Good to see the real feelings and beliefs of the Republican candidate have leaked out. Most of us that already sit on the other side have long figured out that the pandering and positioning of Romney and the others hide what they really think and more importantly how they really feel about most of the rest of America. This latest debacle on the Republican doorstep where Mitt shares his real feelings that 47% of America lives on handouts from Government and they have no sense of personal responsibility and care for themselves (and never will) should really help with his struggling campaign. He further denigrates these 47% by seeing them as non-thinking individuals who will automatically vote for Obama (not that the same phenomenon exists on his side of the aisle). Given the number of senior citizens in that 47%, his expressed concern for that segment of the America also has to be questioned. Despite the immediate push back from the Romney camp that this was all taken out of context, it is obvious we have a problem here with character and integrity – not new for politicians on both sides but one I think is critical as we look at who we want to lead our country into the future. While many might not see this recent look into the real Republican agenda has anything to do with integrity and/or character, I would beg to differ. Compromises in character and integrity have become more commonplace and people seem to be more accepting. That acceptance is a problem in itself but that is a different issue. Not an excuse, but I think most of America is just getting worn out. If we can’t expect integrity from our President, then we are really lost. There are alot of definitions out there but I found one that I believe is more contemporary and relevant to the world in which we find ourselves today.
Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions. Integrity can be regarded as the opposite of hypocrisy, in that it regards internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs. (From Wikipedia)
I would suggest the following quote might be relevant here.
“In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” – Warren Buffet
I think this might be the core of Mitt’s struggle to connect with the most of America. He rarely feels or looks real. In looking at this recent video where he basically dismisses half of America, he actually appears to be pretty real and honest. Those words flowed rather easily out of his mouth and he needed no notes. His life experience has provided him little opportunity to understand the 99% and his voice to the contrary doesn’t ring true. I’m guessing his inability to move that “Likeability” needle is rooted in his issues with integrity.
Sorry Mitt – it’s really about what you say when you think no one is looking – worse because you are stupid enough (or pompous enough) to think it wouldn’t happen.
On another note, we are privileged to have Ricky Santorum back in front of us to remind us how big an idiot he really is (as if we need to be reminded). Thanks to my son for passing this along. At the Values Voter Summit in DC this past weekend, Ricky shared these thoughts – “We will never have the media on our side, even in this country. We will never have the elite, smart people on our side – because they believe they should have the power to tell you what to do.”
Romney – World Leader? – not
“Study the past if you would define the future.” ― Confucius
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Sir Winston Churchill
There are a host of reasons to have concerns about a new Republican administration led by Romney and Ryan. It is obvious to many that neither man has any real depth of understanding or solution to anything going on in the US today or even more so, the world beyond our shores. To think that Romney will somehow figure it all out and do things differently tomorrow ignores the longstanding view that the past is the best predictor of the future. In some ways it actually transcends Romney and can be applied to the platform and plans for America set out by the Republican Party. To think that repeating actions and approaches tried in the past will somehow have a different result in the future is again reflective of the degree of ignorance and denial present in much of the public today. I wouldn’t apply that same ignorance and denial to the real leaders and key proponents of returning to the policies of the past since they know better than any it is the best way to not only keep their wealth but to enable it’s growth in the future.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein
Even ignoring Mitt’s faux pas on his recent world tour where he managed to insult multiple countries without really trying. Now, after the most recent statements by Romney this past Tuesday as events unfolded in Libya it is time to get even more concerned as we get more insight into his position on Foreign Policy. First off, I’ll give him credit for recognizing what he doesn’t know and assembling a group of people experienced in foreign policy – He has gathered a group of 24 “advisors (as listed on his website) as well several other individuals whom form an inner circle of advice, a majority serving under previous Republican (Bushx2) adminstrations – the administrations who have taken us to war on several occasions and who have cost our country numerous lives. I am reminded these wars have also helped set the view the rest of the world has of the US. So do we really have to wonder what stance or position foreign policy will take in a Romney presidency? Again, history is the best predictor of the future and this predictor doesn’t take a brain surgeon or rocket scientist to figure out. This is a direction of shoot first and ask questions later (if indeed questions are ever asked as the answers might not support the direction). We saw this again this week as the tragedy in Libya played itself out and the violence escalated across other countries. The decision by Romney to take the opportunity to make it a political attack rather than take the broader and more knowing approach that faster is not always better gives immediate rise to the type of leader Romney will be. This is made even worse by the fact that Romney seems to have few thoughts and ideas himself and instead draws positions an decisions from those around him or where the immediate political reward is the greatest. Not sure we have a chess master at work here…maybe chinese checkers or tiddlywinks.
We can also see how connected Romney is to the world and what forces are at work in his statement several weeks back on the position that Russia is America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” Now while I wouldn’t dismiss Russia as a foe, not sure it has moved back into that cold war status. But worse yet, again indicating that Romney is either too naive or too stupid to realize consequences of an open mouth policy. The statements by Vladimir Putin need little explanation as to the potential longer term effect of speaking without thinking or understanding the broader implications.
From ABC News:
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that Mitt Romney’s characterization of Moscow as the United States’ “number one geopolitical foe” has actually helped Russia.
The Russian leader said Romney’s comments strengthened his resolve to oppose NATO’s plan for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, a system Russia believes will degrade its nuclear deterrent. The U.S. insists the system is aimed at Iran, not Russia.
“I’m grateful to him (Romney) for formulating his stance so clearly because he has once again proven the correctness of our approach to missile defense problems,” Putin told reporters, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
“The most important thing for us is that even if he doesn’t win now, he or a person with similar views may come to power in four years. We must take that into consideration while dealing with security issues for a long perspective,” he said, speaking after a meeting with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, according to Interfax news agency.
Might only be my read of it but it doesn’t sound like Mitt’s statement provided much help to an already complex and dangerous situation. But then again, one has to wonder if this launch of a foreign policy stance by a Republican isn’t as much an attempt to re-kindle the fire that has kept the military industrial machine well oiled and lined the pockets of such luminaries as Dick Cheney and Halliburton.
So here we have a glimpse into Romney’s experience in the area of foreign policy – his only real experience to date being the outsourcing of US jobs to a foreign country or two. In his message, we also get a glimpse of Mitt’s ignorance (or at least ignoring) of foreign influence. Good to know since to date, most of the focus in the Romney camp has been on the US economy and his sweeping statements (and a dearth of details) of his plans to make things better. I would submit it is a quite different world than Reagan and even the first Bush had to deal with. And we see what happened in the 2nd Bush years when the global community had taken a position of greater influence and control and where complexity grew and global economics and forces clashed with the historical Republican answers to everything.
See definition of Insanity ==> above.
Best of the Best and Worst of the Worst
There are very few people I really see as really good people. I was lucky enough to find one of them who actually agreed to marry me 31 years ago – definitely a crap shoot on her part but no doubt great for me. I don’t think I’m one of those good people – I’m not a bad person but I come no where close to membership in that group of those who are truly good from the heart. So when I see one of them (and I think in these times it is relatively rare), I notice and appreciate. There is one person of whom I consistently see as an appropriate role model as one of those rare people. I’m never sure what brings someone to be truly good but I have to believe that a part of that is overcoming some adversity (beyond the norm) at some point in their life that opened them to an awareness, empathy and caring most of us will never realize. Could only be me but just watching what these people do and the ease with which they do it somehow makes me feel better in general and gives me hope in times where I often wonder what happened to us as people.
So, in following a recent theme of also trying to recognize people in a positive way instead of only focusing on the jerks and low-lifes (no that won’t go away – that’s one of the benefits of not being in the group of good people), I want to add someone to that list of day-to-day heroes. This person has been someone I have often seen and commented on how nice she is. I was again reminded this morning as I did my time on the treadmill and wandered around the TV channels and found myself settled on watching the Ellen DeGeneres Show. This is after watching CNN and MSNBC for awhile amidst the current rising tensions and anger against America on the other side of the world. Ellen has got to be one of the nicest (and bravest) people out there. I don’t watch her show often but given the number of times she reaches out to help others in the shows that I see, I can only imagine it happens all the time. I get no sense of self-aggrandizement (which I see in many other celebrities – I’m always suspect of Oprah ) – more a sense of probably how good it makes her feel that she makes others feel. Ellen has no doubt gone thru some tough times in her career and the treatment she has often received has been shameful but here she is looking outward and past those who would put her somewhere out of sight, and trying to add positive to the world, one step at a time.
So today, the Hero of the Day award goes to Ellen – thanks for being one of those people who can make us all feel good and set an example the rest of us should strive to match.
I would like take a moment and mention the tragic events in Libya yesterday. I am sure all our thoughts and sympathies go out to the friends and families of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya and the others (at least one who is American) whose lives were so needlessly taken yesterday. These are brave people (in each embassy we maintain around the world) who are all too often at risk. While most of Ambassadors face a good deal of risk, Chris Stevens put himself unselfishly at risk taking on this role in Libya. He is a hero in his own right.
Given the murder of our citizens in Libya, I have been moved to create a new award I’m putting out there that will sit alongside the current “Head in the Butt” award. (See, I said I wasn’t going to be going entirely positive.) The risks our ambassadors and their staffs face just as a normal course of business should not be further increased as a result of actions of people who stay safe back in the US. To look at this in the broadest sense, any US citizen that leaves the relative safety of our shores is actually put at increased risk as a result of these people who are more focused on personal attention and influence than demonstrating broader concern for others.
While I hate to give this person any more attention than needed (which is really none), in reading thru the news this morning, I picked up on a name I haven’t seen in a few months who has again stepped into the limelight to further his own intentions, again without concern for how others are affected. Pastor Terry Jones originally gained both national and international attention when he notified the world he would be burning the Quran (or Koran – multiple spellings are out there) on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. He initially agreed to not complete that act and managed to wrangle a new car or two out of the deal but then apparently could not do without the attention and went ahead a completed the burning around six months later. This resulted in the first blood on his hands as there were 12 people killed in the ensuring violence that predictably followed his actions. This lowlife, who has announced his candidacy for President in the 2012 election, made a very public endorsement of this anti-Muslim film that has led to the increased violence we are now seeing in Libya, Egypt and Yemen. While maybe not directly attributable to his support and advocacy of this film, I would offer he carries more blood on his hands for these latest killings as it is at a minimum felt that the increased violence was possibly a cover for the attacks on the US Embassy.
I would suggest the actions taken by Jones borders on historical limits to free speech, the classic being you can’t yell fire in a movie theater and maybe it is time we, as a country, look a little more at our assumed freedoms and take these people to task. As it is, Pastor Jones (there’s that religious connection again), you are lower than whale shit – only matched by the Westboro Baptist Church who I expect will slink from whatever holes in the ground they inhabit to share views similar to Jones at some point. For today, though, Pastor Jones, you get the honor of being the first recipient of the “Shitbag” award. This is the only area where I hope my views as an atheist are wrong and you actually get to spend eternity burning in hell.
Why is it always these religious assholes?
I strongly doubt that I am on the front edge of putting out there the recent news about a Maryland politician and local pastor, Emmett C. Burns Jr. and his letter to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens regarding statements made by one of the Raven players on support of gay rights but the news and particularly the supporting letter back to Burns from a teammate were so impactful I thought I’d re-post it in case anyone reading this blog missed it. I apparently did (sometimes too busy to keep up with the news and not a strong sports news person) but as soon as my wife pointed this news item out to me, my immediate response was “need to get it out in my blog”.
Quick facts – Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has spoken out in favor of a Maryland ballot initiative that would legalize gay marriage. Burns shot off a letter on Maryland House of Delegate letterhead to Ravens owner Steven Bisciotti seeking action against Ayanbadejo. That letter follows. An NFL teammate of Brendon, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s, then shot off a response to Burns – and it has to be one of the best letters/responses to an asshole of Burns caliber that I have ever read – I can only dream of writing so clearly and thoughtfully. Not a whole lot more comment necessary on Chris Kluwe’s note – pretty much sure most thinking people would pretty much read it and go “f”ing A” – nice response.
So, first, Pastor Dimwit’s letter:
This is even better given Burns is black and should be a bit more understanding of prejudice and equal rights – but then again, many of these small thinkers don’t take it that far – pretty much a view of “I’ve got mine – time to shit on others”.
Now the best part. The reply from Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe:
Dear Emmett C. Burns Jr.,
I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland’s state government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail (you may want to hire an intern to help you with the longer words):
1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should “inhibit such expressions from your employees,” more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person’s right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word. Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical starts to approach it a little bit.
2. “Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment, and excitement.” Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who’s “deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland”? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you’re going to say that political views have “no place in a sport”? I can’t even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that must be coursing through your rapidly addled mind right now; the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for “beautiful oppressionism”).
3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life? If gay marriage becomes legal, are you worried that all of a sudden you’ll start thinking about penis? “Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!” Will all of your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely, since gay people enjoy watching football too.)
I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won’t even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?
In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter, in some small way, causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot in mouth clusterfuck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I’m fairly certain you might need it.
Sincerely, Chris Kluwe
P.S. I’ve also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage so you can take your “I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing” and shove it in your close-minded, totally lacking in empathy piehole and choke on it. Asshole.
So today, I’m going to begin a new award. In the spirit of trying to be more positive than my usual negative intent, I want to actually recognize these two NFL players who have taken that step forward and taken us a little bit forward to progressive thinking on one hand (Brendon) and calling an asshole an asshole when deserved on the other (Chris). In both cases a role model that is critical in moving this country forward.
Brendon – congrats on being the first recipient of the “Hero of the Day” award –
We have a “twofer” today as I would also like to recognize Chris for his elegant and impactful response –
Of course, given this attention and what would seem to be extra outrage back at the man, Pastor Burns has now done a quick turnaround and has made statements supporting Brendon Ayanbadejo’s right to state his opinion. Of course that goes without saying (or should). However, no apologies for recognition of his obvious step over the line. In any case, here is an person whom deserves some extra attention. And of course, it wouldn’t be me without doling out a “Head in the Butt” award when so obviously deserved.
So here you go Pastor Burns – no doubt Jesus would be proud –
And thank you for re-affirming my decision to embrace atheism and for also showing that the Republican party doesn’t have all the miscreants.
US Budget Deficit – Credit where Credit is Due
It’s hard to decide which topic to pick on any given day in the current Presidential race but there is one that I find particularly irritating. The Obama contribution to the current deficit at $15 trillion is one that impacts everyone – or at least the deficit does. The Republicans have had no shortage of data spinners in this area. As we saw with the admission from a Romney Pollster, Neil Newhouse, (who has worked on the Republican side of the aisle for a good number of years, including working with Romney in his run for Governor in Massachusetts in 2002) the Romney campaign messaging and ads will “not be dictated by fact checkers” ( or as I like to say “Let’s not confuse things with the facts”), the Republican leaders have given Obama credit for the large rise in the current budget deficit. Paul Ryan, in a phenomenally inaccurate RNC speech filled with lies and mis-statements, has obviously taken the approach that most Americans are lazy and/or stupid and won’t dig any deeper than needed. True at some level but just in case, let’s throw some real data out there.
Aside from lying about the closure of the GM plant in his home district, Paulie’s crap about how the Obama Medicare plan is that different from his, his ignoring of the Republican role in the US credit downgrade as a result of their holding the debt ceiling hostage, Paulie made it clear that “President Obama has added more debt than any other president before him” and proclaimed “We need to stop spending money we don’t have.” Let’s spend a minute or so and look at the data. I can’t speak for 100% accuracy in every bit of the analysis, but the data is consistent across multiple sources so I’ll take a risk that it isn’t too far off. Looking at this data, it becomes pretty clear that rather than the $5 Million attributed to Obama, he can take credit for less than $1 Mil – quite a different picture. I’d suggest you actually take a step out to the articles for more detail and context.
Both graphics make the point very clear. Of the $5 Million or so added to the deficient on Obama’s watch, the majority (say 80%) can be attributed to the previous administration. When the Republican idiots throwing this crap around are actually looking for the right recipient, I would suggest they look a little further in the back of the Republican crowd – only you don’t see Georgie W. Bush and anyone else from his administration who put us in this mess anywhere to be found.
I’d like to think that Georgie has a conscience (there’s that idealistic side of me) and, if so, I expect he would be drinking again – I imagine it is tough to have the sinking of the American economy (and all that goes with it) as well as the deaths of over 6500 US soldiers on your head.
So when we put almost all our ills together today, I have to think it is only right to present the latest “Head up the Butt” award to former President Georgie W. Bush. Take a bow – wherever you are!
A Kinder and Gentler Convention
I had no plans originally to watch the Democratic National Convention last night but as it turned out we watched a good deal of it beginning with Tammy Duckworth and following it thru Michelle Obama. I figured that I, like most people, would hear the speeches and since I usually lean towards the side of the Democrats, I would basically hear the counterpoints and arguments as to why the Democrats were different, where the Republicans were wrong, how out of touch the Romney-Ryan ticket is, etc., etc. I did hear all that but I think there was one obvious and important difference that in my mind pretty much says it all – and is really why I just can’t find much common ground with the Republicans. And it is actually pretty simple. While the words and positions were obviously different, when I really thought about it, what really stood apart in my mind and in my heart was the tone last night of almost everyone who spoke. They were all real. I didn’t hear hate. I didn’t hear an intense anger. I didn’t hear speakers attacking other’s character. I didn’t hear an “us vs. them”. I didn’t hear the viciousness I have come to expect from the Republicans. I heard a kinder and gentler message. I heard people who actually cared about those in this country not as well off. I heard leaders who found it important to not just look out for their own interests. I heard from people I would actually want to know and who did not embarrass me as a fellow American.
I know it is too simple but how great would it be if everyone could stop for a few minutes and try to link into the energy and the type of emotion put out by each party. It would help at this important turning point. I think people need to look past the “rules” they have in their heads. We need to start to begin to work at getting the more subjective nature of us as human beings more in focus. I learned along time ago that one must learn to gauge that which is around them at two levels. What you think is right and what you feel is right. The intellectualizing of much of what we do is a result of what we think we should do – not always what really feels right. Most of us have an innate ability to know what is right in our heart. In most simple terms, most of us know what is right if we really take the time to listen to our inner self. Who among us hasn’t started in one direction with a decisions or action and then shifted direction or changed in some fashion when we paid attention to our heart. Who among us hasn’t made one decision that we really knew just didn’t feel right and then, after things went bad, looked back and really knew then what that bad feeling we had was really telling us. I know it isn’t really our heart we listen to but our inner psyche is always there to help us also “feel” the right answer.
Does the Democratic Party have it all right? Are all the Democratic leaders “good” people who don’t have a personal agenda? No, I’m not that stupid or idealistic. But I do believe we have people on this side of the aisle that actually care and want to do the right thing. How can that be bad – even if it doesn’t work 100% for everyone every time. I know I get snarky and I get a bit too intense and personal in my anger some times. Hard not too when the frustration gets too intense and you get scared of what can potentially happen. I think the speakers last night made that all too clear. And they did it pretty gently – and with class. And they made me feel better. These were people not spitting out talking points – they were speaking from their hearts. I know we’re not done and there will be more intensity and more lashing out (as there should be) but what a great start.
Last point – Michelle Obama – can’t say I’ve heard any other First Lady (or potential First Lady) be as elegant, forthright, and genuine that what I heard last night. What a great speech and what an ability to make it all real. I might be naive but I really believe she cares.