It was Rick Santorum's last stand. When he lost by a narrow margin to Mitt Romney in Wisconsin on Tuesday night, the national media consensus was that the "real conservative" in the race was finished.

Time to coalesce around the lackluster frontrunner, Etch-a-Sketch or no, GOP party leaders have declared.

Santorum gave the much better funded Romney a run for his money in Wisconsin, finishing with 37.7% of the vote to Romney's 42.5%.

He energized the conservative base, and delivered some hard blows to Romney, getting a big laugh at an Americans for Prosperity event as he shook an Etch-a-Sketch at the crowd with a knowing smile on his face.

The race took an ugly turn in the final days, when a homemade bomb blew up at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Appleton.

For weeks, the Republican candidates had been making Planned Parenthood a target in their stump speeches. Romney talked about "getting rid of" Planned Parenthood. Santorum, long a favorite of the hardcore anti-abortion and anti-birth-control crowd, made much of his pro-life bona fides to voters in Wisconsin.

But it was Santorum who issued a statement immediately after the bomb went off in the Appleton clinic last Sunday night, denouncing it and declaring, "Violence against our fellow citizens has no place in a freedom-loving America."

Romney, in contrast, had no comment.

Neither did Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who won in 2010 with the endorsement of the most extreme of Wisconsin's two statewide anti-abortion groups, Pro-life Wisconsin, which only supports candidates who favor a no-exceptions ban on abortion and positions that treat common forms of birth control as "abortifacients" .

Walker pleased the pro-life base by cutting $1.9 million in funds to Planned Parenthood for routine cancer screenings and other preventive health care--specifically targeting clinics in the area where the bomb blew up. Working with pro-life Republican legislators, he also passed with a raft of anti-birth control, anti-sex ed, and anti-choice legislation in the recently concluded legislative session in Wisconsin.

Yet even Wisconsin Right To Life issued a statement condemning the Planned Parenthood clinic bombing.

Somehow, neither Walker nor Romney found the time to say anything at all about this instance of domestic terrorism.

The Fox Valley, where the bomb exploded, is a key district for Republicans--the birthplace of Joe McCarthy, an area full of anti-abortion billboards and routine clinic protests, but also the home of a divided electorate that twice sent a Democrat to Congress.

The silence from the GOP frontrunner and the governor on the bombing sounds eerily like complicity.

So much for the idea that the "war on women's health" is just so much liberal hyperbole.

The rancor in Wisconsin, the bombing of the clinic in Appleton, and the non-response by Romney and Walker shows a disturbing willingness by Republican leaders to tacitly nod to some of the darkest forces in the American electorate.

If you liked this article by Ruth Conniff, the political editor of The Progressive, check out her story "Wisconsinites Start Turning Back School Privatization."

Follow Ruth Conniff @rconniff on Twitter


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Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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