Thursday, November 29, 2012

More Convoluted Reasoning from the Tea Party Crowd

Anyone who’s paid much attention to the Tea Party crowd for the last three years already knows that critical thinking and logic are not exactly their strong suits. But this new talking point they’ve been circulating hits a new low in convoluted reasoning.

Now they’re claiming that Democrats (or liberals, or humanists, or anyone who doesn’t confirm to their authority-loving worldview) don’t support American troops because the troops supposedly voted overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney. Here’s the quote that was floating around Facebook:

“In the 2012 election, our military rejected Barack Obama by a 2 to 1 margin. 67% of our active and retired military did not want Barack Obama as their commander in chief but the liberals still voted for Obama. Proof positive that liberals do not support what our military wants.”

To paraphrase our good friend Inigo Montoya, they keep using the phrase “support the troops,” but I don’t think it means what they think it means. On the most basic level, supporting the troops means helping them make the most of a tough situation. It means not forgetting them. It means respecting their sacrifice.

I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean deferring to their opinions about who should be president, or what’s the best toothpaste, or anything else that’s a matter of conscience.

I’m well aware that ever since we invaded Afghanistan and overthrew Iraq, many Republicans and other pseudo-patriotic types have used “Support the troops” as a euphemism for “Support our plan to kill all the foreigners we want and get rich off our investments in the defense industry.” But real support would mean getting American soldiers out of this backwards-ass godforsaken region and home to their families. Obama has some work to do in this regard, but I think he’ll get it done faster than the alternative.

Oh, and by the way: If exit polls had showed that Obama carried military voters, we wouldn’t have heard a peep from the tea party crowd.

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I toyed with the idea of replacing the phrase “backwards-ass godforsaken region” with “Assbackwardstan.” Finally decided against it, partly because it was a little too Mad magazine and because there's a good  chance someone probably beat me to it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thinking Up A Really Good Campaign Strategy After the Election

“But most people on public assistance don’t have a character flaw. They just have a tough life. I want to create more jobs. The focus should be on creating more jobs, not demonizing those who find themselves on hard times.”

Ah, it’s nice to be vindicated. I’ve been saying some variation of this since the first time I saw some hammerhead babbling about forced drug tests for welfare recipients. If I weren’t so inured to the vindictiveness of people who hate aid recipients (and their aversion to reading actual news stories), I would have been amazed that people continued to babble about it even after such a program in Florida uncovered a tiny percentage of drug users and ended up costing the taxpayers more than if they’d done no testing at all. So nice job, Florida. By the way, Midnight Oil called and they want their lead singer back.

Anyway, vindication. The quote at the top of this entry is not from any bleeding-heart liberal but from Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican, in response to Mitt Romney’s mind-boggling public statement that Obama won the election because voters essentially thought they’d get more “gifts” from a Democratic administration. This is a silly statement for anyone to make (particularly someone who was purportedly the best candidate available on the Republican side), equally silly for anyone with critical thinking skills to believe. I wouldn’t claim that no such voters exist, but I’d bet there are fewer of them than voters who went for Romney because they thought a second term for Obama would bring about an apocalypse.

Point is, Republicans are now, almost two weeks after the election, beginning to distance themselves from Romney’s “gifts” remark, and his speech about not worrying about “the 47%,” and everything else he did to make it clear that his campaign was aimed at a rich, white, male America. My question is Why? Why now? Aren’t there people whose jobs are to help candidates run a sensible campaign? Wasn’t there anyone who could suggest that “You know what? What do we have to lose by trying statesmanship? Can you do that? Can you at least act like you want to be president of all the people?”?

And, seriously, when someone in your party is painting poor people with such a broad brush—making them seem lazy and devious instead of just struggling to make a living—isn’t there someone else who can say “Knock it off”?

Before the election?

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Couple more random thoughts.

I’ve seen moderate Republicans complain about how the religious right has “hijacked” their party, but I would caution these folks to remember that you invited them in back during the Reagan years—and you did so because you needed some dupes to think you gave a crap about abortion while you were working against their economic interests. So if there was a coup, it was a coup from within.

Also, I couldn’t resist. On the left is Florida governor Rick Scott, whose drug-testing program cost the state more than twice what would have had to pay those who failed the test. On the right is former Midnight Oil lead singer Peter Garrett, who is a member of the Australian Parliament and whose politics are considerably to the left of Mr Scott’s. Now that I think of it, I should have put Garrett on the left, and—oh, never mind.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

That Vote Wasn't Just For Me

And lo, there was much hand-wringing.

Sure, there would have much hand-wringing from the left if the election had gone the other way, but it probably wouldn’t have been along the lines of “I fear for the future of our country,” which I saw quite a lot of on Facebook this morning and which might be the hand-wringingest thing a person can say, ranking just ahead of “But what about the children?”

In any event, Barack Obama is in for four more years. I consider this good news for the country, though I also hope that one of the first things the President does is take a long hard look at his first term and rethink anything he did that flew in the face of progressive ideals: the use of drones, the indefinite detention segments of the NDAA, and our continued presence in Afghanistan, to name a few. Killing civilians in the most backward-ass region of the world does nothing to keep America safe, so since there’s no need to cater to the hawks at this point, let’s get our troops out of there and conduct the hunt for al-Qaeda on the sly.

Aside from those areas where Obama slid too far to the right for my tastes, I supported him for a number of reasons. When the early returns showed Romney with a slight lead last night, I steeled myself for a Republican victory and realized that no matter what happened, I’d probably be fine. As it happens, I can write somewhat engaging and persuasive advertising copy, which, believe it or not, is a marketable skill no matter who’s President. Plus, I figured there’s always going to be a need for comedy, so a Romney win last night would have resulted in some incredulous blog entries but not much hand-wringing on my part.


What I also realized is that my vote for Obama was not just a vote for me and my situation. It was a vote for women, a vote for gay Americans, a vote for anyone on the wrong side of the gap between rich and poor--a gap that seemed likely to grow under the supply-side policies of another Republican administration. Over the course of this interminable campaign I grew increasingly weary of voters obsessing over people who are worse off than they are. “Drug-test welfare recipients!” “I saw a person using food stamps while talking on a cell phone!” “Obama phones!”

The implication is that the complainer’s tax dollars are being (a) used for something the complainer doesn’t approve of, (b) used by someone the complainer doesn’t like, or (c) stolen out of the complainer’s pocket. Rarely, if ever, do we hear such a complainer rant about hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to profitable oil companies, or the $500 billion thrown away in Afghanistan. No, the complaints are always directed at those who are already struggling.

My vote for Obama was a vote for empathy.

I caught part of a conversation on Facebook this morning in which one Romney supporter noted that “Same-sex marriage won’t create jobs!” The original poster’s calm response: “Neither will opposing it.” You know what does create jobs? Demand. I might have spent most of my time in Steve Schmutte’s Intro to Economics class drawing Dr Zap cartoons, but I did pick up on the fact that you can produce all the goods and services you want, but if people don’t have the money to purchase them, your investment has not been a wise one.

In a time of recession, there’s not much the private sector can do the stimulate the economy. Fortunately, the government can fill that role nicely. I’m not talking about the big overreaching government that Fox News has conditioned people to fear (except when it’s reaching into your bedroom), but about the government as it was originally intended. The one comprised of We the People. That government still exists, but it’s only going to work if elected officials start answering to their constituents and not whomever offers the biggest money-stuffed briefcase.

My vote for Obama was a vote for the idea that no one has a corner on being American. Rich or poor, male or female, gay or straight, religious or not--we’re all in this together. A philosopher by the name of J. Christ once said that “Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.” I would add this corollary: “Whatever you do for the least of Americans, you do for America.”

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Throwing Cake on the Floor

There’s a common misconception that shortly after Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said that the goal of Republicans in Congress was to make sure Obama was “a one-term president.” McConnell did say this, but it wasn’t till October 2010. The quote itself shouldn’t be all that surprising--after all, I think we can all safely assume that politicians will be rooting for their own party in the next election. Call it an a permanent underlying goal if you wish, but for crying out loud, could you at least publicly state that your first priority is to build a stronger America on behalf of the citizens you’re serving?

This article by Michael Cohen in The Guardian makes a pretty solid case for how the GOP was gone out of its way to block and sabotage Obama’s efforts toward economic recovery. One would think that such obstructionism would have the opposite effect on the GOP’s “one-term” goals. I mean, if someone bakes you a cake and you throw it on the floor, you can’t really blame the baker for the fact that you can’t eat the cake.

I wish I could say for certain that voters know who’s at fault. But I see a lot of nonmillionaires planning to vote for the Republican because they either aren’t aware or just don’t care.

I got off track there. The main reason I started this post was to joke that if Obama wins next week, I’m looking forward to McConnell saying “We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure he’s a two-term president.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

If Democrats Are Power-Mad, They Have A Funny Way of Showing It

The election is one week from today and Hurricane Sandy is knocking the hell out of the east coast. Subways are flooding, substations are blowing up, and millions are without electricity. I have yet to see any paranoid reactionaries claiming that Obama is going to use this disaster to postpone the election and remain in power in perpetuity, but that might be because I haven’t read the entire internet yet.

On the other hand, I had already heard similar ranting even before Sandy hit. “The Dems will do anything to stay in power!” according to one ranter. Yes, indeed--like pushing for voter ID laws aimed at disenfranchising people most likely to vote Democratic (here). And systematically losing, discarding, or destroying Democratic voter registrations (here). And misleading Spanish-speaking voters into thinking voter ID is required (here). And just plain telling different Spanish-speaking people the election is on Thursday the 8th (here). Man, we Democrats are ruthless.

These paranoid fantasies spring up every election year, and tend to be believed by people predisposed to believe the worst about the party they’re not voting for. I wasn’t concerned when I heard the rumors in 2004 (remember how Bush was going to postpone the election because, uh, terrorism?), or in 2008 (believe he was going to declare martial law that time). I’m not concerned now, nor should anyone else be. For one reason, the president doesn’t have the power to reschedule an election. For another, remember these are Democrats we’re talking about. Even if there was an ounce of deviousness in the party, they’d look for a way to use it in a bipartisan manner.

If Democrats really wanted to stay in power, they’d do a better job of persuading nonmillionaire voters not to screw themselves by voting Republican. But I don’t see that happening.