Sunday, September 30, 2012

Really, David Gregory?

So, I thought I'd email "Meet the Press" today.
So, let me get this straight. You had Ralph Reed on, to impugn the honesty of Barack Obama.

First, it might have been nice if you'd disclosed that he was working for Mitt Romney. That might have been a basic level of truth that you could have established at the beginning. Just a thought.

Second... Ralph Reed? Seriously? Didn't he work with Jack Abramoff to steal from Native Americans in at least two states: the Choctaw in Alabama and the Tigua in El Paso, Texas? (I believe his entire résumé was an email to Abramoff reading "Hey, now that I’m done with electoral politics, I need to start humping in corporate accounts! I’m counting on you to help me with some contacts.")

You have a thief and a liar on to discuss the honesty of the President of the United States? Without talking about HIS background, or about the fact that he is now working for the Romney campaign? Did you miss a few classes when you were getting that journalism degree?

I'm just curious.
Sadly, I didn't have the emails for either David Gregory or his executive producer Betsy Fischer Martin, or I'd have gone straight to the source.

Remember, folks. This is what the GOP likes to call the "liberal media." Go figure.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Continuing Adventures of Rocky and Boris

Rocky and Boris are still trying to work out their relationship. (Here's a little backstory in the off chance you aren't up to speed.)

I've always had dogs. Boris is roughly the same size as the other dogs I've usually owned, so I said this morning that he was a "medium" dog. My wife corrected me: "No, he's a large dog."

I granted her the point, saying that he was about the size of my usual dog, so it's what I'm used to. She looked at me and shook her head. "No, that's a median dog."

(I walked over, kissed her, and told her that I knew there was a reason I married her.)

Boris is many things, but he's never been an alpha male. He has been known to stand up for himself on rare occasions, so he isn't an omega male, but for the most part, he isn't even a beta. He's an iota; maybe a pi.

It's actually kind of cute, watching Boris and Rocky: it's been a long time since Boris actually frolicked like a puppy, but he does. And considering that Rocky is less than half the size of Boris, you'd think he'd be a little more intimidated. He's not.

When Boris has a chew toy that Rocky wants, some of the most fascinating tugs-of-war ever seen occur. At one point, I made a sound that caught Boris' attention, and he sat up and looked at me. With Rocky dangling off the chunk of rawhide in Boris' mouth, growling, back paws barely touching the floor.

Boris spent several years getting pushed around by Tasha: she'd eat her food, and then however much of Boris' she wanted, while he'd just stand back and let her. She was the boss. So when it's dinnertime, if Rocky decides to push his face into Boris' bowl, Boris just stands back and watches him eat both bowls of food.

Rocky may push him around, but they're friends. If they're in the yard and the neighbor's dogs come running up to the back fence, Boris will stop whatever he's doing, stand up straight, walk over to the fence and firmly sit down, watching them.

He isn't smart enough to know that there's no way the other dogs can get to Rocky. He just knows he's going to protect his little buddy.

So, here's how Monday started. I stumbled out of bed, put a spoon of canned dogfood in water, nuked it for 30 seconds to loosen the gelled bits, stirred it into a slurry, and added a little less than half to a bowl of puppy chow, and the rest to a bowl of dog chow.

Rocky, at this point, is bouncing around like a squirrel on meth, so I put his bowl down first, where he leaps on it like he hasn't seen food in a week. Boris somewhat sedately walks over to his bowl and starts eating.

I start to heat water for tea, and glance over, to see Rocky eating Boris' food, as Boris sits a foot behind him looking morose.

I picked up Rocky with a stern "no!" and put him by his food again. Boris huffed and went back to eating.

There followed a vaudeville routine. I looked around, looked down, and Rocky had pushed Boris aside again. Push Rocky over to his food bowl. The water starts to boil. Dash over to the stove. Snap "Rocky!" Take the water off the heat. Pull Rocky out of Boris' food.

Finally, it entered my sleep-addled mind that either I stood right there until Boris finished eating (and I had to get ready for work), or I had to separate them. So I picked up Rocky in one arm, his food in the other, and went over to the back door. Put down Rocky to slide the door open, put his food on the porch, go back to Boris's bowl and pick up Rocky, and put him out with his food.

I made my tea, went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, and came back to the kitchen to see that Boris had finished eating, and Rocky was at the door literally vibrating with excitement.

So I opened the door, and a little beige streak shot past my legs aimed directly for the empty food bowl. I picked up Rocky's half-full one, carried it over and set it down. Picked up my tea, and turned around to see Rocky frantically licking Boris' bowl.

And Boris calmly eating the puppy chow.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Time to call Congress. Again.

If you've been paying attention to little things like "reality" (as opposed to the partisan propaganda that seems to have overtaken much on the American thoughtscape), you've probably noticed that Obama is something of a centrist. He prefers to work with both sides to come to a conclusion that both can live with.

Of course, if you listen to Fox "News," he's a dangerous radical and the most far-left socialist of our time. And if you just hang out on the extreme right fringes, he's a (pick any two... or four) dangerous radical leftist Muslim socialist Satanic communist Kenyan fascist extremist arrogant totalitarian dictator terrorist. (Some of them try to avoid saying "black" or any variation of it, although Rush Limbaugh did try to coin the phrase "halfrican" at one point. But let's move on.)

The Right applied a similar fun-house mirror effect to the presidency while Clinton was in office, labeling him a hippie and a "radical leftist," despite the fact that Clinton implemented a dramatic deficit reduction plan while lowering the taxes of working family; he developed a crime bill which hired 100,000 police officers and drastically expanded the use of the death penalty; he instituted the Defense of Marriage Act and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (despite their recent love of it, right wingers thought DADT would destroy the military at the time); and despite the myth of "liberals loving Big Government", Clinton reduced the size of government more than any president in three decades.

A lot of this anti-Clinton propaganda, of course, can be laid at the feet of Newt Gingrich, the nascent Fox "News" Channel, and their efforts to radicalize the right. In their ongoing efforts to rewrite history, the Right really, really wants to ignore what they were doing at the time. Some of us lived through it, though.

But I digress.

Despite the propaganda, Obama tries to work with Republicans. They're just too polarized to respond. And the fear is, he might be willing to consider cutting Social Security in his upcoming budgets. (After all, it wouldn't be the first time he's offered it.)

Which is why Senate Democrats have been forced to make a stand.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and 28 other members of the 53-member Senate Democratic caucus have signed a letter opposing any cuts to Social Security as part of a deficit reduction package.

The letter forms a significant marker as Congress looks toward a possible deficit bargain in the lame-duck session after the election. It says Social Security has problems down the road, but that they should be dealt with separately from any budget deal.
And this seemed like an appropriate approach to me. So, looking down the list, I noted that one of my two Senators, Tom Udall, had already signed on. I sent him a little note
Senator Udall,

I appreciate your efforts to help the most vulnerable American citizens. Specifically, in this case, I'd like to thank you for signing onto the letter that Senators Sanders, Franken and others put together, opposing any cuts to Social Security.

Full disclosure: I do not use Social Security, nor does any member of my immediate family, as far as I know. (My father, who retired from the Army as a full Colonel, does collect Social Security, but his retirement check could still support him even without it.)

However, I understand, unlike our Republican friends, that Social Security is an earned benefit, that far too often helps those who would otherwise be unable to support themselves. Even Paul Ryan, who only managed to go to college after his father died because of the Survivor's Benefits, wants to destroy any trace of a safety net in America (mostly because he's a hypocritical gasbag who follows Ayn Rand - not that he's willing to admit that while he's running for Vice President, but he has in the past).

Again, thank you, Senator. As long as you keep doing the right thing for the American people, you can always count on my my support.
But that's only one Senator. Like most states, New Mexico has two.

I was, perhaps, somewhat less supportive in my email to the other one.
Senator Bingaman,

I realize that you aren’t running for reelection, but I would appreciate it, as your constituent, if you could walk your butt down to Senator Reid’s office and sign on to the letter put together by Senators Sanders, Franken and company, saying that you oppose any cuts to Social Security as part of a deficit reduction package.

It would be nice if you could show that you cared about the most vulnerable citizens and in some small way, were opposed to allowing Americans to starve.

I realize that Social Security will need to be fixed sometime in the next twenty years or so, but eliminating the cap on any income over $107 thousand dollars might be enough to do that all by itself.

Please do the right thing as long as you’re still in office.

Thank you,
I realize that it's only a drop in the proverbial bucket; on the other hand, they say that one letter is counted as the opinion of a hundred people. I'm not sure how they count emails, but there it is.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Why Does The GOP Loves Mitt Romney?

I've been trying to figure out why the Republican party nominated Mitt Romney as their candidate for president. They spent 2004 castigating John Kerry as a "flip-flopper," but now they want to elect someone who has literally reversed himself on every single issue.

But then it hit me. There's no way that they couldn't love Mittens. He's one of them.

The right wing has spent years trying to claim how much they dislike the "liberal elite," so it's somewhat ironic that their 2012 presidential candidate is a Harvard lawyer and multi-millionaire with four houses and a freaking elevator for his cars. But it's understandable, because, just like Mitt, the GOP has managed to reverse themselves on almost every policy they ever supported.

Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves; admittedly, he left the Republican party (like any reasonable person would), but he did it. In fact, the party was founded six years before the Civil War by anti-slavery activists and "modernists." Despite having that history to act as guide and beacon for their moral compass, the GOP has opened their arms and embraced every bigoted pinhead out there.

Those of us who wander the dark side of the Internet are treated to a daily flood of images of Obama as a monkey or an African witchdoctor, watermelons grown on the White House lawn, variations on "can we still call it the White House?" and every other racist stereotype they can dredge up.

Do you want to see how ugly it can get out there? Turn Safesearch off and google "Obama nigger." (But trust me, that's not a nice place to spend any amount of time.)

Have you heard the Republican position on unions lately? With all their assaults on collective bargain and worker's rights, it's sometimes hard to recall that the GOP once embraced unionization as an important step towards strengthening the middle class.

Back in the day when the Republican party still supported the ideals of the "common man" over the aspirations of the super-rich, they knew that only by organizing and acting in groups, could the poor gain any influence in negotiations with the wealthy.

Admittedly, they still know that: they just don't think it's a good idea any more.

As Reagan put it, "where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." What, you don't believe me? Honest, he said it!

Despite their current efforts to do away with environmental protection and their mantra of "Drill, baby, drill!", the Republican Party used to consist of ardent conservationists like President Teddy Roosevelt, whose policies led to the creation of the National Park Service. And though they don't like to talk about him, Richard Nixon was a Republican, and he created the Environmental Protection Agency.

They've always been a little bit prudish. On October 28, 1919, a Republican-controlled Congress overrode the veto of President Woodrow Wilson (of the Progressive Party), and passed the Volstead Act, banning alcohol and bringing us Prohibition. Also, it was Edwin Meese, Attorney General for Ronald Reagan who created the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, which succeeded in getting magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse removed from convenience store shelves.

Yet despite this continuing drumbeat of "family values," it's the traditionally "red" states that consume the most pornography; at their national conventions, strippers prefer Republicans, who outspend Democrats three to one. Republican Congressmen hold a solid lead over Democrats in number of sex scandals, as well.

The GOP likes to claim that they support the concept of smaller government, but if that's so, why does every Republican president increase the number of government employees, while every Democratic president reduces them?

This is not the Republican Party of your father. (Nor of mine, although he's most likely going to vote for them.) But overall, on issue after issue, the GOP shows why they support a hypocritical, lying gasbag who can't keep a consistent position as their candidate. He's what they aspire to be.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Romney/Ryan. Two of a kind.

The RNC Clown College has gavelled itself back into their usual unscripted incoherence again, and, to the surprise of nobody anywhere, Romney and Ryan are the nominees for God Emperor and Fisher King, and the Tampa strippers now go back to making subsistence wages.

There are actually many reasons why Mitt Romney would choose Paul Ryan for the VP spot, and only one of them involves the fact that Ryan's tax plan would have Romney paying less than one percent in taxes.

Ryan is like Mitt in many ways - he is also in the habit of making huge, sweeping statements about what he'll do, without giving any details about how he'll do them. For example, his vaunted plan to balance the budget? Well, what few details have been released have been described as "ludicrous and cruel."

But more than that, the details he isn't releasing are important. Forbes magazine, one of the most staunchly conservative of publications, point out that it isn't a plan, calling it "vacuously vague" and "all candy and no vegetables."

But he's very protective of that plan: back in April, when the president pointed out some flaws in it, Ryan went on the attack in a speech later that evening, saying "I seem to remember him saying that he was going to be a uniter, not a divider. Frankly this is one and the worst of his broken promises. We do not need a campaigner-in-chief, we need a commander-in-chief."

(Isn't that cute? "The president shouldn't attack me! Democrats can't fight back!" And then he gives a Bush quote but attributes it to Obama. And then he attacks Obama. You have to admire that level of hypocrisy.)

And in keeping with the Romney strategy, he doesn't just avoid criticism by never giving any detailed policies, he's more than happy to lie his ass off, just like Romney. His big speech at the RNC kept fact-checkers busy for days.

But remember, avoiding lies isn't a major priority of this campaign. It was Romney's advisor Neil Newhouse who said "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers."

Two men, defined only by their complete inability to tell the truth. They're made for each other.