Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Romney’s Logic, or lack thereof

15 Nov

I’m having a very hard time today.  Sometimes I feel like there is this thing called logic, and then all of a sudden something happens and I think that maybe my logic isn’t the right logic afterall because someone who is someone in the grand scheme of things, and not just in a little corner of the internet, says something that is so contrary to my logic that it’s like, wait, what?  Confused?  Let me explain.

I just read this article in the Times that has been going around in different forms about a conference call that Mitt Romney had with his donors and fund-raisers.  In this conference call he accused Obama of winning the election by giving “gifts” to different minority groups.  Okay, so when I see the word “gifts” I think Christmas, Channuka, birthdays!  Last year for my birthday I got this amazing new lamp shade* from Anthropologie (don’t mock me) and a great cherry red stock pot from Le Creuset.  So, did Obama run around giving people fancy new home accent pieces?  Perhaps some useful, and colorful!, kitchen items?  Maybe a sweet new pair of kicks?  No.  Here’s what Obama “gifted” the “minorities”** of this country:

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people.”

And then there’s this.  Romney was very concerned that the president used his healthcare plan as a tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters:

“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals,*** the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

So now I am going to think back to when Bush did that stimulus plan.  Remember that?  When all of a sudden we all got a check for some money that we were then supposed to spend out in the world to stimulate the economy?****  A lot of people thought that was  good idea.  A lot of people might have called that a gift.  Same goes, I think, for the money a family is “gifted” through access to healthcare.  All of a sudden here is this money not being spent on incredibly costly healthcare that can be repurposed.  It can go towards buying a car, saving to send a child to college, starting a business, or any other number of things.  Or! That family that now has been “gifted” healthcare has healthcare for the first time and is able to seek preemptive medical care rather than relying on emergency room visits or costly procedures to take care of something that could have been avoided.  Now people who previously had to suffer unnecessarily with treatable ailments can get the needed, and widely available, treatment.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

All sarcasm aside.  Here’s the thing about all of this.  I find Romney’s comments to be amazingly condescending and rude not only to the man that bested him in the election, but to all of us who voted for that man.  By using the word “gifts” Romney was intentionally playing into an understanding of the word within the political realm as equivalent to a bribe.  There were no bribes involved.  Romney lost the election because while he was yammering on about non-specifics concerning job creation, foreign policy and military strategy, Obama was listening to people and trying to figure out what would actually make this country a more reasonable place to live.  Lack of equal access to birth control and concerns about unwanted pregnancies?  Here, free contraception (not to mention a continuation of Roe v Wade).  Concerns about pre-existing conditions and sky-rocketing healthcare costs?  Here, the Affordable Care Act.  Children of undocumented immigrants not getting a fair shake at the American Dream?  Here, the Dream Act (co-written by Republican Orin Hatch, by the way).  What Obama did was present himself as a man capable of leading this country.  What he did was he listened to the people, and he came up with, or supported, feasible solutions.  That’s not called giving people gifts, Romney, it’s called governing.

So here’s maybe an idea, rather than trying to make up ludicrous, and inaccurate, excuses for why you lost the election, why don’t you look actually at why you lost.  You lost because you were non-specific about things that mattered.  You lost because you listened to the party establishment and aligned yourself with the uber-conservatives rather than the majority of the country.  You lost because you failed to realize that things have changed and you have to convince more than just the white men of your ability to lead.  You lost because you erroneously believed that the person who raised the most money would win the biggest prize.  You lost because you dismissed so many of us.  It sucks, Romney, because like John McCain pre-2008 I always thought you were one of the good guys.  One of the listening guys.  I don’t know, maybe my logic is all wrong.  To me, the logical thing to do would be to bow out gracefully and go back to the drawing board.  Rather than calling sound policy ideas gifts, why don’t you and your party think about how to answer the people’s needs using sound conservative principles.  The Republican party, as far as I know, isn’t about hanging people out to dry.  It’s about a much needed alternative to the Democratic approach to governing.  Although I am a lifelong liberal, I honestly believe that the only way to make this country work better is having a healthy debate.  It’s like an athlete.  An athlete uses the talent, drive and abilities of her biggest opponent in order to become better.  For the Democratic, or Republican, party to live up to expectations and possibilities, for this country to live up to expectations and possibilities, there needs to be drive.  The Democratic party can only be its best incarnation when it is striving to be a better alternative to the best incarnation of the Republican party.  The opposite is just as true.  Unless we have two (more would be better) healthy and functioning parties, we can not have the best governing strategy possible.  For this country to get on a better road, we need some good debate and some healthy competition, not a bunch of blamers and a party-wide abandonment of the needs of the majority of the country.  It’s called logic, Romney.  You should try using it.

*My lamp shade looks sort of like this only significantly more awesome.

**Sometimes use of the word minorities annoys me because it’s not accurate.  Rather than an explanation of numerical fact, it’s more like a forced state of being.  I, as a female, am not actually a member of a group that makes up a minority of the population but am still considered a minority.  Why don’t we call a spade a spade.  We “minorities” are not necessarily the “minority.”  We are the oppressed.  The overlooked.  The intentionally ignored.  The annoyance.

***I despise, I mean despise, the term “illegals.”

****This girl totally took that check and put it straight in her savings account.  Totally against the rules.

Let’s Take Hitler Off the Table

12 Oct

I don’t think I can quite do justice to the point I am trying to make, but I will still try.

Act I

In the fall of 2010 I traveled to Montreal for an elongated birthday celebration for one of my graduate school classmates.  It was an idyllic weekend.  We met at Penn Station and rode an Amtrak train from New York to Montreal, taking a break from our studies to gossip, listen to music, and do some leisure reading.  Everything on that ride seemed quaint, from the verbal tour given the passengers by the conductor — and out the left side of the train a bald eagle! — to the request for the safe return of a copy of “The History of Connecticut” which inexplicably went missing to the visa checks by Canadian customs officials.  The weekend continued along in that vein.  There was the perfect bed and breakfast, the beautiful farmer’s market, the Owen Wilson sighting.  There was only one downside to the entire weekend:  the table we came across in the old city that featured a picture of Obama sporting a Hitler-esque mustache and a swastika on his arm.  This was not the first time I had come across such an image.  Walking to school a few months earlier I had seen the same doctored photograph holding court on a fold-out table in Union Square.  Those running the table handed out pamphlets.  I was enraged, insulted, and running late for class.  I scowled at them and hurried on my way, red-faced and breathing fire, trying to push the image out of my head while at the same time grappling with all the reasons it impacted me so severely.

Act II

Today fall appeared in New York City.  It was one of those days with a (mostly) blue sky and a strong sun but with winds that rip down the avenues and a certain damp coldness that pushes through layers.  I was sad I forgot my gloves.  After running a few errands I decided to finish my Friday evening over a glass of wine and last week’s issue of The New Yorker (I am behind once again).  In the section entitled The Political Scene was an article by Chrystia Freeland called “Super-Rich Irony:  Why do billionaires feel victimized by Obama?”  I had read a few other articles of a similar theme in The New Yorker, and elsewhere, in recent months.  One that comes to mind made mention of the super-rich who felt slighted because they never received a proper ‘thank you’ from Obama for previous fund-raising contributions.  (To them I say this:  boo-fucking-hoo.)  Freeland’s article was a little more specific, it revolved around an open letter to President Obama from billionaire Leon Cooperman, the founder of a hedge fund called Omega Advisors.    This letter went viral in the business community and accuses Obama of using language that has led to a class warfare in which the super-rich are the oppressed minority.  In it Cooperman says,

To frame the debate as one of rich-and-entitled versus poor-and-dispossessed is to both miss the point and further inflame an already incendiary environment. It is also a naked, political pander to some of the basest human emotions – a strategy, as history teaches, that never ends well for anyone but totalitarians and anarchists.

And then this,

You might do well at this point to eschew the polarizing vernacular of political militancy and become the transcendent leader you were elected to be.

In follow-up interviews, as well as in a speech that addressed this letter and its impacts, Cooperman, Freeland reports, “has gone so far as to draw a parallel between Obama’s election and the rise of the Third Reich.”  Ugh.  Honestly, I have had enough.  There are a lot of infuriating things in this article about how the super-rich feel about their treatment, and how they think they are being singled out and blamed, and, honestly, I do not feel bad for them.  Maybe that makes me an asshole and maybe someday I will amend that feeling but today is not that day.  This post is not about that.  This post is about the parallel that I see drawn over and over again between Obama and Hitler.  It has got to stop.  Take Hitler off the table.  Comparisons to Hitler should not be allowed.  I am not saying we should alter the First Amendment to allow free speech up until the point that someone draws an erroneous comparison between someone who isn’t Hitler and Hitler.   What I am saying is that there should be some sort of moral stopping point in which we take a moment, look around and we think, “hey, you know what?  Actually, this not-Hitler is actually nothing like actual Hitler because, for one, he or she is not responsible for the deaths of some 11 million innocent people.  Also, this not-Hitler did not spawn the coining of the term ‘genocide,’ like actual Hitler.  This not-Hitler, no matter how much I dislike his or her actions or policies is not the epitome of evil because that position is already occupied…by actual Hitler.”

But jokes aside.  Seriously.  I have always thought about it like this:  as a person of Jewish descent, I find this comparison especially problematic and hateful and wrong.  But now, sitting down here at my computer and working some of these thoughts out, I think that as a person I find this comparison especially problematic and hateful and wrong.  Not only is it erroneous, but every time we draw a comparison between the policies and speeches of, say, President Barack Obama and the speeches and actions of Hitler, we are minimizing the historical significance of Hitler’s existence and actions.  We are minimizing the suffering and death caused so many people.  We are minimizing the essence of evil.  Comparisons to Hitler should be reserved for those heinous few that orchestrate the systematic killing of people based off their background, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or any other single characteristic used by horrible, yet somehow magnetic, people to dehumanize.  Last time I checked, Obama has not done any of those things. Sure, he is charismatic.  But for that charisma to lead anywhere close to where Hitler’s charisma led would take a number of characteristics – narcissism? sociopathy? – that I don’t think any of us have reason to believe Obama possesses.

Now listen, I know the comparison to Hitler is not so much about his concentration camp era, but does it actually matter?  When I think Hitler, I think endless train rides, I think gas showers, I think forced labor, I think shaved heads, I think starvation, I think horrific medical experiments, I think families ripped apart, I think a world that was never the same, I think groups of people dehumanized to such an extreme degree that even to this day it stings.  I could continue but I won’t.  I don’t think any sane person’s thought association with Obama bring up any of those horrific thoughts.  So, come on, people.  Let’s stop being assholes.  Let’s take Hitler off the table.

Some (belated) Thoughts on the Debate and Politics

9 Oct

So I’ve been thinking a lot about the direction this country is going since the (embarrassing) debate last Wednesday night.  As I sat on my sofa, watching these two men vying for a job as President of the United States of America my stomach dropped.  To be entirely honest, the feeling in the pit of my stomach actually kept me from sitting through the entire debate and the residual discomfort will, very likely, keep me from watching any of the other three.  Maybe this feeling will pass and I will give it another go but I doubt it.  Anyway, here are some thoughts.

I am someone who believes in government, who believes that it is important for there to be some sort of check to business expansion, that there should be services provided for people who, for whatever reason, are unable to provide those services for themselves.  Yes, politics can be dirty.  Yes, politicians can be corrupt.  But I am entirely unwilling to write this entire system we have built off and characterize everyone that makes up our government, and the government of other countries, as clowns.  Perhaps I am idealistic but I do not see a better outcome if we scratch the whole thing.  I think the system needs changing, the rules of the game need changing, and the behavior of our politicians  need changing.  All this was very clear by the disaster that was the first debate of this election season.  But I do think the system can still work and, a lot of times, actually does.  I think the system relies a lot on those of us who spend the time reading and learning and take the time to speak out against things, or in support of things, and go out and vote.  Just vote.  As a good friend of mine said the other day, write someone into the ballot if you have to.  Make a statement.  Let people know what we have, the options we have, does not work for you.  That is how change starts.

But I am off track.  Back to some thoughts.

Thought #1.  How can two candidates spend the amount of time they spent talking about healthcare and never, not once, mention that women pay more than men do for healthcare across the board?  Our rates are higher.  We, ladies, are pre-existing conditions.  ObamaCare actually addresses this issue.  Obama never mentioned it.  Romney certainly was not going to given his new found distaste for women thanks to Rick Santorum, Paul Ryan, et al.  So, Obama, let me say this to you:  think about us, like, really.  You did a great thing with ObamaCare.  You included us in there.  Flaunt it!  Women are watching, we are listening, and we care about more than just jobs and education and tax rates.  (Don’t get me wrong, we care about those things, too.)  We are smart, we educate ourselves, we know what makes us better off.  We vote.  God damnit, we matter!  We matter a lot.  We fight an uphill battle every day against things we might not even be able to articulate.  We are so immersed in a world in which we are undervalued, in which we are considered less than, that it makes a difference when a policy is written that actually takes us into consideration.  You did a good thing, Mr. President.  Own it.  Show that you care about women and that Romney and Ryan still think that our internal organs and lady brains somehow make us enigmas.

Thought #2.  Clean coal.  I’m sorry.  Really?  Clean coal?  There is nothing clean about coal, really.  And if you gut the EPA, as the plan is, then there is absolutely no incentive whatsoever for industry to try and make coal cleaner.  Here’s the thing about business.  Business wants to be efficient, and business wants to make money.  Profits.  Period.  Business doesn’t wake up one day and say “oh, hey, I feel like doing a good deed, let me go ahead and spend millions and millions of dollars to lower my carbon footprint.”  No.  If there are no regulations, business has no reason to clean up.  And who can blame business for that?  But guess what?  A few decades down the line when the earth is even more polluted than it is today, when polar bears don’t even have small bits of ice to depressingly float around on in all of those gloom and doom NatGeo specials, and most of the energy sources we rely on in the good old US of A are depleted, a lot of other countries will have come up with other ideas.  And they will have businesses that work on them.  And those businesses will be making money.  And we will have no EPA and water that catches on fire when you bring a match close to it.  Clean coal my ass.  That ship has sailed.  Actually, no, that ship tried sailing and instead sunk.

Thought #3.  Shut up about PBS.

Thought #4.  I think manners are really important.  One of the things that always gets me into hot water at the bar in which I work is that I really believe people should have manners and should respect those around them.  I consider this a high expectation when copious amounts of alcohol and late nights are involved.  I am going to go out on a limb and assume that there was no alcohol involved in the poor performance delivered by both the President and Mitt Romney.  It would be inappropriate and, besides, Romney is a Mormon.  Anyway, the smug looks they both delivered have got to go.  And the interrupting.  I’m pretty sure I learned to let people have their turn to speak in kindergarten.  Or!  Maybe we should institute a talking stick at debates.  Could you imagine?  It would go like this:

Obama:  So, if you look at Romney’s plan, he wants to cut 5 trillion dollars from blah blah blah blah

Romney:  That!  That is not true!  That is not in my plan!

Jim Lehrer:  Now, Mitt, do you have the talking stick?

Romney:  (looking down at his very empty hands) No…but..he started this round and…

Lehrer:  No talking stick, no talking.

Now that’s a debate I could get behind.

More thoughts undoubtedly to come.  But for now, dinner.