Posts tagged ‘Mitt Romney’

When and When Not to Play the Race Card

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.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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November 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm 402 comments

Election 2012: Three Open Letters

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.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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November 9, 2012 at 9:53 pm 225 comments

Sandy Writes the Last Chapter on Obama-Romney

Hurricane Sandy which devastated parts of the American Northeast earlier this week places in sharp contrast the differing visions and styles of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

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.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Photo by VOA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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November 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm 671 comments

Libya and Lesbians

I thought I’d end the week with a couple of brief observations.

Libya

A little over a month ago we were treated to Mitt Romney’s ill-timed condemnation of the Obama administration for their handling of the Cairo and Benghazi uprisings, the latter of which resulted in the murder of our Ambassador Chris Stevens. Romney’s political posturing in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy received bipartisan criticism and rightfully so.  In the weeks following, various conflicting reports flowed from Washington concerning what actually happened in Benghazi, Libya. By the time this week got underway, conservatives even had me angry at the administration. I wondered why UN Ambassador Susan Rice “lied” on the Sunday political talk shows saying that the Libyan attack was prompted by an offensive YouTube video when by then it was clear we were dealing with a premeditated terrorist attack.

I’m actually surprised at myself for not seeing the Republican hand wringing over Benghazi for what it was, pure and simple election year posturing, exploiting a tragedy for political gain. What woke me up? Namely a couple of New York Times articles that make it clear the situation on the ground in Libya was far more subtle than we were previously being led to believe.

To Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers, there is little doubt what occurred: a well-known group of local Islamist militants struck the United States Mission without any warning or protest, and they did it in retaliation for the video. That is what the fighters said at the time, speaking emotionally of their anger at the video without mentioning Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or the terrorist strikes of 11 years earlier. And it is an explanation that tracks with their history as members of a local militant group determined to protect Libya from Western influence. - Election-Year Stakes Overshadow Nuances of Libya Investigation

The facts appear to point to an attack that was planned in advance, but not far in advance. There was no peaceful protest that grew out of control or was hijacked by extremists but the extremists did claim that the YouTube video motivated them. As is often the case, the truth is a muddy mix of facts that those with an agenda cherry pick from. And it must be acknowledged that the Administration, not wanting to emphasize a connection to established terrorist groups, cherry picked the YouTube video motivation. But they did not outright lie in doing so. Republicans, licking their lips that al Qaeda might indeed have flexed its muscles again, have stretched the truth:

Is it fair to link the Benghazi attack to Al Qaeda?

Only very indirectly. Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of Al Qaeda, had called on Libyans to avenge the killing of a Libyan-born Qaeda leader, and American intelligence officials have said they intercepted boastful phone calls after the assault from the attackers to members of the Qaeda affiliate in North Africa, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. - Clearing the Record About Benghazi

As usual, folks have rushed to judgment on Libya. I say let a proper investigation run its course and don’t concern yourself with coming up with an answer by November 6 in the hope of influencing an election.

Lesbians (and folks with other preferences)

I’ll be honest. I support LGBT rights but it doesn’t get my heart pumping as much as some other issues do. So I was surprised to be emotionally moved by a video put out by the Obama campaign featuring Jane Lynch, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Billie Jean King, George Takei, Wanda Sykes, Zachary Quinto, and Chaz Bono. They described the pain of growing up different and the validation they felt due to several pro-LGBT developments under the Obama administration. Among other things, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the President’s endorsement of gay marriage gave the LGBT community a huge sense of progress.

Now I will be the first to admit that Obama’s saying he was alright with gay marriage was a clear election year pander. Sometimes a pander can move the ball forward. More importantly, the video got me thinking about Mitt Romney. Not since the days of George Wallace have we had a party platform and a candidate so intent on denying people’s rights.

I agree with the celebrities in the video that the Obama administration has taken several important steps in making this a more inclusive society. We cannot allow a Romney administration to take us backwards.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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October 20, 2012 at 12:03 am 275 comments

Hey Ho, West and Bachmann Gotta Go!

With the first Obama-Romney debate in the can even the calmest Obama supporter is worried about the future. Andrew Sullivan was downright apoplectic. Bob Herbert seemed just plain angry: The president let his people down. And if he’s capable of doing that in an election that is clearly so important, it means he’s capable of doing it again if he wins a second term.

Come November 6, whether Obama wins or loses, the far more important issue will be what kind of Congress we will be looking at. It is unlikely that the House will return to Democrat control but we can at least hope to be rid of a few nutjobs. We cannot afford to lose the Senate, which would guarantee more gridlock in a second Obama term or give Mitt Romney carte blanche to take us back to the days of Ozzie and Harriet.

So, on election night I’ll be keeping one eye on the POTUS race and the other on the following legislative battles:

Allen West: This certifiably loony Congressman from Florida must be given his walking papers. Back when he was running he famously claimed he had a higher security clearance than the POTUS. Then, more recently he channeled Joseph McCarthy, claiming that a very precise margin of Democrats were card carrying Communists.

I wrote more about crazy Allen back in the day.

Michele Bachmann: MSNBC’s Chris Matthews put Minnesota’s Bachmann on the map when she channeled her inner Joseph McCarthy on “Hardball” saying that the media should investigate which of her peers in Congress were “anti-American”.

More recently she made baseless accusations against a devoted public servant, Huma Abedin because of supposed family associations to the Muslim Brotherhood. Even conservatives such as John McCain could not stomach this. Despite her record as paranoid crackpot, I have a small place in my heart for Michele. During a Presidential campaign event, a lesbian used her child as a prop to humiliate Bachmann. Bachmann’s behavior toward the child was kind and gracious. Then during her appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s talk show, the house band played “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” as Bachmann came on stage, no doubt fully knowing that Bachmann would not be in on the “joke”. Fallon later apologized. I felt very bad for Bachmann in both these instances and I was left with the impression that’s she’s well meaning, albeit nutty as a fruitcake. She even seemed to tamp down the crazy a bit during her bid for President. Still, Michele needs to go.

Todd Akin: Not content to be a knuckle dragging Neanderthal in the House of Representatives, Todd decided to run against Claire McCaskill for a Senate seat from Missouri. As we all know by now, Todd thinks that when a woman is REALLY raped (or in his words the rape is “legitimate”) the woman’s body has special powers to fight off rapist sperm and not get pregnant. Do I really need to say any more?

Joe Walsh: No, not the former member of the Eagles. This is Illinois’s GOP contribution to the House of Representatives. Joe is an over caffienated gaffe machine who recently said that his opponent Tammy Duckworth was talking too much about her military service. We won’t go into the fact that Tammy left a few limbs behind while serving her country. We also won’t discuss that Joe is behind on child support.

George Allen: More proof that there is always a second act in American politics (see Bill Clinton), George ran against Jim Webb for Senate in 2006 and while on the campaign trail referred to a brown skinned Webb staffer as “Macaca“. I’m not sure anyone ever figured out exactly what the heck George was talking about other than that it seemed ethnically antagonistic and ultimately cost George the election. Well, he’s baaaaaaaaaaaack and trying to defeat former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine for a seat in the Senate. Let’s hope Kaine prevails.

The Following Birthers:

Cliff Stearns, Florida

Mike Coffman, Colorado

Vicky Hartzler, Missouri

Anyone supporting this basically racist theory that Obama is not an American deserves a kick out the nearest Capitol exit door.

We may not be able to return Obama to the White House but perhaps we can return some sanity to the House and Senate. Who are your choices for the crazies who must go?

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Allen photo by: Gage Skidmore [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Bachmann photo by: Gage Skidmore [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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October 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm 775 comments

Why I Am Voting for Barack Hussein Obama

Arrogant conservatives, despite their utter ignorance about anything HUMAN, claim a profound wisdom when it comes to their ability to divine the motives of liberals who will grant Barack Obama a second term as President of the United States. They say Obama is our Messiah. They say that in the eyes of liberals, Obama can do no wrong. They say that whenever we liberals are confronted with one of Obama’s weaknesses, we cry “racism!” We are unthinking “sheeple”.

You don’t have to believe that Obama is a secret Muslim to think he’s not perfect.

You don’t have to believe he was born in Kenya and has a forged birth certificate to think he’s not perfect.

You don’t have to believe he is somewhere between a socialist, communist and anarchist to think he’s not perfect.

While the conservative fringe fouls the air with the stench of their crazed conspiracy theories, many liberals, myself included, can readily concede that Obama has thus far not been one of our “great Presidents”. Of course it takes decades of history and hindsight to judge the historical significance of a President, but we’ll concede that for the time being Obama ain’t no Washington, Jefferson or Roosevelt (the GOP one or the Democratic one). In fact, some liberals are very disappointed with the man.

Take comedian Lee Camp whose recent video contends that there isn’t too much daylight between Obama and his opponent Mitt Romney.  Camp claims to know who will win this election and the winner’s name doesn’t even matter:

It’s gonna be the guy who seems to support endless war, countless drone attacks and would sooner sit down to watch every Pauly Shore movie back to back than consider decreasing our 900 military bases around the world by a single one.

It’ll be the guy who deports immigrants hand over fist and would sooner adopt Honey Boo Boo than stand up for unions over the corporatists.

It’ll be the guy who surrounds himself with advisers from Goldman Sachs, GE and Monsanto. Not only will he win the election but I bet you he’ll get every single electoral vote.

I don’t know whom Lee is voting for but despite his disappointment with Obama,  I doubt it will be Mitt Romney.

Then we have (another) comedian who is also an actor and writer, David Cross who had some harsh words for the current POTUS:

There are dozens, if not hundreds of legitimate reasons why you should not vote for Obama. You were lied to, seduced by yet another smooth talking politician who promised you hope and change. …

And yes, after three years of Obama, we still live in a country with an ever-peeling veneer of “democracy” that is run by and for the moneyed power brokers and their vested interests. A country where cancer patients smoking medicinal marijuana in the privacy of their home participate in a criminal offense, but knowingly manipulating the markets and stealing from pension funds goes, not only unpunished, but lucratively rewarded.

And true, we still live in the most violent first world country on earth, with increasingly lax restrictions on the freedom to buy assault weapons online. And we still spend more of our precious decreasing tax dollars on “defense” than the next ten countries combined. …

And unquestionably, the banks, insurance companies, brokerage houses and really, all financial institutions have gotten away virtually untouched with the biggest theft of the people’s money since Rome was sacked by the Visigoths. — David Cross from 90 Days, 90 Reasons.

But then Cross asks the reader to consider the alternative. This brings me to why I am voting for Barack Obama in November.

First let’s rewind to the Republican primary season where each candidate tried to outdo the other on just how cut-throat they could be with the American people. GOP audiences cheered at the notion of letting a man without insurance die in the street, and candidate Ron Paul said nothing to condemn the notion. A soldier asking candidates about marriage equality was booed by an audience of homophobic cowards, not fit to wipe his ass much less shine his shoes. And Rick Santorum stood by and said nothing in defense of the man. Santorum, a so-called patriot, except when it comes to what you want to do in the privacy of your bedroom. Let’s not forget Herman Cain who reminded the jobless in this disastrous economy that it was their fault that they didn’t have a job.

Through it all, Mitt Romney seemed comparatively innocuous. His most memorable moments amounted to challenging Rick Perry to a ten thousand dollar bet and deflecting accusations of hiring undocumented workers by saying that he told his landscaper “I can’t have illegals. I’m running for President for Pete’s sake.” Mitt was the most presidential in a cast of mean-spirited clowns and he won the nomination.

Ah yes, the nomination … the Republican National Convention helped further flesh out the Republican party that we were introduced to in the primary debates.  The theme was the makers vs the takers. If “you didn’t build that”, the Obama phrase perversely mangled by opponents, was offensive, the GOP upped the ante by suggesting that if you didn’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps you were a loser. Virtually every speaker told tales of ancestors who made it with no help from the government, just by dint of hard work. Yet, in twisted convoluted logic, they lauded America as the place “legal” immigrants came to for opportunity. Somehow, the greatest governmental experiment ever launched by mankind had nothing to do with their ancestor’s success. It made no sense, but then Republican’s government-hating patriotism makes no sense either.

Shortly before the convention, Mitt announced his running mate, Paul Ryan, a card carrying enemy of the “nanny state”. Ryan was a no-win choice no matter how you looked at it. Either he was the austerity minded, program cutting makers-vs-takers candidate or he was the man who voted for every unfunded Bush initiative of the prior administration. Another example of the contradiction that is the current Republican party.

Then within the past few weeks a tape was released that revealed what Mitt Romney (and by extension, the entire GOP) felt was an effective pander to his “base”. Mind you, I didn’t say the tape revealed what Mitt actually feels. We don’t know what Mitt actually feels about anything. Pick any topic  and a YouTube of two Mitt’s side by side saying opposite things can be produced. But this pander, this low that Romney was willing to stoop to for votes and contributions, spoke volumes about the attitude of the folks who will be empowered by a Romney win in November. It is the attitude that many many Americans see themselves as “victims” and do not want to take “personal responsibility” for themselves.

Forget about Mitt for one moment and think about the arrogant prick who asked the question, how is Mitt going to convince people “you’ve got to take care of yourself”. He asks this while a no doubt minimum wage waiter serves him his champagne and caviar at the home of a man who hosts sex-parties for his out of touch spoiled friends who wouldn’t know a tough break if they had it shoved up their pampered butt.

These are the folks Romney wants to impress. These are the folks who think that because you got laid off and haven’t been able to find work in 18 months that you’re a loser mooching off the nation. This is the movement foretold by Rick Santelli back in 2009:

How about this, Mr. President and new administration. Why don’t you put up a website to have people vote on the internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers mortgages? Or would they like to at least buy cars, buy a house that is in foreclosure … give it to people who might have a chance to actually prosper down the road and reward people that can carry the water instead of drink the water?

This is America!

How many people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgages that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills?
Raise their hand!

I stand with David Cross and Lee Camp and many other liberals who are disappointed in Barack Obama. But I’m voting for him again this November because I detest most of what the Republican party has come to stand for:

Homophobia.
A dangerously “nostalgic” view of women.
A lack of empathy that borders on resentment and hatred of the poor and newly poor.
A love affair with the wealthy complete with delusions that we all could be wealthy if we just worked hard enough.

I don’t think that way and I won’t cast a vote that puts me in common cause with people who do. That is reason enough for me to vote for Barack Hussein Obama.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Art by Vectorportal [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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October 2, 2012 at 12:41 am 795 comments

Mr. President We Need a Plan

A couple of weeks ago I got totally fed up with the conservative readers of my blog demanding to see Barack Obama’s plan for the next four years. In the comments section, I told them in essence “Dammit, I’ll find his plan and give it a full analysis”. After all, how hard could it be? Obama’s Deputy Campaign Manager, Stephanie Cutter said it was out there on the web for all to see.

Since I didn’t listen carefully enough to Ms. Cutter, I started my analysis over at Barack Obama’s campaign web site. There I found points scattered among several sections of information. I started devoting a browser tab to each section and I started reading. But I also said to myself, why should this be so hard? The web site relies heavily on past accomplishments with the implicit message that past is prologue. There are a couple of great interactive graphs charting private sector job creation and auto industry job creation. Manufacturing jobs have also been created:

With that said, it was still a lot of work to cobble together a cohesive plan. I watched Cutter’s video again and heard “whitehouse.gov”. OK that’s better. Giving it more thought, it made sense to me that your plan for governing should be on your government web site and not on the campaign web site.

At the official White House web site, the problem is similar to that of the campaign web site, information scattered everywhere but at least here I found a forward-looking message, namely the President’s blueprint which was published in January of this year. So let’s take a quick look at the blueprint and then go down a side road with the American Jobs Act.

The blueprint breaks down into three basic parts:

Boosting Manufacturing — Through tax incentives and closing loopholes the 2nd term administration would discourage offshore outsourcing and reward domestic job creation. Trade reform will force our trading partners to play fair. Infrastructure enhancement will create jobs (which syncs with The American Jobs Act).

American-made Energy — Like Romney, Obama is advocating an all-of-the-above approach for energy. His history with the Keystone pipeline might make one skeptical about this but with no re-election to worry about, Obama might be more free to tell the environmentalists to take a hike. Specifically, Obama is proposing exploitation of our oil and gas reserves, a focused approach on developing clean energy resources, and battery innovation for vehicles. While the administration calls this “all of the above”, there is little if any mention of nuclear or coal.

College Affordability — On the premise that America cannot compete long term with an uneducated citizenry, the administration proposes a number of programs to provide incentives for lower cost and higher quality in higher education.

The American Jobs Act

This proposed legislative package has been sitting on the shelf for about a year now while Congress fiddles as Rome burns. The package includes:

Tax cuts for small business
Unemployment insurance reform
Infrastructure projects
Tax relief for families

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the American Jobs Act and estimated a 3 billion dollar savings over ten years.  Unfortunately, that score assumed some progress would be made by the Deficit Committee which ultimately imploded heading us toward a fiscal cliff at the end of this year.

I cannot find, in any of these plans a serious discussion about deficit reduction. Obama’s budgets which included deficit reduction were rejected by Congress.

So what is the difference between the President’s plan and Romney’s plan? The most noticeable difference is cosmetic. While Romney also has a web site with information scattered all over the place, he does consolidate his ideas into one 87 double-paged PDF file. When you look under the hood, the 174 page document is 50% Obama bashing, 40% typical corporate filler (you know … that PowerPoint pitch your company makes that is twice as large as it needs to be so you can fill up the presentation time) and 10% concrete ideas. The other clever device is a page defining Day One Executive Orders and Bills. And of course the 59 policy proposals which are the political equivalent of Henny Youngman one-liners, some pretty well defined, others pretty generic.

Let’s be honest. Every administration is a living breathing organism that reacts to the changing complexities of the globe on a daily basis. Neither of the candidates is going to propose a binding plan. If elected in November, both of these candidates are going to fall short of their plans and be castigated for it. With that said, the conservative request for a plan from Obama has validity only in that Obama has not done proper packaging. As usual his administration falls short on communication. There is no excuse to not have a single document that maps out the next four years so voters can have some idea of what they might get in a second term.

Mr. President, we need a real plan, a properly structured road map (or blueprint to use your language) that communicates future direction. You won’t get it done in time for the Democratic National Convention but I think you better get it done soon thereafter. It would be a shame to see Mitt Romney beat you simply because he has a well documented plan for failure while you have a poorly documented plan for success.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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September 3, 2012 at 6:53 pm 535 comments

The Zero Percent Club — A Flawed Poll or a Stupid Racist Monolith

News broke this week that according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, Mitt Romney is receiving zero percent support from black voters. Really? I can see only three alternative interpretations of this result, none of which are found in the main stream coverage:

Blacks are Racist

This one is easy. Just imagine if the results had been the other way around. What if the poll showed zero white support for Obama? Cries of societal breakdown would flood the airwaves. The shocking revelation of white racism against blacks would be the lead headline. Yet when the anti-Romney poll results were announced, it was summarized that there must be something wrong with Mitt Romney, not something wrong with the black voter.

Accusations of racism on blacks against whites usually falls on deaf ears. The reason I think was well spelled out by a civil rights worker (whose name I no longer remember) who said that racism is the potent combination of prejudice plus the power to use that prejudice to hurt the target of that prejudice. The notion is that a powerless black community can be as prejudiced against whites as they want. Without the power to DO anything the prejudice lacks any real punch.

I first heard this theory a good 25 years ago. Since then, both the corner office and the Oval Office have been occupied by blacks. The idea of the powerless black man has diminished considerably. This makes the charge of racism against whites in this case quite a bit more plausible.

Blacks are a Joke

While blacks may have gained more power in the past 30 years, the credibility of the black community still suffers. When we look at the effectiveness of policy by either party as it relates to blacks, one has to wonder if anyone is really taking black folk that seriously. These poll results don’t help in that regard. If we toss out racism as the motivating force we are left with the possibility that blacks really aren’t thinking very critically about this election. That would be true of any group that votes 100% against something. It kills their credibility as a voting block because it shows no diversity of thought or opinion. There are only two things that unite blacks, one total nonsense and one drop dead serious. Their nonsensical commonality is the color of their skin (for the most part …it must be said blacks run the gamut of skin color, this author being a prime example). Skin color is meaningless. The serious commonality is a legacy of systemic discrimination. Yet I submit that within those two common attributes there is a wide range of potential political opinion. Blacks run from ultra-liberal all the way to ultra-conservative. You would never know it from these poll results which make blacks look like a very stupid monolith.

The Poll is Flawed

The Wall Street Journal and NBC defend the poll results claiming the sampling was proper. This according to the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart:

“The numbers came from a statistically significant sample of more than 100 African-American voters out of 1,000 total voters in the poll,” Mark Murray, senior political editor for NBC News, told me via e-mail this morning. “Given the sample size of these African-American respondents, the margin of error is well within the 95%-4% split with which Obama won this group in 2008.” So, there’s a possibility that Romney could eke out some support on Election Day. A possibility of the very slim variety.

I say pure BS. You might not think that there is much difference between 4% support and 0% support, but symbolically it makes a world of difference. The pollsters can yell until they are blue in the face. I refuse to believe that there is a statistically non-existent black pro-Romney contingent. These poll results only serve to further propagate the notion of blind racial support which does a disservice to our national discourse.

What I think irks me the most is not which of the three above alternatives, racism, stupidity, or bad polling caused these results. What irks me is the media exclusively interpreting these results as a commentary on Romney and not a commentary on the group being polled. It makes blacks a club with which to pound Romney over the head. It makes them a useful tool. It would have been more worthwhile to get underneath what blacks really think. Where is there a diversity of opinion?

I’m not sure the media is really interested in what black people think and why. I think they’re just interested in scoring political points and fanning flames. This poll certainly served that purpose.

Post-script: Kudos to Melissa Harris-Perry for at least talking to some black conservatives and giving a damn about what they think.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Graphic via NBC News

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August 27, 2012 at 12:29 am 389 comments

Akin’s Comment Doesn’t Begin or End with Akin

Today I offer a quick shout-out to Missouri Representative Todd Akin for single-handedly exploding the Republican Party. For the uninitiated, Akin’s comments did not come out of the blue.

They are part of a long tradition of GOP medical gobbledygook regarding rape and pregnancy as detailed by Rachel Maddow.

For those who don’t want to sit through Rachel’s 20 minute presentation, here is a summary of Republicans being stupid:

James Leon Holmes — 1980 — Pregnancy from rape as frequent as snowfall in Miami.
Stephen Freind  — 1988 — Female secretions stop rape related pregnancies.
Clayton Williams — 1990 — Rape is like the weather, relax and enjoy it.
Henry Aldridge — 1995 — Juices don’t flow — it takes cooperation to get pregnant.
Fay Boozman — 1998 — Fear triggers hormonal changes that prevent pregnancy.

So Akin is another in a long line of GOP operatives spouting biological nonsense about rape. Akin is receiving enormous pressure to withdraw from his race against sitting Senator Claire McCaskill. If Republicans think Akin’s exit from the national stage will end the debate, they’ve got some more thinking to do. Akin’s brother in anti-abortion thought is none other than VP candidate Paul Ryan. Ryan and Akin co-sponsored HR3 (an abortion funding bill) that attempted, in its first draft, to refine the term rape to “forcible rape“. Sounds a bit like Akin’s “legitimate rape” doesn’t it? Despite the Romney campaign’s repudiation of Akin’s comment, Paul Ryan has Akin hanging around his neck and if Democrats are smart, that will remain the case regardless of Akin’s future.

While many women believe the life of the unborn takes top priority and forces the decision of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, there is also a sizable number of women who want complete reproductive freedom, and at the very least, believe that rape and incest are valid reasons for an abortion. Any hopes the GOP might have had to bury Paul Ryan’s record on this subject have just blown up in their faces. Only pro-life absolutist women will stick with Romney/Ryan. The rest could be a lost cause for the ticket.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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August 21, 2012 at 2:25 pm 742 comments

America is Not a Corporation

New York Stock Exchange

This morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, the panelists scratched their heads about why Mitt Romney never seems prepared to answer questions. The case in point was an appearance in Florida yesterday when during an impromptu press conference Romney was asked how his budget differed from that of his running mate Paul Ryan. His answer waffled all over the place from a deflection to Obama’s poor economic record all the way to confessing he and Ryan hadn’t done a point by point comparison of their plans yet.

The question on the “Morning Joe” table was why, with adequate prep time, was Romney’s answer so inadequate? Mind you, this is not the first time this has happened. Romney has essentially been running for President for the past 7 years and has had more than enough time to shield himself from attacks about his finances. Despite that, his tax returns are still under wraps and his legal but still bad-politics off shore accounts are in full swing. Jon Meacham, a Random House executive editor, offered the following theory:

Is it possible that the culture of Romneyland is so managerial that they make decisions in a kind of clinical PowerPoint way and that’s their reality and to deviate is to somehow go off mission critical work? … But you would think new incoming data would require adapting to circumstances.

BINGO! Jon’s question did not get near the air time it deserved. It is indeed very possible that the Romney campaign is run with a corporate mindset. Jon’s assumption that new data would require adaptation ignores a persistent truth about big corporate America. In a big corporation, an executive makes a decision, often for purely personal or political reasons. His workers, separated from him by several levels of management tell him as politely as possible that his decision cannot be executed on time, under budget … or in any way at all. This new “data” gets lost in translation as it travels up the corporate ladder from worker to ultimate decision maker. More effort is made in confirming the executive’s idea than in realistically evaluating it. The result is that workers are told “just get it done”. Deadlines are missed. Budgets are blown. Workers are blamed even though they told the higher-ups from the get-go that the “idea” could not be executed as originally requested.

This is de rigueur at a big corporation. I lived it for almost twenty-five years. I observe it today through friends who work in the corporate world. A country cannot afford to be run this way. Jon Meacham inadvertently stumbled upon the folly of believing that all this country needs is a business man to right the ship. If Meacham is right about what ails the Romney campaign, and I think he may be, then that does not bode well for the Romney White House.

The United States of America is not a corporation and it cannot be run via PowerPoint.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Photo credit: Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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August 14, 2012 at 11:52 pm 1,087 comments

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