Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's been a week since the election...

It's been one week since President Obama won a second term of office and I have done my best to avoid doing an endzone dance in the faces of all my conservative friends and critics, partly out of a sense of "winning with dignity" but mostly because it's not like I've been a huge Obama cheerleader this election cycle.  I've supported him because he was the lesser of two evils and because of my sheer disdain for the current GOP platform, but it's not like he was "my guy" and I have any vested interest in his victory beyond just seeing the conservative ideology suffer another humiliating defeat at the hands of their own arrogance.

Yes, conservative arrogance, arguably the single biggest contributing factor to the defeat of Mitt Romney.

Don't believe the republican excuse makers on the "news" circuit, they lost this election due entirely to their own actions (or inactions as the case may be).

The excuses coming from the right have been amazing, too.

Yes, the conservative right has launched a full-scale class and racial attack on the majority who re-elected the president.  All the code words have been thrown out there by all the talking heads, but the common "wisdom" within the conservative bubble is that everyone who voted for Obama is now part of that Romney-demonized "47%" who are freeloaders, bums and mooches looking for "free stuff" as Bill O'Reilly put it while the results were still coming in.  That's how conservatives deal with a PR blunder - Romney's secretly taped lambasting of the 47% who won't vote for him - by doubling down on it and using it as the basis for their chief excuse as to why they didn't win.

According to the conservative base, America is now rocketing headlong into hell, driven by Obama and his legions of welfare queens, activist judges, labor unions and "people who don't look like us".  Us being white males over 30 and the women who love to serve them.  The racism and classism that was thinly-veiled for the last 4 years has now come racing out into the forefront.  Conservative politicians and pundits alike have been lamenting the (de)evolution of America into one where white males are now the minority and the country is now being held hostage by minorities, women and "moochers" looking for "free stuff".

And it's all bullshit.

The white conservative male majority wants desperately to believe that they have the superior party, the superior platform, the superior ideology and the superior candidates and that the only way they can lose is through fraud, criminal activity or the takeover of America by those who wish to see our great nation reduced to a smoking pile of socialist rubble.  And, as long as they continue to believe this myopic narrative, they will continue to lose elections and blame everyone but themselves for it.

For the guys who bill themselves as the "party of personal responsibility", Republicans sure have a hard time taking the blame for their own screw ups...

Here's why the Republicans lost the presidential election, and will continue to lose major elections until they pull their heads out of their hermetically-sealed asses:

1.  Mitt Romney

He was a weak candidate from the get-go.  His opponents destroyed him in the primaries, doing much of the Obama administrations work for them, and the only reason Romney won the nomination was due to lack of any better option.  Who were Republicans going to vote for instead?  Newt Gingrich?  Michelle Bachmann?  Hermann Cain?  The pool was weak as hell and Romney was the only one who acted even remotely "presidential" at all.  However, all the statesman posturing and posing can't cover up the complete lack of any core principles and basic dignity that characterized Mitt Romney as a candidate.  He literally said anything he thought people wanted to hear in order to keep moving up in the polls.  He would contradict his own stance on key policy issues literally within hours of each other.  Depending on what year, week, day or hour you decided to pull a clip of Romney speaking, he was either pro-choice, pro-life, anti-immigration, pro-immigration, anti-taxation, pro-taxation, anti-entitlement, pro-entitlement, and so on.  If a guy that completely bereft of integrity would have still managed to get elected president, it wouldn't have been the Democrats who lost, it would have been the entire American electorate.

2.  Social Conservatism

Most people aren't rigidly pro-life.  Most people aren't rigidly anti-gay marriage.  Most people aren't rigidly anti-contraception.  Most people aren't rigidly fundamentalist Christian.  You can't win a popular election running on a platform that is unpopular with most of the country.  At some point you would think someone in the RNC would have floated a memo telling the ultra-conservative male candidates for senate and congressional seats to shut the hell up about abortion, contraception, gays and the bible until after the election.  The fact that this didn't happen betrays a fundamental ignorance of popular opinion by GOP policy makers.  Even among people who agree with the GOP stance on these issues, most don't support the government getting involved with legislating these values on the general public.  Pretty much any time you run on a platform of taking away or restricting freedom and liberty, you're going to have problems.

Unfortunately, if politicians like Bobby Jindal are any indication, Republicans still aren't getting it.  Today Jindal said the problem with the GOP platform is that they need to move more towards the center on fiscal issues, while maintaining their staunch social conservatism.  This is so ridiculous it's almost laughable.  Fiscal conservatism is about the only thing that the majority of the country agrees with the GOP on.  Most Americans support tax reform and reduced spending and smaller, less intrusive government.  There's actually a broad base of support for the tenets of fiscal conservatism.  To abandon the one core party principle that even sways independents, moderates and that coveted minority demographic, while doubling down on the divisive social conservatism that has dogged the party ever since they got into bed with the religious right is to ask for more of the same in the upcoming elections.

3.  Conservative Media

If for nothing else than insisting that the first two things I listed weren't issues for the GOP at all, the conservative media complex has failed its demographic and cost its party the presidency.  However, there was far more that the conservative media did to screw the GOP out of a presidential win than simply ignoring the two giant elephants in the room, shitting all over the furniture.

First, the conservative media screwed the pooch by making Mitt Romney the heir apparent from the jump.  He was a terrible candidate all along, there's a reason the guy has spent over $1 billion in 3 election cycles and never won.  He's a turd, a silly putty candidate who can be shaped and molded into any form and imprinted with anything you stick to him, but has no backbone and a completely soft center.  If the GOP should have learned anything from the re-election of George W. Bush, it's that people will back a strongly principled and consistent candidate, even if he's completely wrong, simply because standing for something - even the wrong thing - is better than going any which way the wind blows on every single issue put before him.  I mean, come on, John Kerry lost in large part due to being characterized as a "flip flopper" for changing his views on certain key issues, namely the war in Iraq, how did they think a serial flip flopper like Romney would do?  Yet, they insisted he was the best man for the job - much to the anger and frustration of the Ron Paul nation.

Second, they set the narrative for the Republican party, and it was tone deaf on an epic level.  Class warfare, demonization of the working class, extreme social conservatism and cheerleading of Republican obstructionism in Washington all fell flat with voters.  Conservative media has been up its own ass for so long that they've completely lost touch with what most people without an extreme right wing ideology actually believe.  To make matters worse, when the national public opinion polls began to point out this fundamental failing on the part of conservative media, they simply made up their own polls which reinforced their flawed narrative.  Romney (in)famously said "our campaign isn't going to be dictated by fact-checkers" and unfortunately for them, it wasn't.  Ignoring the facts in favor of whatever makes you look good is never a winning strategy.

So now it's a week later and the conservative media is in an incredibly advanced state of denial and manic self-preservation. They have attacked every one and thing they can in order to shift the blame from themselves.  Instead of taking a critical, objective look at where they screwed up, they're doubling down on the flawed ideology that cost them the election in the first place and instead blaming the failure on anything but their own incompetence.  Conservative media is blaming minorities for "stealing" America away from "real" (i.e. white) Americans.  They're blaming the persistent specter of "liberal media" for failing to trash Obama and exalt Romney sufficiently to guarantee his victory.  They're even blaming Romney for being "too moderate", the same criticism they lobbed at John McCain after the 2008 election.  Anything and everything to avoid taking personal responsibility for the role they played in blowing it for the GOP in yet another presidential election.

Much like Karl Rove and his Crossroads GPS Super PAC, Fox News is going to have to answer for the terrible returns on the investment.  However, unlike with Rove, it's not conservative billionaires who got shafted with a load of false promises and arrogant laziness, it was the poor, downtrodden white conservative male majority who got conned into thinking they were safe in their ivory towers and that they alone still had the numbers to beat back all those gays and browns and women who think for themselves to get their guys back in charge.

It's time to take some responsibility, Republicans.  You can't just sit on your asses, feeling entitled to control of the country, and wait for government to hand it to you...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Guest Blogger: Mary

Hello my loyal reader.  Ah, but the updates come few and far between these days, do they not?  My apologies for that.  Still trying to settle into a new routine around all the other responsibilities that have been heaped upon me of late.  In the meantime, I am greatly appreciative of my friends who have offered their own submissions for my blog.  Today, I am featuring an article from my good friend Mary.  I'm not going to use her last name per her request, but she sent me this a few weeks ago and has been incredibly patient with me as I lagged and procrastinated getting it up here.  So, without further ado, I turn my blog over to an incredibly bright and talented young lady...

My husband and I have been happily married for nearly thirteen years.  Do I think marriage is sacred?  No, I believe marriage is precious and fragile.  Marriage is a right that every human being willing to risk their happiness, their life, and their soul for another should be allowed.
            Marriage is hard work.  “Happily ever after” doesn’t exist without constant effort.  You have to be there for one another even when your spouse isn’t much fun to be around.
            Marriage is an extension of love, at least in most societies.  Love is the most beautiful and compelling emotion displayed by humanity.  It is the catalyst for our greatest joy and sadness.  It can consume, fulfill, or destroy us.  Those who dare to love are the bravest among us.
            Sadly, we live in a world where a fraction of the population has always sought to dictate who should be allowed to marry.  Until the later part of the twentieth century, many felt interracial marriage was an abomination.  It was even a crime in some places.   Today, most of us recognize the laws against interracial marriage as a great injustice in our history.
            However, for all our progress, our growth as a species, we still deny this right to some.  Do I believe in gay marriage?  I believe in marriage.  Any human being willing to put his or her self in such a vulnerable situation, to risk their very self in order to spend their life with another human being, should have the opportunity to marry.
            Why do I care?  I, as a heterosexual woman, would never be denied this precious, fragile right.  Well, truth is I care for a couple of reasons.  Number one, I believe as long as we, the human race, deny such a basic and valuable right to a portion of our society, we are flawed and inhumane.  The second reason is rather selfish.  I’m bisexual.  It is my belief that my bisexuality is a result of my physiology, my biological makeup.  I have been attracted to both men and women since I entered puberty.   It has been a part of who I am as long as I can remember.  I just happened to fall in love with a man and marry him.  However, I may have just as easily fallen in love with a woman and wished to marry her.
            The horrible injustice that I could have faced and that many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals face horrifies and confounds me.  Why, in a world plagued with so much sadness, would anyone deny another human being the right to express his or her love for another?  Love is beautiful, no matter its orientation.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The 47% Problem (I'm talking to YOU middle-class conservatives).

Ok, so elephant in the room first.  Yes, it's been too damn long since I've posted here.  It's been a pretty hectic year for me, lots going on, new beginnings and changes and all that good stuff.  But, I am hopeful that there will continue to be big things on the horizon and I will become and even louder and more annoying voice in the future. (winky face)

Now, I'm not going to go into a whole thing about the first debate.  We all saw it, Obama came out weak and Romney came out with a head full of steam and a bunch of lies that the president bafflingly let whiff by like Casey at the bat.  Debates are either really important or not important at all, depending on who's side won or lost, but really they only represent one small facet of the campaign process and one that statistically doesn't have much significant impact on the outcome of the election - with the notable exception being the infamous Nixon/Kennedy debate.  Fact is, the first debate is usually all but completely forgotten by the third debate and that is usually a distant memory in the final 2-week push to election day.  It's not the words of prepped candidates on the debate stage that carries weight with swing voters, it's the words those candidates say off the cuff or when they think no one is listening that matter.

When Romney made his now-famous comments about the 47% of Americans he feels are a drain and a burden on society, fostered into a life of entitled dependency and cultivated to be Obama voters through nanny state coddling, he drew a very clear line in the sand between the people he sees as valuable to his vision of America and those he could frankly do without.  The problem with that is, a lot of people who work hard and don't feel like they are dependent, welfare mooches looking for handouts at all are a part of that 47%, even if they don't know it.

If you are a family of 4 and you make the middle-class average of $50,000, chances are you aren't paying income taxes at the end of the year and are instead receiving a refund.  Does that mean you are a leech?  Does that mean you are lazy and want to sit on your ass all day being taken care of by the government?  Of course not.  But, according to Romney, you are.  It's ironic because some of the loudest conservative friends I have fall right into that income bracket.

Just like the retired military vets, elderly and working poor in this country who break their backs every day but don't make enough money to have an actual tax bill at the end of the year.  See, in Romney's world, working your ass off but not ending up rich as a result of it makes you a bum, a mooch and a freeloader.  Who cares you earned that modest paycheck sweating under a hot sun or in a factory or warehouse, if you don't make enough to pay a tax bill at the end of the year, you are a drain on society and Romney doesn't care about you.

The problem is that a lot of Americans who fall squarely into Romney's 47% don't think they are actually a part of it at all.  People who get a refund check every year but bemoan the welfare state draining their income.  People who collect a social security check but think the Democrats want to take away their benefits.  People who have never been anywhere near "rich" in their lives and most likely never will be but are convinced that if they keep voting for the conservative trickle-down economic model that has done nothing but shrink their quality of life for 30 years, that somehow this will all change eventually.  These people think Romney represents them, even as he's declaring them all to be freeloaders and entitled pawns of the Obama welfare agenda.

Romney can say whatever he wants in debates.  He can deny that he supports policy that he's been running on since the primaries and he can accuse Obama of lying as he, himself tells lie after lie without a challenge.  It doesn't matter what he says when he knows we're listening, it matters what he says when he thinks only people who can afford a $50,000 plate of food are listening.  When Romney speaks to "his people", he thinks half the country are worthless scumbags, sucking off of his hard work and success.  He proudly admits that it's "not my job" to worry about those people - half the country.  A man who wants the highest office in the land doesn't care about half the people who live in it.

Now, if you're a millionaire or at least wealthy enough to pay taxes at the end of the year and still have a decent quality of life, then you can agree with Romney's rhetoric all you want.  Frankly, it makes sense to do so.  I've always believed people should vote in their own best interests and support candidates who support them.  My issue is with the vast numbers of conservative voters who AREN'T millionaires who DON'T pay taxes at the end of the year and who DON'T enjoy a good quality of life and look forward to that tax rebate check as a means of trying to get caught up on a year of slowly-accumulating debt.  I will never understand why those people continue to vote for a party that doesn't care about them.  It's not just an opinion anymore, the guy that they picked to run the country on their behalf has flat out ADMITTED it.  At what point do you wake up and smell the $50,000 a cup coffee?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Chick Fil Gay (lol)

The way I see it, as a privately-owned company, Chick-fil-a can support whatever causes it wants to and its leadership can make whatever statements they choose in the media.  I fully support the right of Dan Cathy to express his opinion whenever and wherever he wants to.  This is, after all, America and, as of this afternoon, the first amendment still exists.

My only beef (get it?) with this whole gay marriage "scandal" that's put Cathy's company in the news and brought down a deluge of both anger and support from both sides of the gay rights issue is that his comments are just stupid and betray the hypocritical one-sided bias that the anti-gay marriage crowd displays every time they open their chicken pot pie holes and decide to spew another round of their self-righteous ignorance.

Cathy said "I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about."

What annoys the holy fuck out of me about that statement is, what exactly are Cathy and others who believe as he does trying to do?  Are they not also audaciously defining what marriage is about based on their own selective interpretation of the bible?  That's all the religious right does on the gay marriage issue - arrogantly define what marriage is about.

It's been said over and over again on scores of progressive blogs and websites that conservative Christians love to pick and choose which parts of the bible they choose to strictly adhere to and which parts are just "symbolism" and "open to interpretation", or better yet, "reflect an outdated era in society and should be updated to fit our modern times."  These are arguments that I've heard to explain why conservative Christians don't still beat their wives for talking out of turn or beat their children for disobeying them.  It's why we don't still see evangelicals stoning women for entering church with their heads uncovered or forcing them into isolation for a week after their periods.  It's why modern evangelicals can wear mixed fabrics, eat shellfish, enjoy figs and make casual, non-sexual physical contact with a women while she's menstruating without also being quarantined until sufficient time has passed for them to be "clean" once again.  See, the bible is chock full of rules and beliefs that are completely ignored by the overwhelming majority of the exact same conservative Christians who refuse to budge on the acceptance of gay marriage due to the strict letter of the bible.  Never mind the fact that the same book of the bible - Leviticus - that denounces homosexuality is also the same book that prescribes all of the other aforementioned remedies for those odd and arbitrary offenses, because all that other stuff is just outdated, symbolic or just silly stuff and therefore doesn't have to be obeyed to the letter anymore... oh, but that gay stuff, there's no budging on that!

The above is a perfect example of my point.  Chick-fil-a, like all other hypocritical conservative Christian organizations and people, has an unwavering adherence to their interpretation of biblical principles when it comes to the issue of homosexuality, but when it comes to the other decrees taken from the exact same book of the bible, mere paragraphs before and after the ones pertaining to homosexuality?  Meh, we'll decide what that really means and we'll follow it as much as we think is necessary given the changing times. 

Why is it that a restaurant chain that is so rooted in "biblical principles" that it closes on Sunday - the day of rest - at the cost of untold millions in lost profits, that it fervently supports the defense of "traditional marriage" - to the point of alienating even more customers and costing them even more profits, but they don't refuse to serve the biblically-banned "swine flesh" on their menu?  IT'S FROM THE SAME BOOK OF THE BIBLE!  It's not like you have to jump all over the bible and piecemeal quotes out of context together to make these points, they're written plain as day right along the same verses about homosexuality.

Incidentally, there's not a single mention anywhere in the bible about gay marriage.  Don't believe me?  Look it up.  Don't worry, I'll wait...

That's another great hypocrisy in the evangelical homophobic agenda, they have to make ridiculous leaps and connect all kinds of invisible dots in order to extract preachings against gay marriage from the bible.  While, at the same time, completely disregarding clear and direct commandments against things like eating pork and shellfish or allowing a woman to speak her mind without permission without beating her severely for it.  They even ignore other rules about marriage from Leviticus that conflict with their arbitrary vivisection of scripture.  For example, Leviticus also states that if a woman's husband dies, his brother has first dibs on claiming her as his wife and she is forbidden to marry outside of her late husbands family so long as their is a man in the family willing to take her as his bride.  Another little Levitican tidbit - if a woman is a virgin and she is raped, then her father must pay a penalty for her purity being despoiled and she must marry her rapist.  How's that hypocrisy taste?  Not too good?  Try a little Polynesian sauce on it, it really perks up the flavor.

So, like I said, if Dan Cathy and the company he heads want to base their company policies on the same "pick and choose to get what you want" mentality that drives their menu options, like good cafeteria Christians do, that's their right.  I support Cathy's right to run his company based on an inconsistent, arbitrary and ignorant personal ideology just as much as I support the right of the American people to either support him or oppose him and make their chicken sandwich buying decisions accordingly.  Really, I just wish these assholes would practice a little consistency, that's all.  If you're going to be unwavering in your adherence to one chapter and verse in a particular book of the bible, then hold that same strict adherence to ALL the chapters and verses in that book.  If you're going to oppose homosexuality, then stop eating pork, stop mixing your fabrics, put down that lobster or crab, start beating your wives when they talk out of turn, start killing people who violate church doctrines and start picking out a wedding venue for your daughters and the guys who bang them while they're passed out at a frat party.  Seriously, are you trying to spend eternity burning in hell?  What gives you the arrogant audacity to define what God's word is all about?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

SCOTUS Upholds the Individual Mandate

Today, in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare".  In the majority opinion, Justice Roberts said that the individual mandate was constitutional as a tax, but not as a penalty under the commerce clause as it had originally been pitched by supporters of the healthcare law.

"In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. "Such legislation is within Congress's power to tax."

While critics of the healthcare law have characterized the individual mandate as government "forcing" the American people to buy a product that they may not want or need, the majority ruling by the SCOTUS takes a different view.  Their judgment was that the law doesn't force anyone to buy anything, it simply imposes a marginal tax on people who earn enough money to afford healthcare but choose not to.

What's the difference?

Well, under the individual mandate, anyone who still doesn't want to have health insurance doesn't ever have to get it.  They can continue to go on with their lives without a health insurance plan.  However, if that person earns enough money that they could afford health insurance if they wanted to, then they would have to pay a small tax as a penalty.  This tax revenue would be used to offset the costs of providing medical care for the uninsured - which would include the individual being taxed.

Why is this a good thing?

One of the largest contributing factors to the skyrocketing cost of health insurance is the cost of covering uninsured patients.  By law, hospitals cannot turn away anyone in need of life-saving medical care, so whenever an uninsured individual requires costly emergency care, those costs are eaten by the care providers.  In order to offset these costs, providers charge more and more for their procedures, which means insurance companies pay more and then those costs are ultimately passed along to the consumer.  In short, health insurance premiums are outrageously high because those with insurance have been paying for those without all this time.

Under "Obamacare", the individual mandate "tax" on individuals who choose to go without healthcare but who could otherwise afford it goes to offset these costs.  The result is that health insurance premiums would lower as the costs of providing care would also decline.  When everyone has a pool of money to pay for healthcare, there's less need to overcharge in order to create a financial safety net.  This exact scenario has played out in every industrialized nation on Earth with a nationalized healthcare system.

What does this mean for you?

Well, that's up for debate.  Critics maintain that healthcare costs will rise under "Obamacare", while supporters insist that costs will decline.  Critics say it will add to the national debt while supporters say it will actually reduce the deficit.  What is not up for debate, however, is the fact that children will continue to be covered by their parents insurance until they're 26, people will not be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions and those without health insurance will still be made to pay into the system in some small way for that inevitable moment when they have an undeniable need for medical care, so long as they are financially able to do so.

Sure, the Republicans may be up in arms about the individual mandate today, but let us not forget it was they who originally introduced the idea of the individual mandate back in 1997 when they were debating the merits of President Clinton's universal healthcare plan.  Personally, I'm not a fan of the individual mandate as a means of ensuring adequate coverage for the general population, but I am a fan of having a national healthcare framework in place that provides quality, affordable treatment to everyone without pushing all the costs onto only those who have private health insurance.  Today's ruling is one major step forward towards that reality.