November 28, 2012

The GOP's disdain for the poor

I almost titled this, "the GOP's war on poor people," but decided that we are using the phrase "war on" far too many times to indicate something where people are not shot with guns or drones.  War is something else.

But the fact does remain, that the GOP continues to make life harder on the poor.  Here in Oklahoma, our Governor Fallin joins other Republican governors in rejecting both the expansion of Medicaid and the option to create a state healthcare exchange.  Both appear to be more about their ongoing battle with Obama and less to do with any heart-felt principled belief.  For all the talk about "unfunded mandates," both of these programs could be funded, and would have allowed thousands of Oklahomans access to healthcare.

I understand (though do not share) the argument that people must be required to try to work in order to get public assistance.  For me, I don't care if the person is drug addled or stupid or lazy or craven.  Their access to the basics of life are disconnected from whether or not I like or respect them.  But I get the idea that people might be discouraged from working if they can get food stamps or public assistance (even though the SNAP program is designed to push people off food stamps and discourage dependency).

But I do not understand this in the context of healthcare.  We spent last evening at a film premier for a local autism group, and came away quite impressed with the art and the autistic individuals.  But we also noted that most of them will need assistance and healthcare--that they will probably not be able to afford for most of their life.  Effort isn't an issue here.  Nor is it with most of those effected by Governor Fallin's decision.  This will disallow access to care for a lot of Oklahomans who work at jobs that pay too little or offer too few hours to qualify for benefits.

As Jon Stewart put it, we are seeing more and more rich Republicans try to disconnect from the social contract and just allow people at the bottom to fall.  Walmart pays their employees so little that most of them end up using food stamps or Medicaid--all while Walmart lobbies for Republican efforts to dismantle that very same safety net.  At that film premier last night, we noticed a lot of Republican voters who will benefit from Obama's policies for their children, but who (in most likelihood) voted for Romney's promise to repeal those same policies.

We are once again in the place where those who shout "Jesus" the loudest are working the hardest to make life harder on the poor and the sick.  And while I am no longer surprised by this, it still makes me sad.

November 14, 2012

Romney is exactly what we thought

There was always a part of me wondering if the Romney we imagined through the campaign was a fair depiction.  Was he really that disconnected from reality to think that the bottom 47% genuinely just wanted handouts?  Did he really not care about the poor?

Turns out Romney was exactly who we thought--a rich asshat who genuinely believes that non-white poor people are moochers.  (Romney Blames Loss On Obama’s ‘Big Gifts’ To Voters | TPM2012)

What an ass.

November 7, 2012

Obama wins second term

This election cycle has worn on me.  Perhaps 2008 was harder, I don't know, but watching Paul Ryan preparing to gut the safety net to finance the wealthy class frightened me.  Then there were all the indicators that suggested that Obama would lose, from the economy to the Romney ability to simply lie his way out of any situation.

Yesterday, I prepared for a loss, and so was pretty excited when I saw Obama victories in Pennsylvania.

Watching the two men speak last night, I was reminded of why I like Obama.  Romney said all the things he was supposed to, but I have to say he struck me as a person without a core.  I am not making too much of that concession speech--I think it is hard to speak well in that situation.  But he struck me as someone who just wanted to be President--whatever the voters wanted him to be.  This story struck that chord, with someone who knew what the right thing was, but could not act on it because the base and voters would not reward him for that.  So he chose the wrong way.

Obama, for all his flaws (and there are many) has always struck me as a genuinely compassionate person.  But watching him last night I wondered how it felt differently for him than the last time.  This time he knows full well the weight of the job, and had to return to it this morning.  Like me, I suspect he felt relief.

Who knows what this four years will bring.  I am glad that healthcare is protected for now, and pretty soon, we will see these provisions take place.  Still stunning that Obama could be hated and vilified for wanting to make sure people could hold on to healthcare coverage.  Something very wrong with that.

In other news, we saw the saw shocking erosion into the War on Drugs in Colorado and Washington state.  I am unsure about those changes, but really wonder if part of this is just not a reflection that the war has not worked.  My observations at the music festival a few weeks back confirms that.  But in a much bigger deal, marriage equality (cue the trolls) passed by a popular vote in several states.  As my friend Greg Horton noted on FB, that culture war is over.  The only people who don't realize it are those vested in keeping the anger and hatred stoked at the Family Research Council and other like groups.

I believe that the Republican party leadership sees that, and understands that some of their major planks will only survive in states like mine.  In the rest of the country, those stances will earn them a minority status.  Part of me hopes they continue with the racist madness, but the other part of me hopes that an adult Grownup Republican party returns with a viable and responsible approach to policy.

This blogger stated my hopes for this four years.

We chose health insurance for those who cannot afford it. We chose a softer approach to those seeking a better life within our borders. We chose – at least I hope we did – to begin healing our suffering planet. We chose the candidate who promised to protect the people who didn’t have a seat at the table of power, whose voices struggle to rise above the lobbyists, special interests and money that have flooded our political system.
Almost as important as what we chose is what we rejected.
We rejected a singular focus on cutting help for the poor to boost the incomes of the wealthy. 
For now, I will take solace in the fact that the most cynical campaign of my adult experience lost, and with that the billions spent by the Koch brothers and their ilk.  The battle isn't over, but today feels better than that Wednesday 8 years ago.   Lots to be grateful for today.

November 5, 2012

Republicans and morality

I have a lot of Republican family and friends. They are all, to a person, some of the most honest people I know. I can't imagine them cheating on their taxes or lying to get what they want any more than I can imagine that of my liberal friends. Yet, my conservative family and friends look the other way when their party attempts to stop people from voting (often based on race). Worse, they will vote for a person who lies more than he tells the truth. All because he isn't Obama. I will never understand that contradiction of moral people and an unhinged and immoral party.

November 3, 2012

The problem with the Pro-life movement is that it might not be as pro-life as they think

And no, I am not talking about other areas where they don't defend human life.  And in this instance, I am not even talking about pro-lifer's resistance to healthcare and nutrition for infants and young mothers.

All of those are legitimate issues, but now I am struck by the pro-life's disinterest in actually reducing abortions.  In my own discussions with some conservatives, I have yet to hear a response to questions about reducing abortions.  Their approach is predicated on banning abortions, in all but a few rare instances--most of which can be summarized as "when I think it is ok, not when some pregnant woman thinks so."

This link is an interesting take on some of this, but the other was this mind-blowing study that suggested that Obamacare's access to contraceptives might reduce abortion rates by as much as 75%.  If true, and I have no idea as to the study's bona fides, then, as this author notes, Obama becomes a "pro-life hero."

Who knows, but I will say that I have yet to get a conservative to answer this question:  "what if banning abortions didn't reduce them, but legalized abortion with good healthcare did?"  Not one response.

And I have a hypothesis, at least for some.  Many feminists and pro-choicers have argued that this comes from a Puritan disapproval of any sex outside their approved setting.  Others have suggested that, at heart, this constitutes a misogyny of the far right that has always been there, but rarely openly expressed as it was during the "Sandra Fluke as slut" incident.

And all of those have some validity, I think.  But I also wonder if this is not based at some level in the idea of the deification of motherhood.  It isn't that they don't want women to have sex (some of them know, after all, that some of these women getting abortions are married with kids.)  But the resistance to reducing abortions, I think, comes from the fact that their goal is to shame any woman who might question having children.  How dare a woman turn that down?

If you acknowledge that some abortions are reasonable, and decide to reduce those instances, you still acknowledge that some women don't want to be mothers, or don't want to be mothers in all instances.  But if you ignore the reduction strategies and instead push to ban all abortions, you not only shame those who have had them, but also any woman who might consider ending a pregnancy.