is very difficult and many find to the latest updates to Mass unsettling.  Most Catholics (both the lapsed and those who faithfully attend church each week) could recite the words without thinking.  That will no longer be possible and some argue that is a great thing.

The new English translation of the Roman Missal recited by the priest and congregants dates back to Vatican II, but was only announced by Pope John Paul II in 2000.  Just the mention of the beloved pope’s name in association with these changes makes them more palatable for some.  If he thought it was better for Catholics, then more are willing to embrace these changes.

So what exactly has changed?   While the changes for the congregants are minimal, it will require a more close focus on the words and that will in turn cause us to think more about them. Here are some of the changes:

Greeting: “The Lord be with you.”

Old Response: “And also with you.”

New Response: “And with your spirit.”

That change is tough enough and expect to hear people stumble over that for quite a while.  The toughest for me is “Consubstantial.” This word replaces the term “one in being.” Consubstantial is more accurate, church authorities say since it means of the same substance.

The other one that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue quite yet is the change to the invitation to communion.

Old Response: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

New Response: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

It’s always a challenge to embrace change and is especially so when the words seem imprinted on your very DNA, but I am determined to give it my very best. What do you think of the changes?

School Fundraisers: Just Say No to the Sales Pitch

Let’s be honest. My 6-year-old and 8-year-old don’t need to worry about résumé building.
The school year has just begun and already the children’s backpacks are full of school fundraiser information that presumes my little ones would be effective salespersons.
I understand that schools are in greater need of additional funding today than perhaps at any other time, but I refuse to spend my very rare free time hawking over-priced items I wouldn’t willingly buy on my own.
We are bombarded by pleas to buy products and have our children sell them to benefit PTAs, home and school associations and athletic or social clubs. No one disputes that school programs need additional funding, but acquiring these funds selling overpriced products that people often do not need or want is easygoing extortion. (Not to mention that in the end, I will be the one selling the wrapping paper, cookie dough, pizza, candy and magazines.)

The guilt factor is huge and, really, how many times can you hit up the grandparents, neighbors and family friends before they start to cringe? (Many employers are banning solicitations of all types from the workplace, including fundraisers, so co-workers are no longer easy-target buyers.)

The pressure for children to sell products is even more intense when incentives are offered for the biggest sales. This complicates matters even more for parents who don’t want their children to sell the products. Even if you can convince your child the prizes are of marginal value, school-wide and individual class rewards further entice participation. What if your child’s class doesn’t get the pizza party or the school misses out on pajama day because you haven’t allowed her to participate in the fundraiser? Welcome to peer-group pressure by proxy.
The fundraising industry is a booming business, and car washes and bake sales aren’t cutting it anymore. The most popular fundraisers sell products, many of them of questionable value. Shockingly, schools (and other nonprofits) only get 20 percent to 50 percent of profits from these sales. Most of the money goes to the fundraising company itself, which makes the case that children involved in these efforts benefit from boosted self-esteem, a sense of teamwork, and even an enhanced résumé. Even if that were so, I wouldn’t want the trade-off of seeing my preteens selling goods door-to-door.
I have another plan: Opting out. I will make a cash donation directly to the school and not participate in the fundraisers. For those who want to follow suit, attach a letter to your check explaining that your family opposes the fundraising method but not the cause. With a cash donation, 100 percent of your money goes directly to the source, eliminating the middlemen and all the time wasted on the sale, pickup and delivery of products. It also safeguards important relationships and allows your family to focus on other activities like school work, athletics or just spending time together.

A version of this piece originally appeared on Politics Daily’s Woman Up.

What’s it like to live in one of the 100 best places (according to Money Magazine)?

Money Magazine has ranked Whitefish Bay, WI 65th in its list of 100 of America’s Best Places to Live.  I think it should have ranked higher. The long winters probably accounted for the lower placement.  While winters here can be brutal, the summers are absolutely ideal.  Money has its own criteria for the annual list, but I have to think nearby employment, education and recreational opportunities and well as retail access play a big role in determining what is a great place to live.

 

Today was the type of day I’d like to remember forever because it really was about as close to perfect barring a lottery win.

 

The day began when my husband left for work at Harley-Davidson and since the traffic is so light (read nonexistent compared to what I’m used to having lived in the Washington, DC area for most of my life) his trip to the Milwaukee office takes between 10 to 15 minutes.  That’s a pretty nice commute.

 

My two older children began a week of morning camp offered through our the Whitefish Bay Recreation Department called Secret Agent Lab conducted by the Mad Science staff.  It’s held in the Lydell Community Center and that is just a few blocks from our home.  This afternoon, my children (all three this time) set off on our daily walk.  I often think that we look a bit like a small parade since two of my children ride their scooters and the other rides in the stroller, but there are so many children in our neighborhood that this is a familiar sight.  Today’s destination was the library and then a stop at the Whitefish Bay High School for a few laps around the track.

 

This evening we’ll stop by Dan Fitzgerald’s Pharmacy for candy on our way home from Klode Park.  I’d love to pick up dinner from the new City Market which just opened up, but I’ll be happy with the fresh ground beef, green beans and corn on the cob we bought at Sendik’s.  My husband is going to see a movie with my mom tonight at Fox-Bay Cinema Grill.  I’d go too but I have no desire to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  Fox-Bay is a great place and the owner is also a Whitefish Bay resident.  I may have to speak to him about his poor decision not to show The Help, however.

 

Whitefish Bay is a great place to live and I am happy that Money Magazine highlighted it in the recent issue.

 

 

Are You Perpetuating the Culture of Hate?

It’s no secret that Americans are frustrated with the debt ceiling gridlock.  The issue is an economic one being exacerbated by politics. While  a recent poll by the Pew Research Group shows that Americans  seek compromise across party lines, social media sites are filled with attacks, insults and general mean-spiritedness that only perpetuate a culture of hate and further divides our nation.

While it may seem complex at first, the issue concerns raising the federal government’s borrowing authority so it can pay its bills on time to avoid a default. Failing to resolve this issue by the August 2 deadline could result in downgrade in our nation’s credit rating.  As most adults know, credit rating or credit scores are extremely important for individuals and are for the nation as well.  A downgrade could raise borrowing costs for consumers, businesses and government agencies.

Debating how to resolve the issue is a healthy part of democracy.  Using social media to express frustration is just one benefit of our precious freedom of speech.  Twitter is filled with hashtags boasting #GOPisEvil or #DebtofDuh and they do nothing to facilitate consensus.

Why aren’t more people making the connection between hate filled comments and our elected officials’ inability to compromise?  Critical thinkers must use restraint before taking to social media to vent frustration.

 

Do we really have to get the lawyers involved?

What happens when your healthy, happy and energetic 3 year old daughter goes into a routine dental appointment and winds up at Children’s Hospital with a life-threatening infection?

Unfortunately, we found out when our daughter had a premolar cavity filled by a dentist specializing in pediatrics on April 11, 2011.  Within hours of the appointment, our daughter’s cheek swelled and it began to look as if she had a golf ball in her mouth.  I placed a phone call to the dentist and she assured me that some swelling is normal and it would go away.  I went to teach a class that night and the dentist spoke with my husband.  The dentist again assured him that this was normal and that if we were very concerned in the morning, I should bring our daughter in first thing in the morning.  She was unable to sleep due to the pain and was up most of the night.  That morning, our daughter’s swelling had increased, her cheek was red, hot to the touch and she was unable to eat or speak clearly.

When we entered at the dentist’s office, the staff was shocked by our daughter’s appearance.  The dentist was so alarmed that she called in her husband, an oral surgeon, to consult because “he knows more about this type of thing.”  He too was surprised by just how swollen our daughter was.  He tried to look inside her mouth, but the area was so tender and the swelling was so severe, he decided not to aggravate things further by an invasive exam.  Instead both dentists struggled to get an accurate read of our daughter’s temperature.  After a few minutes, they determined that she did have a fever of 101.

Both dentists were visibly and admittedly at a loss as to what the next course of action should be given that our daughter was allergic to traditional antibiotics and neither was sure what to prescribe.  When they told me this, I suggested that  we go right to her pediatrician for proper treatment.  Both expressed their concern verbally for the severity of the infection and they readily agreed that the pediatrician should be our next stop.  The oral surgeon wrote out a detailed note for our pediatrician explaining that this swelling was a result of the previous day’s dental procedure and gave us his personal cell phone number in case we or the pediatrician needed additional information from him.

Our daughter’s pediatrician was extremely concerned by her condition when we arrived.  The pediatrician said she’d never seen such a fast moving infection.  After careful consideration and collaboration with her colleagues, the pediatrician prescribed oral Cleocin.  She advised us to give her a call that evening to let her know how our daughter was tolerating the medicine and to let her know about the swelling.  That night, we spoke with the pediatrician and let her know that our daughter was taking the medication, was still in pain and we hadn’t noticed any change in the swelling.  We continued to monitor her closely. The dentist called our home that evening to check on our daughter and offered to see her again.  My husband and I updated her on the treatment prescribed by the pediatrician and declined another visit to her office since our daughter was now having an extremely difficult time opening her mouth.  The situation had clearly escalated and was beyond the dentists’ capabilities.

The next morning, our daughter’s swelling had progressed to include her neck and just under her eye.  This was so serious that the pediatrician asked us to bring her in immediately.  We did and she advised us that if she should run a fever, we were to take her directly to the emergency room.  When our daughter’s fever reached 101, we went to Children’s Hospital.  She was admitted, given IV morphine for the pain, IV fluids (since she was unable to eat or drink due to the swelling) and a stronger dose of antibiotics via IV.

The swelling was so severe that even the doctor’s ultrasound of daughter’s cheek and neck was difficult to read.  Our daughter was checked hourly by Children’s Hospital doctors and nurses throughout our time there and was diagnosed with Cellulitis.  Each physician and nurse we met asked the same question: “What happened at that dentist’s office?” When the dentist’s assistant called to ask if we would be bringing our daughter in for a check, I returned the call told the receptionist we would not since our daughter had been admitted to Children’s Hospital.  Slowly, she began to respond to the medication and the swelling began to decrease gradually while her speech remained impaired. The morphine helped with the pain and she began to be able to drink and eat small amounts of juice and pudding.

After more than two days of hospitalization at Children’s Hospital and the careful hourly monitoring of her condition by a team of doctors and experts in pediatric infections, our daughter was released and advised to take a new dosage of oral antibiotics.  Children’s Hospital’s pediatrician advised us not to return to the dentist’s office upon release since our daughter’s visit there was the cause of Cellulitis.  Cellulitis is a dangerous life threatening infection.  Instead, she told us to follow up with our pediatrician in two days.  We did so and our daughter continued to respond to the antibiotics.  It took nearly a full month for her swelling to go away completely.

The quantifiable damages resulting in the work done by the dentist exceeded our insurance coverage and we are unwilling to absorb the costs.  Our daughter endured great pain from this traumatic experience.  Our entire family was impacted.  The time and stress associated with our attempts to settle this matter with the dentist continue to build.  At the very least, the dentist must pay the expenses not covered by our insurance which exceed $3,000.

Our attempts to resolve this matter directly with the dentist have proved unsuccessful.  How unrealistic is it that I expect the dentist to do the right thing without being forced to by a legal team?