Thursday, November 15, 2012

Some nonsense, and some seriousness

The absolutely divine Katie and I managed to solve a whole lot of problems via chat yesterday, including the moving of Christmas to a much better time of year and the invention of the Thanksgiving Tree. Then, just for good measure, we made a whole lot of progress towards World Peace, and outlined some solutions to the fiscal cliff. And we did this all before 10:00 AM. You can thank us if you'd like, and we would be happy to give you the details. You're welcome.

In a slightly more serious vein, I am not going to be blogging much for a while. You may have noticed that I have been struggling to write much lately, and that what I have written has been unrelated to the day-to-day goings on around here, which is very much not my style. The truth is that there is sort of "a thing" going on that is dominating the agenda in my world, and unfortunately it is "a thing" that I can't really write about.

That makes it hard to write, because I just don't have much else to say. The election gave me a little bit of subject matter, but even that is gone now...and I wasn't quite as engaged in it as I was last time around. I have just basically always blogged in a manner that is mostly kind of "running journal", and I am not really sure of another way to do it.

So, I may check in occasionally (I am certain to have some Munchkin updates for you and some baby girl stories!), and I will continue to read and comment on blogs, and will still send emails and chat when I am trying to avoid working:-).  But I am not going to force any blog posts that aren't going to be very good.

I will, however, be back...I pinky swear to that!

Friday, November 09, 2012

My last election rant, I promise

I think maybe my post yesterday came across as a little more negative than I intended it to...I wasn't trying to be a total negative Nancy.

In an odd sense of timing, I spent a little bit of time with So Midwestern yesterday discussing, via email, the relationship between my two longest-time friends (BFFb and BFFg) and me. And this sort of fits into that narrative. Despite being so very close, we are actually quite different, and have always approached things, good and bad, very different.

BFFg is just incredibly sweet. 100% positive and nice and friendly and caring and everyone who ever meets her for five minutes loves her, because chances are that she loves them as well. She is always, always one to see the positive in people and events and to think about everything else she could do to help. A huge percentage of the people that we went to high school with would describe her as a friend.

BFFb is and has always been the emotional one, as if everything that happens to him is the result of and in relation to something for which he has been incredibly passionate. He is a fiercely loyal and defensive friend (I think I have covered that:-)) and always willing to commit himself 100% to anything, and anyone, that he things is worthwhile.

I guess I have always been the contrarian. When everyone around me is wallowing in misery and pity, I tend to be the voice of the positive. When everyone else overwhelmed with a sense of joy or accomplishment, I am most likely making note of the things we should be concerned about. If BFFb is kerosene to any emotional fire, then I am the wet towel...positive when things are bad and negative when they are good.

So, in times like this, when we seem to be temporarily overtaken by an irrationally positive hope (well, everyone except for equity investors, it seems), I tend to be the one throwing cold water on everyone. I can't help's in my nature. I don't think it takes a psychiatrist to figure out some reasons why, but I tend to skip over emotions and head straight to the facts.

With that in mind, I am going to make one more note about the election and then I am gonna shut up about it for a while. This has to do with the growing number of voices who are reading this election as a definitive statement by the voters, and a clear indication that we are not buying what the GOP is selling, and that the party has to move to the center or die. They cite Republican stances on immigration and abortion most often, but also on taxes and spending and regulation.

I'm sure, given everything I just told you, that you will not be shocked to hear that I disagree with that. And frankly, you don't have to go back too far in history to figure out why.

First of all, I am not talking about Todd Akin. Any party that intends to nominate more people like him is going to lose an awful lot of elections.

I am talking about Republicans who simply hold beliefs that you and I and/or MSNBC may disagree with, but that are not unreasonable or irrational beliefs. In a Democratic society, those people aren't supposed to simply shut up and admit defeat because they lost a Presidential race by 2% of the vote and 7 or 8 seats in Congress. That isn't how this is supposed to work...those people are supposed to re-examine the case they made, and if they still believe in it, to re-present the case again in future elections.

To tell you what I mean, let's jump into the way back machine and talk about same sex marriage...

Until two days ago, no group of voters in America had ever voted to legalize gay marriage. A bunch of courts ruled that it was legal, or should be legal, and some voters elected not to challenge that...but never had a group of voters been presented with the question "Do you think we should begin allowing same sex couples to get married?" and answered "Yes". As a ballot measure, gay marriage had zero wins and a couple of dozen losses...including some resounding losses in very liberal states.

So, after a whole bunch of losses, were the proponents of gay marriage supposed to close up shop, admit defeat and move on? No, of course not...they made new arguments and better arguments and kept delivering their message of civil rights and equality, and now have reached the point where there are a lot of states (with plenty of "values" voters) that will listen and give them a yes vote. THAT is how Democracy is a moving target, and an evolving debate. When you lose a vote, you don't necessarily quit, you think about what you need to do to win that vote.

Another example: in 2010, Democrats took a whipping in the mid-term elections that was much more one-sided than this one. They lost like 50 seats and the House majority, and lost 7 or 8 Senate seats and some Governorships. The major reason? Their incredibly expensive, brutally flawed and very unpopular Health Care plan. By Rachel Maddow's logic, that should have been a message to Democrats that they were wrong and should change course immediately (please don't be mad at me, Ray-Ray...I still love you:-) And it's cool that I call you Ray-Ray, right?)).

And no, I am not going to sit here and try to defend everything the Republican party stands for because, frankly, the current state of the party was the primary reason that I voted to re-elect a President that I don't think is a very good President. They are absolutely too beholden to the crazies within their own camp and need to reign them in or get rid of them.

But there are a lot of reasonable Republicans who hold very reasonably beliefs: that our budget problems are important, and that the problem is that we spend too much, not because we take in too little; and that we need to more effectively seal our borders for economic and security purposes; and that the rights of an unborn baby to live are more important than the rights of it's mother to end her pregnancy; and that the Earth is indeed warming, but the extent of that warming caused by driving SUV's is entirely unknowable; and that the Federal Government has no business being an investor in banking, automotive manufacturing and energy...well, you aren't supposed to just drop those beliefs. You are supposed to come back next time with better arguments and make a better case that people will listen to.

And this goes for the left, as well. Barack Obama retained almost all of the support that he had in 2008, a resounding approval of his time on the job. Does that mean that all of the people who support same-sex marriage, and support the closure of Guantanamo Bay, and support higher wealth taxes, and who support universal health care, and oppose Executive powers of surveillance and assassination, and reject the idea that there is "clean" coal, and oppose fracking...that all of those people should shut up and admit defeat? Of course not. They should keep making their arguments until either this President and Congress or the next one listens to them.

Losers in a Democracy are not supposed to shut up and take it. They are supposed to recognize the reasons for their loss, live with the consequences, and try again to explain to their fellow voters why they made the wrong choice.

Soapbox officially close for 2012.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Reality Check

Question...who wrote this last week: "I still think Obama will win, and I don't think that we will be up all night waiting to find out."

Answer: This girl!

What, what? Who can see the future? (Or, who has Nate Silver's blog bookmarked...shhh...)

We are still in the post-election glow, where Congress is going to put aside their differences and work with each other and the President to reach consensus and tackle difficult problems. Democrats are going to respect their new broad coalition while Republicans are going to move to the center socially.

This, to me, is utterly ridiculous. Let's take a step back and really examine what we just did in our $6 billion election.

We elected the same President, and did so by winning just about the same states as last time. He ran on a platform that promised to pursue the same policies he has for four years. We elected almost the same exact House, switching about 5 seats out of 435. We elected almost the same Senate, switching 2-3 seats out of 100. (It's actually worse than that...where we did make changes, it is more often than not a replacement of a moderate with a hyper-partisan).

Exactly what message are we trying to send to our elected leaders? For all of the talk and all of the outrage, it seems to me that the overwhelming sentiment is "You guys are doing a bang-up job...keep at it!" What would make us think that we are going to get a different course of action out of the same group of people after we just re-affirmed what they have been doing?

I'm not saying we should throw everyone out every 2-4 years (and I voted for Obama), but shouldn't we maybe hold them all just a little bit more accountable than this? What is that about "insanity"...doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result...?

Just remember that when December comes and we are stuck in a totally manufactured "crisis" over the fiscal cliff. If you wonder why the President won't give and inch on entitlement cuts and why the House GOP won't give an inch on tax increases, remember this election. Remember when we told them all "Hey, we approve of your job performance, keep it up!"

If Congress has a 14% approval rating, how come they get re-elected 90% of the time? Hint: it's not because your Congressman is awesome and the other 434 suck...

Monday, November 05, 2012

You should CARE!

Tomorrow, of course, is election day. Given the newly growing emphasis on early voting, this has really been more of an election season than a single day. Which is all fine...there is no reason why everyone should have to show up on a Tuesday.

So today, Election Eve, I am going to do something that I never, ever see anyone do. In fact, I am going to do the exact opposite of what I see an enormous number of people do. I am going to tell you that I have no interest in encouraging you to go out and vote. In fact, given the choice, I would rather you stayed home.

I don't feel like citizens of a representative Republic should be begged or cajoled to exercise their right to participate in a government of the People. I don't think that someone should have to explain to you why you should want to vote. I really, really, don't think we should be encouraging people to cast a vote if they care so little of the process and devote so little attention that they need to be reminded.

We shouldn't be encouraging everyone to vote. We should be encouraging everyone to care. Don't go out and vote just because you can. Go out and vote because you care enough to pay attention, ask questions, identify the issues you really care about and make an informed decision.

I do care. I pay more attention than most. I ignore talking points ("Romney shipped jobs to China!" "No, Obama sent jobs to China!" "Romney hates minorities!" "Obama hates white people!"). I can explain fully why each side claims that the other is trying to "loot Medicare" and why they are both wrong. And right at the same time. I can explain why they both start their arguments about taxes and spending from a set of assumptions that is so faulty as to make almost all of their projections absurd.

I know that Obama didn't "save the auto industry". I know that he brought the troops home from Iraq because he couldn't get an agreement from the Iraqis to keep them there with immunity, not because he wanted to bring them home (or, rather, send them to Afghanistan). I know that he promised in 2008 that his health care plan would lower premiums, and that in September he delivered an applause line in his acceptance speech because they only rose at twice the rate of inflation. I remember when he promised a new era of foreign policy, and delivered on that by bombing a half dozen countries, carrying out drone strikes against our allies and giving himself the authority to order assassinations. Last I checked, Guantanamo Bay is still holding prisoners.

I know that Romney's balancing of the budget in Massachusetts is not an accomplishment, it was statutorily required. I know that "I will create 12 million new jobs" is not actually a plan. I know that preserving the defense department budget, preserving the current benefits in Social Security and Medicare and cutting everyone's taxes is not, shockingly, going to decrease the deficit. There is even a slight chance that it might make it worse. I know that "getting tough on China" is throwaway language. The same goes for Iran, Russia and anyone else.

I will not purport to be the most informed voter in America, nor the smartest or the least gullible. But I can promise you that I will cast my single vote with the best analytical reasoning that I have to offer. I will cast it with great care and seriousness. I would rather that my vote not be diluted by some nimrod who only voted because Kid Rock or Lena Dunham encourage her to.

We don't benefit as a nation from higher voter turnout. We benefit from higher voter engagement. We benefit when voters demand that their elected officials act reasonably and responsibly and hold them accountable for their actions, not just because they show up.

Frankly, in my perfect world, everyone else would stay home, and only my vote would count!