Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Oh, No, David Gregory, Not Again!

I don't know about you but I'm goddamned sick of John McCain and Lindsay Graham and Kelly Ayotte, the three piously self-important senators who have taken it upon themselves to be the kangaroo court prosecutors of Benghazi though they have not a shred of credibility or authority on which to hang their hats.

Whatever their true reasons, they have decided to crucify Susan Rice, our U.N. ambassador, who famously went on the Sunday talk shows early on to give a statement about what supposedly happened in Libya. Those talking points, provided to her by the C.I.A. (the same ones, incidentally, that were provided to Congress) turned out to be wrong. They may have been in error due to the the rapidly changing nature of intelligence coming in during a time of crisis or they may have been deliberately manipulated in order not to reveal classified information.  (Gee, that would be the first time the intelligence community has ever done anything like that, wouldn't it?)

Either way, Susan Rice was caught in a Catch 22 and the senators are gleefully using that position to paint her as either a) stupidly incompetent for not knowing the truth, b) a political hack deliberately lying to the American people to protect Barack Obama (an African-American woman named Rice giving incorrect information to cover for a president - I wonder where they could ever have gotten that idea?) or c) I don't know, deliberately traitorous, I guess, because we all know these black people are secretly in league with our subversive Kenyan-born Muslim president.

And what do you suppose the Big Three would have said about Susan Rice if she had decided on her own, that damn it, she was going to by-pass the talking points and tell all, classified information be damned? Do you suppose the self-righteous triumvirate would have excoriated her then for disclosing national security secrets (which is illegal, by the way)?

This is why I could never be a successful politician. If I were Barack Obama, I don't think I could resist telling McCain, Graham and Ayotte to go screw themselves. But no, instead, the administration bent over backwards with this latest effort to please them wherein Ms. Rice and the Intelligence Director actually had a special meeting with them to try to alleviate their concerns. Did anyone not know how that was going to turn out? Did anyone think there was the remotest possibility that anything at all could have been said to satisfy the three Don Quixotes, viciously tilting at their windmills? (Can it be possible that this president still harbors illusions that the Republicans will deal with him rationally or was he simply trying to prove a point?) Or did we believe they'd emerge from their face-to-face still firmly in possession of their preconceived biases, their loathing and their obsession? I know that's certainly what I figured would happen because this is the Senators' grandstand and there's no way they are going to give it up.

How else could John McCain maintain his "if it's Sunday, it must be John McCain" persona? Seriously, is he at the top of every freakin' list of potential guests on every single Sunday show every single week? And how did he get to be the Republican expert on foreign policy anyway? And once you've established that position, is it secure into perpetuity even if you're wrong about every single prediction you've ever made? When you promised us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and the war would be over sooner rather than later and the Iraqis would meet us as beloved liberators and it wouldn't cost all that much, how can David Gregory still hang on your words as if you were the Oracle on the Mount?

And Lindsay Graham, the unctuous Mutt to McCain's Jeff, echoing everything the great man says. The purse-mouthed picture of pissy disapproval.

And now the original pair have been joined by yet a third sidekick, the school-marmish Kelly Ayotte who always looks as if she'd love nothing more than to pull out her paddle and whale away on somebody's bare butt.

Geez, this is the best the Republicans have to offer in the way of "loyal" opposition? Not the Three Musketeers, more like the Three Stooges.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Selling Solidarity Cheap

There are so many places I've made it a point to avoid through the years, although I sort of wish I'd patronized them before so I could boycott them on principle now - Walmart, Papa John's, Denny's, Chik-Fil-A, et al. I initially stayed away because their products were crap but if I could, I'd re-stay away because their policies are even crappier.

Papa John Schnatter recently "clarified" and minimized his remarks about Obamacare. I never believed he would follow through on what he said about cutting employees' hours so the giant pizza chain wouldn't have to comply with the ACA or how it would cost an additional 11 to 14 cents per pizza (OMG!) to provide healthcare to his employees. I took his threats for what they were - the sulky sour grapes of a very rich man whose candidate lost the presidency thanks to the united efforts of lots of (to his mind) ignorant lower class people....exactly the same people who have made him rich, incidentally. Ditto all that in regard to Denny's CEO.

I had Chik-Filet-A a couple of times when the girls at work brought in breakfast sandwiches. They didn't impress me enough to encourage me seek them out on my own. After it was revealed that part of the money customers ponied up for their chicken went to fund the suppression of civil rights for gays, I was glad I hadn't become a Chik-Filet-A devotee.

More recently, we learned that Hostess executives were giving themselves multi-million dollar raises even as their company was going bankrupt, for which they blamed their union employees.

And, of course, during the presidential campaign, "vulture capitalism" became a new phrase in our economic lexicon, thanks to Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.

Walmart is the biggie, of course, and always has been. The mega-company is now the largest retail seller in the world, employing 1.4 million Americans and 2.1 million globally (as what they laughingly call, "associates"). Each week, one/third of all Americans visit a Walmart.

Eventually, Walmart will  probably add a car dealership on one end of their stores, a hospital on the other end, a movie theatre in front and a mortuary in back. Whenever we leave our houses, we will just automatically head for Walmart, having no need to go anywhere else. It will be like the world's company store. We'll be in debt to them from our birth right through to death. They'll probably start paying in Walmart scrip soon like the mines used to do decades ago.

I read on Facebook, which granted isn't the font of all truth but its probably close enough, that the Walmart heirs now own as much wealth as the bottom 42 percent of Americans. (Upon further research, I confirmed this is true). In other words, almost half of us! It has been well-documented by now how they manage to retain so much of their profit. It's because we, the tax-payers, (who are also their employers and customers), help them do it. Because they pay so poorly and offer so few benefits, we subsidize their work force through the food stamps and health care for which that work force qualifies. Hey, that's a great system they've created for themselves, isn't it? And that only includes American store employees, of course. I don't suppose that happens in other countries, like China, for the peons who grow and assemble Walmart's products. (And we certainly have cause to be aware by now that the giant corporation's quality control standards are less than rigorous).

Years ago, when I worked in factories, management touted what they called a "closed loop system". Back then it applied to not having to maintain a large inventory due to "just in time" ordering and assembling. They didn't know the half of what a closed loop system could really mean. Walmart has taken it to the nth degree.

We know from experience that Walmart is brutally relentless about firing employees who try to unionize or even form non-union collectives in so-far ineffectual attempts to negotiate for higher pay and more generous benefits and most of all, convenient work schedules so positions at Walmart are more like normal jobs and less like belonging to a plantation.

Black Friday 2012 brought "Boycott Walmart" efforts in which 1,000 Walmart stores in 100 cities and 46 states were picketed to convince customers to stay away. Organizers were hoping at least ten percent of shoppers would cooperate. The boycott was spear-headed by a group, OUR Walmart, in conjunction with several unions.

The results appear to have been mixed. Lots of honks and shouts of support but shoppers who were interviewed by the media said that while they sympathized with the workers, they really, really needed those sale items Walmart was offering. Walmart itself pooh-poohed the boycott stating in a press release that the response was negligible and proved it by releasing figures showing they sold a gazillion television sets, towels and bicycles on Black Friday.

Solidarity among working people has toppled dictatorships, forced social change, created optimum conditions for a thriving middle-class citizenry. It appears the majority of Americans have been willing to trade it away in return for a cheap flat-screen t.v. or, even, a crummy pizza.




Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Roller-Coaster Ride

Life was a roller-coaster ride in November - a joyful November 6 when Obama won the election - a devastating November 17 when Jimmie lost the NASCAR championship. Rather like meeting a wonderful new man and believing it is love sweet love, then a couple of weeks later, he walks out of your life, leaving you broken-hearted. Well, Obama is still the president - cling to that. And Jimmie can always come back and win the championship next year - cling to that.

In the meantime, there's Thanksgiving and Christmas and the kids coming home to visit. There are the everyday worries of Mom's continuing mental deterioration and my home repair guy informing me that I need a new water heater and a notice from Chevrolet that there is a recall on my car and I should make an appointment to have it corrected.

We are having gorgeous weather for mid-November - high 50's and sunny. Back in the day, we'd just have accepted this gratefully as a gift from Mother Nature but in 2012, you worry that it is just more evidence of global warming, more retribution than reward.

I'll forego the political shows and the NASCAR blogs for a while. I'm temporarily sick of hearing about Fetal Heartbeat laws and fiscal cliffs and "oh-my-God Benghazi! and hearing that other guy, who won the NASCAR championship (Brad Keselowski), extolled to the moon when Jimmie would have pulled off a phenomenal comeback but for want of a single lugnut and a pin-sized hole in an oil line (maybe).

I tend to disappear into fiction this time of year. I have a stack of books from favorite authors I've been saving for just this time: John Sandiford and Lee Childs and Andrew Vachss and Iain Banks and I've been hoarding the last volume of the Outlander series for when I need to escape from real life. Amazon.com notified me that the latest Stephanie Plum has shipped. Ole Stef has been refusing to choose between  her two hot men, Morelli and Ranger, through 19 books now. I wonder how long she can pull off that balancing act? And I have some new e-books that have been recommended to me. I'm trying to support more new e-authors now that I am one myself.

I'm at a creative place in my own latest novel - the 7th in the Rafe Vincennes series. The plot is flowing so that every time I bring up the on-going manuscript, I feel an anticipatory thrill about what is going to happen next, which not being an organized writer, is always a total mystery to me until it happens.

There are always household projects to keep me occupied....not that I'm very excited about the prospect of those. It's probably a good thing my son and daughter-in-law are coming home for Christmas. That will force me into deep cleaning mode. It will be extremely satisfying to have the house in perfect shape....once it's all done.

There are good things to consider. For instance, my Pekinese puppy, Channie (or as I call her DB, for Dumb Blonde) seems finally have gotten it through her head about going potty outside (knock on wood). And I hardened my heart this year and let the Ugly Plant (a 20-plus-year-old Schefflera) expire. Mom got it at my grandmother's funeral and insisted it had sentimental value so I had to drag it in and out every spring and fall. Over the decades, it got taller and heavier and scragglier and balder. When I lugged it in before winter, it promptly lost what few leaves it had and stood, like a concentration camp survivor, taking up one whole corner of the dining room. I felt a little guilty but I left it out on the porch until we had a hard frost. There was a huge sense of relief when I saw that the damn thing had passed into plant heaven at last. (Mom having forgotten all about it by now).

So give me a little break and I'll be ready to plunge back into politics and stock car racing.  What will happen during my brief sabbatical? Will the entire Middle East be at war? Will John McCain (who is living proof that even being a genuine hero doesn't give you lifetime license to be a fool) have succeeded in having Susan Rice burned at the stake? Will the Republicans steadfastly stand by their single remaining Principle, that being that taxes CANNOT be raised on the rich? Will Texas (or any other state) have seceded? Will Obama have accomplished his secret Muslim mission of removing every gun from every American household? Will any American Christian be the victim of an angry mob of securlarists for making the unforgivable error of saying "Christmas"? Will Obama be facing impeachment for the high crime and misdemeanor of pissing the Republicans off by winning an election (as happened with Bill Clinton)? Will any Republican politician or pundit pay a price for being so spectacularly wrong about the outcome (so far it appears they are, shamelessly, still making the rounds of the Sunday talk shows just as if they'd known what they were talking about)?

And NASCAR? What will happen there? Sprint Cup will be using a brand new car which is bound to shake up the series. What teams will adapt to it the quickest and come out of the box strong and fast at Daytona?

Ah, it is all so delicious to contemplate, isn't it?

 


Monday, November 12, 2012

Is It Time For Americans To Get A Divorce?


 This the latest post-election post making the rounds on the internet. My response is below it.



AMERICAN DIVORCE AGREEMENT



DIVORCE AGREEMENT- -
WRITTEN BY YOUNG COLLEGE STUDENT
The person who wrote this is a college student. Perhaps there is hope for us after all.
DIVORCE AGREEMENT
THIS IS SO INCREDIBLY WELL PUT AND I CAN HARDLY BELIEVE IT'S BY A YOUNG PERSON, A STUDENT!!! WHATEVER HE RUNS FOR, I'LL VOTE FOR HIM.
Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al: We have stuck together since the late 1950's for the sake of the kids, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has clearly run its course.
Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right for us all, so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.
Here is a our separation agreement:
--Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a similar portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.
--We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them.
--You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU.
--Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military.
--We'll take the nasty, smelly oil industry and the coal mines, and you can go with wind, solar and biodiesel.
--You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell. You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them.
--We'll keep capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street.
--You can have your beloved lifelong welfare dwellers, food stamps, homeless, homeboys, hippies, druggies and illegal aliens.
--We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's and rednecks.
--We'll keep Bill O?Reilly, and Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood .
--You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us.
--You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.
--We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values.
--You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism, political correctness and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U.N. but we will no longer be paying the bill.
--We'll keep the SUV's, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Volt and Leaf you can find.
--You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors.
--We'll keep "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "The National Anthem."
--I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute "Imagine", "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", "Kum Ba Ya" or "We Are the World".
--We'll practice trickle-down economics and you can continue to give trickle up poverty your best shot.
--Since it often so offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag.
Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like-minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you might think about which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.
Sincerely,
John J. Wall
Law Student and an American
P.S. Also, please take Ted Turner, Sean Penn, Martin & Charlie Sheen, Barbara Streisand, &
( Hanoi ) Jane Fonda with you.
P.S.S. And you won't have to press 1 for English when you call our country.
Forward This Every Time You Get It ! Let's Keep This Going, Maybe Some Of It Will Start Sinking In!!



 Dear John Law and American conservatives, evangelicals, corporation worshipers, aristocracy adorers, science deniers and Romney supporters, et al - you're right. As much as our side has tried, you all seem to have decided that if you can't have your way every single time, you are ready call it quits on America's grand political adventure. Obviously, you believe that anyone who doesn't agree with you is simply too stupid to be allowed to participate in the democratic republic that has served us so well for so long.

But, John, as a law student, you surely realize that in any legal agreement, there is negotiation. You don't simply present the other side with a document and expect them to say, "oh, okay, then, just show me where to sign."

As far as separating our actual landmass, I suppose the easiest way is simply to split the U.S. up from north to south. After all, we did it that way once before and that turned out pretty well, didn't it? There might be some unhappy states this way but we could make some trades - Florida for Alaska, for instance. But if not that way, then let's just divide us up the way we voted in the presidential election. You guys get the Romney states and we get the Obama states. That seems fair.

We will happily take the liberal judges and the ACLU and you can keep Clarence and Sam and the rest. They can then outlaw abortion and the voting rights act and affirmative action and, I don't know, public schools too, I guess. Along with them, you're welcome to keep the Neanderthals you put on the Science Committee like Dana Rohrbacher and Todd Akin. You can re-name it the Un-Science Committee.

You can collect taxes however you please. You already have all the poorest states in our great union and they will only keep getting poorer. You healthcare system with continue to suck as the number of uninsured grows, your public education system will continue to crumble as you forbid sex education and knowledge-based history and science. You will continue to have more unwed mothers and a higher infant mortality rate - gee, I wonder how you allow that when you love babies so much? The condition is that you have to keep your own poor people and children and disabled people and do with them as you will. You can't be sending them all to us where we believe in healthy mothers and babies and a safety net for the poor and vulnerable just to get rid of them and then be able to say, "look how successful we are at eliminating poverty!"

You can have the NRA, for sure, but you know, as an Obama-voting Democrat I have guns, which I plan to keep, and even blue states have law enforcement (and some cops probably even voted for Obama - hard as you may find that to believe - after all the COPS program was a Clinton initiative. It is in red states where more public safety workers lost their jobs and/or their right to collectively bargain). We'll keep our half of the military too, thank you very much. I find it a little presumptuous on your part to suggest that all soldiers are necessarily in lock-step with conservative Republicans because they aren't.

I think we'll keep parts of the oil and gas industry. After all, we're pumping more oil and gas now than we did under George Bush but we won't give the oil companies that are making record profits billion-dollar rebates in our half of America. We will use those dollars to fund alternative sources of energy (which will also provide alternative sources of American jobs). And you can keep the monster trucks and SUVs and we'll take the more energy-efficient vehicles but we want you to pay for a system of enormous fans lining the border to blow all your pollution back onto your side.  (And if your gulf beaches are despoiled by oil spills, you can't come use ours. Ditto, fish and wildlife.)

We will keep Oprah and Michael and Rosie and you can keep Rush and The Donald and Glenn and the hot Alaskan hockey mom, but you need to be responsible for finding the funds for their therapy. Since you don't believe in taxes, maybe you could take donations.

You can have your pure capitalism and your greedy corporations and pharmaceutical companies and Walmart and Wall Street. We actually like things on a more human level so we'll take Main Street and making things in America and the auto companies and buying products in stores run by people in the community. We do have our own billionaires, you know, and I expect they'd be willing to step in maintain the banks in our half of the country. And probably if Medicare and Medicaid (which you won't have, of course, or if you do, they will be privatized and voucherized) in our part of America were allowed to negotiate lower prices with Big Pharma, I sort of bet they'd be willing to strike a deal....because they'd have lots more customers in blue state America seeing as how we'd have everyone insured.

We'll keep our welfare dwellers and food stamps and homeboys and hippies and druggies. But are you implying you won't get custody of any lower class people in Red America? Isn't Oxycontin called "hillbilly heroin" and doesn't hillbilly imply southern? Aren't there a few redneck alcoholics? What do you plan to do with your welfare mothers and their sick and hungry children (of which I assume you will have lots seeing as how they won't have access to contraceptives or abortion or prenatal care). Are you going to put them in "poor people refugee camps". 

We'll take immigrants because they are the source of lots of new small businesses and are characterized by a desire to succeed and a strong work ethic. Hell, lots of them would probably be part of your natural conservative constituency if you weren't such assholes. 

We'll keep NBC and Hollywood and you can have Fox and O'Reilly. I think we're coming out ahead there. Again with the presumption though. Are you making the claim that no Democrat or liberal or Obama-voter can also be a good Christian? Do you truly think that is a high ground that you alone hold? I'm an agnostic so it wouldn't matter much to me but I assume lots of liberals would fight you for their bibles. 

Seriously? Have you forgotten that it wasn't your kind that finally got Osama and most of his crew by using intelligence (actual, true intelligence, not the trumped up kind about weapons of mass destruction and yellowcake uranium) and unmanned drones? And this was while your timid candidate was saying Obama was being too "bold" to go into Pakistan without permission. 

Judeo-Christian values? I don't even claim to great faith but I was raised a Catholic and I seem to remember that Jesus was characterized by tolerant, loving statements about sinners and the vulnerable like "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" and "suffer the little children to come unto me" and "give what ye have to the poor and follow me" and "as you treat the least of these..." and on and on. I don't recall Jesus promoting a kind of selfish, hard-ass, "I got mine, screw you" kind of Romneyish Prosperity Theology. Somehow, I think Jesus would be more blue than red but maybe I'm remembering wrong. 

Wow, this is such a typically Republican conservative document you are offering us here. No compromise or cooperation about anthems. This is the way you guys like to do business, isn't it? You just tell us what you're taking while giving us unwanted advice on what we should choose in return. 

Yes, you go ahead and practice trickle-down economics. We already know how it will turn out because we tried it under George Bush. Your rich will get richer, your poor will get poorer, your sick will get sicker. And you'll think it is a wonderful thing as the Mitt Romneys of your country bankrupt more and more companies and lay off more and more workers in order to send more and more jobs to China....all while putting their own profits in the Caymans or Switzerland. That's the kind of success we admire in good old Red State America!

And we'll do what we did under Clinton - give more support to the middle class, let the rich pay a little more and still create more millionaires in 8 years than Bush managed to do in spite of the tax breaks he gave them. (When is it the job creators are going to start creating jobs again?)

We'll keep our name and our history and our flag, thank you very much. You're the one who is no longer happy in this marriage and filed for divorce so it is up to you to pack your bags and start over with a new name, history and flag.

And my guess is that in 15 years, blue America will be prosperous and progressive and red America will be little more than a third world country with power and assets concentrated in the hands of the few while the many live in poverty.

And PS - please also take Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers and Clint Eastwood and Charlie Daniels and Snookie and Sheldon Adelson and Governor Transvaginal Ultrasound Bob Donnellson and Ted Nugent and Hank Williams Jr.......

Sincerely,

Vicki Williams 


Friday, November 9, 2012

Republicans - The Ostriches and the Aftermath

Right before I shut down Facebook to go watch the election returns come in, one of my especially militant Republican friends told me that he was going to go crack a beer and settle in to watch his candidate "smash" mine. I had been feeling mildly optimistic about Obama winning all along but I wouldn't have dared to make such a declarative statement without allowing myself even the slightest wiggle room in case I had to eat my words later. I wondered where that boldness was coming from since the polls didn't reflect such a definite outcome.

Well, sure enough, it turned out that the polls were exactly right, maybe even underestimating Obama's strength by a bit.

The next day, Romney supporters appeared genuinely stunned by the result. It wasn't what their leaders had promised them was going to happen. Not only were they stunned but bitter as well. Because they'd cast this election as literally a war between the forces of good and evil, they saw Obama (and, thus, his brain-washed minions like myself) winning a second term as the ruination of America. (I think I may have reached a personal best for the amount of times I was called stupid in one day).

I have watched them all campaign long, and even before that, constructing the most elaborate (and, as it turned out, precarious) of alternate realities.They had their own media including a network dedicated to feeding their biases with Fox, and their own talk show hosts (Rush, et al) and their own newspapers and magazines and oh, yes, definitely their own fenced-off section of the blogosphere - "True Believers Only - Everyone Else Stay Out!" They had an abundance of nutty billionaires like Trump and Adelson and the Koch Brothers, who pledged comforting gazillions to the cause. They even had their very own God whispering to them, not to worry, he was involved behind (or perhaps that should be above) the scenes.

When they needed reasons to hate the president, they created fantasies out of whole cloth, casting him as an alien, a traitor. When he wasn't an undercover Muslim Brotherhood mole, he was a European-style Socialist (aren't those two designations in conflict with one another?) When the polls weren't positive for them, they pooh-poohed the pollsters and their methods. When the Congressional Research Office (a non-partisan group whose findings had been accepted by both R's and D's for generations), issued a report at odds with Mitt Romney's economic conclusions, they scoffed at the CRO and demanded the report be pulled. When they didn't like the unemployment number, they claimed that the numbers had been "manipulated" to favor Obama. They turned tragedies like Fast and Furious and Benghazi into scandals, then blamed the "lamestream" media for not covering them the same way. One of their representatives on the Science committee attributed climate change to dinosaur flatulence. Another one, the infamous Todd Akin, stated that women couldn't get pregnant in cases of "legitimate rape". Romney's campaign scornfully stated that it would not be bound by fact-checkers and its supporters, who'd cast fact-checkers aside long ago, heartily agreed.

Through the entire campaign, they floated happily along in a fragile bubble of denial. I think they were truly shocked when that bubble popped upon collision with the reality of an election to discover how many every day Americans had turned against their increasing radicalism. Even people who would normally have leaned red shied away this time. In my own state, the Tea Party gave away a Senate seat that could have belonged to the Republicans forever when they cast out Dick Lugar in favor of the "severely" conservative, Richard Mourdock.

In addition to all of that, their tactics were more like those of Attila the Hun than Mahatma Ghandi. They forswore any attempts at persuading leaners to their side in favor of bullying and badgering and name-calling.  They told their opponents they were idiots who must not "care about America", users who had no higher motive in supporting Obama than wanting food stamps and free cell phones.

It was never enough for them that they disagreed with Obama's policies. It couldn't be as simple as competing philosophies about governance but rather that Obama, and by extension his voters, were ready to overthrow America's very constitution and way of life.

It never occurred to them to consider how many groups they were turning off in their arrogant insistence that they know what's best for all of us and we should just shut up and fall in line - Latinos and women and union workers and young people and Asians and Jews and African-Americans and gays. In the end, their largest constituency was white men and in the America of 2012, that's not enough to win, especially when so many of those men seemed not to have the best interests of the rest of us at heart.

So, it is time for Republicans to re-evaluate but if Facebook is any indication, they don't seem to be anywhere close to doing that. They are mostly either a) wringing their hands about the downfall of America or b) ready to take up arms because if they can't win by election, they'll, by God, take their country back by force.

I hope their voices of moderation prevail but I fear there aren't enough of them to make a difference. America needs two strong parties to counter-balance one another. Believe it or not, I want a strong Republican party that I can respect even when I disagree with them. For that to happen, the party has to be willing to re-join the reality-based community.


  


Sunday, November 4, 2012

My House - American Electorate in Microcosm

I have recently come to realize that my house is America's electorate in microcosm. First, you have the Democrats. That would be me and the cats. We are patient and cooperative. We always use our litter box. We will agreeably move over and give someone else room on our chair. We respect one another's possessions. We survey each situation calmly and react rationally.

Then we have the Republicans, which would be Mom, who used to be a fervent liberal - generous-hearted and compassionate - until Alzheimer's turned her severely conservative, and lastly, Chantilly (whom I call DB for Dumb Blonde), the little blonde Pekinese puppy, who is totally heedless of anyone's needs but her own. The cats and I are capable of deferring gratification. Tell Paisley you'll fill her food bowl as soon as you finish a blog and she'll sit quietly until you're ready. Meanwhile, the Republicans throw a fit at the mere suggestion that their wishes should be postponed - barking, jumping, yelling and whining incessantly until they get their way.

Oddly enough, the dynamic that is in play here makes me understand the electoral process more clearly.The immature, self-centered conservatives win more often simply because they beat the liberals down with their absolute relentlessness.

If Mom has misplaced her glasses, yet again, she expects you to drop what you are doing and start searching right now, even if it is the last two laps of the NASCAR race. If Channie tells you that she has to go potty, you had better be quick because, otherwise, she will simply go on the floor to teach you a lesson. And I hop to please both of them because it is easier than seeing Mom start throwing things out of drawers in which there is no likelihood she left her glasses or having to pick up poop.

Mom and Channie live in a world of denial. Mom no longer thinks she lives here. She constantly fills sacks to take "home". If I remind her that she can no longer remember what pills to take or how to make coffee, she scoffs. "I could get along perfectly fine without any help from you." It is rather like the Republican - "I built that myself" mantra that was the theme of the Republican convention. (Oh, except for that government contract, of course, and the public schools and interstate highways and trade agreements and small business loans and tax abatement and government research and development and maybe a little rebuilding assistance when you got hit by a hurricane....)

Channie thinks every toy is hers and every treat is hers and first choice of where to be is hers. If one of the cats is on the loveseat, she'll heckle them, then only stay a few minutes before moving herself. It wasn't the loveseat she wanted but simply to prove that she could have it.

Paisley and Slate and I watch the other two with bemusement. The two cats sit on the back of the sofa pondering Mom's choices for filling her bags. I expect they wonder, as I do, why she includes several shoes (sans mates) and red shoe polish but no red shoes, a pair of salt and pepper shakers and a package of needles (although she no longer sews). I notice she's snagged my precious new bottle of vanilla from the pantry (real vanilla now sells for approximately the same price per ounce as Chanel No. 5). The bags also contain a clock and a doll and one of the t.v. remotes.

To me and the cats, there seems to be no method to her madness which is much the same as I feel about Republicans. As when Obama took over after Bush, I have to come in and empty all the useless sacks and put things back in order again, i.e. ending a war we should have never started. Now the Republicans appear to be gung-ho to start refilling those sacks again

One inviolable quality that Mom and Channie share with the Republicans is a complete unwillingness to compromise...Not.At.All. Offer them a deal like the Democrats did of $10 worth of deficit reduction for each $1 of a tax increase on the rich and they will tell you flatly - "no way - it's my way or highway." If that means no jobs bill when unemployment is high, so be it. If it means lowering the country's credit rating - if it means no exceptions for abortion - if it means not extending the Violence Against Women Act - if it means saying no to Equal Pay for Equal Work - if it means means voting 33 hopeless times to repeal Obamacare while letting the rest of the country's business go to hell, so be it.

Like the Republicans, Mom and Channie can keep you in a state of perpetual befuddlement. You can offer them something they approved of yesterday but they've decided they hate it today. Channie, for instance, once loved her tennis ball but now she scorns it. Mom, for her part, has always had a taste for strawberry jello so I bought 6 boxes in order to have plenty on hand. This morning when I asked if she wanted me to make some, she looked at me like I was crazy - "I've never cared that much for strawberry jello." Huh? (Remind you of anything? Like Cap and Trade or the Individual Mandate?)

You cannot appeal to Mom and Channie's sense of fairness because they have no sense of fairness. You can't try to shame them because they are shameless. You can't beg for sympathy because the pointer doesn't even budge on their Compassion Meter.

The cats and I give up in the face of their implacable intransigence. Paisley and Slate go upstairs, ceding the whole lower level to the dog, simply to avoid her harassment. "Okay, Mom," I tell my mother wearily, to get her off my back,  "I'll take you home tomorrow."