And The VP is …

As I write this Friday night MSNBC reports three reliable sources saying Paul Ryan is the VP pick for Romney. CNN is being more cautious in their reporting. Fox is hedging its bets also.

I’ll update this post tomorrow morning after Romney announces his running mate at 8:45 am EDT.

Update 8/11/12

MSNBC got it right and this morning at about 9:15 Eastern time, Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential running mate. Upon his introduction, Ryan came bounding down the stairs of the USS Wisconsin (now a museum), the picture of vigor and vitality. He looked genuinely thrilled to be there. In fact, unlike his benefactor, Ryan looked genuine all the way around. Not a false note in body language nor delivery. His speech had just the right balance of gravity, optimism and pride of country.

Debt, Doubt and Despair

I love it when politicians (or their speech writers) find these neat alliterative phrases to capture the moment. There is no arguing with the debt part of the equation. There can also be little doubt that a good portion of the country is filled with doubt and despair. After Ryan’s speech, I played Obama’s introduction of Biden four years ago and I could not help but feel a bit sad. Ryan’s description of our country is not far from the truth and no one who believed in Barack Obama four years ago could have imagined that debt, doubt and despair could remotely describe our country in 2012.

We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes

Right when Ryan’s just about got you by the throat and you’re ready to say “dammit, I’m tired of waiting for a recovery, it’s time for a change”, he tosses out that well worn conservative cop-out for keeping the poor, poor and the rich, rich. When Ryan says America promises equal opportunities, someone needs to ask him does America make good on that promise? The implicit message of Ryan is that there is an equal playing field and the outcomes are not equal by virtue of inadequacies in those who do not make it. It’s that old Herman Cain chestnut “if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself.”  Obviously self-reliance is a great virtue but what the liberal sees that the conservative fails to see is that there are systemic societal forces that interfere with self-reliance. There are many no-opportunity-zones in this country where there is little hope of escaping poverty.

I will be more impressed with Paul Ryan when he tells me how he is going to make good on that promise of equal opportunity. Once he and Mitt implement that plan, and opportunities  really become equal, then I can make peace with the lack of equal outcomes.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Photo by United States Congress [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Farewell to T-Paw and Change.org

Where T-Paw Went Wrong

It’s been a week since Tim Pawlenty (known in the Republican hood as T-Paw) withdrew from the GOP Presidential race. There hasn’t been a heck of a lot of real analysis on his withdrawal. Let’s face it. Watching Pawlenty was a lot like watching paint dry. He was hardly a media darling. Still I’m surprised that I haven’t seen a good post-mortem on his campaign.

Maybe I just don’t understand GOP politics but I have the prescription that would still have Pawlenty in the race today. Very simply, target the right demographic. For reasons that totally befuddle me, Pawlenty decided to take on Michele Bachmann and go after her voting block. It doesn’t take a Sigmund Freud to figure out that Pawlenty with his vanilla demeanor was a rival of Mitt Romney, not Michele Bachmann. To put it a bit differently, there are two factions of  GOP candidates this season, the sensible and to varying degrees, the wild-ass crazy. Pawlenty, no matter how much he wanted to be the bad boy you don’t bring home to Mama, was in the sensible league with Romney and Huntsman. Pawlenty should have saved his money, like Mitt did, and waited for the right opportunity. Instead, he blew his entire chest on Iowa and to make matters worse, blew it on the Ames Straw Poll which everyone now knows is NO predictor of future victory.

But then, I’m not really sorry to see Tim go. Tim is, in a word, a punk. Call me old-fashioned but I find something wrong with a candidate who shrinks away from attacking the acknowledged front-runner (Romney) and instead goes full throttle against the only woman in the race. Tim’s lucky he ran out of money because if he hadn’t, he would eventually have had to man-up. I’m not sure T-Paw had the testosterone to run the race to the end.

Why I’m Through with Change.org

For over a year now, I’ve subscribed to e-mails from Change.org. Like a typical liberal, I was moved by the organization’s commitment to social justice. I didn’t keep track but I’m guessing I signed an online petition or two over the past few months. I must admit, as the months wore on, their e-mails didn’t so much move me to social indignation but rather depressed the heck out of me. I also had the sneaking suspicion that some of the folks for whom Change.org advocated didn’t really deserve the advocacy. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back came in the form of an article on the makers of “Sesame Street”, The Sesame Workshop (known as the Children’s Television Workshop back when I was a kid).

Apparently the folks at Sesame Workshop had to release a statement saying that they would not have the characters Bert and Ernie get married. Yes, you read that right. Some gang of absolute idiots had petitioned Sesame Workshop to have Bert and Ernie get married. Change.org facilitated the petition. The simple translation of Sesame Workshop’s very polite statement was “for goodness sake, these are PUPPETS! What the hell is wrong with you?”

Now apparently Change.org and the authors of the petition felt that in a time of high suicide rates among gay youngsters, having Bert and Ernie, who have roomed since they came on the scene in 1969, get married would send a message that being gay is ok. It would be in the vein of the “It Gets Better” campaign.

I propose that one way to make “it get better” is stop sexualizing children. I don’t doubt that gender preference is deeply ingrained and very possibly innate. That does not mean that such a preference needs to manifest between the ages of two and four (the demographic of “Sesame Street”). The notion that a four-year old is homosexual, or heterosexual for that matter, is to my mind patently ridiculous. The Sesame Workshop has stated that the friendship between Bert and Ernie teaches kids that very different kinds of people can be friends. That is sufficient in teaching tolerance to kids. If by some wild stretch of the imagination little Johnny says to his Mommy “I want to kiss a boy but I don’t think anyone will like me if I do”, Mommy can always say “people can still like you if you’re different. Look at Bert and Ernie. They’re different. They look different. They like different kinds of things. And they like each other a lot.” This lesson in tolerance can be given without having to tell a four-year old that Bert sticks his pee-pee in Ernie’s bum-bum.

Before everyone accuses me of being a homophobe, let me be perfectly clear. I believe consenting adults can do whatever the heck they want with each other and it’s nobody’s business but theirs. I also believe that two people who love each other, with a sexual component, should be allowed to marry in a civil ceremony if they so please, regardless of gender. However I draw the line at how we introduce children to sexual concepts. The notion of teaching a four-year old that Bert and Ernie are gay (and all that goes along with that) gets me as annoyed as the constant heterosexualization of minors that gets portrayed on the Disney Channel on a regular basis. Our kids should be worried about reading, writing and arithmetic and how to be kind and compassionate to their fellow human beings. They should not have to be worried about what to do with their penises and vaginas. Why can’t we let a four-year old be a four-year old? They’ll have plenty of opportunity to wrestle with sexual urges when they hit puberty.

Sometimes liberals have trouble picking their battles. Now that Change.org has shown such bad judgment in trying to turn a wonderful kid’s show into an episode of Dr. Ruth, they can continue their battles without me.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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The GOP Slate and the Week We Lost Our Weiner

The GOP Slate

OK, let’s be honest, the first GOP candidate debate on Fox about a month ago was a joke. It included at least one candidate, Gary Johnson, who we know will never be President of the United States (Gary who?) and it did not include some heavy hitters, namely Romney and Gingrich through no fault of Fox but just bad timing. So let’s ignore that debacle and turn our attention toward the real first GOP candidate debate carried on CNN last Monday. The debate itself was clumsy with “average Americans” asking the questions. We don’t need average Americans who have no TV presence asking questions. I would have preferred a panel of journalists but then let’s not forget, this is the Palin Era where journalists are to be bypassed. The opening statements were also gag-worthy as each candidate tried to one-up the other on how much successful intercourse they’d had: “I’m the father of three”, “I’m the mother of five and foster-mother of 630”. Finally there were the series of “this or that” questions designed to lighten the mood and make the candidates more human. I was fully prepared for the moderator, John King to ask Herman Cain “Tupac or Biggie?”

Here is my quick review of the roster:

Rick Santorum: One word — Google. Really. Can any man whose last name ranks first on Google as the definition of  “The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex” expect to one day be President of the United States? Gay activist Dan Savage’s evil bit of brilliance in launching a contest to concoct a gay-oriented definition for Rick’s last name permanently makes him a punchline. I will give Santorum credit, however for consistency. He is against abortion even in the case of rape and incest. As I’ve written before, this is the ONLY pro-life stance that has any integrity. As for Rick’s performance in the debate, nothing newsworthy. Just another “red-blooded American” appealing to the far right base.

Michele Bachmann: It looks like I must abandon my wait for Bachmann’s fall. The Congresswoman from Minnesota just keeps rising and her debate performance, while not brilliant, was hardly the dumb-ass display we might have expected from someone who thinks Lexington-Concord took place in New Hampshire and our founding fathers ended slavery. One could see in this performance a cheer leader for the Tea Party with a degree of gravitas missing from her most closely aligned associate, Sarah Palin. In this sexist world of ours, Palin is almost too pretty. You, and I mean you Rich Lowry, want to bed Palin. But while Bachmann is a reasonably attractive woman, when you look at her you think of a mother, not a lover and you see someone who truly wants to be relevant. You can imagine Bachmann bouncing back from gaffes by doing a bit of study to avoid them in the future. Her best moment was when she referred to Obama as “someone far more eloquent than I” and then hanged him on his own words. I cannot believe I’m saying this but we need to keep our eye on Bachmann.

Newt Gingrich: Fresh from his campaign staff quitting en masse, Newt used the debate to lecture America in his usual nonsensical professorial way. Most telling was his intro where he departed from the pattern of very personal introductions (see reference to successful procreation above) and chose instead to open with a policy statement. This makes sense since Newt Gingrich is a serial adulterer with no moral standing. Like Santorum, but for different reasons, Newt is now a punchline. Time to move on.

Mitt Romney: Making the first debate appearance of his campaign, Romney acquitted himself well. Most pundits gave the night to him with Bachmann a close second. I am probably in the minority on this but I think Romney has made a good distinction between what he did in Massachusetts and what Obama has done on a federal level with health care reform. To me the strongest part of his argument is that dealing with health care should not be a federal responsibility, but should rest with the States. This makes anything he did in Massachusetts his prerogative. I also got a kick out of his assertion that Obama never called him to consult on HCR. If only Obama had called Romney, “Obamacare” might have gone down better! Sadly though, Mitt still looks like Michael Scott from NBC’s “The Office”, that boss who wants so desperately to fit in with his underlings and fails miserably. Pundits have said, he reminds you of the dude who laid you off yesterday.

Tim Pawlenty: Yes there are those who want to give him the rap accolade T-Paw but I simply call him “Punk Ass Beeyotch” (the Notorious P.A.B.). Just a day earlier on Fox News he coined the devastating term “Obamneycare” forever tying Mitt Romney to Barack Obama. When given the opportunity to hammer home his assault with Romney standing next to him, Pawlenty showed us the kind of leadership we can expect in the White House — he punted. I think Romney is a bit taller than Tim and maybe could have kicked his ass. Maybe that was too intimidating? Imagine President Pawlenty talking smack about Ahmadinejad and then entering into negotiations with him where P.A.B. capitulates on everything. The truth is Tim is a wimpy soft-spoken man who does his best to fake tough and fails. The debate only confirmed what I already thought … Pawlenty is a non-starter.

Ron Paul: I’m sorry but despite his racist past, I cannot resist watching Ron Paul in a debate. Whether it’s telling the truth about the war on drugs or on our wars in general, Paul is always a refreshing breath of air. He is the only candidate who actually suggests concrete policy changes that are truly radical, that take us in a new direction. And of course, America being what it is, he will never get elected talking like that.

Herman Cain: Normally I’d launch into a racially charged diatribe about the only black candidate being placed at the far right of the assembled candidates, physically marginalized from the get-go but it does not matter where you place Cain on the stage, the man brings that “I know nothing about the issues” Palin appeal to the masses and it has earned him big points in most recent polls.  Essentially Cain’s performance could have been matched by any one of the folks who regularly comment on this blog. He is a “regular guy” successful business man who, like Palin, uses his ignorance of politics as a badge of honor. (Of course, with Palin it’s a bizarre sort of badge to wear since she has been in politics much of her adult life.) His approach is, what have career politicians done for you lately? He made some murky remarks about not wanting Muslims to serve in his administration but he seemed to step it back a bit to make a distinction about radical Muslims. (Of course, Newt took that opportunity to double down on the Islamaphobia.)  Like Bachmann, Cain seems to be willing to learn and he made attempts at specific policy prescriptions. I would not totally rule out a Cain VP slot.

In the batting cage were three people who could mix things up a bit. The will-she-won’t-she Sarah Palin is still undecided on a Presidential run and her recent SarahPAC funded vacation did nothing to clarify her intentions. I am still hoping she runs just to see her and Bachmann face off on stage! The punditocracy claims that Pawlenty’s stumble last Monday night opens the door for Texas Governor Rick Perry to enter the race. I find the idea of secessionist running for President highly amusing. And besides, look at the last President Texas gave us. Last but not least there is Jon Huntsman who will announce his run in the next few days. Huntsman is what many of my readers call a RINO. He does not pass the far right conservative litmus test. Even more interesting, he must walk that fine line of opposing Obama and defending his own employment under Obama as Chinese Ambassador. On the bright side, the dude speaks fluent Mandarin, so he isn’t a dumb-ass. On the less bright side, he opens his pre-campaign by reminding people that he was in the never-heard-of rock band Wizard while invoking images of “Easy Rider” and being stoned in the 60’s on your motor cycle. While cryptic, it sure is original. I will be watching Huntsman closely as the man who could possibly beat Obama.

weiner with all the fixins

The Week We Lost Our Weiner

If you see the progressives in your neighborhood dressed in black this week it is because they are in mourning. On June 16, after a three-week roller coaster ride of lies, revealing photos and high school worthy word-plays, New York Democratic Representative Anthony Weiner finally gave into mounting pressure and resigned. The circus atmosphere at his resignation speech was entirely consistent with a scandal devoid of any sense of dignity.

What emerges for me from Weinergate is one overriding thing: rank hypocrisy. Everywhere you looked during this scandal you saw a hypocrite:

The Media: The mainstream media said they desperately wanted to get to serious business and Weiner was a distraction but they kept leading their broadcasts with him. A prime suspect was Chris Matthews who declared some relief on Friday that Weiner had resigned so things like the debt ceiling could be discussed, but who with final editorial judgment over his show, decided to lead with Weiner on every show for almost two weeks.

The Democratic Party: From Nancy Pelosi to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Dem’s claimed they wanted Weiner to resign so he could “heal”. We all know that is plain and utter bullcrap. They don’t give one’s rat’s ass if Weiner heals. They want their anti-GOP talking points to take center stage again and not be overshadowed by one Congressman’s proclivity for exhibitionism.

The Republican Party: The party that gave us Larry Craig and David Vitter should do only one thing when a sex scandal emerges. STFU. Enough said.

The man himself: While it is true that Weiner never played the “family values” card like so many of his Republican counterparts, he was an outspoken advocate for moral causes, health care reform most notably. While no one is perfect, it does seem to me rank hypocrisy to talk about honesty and virtue in politics and then betray everyone around you with brazenly stupid behavior that you then try to lie to get out of.  The scandal makes a mockery out of one of Weiner’s finest moments when he talked about political courage.

What a terrible waste.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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