An American Editor

October 12, 2012

A Humor Interlude: Mitt Romney’s Neighborhood

Filed under: A Humor Interlude — americaneditor @ 4:00 am
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This video of Jimmy Fallon satire of Mitt Romney is amusing, and plays off of Romney’s desire to scuttle funding for public television and radio, which currently accounts for less than 0.001% of the federal budget, not enough to pay for his proposed tax cuts. (I wonder how many gold-plated toilet seats and hammers the defense department buys and what percentage of the budget those items account for.)

August 17, 2012

Politics: One Term More

The following video was created as a political parody of “One Day More” from Les Misérables, but is so well done, I thought I would share it here. As its title implies, the video is pro-Barack Obama and anti-Republican. Enjoy the video for its creativity and excellent production. I suggest watching it with subtitles, as some of the lyrics are hard to discern.

One Term More — A Political Parody

One Term More — A Political Parody (with subtitles)

July 18, 2012

On Politics: The Logic of the Illogical

As an editor, I constantly have to watch for author statements that are illogical. Unfortunately, that practice doesn’t stop at the workplace door; it carries over to election-year politics and makes me a wary consumer of political talk.

What brings this to the fore is a recent statement by the Republican (expected) nominee for president, Mitt Romney. As reported in the New York Times (“Romney Seeks Obama Apology for Bain Attacks,” by Michael D. Shear, July 14, 2012, electronic edition, p. 31), Mit Romney said on Fox News:

You just had very bad news on the economic front, with now 41 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent.

Romney made this statement in support of his demand that the Bush-era tax cuts on the income of the top 2% of earners be made permanent and not be allowed to expire come January because these 2-percenters are the job creators and to raise their taxes would destroy job creation!

This has been a constant refrain of the Republicans and the Romney campaign. What I would like to know is, “Where are these jobs being created?” In publishing, the jobs are being created in India, not America. In America, editors are both losing work and being forced to accept lower wages as a result of this migration of jobs from America to India. I do not see John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan, or Markus Dohle, CEO of Random House, or the CEO any of the other major American publishers — all members of the 2% club – promising, in writing, to create new American jobs if their personal tax cuts are preserved.

In response to a recent solicitation I received asking me to make a campaign contribution in support of Romney and the Republicans, I wrote back with this offer:

I will make a contribution if you will answer these questions directly and without obfuscation: If keeping the tax cuts on the wealthiest 2% of American society will create jobs as you claim, why haven’t those jobs been created in the past decade while the Bush-era tax cuts have been in place? Why, if these wealthy 2-percenters create jobs, did we have significant job loss during the current life of their tax cuts? How many new American jobs have the Koch brothers, and John Sargent (Macmillan CEO), and Markus Dohle (Random House CEO) guaranteed — in writing – to create within the next 12 months (and how many new American jobs did they create over the past 4 years) as a direct result of the reduced personal rate of taxation they received from the Bush-era tax cuts?

I am still waiting for a reply, and I’m not holding my breath.

The reality is that the claim that reducing taxes for the wealthiest 2% of Americans increases American jobs is illogical, whether made by a Republican or a Democrat. It is a remnant of the flushdown economics of the Reagan era and ignores the fact that jobs grew under Reagan only after Reagan increased taxes and continued to grow (with resulting budget surpluses) under Clinton when tax rates were both raised and significantly higher than under the Bush-era tax cuts and current rates.

Interestingly, Obama, who should be attacking this kind of illogic, doesn’t seem to fight back by demanding that Romney and the Republicans put their cards on the table face up. It seems to me that Obama should be demanding real numbers from the Republicans. Make the Koch brothers pledge in writing to either create 100,000 new American jobs within 6 months of the election if the tax cuts are extended — regardless of whether they are extended by Romney or Obama — or agree to pay a $5 billion penalty. Require other 2% recipients — such as the John Sargents and the Markus Dohles – of the benefits of the tax cut to make the same pledge to create a specific number of new American jobs or pay a significant penalty, and have enough of them make the written pledges so that American unemployment will be reduced to less than 2%. Then I’ll buy the argument that these are the job creators, as will all other Americans!

The reality is not only will the 2-percenters not make such written pledges, but that they are not job creators. They are money makers and obligated to make as much money at as minimal a cost as possible, which means exporting American jobs if it is cost-effective to do so, which is what they have been doing all through the Bush-era tax cuts.

I have noted that Romney and the Republicans are very careful to talk about “job creation” but not “creation of American jobs”. The implication is that the jobs that the 2-percenters create are American jobs; the reality may well be different.

The Republican rhetoric also ignores the realities of the business world. Consider the recent $7+ billion loss suffered by JP Morgan Chase as a result of bad trades. The losses were incurred by a small group of individuals but already threaten the jobs of thousands of ordinary employees who had no connection to the loss-making trades or the division of Chase that made them. Yet, Romney and the Republicans want to give Jaime Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, a tax break because he will “create” new jobs. What will he do? Hire another valet? Tax breaks for Dimon have no effect whatsoever on whether JP Morgan Chase hires or fires employees.

How much more misleading can the Republican discourse be? Not much, but it sure makes for good bullet points on Fox News. Most of the 2-percenters are employed by a corporation or a foundation or some other business organization whose job-creation decisions are made independently of the personal finances of these 2-percenters. Yes, there are some exceptions, but not many.

The Romney-Republican argument on taxing the top 2% of Americans belies another premise of their presidential campaign: to-wit, that Romney really understands how jobs are created. Jobs are created by the masses spending more money and buying more goods and services, not by a 2-percenter suddenly deciding to trade in last year’s Lamborghini for this year’s model. Economic recovery is not in the hands of the few; it is in the hands of the masses, which is why consumer confidence measures are so important.

It isn’t clear to me what it will take to get voters to look beyond the twitteresque rhetoric and demand that politicians put up or shut up. Nor is it clear to me what it will take to get the Obama campaign to put the Romney and Republican campaigns’ feet to the fire. But in both instances, I hope that such a test occurs because the decision we have to make in November could be catastrophic for America if it is the wrong decision, especially if it is a decision made on platitudes rather than fact.

March 12, 2012

Why I Can’t Vote Republican

I consider myself an independent when it comes to politics. Depending on the primary contest, because New York doesn’t have open primaries, I may affiliate with a party so I can participate in a primary, but when it actually comes to voting on election day, I rarely vote for candidates from a single party.

But as the Republicans move further away from the center, which is where I am, it becomes increasingly difficult to consider voting for a Republican. It seems that, as each day passes, the Republicans are deliberately closing the door more tightly to any thinking independent or centrist-oriented voter.

What seals my decision so early in the election year is not only the poor quality of the Republican candidates (although I admit that I do not think very highly of Barack Obama, either), but their clear lack of honesty and moral conscience as evidenced by their responses to Rush Limbaugh’s defamation of Sandra Fluke. (See “Obama Backs Student in Furor With Limbaugh on Birth Control” in the New York Times for more details about the controversy.) Even the head of her Catholic university, who clearly disagrees with Ms. Fluke’s views on contraception, came to her defense.

Here is what the New York Times reports Limbaugh had to say:

“What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.” Those remarks and others whipped up a frenzy of denunciations, but on Thursday, Mr. Limbaugh held his ground, declaring: “If we’re going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

Conservatives should be outraged by this attack, but they aren’t. And Limbaugh, an admitted drug abuser who has been convicted of drug-related offenses, should not be a conservative icon because of his lack of a moral conscience — but he is.

Mitt Romney and  Rick Santorum claim to be family men, and Newt Gingrich claims to have found morality. All claim to be concerned about the good of Americans, yet they are willing to stand by and let a woman be defamed simply because her views on what is a controversial topic in America do not comport with their views. This tells me that, should one of these men be elected president, given the opportunity, they will try to suppress dissent any way they can. It tells me that these Republicans do not really care about an individual’s constitutional rights, do not care about family values, do not care about anything but what will get them nominated and elected. They lack a moral conscience. I do not want as president, or even as local councilperson, someone who talks the talk of being a moral person but walks the walk of a moral-less person.

I haven’t yet forgotten the Republican lies against their own John McCain (remember the lie about his having a black mistress and a black child that magically appeared just before voters in South Carolina went to the primary polls?), and the willingness of conservative Republicans to outright, knowingly lie to voters just to win their vote.

I also haven’t forgotten George W. Bush’s lack of moral courage to stand up to the Swift Boaters in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and defend John Kerry from the false attacks. Kerry at least went to Vietnam; his attackers and George W. Bush partied at home instead. But Bush should have stood up for Kerry in this matter. Kerry didn’t give himself his medals; they were awarded by the United States Navy, and the Swift Boaters not only attacked Kerry but also attacked the veracity of the U.S. Navy — people George W. Bush, as commander-in-chief, should have defended.

As each election cycle comes, Republicans increasingly display a wholesale disregard for the things that matter most — honesty and moral conscience. George W. Bush still has no regrets about lying to the American public about the supposed weapons of mass destruction; after all, neither he nor Dick Cheney had to face enemy fire — either then or in their youth, when they avoided military service.

I find that, because of their lack of moral conscience, Republicans are quick to commit Americans to war. Bush did it in Iraq and Afghanistan; Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich are promising to do the same in Iran should they be elected. The morals-less three (Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich) are also quick to impose their male values on women. They would prefer that a woman die rather than be allowed to use contraception or have an abortion.

Have we forgotten how antigay Dick Cheney was until his daughter came out? Because it affected him directly, his tune changed. Have we forgotten how indignant Gingrich was about the so-called Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair while he was cheating on his own wife?

It is not that Democrats are so much better. Rather, it is that they are better, and my only real choice is Democrat or Republican. Given those limitations and the fact that when it comes to moral conscience Republicans seem to lack one, I will be voting Democrat in the presidential election. My hope is that the Republicans face their Rubicon again, as they did in 1964 when they nominated Barry Goldwater. That might cause Republicans to rethink their drift to the extreme right, might cause them to gain a moral conscience and no longer tolerate the tactics and lies of the Limbaughs and the Swift Boaters, and might cause centrist Republicans like Olympia Snowe (who has announced she will not run for reelection because of the rightward tilt of the Republican party and its unwillingness to be anything but obstructionist) to regain favor and their willingness to serve.

Should that occur, I would happily consider voting for a Republican candidate. Until then, this independent has moved toward the Democrat side of the aisle.

March 2, 2012

Politics: Negative Advertising

This is the political season in the United States. Sadly, the season has been in effect for months and still has many months to go.

I know that negative political advertising is more effective than positive, which is in itself a very sad commentary on Americans and the depths of their thinking and the limits of their attention spans, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Although all of the Republican candidates and their super-PACs (political action committees) are guilty of such advertising (and the Democrats will join them as the fall campaign gets closer), I’d like to see an “independent” PAC take on negative advertising.

Perhaps an ad should be run along the following lines, with equal time for all candidates who use negative advertising –

The background imagery would be the candidate whose negative ads are the subject of this ad, in this case Mitt Romney, and some of the candidate’s misstatements. The overnarration would run along these lines:

Why does Mitt Romney use negative ads? Is it because not even he can find anything positive or good to say about his beliefs and positions?

Why does Mitt Romney distort the truth about what others have said? Is it because Mitt Romney cannot tell lie from truth?

What kind of president would Mitt Romney be? How would America know whether or not he was lying to it?

Negative ads make candidates untrustworthy; presidents shouldn’t be untrustworthy.

Needless to say, one could substitute — currently — any of the Republican candidates for Mitt Romney, and I suspect that come the Republican vs. Democrat battle in the fall, one will be able to add Barack Obama to the list of players.

If I were to create a negative ad to support a candidate, I think I would use the following tag line (substituting, of course, the name of the candidate I was being negative about), which could also be a bumper sticker:

Mitt Romney — bringing America to her knees, one lie at a time!

(And for any of you politicians or politically oriented folk who are thinking about coopting these ideas, remember that they are copyrighted. I know politicians and their most fervent supporters often ignore copyright, but it really isn’t a good idea to do so.)

September 26, 2011

If They Were Editors, They Would Be Fired!

If they were editors, they would be fired! I’m referring to the Republicans contending for the Republican nomination to oppose Barack Obama in 2012.

The one thing that every client wants from an editor is consistency. If you chose to spell distension with -sion in chapter 1, then the client doesn’t want to see it spelled with -tion in subsequent chapters. Although “[a] foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines” (Ralph Waldo Emerson), editorial consistency is a positive trait because it is not a foolish consistency.

To demand that our politicians be consistent in a very broad sense is to deny them the possibility of intellectual growth and the ability to change as circumstances change, yet some consistency, especially on overarching policy, at least for a year or two, is warranted. Alas, as the Republican fight gets nastier, the inconsistencies in overarching policy grow.

Consider Rick Perry’s statements regarding children of illegal immigrants in Texas. Perry, rightfully I believe, encouraged the state legislature to allow children of illegal immigrants to attend state universities at in-state tuition rates. Needless to say, his current opponents are attacking that stance. What is Perry’s response? According to Perry, he has shown “heart” for these children who are in Texas through no independent action of their own. So far, so good.

Now ask Perry to show some heart for the citizen children who lack health insurance and thus fail to get needed drugs or treatment (26% of all Texas citizens lack health insurance), and he demurs, suggesting that it is not government’s role to provide health care for citizens, let alone for noncitizens. But there must be a stink of money somewhere, because Perry tried to force every adolescent girl to be inoculated at state expense against cervical cancer.

Similarly, look at Mitt Romney. His creation of a statewide health plan in Massachusetts with a requirement that everyone must purchase the insurance was the model for Obama’s national plan. In fact, there are very few differences, mostly minor, between the two plans. But ask Romney today and he boasts of his Massachusetts plan and derides Obama’s national plan. It must be that only citizens of Massachusetts are worthy of health care insurance.

Worst of all, however, are the candidates who ape Ron Paul and Michelle Bachmann. Their response, which the Tea Party cheered loudly, is that citizens need to be free to take their own risks and if they choose not to have health insurance and get sick, let them die. Of course, these wonderful candidates neglect to tell the audience how it is the members of the audience who would die because these showers of Christian charity all receive subsidized health insurance courtesy of us taxpayers. Interestingly, the one question they do not answer is what about those taxpaying citizens who want health insurance but can’t buy it? These folk don’t want to assume the risk but are forced to do so.

Another twist in all of the Republican candidates’ thinking is the issue of abortion. Each candidate loudly proclaims that they are prolife and antiabortion. There is nothing wrong with that position until one second after the child’s birth, when all of the candidates are willing to let the baby — or the birth mother or both – die if the parent doesn’t have health insurance. Republican-Tea Party caring seems to terminate as soon as the underlying political issue is no longer an issue.

America now has 50 million citizens who lack health insurance; that’s one-sixth of our population. Yet the people who make the decision about whether or not those 50 million men, women, and children should be given health insurance (which most would under Obama’s plan) all have taxpayer subsidized health insurance for themselves and their families.

To say that providing health insurance like Romney did in Massachusetts should be left up to the states is just another ploy. First, it would mean that many people could never migrate from their state no matter the opportunities elsewhere. Second, it would leave Americans subject to the whims of politicians. This year the Democrats are in control so we have health care; last year the Republicans were in control so we didn’t have it. Who knows what next year will bring.

Third, and perhaps most important, states like Texas would not provide universal (and probably not any state) coverage, but when an epidemic hit, would want the rest of the country to bail it out. (Notice the difference between the Republican federal emergency response to Hurricane Katrina and the Republican response to Hurricane Irene? In the former, Republicans demanded federal relief and got it within 10 days; now they obstruct relief.)

I sometimes wonder whether the Republicans are trying to find some way to make the country disintegrate – that is, do away with the concept of a United States and instead have 50 individual countries (I’m not sure what they would do about Washington, DC). Republicans like to talk of “state’s rights”; why not think, instead, of citizen rights.

The Rubric Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

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