Thursday, November 15, 2012

United Gifts of America

This may be one of the worst things I have read in awhile: Romney reflects on his loss in call with campaign donors

Not the least for its cynical reaffirmation of the famous 47% comments, its abject disdain for government, and complete inability to analyze election results, but because the party of "personal responsibility" and its poster boy, Mr. Romney, take absolutely no personal responsibility for his loss.

It couldn't be that you see access to health care and the ability to get a college education as "gifts"; it's that those gifts were given to brown people, young people (presumably of all colors), and women. It couldn't be that your party no longer has anything to offer to broad swaths of a changing America, it's that America is changing, and you don't like it. It couldn't be that what Mr. Obama has offered is good and important to many Americans, and actually is what they want; it's that President Obama bribed voters with "freebies." It's not that you are anti-immigrant, it's that President Obama painted you that way. (Insert Jessica Rabbit quote here.)

You, in other words, did not bring this failure, this loss, on yourself through bad politics and poor policy, it was thrust on you by a President, a government, who panders to minorities and women (i.e. not "real Americans"?). He, Mr. Obama, is the cynic, not you. He is trying to make life better for Americans purely to be re-elected president, while you pandering to a decaying segment of America is purely American.

I'm disgusted. More disgusted than when I heard the 47% comments for the first time. But I suppose I am not surprised. The Party of No has learned Nothing. Perhaps they shouldn't. Perhaps they should continue looking for the missing black people, talking about "urban voters," and revive their search for the Muslim Brotherhood in the Obama Administration. Maybe, then, in 2014, we will be rid of their over-represented public presence for awhile.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanks, Minnesota. Again.

The rights of a minority should not be put to a vote. The Minnesota State Constitution is no place for discrimination; it is a place to uphold rights and equality.

I'll be saying "Thanks" to Minnesota voters for awhile.



Tea Party for the Community?

There's an interesting article in the NYTimes about Occupy Wallstreet organizing to help people hit hard by Sandy in the New York City area. Eric Boehlert of Media Matters for America tweeted a query: "Good piece in NTY about the Occupy relief response to Sandy. Q: has Tea Party ever dedicated itself to acts of goodness?"

From the New York Times: "ON Wednesday night, as a fierce northeaster bore down on the weather-beaten Rockaways, the relief groups with a noticeable presence on the battered Queens peninsula were these: the National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Police and Sanitation Departments — and Occupy Sandy, a do-it-yourself outfit recently established by Occupy Wall Street."

And that got me thinking: does Tea Party morality allow for helping your fellow human? In the libertarian-objectivist model, if one is suffering, hasn't one brought that suffering upon oneself, even if it's caused by a natural disaster? If someone knew a storm was coming, and did not prepare, do they deserve what follows? Do the dictates of "personal responsibility" stretch that far?

I really don't know; that's why I'm asking.

For religious members of the Tea Party, are natural disasters acts of God, and brought about by a moral failing? And isn't suffering also the direct result of a moral failing?

Or is it only if people in the government extend the helping hand that it's wrong? Even though one could argue that officials are elected by the people, so the government is only extending the hand of the people through a bureaucratic system.

The only things I have seen Tea Partiers doing are: yelling at elected officials at community meetings, holding up poorly-spelled and/or logically-flawed posters at rallies and protests, and generally being nuisances in a completely non-constructive manner by spouting hollow rhetoric about "liberty" and "freedom," which seems to mean "taking liberty with the truth and freedom from facts."

In many ways, I would think that the Tea Party should be getting all hot and bothered, reading about the response these Occupy people have put together. After all, it's private citizens doing it, instead of the the government, even if they are just a bunch of dirty hippies. But then again, it's community organizing, and it's what Barack Obama references when he says that Americans stick together and help their fellow Americans. And we cannot agree with the Great Socialist.

And how can a group of people like the Tea Party get together and organize themselves, protest as allowed by the government, elect candidates into the government, etc. without criticizing themselves for "community organizing"?

There again, I think this is only OK in their morality when it's based in rage toward a government that...

Oh, I don't know. It's all so tortured.

See above. I really don't know.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs

If you are anything like me, you read and re-read and sometimes still read the Chronicles of Narnia. I have always especially loved The Last Battle, with its nefarious plots, darkness, and heroics. It is perhaps the most obvious in its Christian allegorical implications, but any reader can create meaning and draw parallels, and as a nonbeliever, the most striking and current parallel I have is pulled from Chapter 13: "How the Dwarfs Refuse to be Taken In:"

"Romney and his campaign had gone into the evening confident they had a good path to victory, for emotional and intellectual reasons. The huge and enthusiastic crowds in swing state after swing state in recent weeks - not only for Romney but also for Paul Ryan - bolstered what they believed intellectually: that Obama would not get the kind of turnout he had in 2008.

They thought intensity and enthusiasm were on their side this time - poll after poll showed Republicans were more motivated to vote than Democrats - and that would translate into votes for Romney.

As a result, they believed the public/media polls were skewed - they thought those polls oversampled Democrats and didn't reflect Republican enthusiasm. They based their own internal polls on turnout levels more favorable to Romney. That was a grave miscalculation, as they would see on election night."

Wait, that's an article about the Romney campaign on November 6.

Let's try this:

Tirian had thought... that they were inside a little thatched stable, about twelve feet long and six feet wide. In reality they stood on grass, the deep blue sky was overhead, and the air which blew gently on their faces was that of a day in early summer... Lucy led the way and soon they could all see the Dwarfs. They had a very odd look. They weren't strolling about or enjoying themselves (although the cords with which they had been tied seemed to have vanished) nor were they lying down and having a rest. They were sitting very close together in a little circle facing one another. They never looked round nor took any notice of the humans till Lucy and Tirian were almost near enough to touch them. then the Dwarfs all cocked their heads as if they couldn't see anyone but were listening hard and trying to guess by the sound what was happening.

You remember it, right? Everyone emerges through the door into a bright, sunny paradise, but the Dwarfs sit huddled in a circle, only able to see the dark, dirty stable. They close ranks and refuse to listen to anyone:

"Now it's time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office.
"To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we'll be there to meet him half way."

Oops. That was Sen. Mitch McConnell.

"But it isn't dark, your poor stupid Dwarfs," said Lucy. "Can't you see? Look up! Look round! Can't you see the sky and the trees and the flowers? Can't you see me?" 

"Are you blind?" said Tirian.
"Ain't we all blind in the dark?" said Diggle.

"There is no black hole, save in your own fancy, fool," cried Tirian. "Come out of it."

Now, I don't expect republicans to be wandering about a post-election world in which they lost, taking gulps of bright, autumn air, sighing sparkles, and peeing rainbows, but the choice has been made, it was clear, and people want action.

They don't want yammering about a republican mandate when House republicans, while still in charge, had fewer votes than House democrats. They don't want continued obstructionism from a Congress with historically low approval ratings.

All the "modern" GOP has to offer is denialism and the inability to prepare for all outcomes if those outcomes do not fit with their created reality. Karl Rove going live on Fox News to tell them they had it wrong when they called Ohio for Obama. Running an entire end-of-campaign strategy on the belief that polls are skewed and that your anecdotal observations and internal polling tell the Real Story because the other one doesn't look good. Choosing to believe that the Obama ground game was all just smoke and mirrors, and that their own ground game was superior and would carry the day when they had not even truly tested their big, expensive GOTV apparatus. Ignoring any data showing Obama in the lead in both electoral and popular counts. Thinking that we still live in an America where all that counts is GOTWV: Get Out The White Vote.

And closing ranks on November 7, vowing to stick to their dark, fantasy-based belief in cutting taxes and obstructing the President, all in the name of party and politics.

“Well, at any rate there’s no Humbug here. We haven’t let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs."

Monday, November 12, 2012

B Not So Much

Stands on her own! Literally!
I see what you're trying to do here, Mattel. I really do. But why did you have to go all Fox News, Million Mom on it? What's wrong with a smart pantsuit in a vibrant blue? Or a sassy, shorter cut?*

A sensible pair of flats and a casual cardi?

I know. It's Barbie. She started out as a fashion model, and now, she can B President, right? That's progress! She has B-liefs! She can B Aggressive! B B Aggressive!

And you, little (white) girl, playing with Barbie, can B anything!

I know you can't make everything in a version that looks like everyone, but instead of white brunette President Barbie AND a white blonde President Barbie (such diversity!), how about black President Barbie? And I know pink is your signature color, and certainly the women pictured above have appeared in it, but for President Barbie of the B-certainly-does-not-stand-for-Bitch Party, couldn't you have knocked down the Studio 54 disco-ball glitter just a tad?

At the very least, you are not teaching the art of smart campaigning, as no one, male or female, is going to win the presidency with a sunglasses-wearing micro dog in their purse and cutesy not-spelling and supremely weird phrases on their campaign literature.

I think the elections of 2008 & 2012 showed us what happens when certain parties don't choose serious people to run for higher office, and I will not be expecting "Lastly, I have to thank Barbie" in Paris Hilton's 2050 acceptance speech.

But I do think we can do better than this for our girls.

 *Think of the awesome that would follow if you modeled a President Barbie after Hillary. She would come with transcripts of speeches, giant checks written to her SuperPAC, copies of her legislation as a Senator, diplomatic credentials from her time as Secretary of State, and then there's The Ken-First Gentleman doll. The accessories create themselves.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dear GOP,

You didn't lose because you didn't have enough money.

You didn't lose because the media are against you.

You didn't lose because Barack Obama is a big ol' meanie.

You didn't lose because of a superstorm.

I'd like you to take a time out. You can come out when you have thought about what you have done wrong and are ready to change.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

There's got to be a morning after

Like many people, I went to bed after President Barack Obama's acceptance speech, grabbed my phone, and hit "refresh" on an election results page until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore.


That was just me?

I won't believe it.

When I finally put down the electrons, the only race outstanding here in Minnesota was the Graves-Bachmann congressional seat. I saw the amendments fail and the 8th CD go back to the DFL. I saw DFL majorities predicted in the Minnesota Legislature.

(Don't worry, Governor Dayton. I know you said you would shine our shoes and press our shirts if we gave you that, but consider it a reward for all your hard work the past two years.)

Now, as I catch up on the (very) few hours of social media I missed during what feels like a short night-time nap, I'm feeling good. I don't feel like gloating or rehashing gripes about the "modern" GOP, although I must say that Mitch McConnell remains an ass. Not exactly breaking news.

I feel like thinking. And writing. All the stress and worry of the last few weeks is gone; today is for reflection*. Because action is right around the corner. Positive action. I feel for those on the other side of these wins. More precisely, I feel for those on the other side of Barack Obama's win. I cannot feel sympathy for anyone who lost while trying to limit someone else's rights, and I'm talking to you, "Vote Yes" people.

Ok. That was a little gloaty.

But just as I don't like seeing the bench on the losing side of a big game, I don't like seeing the faces of sad supporters of a losing candidate. They, too, put their all into something they believed in, and it hurts to lose.

What I wish they would understand is that Barack Obama is a thoughtful, caring, and strong leader who seeks consensus and compromise, and he really is listening to the fact that 48% of the citizens of this country did not vote for him. Just as the 50% who did need to understand that 50% is a slim majority. They are results that demand compromise, and this is the place where the GOP falls down.

Barack Obama has compromised, and the GOP has not. It's time for those "clear eyes" to be truly clear. American voters seem to want a divided government, but they still want to see something accomplished. For reasons that entirely elude me, they do not make a connection between a 14% approval rating and GOP recalcitrance, and they kept the House in republican hands for now.

Those representatives have two years to prove they care about governing; that they care about the citizens of this country beyond political grandstanding, or the midterms could make that decision for them.

*and maybe some laundry.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thanks, President Obama

(This was adapted from the "Top Ten Reasons" blogs, written for Obama for American Minnesota. The whole list can be found at

Dear President Obama,


Because of Obamacare, my child cannot be denied coverage simply because he was born extremely premature, and insurance companies can no longer deny payment were he to reach an arbitrary cap. Because of Obamacare, millions of Americans no longer have to worry that our family’s future will be mired in endless fights with insurance companies over the health and welfare of our children, or that we might face bankruptcy due to unpaid medical bills.

Thanks for keeping young adults on their parents’ health insurance. Now they have more choices when they go out to look for a job, and their parents can feel good that they are continuing to provide health care safety and security to their grown children.

You do care, and that’s one reason why I am voting tomorrow for four more years, so that you can preserve the gains we have already achieved through the Affordable Care Act as well as make sure that the law is fully implemented.

And thanks. There’s no doubt you have always been surrounded by strong, caring, accomplished women. And as the father of two girls, I know women’s issues are important to you. You know that we cannot succeed as a nation if over 50% of our population still has to struggle for equal pay or defend our right to choose when we start a family.

Your accomplishments for women cross policy areas, from health care to jobs. Under Obamacare, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition, and women have access to preventative care like mammograms without copays or deductibles. In addition, women will gain access to birth control with no copay.

Thanks for supporting Planned Parenthood and the good work they do all over the country, ensuring that women have access to high quality, affordable care including cancer screenings and birth control. Thanks for believing that a woman’s health care choices are her own, and should be made with her doctor, not interfered with by politicians or employers.

Thanks for signing the “Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act,” and for standing by making sure that women are payed the same amount as men for the same work. You know that equal pay is not just a women’s issue; it’s a family issue, and you know we have more to do, including passing paycheck fairness.

So, thanks.

And thanks. Even through my four-year-old is not involved in politics, if he’s anything like me, he’ll be active and involved when he’s 17 and voting in the midterms of 2026. That may sound like a long time from now, but thanks for knowing that we have to play a long game, instituting sound policy now that will benefit us far into the future.

It’s in all our best interests to make sure that the next generation has the chance to do as well as or better than their parents. The next four years will see opportunities to appoint new Supreme Court judges to oversee the law of the land as well as the full implementation of Obamacare.

I want to know that public schools will be strengthened and supported, and that young people will be encouraged to pursue a career in teaching because jobs have been created and incentives are in place. I want to know that Pell Grants will be available if my child needs them; that opportunities for jobs in technology, energy research and development, and manufacturing are there when he finishes his education.

Thanks, President Obama, for working toward a better future for our children.

Oh hey, I also want to say “thanks” because as the child of a transgender parent, I cannot stress this enough: you can be proud of your record on civil rights for LGBT Americans. You know that we all do better when we all do better, and as long as people are discriminated against because of who they love, we still have work to do.

That’s why you’re the first sitting president to support marriage equality for same-sex couples and why you repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” You acknowledge that millions of Americans are serving or want to serve their country and should not have to hide who they are to do so. You know that millions of American couples deserve the same considerations and rights as their opposite-sex counterparts.

Because of you, Mr. Obama, the federal government now extends key benefits to same-sex partners of its employees. You also signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. In addition, your administration is no longer defending the Defense of Marriage Act, believing it to be unconstitutional.

Your accomplishments for the LGBT community are many, including banning discrimination in federal workplaces based on gender identity, ensuring hospital visitation and medical decision-making rights for gay and lesbian parents, and allowing transgender Americans to receive true gender passports without surgery.

So yeah, wow. Thanks.

I could go on and on, but you have a country to run and an election to win, so I’ll have to say goodbye without thanking you for ending the war in Iraq, reforming student loans, giving tax cuts to American families and small businesses, supporting math and science research and education, allowing states to opt out of No Child Left Behind, expanding renewable energy, passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, signing Wall Street Reform, strengthening our relationships with other countries, creating 5.3 million private sector jobs, appointing the first Latina to the Supreme Court, signing the new START Treaty with Russia, improving services to Veterans, and so much more.

You're a class act. I look forward to four more years, and...



Karen McCauley
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Minnesota Voter's Bill of Rights