The GOP revisits its views on hate

Look away! Look away!

Look away! Look away! (Photo credit: Norm Walsh)

“If you want the voters to like you, you have to like them first,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

This has been an interesting time to be a Democrat watching the Republican Party.  My experience has always been the adage, Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line was true.  Watching the GOP respond to the results.  In one corner, you have Mitt Romney blaming his loss on President Obama buying votes with gifts and in the other you have just about everyone else.

Let’s start there.  Romney told supporters, “What the president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote, and that strategy worked…It’s a proven political strategy, which is give a bunch of money to a group and, guess what, they’ll vote for you. … Immigration we can solve, but the giving away free stuff is a hard thing to compete with.”

Now, I should admit that being the savvy operative that I am, I held out for a trip to Paris, you’re not going to get my vote with some free birth control!  I need something real for my vote!  And I live in DC!  Any Democratic candidate will tell you that winning DC is a challenge!

Seriously, how delusional do you have to be to think that President Obama won reelection because he gave people stuff for their vote?  How arrogant are you that you think it is impossible for people to have wanted someone else to win?  How desperate are you to not be at fault for your own failure that you grasp like this? (And how ironic is it that someone who claims to be so pro “personal responsibility” is so incapable of taking any?)

Then you have the “let’s not be the stupid party” wing of the GOP.

For a long time now, I am sure this started before Lee Atwater but I feel like he elevated certain aspects of campaigning, the GOP has been all about “wedge” issues.  This party used fear to elect its candidates.  Now, this last campaign seems to have shown that pitting the country against each other may not be the way to win elections and I say “amen to that!” I also know that we are fickle and what works today may not tomorrow so it may be too soon to get all excited.  But the response of many Republican leaders has given me a lot of hope.

FYI: As a Democrat, I want to see Democrats in office but I also would like to see our political debate be about substance.  We will all benefit from a Republican Party that is more interested in appealing to everyone than one that thinks half of us are to be written off.

Hurricane Sandy and the presidential election

Barack Obama

First of all, I hope everyone reading this is safe, warm and dry.

What a difference a week (or day) can make!  Just think, a month ago, President Obama’s reelection seemed almost like a fait accompli and then, BAM!  Debate number one gave Mitt Romney an opening and he’s back from political death.  I blogged in 2008 that I thought he was going to win it all then.  There’s no excuse for taking their eye off the Romney ball the way Obama clearly did.

I do not want Romney to get to move into the White House.  Not even a little bit. Why?  Mostly because I have no idea who he is or what he stands for.  He was pro-choice before he was anti.  He was pro-health reform before he was anti and then pro again when it served him.  He has taken the whole “run to the right in the primary and then to the center for the general” to levels that I never thought were possible.  Really, Mitt?  You’re now proud of your Massachusetts health care plan?  And you really still think FEMA should be privatized?  Are you fucking kidding me?  Yes?  No?  Maybe?  What day is it?

The Supreme Court could be enough of a reason for me to vote for Barack Obama.  But then I also remember that the president sets the tone for the entire federal government.  I think the Violence Against Women Act was a good idea and want our Justice Department to enforce it.  You know who doesn’t?  Most of the GOP.  And don’t get me started on binders and the GOP’s thoughts on rape.

Then there’s Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI).  Full disclosure, I have a pretty huge crush on Ryan.  I

Congressman Paul Ryan (R,Wisconsin)

Congressman Paul Ryan (R,Wisconsin) (Photo credit: Tobyotter)

am not proud of it.  I don’t like it but… would I kick him out of bed?  Probably not.  If he could only stop talking and just sit around looking pretty, we’d all be better off.  If he is intent on talking, maybe he can just STOP writing.  I read his plans for Medicare and they are really, really bad.  And no, Joe Scarborough, he isn’t great for being the only one to propose something about the federal program which does need restructuring (we need to deal with health care costs, a voucher program is not the answer).  This is like, the neighbor’s house is on fire!  Somebody, do something!  Ahh, Paul Ryan brought doughnuts.  Doesn’t help with the fire, per se, but technically, he has done something.  And we want this guy to be a heart beat away from being president?  I may think he is some pretty nice (and very hydrated) eye candy, I don’t think he belongs in the White House.

And now, this storm may be a game changer.  (Do Mark Halperin and Jon Heileman have copywrite on that phrase? )  President Obama gets to look, well, presidential.  Something he needs to work on. Now, should he lose the election (and he might), there will be a ton of blame bantied about.  I will blame only one person; the president.  He looked so bored during that debate that I had a hard time watching it.  He made me like Chris Christie and that’s not a small feat.  At least he appreciates FEMA.  Fuck, anyone out there thinks privatizing that important agency makes sense?  It doesn’t.  And we want the guy who wants that to be president, I know I do not.

President Obama has not lived up to a lot of our expectations but truthfully, he never really had a shot at that.  Unless he could completely change the way we approach politics (a crazy high bar to reach), we weren’t going to be satisfied.  Part of this is also his fault.  The candidate of “hope and change” became the president of “it could have been worse.”  Not exactly awe inspiring.

But not terrible either.  I wish Obama had been more hands on when dealing with Congress, though I am not convinced that would have helped woo people like Eric Cantor, who clearly were going to oppose anything he proposed.

I guess in a week we will know.  Do I have to move to France?

The GOP’s rape confusion

Recently, I have heard a lot from the GOP about rape.  Apparently, women cannot become pregnant if they are raped.  This information would have been very useful to me when I was younger.  When I was 18 to be exact.  That’s the year I was raped and then went four months without having my period.  Not knowing it was impossible for me to be pregnant as the rape I experienced was very forcible, I panicked and went to my doctor.  I was too embarrassed to admit what had happened so I just let her think I had irresponsible sex.  It seemed less embarrassing at the time (now, too).  Silly me!  If I had just told her I had been raped, she probably would have not even given me the pregnancy test!

(Side note: if you read my blog regularly, you know I write a lot about my life and from what you read here, it probably looks like it sucks.  It doesn’t though.  Really.)

Stephen Colbert had it right; anytime any GOP politician thinks they should talk about rape, they should stab themselves in the eye with a pencil.

You’d think the party of Paul Ryan would know better than to stick its head into these conversations.  I thought they were all about facts and figures.  I guess not.  If they were, they would know that one in four women is raped.  That’s right; one in four.  Take a look around you. See four women? One of them has been or will be raped.  True story.

Since I brought it up, I’ll tell you my story.  I was 18.  I had been drinking.  I was at West Meadow beach with a friend.  I met someone whose sister had gone to high school with me.  Irony:  I never remember the names of people I dislike but I remember his.  No, I am not going to call him out here as much as I want to.  Maybe he’s a decent guy now.  He was a jackass then.

Anyway, I met these two guys.  They said they wanted to see if I was a “real redhead.”  Side note:  I am, and yes the drapes match the carpet.  One held me down while the other raped me.  I cried.  For years I felt better about them because they said, “We’re sorry, we didn’t mean to make you cry.” Right.

I grew up at the beach.  It was one of my favorite places on earth.  Looking back, I see that I stopped going to the beach when that happened.  That sucks.

Positives that came from that:  In college I got the SUNY Stony Brook campus to install  a blue light phone system (seriously, you’d think with all the murders at Stony Brook that would have been a no brainer but it took some doing, you’re welcome Stony Brook students) and got a support group together for rape victims. I took survival seriously and I wanted to help others get through that.  I like to think that I made a difference for some people because it took a lot to make a difference for me.

I am not “over” what happened to me.  I am not of the school of thought that thinks rape is worse than murder. If I had been murdered, I never would have any of the cool things I have been able to do.  I am a different person than before that happened.  Not better nor worse, just different.  It bothers me when people discount rape in the way the GOP has been.  Had I become pregnant, it would have possibly killed me.  Despite the GOP hype, no one is “pro abortion.”  I am pro-choice but if I had become pregnant, that decision would have been horrible.  It is horrible.  I don’t know what I would have done.  My pro-choice side thinks I would have had an abortion but I don’t think I would have.

I am pro-choice because there is one piece of real estate that I want to always be able to control.  That real estate is my own body.  No, right wing, you don’t get to lease my uterus. I don’t like abortion.  In the years since this has happened I have become pregnant and miscarried (it happens more often than you might think, and yes, I am trying to justify what I think it a basic failure on my part as a woman — if I cannot bear children, what’s the point of me?) and that’s why I am not sure if that event would have resulted in an abortion.  I just don’t know.

What I do know is that I should make that decision.  Not Mitt Romney (or Paul Ryan).  Not Todd Aiken.  Not anyone who doesn’t answer to the name Alyson Hillary Chadwick (how crazy will I feel if there is another person with that name?)

So, GOP, you want me to think there is no “war on women.” You want me to think you care about things I care about.  Maybe you do.  Talking the way you do about rape does nothing to make me believe you.  Stop.

The politicians we settle for

079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993

079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993 (Photo credit: David Holt London)

Current conventional wisdom goes something like this:

Our system is more partisan and mean than it has ever been.  Politicians don’t have any interest in leading, they base their decisions on poll numbers and focus group data and refuse to tell us the truth.  Things have never been this bad.  If only the parties would nominate some qualified candidates who would put the good of the nation ahead of themselves.  None of the jokers running are at all qualified to do anything.

Whine, whine, whine.  I may not agree with Secretary Clinton‘s recent comments about women but I sure share her opinion about this.  Let’s call it whiner fatigue.  I don’t know what I hate about it the most, the whining itself or the fact that it puts me in the scary position of wanting to defend people like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.  I think I disagree with everything Paul Ryan has said but when someone I know  said he was no more qualified than Sarah Palin, well, no, Virginia, I guess there isn’t a Santa Claus.

Mr. Pot, I’d like you to meet my good friend, Ms. Kettle.

I think one reason we love to hate politicians is because we love to hate ourselves.  I can think of no other explanation that makes sense.  The people in our government weren’t beamed there from outer space.  They weren’t born there.  We sent them there.  We want many things from our elected officials.  We want them to be both better than and the same as us.  I, personally, want them to be smarter than me.  Statements like, “all politicians do that” are bad for a number of reasons.  These statements let our politicians slide but more than that, they let us do the same.  Plus  by expecting so little of them, and ourselves, we set everyone up for failure.

I am tired of it.  I expect more of myself and I expect more from them, it’s just that simple.  You may be wondering how this will impact my presidential pick.  You know what?  That’s a bullshit question.   I do expect more from the person who will get my vote for president but even if I didn’t, my entire view of our system does not rest on one person or one office.  My vote has the least influence in the presidential election, where I don’t even vote for the person directly.  Where it can make a bigger difference is in local elections or for members of Congress.  Now, I have no real representation in Congress but I vote for my non-voting member and so should you.

Having said that, my opinion about Barack Obama is not the point.  In fact, in one draft of this I gave the reasons I think he deserves another four years but removed them because they detract from my point.

Bottom line:  Our electeds represent us in every way.  They are reflections of us in every way as well.  We need to own that and move on if we expect to change anything.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Seriously, things have never been this bad in the history of the world except of course when they were.  My career got its start during the Clinton administration.  You know, that rosy time when Democrats had everything they wanted and the economy grew so much that all over Washington people greeted each other with puppies and kisses.  Oh, wait, they didn’t.  (for the record, I wrote this about that time.)  Bill Clinton was concerned to not just be a bad president, he was evil.  He was accused of everything up to and including murder.  So was Hillary.  She offed Vince Foster donchaknow.  He was impeached.  Republicans alleged that as governor he ran drugs and guns into his state.  As president, the nefariousness just never ended.

So now, things are bad.  Congressional districts are becoming increasingly radical.  Members of Congress go on the record to say they will never use the word compromise, ever.  Congress used to stay in Washington over the weekends but now they go home.  We don’t even get our news from the same sources.  My side watches our news and your side watches yours.  Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say you have a right to your own opinion but not your own facts but that may not be true any more because we literally cherry pick our facts.  Yet, whining about this is still whining.  It might feel good at the time but unless you’re going to get out there and do something to change the tenor of public discourse, shut up.

Bad people get sent to Washington by good people who don’t vote…

That used to be my outgoing voicemail.  I went on to give information about polling places and a number to register to vote.  We are an apathetic country and this is actually a sign that our system is working vs. not but that it doesn’t excuse not voting.  Not even a little bit.  And if you don’t vote and then come whine to me about government, the shit storm that comes your way is your own damn fault.

If you have made it this far, you might be wondering why I wrote this.  I get just as fed up and upset at the state of affairs in this country as anyone but as bad as our system can be, it still beats most of the other systems on the planet.


The inexplicable Donald Trump

…or “Then they were down to two.”

Even Larry King was intrigued by the Donald's do.

First Newt Gingrich sais he would happily participate in the debate Donald Trump is hosting with NewsMax on December 27. Then the Donald did a round of interviews proclaiming himself the ultimate king-maker and representative of millions (Millions! Check his web sites if you don’t believe him!Note to Mr. Trump, oer your standards the cast of Jersey Shore is qualified to pick the nominee for a major party for the most important job in the country.) before things began to unravel. Rick Santorum agreed to take part but then, one by one, Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and the also inexplicable Michele Bachmann declined the invite. Reince Priebus, perhaps the first adult to emerge in a while, said that his support of this train wreck would amount to “malpractice” on his part. Well put, sir.

And for the record, Jon Huntsman was the first to decline and for someone with as much experience dealing with criticism and being in the public eye, the Donald has an amazingly thin skin. Trump called Huntsman’s comments that he “will not kiss his ring or any part of his anatomy” “offensive.” Yeah, Donald, your circus is offensive. That you are still harping on President Obama’s birth certificate — after you said you would drop it once you saw the ‘long form’ version — is offensive. What’s really shameful (and I am part of the problem here but watching him crash and burn twice is truly delicious) is the attention you continue to get and the fact that you are using the job interview to be leader of the free world just another way to get publicity for your reality show. Even the Situation has more class (not much).

All of this leaves me a little perplexed.  Why do we care what the Donald thinks about anything?  We know he likes himself a lot.  A lot more than anyone should.  His official bio describes him this way:

“Donald J. Trump has become the most recognized businessman in the world, and the Trump brand is readily acknowledged as representing the gold standard around the globe. As the pre-eminent developer of quality real estate, his acumen is unrivaled, and the diversity of his interests has set a new paradigm in the world of business. His commitment to excellence is legendary, and his work as a philanthropist is an integral part of his ethos. He is the archetypal businessman, and an icon of New York.”  You can read more of this brilliant rewriting of history here.

I don’t dislike the Donald but when I was growing up in NY, his life was a sideshow for the bulk of the time I was there.  First of all, he didn’t start his business, he inherited a successful one from his family.  He has a remarkable talent for self-aggrandizement but inflates his net worth an downplays his failures (to his credit, a Trump bankrupcy looks very different from most other people’s).  He is great at self-promotion but does that make him qualified to do anything but promote his reality show?