Worst President Ever!!!

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I have figured out the problem…

I became politically aware sometime around 1999-2000 and was paying attention to politics from 2000-2008 while the vast majority of my peers were soaked in a college-fueled beer haze. Therefore I remember what a real goddamned scandal looks like.

Being lied into two wars, the attempted privatization of social security, the crashing of the economy (thankfully we didn’t privatize social security) the gutting of our public schools, Abu Ghraib, falling asleep at the wheel in the months before 9.11, the shredding of the Bill of Rights and the expansion of the Security State (you think this NSA shit just started?) Skyrocketing college tuition, the gutting of our public sector (you know, nurses, firefighters, policeman, all those first responders Republicans claim to cherish)

All this happened under a Republican President.

Somehow, the majority of my Facebook friends either weren’t paying attention or are afflicted with a serious case of selective memory.

I could literally spend entire days just correcting the ridiculous shit I see posted on people’s pages.

“Obamacare is going to double premiums!”- False

“Obama wants to take our guns!!”- False

I literally could do this all day.

For those of us who were paying attention, this Presidency is a cake walk. Of course you would never know it if you listened to the Facebook crowd.

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The 2012 Presidential Election

I have had a couple of days to savor what took place on Tuesday and I think I ready to share my thoughts.

I realize most people are burned out by election coverage and the last thing they want to read right now is one more person sharing their thoughts. Even I, the guy who usually cannot get enough of this stuff is suffering from election fatigue today. But I think this is too important to not say something.

I think the first thing that needs to be said, and this comes as no surprise to me, Nate Silver had this thing locked down. I cannot count the number of right-wing people I spoke with or read about on Facebook or other outlets who were convinced, Convinced!! that Romney was going to win, and it wasn’t going to be close. Go back, read what I wrote, I had absolutely zero fear that President Obama was not going to win, and the reason for my optimism was Nate Silver and 538. This wasn’t some magical guess, there was no surprise Tuesday night, the state-by-state polls were right from the beginning and Nate’s formula accurately reflected that.

The problem for the Fox News crowd, and the people who I read on Facebook (I am so tempted to rub this in to a few people) is that they refused to believe that Silver was right, that their simply are more people who self-identify as Democratic than there are Republicans.

I predicted on Twitter Tuesday that President Obama would win 326 electoral votes. He will have 332 when Florida is (finally!!!) called for him. This wasn’t some wacky projection coming from a hopeful liberal. I read 538, I believed in Nate Silver’s math and I won the Electoral College portion of our ReElection Party board (more on this later).

I have dedicated myself to listening to Rush Limbaugh and watching Fox News over the course of the last few days. What I heard prior to the election was a group of people who believed with absolute certainty that their candidate was going to win, and it wouldn’t be close.

A really interesting dynamic has started to take shape. Both sides, right and left have found news sources and information that reaffirms their world view. For Conservatives this is Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, The National Review, Drudge etc. They build a narrative. Put it out, and it bounces around in their echo chamber, being repeated over and over by each member of the group until it becomes “fact”. Benghazi is a perfect example of this, and I will circle back to it.

The same thing happens on the left to a degree, but with an important difference. For me, I know I am Progressive. I cannot stand prolonged exposure to the right wing echo chamber, because their version of reality is so frustrating for me  that I retreat to what I like, Maddow, Chris Hayes etc. In doing so, I am going to have my perspective reaffirmed, as I am going to hear things from a similar perspective to what I already believe. Therefore, it is incumbent upon me, as a curious and engaged citizen to seek out alternative news sources, or to fact-check those that I read to ensure that I am getting the full picture.

This last part is where right-wing media fails people who are consuming it, and those who are consuming it fail themselves. Anyone who believes that President Obama has doubled the deficit, or cut work requirements for welfare, or has raised the unemployment rate or taken people guns, or wasn’t born in this country simply has not fact-checked their sources. These things did not happen. Period. Every person on this planet has their own unique perspective on events that take place on it. Each person forms their own opinion based on what they perceive. This is human nature and it happens. Two people can witness the same event and walk away with two completely different views of what happened.

But, and this is the key to the 2012 election, Facts do not have two sides. Facts are not biased. Our interpretations of those facts carry our personal biases, but the fact itself has no bias. We may not like it. It may run contrary to our world view, but a fact it remains.

The fact is, President Obama was leading in the polls in September. He was leading in the polls after the Debacle in Denver on October 3rd. He was leading following the 2nd and 3rd debates where he wiped the floor with Mitt Romney. He was leading following Hurricane Sandy. These are facts. Mitt Romney may have had some momentum following the 1st debate, but by the time election day rolled around, President Obama was the clear favorite and the results of the election bear this out.

Steven Benen at Maddow Blog describes this phenomenon

Anyone who watched Fox News Tuesday night saw the collision that took place between a group of people who had so insulated themselves within their bubble that they were convinced of a Romney win, and Facts. When Fox News called the election for Obama, they literally did not know what to do or say, because for months they had been told by every pundit on their channel that Romney would win. It was their opinion that Romney would win and it was based on gut feelings and hopes. The facts said something very different.

The Election of 2012 was a win for facts.

John Stewart says it far better than I can:

Watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh yesterday after the election I heard a group of people struggling to come to grips with how they could squeeze reality until it fit into the world view that they maintain. Conservatism at its core looks to return America to simpler time. Old White Men have run this country from its inception. Old White Men have been the power brokers in the country since day one. Old White Men are watching as the base of that power is eroding under their feet.

Our country is becoming younger, and (excuse this term as I don’t like it) browner, and more feminized. There are a group of people in this country for whom this is a literal nightmare. That group of people listen to Rush Limbaugh and watch Fox News. Rush literally could not understand how this happened on Wednesday. In the 20 minutes I listened to, I heard him say at least three times: “How did this happen?” The exit polling shows that Obama increased his share of young people, Latinos, African-Americans and women, and more of each of those groups voted than did in 2008. This is why right wingers thought the polling data was favoring Democrats, they could not believe that these groups would turn out in the numbers they did.

I listened to Rush, and Bill O’Rielly try to figure out how to do a better job pitching the Conservative message to these groups. Both Rush and Bill-O correctly stated that without gaining some portion of this electoral groups, the Republican party cannot win on a national level anymore.

But in saying that they reflected their fatal flaw. Rush listed Michael Steele, and Herman Cain, and Marco Rubio and basically said, “what’s wrong with our minorities?”. From Rush’s warped perspective simply looking like someone is enough to get people to vote for them. He is saying “Hey Latinos, we have Marco Rubio, he is Latino, vote for us!”

What they fail to grasp is that it isn’t a matter of doing a better job of selling the Republican Brand to minorities and women to get them to vote. The problem is with the brand itself. You cannot, as a party, support platforms that alienate entire groups of the American electorate, then try to sell yourselves to those same people by parading a line of token representatives of those groups. This is small-minded, 2oth century thinking and it cost the Republicans the Presidency. Adding Sarah Palin to the ticket in 2008 didn’t cause a wave or women, liberal or otherwise to say to themselves: “Fuck reproductive rights, and equal pay, and all that other stupid shit we have been fighting for for 200 years, Palin has a vagina, I have a vigina… John McCain!!!!! GO!!!!” John McCain lost in a landslide and it was due in large part to Sarah Palin, not despite her.

I wrote about this back in September. There is a coming Civil War within the Republican party. If they want to ever win a Presidential election again, they are going to have to find a way to divorce themselves from the wing-nutty conservatism of Todd Aiken, Richard Mourdock and Paul Ryan. Telling women that they do not have the right to choose, telling immigrants to self-deport, telling black people they are welfare-queens who don’t care about their future is a recipe for many more nights like Tuesday.

Tuesday night was a blood bath for Tea Party, Wing-Nut Conservatism. I am not talking about small-government Laize-Faire, free market conservatives who just want lower taxes. I am talking about the 44% of people in Missouri who voted for Todd Aiken. Your brand of “small government when it comes to taxes, government intrusion into a woman’s uterus and a homosexual couples home” is a loser on a national level.

Tuesday night was a dramatic win for the Progressive Movement.

Think about it this way. In a country as divided as we are, and bad as the economy has been, and negatively as the President has been portrayed by the right, Barack Hussein Obama won a second term and it was a landslide. Less people voted for Mitt Romney than did John McCain.

Having said all that. Watching Sean Hannity last night, you would have thought the President lost. He clearly decided to take the “this election doesn’t change shit” tact, and spent the better part of the night talking about Benghazi as if it were “Obama’s Watergate”. As elated as I am over the results Tuesday, not because it means I was right, but because what I think it means for the future of our country, I am realistic in that I know that the right-wing is not going to do what I personally think they should do and spend some serious time reflecting on what Tuesday night meant for their brand of fantasy. They are going to do what Sean Hannity did, and go on as if Tuesday never happened.

Let me finish with this.

As a student of history, I am fascinated by the importance of speeches. I say this with as little hyperbole as someone as prone to it can muster,  President Obama’s speech Tuesday night (Wednesday morning) will go down in history with the greatest Presidential speeches ever.

What Obama is calling for here is the kind of Progressivism that gave us the New Deal, 80 years of American prosperity based on the important role that Government plays in laying the foundation for a strong economy. Listen carefully to what he said, this is an absolute repudiation of Ayn Rand, pull-yourselves-up-by-your bootstraps, every man for themselves conservatism. This speech lays out a vision for progress through government action.

It is interesting that he references Kennedy here. Growing up, I remember hearing about the love affair that America had with the Kennedy’s. That there was something special about watching children grow up in the White House. I never understood this, until now. I cannot look at pictures of the Obama family, or hear him talk about Michelle and the girls without tearing up. Perhaps it is that I am the father of a little girl, but when he talks about them, I fall to pieces.

The inauguration is going to be amazing.

I realize I am an Obama partisan, and therefore, what I am about to say will most likely be taken with a grain of salt. But I am going to say it anyways, and I am going to say it because I mean it.

I think when all is said and done, long after the Obama Presidency has been laid to rest, Americans will look back and the question will not be was Barack Obama among the greatest Presidents that we have ever had?

I truly and honestly believe the question will be, was Barack Obama the greatest President in American History?

Obama’s Failure to Win the UEWMV


The Hacks over at Politico have a piece (of Crap) up about how even though Obama is going to win (yes, folks, Obama is going to win) he is doing so while failing to win with an electoral mandate because of his failure to in a majority of the Uneducated White Male Vote (UEWMV).

According to Politic0:

If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000.

A broad mandate this is not.

This brings to my mind a few issues. The first, which I have already written about, is why has the Republican Party failed, in two consecutive elections, to build a larger, winning coalition?

The argument made by the kind folks at Politico can work both ways. If it is a fair question to ask, why has Obama failed to win over UEWMVs, is it not also fair to ask why has the Republican party decided that they will be the party of only UEWMVs?  And why has Romney, and the Republican party at large failed to build a platform that appeals to more than Wall Street type capitalists and podunk hillbillies that want to the Govmn’t to keep their damn Govmn’t hands of their Medicare?

This is what I wrote about when I said There Will Be Blood. There is a Civil War coming within the Republican Party. As a party they are suffering from Bi-Polar Disorder. It is really hard to win on a national level when you are relying solely on Gordon Gecko and Barney Fife.

We live in a diverse country. Restricting a woman’s right to choose, pushing “Self-Deportation” and ignoring the struggles of urban American culture is not a  good way to build a winning coalition.

Obama is going to win tomorrow, and the story by hacks like Politico and Joe Scarborough will be that Hurricane Sandy won the election of Mitt Romney.

The reality is that Obama clearly won the second and third debates and was gaining ground in the polls will before Sandy. Regardless of what Romney supporters want to say about “momentum”, the polls show something clearly different.

What Sandy did was remind people that the Federal Government plays an important role in all of our lives. And no amount of Ayn Rand-inspired, pull-yourselves-up-by-your-bootstraps crap will change that.

As I said on Facebook following Sandy:

While the media is busy falling all over themselves praising the bipartisanship of Chris Christie, let’s take a second to remind ourselves that the Republican party, led by the likes of Christie, Romney, Ryan and Scott Walker have worked to systematically reduce the salary and benefits of the same first responders that they are falling all over themselves to praise today.

This is why we have “government”. The state of New Jersey could not effectively deal with this disaster on their own, and where is that private sector that Romney loves so much? Let’s remember that we are not 50 individual states fighting for ourselves in some Ayn Rand inspired universe where we all do best when we look out for our own individual best interest. We are a union of United States, where when we support each other, we all do better. This election is a fundamental question about what kind of country we want to live in

The only thing I will add is this piece from Michael Smerconish who was a Republican. I could not agree more with this piece.

And the Right Wins Again

I have to first apologize to Danielle, she was subjected to a prolonged rant on this very subject last night. But the more I think about this, the more it bothers me.

The right-wing in this country has won. They have won because they have become masters of pushing the conversation in their desired direction. Let me give a few examples.

In the early 2000’s, we had, and in many ways continue to have a debate over the methods of torture that our country engages in. The right-wing was able to push the conversation so far to the right, that we began, as a nation of laws to debate not whether we would engage in torture, but which methods we were OK with. The Right Won.

We see this same dynamic taking place with the debate over abortion. The United States Constitution, affirmed by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, guarantees the right of choice. Regardless of your personal beliefs on abortion, the ultimate decision lies with the woman who is carrying the pregnancy.

What the right-wing has successfully done is push the conversation so far to the right, thanks to Todd “Legitimate Rape” Aiken, Richard “God intended for you to get pregnant, even if you were raped” Mourdock and Paul “It doesn’t matter how it happened, pregnant is pregnant” Ryan, we as a nation are talking about which/any exceptions (rape, incest and the health of the mother) are acceptable for a woman to seek an abortion. By framing the debate in a way that the discussion isn’t about a woman’s constitutional right to a safe abortion, but should we outlaw all abortions, or allow them only in certain cases.

There are at least 15 people running for the U.S. Senate this year who would seek to make it illegal for a woman to abort a pregnancy, regardless of the manner in which she became pregnant. My problem, and the purpose of this post is to point out the success of the right win in framing the debate on these topics.

A separate, and equally important aspect of this debate is the hypocrisy of the right-wing as it relates to the role of government in our lives. The right-wing position on the role of government requires an incredible feat of mental gymnastics. Republicans would simultaneously seek to shrink the role of government in regulating the economy (the exact thing that led us to the brink of complete financial collapse in 2008) and growing the role of government in regulating what takes place in a woman’s uterus. The party of personal freedom and individual responsibility would seek to take the choice out of the hands of the individual in place it in the hands of the government. In what universe does this make sense?

I went off so loudly and forcefully on this subject yesterday that this post feels like a cheap carbon copy of what I had to say. I edited my thoughts intentionally. I am not seeking to debate whether a woman should or should not have the right to choose, I am not that stupid. There are two points to this post, and neither of them is to argue the right of women to choose.

Point one is that the right-wing has mastered the art of pushing the debate so far to the right that what we ultimately end up debating is something that initially would have seemed unthinkable.

Point two is the hypocrisy of “small-government” Republicans.

When Danielle and I talked about this yesterday, it is safe to say I went on a rant. I am glad I didn’t write then what I said.

This morning, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry said it far better than I ever could.

The President on the Daily Show

Part I:

Part II:

(The videos might now work, follow the links)
We are a few days out from the town hall debate and a few days until the third and final presidential debate of this election cycle.

I have had quite a few conversations following Tuesday’s debate and I want to share some of what has come out of those conversations.

As the President acknowledges in the first video above, there is a fundamental difference between his vision for how Government can be a source of good in people’s lives and the view of governor Romney. Likewise, there is a fundamental difference between the views of people who support the President, and those who do not. I am not here to change any minds and I don’t have any illusions of being capable of such. Just like Mitt Romney isn’t going to come to his senses on the issues that I think he is flat-out wrong about, people who support him are not. That is not my goal. This blog is for my thoughts and feelings. The comment section has blown up (I use blown up in a relative sense, as in, we barely had any comments, EVER, and this week I have hadmthree) with people disagreeing with me. I am all for the disagreement. I am an open-minded individual, who when presented with FACTS that run contrary to my accepted view of the world, will take the time to think about them.

What won’t shift the lens through which I view the world are links to Fox News articles.

A few days removed from the debate there are two things that are really bothering me. The first, and I heard this crap from the cast of Morning Joe on Wednesday was that the President failed to lay out a plan for the next for years. Go to any right-wing website right now and I guarantee you will find some version of this lie there. Johnathan Cohn of The New Republic put this crap to bed today. What part of what Obama said Tuesday was not a plan for the next four years. I have watched the debate three times in its entirety. Watch it again, read the transcript. The economy is recovering. Every available metric we have says so. He doesn’t need a new plan, the one he has works. What he needs is a House of Representatives that is willing to work with him (damn those founders and their separation of powers).

The second thing that is driving me nuts is that the conversation about the debate has transitioned from “Exactly how badly did President Obama wipe the floor with Romney” to parsing words between whether the President referred to the Benghazi attack as an “act of Terror” or a “Terrorist Attack”. Now, they are complaining that he took too long in his speech to say it. Read through the comments in the previous post, this is not the only place this farce is being discussed.

The real point is that Mitt Romney is trying (and failing) to turn President Obama in Jimmy Carter, and himself Ronald Reagan. By paining Obama as somehow “weak” on national security, Team Romney hopes to pull a repeat of the 1980 election. The problem for Romney is that the President’s record on foreign policy is incredibly strong, and the video tape of him the Rose Garden makes Romney’s debate performance look clownish (“Proceed Governor…”).

What the real story should be about is Romney’s attempt to politicize an attack on American citizens. Lets use our imagination for a minute, in the fall of 2004, can anyone picture John Kerry attacking George W. Bush as weak on national security because it was under his watch that 3,000 Americans lost their lives on September 11th? It wasn’t that John Kerry was a pussy and was scared to say it. It was that John Kerry understood that there are some places you simply do not go in American politics. Like showing an acceptable level of respect during a debate (my students in Government are really excited to see how aggressive Romney gets on Monday after our discussion of Tuesday’s debate). John Kerry had the decency to not use the deaths of Americans as an opportunity to score points against Bush. Mitt Romney is clearly not programmed with that directive.

It is clear to anyone watching with a critical eye that Mitt Romney is taking his marching orders from the right-wing blog crowd.

I honestly do not know how there are still undecided voters. There could not be a clearer distinction between these two candidates. Love or hate the President, you know where he stands on whichever issue it is that matters to you. And the same goes for governor Romney.

We are basically all sitting back and waiting to see how less than five percent of the population of Ohio decides to go. Who the hell are these people? We have 19 days left until the election. An election that is going to decide which direction this country is going to go for the next four years (and beyond).

Do I have enough time to go door-to-door in Ohio…

 knock knock…

“Hi sir or ma’am, might I ask who you are voting for?”

“Mitt Romney”

“Thank you very much, make sure you get out to the polls, voting is our most important duty as citizens in a democratic society”

knock knock

“Hi sir or ma’am, may I ask who you are planning on voting for?”

“President Obama”

“Thank you very much, make sure you get out to the polls, voting is our most important duty as citizens in a democratic society”

Knock Knock

“Hi sir or ma’am, may I ask who you are planning on voting for?”

“Actually… I not sure they both…”

PUNCH IN THE FACE

knock knock

“Hi sir…”

Get your asses out to vote. This is serious. We live in a democratic society, our government derives is power from the will of the governed. Men and women have fought, bled, cried and died for 225 years to ensure that we would have the right to choose our own national destiny. If you don’t like the candidates, next time pay more attention during the primary season. Participation in a republican democracy is heavy lifting. If you want all of your decisions made for you, move to Iran. Here we have a choice, here we have a voice.

There is no greater crime to the continuation of our democracy than someone who choses to silence themselves. I realize that this is running on, but this has been bugging me all week.

The next Facebook status I read where someone is complaining about the debates, or the election is getting unfriended.

Lets think about this for a minute… so we (the Facebook community) are supposed to care about pictures of your dinner, or your workout (I am guilty of this one) or the Yankees, or how your third trimester is going, or how many times your child woke up last night, or any of the other millions of things people post on Facebook about (let me be clear, I don’t have a problem with any of it, that is what Facebook is for)

But… we’re not supposed to discuss politics? The one thing that actually affects all of us. The Status-Police have decided that this is the one topic that is off-limits? Two people are running to determine the future of our country. That means the future for that unborn baby who is giving you heart-burn that you just posted about. That means our energy policy that will determine if your kid can drink the water coming out of the faucet. This stuff matters, and if we cannot use the best public forum that we have at our disposal to talk about, we are lost as a people and we all might as well disengage from the process and let the politicians decide it for us. That way we can plug ourselves back into The Voice.

I have rambled here…

Just Breathe

I imagine, when listening to this song, sitting next to a hospital bed and saying goodbye. Luckily for us, we have many wonderful years left with Deb and Mo.

That being said, I think saying goodbye some day might be easier than what we are going through as Alzheimer’s, that brutal thief of cherished memories does its awful work on May’s brain. There was moment a few weeks ago, where for the first time, she looked at me and I saw no recognition in her eyes. She didn’t remember who I am. I have 29 years of memories of the woman. Tube tops and pedal pushers. And she does not remember me.

We laugh when she congratulates Danielle and I on our engagement again and again. We laugh because tears hurt too much.

We are a family of stories. Our stories represent memories. Memories of our shared experiences. Without those stories, without those memories, what was our past but just a series of yesterdays.

I will forever hold in my heart “Raincloud Roethel.”

As she announced that year at Camp-O-Rama, she made all of this. She may not remember it, but she did.