Three Liberal Landmines

In the spirit of introspection, alluded to in my previous post, here are three thoughts on liberal landmines ranging from the trivial to the dead serious.

The Better Scandal

MSNBC spent the better part of the first two months of this year focused on one story: Bridgegate. Each prime-time show lead with some update on the New Jersey traffic snafu engineered by Chris Christie admin officials and appointees.  At first they tried to make hay of the possibility that an elderly woman died because her ambulance got stuck in the traffic jam caused by a bogus “traffic study”. Unfortunately, almost immediately a relative of the deceased woman said she didn’t blame Christie for the death, so MSNBC had to drop that bit of melodrama. In the backdrop was the fact that Christie was the only potential 2016 Republican candidate who was giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money. The obvious attempt of the network to discredit Hillary’s only real opposition was transparent — and disappointing to me, a long time fan of the network for their left-leaning but fair reporting.

Contrast this with Fox which for the better part of the past 18 months focused on Benghazi. Say what you will of the merits of the Benghazi “scandal”, four dead Americans including an ambassador trumps an amateur hour traffic jam any day of the week. If liberal news networks are going to go after Republicans they better come up with juicier stuff than Bridgegate.

A Drag on the Family

When conservatives compare our country to “the family” it usually sounds like grade school oversimplification.  The typical example is “why would you want your country in debt? You don’t want your family in debt do you?” I am pretty sure that many economists agree that a little debt is actually GOOD for a country while it may not be good for a family.

But I was thinking the other day about another country/family analogy and this one resonated a bit. Picture the family who is pretty normal except for that one loser who has never applied himself, never looked for a job and is always mooching off the other family members. The family either applies “tough love” and cuts him off or they go down the drain with him, constantly bailing him out.

I do not subscribe to the notion that all welfare recipients are lazy loafers, or in Paul-Ryan-speak, “takers”. But I am beginning to question whether the current welfare state discourages work. When I got laid off seven years ago, I did not apply for unemployment insurance because I wanted to start my own business and I assumed doing so would make me ineligible for assistance. When my wife applied for unemployment insurance after her layoff last year, one of my concerns was how this would affect her ability to earn money. From what I understand, she can make a small amount and still receive government assistance but a job that would pay only slightly more than the assistance we receive would make us ineligible. So living day-to-day, paycheck to paycheck, there is a disincentive to find at least a low paying job. In a sense you find yourself saying “I can’t afford to get a job”, as crazy as that may sound. And in this case we are talking about responsible people, my wife and I. If a hard-working person can’t afford to find a job imagine how a true loafer feels.

Welfare and unemployment insurance don’t allow you to live like a king (or the proverbial queen) so many conservative complaints about welfare recipients do  not resonate with me. Welfare recipients don’t live in swank penthouse apartments. But it is worth considering how government aid creates an unintentional disincentive to work.

Two approaches that come immediately to mind are workfare (not new) and mandatory health care assistance. How about the government paying your salary at a company instead of handing you a check while you’re not working? Basically you “volunteer” at a company — they pay nothing — and the gov pays you to work there. Time limits could be applied while you find a company who will pay you to work. In the area of mandatory health care assistance, how about legislation that forces any company with a health benefit plan, to continue to provide that benefit to any employee fired without cause (e.g. layoff)  for a period of two years while they search for employment.

The bottom line is liberals need to think outside the box, stop focusing on victimization of the poor, creating greater dependency, and find new creative ways to lift folks out of poverty. Creating a dependent class hurts those relegated to that class as well as the country that goes down the drain supporting them.

The New Jim Crow

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander is a book that I shall never read. I had the distinct misfortune of seeing the author discuss her premise and one phrase she used, yes — one phrase, left me so irritated that I will not give her book a chance. In discussing the plight of young minority men going to prison for longer terms than their white counterparts (the crack vs powdered cocaine dichotomy, to name one) she said (very close paraphrase), “these young men go to jail and are labeled criminals”.

NO NO NO. They are not labeled criminals. They ARE criminals. When you break the law you are a criminal. While it is perfectly correct to make the punishment fit the crime, isn’t our time better spent getting folks to STOP committing the crime in the first place? Words have meaning. When you say someone is “labeled a criminal” the implication is that forces beyond his control have created his condition. There are folks in the ghetto who would sooner die than break the law. This notion that ghetto life ipso facto creates criminals is the most counter-productive condescension imaginable.

It reminds me of a battle I fought in the comments section of another blog where a woman said she “found herself pregnant”. Mind you, she was not raped. She was not the victim of incest. She got pregnant through unprotected consensual sexual intercourse. She willingly actively engaged in behavior that, on occasion, results in a pregnancy. Yet she “found herself pregnant” as though no action on her part was involved. A total surprise — the sperm genie visited her while she was sleeping. Puhleeeze.

The same goes for this “labeled a criminal”. Brotha didn’t do a damn thing and our terrible racist society “labeled” him a criminal. Bull crap. Liberals use language to abdicate responsibility for behavior. It is always someone else’s fault. Frankly I’m sick of it. There is this thing in business called “root cause analysis”. When you “find yourself pregnant” or get “labeled a criminal” by some evil third-party, you are not getting at the root cause. Stop unprotected screwing! Stop buying, selling and using illegal drugs! Those are the root causes of the problem.

The question that remains is, are liberals well-meaning in this obfuscation or actually more odious than the “cold-hearted conservatives” whom they regularly attack? The jury is out for me on that one. But I can tell you this much– libs need to change their language and their perspective on the “down-trodden”. Some folks get screwed over because they screwed themselves over. That is not a problem we can fix by demonizing rich white men.


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:

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.


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

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.

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