In the televised debate Monday night for South Carolina’s US House seat in District 1, Mark Sanford compared himself to Bill Clinton. Huh? Yep. The House’s most conservative Republican former member found common ground with the former Democratic president. You already know it was not an act of statesmanship. Clinton and Sanford were fallen, pushed by demons and desires into sin. Clinton looked to God for redemption. Mark Sanford turned to Bill Clinton.
Since Sanford brought it up, their sins and failings warrant a comparison, especially when a Republican in a Republican district evokes Bill Clinton as his politician savior. Is this a new thesis of mercy or an invitation to temptation? Their crimes do share elements both wide and narrow.
Narrow, as both had hot scandals. Both lied and were caught, both were in the public eye. Both had affairs. After that, the connection breaks down.
Clinton remains married. His wife is our former Secretary of State. Sanford chose divorce. He is engaged (but not yet married!) to the Argentinian woman with whom he had the affair. Clinton never ran again for public office. Sanford, who fervently supported and then broke self-imposed term limits, wants another chance. Clinton was not fined for the private use of government property. He avoided successful impeachment as the first President for whom the bill of high crime (and misdemeanors!) involved oral sex (it really is sex!). His high crime was lying about his risk-taking; his DNA was saved on a dress!
Sanford instead poetically proclaimed his love at a press conference when he returned from a week’s absence on Father’s Day weekend and asked his wife for an open marriage. He repeatedly confuses and commingles his private and public selves. Voting no on every spending bill and twice on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), he slickly slashed through his own fiscal barriers to fund his impulses and lasciviousness. He flew on his public credit card, in state planes.
His hand in the public till, he jetted off on taxpayers’ money. Eventually, he paid it back. But strange behavior for a man who spent his time in Congress sleeping on a couch and once gave his wife a $25 used bicycle as a combined Christmas and birthday gift! The man who slept on an office cot and voted against every budget took a state plane to get a haircut!
A wide comparison creates more stark differences between Clinton and Sanford. Clinton created 21 million jobs in eight years in office; in four years, South Carolina, with Sanford as its executive, lost 98,000 jobs, with a Republican in the White House. His current priority? In a state in the bottom five of employment, cutting the federal budget.
His claim of attracting Boeing is debunked by a well verified story that state leaders convinced Boeing that legislative support was more important than the governor’s endorsement when they were spooked and on the verge of pulling out because of Sanford’s weird behavior.
Since Sanford initiated a comparison with a Democrat in order to claim the privilege of forgiveness and equal treatment, principles he voted against and failed to fund, another comparison might be effective with a scandal-driven Democratic politician, one who sought and successfully achieved a return to public office—Washington, DC’s former mayor, Marion Barry.
First, I have met Marion Barry and Mark Sanford, and lived in cities and districts where they were elected to govern and procure progress. I have looked closely at the policies of both men and seen them on the campaign stump. Through their period of travails, I have witnessed their efforts at political comebacks. I have seen them put themselves before voters to judge not only policies and promises, but their penalties and crimes.
Marion went to jail. Mark paid $74,000 in fines. Both lost wives. But both are confident, handsome and resilient. Both are polarizing figures, with detractors and supporters. But Mark Sanford is no Marion Barry. He’s worse!
Here’s why: Politics comes down to service, money, and rights.
Mark Sanford, in his service as governor, once walked into the South Carolina State House, carrying a pig under each arm; he named them Pork and Barrel. Termed “an ill thought-out display,” deemed by the Republican Speaker “beneath the dignity of the Governor’s office,” the legislature, controlled by his own party, then promptly overturned, with bipartisan support, 100 of the 106 items he vetoed in the budget. He got his way with six.
This describes Sanford’s duty of service: sleep in his office, sleep with his fiance, proudly turn down stimulus money. And he also touts charter school reforms, including a statewide district, a reorganization of the Department of Motor Vehicles, cutting wait times, restructuring the state’s Department of Transportation, and tort reform. Jobs, wages and health, environmental protection, higher education don’t appear anywhere in his Sanford Seven.
In Congress, he wanted to reform Social Security, a program with a $2.7 trillion surplus (it added $69 billion this year!) and the lowest overhead and administrative costs of any private or public program for income security. He called it “putting tax payers first.” Really?
So he’s known for a little theater, a big temptation to tinker with public money, shorter waits for driver’s licenses, and running around the district this election with new props: cut-outs of Nancy Pelosi and waving hundred dollar bills, claiming this election is being bought—after the Republican National Committee withdrew his funding when it emerged that after repeated warnings, he was charged with trespassing at his ex-wife’s house!
“I had to make the call,” he says in his second explanation of the incident. It was Super Bowl Sunday and his wife wasn’t back yet to receive their 14-year-old son. Enter Mark.
I’m divorced. My daughter always had a key to her mother’s house. But my ex-wife never found me inside. The way you handle custody exchanges is not to enter each other’s dwellings. If the exchange or pickup is missed, you leave a message. It’s simple. “I have the child. You weren’t home yet. Contact me on what you want to do.” You reset. You don’t “make the call” to enter with ease. And then try for the moral high ground in a political ad, under the cover of great parenting skills. (Remember when Sanford was missing on Father’s Day? A time zone away? Out of touch?)
What could have been handled with a phone call or text message (Sanford lived 20 minutes away!) instead led to a full-page campaign ad to spin a clear error in judgment that millions of divorced parents make daily about custody. It also blames the media. It’s arithmetic; his errors multiply.
But what sets Mark Sanford aside from Marion Barry is his unabashed opposition to the dredging of Charleston’s harbor. Charleston ranks three or four in the nation’s busiest harbors, higher than New Orleans, Galveston, Mobile and West Coast ports. Moreover, it has an efficient connecting infrastructure of roads, warehouses and personnel skilled at trade, whose long arms affect the nation. $13 trillion worth of goods are imported through Charleston; $12 trillion are exported. The jobs, income, and multipliers are enormous. Continue reading Mark Sanford Is No Marion Barry. He’s Worse!
My first college course in anthropology instilled in me a profound appreciation for best practices. It’s been a personal mission to uncover the best ideas and chart how they work, identifying their structures and functions. One discovery has been that even bad ideas can work well. It sounds strange, but the success of an idea often has nothing to do with its truth or level of insight. Its power and influence has more to do with its context and how it functions with other assumptions and tasks.
We would all prefer strong ideas that work well. Alaska’s Iditarod grips my imagination most winters, more than the State of the Union. The long distance grit of lead dogs Andy, Larry, and Granite guiding teams through 50-50-50s—winds 50 miles an hour, temperatures 50 degrees below, with visibility less than 50 feet—across wilderness and glaciers is a test of endurance rarely seen in politics. And the Iditarod offers equal opportunity. Susan Butcher won three in a row and four out of five between 1986 and 1990, and once had two dogs killed mid-race by a pregnant moose.
Last night’s State of the Union had Speaker Boehner making pregnant moose faces; his uncomfortableness with the President’s proposals was obvious—but was it a bad idea that served, from Boehner’s view, a good intent? Did it function to keep the GOP brand alive, apart from the pockets of craziness where they are winning elections, winning not really based on their platform of budgets (most states have laws that require balanced budgets), but more on hot button issues like immigration and race, or winning in one-party states out west?
The President, often criticized as a poor team player, continued to prove he is an effective leader (Susan Butcher’s dog Granite suffered from the same criticism!) with good ideas. He has also proven he can outrun the lumbering herds of opponents who have not adapted to the new environment and are using outmoded best practices.
The silent test of last night’s State of the Union was to outflank Ronald Reagan. Even President Obama has described Reagan as someone who reset the arc in America’s politics. Yet we forget the circumstances of that reset. Reagan created the meme that all of the problems of society were created by government excess. But what were the problems?
Women pushing for access to opportunity and self-determination, blacks refusing to be exploited, physically intimidated or discriminated against; massive resistance to corporate interests; food purchased from the bins of co-ops rather than on sale in plastic packages and cans stocked by chains. Reagan realized that the government protected those actions and had played a major part in expanding these rights. He coined the idea that government “created” these problems and caused the disturbing sight of school kids being bused and women deciding about pregnancy, and colleges graduating more critical thinkers who challenged the system and the status quo. The government didn’t reflect the will of the people, the people reflected the will of the now all-powerful government. But without the help of government, the gains of the people probably couldn’t be sustained.
In Reagan’s view, stop government, stop the advance of the people. He couldn’t sell an attack against the people—couldn’t demagogue blacks, women, youth as the problem (which for conservatives, they were!)—so he brilliantly assigned blame to government and used exaggerated stereotypes to knock it down. The welfare queen and other non-existent stories were repeated until the bad idea of government’s bad ideas became the Republican best practice for winning elections. Even Reagan’s ideology of cutting taxes to provide greater wealth to the rich didn’t happen during his administration, but the idea survived and is the basis of Republican policy today.
Despite widespread thinking that liberalism (again a code word for blacks, women and youth, packaged as “growing government”) was dead, Barack Obama somehow made it through and revived it in his first term. No matter; the new GOP plan was to blame his success and go after the old groups with a vengeance. If the stimulus succeeded, blame Obama for its size. If the economy recovered, blame entitlements, loudly arguing it could be even better without them. Turn obstruction into patriotism. Sprinkle the discussion with a little of the sour sickness of race—always heretofore cured by blaming the victim. Continue reading A State of the Union Address Filled with Common Sense
Mitt Romney’s latest ploy is to pretend he is Barack Obama. For the past month, he has tried to walk in the President’s footsteps, in a brazen attempt to broaden his appeal. That ploy is a word-thin disguise to attract undecided voters and disgruntled Democrats to his radical-right positions on health, taxes, and women’s rights that these groups would normally reject.
If America accepts such a naked, transparent deceit, it has become an abuse victim, a country willing to ignore reality, past history and bad decisions, to willingly put itself at-risk by embracing all the wrong done in the name of a love for America. What kind of people try to stop the abuse by reuniting with its perpetrators? Especially when the threats to safety and security never stopped, but in the classic fashion of abusers, have increased, becoming more distorted, domineering and shrill?
In fact, Romney wants to deny the abuse and put it on Obama, the blame-shifting that is the hallmark of dysfunction. Fault is always on somebody else. The interior narrative goes, “My errors, of which there are none, were made in good faith. Can’t you see my desire and devotion? And I have to be this way because of what happened.” Abusers rearrange the details of history to fit a narrative of good and evil that distorts and conceals truth and freedom. So the slaps and screams, the seething anger, the spontaneous rage, the stripping away of dignity, the shredding of self-worth, the putdowns and retorts, the demeaning language breaks the victim’s will.
Some in America have brought into the blame-shift. Victims beget victims. Their experience of abuse becomes a template. It recreates itself and perpetuates itself when it hits a tipping point. I have seen this with inner city crack epidemics in eastern cities; an out of control dysfunctionalism that altered the social fabric and changed the arc of success put in place by previous generations. I can tell you that healthy common sense is hard to recover for people conditioned to thinking abuse is a way of life. Continue reading Abuse Is Always in the Name of Love
An Open Letter to George Will:
RE your latest embarrassing journalistic endeavor:
Since the launch of Romney’s disastrous campaign, I have been greatly amused by the lengths to which Republicans have gone to explain why Obama is ahead in the polls. I’ve seen every excuse from that damned (albeit non-existent) librul media viciously attacking poor Mitt, to his not yet having hit his stride – which, according to the GOP, will happen any day now.
And now you’ve come up with this:
“… the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure — thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him — seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president.”
In bygone days, I would have described the proffering of this theory as the bottom of the barrel having been officially scraped. But given what I’ve heard from GOPers over the past few months, I realize that barrel has become not only a bottomless pit which Republicans continue to mine for the most ridiculous reasons for the failures of their candidate and party, but a veritable cesspool from which to draw stench-imbued mud to fling at their opponents.
“That Obama is African American may be important, but in a way quite unlike that darkly suggested by, for example, MSNBC’s excitable boys and girls who, with their (at most) one-track minds and exquisitely sensitive olfactory receptors, sniff racism in any criticism of their pin-up.”
One does not require sensitive olfactory receptors to smell the racism, Mr. Will. Its offensive odor has permeated the political air since the current President of the United States had the uppitiness to run for the highest office in the land, and those of us who have come to “judge a man not by the color of his skin, but the content of his character” enthusiastically elected him to that position.
The Republican propagandists have been out in full force of late, Mr. Will, sounding their dog-whistles in hopes of rilin’ up the good ol’ boys enough to get them to oust that colored fella from the White House come November. And I see you lost no time jumping on that bandwagon – but then you undoubtedly felt compelled to. When you are attempting to shore up a party that has become a magnet for racists and bigots, you have no choice but to appeal to the intellectually-challenged knuckle-draggers who will vote for Romney on the basis of his being white, without regard to anything of more import.
Throughout his presidency to date, Obama has been disrespected by your party members in ways they would never disrespect a white president. And they’ve done so without fear of political consequences, secure in the knowledge that the majority of their fellow Republicans are in complete agreement with the idea that a black man is simply undeserving of the same respect.
When was the last time you heard a Democrat yell “You lie!” at a Republican president during a SOTU speech – even when Dubya was clearly lying when he spoke about WMDs in Iraq? When was the last time you saw a Democrat ranting about a candidate’s adherence to a “radical form of Christianity” – even though Romney’s Mormonism is considered by many as a radical unChristian cult? When was the last time you read an article by a Democrat insinuating that a GOP candidate’s mother was a whore who starred in porn flicks, or that his children were the product of his wife’s rampant promiscuity? Indeed, when was the last time you heard a Democrat describe a sitting Republican president as a “pin-up”?
Despite the vitriol that exists between the parties, Mr. Will, there are certain lines that everyone has traditionally accepted as not to be crossed – lines that seem to have disappeared the minute a black man was inaugurated.
In a rare moment of candor, Lindsay Graham recently summed things up rather succinctly: “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long-term.”
Tell me, sir, how one needs an extraordinary sense of smell to detect the racism in that comment, and how the notion that your party is dependent on keeping white folks pissed-off enough to vote against blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and other non-whites is not the obvious message. The term used is “angry white guys.” Why was it not “angry Republicans” or “angry conservatives”? We both know the answer to that question, don’t we?
In case you’ve been living in a cave, Mr. Will (which I often suspect you do), let me introduce you to your party:
Your party is Rush Limbaugh, who called Obama a “half-frican American” and an “affirmative action candidate.” It is lunatics like Orly Taitz & The Birthers, who would never question the citizenship of a white president. It’s the people who spray-paint “Obama is lyin’ nigger” in public places. It is people who carry “Go back to Kenya!” placards at political rallies. It’s the guy who hung Obama in effigy on his front lawn, eerily reminiscent of photos of blacks who were lynched for attempting to vote in the south.
It is people who continue to promote the stereotype of blacks being the majority of welfare and food stamp recipients, despite the statistics that disprove this notion. It is George Allen’s “macaca moment,” it’s the New Jersey first-grade teacher who referred to her black students as “future criminals” on her blog, it’s the people who proudly affix “Don’t Re-NIG in 2012” bumper-stickers to their cars.
These are your people, sir – and if they weren’t recognized as such by your party, you and your fellow Republicans wouldn’t be pandering to their racism in a desperate attempt to break the colored fella’s hold over guilt-driven white folks reluctant to see their favorite “pin-up” replaced.
It is not just your candidate that stinks, sir – it is your entire party, whose base now consists of illiterate Teabaggers, religious fanatics, Muslim-hating extremists, and delusional dumb-asses who spend their lives parked in front of Fox News, absorbing the drivel spewed by people just like you. Continue reading The Great WHITE Hope
Milt Romney’s campaign reveals three phrases. First: “failed,” which labeled every idea, action, and presidential step as wrong. Second: “blame,” which faulted micro-community trends and global, macro-trends as Obama’s mistakes. The third and current: “doubt,” which assesses Obama’s body of work (policy, personal character) as inadequate and intolerable. “Failed” delivered body blows during the primaries and after; “blame” launched before the NCAAP speech and continued to the convention. “Doubt” now deepens (“He’s a good man,” “he just doesn’t get it.”) and opens the door to failure and blame to conclude that Obama is (no doubt!) irretrievable.
Anger, fear, and disgust are the three top notes of the Romney campaign, but fail, blame, and doubt give the campaign a sophisticated emotional strategy, a multi-tiered series of complex steps to channel outrage and hostility into exuberance against President Obama and votes for Romney.
Analysts missed these subtle but powerful changes of tone and direction, especially the introduction of doubt, with its list of lies as evidence that enables hate to be embedded in the open. Why doubt now? Doubt is civil but deadly. “I doubt” sounds more humane than “I hate.” Doubt is the transformative stage, the call for action, an emotion of assessment and judgement. Doubt casts its shadow on the future, is put forth as the decision paradigm. It appeals to all with rigid or mixed feelings about Obama.
The President’s response, which is to ignore the attacks by discussing America’s future, rightly points out that unless we go forward, nothing will change. In fact, matters will get worse–especially if we accept an appeal to our worst instincts. Three things any elder can tell you about living: rough patches in life occur without being anybody’s fault and with little you can do except weather the storm until conditions change; look high and low before you abandon a search; and you can’t pour corn from an empty sack.
It’s evident as Democrats stretch the helping hand to every hamlet, building a community that Old and New Testament standard bearers and others of faith can embrace, the GOP rejects its path of history, tradition and progress, pointing out on social media that 150 years ago, Democrats were like modern Republicans, xenophobic, biased, restrictive, hungry for power and eager to subjugate others by gender, color, preference, and stereotypes. It is amazing that a 150 year-old bridge of bias is still alive and thriving. Having changed parties and mutated into a more virulent strain, it has new food: the budget. Debt, deficits. Disasters. The new shape of the old distrust.
And when the numbers don’t add up, Romney-Ryan add in the old social values, amplifying the threats lampooned in Reconstruction cartoons: party and privilege are more important than the people, encouraging decline and decay within the heart; putting forth that some don’t measure up and never will, danger lurks. They say: stupid can’t be fixed with hope.
Democracy’s nemesis is fear, not dictatorial force. Herd fear, ridicule its “failure,” pretend government is a shopping spree. But spend billions to amplify its dread as media, once the watchdog, loops its clips, saying only, “wow.” Wow.
Large and small, this election will measure a direction for tomorrow’s America. The Republicans seem interested in a last stand. When power and privilege, as they see it, is returned to the right hands and protected from those who would share it with others in a national shopping spree. Democrats see it as a step forward, a means of touching many hands and preserving the tried paths that bring progress and prosperity, education and health care. Continue reading Doubt and Absent Details
While the gulf between the ideologies of the left and the right has often been a wide one, there is something more at play these days, and that is the downright stupidity of Republican voters.
One can debate the virtues of big government versus small government, the distribution of wealth, fair taxation, the handling of deficits – and any number of things the parties tend to disagree on. But you can’t argue with stupid. And I, for one, refuse to even try.
I admit to being an intellectual snob, especially when it comes to politics. I have no patience for people who literally know nothing about how government works, but ramble on incoherently as though watching FOX News makes them experts on the topic. I have no patience for FOX News either: a collection of bobble-headed idiots who spew GOP propaganda on a 24/7 basis to those too dumb and/or lazy to find a legitimate news source, or investigate the outrageous “news” stories they are fed day in, day out.
I have no desire to interact with people who believe that Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim – despite all evidence to the contrary – simply because that’s what they want to believe, the facts be damned.
I have no want to discuss anything to do with the governance of my country with those who insist that the USA was founded as a Christian nation, and who view the separation of Church and State as something dreamed up by liberals, rather than being something enshrined in the Constitution.
I cannot be bothered to try and persuade the oh-so-proudly ignorant that signs and bumper-stickers that say “Keep the goverment’s hands off my Medicare”, “Inglich is our offical langage,” or decry the idea that healthcare should never include a “pubic option” that their stupidity places them in the category of the embarrassingly laughable.
I have no compulsion to communicate with those who cherry-pick random quotes from the Bible as support for their bigotry and their prejudices, while at the same time ignoring the words and teachings of Jesus Christ – whom they profess to love and revere, but only when convenient.
I have no time for those who cling to ever-changing rewritten history on an ongoing basis, those who have access to the hard facts as to which president, with the overwhelming support of his party, plunged the nation into unprecedented debt, but simply accept whatever ludicrous fabrications are proffered by right-wing sources to contradict the realities of George W. Bush’s disastrous administration and the consequences thereof.
I give no credence to those who consistently vote against their own best interests, simply because some loud-mouthed know-nothing has convinced them (without too much convincing necessary) that their best interests lie with the party that has devoted its every endeavor to legislation that favors corporate power over that of the hardworking citizen.
I cannot bring myself to debate the necessity of social safety nets for the homeless, the poverty-stricken, the sick and dying, with people who are literally one paycheck away from financial disaster – and yet cling to the belief that they are somehow immune from the consequences of electing a POTUS who would gladly dissolve those safety nets once in office.
I will not discuss the concept of :Supporting the Troops” with those who happily vote for representatives who deliberately choose to ignore the plight of our veterans, or those who believe there are more important things to spend our money on – like preparing to wage the next war with troops who will again be abandoned once the fighting is done.
Over the past few decades, I have watched in wonder while GOP supporters have devolved into being mindless, shallow, don’t-confuse-me-with-the-facts lemmings,
ever anxious to follow their fellow locksteppers off the nearest cliff.
But what was once a matter of idiotic voters has now become a matter of equally idiotic GOP candidates: a VP candidate who couldn’t even fake having read a newspaper while running for the second most important position on the planet, presidential wannabes who pull non-facts out of their asses on a regular basis and tout them as the truth, representatives who run for office on the I’m-as-stupid-as-you-are platform – aided and abetted by a mainstream media that has dumbed itself down in order to appeal to the yes-I-am-TRULY-stupid contingent as often as possible.
What the upcoming election boils down to is not a clash of ideology; it is a clash between the informed and the willfully ignorant, the fact-seekers and the deliberately factually impaired, the intelligent citizen versus the stupid citizen. It’s as simple as that – and it’s a concept that the stupid voter is just – well, too fuckin’ stupid to understand.
As Democrats, we are fully aware that this what we’re up against. This is what we have to focus our attention on and strive to defeat: not a difference of opinion, or an alternate way of seeing how government can best work for all citizens. What we are up against is stupidity, in all its ignorant, misspelled, misled, misinformed, ungrammatical, fact-free glory.
Our candidate is articulate, intelligent and well-informed. He has proven, time and again, his grasp of issues both foreign and domestic, his ability to visualize long-term policies and the benefits thereof, an undeniable desire to move towards humanitarian ideas and ideals, and has garnered the respect of the international community based on all of the aforementioned.
Your candidate, on the other hand, is as blatantly stupid as they come; a man who is incapable of holding a position on any issue for more than twenty-four hours, or articulating a single thought without insulting the very people he is hoping to persuade. And he will no doubt be voted for by the equally stupid, who recognize and support one of their own. Continue reading An Open Letter to Republicans (from an Insufferably Snobby Democrat)
It used to be that you would write an article or give a speech about how Republicans would love to turn back the clock on women’s rights and you would get a lot of kind but condescending expressions and responses. Many women and men who would read these articles thought that this not only could never happen, but they couldn’t imagine that Republicans had the desire and will to actually do it. I’ve always believed deep down that if the GOP thought they could get away with turning the clock back on women’s rights, they would try.
Two generations of women have been born since the feminist movements of the late 60s early 1970s. That means that around half of the women in this country do not know life before the hard-fought gains of the women that came before them. Generations X and Y have never known a world where women don’t have the right to make their own reproductive choices like contraceptives and abortion. They have never known a world where the statutes against the workplace crime of sexual harassment didn’t exist. They don’t remember a world where women who wanted to have a career outside of teaching or nursing were met with virtually immutable resistance.
There are still some glass ceilings around now waiting to be breached, but before the early 1970s, there weren’t ceilings, there were glass boxes.
Women had very few choices about how they could live their lives and how their intimate relations could be conducted. Society nearly demanded that women submit to control by their husbands and the demands of stay-at-home motherhood and housekeeping.
Those of us who were born or came of age after that time don’t know what that was like, and it should be said that while women are far better off now than before the 1970s, much work needs to be done.
Still, all this time the Republican party has been conspiring to return women to the glass box. It’s obvious now that was the case, but what made it obvious to me before the recent GOP war on women was the statements by conservative pundits and media personalities like, yes, Rush Limbaugh. Long before he attacked Sandra Fluke as a, quote, “slut”, he had an ongoing, several decades long war against women’s rights activists, belittling them, calling them names like “feminazis”. And Limbaugh was far from the only one.
What is clear now is that these conservative media personalities were purposefully weakening the women’s rights movement; they were ridiculing the idea that there was a reason to continue to have women’s activists, claiming that they were anti-men, and all of the slander and innuendo we have heard from Rush and his ilk over the last 30 years, all the while biding their time for when they hoped to go on the attack legislatively.
When Republicans won back the House in 2010 and reduced the Democratic control in the Senate to one seat and had President Obama seemingly reeling and fighting to stay on his feet, they launched their war on women. The first salvos were launched during the run-up to 2010 election.
Five high-profile Tea Party Republican Senate candidates – Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ken Buck of Colorado, Joe Miller of Alaska, Sharron Angle of Nevada and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware – announced they were against a woman’s right to have an abortion even in the case of rape or incest! They wanted women who were raped and girls who got pregnant by a relative to be forced to bear those children. Several Republican Senate and House candidates also announced they were against birth control pills and other contraception choices for women.
During that campaign, you had Republican Senator DeMint say that if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom, and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn’t be in the classroom. No mention, of course, about men who are promiscuous with women. Continue reading The New Shock and Awe – The Republican War Against Women
William McGurn, Wall Street Journal, April 16:
Now, the president’s likability doesn’t mean Mr. Romney shouldn’t go on the offensive. It does mean he ought to attack hardest where Mr. Obama is at his weakest: his failed policies. For all the carping about Mr. Romney, this part he gets. We can see it reflected in both his embrace of the opportunity-oriented Republicanism of Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan—and his repeated refrain that Mr. Obama is simply “in over his head.”
Mr. Romney is hardly the first Republican presidential aspirant to take that tack against a Democratic incumbent. In 1980, Ronald Reagan zeroed in on Jimmy Carter’s competence…
Mr. Romney now has a similar opportunity. Certainly he can point out that Mr. Obama has no excuses. If ever the stars were in alignment for liberal Democratic policies to shine, it was during the first two years of Mr. Obama’s presidency, after he had handily defeated John McCain and been sent to Washington with huge, veto-proof majorities in Congress.
McGurn was apparently vacationing on another planet during the first two years of “Mr. Obama’s” presidency, but he’s right about those brightly aligned stars. Barack Obama and the best and brightest of his Democratic colleagues in Congress seized the hell out of that moment. Liberal Democratic policies shone brightly indeed, despite Republican efforts to dim the lights.
ARRA, the $787 billion bill signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009, was the largest economic stimulus package in the nation’s history. It saved and created millions of jobs and ensured that the Bush Recession didn’t become Great Depression 2.0.
At a projected final net cost to taxpayers of a mere $16 billion, 2009′s auto bailout saved GM, Chrysler and an untold number of ancillary companies, preserving millions more jobs. 100,000 new industry jobs have since been created, and for the first time in many, many years, the Big Three have actually gained market share.
Over 30 million uninsured Americans will have health coverage once all the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act kick in by 2014 (assuming McGurn’s party doesn’t succeed in killing it).
Withdrawal from Iraq, now complete, was then begun in earnest. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became law. New financial regulations were enacted, including the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Banks were cut out of the student loan process. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed. Tax cuts were targeted to the poor and middle class, rather than the wealthy. Osama Bin Laden was killed. Two solid liberals, both women, were appointed to the Supreme Court. Continue reading TSW #31
Earl Butz probably began the movement toward political correctness, but his comments were said in jest. Indiana-born, Purdue-trained, Butz was Agricultural Secretary under Gerald Ford and told a racial joke that got him fired (rather, he resigned; nobody gets fired for racial jokes!).
In discerning the motives of Negroes (as they were then called), Butz suggested there were three top priorities. One, loose shoes. (Many blacks of that generation, especially farmers and country folk, had severe foot abnormalities and pain.) Dare I mention the other two? Tight pussy. (The outrage—and outrageousness—was as much in the use of the term; this slang was prohibited in polite or public conversation and it was startling to make any reference to the sexual proclivities of blacks, who were widely thought to constantly engage in hot monkey sex like rabbits. The use of the slang to refer to a vagina was seen neither as outrageous or funny, but dreadful; sex and women had not entered comedy.) The third? A warm place to shit. (Which dismally failed in its humor. For a generation who had grown up using outhouses on winter mornings, there was nothing funny about recalling the bone-jarring cold or the walk in the wet dew.) Yep. Got ol’ Earl fired. Hoisted pathetically on his own petard. And two-thirds of it was more true than funny.
Today the scatological comments about a black President are neither funny or obscene—or true; no line of public or private sensibility exists, no boundary of behavior is off-limits. Lost is any connection to reality, to any semblance of actual experience or cultural memory; missing are any ties to the hidden contradictions that elevate life beyond being a mere record of good and bad. Humor is no longer a guide post, a way of embracing the true-hearted. Why did political humor die?
My earliest recognition of political humor was in the slave tales. I was astonished that tales of laughter told by people denied freedom were filled with a subtle, complex, thoughtful humanity that soared above the conditions that bound their lives. More so, the punch lines were pure revolution. They told of how situations can be best met—humor was used to change the odds, to open windows, to build community, and often, really, outrageously, just for laughs. This simple minimalism was dangerous. How dare those enslaved find time and means for the joy of simple laughter, to replace paralyzing fear and the intrusion of control on every aspect of their lives, with a free moment whose joy even slavery could not kill.
Today, does anyone remember that slaves told jokes? Rather than feeling slighted by ‘ol Earl, they would have taken him under wing and taught him better technique. Prayer was an important part of that technique and the enslaved frequently prayed for freedom. Often they found a particular tree near the edge of the fields and in the afternoons fervently asked God for freedom. One day, a voice answered an especially prayerful member of the enslaved community and promised the money to purchase his freedom if he passed the trials of faith. Each day the voice said, ten dollars would be found at the base of the tree. Each day, the faithful slave found what seemed to be this divine gift. Fifty dollars was the amount needed to purchase his freedom and soon the total reached forty dollars.
But that day, the voice placed before him the test. Bring the entire forty dollars tomorrow and leave it. Come the next day and you shall have your fifty. The slave thanked the voice profusely, but he finally picked the money up and replied he’d get the other ten on his own.
Make no mistake that this lesson on self-reliance has any resemblance to Rush Limbaugh’s vicious putdowns. He attempts to disguise attacks as irony, parody, sarcasm, or surreal engagement. But they are none of these. His conclusions are false, his purpose is to intimidate. He uses words as stones and calls it funny. But his words are simple confessions of hate and fear and proffers of threats.
One woman who applied as a CIA agent early in the days of women applicants exhibited no fear during a training exercise. To test her commitment to completing any assigned task, she was given a gun (which unknown to her, had been disabled) and was told her husband was tied to a chair in room behind a closed door. To prove her loyalty, she must go in and shoot him. She took the gun and entered the room. Violent noises drifted out. Finally, she emerged, out of breath, flushed, and handed back the gun. “The gun didn’t work,” she said. “I had to beat him to death with a chair leg.” Continue reading Digging Deeper: Somebody Tell Republicans to Hook Up the Jumper Cables
The party that wants to get government off your back knows all about you. They can match your voting record with the web sites you visit. They know your internet haunts. They can estimate the size of your gifts. They can even makes choices for you. But they also hide choices from you.
Mitt Romney protests that he is one-of-kind, a single political entity whose beliefs and faith have never changed, but even as he argues the point, multiple Mitt Romneys in real time are showing up on the web. There’s Mitt Romney as spiritual guru, the capital mystic concerned with America’s soul. He’s for older supporters, party members, and donors; they get this ad displayed only a click away. There’s Mitt as the dog and family guy. Independents, undecided, middle-aged people are told he is like us. Either way (both ways!), Mitt is a manipulator. His version of democracy takes away your choice. His “Believe in America” is a high tech version that demands you believe what he tells you, while telling everybody different things. He may lack intimacy and warmth, but he is Big Brother personified.
He is jumping squarely on your back and wants you to take him for a ride. He is secretly gathering information about you and your habits, and using that information to paint his image as a match for your values. And he doesn’t tell you that’s his way of restoring America.
And in typical Romney fashion, “Two people in the same house could get different messages,” Romney’s digital director, Zack Moffatt said. “Not only will the message change, the type of content will change.”
Political advertising is the ultimate milieu for flip-floppers, and net ads still fly under the radar but can have a big potential impact on any election, national or local. A campaign can now buy its own audience. Cheap. The Republican National Committee claims it can target your house with thousands of ads that only cost between $5 and $10 a batch. These ads move with virtual size and speed; in fact speed is their greatest force. They can strike in nanoseconds to drive the conversation, influence opinion, counter an attack, spread buzz phrases, scatter the attack and poison the political well. Continue reading Digging Deeper: Massive Bets on Political Micro-targeting