Posts filed under ‘Politics’
The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School made anything else I could blog about seem trivial by comparison. One of life’s harder lessons is that even after such horrendous tragedies life does go on and so I am finally putting virtual pen to paper to tie up some loose ends that have been begging for my attention and have been neglected.
The Paradox of the Fiscal Cliff
The so-called fiscal cliff is a time bomb that Congress created to force itself to come up with a “grand bargain” that would cut spending and lower the debt. The notion was that this time-triggered legislation would be so abhorrent to all involved that there would be bipartisan enthusiasm for coming up with a good alternative. As we know, the deadline is midnight, the night of December 31. But very simply folks, here is what I don’t get. Why would any true deficit hawk NOT want to go over the cliff? Without intervention, effective January 1, everyone’s taxes will go up. If we assume the new revenue will go toward paying off debt, bravo! Draconian cuts to defense and entitlement programs will take effect. Again, aren’t those the very savings we supposedly are looking for to stop the deficit spending and lower the debt? Isn’t this the austerity that many conservatives are calling for? So please explain to me why everyone in Washington, Democrat and Republican are wringing their hands over the fiscal cliff when the fiscal cliff is just what the conservative doctor ordered.
Could it be we’re really not as serious about debt reduction as we claim to be?
Time to Rethink the Elderly
There is an AARP commercial currently airing on TV in my market that goes roughly like this: youthful woman (actress) claims to be 65 years old and announces that she has “a long life ahead of her”, after which we are told about an AARP supplement to Medicare. Now I’m not an elderly-basher but I took one look at this woman and asked myself, why in heaven’s name is she on Medicare? She looks perfectly fit. In fact, she says she is perfectly fit and looking forward to many more years on this Earth. So why doesn’t she have a job and buy insurance like the rest of us (who are fortunate enough to have jobs with health benefits)? The truth is that “elderly” ain’t what it used to be. Many of the very vital actors, celebrities and even rock stars we see daily are 65 or older. People are working and living longer. So why is it such a third rail to discuss changing Social Security and Medicare eligibility?
One example that has me irked at present is the collective vomit that greeted Barack Obama’s “grand bargain” compromise where he was willing to use what is called a “chained CPI” calculation to determine cost of living increases to Social Security. I won’t pretend to be an expert on chained CPI. All I know is it makes annual increases to Social Security payments less than they might otherwise have been, thereby saving costs and extending the life of the program. Seems perfectly legit to me. I know lots of working people who haven’t seen a raise in years, cost of living be damned. The elderly get to gripe that what is essentially a raise will be a bit smaller in future years? How about no raise at all, like the rest of us?
I probably won’t win any “be kind to old people” awards with this but from my perspective along with enhanced health and longer life comes longer obligation to society and a delayed reliance on government assistance. And for those who want to remind me that folks pay into Social Security and Medicare, I will remind them that folks take out of it way more than they paid in if we’re talking real dollars. In the famous words of the 99%, it’s time for the elderly to pay their fair share.
What is More American Than Right to Work?
Recently Michigan implemented “right to work”, a policy stating that no one has to pay union dues (and therefore belong to a union) as a condition of employment. My fellow liberals have gone bat crap crazy about this. I don’t get this. It seems fundamentally American to me that no one can be compelled to join any organization they do not want to join. Right to work antagonists say this is a union killer. How so? If the union makes itself attractive, they will get members. If they don’t, they don’t deserve members.
Let’s take it a step further. The argument further goes that it is unfair for non-union members to reap the benefits fought for by the unions. This also puzzles me. If unions exist for the reasons we assume (to fight for worker equity), then why don’t they fight for all workers, not just “members”? Workers have to pay dues for protection? That makes unions a protection racket. Sounds a bit like the Mafia to me.
Happy New Year
This is the last post of 2012. I leave you with a twist on the typical New Year’s Eve tradition. Many years ago on New Year’s Eve I went to the home of a former colleague and current friend. As the New Year approached, he did not play “Auld Lang Syne”. Instead, he played “Imagine” by John Lennon. While there is no doubt that Lennon, the vessel, was greatly flawed, the message he carried stands the test of time. What do we fight over? We fight over national boundaries, money and religion. Money, in particular, drives so many agendas around the world. So many look for the profit angle to whatever woes we suffer as human beings. If you don’t believe in global warming, you want to make big bucks off the fossil fuel companies. If you do believe in global warming, you want to profit off new industries. No one trusts that the other guy just wants what is best for the planet. This is only one example. The list goes on and on.
What I love about “Imagine” is that it pictures a world in which we cast aside the differences that divide us and we live in peace in a shared world. It may just be a dream but no matter what they take from us, they can’t take away our dreams. In the words of another popular musician, Dream On … and Happy New Year.
Photo taken from Thappa1 video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jrtty7pCCc
The liberal media is ablaze this morning with righteous indignation that we’ve waited a week for the National Rifle Association (NRA) to come out with a statement about the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy and all we got was “more guns”. The mouthpiece for the organization, Wayne LaPierre says we need armed personnel in every school and he’s willing to help mobilize the posse.
Think about this a minute folks. When you think you’re going to die of a heart attack, do you expect your accountant to come forward and say he’ll perform open heart surgery on you? When you’re trying to limit your tax liability, do you expect your cardiac specialist to give you a good plan? Wayne LaPierre and the leadership of the NRA don’t know squat about loving your fellow-man, treating mental illness or positively influencing the many pressures in American society that drive people to the edge. Wayne and his leadership know how to blow your head off. So it is perfectly natural that when schools find themselves vulnerable to armed lunatics, Wayne offers his expertise. Expecting Wayne to advocate for gun control is like expecting a heart surgeon to advise a homeopathic remedy to blocked arteries.
Let’s be honest. I don’t like the idea of armed cop-wanna-be’s roaming the halls of our schools but IF that is the solution the American people want, who better to devise a plan than Wayne LaPierre and his organization? Plus, the NRA has an entire gun manufacturing industry behind them to provide the necessary “tools” to every Barney Fife out there who wants to protect your little ones.
So folks, don’t be angry at the NRA. They’re trying to help this situation the only way they know how: kill the killers before they kill you.
This afternoon I tuned in to see President Obama’s press conference on the aftermath of the slaughter in Newtown, Connecticut. He’s putting Joe Biden in charge of a group of interested politicians and stakeholders to assemble some policy recommendations, hopefully in time for the President’s State of the Union. I was pleased to see Obama putting some focus on this as he promised he would last Friday when he tearfully addressed the nation.
Then it came time for the White House press corps to ask questions. I had several I could have asked. The first question was on what opposition he might get from the gun lobby … eh no … actually it was on the fiscal cliff. My jaw dropped. After a ten or so minute statement on trying to prevent another Newtown, the first question was about the fiscal cliff. I got my composure as Obama called on the next reporter, who asked about the 2nd amendment …. eh no … he asked a follow-up question on the fiscal cliff. At this point I was really starting to lose it. My poor wife stood helpless as I yelled at the TV.
OK, time for question number three. The third question would surely be about something related to Newtown or gun control. Nope. A third question about the damn fiscal cliff. I nearly popped a blood vessel. To make matters worse, Obama seemed genuinely pleased not to have to answer any questions on the topic du jour. His answers on the fiscal cliff rambled on and on. Finally, David Jackson of USA Today asked about gun control legislation. Jake Tapper ended the presser by asking Obama why it has taken so long for him to focus on gun violence in America.
I returned to my afternoon routine thoroughly disgusted at the press corps. Then late this evening, my wife informed me I was not alone. Apparently Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree with folks who reacted just as I did. In the Media section of the Huffington Post, the headline read “Dear White House Press Corps: WTH?!?” with the following opening paragraph:
The White House press corps came under searing criticism for asking about the fiscal cliff immediately after President Obama’s statement about gun control on Wednesday. – “White House Reporters Hammered For Fiscal Cliff Questions At Obama Gun Control Press Conference”
CNN personality Piers Morgan tweeted my thoughts exactly first here:
Obama makes historic statement re guns – and first 3 questions after are about TAX?
This is exactly why America's gun crisis will continue.—
Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 19, 2012
and a few minutes later here:
White House press corps message to the world: 'We don't care about gun control'. Shameful.—
Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 19, 2012
Folks, if the priorities of the White House press corps reflect those of the average American, we will have learned nothing from the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and many more of our precious family members are destined to be cut down by madmen with access to military grade weapons.
Screen capture from Huffington Post headline 12/19/2012
During the just completed campaign season, the Grand Old Party managed to deliberately or accidentally insult virtually every voting block. They deliberately insulted women (running the likes of Todd Akin and Richard Murdock) and Hispanics (with Mitt’s self-deportation strategy toward illegal immigration). They inadvertently insulted a slew of minorities including veterans with Romney’s 47% statement.
Just when you thought the Republican party had run out of people to alienate, they’ve gone after the last remaining voting block, the often ignored American disabled. Last week the Senate was asked to ratify a United Nations treaty which would spread the laudable standard of our Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) around the world. When the time came for Republicans to promote the greatest advance in disabled civil rights to the world stage, they incredibly declined. They declined in spite of the fact that wounded war veteran and respected elder statesman Bob Dole was on the floor of the Senate, in his wheelchair no less, to urge the body to ratify the treaty.
What was their reasoning? Pure insanity but I’ll use their words — they feared it would threaten US sovereignty. Former presidential candidate and full-time crackpot Rick Santorum (whose daughter is severely disabled) warned against ratification citing a fear that the U.N. would interfere with home schooling and other decisions revolving around child rearing.
I also oppose CRPD because our nation has been the worldwide leader when it comes to protecting the disabled. We should be telling the U.N., not the other way around, how to ensure dignity and respect for the disabled. – Santorum: U.N. Disabilities Treaty Would’ve Had Bureaucrats Unseat Parents
Ehhhhh, what the hell is Rick talking about? The treaty is patterned after our ADA. It seeks to spread our ADA standards to other countries. In essence, we are “telling the U.N., not the other way around.”
This is yet another chapter in the saga of the nutjob contingent of the GOP bringing shame to this venerable party. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. John Boehner has finally found a pair and is kicking folks off their preferred committee assignments based on past voting patterns. While that doesn’t help matters in the Senate it does give some hope that Boehner is going to grab control from House loonies where the Republicans have a majority. Now if Harry Reid can ram through filibuster reform, perhaps we can all “get our country back.”
In February, 2008 the wife of then Presidential candidate Barack Obama said “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.” Michelle Obama caught holy hell from conservatives for what seemed like an unpatriotic comment. She was wrong to say it but not for the reasons conservatives groan about. She was wrong to say it because, particularly when it comes to race relations, this country has NOTHING to be proud of.
Let me explain. Last week I went to see the Steven Spielberg masterpiece “Lincoln”, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones. Day-Lewis played Abraham Lincoln in the manner we are accustomed to seeing, the practical, folksy, clever politician. Unlike the Fonda or Massey version, this Lincoln displayed an honest insecurity about blacks. Talking to his wife’s black servant, he confesses that he does not know what emancipation will mean for blacks … that he himself does not have any deep relationships with blacks. I found the honesty refreshing. Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens, a Pennsylvania Senator and abolitionist whose views are radical for their time. He wants blacks to not only be free but to vote and be treated as equals in every way. The film makes an interesting commentary on whether the practical man or the ideologue has a better chance at making lasting change. But there was one scene in the film that made me angry and ashamed.
The scene takes place in the Senate chamber where a vote on the 13th amendment to the Constitution, ending slavery, is taking place. Seated in the upper balcony are a contingent of free blacks observing the vote. When the amendment passes, they leap to their feet in enthusiasm, many shedding a tear. As I watched the scene, my mind fast-forwarded to a November night in 2008 at Grant Park in Chicago where thousands of people were gathered to watch newly elected Barack Obama deliver his victory speech. When Obama amassed enough electoral votes to win him the Presidency, the crowd went wild. Particularly notable were blacks in the crowd crying. Hell, I sat at home watching the TV and crying like a baby. I thought about my 80 year old black father whom I’m sure never thought he would see a black man become President. I thought about my four year old black daughter who would never find a black President the least bit unusual. I was 47 at the time and I didn’t think I would ever see a black President in my lifetime.
However “Lincoln” slapped me in the face and made me ask why the hell not?
Why are we “proud” and self-satisfied that it took 143 years after the 13th amendment for a black man to become President? What is it about dark skin that made this event impossible for over a century? And when we finally pulled the lever, it was for a bi-racial black man with an exotic heritage — hell there were some blacks who complained “he ain’t REALLY black”. While I find that a stretch, I do believe that we would NEVER have elected a black man from American slave heritage. NEVER! Barack’s white mother and his youth overseas got him past the marginal bigots. (The hardcore bigots still go by the one-drop rule.) But there we were, crying with joy over our country taking 143 years to elect a black man with enough “mitigating circumstances” to make him acceptable.
I’m sorry folks, “Lincoln” made me angry and ashamed of this country. Now we excuse bigotry by citing the disproportionate amount of crime committed by blacks but there was a time when blacks were hated and denigrated solely for the color of their skin, the features of their face and the texture of their hair. Present day conservatives will be quick to blame the destruction of the black family on liberal policies. Implicit in this criticism is the acceptance that there was a time when blacks did not represent rampant drug abuse, crime and abandoned children. But they were hated just the same. If not hated, then discounted.
I can’t blame Americans entirely. Discrimination based on trivial differences is a human condition. It’s American hubris that bothers me. You don’t see Germans boasting about how they don’t gas Jews anymore, do you? I get angry when we pat ourselves on the back for progress that has been so slow in coming, progress that should never have needed to be made had we been a more decent tribe of people in the first place. It is true that Lincoln’s practicality was better in the long run than Senator Stevens’ ideology but Stevens would have vomited if he had been told that 143 years from the day he voted “Aye” on the 13th amendment we would still be wrestling with America’s original sin.
Photo by D. Van Nostrand [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
We live in odd times when folks who see racism are called racists. Some people, mostly conservative, follow the logic of Stephen Colbert which goes something like this: “I don’t see race. The only reason I know I’m white is people tell me I am. The only reason I think you’re black is people tell me you are.” Hence anyone who brings up race as an issue must be the only one thinking about it and must be therefore the real racist. If we are honest we acknowledge that we don’t live in a post-racial society, whatever that is, and that the election of the first black President of the United States only made matters worse. Just like the chunk of cheese brings out the mice, the elevation of a black, albeit ethnically complex man to the top job brought out the racists in full force. Since the 1960′s the language that bigots use has for the most part changed because society simply will no longer tolerate n*gger this and n*gger that. The language is a bit more subtle and the racism in some ways more pervasive and harder to pin down and stamp out than it used to be. The fact is in 2012 there are times to play the so-called race card. However, not every dispute involving a person of color comes down to racism. To be credible, we need to learn when to play the race card.
When to Play the Race Card — GOP to Embrace Hispanics and Continue to Ignore Blacks
What have we heard repeatedly in the aftermath of the recent election? The GOP lost the election because they are blind to the changing demographics of America. Every once in a while a pundit will refer to “people of color”. More often the comment is that Hispanics who are “hard-working” need to be embraced by the Republican party. They are a growing demographic. Excuse me? So by implication, we’re back to the same old stereotype of blacks not being “hard-working”, the old saw of shiftless and lazy, to quote Sarah Palin, “shucking and jiving”. Who needs a “growing demographic” when there is a full-grown demographic already ripe for the picking? Where is the wake up call in the Republican party to actively pursue the black vote?
About the only worthwhile moment in Mitt Romney’s campaign was when he spoke in front of the NAACP. He didn’t play games. He didn’t pander. When he referred to “Obamacare” he got booed. So what? He actually treated the audience like adults who could agree or disagree with him. In fact he seemed more comfortable talking to this audience which he viewed as a lost cause for votes than he did talking to some of the folks whose votes he thought he could get.
Allen West and some other conservatives have talked about the new plantation where Democratic benefactors enslave their black voters with promises of handouts. How many times do they deliver that message to black audiences? I’d suggest close to never. It can’t be done you say. Tell that to Bill Cosby who years ago told black audiences that they needed to clean up the dysfunction in their communities. Some blacks were offended while others cheered. It was a dialogue that needed to happen. It needs to happen on a regular basis. Who better to push that conversation than conservatives whose claim to fame is self-sufficiency? Again, not telling the story to white audiences but to black ones.
Conservatives say liberal politics has failed the black community. Fine, then step in and tell a different story to this constituency and win them over. It’s easier just to ignore them, isn’t it? Leave them to rot because they can’t be reasoned with. That is tacit racism at its most destructive.
When Not to Play the Race Card — Obama’s Enemies Attack Susan Rice
UN Ambassador Susan Rice went on a series of Sunday morning gab-fests shortly after the September 11 murder of diplomat Chris Stevens and lied about the nature of his murder. Now before my liberal friends burst a blood vessel, there are innocent lies and there are malicious lies. I happen to believe that Susan Rice repeated talking points that had been sanitized as they traveled from the CIA through a bunch of bureaucrats and eventually into her hands. I do not believe her intention was to deceive. To the extent that a lie is something contrary to the truth, she lied. Unwittingly lied, but lied nonetheless. Enter, stage right, Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain who call for Rice’s head on a platter. McCain says that if she is named as Hillary Clinton’s replacement for Secretary of State, he will block the appointment.
What are several pundits saying now? They say the “optics” of this are very bad. They say in the aftermath of an election where the GOP appeared tone-deaf to minorities they are now persecuting a black woman. I say screw the “optics”. This is the kind of charge that discredits legitimate claims of racism. The folks who are attacking Susan Rice don’t like Obama. It is as simple as that. They want to turn the tragedy of Benghazi into a scandal that irreparably damages the President. Already we’ve heard “what did he know and when did he know it” regarding security problems at the consulate. Susan Rice is nothing but a pawn in the game of Obama’s enemies. It is unfortunate that her outstanding career hangs in the balance but it has nothing to do with her being a woman or being black. She actually shares something with the white, penis owning Governor of New Jersey who has been attacked recently by conservatives: guilt by association with Obama. It is as simple as that.
Racism in America did not magically disappear when Obama got elected. Far too many blacks and whites don’t trust or like each other for reasons entirely juvenile and ignorant. We can only hope to bridge the chasm between the races by talking honestly about how to lift all of us together from our hardships. Accusations of racism where none exists only serve to keep the goal of racial harmony out of reach. Similarly, talking about blacks as if they were a monolith incapable of being persuaded, a group only worth judging from a distance, snuffs out any hope for positive change.
When you bring up the impeachment of the 42nd President, Bill Clinton, you will likely get the following vulgar response from the average progressive: “Puhleeze, he was impeached over a blow job.” Heck, I don’t consider myself a radical leftist and this has typically been my response. Of course, I’m wrong and so are my fellow liberals. Unlike Andrew Johnson, impeached more than a century earlier, Clinton actually committed a crime, perjury. However, recent events cast the Monica Lewinsky scandal in an entirely different light in my opinion.
Last week retired General David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA after he revealed that he had been in an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Some folks consider it a non-starter and wonder why Petraeus felt he needed to resign. Well first of all, he did not honorably fall on his sword. He was asked to resign by his direct superior, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and had this not happened, we have no reason to doubt Petraeus would have tried to salvage his job. The affair supposedly ended months before he was caught by the FBI so where was his honorable conscience in the interim? Even if we buy the notion that he resigned because he felt he dishonored the CIA and even if most of us agree on the immorality of his infidelity, his resignation was necessary for a far more important reason.
David Petraeus was America’s top spy. He had access to highly classified information. An extramarital affair puts him directly in the line of fire of a potential extortion. He could have been blackmailed by any third party that became aware of the affair. He also could have been blackmailed by Broadwell herself if she perceived herself the scorned lover. Clearly it appears that Broadwell sent emails to another woman (Jill Kelley) warning her to stop flirting with Petraeus so Broadwell herself seems to have been slightly unhinged. So Petraeus’ conduct goes beyond just poor judgment or immorality. His conduct put our entire national security at risk. He absolutely had to resign.
And that brings us back to Bill Clinton. As President, Bill Clinton had access to classified information, not the least of which were the codes to the nuclear arsenal. While history may record Monica Lewinsky as a harmless naive intern, Clinton’s consorting with her made him vulnerable to extortion just as it did with General Petraeus. We have a tendency to look the other way when presidents misbehave sexually (see FDR and Kennedy for starters) but the Petraeus affair should make us rethink this tendency. Just as there is a zero tolerance policy for adultery within the CIA, so should it be for the presidency. In retrospect, Clinton should have resigned. Perhaps the next president who cannot control his libido will set a proper precedent and step aside if he gets caught with his pants down.
Photo of Petraeus by Darren Livingston (Central Intelligence Agency) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Clinton by Bob McNeely, The White House  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
On the occasion of Barack Obama’s reelection to the presidency of the United States, I would like to write an open letter to three different folks.
Dear Disappointed Romney Supporter,
If you are the average Romney supporter who honestly thought he was the better candidate, voted for him, and is disappointed that he lost, this letter is not directed at you. If you are the unusual Romney supporter who thinks his loss signals the coming of the Apocalypse, the end of civilization as we know it, and a head-first dive into an abyss of socialism, then I’m talking to you. Unfortunately you have fed yourself a steady diet of Fox News, The Blaze, Daily Caller and for dessert, a good helping of World Net Daily. These fringe outposts on the information highway have led you to distrust mainstream media. And that my friends is the major difference between the ultra-liberal MSNBC and the heretofore mentioned outlets. MSNBC doesn’t stray too far off the trail set by the main stream media (ABC, CBS, NBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post). There is a reason why mainstream media is mainstream. They cover real news, with real sources. They have standards such that they don’t show exposé videos designed to bring down organizations (e.g. ACORN). They’re patient. They are willing to wait until a story fleshes out sufficiently with vetted sources before covering it (e.g. Benghazi). Is the mainstream media perfect? Of course not. Are they immune to bias? Without doubt, they are not. But if you need evidence that your fringe news sources are warped and are warping your mind, look at the behavior at Fox News on election night.
Putting The Faux in Fox News
When the vote counters at Fox News called Ohio for Obama, one of Fox’s analysts went batcrap crazy. Karl Rove begged his network, live and on the air, to reconsider their call. Never in the history of television has an on-air correspondent disagreed with his own network’s election night call. Why would Rove be so adamant? He had skin in the game, that’s why. Lots of skin … skin of the green variety. Via Crossroads GPS, his super-pac, Karl had dropped a ton of money into putting an end to Barack Obama’s political career. Yet the so-called fair and balanced network turns to him for analysis. Flashback four years ago when MSNBC discovered that on-air talent Keith Olbermann had contributed to a political campaign. All hell broke loose. Not on Fox though. No problem on Fox. And so, on election night we got to see Karl basically say “Hey! I’ve got big money riding on this! You can’t give Obama Ohio and the election!” All this while the celebration in Chicago is broadcast on split screen. It was a pathetic display. But Karl represents you. the disappointed Romney voter who lives in an alternate reality.
You are despondent and I understand why. Thanks to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, you live in a world where up is down and right is always right and left is always wrong. You’ve been brainwashed and Tuesday night you got water-boarded by reality. It was torture. But you’re alive my friends. You got through it. Now just accept that you’ve been lied to, and move on.
Dear Republican Party,
The most important “teaching moment” for you should be not that your candidate Mitt Romney lost but that you failed to take over the Senate, a goal that was completely realistic. We can look at three seats that were within reach and see easily why you lost them. Your candidates in Indiana and Missouri said really stupid stuff about rape. Your candidate in Massachusetts attacked his opponent’s self-professed heritage thinking that heritage could be disproven just by “looking at her”. These examples of pure foolishness were a trap door that the left could easily exploit. The rape comments were not simply dumb, they showed a disrespect for women not seen on the campaign trail in 25 years. They focused like a laser beam on your new meme that rape is not rape, this notion that lots of women fake it. Hell, when it comes to abortion your Vice Presidential candidate suggested that the health of the mother exception was wide enough to drive a truck through. Then you expect women to vote for you. The silliness over Warren’s ethnic background shined a light on your resentment of equal opportunity programs and the idea that traditionally oppressed minorities should be proactively recruited. Sure you griped that you felt Warren took advantage of these programs but let’s be honest. You don’t like the programs in the first place and that’s what a lot of minorities heard behind your Fauxahontas outrage.
Here is some free advice to my Republican friends. First, accept Roe v. Wade as probably the best compromise solution we will ever have on the issue of abortion. Accept it and move on. Second, accept the fact that some folks want a life-long partnership (including sex) with folks of their own gender. Gay folks aren’t going away. Republicans. you LIKE marriage. You think it is stabilizing. So let your gay brothers and sisters get the same benefits from the institution that you enjoy. You’re not gong to win this anti-gay battle. Two states, not by judicial decree, but by popular vote, legalized gay marriage. The tide is not only turning … it has turned. Accept it and move on. Third and finally, did you notice the first two bits of advice used the word “accept”? Yeah … be more accepting. Widen your tent. If you learned anything from this election it should be that you can’t win on the white male vote anymore. Hispanics supported Obama to the tune of 71%. Could that have anything to do with all the talk of self-deportation? There are just too many “other” types of people out there and if you go out of your way to insult and alienate them, you will stop winning elections.
Dear Mr. President,
Our elections are a funny thing. From the electoral college perspective, most folks would say you won by a landslide with more than 300 electoral votes. But let’s be honest here. Only about 2 million votes separated you from Mitt Romney, about 2% or so of the electorate. You won just over half the States. This was no Ronald Reagan 49 state smack-down. There are a bus load of people for all sorts of reasons who did not want you to have a second term. Your response should not be “to hell with them”. So, please, tackle jobs and the deficit and be hands on about it. This business of throwing semi-formed ideas at a polarized Congress and expecting progress is not going to work. You have invited the legislative leaders to the White House next week. That’s a good start. Don’t stop there. Stay in the game. I know you don’t have the leverage of an LBJ who had years of relationships to draw on but that’s no excuse. You’ve got to forge relationships. I see that some pundits have already voiced my idea (yes I thought of it first!) that you appoint Mitt Romney to your new Secretary of Business position. Damn man, talk about team of rivals! We all know what you meant by Secretary of Business. It wasn’t some new bureaucracy as Mitt suggested on the campaign trail. It’s meant to consolidate several organizations like HUD and SBA under one accountable leader. Put Mitt in charge of it and let him be the businessman he’s proven he can be. A much better use of his talents than POTUS.
You don’t have another term at stake here, Mr. President. You have your legacy. It’s a much bigger game this time.
Let’s start with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In 2011, Romney said the agency should not be funded at the federal level and that emergency relief should be pushed down to the states or better yet, to the private sector. I can only hope that Governor Romney was thinking about non-profits in the private sector because we have seen time and time again that when profit is applied to human lives, suffering ensues.
The profit motive works for products. You make a better product than the next guy and sell it for as much as the market will bear. That is capitalism at its best. The profit motive does not work for human beings. You privatize education and only the rich get educated. You privatize health insurance and the sick lose their insurance or worse, can’t get any at all. You privatize the military and you get mercenaries accountable to no one and out of control. You privatize the prison system and you get perverse incentives to convict more folks to fill more prisons, to make more money. Mitt Romney, inebriated on his own wealth and out of touch with regular people, does not understand that money changes everything. When profit becomes a component in the equation, it invariably becomes the most important component and people suffer.
The power and importance of federal government intervention was demonstrated by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie whose state was torn asunder by Sandy. Within two weeks of trashing the President for incompetence, the Governor was forced to be honest this week and give Barack Obama his due, while putting the Romney campaign in proper perspective during days of tragedy.
As I watched Chris Christie at the Republican Convention in August, it was obvious he was phoning it in. It took a full half of his speech to go by before he even mentioned Romney by name. Christie is a straight shooter. He’s real. We all know the truth. Christie sold his soul for political expediency supporting a guy half-heartedly for the sake of the party. This week, Christie found his soul again. His exchange with that doofus Steve Doocy of Fox News was as close to an endorsement of Obama as we’ll ever get from Christie as well as a total dismissal of trivial Mitt.
Furthermore, Hurricane Sandy reminds us that not only do we not build and run our businesses totally on our own, but that we cannot rebuild them totally on our own. The Small Business Administration is offering loans to businesses that need to recover from Sandy. In times of crisis this nonsense about Obama’s supposed comment “you didn’t build that” is shown for the distorted lie that it is. In an Obama administration, we help each other and the government provides for the general welfare of the people as our Constitution intended. In a Romney administration it is each man for himself, relying on the kindness of charity.
Speaking of charity, Sandy also gave Romney another opportunity to be opportunistic. On Tuesday as the horror of Sandy’s aftermath was revealed to the nation, Mitt Romney chose not to cancel a campaign event in Ohio but instead, in the most half-assed fashion, convert the event into a “storm relief event”. Because the decision to turn pure politics into charity was made at the last-minute, vestiges of politics remained, such as press passes emblazoned with “victory rally” and a campaign video displayed to the audience on a jumbo-tron, two things you wouldn’t expect to see at a charity event. Just to make sure that the intended purpose of the event was achieved, a photo-op of Romney taking action, the campaign hedged its bets and bought supplies just in case the invited audience did not bring any donations. Then those participants who wanted to meet Mr. Romney were instructed to hand him their donation or take a campaign-bought donation and give that to Romney. Yes, you read that right. Rally participants were given campaign-purchased props to make it appear they were giving donations to Romney’s “relief effort”. So, again, Mitt tries to win public favor through lies and deception.
In addition to the charity/campaign rally and its disingenuous image manipulation, a finer point emerged that the target of the donations, the Red Cross, is very clear that they prefer to receive money or blood donations, not supplies. Receiving supplies only adds to their logistical nightmares during a disaster. This was made evident in the Red Cross statement of thanks to the Romney campaign for their effort:
“The American Red Cross appreciates the support from the Romney campaign and is working with the campaign to process this donation of supplies,” Ann Marie Borrego, a Red Cross spokeswoman, said in a statement. “We are grateful that both the Obama and Romney campaigns have also encouraged the public to send financial donations to the Red Cross. We encourage individuals who want to help to consider making a financial donation or making an appointment to give blood.” — from a CNN report.
Notice that Ms. Borrego doesn’t encourage folks to send canned goods. I have read some bloggers point out that some organizations like the Salvation Army do accept supplies. That’s all well and good but Romney didn’t target the Salvation Army. He targeted the Red Cross. Why didn’t his staff research the Red Cross preference? Why didn’t they call the Red Cross and ask “how can we help”? They didn’t do it because that would not have provided the good photo-op. Imagine photos of folks lining up to give Mitt Romney cash and checks! Not the image he wanted floating around a week from election day.
Sandy, a study in contrasts. While Barack Obama is doing his job working with a Governor who savaged him only within the past two weeks, Mitt Romney launches a phony relief effort against the backdrop of his disdain for FEMA which he considers an “immoral” waste of Federal money. Please note that the Romney campaign has walked back previous comments about FEMA. Just like they take two sides of every debate to take advantage of the moment.
One Last Lie Before Election Day
Romney is running ads in Ohio implying that auto production jobs at GM and Chrysler are moving to China. It prompted the following responses from two companies.
“The ad is cynical campaign politics at its worst,” Greg Martin, a spokesman for General Motors, said in an interview late Tuesday. “We think creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back in this country should be a source of bipartisan pride.”
And in a note from the Chrysler CEO to his employees:
In an e-mail to employees on Tuesday, Chrysler’s executive, Sergio Marchionne, said that Jeep’s commitment to the United States was unequivocal. “I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China,” he wrote. “It is inaccurate to suggest anything different.”
The campaign slyly takes advantage of the average American’s ignorance about auto manufacturing. It is common practice to manufacture autos at the place of sale. Sales of Chrysler vehicles will increase in China therefore necessitating new plants there. No US jobs are being exported. Romney’s ad leaves the impression they are.
This is probably my last post before Election Day. Whatever your politics, I urge you to vote. I already did. But please keep this in mind. Do you really want to reward Mitt Romney for a campaign that right up until the last moment has engaged in lies and deception?
If you are anything like me, this campaign season has worn you out. My heart went out to a little girl on YouTube named Abby who has taken all she can take. It’s time for this long battle to end. May the best man win.
Photo by VOA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Last night at the Chicago Hilton four folks whom you’ve probably never heard of had a Presidential debate. It could have been six but of course Mitt Romney and Barack Obama declined to participate. This left us with Jill Stein of the Green Party, Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party and the better known Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. The affair was moderated by the greatly respected/greatly mocked Larry King formerly of CNN. When Larry kicked off the proceedings with the first question, forgetting to let the candidates make their two-minute opening statements, you had to wonder if you were watching a Saturday Night Live sketch. If you put aside the poor production quality and the helter skelter debate rules enforcement, you were left with an empty feeling in your gut. Isn’t this exactly what our founders would have wanted? Wouldn’t they have wanted diversity of opinion and voters having a real choice? Would they have signed up for a duopoly in which each side is beholden to big money and neither side offers solutions more weighty than a feather?
The three “official” presidential debates never touched the war on drugs. They never said a peep about getting out of Afghanistan NOW. There were no radical proposals like free higher education, eliminating the Internal Revenue Service, or balancing the budget in 2013, not five or ten years from now. All these topics were discussed last night in Chicago. These candidates talked about change in terms far more specific than anything offered by Barack Obama in 2008, or certainly in 2012.
In the end I was filled with sadness as “The Impossible Dream” played in my head and I watched these four Don Quixote’s dare to believe they could be President.
Christians have their Easter and Christmas. Jews have their Passover and Hanukkah. So I wondered yesterday what holiday does an atheist celebrate? What would qualify as a good atheist holiday? It should be a day in which myths were exploded and science reaffirmed, don’t you think? Such was the case on October 22, 1844 a day to be known as The Great Disappointment. In 1844, Samuel Snow, a follower of William Miller in a sect called Millerism, predicted the second coming of Christ on October 22. When the day began and ended like any other day with not a trace of Christ to be found, many Millerites were disillusioned. I believe Atheists on the other hand should celebrate this day as the day when maybe a handful of people saw organized religion for the bunk that it is. Of course, many Millerites came up with excuses for why Christ did not reappear. Some simply constructed some new fantasy.
The survival of organized religion depends entirely on the non-specificity of its prophecy. Once prophecy becomes specific, the supernatural (to be charitable) beliefs are held to a factual standard and they invariably fail. Such was the case last year when radio minister Harold Camping predicted the end of the world to occur on May 21 (at 6pm no less). Even the most religious among us hedged their bets and scoffed at the man. Why, I don’t know. If you are open enough to believe that Christ rose from the dead and will one day return, then why doubt Mr. Camping? To the atheist it is all entirely preposterous. To the religious, it only becomes preposterous when it gets too specific — when it enters the realm of scientific test where it can be debunked. As long as it’s vague, it can’t be held to scientific scrutiny. The opiate of the masses only works so long as its ingredients aren’t subjected to real analysis.
So, I say atheists should claim The Great Disappointment as their annual holiday when reality triumphed over mythology.
God’s Will and the GOP
Indiana US Senate candidate Richard Mourdock has himself in hot water over the following quote:
I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.
Only God knows if Richard felt He intended the birth to happen or the rape to happen but honestly I don’t know why people have their undies in a knot over this. The standard religious retort to any tragedy is “it’s God’s will”. If you ask your pastor why your daughter or wife got raped, he’s likely to say something along the lines of “we cannot always understand the mind of God” or “God works in mysterious ways”. Now, Mourdock expresses a pretty commonly held belief by Christians and everybody is in an uproar. I think folks ought to get off Mourdock’s back and check themselves. Either you believe that all life is precious and that God’s benevolent hand is in all things or you don’t. Mourdock may be a fool but at least he is no hypocrite.
The Tragedy of Newsweek
Last week, Editor-in-Chief of Newsweek, Tina Brown announced that no more printed copies of Newsweek would go out after December 31 of this year. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” she put on a disgusting display of Mitt Romney style bottom-line thinking as she confessed that folks would lose their jobs but that printing the magazine was no longer cost-effective. Of course she neglected to say that Time magazine (their chief rival) will still be publishing good old-fashioned print versions. So basically the truth is that Time has finally kicked Newsweek’s ass and Tina didn’t have the honesty to admit it.
But Tina’s money-is-all-that-matters approach was not the real tragedy of the announcement. The real tragedy is the number of disenfranchised people who will never have access to the digital Newsweek. We are truly approaching an age where information is being rationed out to the better-to-do. The poor can go pound salt. The panel on “Morning Joe” thought themselves profound as they observed everyone at the airports they frequent using i-Pads or other tablets. Hey, you arrogant out of touch butt holes, the poor don’t go to airports. The poor go to the corner store and buy a friggin’ magazine or newspaper. These same folks, mostly liberal, who belly ache about wealth being concentrated at the top 1% don’t give a second’s thought to information access being concentrated at the top also.
In short, the end of the print magazine Newsweek, is just one more step in keeping the poor down-trodden and ignorant. Tina Brown should be ashamed of herself.