October 29, 2012 § 3 Comments
I want Barack Obama to continue as our president for the next four years. “Oh, my goodness, I am SO SHOCKED to hear this!” said no one who has met me ever.
Reasons range from shallow to profound, and from micro-specific to enormously broad. Let’s start with the obvious.
1. Obama is a friend of groups who have historically been ignored, dismissed, abused and refused basic rights of equality.
- He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. This broadened the ability of those (mostly women) suffering from pay discrimination to take action against their employers.
- He endorses marriage equality. He’s strong enough to stand up for and take ownership in protecting rights of the LGBT community.
- He renewed the Combating Autism Act, landmark reform “assuring continued federal support for critical autism research, services and treatment.”
- He supports and defends a woman’s right to determine her own healthcare and family planning choices. He *gasp* TRUSTS them! He *gasp* RESPECTS their right to determine their future and what goes on in their uteruses!
2. Obama has stopped the economic bleeding for many (not all) segments of the population.
- He revived the auto industry with strong support from the Federal government. After facing disaster, all three American auto makers are “increased sales of vehicles and have posted a profit.” (see link.)
- He’s enacted truly historic healthcare reform. Pre-existing conditions are now covered, and so is birth control. I’m not saying this won’t cost certain segments of the population or provide hardship for some – I know some small business owners struggling with these requirements. It isn’t perfect. It does, however, take a large burden off so many who had to choose between treating their cancer and feeding their families. It’s a step in the right direction.
- The economy has improved for many, many people. Private sector jobs have increased for the last 31 months straight. I agree with the author of this GQ article that it’s risky to tie Obama’s performance so tightly to a chart (requiring upward arrows always to convince), I still think it demonstrates how low we had sunk with the previous administration and how far we have come with the current one.
3. Obama has a calm, assured and proven foreign policy.
- He’s improved our image which was so devastated by eight years of George W. Bush. There’s no question that Obama’s global popularity has taken a hit as a result of his policy on drone strikes, and the perception that the U.S. still does whatever the hell it wants to. Yet, even though he’s less popular than he was four years ago, the Pew Research Trust survey shows the strong majority of the 20 countries polled want Obama elected over Romney.
- The capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden was more than symbolic – it was reflective of the job the Obama administration has done in weakening and dismantling much of Al-Quaida.
- He is withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan – just like he said he would. He’s closing that horrible chapter.
Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t delude myself into thinking he is the messiah or hasn’t made colossal blunders. Operation Fast and Furious was awful in that it put weapons in the hands of arms traffickers – some of which have been used against Americans. I’m not ready to say his handling of the Benghazi attack was a blunder or involved a cover-up, but I recognize the possibility that with time evidence might support that analysis (I really think it’s too soon to tell.) Let’s not talk about his performance in the first debate. I realize many of the jobs created are part-time jobs with few or no benefits. I know under his administration the number of people on food stamps has risen instead of dropped. I get it.
When I compare his record, however, to Romney’s history and his proposals for our future, I have no question that he is the right choice for the job.
1. Romney said, and I really think he believes, that people who pay no income tax are parasites and victims. Never mind his protests to the contrary after the infamous 47% video was revealed. That he said it AT ALL is profoundly troubling, and I feel it reflects a disdain for half the population that is not only unfair and unfounded, but borders on perverse.
2. The New York Times wrote a fascinating article about Romney’s management style. I thought there were many things in the article that humanized him – even managed to muster up a sense of empathy in me for him. He’s described as conflict-avoidant (many of us are), socratic (wades into details, loves to debate), and fiercely loyal, as represented in a quote I love: “As head of the private equity firm Bain Capital, he was so uncomfortable cutting loose struggling employees that a legend grew: executives sent in to his office to be fired emerged thinking they had been promoted.” (Of course, he had no problem firing people he’d never met or had any relationship with…) Yet the very things that humanize him in this article also make me think he’d not be an effective president. Loyalty is great, but an inability to fire people who aren’t getting the job done could weaken his administration. Avoiding conflict is understandable, but the Oval Office isn’t exactly a conflict-free zone. And these two qualities have played themselves out in his campaign with his refusal to reveal details about his tax policies, his inability to separate himself from the crazies in his party, and his saying whatever his audience needs to hear, regardless if it contradicts previous stances of his. Doesn’t bode well, in my opinion.
3. Romney has a need to privatize things that borders on pathological. Consider his stance on FEMA – many agree it’s an agency greatly in need of overhaul. Some (including me) even see the potential virtue in having responses to disaster be controlled by the individual states. Romney? He wants it to be privatized. Does he think there is ANYTHING the government does that should not be morphed into a for-profit venture???
4. He is incapable or unwilling of separating himself from the nut jobs. He continues to support Richard Mourdock for office. (To paraphrase Jon Stewart, “Yeah, we disagree on rape and incest, but…meh? Not a deal breaker!”) He chose a running mate whose stances on reproductive rights are so extreme, women are essentially reduced to incubators, and microscopic clumps of cells have more freedom than do their mothers. His stance on gay marriage is medieval and absurd. While he used to be considered a moderate, and is contorting his candidacy now to appear like one again, he is catering and pandering to the parts of his party who are driving out any moderate Republican voices. And they DO exist – moderate Republicans. There are thinking, compassionate, strong Republicans who no longer feel they have a place in their party. Think Olympia Snowe. Think Richard Lugar – the candidate for Congress who LOST to Mourdock in the primaries. Very, very bad to lose these voices, people.
There are so many more reasons I support Obama and reject Romney. I’m sure many of you can come up with as many reasons why you feel the opposite way. Here’s what I ask myself, though, when I step back and take the larger view into account. Between the two candidates, who is more likely to want to compromise? Who is more likely to WANT to work in a bipartisan way? Because that’s how things get done. The Republican leadership’s stated refusal to allow Obama to accomplish anything at all is embarrassing. Yet Obama manages to walk the line of true governing by standing firmly in the center, angering people on both sides – conservatives AND liberals. Extreme conservatives think he’s doing too much, extreme liberals think he’s not doing enough. Oddly enough, that tells me he is doing something right.
October 19, 2012 § 2 Comments
My friend, Estelle, of Musings on Motherhood and Midlife, is starting a weekly feature on her blog called “Fun With Words Friday.” She gives us a topic (this week, it’s women and politics, in honor of the debates) and challenges us to write a short poem or limerick on that topic. You know me. I can’t say no to a challenge! So, here are my entries – enjoy!
There once was a rich man from Bain
Who felt he had no need to ‘splain
Why his payroll wasn’t swimmin’
With binders of women –
He should end up just like McCain.
Politics has proven ways of turning men to boys:
Shows of might and playground fights and who’s got better toys.
I sometimes wish that all their moms could put them in time-out,
That logic ruled and they were schooled in how to speak, not shout.
A moderator in debates can serve this purpose solely.
This week we saw one in the form of smarty Candy Crowely.
She fact-checked Mitt, told both to sit, and showed her muscle flexes.
She made me proud to say out loud, “My chromosomes are X-es!
Have a lovely weekend, y’all!!! 😀
October 15, 2012 § 4 Comments
A few days ago, I was tagged in a blogging chain interview by a great friend who doesn’t realize how this would hang over my head if I didn’t do it immediately, so I’m doing it, already!!!! She asks 11 questions, I answer. Then, I have to come up 11 of my own – questions AND blogging friends – and tag said possibly-soon-to-be-former-friends to answer the questions. If they don’t, (to quote “The Oatmeal”) Jesus sets fire to a school bus full of children. Or something. I don’t want that shit on my head. So, Ciaran Blumenfeld– Here you go! (That link also takes you to Ciarian’s answers to the interview SHE took.)
Ciaran asks me to describe the following:
1. A recurring dream
I have a few, but in this one, I am driving a car that’s going really fast, but unable to see where I’m going – either because of the weather, a hat I’m wearing, the direction I’m facing (towards or away from the steering wheel), etc. Gee. I wonder what THAT might mean…
2. A good luck charm
I don’t have one, but I think it’s extremely good luck that I have such an enormous amount of charm.
3. A secret wish
I wish I could hock a lugie. You know, where I could actually get the phlegm to my mouth to spit it out. (This may seem incongruous to my answer to #2 above.)
4. An important letter
Can I go with two, here? From the same person? Also, neither letter was written TO me, but they were both written ABOUT me.
1. A professor from Hopkins whom I absolutely idolized and adored – he’s the reason I became a history major – wrote a letter of recommendation for me when I was looking for teaching jobs. He sent them to me, each individually sealed in an envelope for delivery. Curiosity got the better of me, and I opened one. I got what I deserved – a massive punch in the stomach. He said nice enough things about me, but what got me was that he said something to the effect of, “Well, she’s not Ph.D material – she’ll never be published or do ground-breaking research – but she’d be WONDERFUL for teaching middle school.” Confirmed was my self-assessment – I was good, not great. Especially compared to the brains around me at Hopkins. I always felt like a little bit of an intellectual lightweight – especially in the upper-level classes. Well, there it was, in black and white – my inspiration and mentor declared me (in my mind) mediocre.
It seemed so strange to me, though, because in my first seminar with him, he gave out awards, and I got the “Firefighter’s Award.” He was a famously harsh grader, and I had gone from a D on my 1st paper to an A on the last, so I won for “putting out the most fires” in my writing over the course of the semester. In my senior year, he had moved to another state, but traveled to Hopkins to be at my thesis defense. This recommendation just didn’t seem to accurately reflect the kindness and encouragement he’d shown me during college.
On the plus side, at least I knew enough not to use it when applying for a teaching job, because the insinuation was insulting to teachers, K-12. On the negative side, for almost 20 years I have allowed this to be the way I remember him. Until a few months ago…
2. My parents were cleaning out a closet and came across a number of mementos they’d saved from my schooling career. Among them was the following note from this very professor:
“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Lirtzman:
My wife and I were flattered to receive the invitation to Aliza’s wedding. She is, as you do not need to be told, a wonderful person, and, as you may be less aware, one of the best undergraduates I have ever taught. You will understand why we regret that other engagements make it impossible for us to be there, in the flesh, to share her important moment.
But we will be there in spirit, raising a glass to her happiness and hoping you all have a memorable day.”
Even though he could have used the enclosed RSVP card to decline, he hand-wrote this letter on JHU notepaper to my parents. As I re-read this a few months ago, I once again felt like an idiot. This time, for allowing what was probably just an inelegantly-worded letter of recommendation fill me with self-doubt and cloud my perception of what this beloved professor thought of me.
5. A Souvenir
I still have the tiny red suitcase I packed my things in the time I almost ran away from home. I was 6 or something.
6. A Scar
Nothing very interesting – I do have a few marks on my hands from when I was glassblowing and a small piece of glass that had cooled cracked and flew off the pipe. Knock wood, I’ve never had stitches (not counting episiotomies) or an operation.
7. Your First Kiss
Well, it was run of the mill, I had braces, etc. My first (and only) ON STAGE kiss, though, happened when I was 14 during a camp production of “Pippin.” In front of my parents and hundreds of other campers at Buck’s Rock. Gah.
8. Something You Won
When I was 21 I won money in a Super Bowl football pool in our office. Bought a purple raincoat with it.
9. Something You Lost
My shit whenever my sister beat me in ping pong or Israeli jacks.
10. Something You Found
Name something in the linen closet that my kids tried for hours to find. Anything at all. I found it in 8 seconds.
11. Where your Heart Calls Home
Apartment 1G in Brooklyn, and a little street in Baltimore.
Now, if you’re someone I can think of tagging (so sorry), here are the 11 questions I would like for YOU to answer. Remember: In a blog post of your own:
- Answer the questions
- Come up with 11 of your own
- Tag 11 people to answer them.
If I didn’t tag you on FB to do this…um…activity, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear your answers! Feel free to answer in the comments!
1. What talent do you wish you had?
2. Who’s your favorite Muppet, and why?
3. What kind of restaurant would you open, and why?
4. What’s the first movie that you remember giving you nightmares?
5. What sporting event have you never been to, that you dream of attending?
6. What class did you take in high school or college that you wish you could take again now?
7. Country Living or Architectural Digest?
8. What book do you hope your kids never read?
9. Ringo Starr. Good drummer or not?
10. Theme parks – thumbs up or thumbs down?
11. Are any of you still my friend?
(I joke about this being a chore, but truly, it was lots of fun for me. 🙂 Thanks, C!)
October 8, 2012 § 3 Comments
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s a presidential election coming up soon. In this country. America. Last Wednesday evening, the two presidential candidates (one of whom is already President) squared off to talk about domestic policy. I was prepared for a good show, but it was boooooooooooring. I mean, generally, no one can know whose proclamations and views are accurate until they read Politifact the next day, anyhow. Usually, though, there’s at least something I can follow, or at least grasp. The minutia about tax policy doesn’t fall into that category.
Also possibly contributing to my inability to follow what Obama and Romney were discussing is that I was tweeting the whole time about the few things I did recognize and understand:
1. President Obama likes Obamacare.
2. Mitt Romney would cut the subsidy to PBS, even though he likes Big Bird and Jim Lehrer.
3. Jim Lehrer was so flattered that Romney liked him that he allowed Romney to trample him whenever he weakly suggested Romney’s time was up. Or maybe Jimmy-boy was so terrified of an impending pink slip if Romney were elected, he decided to be nice to this potential new boss. On the other hand, the only sucking up Obama did was to his wife at the beginning because it was their 20th anniversary and he felt bad this was how they were spending it. He should have told Jim he liked him – maybe the evening would have gone better for him.
4. Obama played by the debate rules, was courteous, and lost.
So tweeting during the debate – even though it was ABOUT the debate – is not something my brain does well. I’m easily distracted. I also can’t talk on the phone and drive at the same time. Not because it’s dangerous, but because my little brain can’t seem to divide its attention in that particular way. So I don’t. Also, I’m easily distracted. (Is that a cookie?)
Speaking of divided attention, two other teams are squaring off in a contest of epic proportions. Right here in my backyard. Birds figure as prominently in this contest as it did in Wednesday’s debate. I live in Baltimore, baby. We’re talking the Orioles (though the Ravens are usually front and center this time of year…) I’ve written before about my love affair with baseball. If you know me, you understand why I’m having a hard time concentrating on politics AND baseball at the same time. I’m easily distracted. (Is that an appletini?)
Like so many events of this magnitude, the presidential debate and the O’s/Yankees series raise more questions than they answer. Both are competing for my attention, which makes it hard for me to focus. Because I’m easily distracted. (Is that Facebook???) So, here are some of the many questions going through my mind as I try to immerse myself in these momentous goings-on.
1. If Romney were elected president, would the Orioles bird be fired?
2. If Jim Lehrer were umping home plate, would he throw Mark Reynolds out for arguing balls and strikes, but not A-Rod?
3. If Paul Ryan were doing color commentary in the booth, would I be distracted by his blue, blue eyes the way I am with Cal Ripken’s?
4. What percentage of fans in the stands tonight in Baltimore will be wearing pinstripes? 1% or 47%?
5. Should the fans only be allowed to clap and cheer at the beginning and the end of the game, like the audience members at the debate?
6. Would Big Bird be able to get a birdseed milkshake at Boog‘s?
These, my friends, are questions that MUST be answered. I hope they’ll get the attention they deserve in the press and the interwebs. And in both contests, in case you’re wondering, I’m rooting for the team that begins with “O.”