Cynical Synapse

Fri, 25 Nov 2011

Mitt Romney: Much Ado About Nothing

Filed under: Candidates, Hypocrits, Paradoxes, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 11:05 am

Mitt Romney flip-flops

Every now and then I happen across something so well written there’s no point in me attempting to develop my own post on the topic. Such is the case with Streiff‘s post on RedState regarding the unelectable Mitt Romney.

Generally speaking, I think the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson is the most profoundly stupid and uninsightful writer on any editorial page in any paper in any country. But file this one under “Blind Hog/Acorn”.

Moderator Wolf Blitzer opened Tuesday’s Republican debate by introducing himself and adding, for some reason, “Yes, that’s my real name.” A few moments later, the party’s most plausible nominee for president said the following: “I’m Mitt Romney, and yes, Wolf, that’s also my first name.”

But it’s not. Mitt is the candidate’s middle name. His first name is Willard.

And people wonder why this guy has an authenticity problem?

For a while Dem strategists have been making public pronouncements on Romney’s seeming inability to distinguish fact from fiction and his near pathological instinct to make his audience believe he is just like them. Even Jon Stewart has poked fun at Romney’s flip flops.

When the election season started I was convinced that even though I did not like Romney, he was the most electable candidate in the pack. Since then I’ve changed my views. Romney can’t win in a general election because very few people, outside the 20% who like his hair and a handful of devoted fluffers, will vote for the man.

He will lose a lot of conservatives because we fear that he will energetically return to his past persona as a liberal New England governor if he is elected. As the GOP winning the Senate in 2012 is very close to a “gimme” we have to ask: can conservatism survive a President Romney and a Senate Majority Leader McConnell?

He will lose a lot of GOP, as opposed to conservative, support because he is a supremely smarmy and untrustworthy character whose core value is defined by a strong belief that he should be president and nothing more.

While Plouffe and Carville are validating our feelings about Romney’s squishiness, the real attack, the one that will strip away the moderate center that Romney has been relying on is waiting in the wings.

Obama can’t attack Romney as a flip-flopper because many of the flips and flops Romney has held dear at one time or another are actually Obama’s own positions. The Romney response to that line of attack in a national election is easy: I held that position then but have sense [sic] developed information that makes me believe it was incorrect and I have changed it and everyone want’s [sic] a pragmatic president who can change his mind, right?

The main attack will be on Romney’s long time affiliation with the corporate chop-shop known as Bain Capital. In an environment were most people are concerned about their jobs and virtually everyone is angry at Wall Street, Romney will be the perfect poster boy for the 1% that the “99%” rails on and on about.

So abandoned by conservatives, the GOP, and moderates who is left as his logical constituency? The same tiny group of admirers that follow him today.

I don’t know if Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry can beat Obama. What I am positive of is that Mitt Romney cannot win a general election against any national Democrat figure. The only saving grace is that he probably can’t win a GOP primary either.

Previously on Mitt Romney:

Sun, 20 Nov 2011

Charity with Dignity is Worthy of Thanksgiving

Filed under: Behavior, Good job, Helping others, holidays, Life, Paradoxes, People — cynicalsynapse @ 9:44 pm

5 points of Calvinism

In West Michigan, the dominant religious tradition is Calvinism. Although born and raised there, I was not brought up with Calvinist beliefs. In fact, I confess I didn’t really know much of anything about Calvinism until today. At left are the 5 points of Calvinist theological doctrine.

What I do remember from my younger days is being told you can’t be saved by good works. It didn’t make sense to me at the time, but now I see it’s a fundamental element of Calvinism. Calvinists believe God knows everything, including whether you’ll be saved or not. They also believe you cannot fully make up for your sins and only the select will be saved. As I understand it, most Calvinists don’t see this as predestination, but a lot of non-Calvinists do.

Pacific Crossroads Church Boxes of Love

My religious foundation recognizes a graceful value in good works. If God is merciful and all loving, how could it be otherwise? Is it really plausible a merciful and loving God would condemn all non-Christians?

Imagine my surprise, then, when I ran across the article “How Calvinists Spread Thanksgiving Cheer” in Friday’s Wall Street Journal. Yesterday, Pacific Crossroads Church delivered Boxes of Love with Thanksgiving dinner ingredients to Los Angeles area underprivileged. The boxes contain ingredients for families to make their own dinners instead of having to line up at a soup kitchen. If that’s not an awesome good work, I don’t know what is.
 


 

Sun, 23 Oct 2011

Changing Landscapes of the Arab World

Arabian desert

Much is and has been changing in the Middle East. Syria is a holdout against the Arab Spring, but, in the first free, democratic elections in decades, Tunisians are voting today. Of course, one problem is we—the US—may not like the outcome of the election.

Second to depose its despot, former President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has not made any substantial progress toward elections. Libya became the third Arab state to win its freedom with the killing of Muammar Gaddafi a few days ago. In a bizarre twist, Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Office called for inquiries into the manner of Gaddafi’s death.

Presidents Obama and Mubarak

Despite public diplomacy in support of the Arab Spring uprisings, the US gained substantial benefits from close ties with authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. In Bahraini ports, the US has headquarters for its Fifth Fleet. Last month’s killing of Anwar al-Awlaki had Yemeni complicity, if not outright support. Despite these cozy relationships, Pres. Obama warned the oppressers their time was short:

Across the Arab world, citizens have stood up to claim their rights. Youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship, and those leaders that try to deny their dignity will not succeed.

Yesterday, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Sultan Abdul Aziz al Saud, 83, died at a New York hospital. Al Saud served as his country’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and Aviation. He was Saudi King Abdullah’s half-brother. While Saudi Arabia will likely remain a close US ally in the region, uncertainty of Saudi succession and other key governmental changes leave the future at least somewhat unpredictable. On top of that, on Friday Pres. Obama announced all but a couple hundred US troops will leave Iraq by year’s end. Those remaining will provide security and other diplomatic-related services as US missions, a common practice around the world.

New Year’s 2012 will usher in a Middle East vastly different from what the US is accustomed to. That’s new, and unpredictable, territory for the presidential candidates.
 


 

Sat, 08 Oct 2011

Saudi Attempt to Enter Cockpit is Ok; Everyone Else Gets Patdowns

Filed under: Civil liberties, Flying, Government, Hypocrits, Paradoxes, Rants — cynicalsynapse @ 3:46 pm

typical flight deck door

A 20-year-old Saudi Arabian, Abdulaziz Mubarak al-Shammari, twice tried to enter the cockpit of American Airlines flight 1936 from New York’s JFK to Indianapolis On 05 October. On the second attempt, fellow passenger Rodney Bailey intervened. He asked al-Shammari if he was looking for the bathroom which evoked a head shaking no. Bailey said he has traveled “all over the world. I’m not going to die over a cornfield in Indiana.”

Operated by American Eagle, the flight landed safely in Indianapolis and al-Shammari was detained by airport police. American Eagle spokesman Ed Martelle said, “He might have briefly touched it [the cockpit door], but there is no indication that he was headed there. Those doors don’t open.” Seriously? What’s the purpose of the door, then? And al-Shammari went to the door, not once, but twice. Martelle, you weren’t there, but Capt. James K. Kolostyak told police he heard someone trying to open the cabin door and saw the interior door light come on. So, yeah, al-Shammari was trying to get in.

American Eagle aircraft

Claiming he’s a student at University of Indianapolis, al-Shammari was on the third leg of a flight from Saudi Arabia. Except the University of Indianapolis has no record of al-Shammari as registered there. Does al-Shmmari have a student visa? Were his tickets one-way? Authorities said al-Shammari is not on any terrorist watch list. Neither were the 15 young Saudi Muslim males who participated in the attacks on 9/11.

Despite a thousand holes in his story, al-Shammari was released without charges! And here’s the kicker: “The police report stated: ‘T.S.A. would not respond to the scene.’” According to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokesman Jim Fotenos:

‘The flight landed safely and local law enforcement responded. TSA monitored the situation and was satisfied with the actions taken by local and federal law enforcement.

TSA patting down a toddler at Denver International

Obviously, TSA is too busy treating US citizens like criminals to be even the least bit interested in al-Shammari’s highly suspicious airborne activities. Never mind his story is flimsy at best and totally fabricated at worst. It’s not likely al-Shammari went through any serious security check in Riyadh. As recent as May 2011, a traveler said he found Riyadh’s “security screening laughable.”. According to TSA, Saudi Arabia has no restrictions on bringing liquids on board aircraft.

Once you’re through the security checkpoint, you have access to most of the rest of the air travel network, with exceptions, without having to go through re-screening. So, was al-Shammari confused, the excuse people are trying to make for him? Or was he making a dry run or collecting intelligence for some future jihadist act? Is anyone checking out the giant chasms of his story?
 

HT: Small dead animals
 

Thu, 08 Sep 2011

Guardsmen Shot; Crickets From NGB, DoD, and White House

Filed under: Crime, Global War on Terror, Military, Paradoxes, Politics, President, Rants, Terrorism — cynicalsynapse @ 7:56 pm

Nevada IHOP crime scene

Just two days ago, on 6 September, Eduardo Sencion shot 5 Nevada National Guardsmen, killing 3 of them and a civilian, and wounding 5 civilians before taking his own life in a Carson City NV IHOP (International House of Pancakes) restaurant. Authorities still don’t know why Sencion, 32, whom family members say had mental health issues, opened fire at the IHOP with an AK-47, but Sencion doubled the Nevada Guard’s death toll in the Global War on Terror:

One [Maj. Heath Kelly, 35, Reno] was an Iraq War veteran who loved military history. Another [Sgt. 1st Class Christian Riege, 38, Carson City] was an Afghanistan war vet and fitness buff. The third [Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney, 31, Reno] would bring in cupcakes for colleagues when they got promotions.

All of them were National Guard members and they were sitting at a table at a Nevada IHOP when a gunman burst in and began shooting.

All three died in the attack, a death toll that matched the total number of Nevada guardsmen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over a decade. A patron was also killed.

Eduarco Sencion

While Sencion’s motive for the shootings remains unclear, it is equally uncontestable he shot toward the back of the restaurant where the Guardsmen were seated.

Here’s what bothers me. Whether Sencion targeted the military or not, it took 2 days for a “news item” to appear on National Guard Bureau’s website and there is nothing about this incident on the Army, DoD, or White House websites. Not even condolences to the families. They were in uniform, so they were in a duty status. If this had been on Fort Hood, it would be big news, but shooting 5 Guardsmen in Nevada doesn’t even warrant any comment from senior military officials, even at Guard Bureau? That’s lame and disconcerting. Don’t talk to me about Soldier care if you have nothing to say about this incident.

For those who want to help, the Nevada Support Alliance provides a way to support the Guard family and its fallen, particularly regarding this incident.
 

Sun, 04 Sep 2011

To Hybrid or Not to Hybrid

Filed under: Behavior, Business, Deceit, Environment, Hypocrits, Life, Oil, Paradoxes, People, Technology — cynicalsynapse @ 12:17 pm

hybrid in front of wind turbines

It depends. The hype with hybrid vehicles is they’ll save you gas money and will help reduce dependence on foriegn oil. The benefits of hybrid technology apply mostly at lower speeds, so if you do a lot of highway driving, a hybrid is probably not for you. In my job, I visit a number of work sites around the state. I have a Ford Fusion hybrid assigned to my office. It averages 36 mpg, largely due to mostly highway driving. I also commute 87 miles to work with 80 of those miles on Interstates. After calculating gas savings, I figured out the break-even point was over 10 years if I were to buy a Chevy Volt compared to a new Hyundai Tucson. Why? Because of the substantially higher cost of the hybrid Volt. Oh, and the Volt’s generator requires premium fuel, which is poor engineering, if you ask me.

Another fallacy of hybrids, especially the plug-in ones, is they use clean energy. Based on data from the US Energy Information Administration, only 14.2% of our electricity comes from clean (wind, solar, geothermal, and hydro) sources. Another 17.6% is generated at nuclear power plants. The rest comes from burning stuff, mostly (42.5%) coal. And, did you know many of the hybrids have idiosyncracies concerning their expensive batteries? Like, if the Chevrolet Tahoe and silverado shut down if you run out of gas. Talk about being stranded.

Thanks to Big Government for putting hybrids on my mind:

Today, in 1957, Ford introduced the Edsel. Think Chevy Volt.

1957 Ford Edsel

Previously on hybrid cars:

Sat, 03 Sep 2011

Panetta’s Trips Home: Real Issue is Government Aircraft Costs

Filed under: Budget, Congress, Flying, Government, Hypocrits, Paradoxes, Politics, Rants — cynicalsynapse @ 2:47 pm

Panetta arrives in Iraq

Thursday, 1 September, the Los Angeles Times “broke” the story Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has flown home to California 5 times in his 9 weeks in office. No one begrudges the man his weekends to decompress and spend time with family. The article’s tone suggests insiders wonder if Panetta takes his job seriously and just how in charge is he. To clarify the significance of this, the Service Secretaries (Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force) and the Combatant Commanders report directly to him. He is second, only to the President, in the National Command Authority.

Curiously, the article fails to cite any specific allegation the Secretary’s shirking his duties. To the contrary, several official sources state Panetta is available 24/7 and taking care of business. Panetta is required to use government aircraft to ensure he has secure communications available. There’s no doubt Secretary Panetta has secure communications capability in his Monterey CA home, what some are calling the Pacific Pentagon. So that’s not the issue, nor is it Panetta himself. From the Times article:

It is common for members of Congress to fly back to their districts every weekend or so, and Panetta did so when he represented Monterey in the House from 1977 to 1993, and as CIA director, his first job in the Obama administration.

Some general arriving somewhere

For his trips home, Panetta must reimburse the Treasury for the cost of commercial coach fare. Since he’d never fly coach, why not require him to reimburse the cost of first class? I checked coach from DC to Monterey; round trip cost was $427. Panetta typically flies on a C-37b, the military version of a Gulfstream 550, which costs $3,200 an hour to operate. Flight time by C-37b between DC and Monterey is 4-1/2 hours, so each round trip is $33,280. After Panetta pays his share, taxpayers are left with the remaining $32,853 per trip cost. At the current rate, Panetta will make about 26 trips per year, taking $854,178 out of our pockets.

We all know, however, Panetta is not the only senior official who takes junkets in government aircraft. Suppose, for the sake of argument, the 21 other cabinet and cabinet-level officials make 10 trips per year equivalent to Secretary Panetta’s. In such a scenario, there’s an annual cost to taxpayers $7.75 million. There are 535 Sentators and US Representatives, which the Times article mentioned also make frequent trips home. Since travel distances are different for each, and some travel more or less frequently, let’s assume each makes the equivalent of 10 of Leon Panetta’s round trips per year. Under that assumption, total cost to the taxpayers for our elected officials to commute is $178.05 million. Ending this perk, just at this level, could cut the deficit by $186 million annually. That’s not much by deficit standards, but it’s a start and it doesn’t affect the little guy.
 

Previously on government travel costs:

Sat, 27 Aug 2011

PC Gone Berserk; Goshen College Bans “Too Violent” National Anthem

Filed under: Behavior, Citizen rights, Paradoxes, Rants, Society — cynicalsynapse @ 3:23 pm

burning the US Flag

As a commissioned officer in the Army National Guard, I took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic”. As a result, and because of the First Ammendment guarantee of free speech, I believe in the right to speak against government actions and policies, even to the point of burning the US Flag in protest, which makes me cringe in a mixture of horror, anger, and restraint. This is significant since, in the military, the US and organizational flags—the Colors—symbolize the lineage and honors of the fighting formation and their national patriotism. Military personnel always salute the US Flag in passing.

While not often considered, I submit the First Amendment equally guarantees the right to not say things. This is the basis for not requiring students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. For many, the politically correct issue in the Pledge is two words: “under God”. For others, refusal to participate is a form of demonstration. So, we have Constitutional basis for disrespecting national symbols such as the Flag and Pledge.

National Anthem, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, June 14, 2011

I didn’t pay it much attention when Goshen College banned the words of the National Anthem last year. But, this year, Goshen College banned even the score of the US National Anthem! Their reason for this abberation is the song is “too violent”. For real.

Located in north central Indiana, Goshen College operated by the Mennonites, a Christian denomination. Instead of the Star-Spangled Banner, Goshen will play America the Beautiful, which better suits their pacifist traditions. All of this makes me wonder two things. First, do they keep score at their sporting events, even at the risk of winners and losers? Second, have they banned the Old Testament, which has far more violence in it than the National Anthem?

Fri, 26 Aug 2011

Citizenship by Proxy?

2d BN 503d IN Scouts pull overwatch above the Chowkay Valley in Kunar Province, Afghanistan

Regular readers know I’m a member of the Michigan Army National Guard. I personally know a lot of people who have served on the front lines in the Global War on Terror. Some have had 3 or more deployments. So, for me, this whole thing is personal.

My personal view is I don’t believe we had any business in Iraq. I think it was a personal vendetta of George W. Bush’s to avenge his father’s failure to kill Saddam Husein. That said, once we went there, it became critical we saw it through. There are plenty of analogies of “unfinished business” requiring considerable follow-up action.

As for the warfight in Afghanistan, it’s more clear to me, even 10 years after the Global War on Terror began. As far as I’m concerned, the Taliban cannot have any significant measure of power. These are, after all, the same clowns that allowed Bin Laden and his cronies to launch their 9/11 attacks.

While, for me, it’s easy to view the issues in such clear black-and-white, the reality on the ground is more gray. And, so it is from the political perspective, as well. William Deresiewicz raises such concerns in his essay An Empty Regard:

No symbol is more sacred in American life right now than the military uniform. The cross is divisive; the flag has been put to partisan struggle. But the uniform commands nearly automatic and universal reverence. In Congress as on television, generals are treated with awed respect, service members spoken of as if they were saints. Liberals are especially careful to make the right noises: obeisance to the uniform having become the shibboleth of patriotism, as anti-Communism used to be. Across the political spectrum, throughout the media, in private and public life, the pieties and ritual declarations are second nature now: “warriors,” “heroes,” “mission”; “our young men and women in uniform,” “our brave young men and women,” “our finest young people.” So common has this kind of language become, we scarcely notice it anymore.

There is no question that our troops are courageous and selfless. They expose themselves to inconceivable dangers under conditions of enormous hardship and fight because they want to keep the country safe. We owe them respect and gratitude — even if we think the wars they’re asked to fight are often wrong. But who our service members are and the work their images do in our public psyche, our public discourse, and our public policy are not the same. Pieties are ways to settle arguments before they begin. We need to question them, to see what they’re hiding.

The new cult of the uniform began with the call to “support our troops” during the Iraq war. The slogan played on a justified collective desire to avoid repeating the mistake of the Vietnam era, when hatred of the conflict spilled over into hostility toward the people who were fighting it. Now the logic was inverted: supporting the troops, we were given to understand, meant that you had to support the war. In fact, that’s all it seemed to mean. The ploy was a bait and switch, an act of emotional blackmail. If you opposed the war or questioned the way it was conducted, you undermined our troops.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have dragged on, other purposes have come into play. The greater the sacrifice that has fallen on one small group of people, the members of the military and their families, the more we have gone from supporting our troops to putting them on a pedestal. In the Second World War, everybody fought. Soldiers were not remote figures to most of us; they were us. Now, instead of sharing the burden, we sentimentalize it. It’s a lot easier to idealize the people who are fighting than it is to send your kid to join them. This is also a form of service, I suppose: lip service.

The cult of the uniform also bespeaks a wounded empire’s need to reassert its masculinity in the wake of 9/11. “Dead or alive,” “bring it on,” “either you’re with us or you’re against us”: the tenor of official rhetoric in the ensuing years embodied a kind of desperate machismo. The war in Iraq, that catharsis of violence, expressed the same emotional dynamic. We’d been hit in the head with a rock; like a neighborhood bully, we grabbed the first person we could get our hands on and beat him senseless. Mission accomplished: we were strong again, or so we imagined, and the uniform — as George W. Bush understood when he swaggered across the deck of the Abraham Lincoln in a flight suit — was the symbol of that strength. The soldier is the way we want to see ourselves: stoic, powerful, focused, devoted.

This helps explain why the souring of the wars failed to tarnish the military’s reputation. There seems little doubt that our armed forces today are more professional, and at the small-unit level, at least, more effective, than they were in Vietnam. Still, Iraq descended into stalemate, and Afghanistan gives little hope, 10 years on, of ever being anything else. Does the fault lie with our civilian leadership alone, or with our client states? Do “our brave young men and women fulfill every mission we ask them to,” as the catechism goes? These are not rhetorical questions; these are the real questions that we haven’t been willing to ask ourselves. At the very least, our generals ought surely to come in for some criticism — as they did, when it was appropriate, in other wars. And yet the cult of the uniform has immunized them from blame, and inoculates the rest of us from thought.

There are other questions. Has the military really ceased to be the big, bumbling bureaucracy it was always taken to be? And if it is supremely efficient now, is that because there’s something uniquely effective about its command structure and values — a frequent implication these days — or rather because we’ve given it a blank check? Is America the world’s cop, as we like to say, or is our military something more like an imperial police force? (When it comes to places like Darfur or Ivory Coast, which are not felt to threaten national security interests, we leave the dirty work to someone else.)

It seems extremely unlikely anything like My Lai has taken place in Iraq or Afghanistan, but there have been some terrible crimes: the abuses at Abu Ghraib; the premeditated gang rape of a 14-year-old girl in Mahmudiya, Iraq, and the murder of her family; the executions of Afghan civilians by the self-described “kill team” from the 5th Stryker Brigade. Only the first has been widely discussed, likely because there were pictures. How many more of these have there been? Maybe none, maybe a significant number: until we ask—until we want to ask—we’ll never know.

As the national narrative shifts from the war on terror to the specter of decline, the uniform performs another psychic function. The military is can-do, the one institution — certainly the one public institution — that still appears to work. The schools, the highways, the post office; Amtrak, FEMA, NASA and the T.S.A. — not to mention the banks, the newspapers, the health care system, and above all, Congress: nothing seems to function anymore, except the armed forces. They’re like our national football team—and undisputed champs, to boot—the one remaining sign of American greatness.

The term most characteristically employed, when the cult of the uniform is celebrated, is “heroes.” Perhaps no word in public life of late has been more thoroughly debased by overuse. Soldiers are “heroes”; firefighters are “heroes”; police officers are “heroes” — all of them, not the special few who undoubtedly deserve the term. So unthinking has the platitude become that someone referred to national park rangers on public radio recently as “heroes” — reflexively, in passing — presumably since they wear uniforms, as well. Stephen Colbert picked up on this phenomenon long ago, which is why he slyly refers to his viewers—and now, to the donors to his Super PAC—by the same term.

“Heroes,” like “support our troops,” was also deployed early, in Iraq. Within a couple of weeks, we were treated to the manufactured heroism of Jessica D. Lynch, the young supply clerk who was rescued from an Iraqi hospital a few days after her capture by enemy forces (both events turning out to be far less cinematic than initially put out) and who finally felt compelled to speak out against her own use as an instrument of propaganda. In the case of Pat Tillman, the former professional football player who died the following year in Afghanistan by friendly fire, not in an ambush as originally claimed, it was left to his family to expose the lies with which the Army surrounded him. The irony is that our soldiers are the last people who are likely to call themselves heroes and are apparently very uncomfortable with this kind of talk. The military understands itself as a group endeavor. As the West Point professor Elizabeth D. Samet recently noted, service members feel uneasy when strangers approach them to—as the well-meaning but oddly impersonal ritual goes—thank them for their service, thereby turning them into paradoxically anonymous celebrities. It was wrong to demonize our service members in Vietnam; to canonize them now is wrong as well. Both distortions make us forget that what they are are human beings.

What is heroism? What kind of psychological purpose does the concept serve? Heroism is bravery and selflessness, but more than that, it is triumphant action, and in particular, morally unambiguous action. In most of life — and certainly in public life — there is scarcely such a thing on either count. Politics is a muddle of moral and practical compromise. Victories are almost always partial, ambiguous and subject to reversal. Heroism belongs to the realm of fantasy—the comic book, the action movie—or to delimited and often artificial spheres of action, like space exploration or sports.

The Marine who saves his buddies in a firefight, the cop who rescues a child from a well—the challenges they face are clear and simple and isolated from the human mess. Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger III, the pilot who successfully landed an airliner in the Hudson River, was, everyone agreed, a hero. But note how frequently the element of salvation or rescue comes up when we talk about heroism. It was a beautiful coincidence that Captain Sullenberger’s moment came just five days before the last presidential inauguration, for heroism and rescue were the subtext of Barack Obama’s campaign, especially for his legions of young believers. He was the one we’d been waiting for; you could almost imagine the “S” on his chest, underneath the suit. (Once in office, of course, he descended into the muddle, and showed himself a mortal after all.) Heroes are daddies: larger-than-life figures, unimpeachably powerful and good, who save us from evil and hurt.

“America needs heroes,” it is sometimes said, a phrase that’s often uttered in a wistful tone, almost cooingly, as if we were talking about a lonely child. But do we really “need heroes”? We need leaders, who marshal us to the muddle. We need role models, who show us how to deal with it. But what we really need are citizens, who refuse to infantilize themselves with talk of heroes and put their shoulders to the public wheel instead. The political scientist Jonathan Weiler sees the cult of the uniform as a kind of citizenship-by-proxy. Soldiers and cops and firefighters, he argues, embody a notion of public service to which the rest of us are now no more than spectators. What we really need, in other words, is a swift kick in the pants.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011

Just When it Seemed There Was Hope, Michigan Voters Get Stupid Again

Filed under: Behavior, Candidates, Hypocrits, Michigan, Opportunists, Paradoxes, Politics, Rants — cynicalsynapse @ 7:55 pm

sheeple

In the last election, Michigan voters turned out US Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D), gave newcomer Rick Snyder (R) the governor’s office instead of several seasoned politicos, and changed the state legislative landscape. Despite reelecting all but one US Congressional incumbent in the general election (throw out the incumbents, but mine’s ok), it seemed like Michigan voters might actually be starting to think for themselves. Could it be they’re no longer interested in superfluous hype? Will they really hold elected officials accountable to do their jobs?

Alas, probably not. Did I mention, Michigan voters returned 10 of 11 incumbents to Congress? The reason for this rant is polls show Mitt Romney leading Republican challengers in Michigan. Seriously? Just because he was born in the state and his father served as Michigan governor January 1963 to January 1969 doesn’t mean Mitt should be Michigan’s favorite son. He left the state in 1965 and hasn’t been back for any appreciable time since. That’s 46 years—more than 2/3 of his 64 years and all his adult life!

Mitt Romney at auto plant

George Romney had been an auto company executive, but Mitt opposed the auto company bailout, calling for GM and Chrysler to go bankrupt instead. Still, even though Michigan jobs rely heavily on the auto industry, Romney stood in front of an auto plant and promised jobs in his 2008 presidential bid. So, which is it, Mitt? Pro automakers and Michigan jobs or not?

Then there’s that health care thing. Romney signed insurance mandates into law for Massachussetts but opposes Obama’s health care reform. How does that even make sense? The similarities are so coincidental, Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty calls health reform “Obamneycare”. He’s not the first to point out so-called Obamacare is patterned after the like-named Romneycare.

Why do voters in other states get it but those in Michigan don’t?

Previously on Mitt Romney:

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