Category: 2012 Election


I have no wacky uncles. Leading up to Thanksgiving, the interwebs were full of advice on how to deal with your crazy tea partier uncle and the theories he was sure to bring to the dinner table.

This year, as usual, I was blessed with a distinct lack of crazy uncles, and a table-full of mostly intelligent, liberal to lefty people who backed Obama, believe in universal health care, science and history, think the Republicans have been irresponsible troublemakers for the better part of 4 (or 12, or 30) years, and have no patience for the tea party, in the form of Uncle Jim or anyone else.

For this, I am truly thankful.

To be sure, in my family there are wacky uncles, and aunts, and cousins galore I’m sure, who are holed up in their tight little worlds, still trying to figure out how to get that Kenyan Muslin Usurper out of the White “It’s called that for a reason, ya know” House. There is a whole arm of the family in Eastern Washington and elsewhere who, I’m sure, are planted firmly in front of Fox News on a pretty regular basis, and who take their talk radio from the likes of Rush and Hannity.

But they’re not sitting at my dinner table. And I’m not really sorry about that. There was a time in the 1980s when my brother was a big fan of Rush Limbaugh and the right wing nut jobs of that day. Even though he railed wildly on extreme themes, was dangerously lacking in fact checking, and was downright rude to my girlfriend (he didn’t speak directly to her for 2 years), you could, sort of, have a conversation with the guy. Because he was a thinking man, after a while he shifted his views to more of a progressive Libertarian stance, and eventually  worked hard to get Obama elected in 2008.

Even back then, conversation was at least possible.

But the New Millennium version of the family right-wing nut job is a lot harder to deal with, and I’m very happy not to have the arguments of this era over the holiday meal. My larger extended family of right-wingers does their holiday on their own these last few decades (probably with Fox News tuned in somewhere in the background). At my own Thanksgiving table, we sit much in accord with each other, and it improves both the conversation and the digestion.

There are differences, to be sure, along our Democratic-to-Libertarian spectrum, but it’s founded in basic common ground: government, though prone to the failings of any large bureaucracy, can do good, and is how we pool our common interests and resources. All people are valuable. Religious freedom is serious stuff, and has nothing to do with protecting extreme Christians from having to acknowledge the very existence of other faiths or no faith. Women (and men) should be able to determine their own medical needs. A family is a family, straight, gay or otherwise. Education is valuable. Science is based on careful research and analysis. The world is not 6000 years old.

And I’d like to think that if a whacky uncle or three sat down at the table, we’d all be strong minded enough to actually have a great conversation together, to agree to disagree, to keep it sane out of sheer numbers, so many of “us” speaking truth as we see it to “them.” And I’d like to think we’d change some minds, open some doors, sweep the blight of right wing media lies from Uncle So-and-So’s thinking.

But I must admit, I’m glad I don’t have to.

I voted this last Friday, dropping my ballot into the box at the county Elections office down the street. I’ve followed the campaign pretty avidly, and I’m keyed up, waffling between optimism and terror that some statistical oddity, some stealing of the the vote, some awful twist will hand Romney the White House. Not just a GOP a White House, but a soulless White House.

I was incredibly on edge about the 2008 election, but in some ways this seems tighter, more determinative. The stakes do seem higher. While in retrospect I think McCain could have been an awful president, at the time I didn’t so much fear him as the Republicans already in the executive branch. I sincerely wanted Obama as president, but was feeling more grim than alarmed at the idea of McCain winning. And I was pretty sure he wouldn’t, for all the Sarah Palin related reasons you can supply.

This time it really is alarming to think of a Romney presidency. The man has no moral core when it comes to governance; he swings where the winds of opportunism guide him. He can be bought.

Compare that to an administration that, despite the heaviest partisan opposition I can remember, got quite a number of things done, changes that expanded civil rights, job opportunities, the manufacturing industry, put constraints on the health insurance industry and opened paths to getting health care coverage, and, oh yeah, some military stuff and dragging the economy away from the brink of complete collapse.

Oh yes. I enthusiastically, proudly, confidently cast my vote for Obama.

Andrew Sullivan has been tracking the Ad Wars between the Obama and Romney campaigns.

New research from Kantar Media’s CMAG paints a dramatic picture of the unprecedented amount of ads that voters are being exposed to this cycle – as much as three to twelve times as many as in past elections:

via Ad War Update: The Ad Election – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast.

It occurs to me that this will be the first presidential election in which I won’t be inundated by campaign ads. I won’t even be coming home to robo-calls from Susan Sarandon and Robert Redford, now that I’ve been land-line free for 3 years.  I won’t be completely ad-free, but my main contact with campaign ads would normally be the TV – and in the light of the recession and the fact that I work when most of my fave shows are on, and tune into them on websites, not on cable… well, suffice it to say: it made the best sense to dump all the expensive cable packages, and I won’t be seeing many ads this year unless I intentionally que them up online.

Weird. And somehow comforting!

But I will still miss my celebrity voice mails….

When Todd Akin first scoffed at the notion that rape victims can get pregnant, he defended himself by pointing to the medical judgment of someone named Dr. John Willke, former president of the National Right to Life Committee, who has been pushing this argument for many years.

Indeed, just this week, Willke told the New York Times rapists don’t impregnate their victims because, “This is a traumatic thing — she’s, shall we say, she’s uptight. She is frightened, tight, and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.”

via Romney and Mr. ‘Spastic Tubes’ – The Maddow Blog.

[Insert BIG HEAD-SLAP here]

Ohhhh…kaaaaay….. so does Mr Spastic Tubes (love it!) think human women pop out an egg when we have “legitimate” sex? And how big does he think a little sperm is, that our “tight tubes” could keep them out? Or does he have that Fallopian tube and vagina thing mixed up? Is it possible he has never actually investigated the arrangement of the female pelvis?

This is why we can’t have nice things. Or even shabby functional things.

Jamelle Bouie, at The Plum Line, offers a compelling case for why THIS election actually matters more than most, and a common take on Medicare changes proposed from the right:

a complete overhaul of Medicare that would end its promise of guaranteed health care for seniors, and move it to a system where — ultimately — you get the care you can pay for.

via Yes, this campaign is negative and nasty — and that’s a good thing .

… which is not news, just a jumping off point for MY rage, as in:

If I don’t get the Medicare I’ve promised my entire working life, can I sue for benefits I worked for but never received?

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that I will have to cough up another $6,500 bucks a year that would have been otherwise covered by Medicare.  Say I start collecting Medicare at age 65.  Let’s assume that I live a long time, like most in my family, and that I make it to 90 years old, a somewhat pessimistic estimate given the rather large number of my relatives who’ve lived into their late 90s or even early 100s.  That puts me at about 25 years on Medicare.

Okay, I understand that with the “premium support” (aka Lousy Voucher) program covering less and less each year, I’d likely have to put out more that $6,500 as the years went by, but for this discussion, let’s say it stays at about $6,500 for the duration.

That’s $162,500.

That’s a wompin’ butt-load of money for most people.  It certainly is for me. And so, dearest Government of mine, I’m puttin’ you on notice:  I might just be coming after those lost benefits, should Medicare-as-we-know-it fall to the wayside.  And guess what, I bet I can get a whole lot of my fellow citizens to join in.  Because, you know, we worked for it.  We paid into the pool. We contributed to our future, on the understanding that we’d be taken care of.  And you know what? I expect to get the benefits I was promised.

Another reason that the reassurances to “those 55 and older” read like betrayals to those of us 54 and under, and generally just piss me off.

[edited 8/22/12 for clarity in first paragraph]

I see a lot of this sort of thing, both from the GOP headliners, and the chattering classes:

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have had some success in obscuring the health care debate by pointing out that Ryan’s proposal does not change Medicare for people currently over 55 years old.

via The next frontier in the case against Paul Ryan – The Plum Line – The Washington Post.

Oh…kay….

But I’m 53. So, ya know, what’s that gonna do for me?

I’ve been paying into Social Security and Medicare for about 30 years now. There’s been some modicum of security in the idea that, if all else fails, at least I’ll have health care, eventually.  And I paid in to that system, each and every paycheck I received, deducted from my pay on the promise of that old age security.

Needless to say, I’m not too warm to the idea of a check I’m supposed to put toward the best of the rotten health care plans I can find.

If I can find one. Because of, you know, pre-existing conditions.  That was something you wanted to chop off the health care tree as well, wasn’t it, Misters R & R?

*sigh*

Ann Friedman:

In the dating world, an infatuation with Ayn Rand is a red flag. You might not see it right away: Your date is probably conventionally attractive, decidedly wealthy, and doesn’t really talk politics. But then you get back to his apartment, set your bag down on his glass-topped coffee table, give his bookshelf the once-over — and find it lined with Ayn Rand.

You think back to your conversation at the bar: He treated flirtation like a conquest, a rationally self-interested sexual manifest destiny. He had some dumb pickup-artist questions and maybe a questionable accessory (a cravat? a fedora? a weird pinky ring?) but you overlooked these things, because he was quite charming.

But that dog-eared copy of Atlas Shrugged tells you everything you need to know. He sees himself as an objective iconoclast. He’s unapologetically selfish, because it’s only rational, he says. Sure, he grew up with money but he worked to get where he is today. He’s all about individual responsibility but he just isn’t, metaphorically, into wearing protection.

via Paul Ryan Is Your Annoying Libertarian Ex-Boyfriend – The Cut.

I suppose I’m posting the link and the first three paragraphs just so I don’t forget this article.  I’m not sure I ever had an annoying libertarian boyfriend, but I had numerous such friends (not romantic), and many of them ex-friends because of their annoying libertarian qualities, so it strikes quite the familiar chord. Ryan does really seem to be That Guy.  That Guy You Couldn’t Quit the Room Fast Enough Over.  THAT Guy.

And at first he seemed so charming.

She nailed it. Wow.

Eugene Robinson, on the “little people” who mean so much in the lives of us ordinary folk, and apparently mean so little to those who live  life exclusively in the stratosphere of the 1%:

It may not be the driver’s job to help with algebra homework, but he or she bears enormous responsibility for safely handling the most precious cargo imaginable. A good bus driver gets to know the children, maintains order and discipline, deals with harassment and bullying. Romney may not realize it, but a good driver plays an important role in ensuring a child’s physical and emotional well-being — and may, in fact, be the first adult to whom the child proudly displays a report card with all A’s.

via Romney and Ryan’s disdain for the working class – The Washington Post.

My own bus driver experience rings clear and true, 40-some years later.

Stan, the bus driver, first picked me up when I was in Second Grade, when I rode the Junior and High School bus to my “new school” while my family was waiting on moving into our new house. I didn’t ride the regular bus with the other third graders. I rode the older kid’s bus, a weird route that managed to pick me up out of the school’s area, and deliver me safely to my new school.

And Stan made that happen.  He sat me right behind him. He talked to me all through that intimidating ride with the older kids. He watched me walk to the school. He was patient. He was nice.  I can still see his face.

After we moved, he wasn’t my bus driver for a while. But when I went to Junior High, Stan was still driving that bus, and was the driver all through the next five years.

There are so many memories: Stan coaxing that old creaky bus up a steep, winding, icy hill, slipping, restarting, always managing to get all the way up the hill eventually – and the soundtrack all the while: the screaching brakes, the whining clutch, our gasps and squeals and cries of fear.  And then us all being grateful – some cheering, some just silently sweating out the success – when Stan finally topped the hill, and we trundled on through the flatter roads.

Stan broke up fights.  Stan sat people so the timid ones wouldn’t get bullied.  Stan pulled the bus over to the side of the country road till the “bad kids” settled down.  Stan rarely raised his voice. Or maybe he never raised his voice – I can’t actually remember a single instance, though he’d have had plenty of reasons.  I do remember him shaking his head, I do remember a lot of sighing.

Stan was the bus driver that most of us wanted to please, because Stan was the guy who looked out for us, and did it in a very calm, confident, quiet kind of way.  He really was a model of compassion, of reason, of perseverance, of humor.  He really was a public employee who influenced me greatly.

So, Stan, here’s to ya!  And here’s to the fabric you helped weave for me and for so many of us.

Thanks, Stan!

The Mittster announced that Paul Ryan is his VP pick for the 2012 campaign.

Gahhhhh!

Leaving aside all the well-founded critique of Ryan’s budgetary vision – Ayn-Randian as it is, and all that – I just don’t get it.  Doesn’t Romney want to WIN?

He’s got the hard-core conservatives in the bag, at least the ones who are willing to stray far enough to the left to vote Republican. So why add Ryan, a hard-core economic conservative, all be it a nice guy from all accounts.  Can he possibly appeal to enough swing voters to pull the ticket Romney’s way?  Seems like an odd pick to me.

But that aside:

Why leak the announcement late on Friday, and announce early on Saturday?  Certainly to make this topic THE topic of the Sunday morning talk shows (who started scrambling their guest lists sometime yesterday I would imagine). But isn’t there a thing about Friday announcements, burying the hard news, leaving something for the regular journalists come Monday, light treatment by the weekend staff, etc etc etc

Of course, I noticed that several of the major bloggers I read – Greg Sargent, Steve Benen come to mind – who normally don’t post much on the weekends were right there, opining left and right as it were.

So it’s not that the announcement will be ignored. But it will be treated differently, I think, than if it had come out early in the week.  The tone is set by the Opinionators, the pundits, who are notoriously (and I think gloriously) biased, particular perspectives held right out front. The tone is also set by the Romney supporters, who’s enthusiastic response to this idealogue (Ryan, obviously; I’m not sure if Romney could even relate to pure idealism).  That’s what will be blasted all over the news this weekend:

– Cheering, happy supporters, relieved that Romney picked a purist who actually talks like a human

– Pundits on the left, railing against everything whacky in Ryan’s budget ideas

– PUndits on the right, lauding the solid pick of a true patriot

What we won’t have is any analysis of any depth by any news organization until MOnday, when journalists and their staff support will hit the ground running.  I’m not saying nothing  is happening this weekend, but the running start is going to be more opinionating, and less research, more rah rah, and less Ah Hah!

Well, as I said above,
Gaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!

Steve Benen, at the Maddow Blog, writes:

By my count, if elected, Romney would be the third least-experienced president in American history, trailing every chief executive except Wilson and Grover Cleveland, who was mayor of Buffalo for one year and the governor of New York for two years before getting elected president 128 years ago. Every other president had served more than four years in the military and/or public office at the time of their election.

For Romney, this may be considered a selling point. Though he hasn’t really been pressed on his lack of experience thus far, it’s easy to imagine the former one-term governor arguing that his limited resume, at least in public service, makes him an “outsider.” Since voters have been conditioned to look askance at “professional politicians,” Romney’s limited governmental background may well be perceived as a plus.

That, however, raises the question of why politics is the only profession in which inexperience is something to brag about. When passengers get on airplane, do they think, “I really hope this pilot is a rookie”? When patients go the hospital, do they say to themselves, “I prefer to see physician who hasn’t practiced medicine for very long”?

via The Maddow Blog – The most inexperienced candidate in generations.

And indeed, a person of little, or worse, no government experience seems to me to be the most vulnerable to pressure from others, because they don’t know how the system works yet (maybe ever?) and must defer to other’s experience, whether they trust those counselors or not. Seems like the worst person for the job.

Benen nails the correct question: why is politics “the only profession in which inexperience is something to brag about,” and, I would add, why are Americans so vulnerable to the appeal of the hack? Are we somehow prone to picking the Good Sell? Genetically programmed to avoid looking for depth, or even, say, facts and logic when a politician makes their point? Irrestably drawn to rooting for the bumbling but engaging fool? Gomer Pyle for Mayor, because he’s a Good Guy with a Down-to-Earth View on Things?

*sigh*

It’s different than rooting for the underdog. Often the underdog is an under-appreciated genius of a kind – someone who really knows the People and can take it to the next level, or someone who has worked their way up through the ranks, really know how government works, and isn’t in it for the glory. They finally emerge, little butterflies of political motion, but more typically cloaked in a suit and tie than ephemeral wings.

On the other hand, this latest round of Tea-party inspired fools in the Republican House and a number of Gubernatorial mansions seem to be clueless about anything but talking their talk and stopping motion in government. They fly about on their ephemeral wings, made of fantasies where everyone stops paying taxes and lives in a completely privatized gun-protected paradise. Cutting government down to the size of something you could drown in a bathtub is just their idea of a good time. Ironic that they would attempt to get elected to do so, but as Gollum might say, very Tricksey, they is. Stealth Stagnators, perhaps. But it’s no way to run a government, and that should scare the hell out of everyone.

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