The Unbearable Lightness of Being American

I’ve lived in the United States for over ten years now, though my citizenship won’t be available for another three (long story; ask me sometime). I don’t stop to think about it too much; I know I’ll pass my naturalization exam with flying colors. What does come across my mind occasionally is the question: what does it mean to be American?

Certainly it doesn’t merely mean knowing the accidents of American history and existence. There are things you can ignore—fried butter, Harley-Davidson, Viet Nam era student protests—as white noise in the data, but there is still a there to being American. There’s a je ne sais quoi, some might say, but I disagree. The whole concept to being American is so simple, it’s frightening.

It’s about Liberty: the kind that allows you to do as your conscience tells you; the kind that makes you face the consequences of your actions; the kind that doesn’t protect you from your own mistakes.

There is, however, an even more powerful freedom that this Liberty offers all Americans, immigrants and natural-born alike. Here’s a clue, from Max Brooks’ World War Z in the words of a (thinly veiled) Howard Dean as he recounts his time as vice president under (an equally thinly veiled) Colin Powell:

I was pointing to them, shouting and gesturing with the passion I’m most famous for. “We need a stable government, fast!” I kept saying. “Elections are great in principle but this is no time for high ideals.”

The president was cool, a lot cooler than me. Maybe it was all that military training … he said to me, “This is the only time for high ideals because those ideals are all that we have. We aren’t just fighting for our physical survival, but for the survival of our civilization. We don’t have the luxury of old-world pillars. We don’t have a common heritage, we don’t have a millennia of history. All we have are the dreams and promises that bind us together. All we have … [struggling to remember] all we have is what we want to be.

American existence is freedom from ethnographic baggage, if you choose to do so. As in immigrant, this is an exhilarating opportunity, and I am not alone. Listen to our stories, but most of all, listen to us when we start telling you about how we wouldn’t be anywhere close to the horizontal and vertical mobility we enjoy in this country.

If I had stayed in the Philippines with my biology degree, my mother would’ve broken her back trying to fund med school. Or, she could’ve dropped dead from the strain of working 60 hours a week here and living a life of self-denial, such that I wouldn’t have been able to finish and, well, who knows what I would’ve done. How many immigrants would tell you today: “I wouldn’t have gone anywhere back home.”

For an American born and raised in America, this freedom is an unbearable lightness. The story of natural born Americans is the search for identity. In this context, one can view the caricatural search for self-esteem and self-actualization in a fairer light. Europeans sneer at how Americans of Irish descent (and of not) celebrate St. Patrick’s day. Cultural celebrations of Old World customs reach comical proportions, and there is a reductive quality to the way natural born Americans pick and choose cultural aspects of their heritage. On its face it seems disrespectful. What does a natural born American of Irish descent know about the Irish’s struggle for survival during the great potato famine? Should he bear the weight of IRA’s terrorism?

Consider the Stuff White People Like blog in this light. It’s been called a damning critique of yuppie hipsterism, but more than that, it is the story of how Americans try to find or build their identity. I want to tell my American friends: by all means, go to the country of your lineage. Visit it. Take it in, whether it’s Warsaw or Prague, but remember: being American means you don’t have to worry about what it means to be Polish, or Czech.

Where beauty and truth are neither

Take the time to read my friend William Newton’s post on marketing, how action figures have changed over the years, and how he’s concerned about the self image of today’s youths. Once you’re done, come back here. We’re going to talk a little about Madison Avenue.

I was born and raised in the Philippines, as I am wont to remind everyone. Many Filipinos in central Luzon—especially in the great rice plains of Pampanga, the ranchlands of Bulacan and the Metro Manila megalopolis—are of mixed descent over many generations, but an equally large population have features that are more provincial (rural) in nature. This is not just a question of fair skin as inherited from our Castillian colonists or the Chinese, but a matter of bone structure, of facial features and body types.

Humans crave the exotic, and there are anthropological bases of beauty grounded in signals for good health and symmetry that transcend cultures, but the sheer assault of Western—not just American but European—aesthetics upon other lineages has gotten ridiculous. And it’s not just Asians, but African Americans with their history of living with their White masters that serve as cautionary tales of how worship of the different can—when taken to extremes—be detrimental to the psyche not just of an individual but to that of an entire people.

Hair straightening in black people is not a new phenomenon; their girls in the slave era have been observed as trying to straighten their hair with everything from kitchen grease to tar. All to wash the stink of difference, to achieve a sense of sameness that may lead to the respect that comes with being equals. Tough shit, though the Afro hairdos as popularized in the disco era, along with creative ways to deal with the unruliness of curls, are making headway into the popular culture.

But what of my people? Culturally we have always been a melting pot, so I am in no mood to indict those among us who like to adopt the mannerisms of rap artists or gangbangers nor exclusive school preps or whatever catches their fancy. However, what of our standards of beauty? The Filipino male, given the proper diet, will tend towards a barrel chest and a mild paunchiness of the belly despite being generally low in body fat. We are shaped differently, and yet the media we consume—Stateside or back home—fills us with imagery of statuesque Caucasian men and svelte women. Perhaps Zainudin Maidin, then Information Minister of Malaysia, had a good idea striking Brad Pitt from a car advertisement airing in his home country.

Some of the best male physiques in tv and movies—Teddy Sears, Alexander Skasgaard, Paul Walker, Peter Facinelli, Ryan Gosling, Cam Gigandet—to name a few (of my favorites) all have shapes that are unachievable by anyone who isn’t white. I see this at the gym every day. We have a lot of non-white lifters in varying degrees of fitness, but despite being low in body fat (and skin taught enough over their muscles and whatnot) they do not come close to the sillhouettes of white paragons of physique.

And where did this contemporary standard come from anyway? Look no further than Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia, a modern marvel of sports photography and cinematography. That’s right. That Leni Riefenstahl, whose art I have praised in this blog years before and still do so today for its technical merit, skill and craftsmanship. Despite that, we must recognize her role in reviving the popularity of Classical sillhouettes as the standard for beauty.

As for how Madison Avenue has messed up the self images of women, with the unrealistic goals of unhealthy emaciation, let us cite the insightful Nora Vincent, in her book Self Made Man:

[...] A lot of women have asked themselves why so many men are so fond of modern porn stars and centerfolds, women who aren’t real women, whose breasts are fake, whose hair is bleached into straw or perversely depilated, whose faces are painted thick, and whose bodies have ben otherwise altered by surgery or diet to conform with doll-like exactitude to something that isn’t found in nature. Why, I had so often wondered, didn’t men want real women? Was it misogyny, a kind of collective repressed homosexuality or perhaps pedophilia that really wanted a body type that more resembled a man’s or a child’s, fatless and smooth?

For some, this is no doubt true, or why would magazines like Barely Legal, full of pre- and parapubescent girls, sell so well? Why would the fashion industry, long dominated by gay men, demand that women starve themselves until their bodies, hipless and breastless, look like the bodies of adolescent boys?

I’m going to let the gay-as-a-pedophile stereotype pass for now. Not in the mood. But Madison Avenue—such a beautiful metonym for such a vicious industry—is not in the habit of creating beauty; it used to be, but now it’s been reduced to assaulting one’s self-image, convincing a person to hate himself enough to just want their product as in insufficient salve against the sense of deficiency that they inflict upon their customers. Advertising hasn’t always been like this. Advertising shouldn’t stay like this.

The Bother from the Other: Oct 26, 2011

While we’re on the topic of class warfare…

My friend, David Jones makes an excellent point about voters’ myopia when approving of programs with unintended and unforeseen consequences. Make sure you read the comments, wherein a rant and rail against AARP’s terrible and just the way marketers sell to the elderly. A teaser: “Not that anyone should be telling them what to do, but what happened to ads where gramps is talking to his grandson about such things like The War, or just growing up in harder times? What if the sunset of one’s life were not—as Madison Avenue is selling—about catching up on the better aspects of a second childhood, but to impart as one best could, the lessons of a life long lived?”

Via Ken Brown, a Democrat in Ohio was voted out of office and he was suffering so terribly in the polls that the DSCC pulled financial support. What does he do? He sues the Susan B. Anthony List for contributing to his loss of livelihood. Now, this case should’ve been laughed out of court, but the circuit judge let it through. I wonder who Obama will sue when he finally gets voted out.

Kevin Holtsberry on student debt as a symptom of economic illiteracy: in which he asks, and answers: “But I want to ask a higher level question: is universal college education really the universal good we make it out to be and is subsidization by the federal government really good policy? I would answer a no to both of those.”

Cf., with this Rutgers “economic historian” who sets out to prove his conclusion—consumer debt and government spending are they keys to economic growth—by sampling only the past hundred years of economic activity. To his credit, some Liberals think that history started when Obama won office; he chose a hundred years ago. Never mind that the Medicis, who invented banking and investment as we know it, lived roughly six hundred years ago.

Aaron Gardner, a friend and fellow before-day-one Perry supporter, with an appeal to reason:

I understand that people were disappointed with Gov. Perry’s debut in the debates. I can also understand people having a difference of opinion on issues like In-State tuition rates and, to a degree, mandatory vaccinations for cancer causing STDs.

What I can’t understand is the desire of some to allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good, maybe even the great. I doubt anyone could honestly make a case for any other candidate having a more conservative record of governance, a greater depth of experience, or a better record of winning elections, than Gov. Perry.

If only this Republican primary has been a matter of reason (not necessarily reasonability but rationality). Also consider Melissa Clouthier’s warning to anyone who’s having way too much fun with the Republican debates: they don’t exist to serve Republicans.

As I posted on Google plus: Everyone likes to talk about how you never know how good you’ve got things until you get a taste of the bad, but man oh man oh man. You never know how bad things are for you until you get a taste of how much better things could be.

The Bother from the Other: Oct 25, 2011

I had a very productive weekend, one which included: yard work, basement cleanup, gym, personal time with family and friends, design work and consulting work. So: no Bother yesterday and today’s rather slimmer.

Politics

Blake Gober on the GOP field. His money is on Romney. Mine is on Perry. Either are acceptable to me. However, I’d like to see the rest stick around until after Iowa and New Hampshire and Florida before anyone drops out.

On the social contract:

Our friend, moronette Dagny, said last week, “The social contract exists so that everyone doesn’t have to squat in the dust holding a spear to protect his woman and his meat all day every day. It does not exist so that the government can take your spear, your meat, and your woman because it knows better what to do with them.”

Design

I have been fascinated by this series of posts on the history of Arial from Paul Shaw. He’s been trying (hard) to trace its history and the intent with which it was created.

Reading that has led me to Nick Shinn’s indictment of Helvetica, and the entire modernist, humanist, completely outdated family of sans serif typefaces. (PDF)

Prayers and Petitions
Elizabeth Scalia’s son’s fiancee is having a CAT scan. Details are scant, but may they find what ails her, and may she recover from it fully.

Deepest of condolences to Sarah Smith, for the passing of her dear friend John Corckran, who passed away at the tender age of 35.

The Bother from the Other: Oct 21, 2011

Muammar el-Qaddafi is dead. Judging by the two videos shown yesterday, he was found alive by Libyan rebels and in a later video, shown dead with a bullet hole in his temple. I have little patience for those calling this an illegal execution, and judging the rebels as lawless barbarians who have to respect for due process. I disagree.

There comes a point in a nation’s history when, under the heavy weight of an oppressor such as Gaddhafi—especially one as Gaddhafi, who ruled for forty-two years—the “rule of law” is the rule of the victorious rebels. This is not an excuse for further hunting and killing of  Gaddhafi loyalists; they will have to be brought to justice in an orderly manner once the new Libyan government (which has been formed, might I remind everyone) officially takes power.

Or not, and the elements of anarchy will turn on them an impose something worse the Gaddhafi. We don’t just know right now. But we will, soon enough.

While the Monday Morning Quarterbacking from everyone and their mother was annoying, the level of crazy goes to new heights with this praise of Gaddhafi as some national hero who freed his country from the yoke of some central bank or the other. Or something.

~~oOo~~

Niall Ferguson on the geniuses we’ll never know. It’s a lot about Steve Jobs, but it’s a lot more about how America is a great incubator for talent. This is the land of opportunity after all, which we should contrast to those who protest the fact that there are unequal outcomes in this nation. Forget the income-equality gap (a concept which makes me sick); let’s start with the opportunity-outcome intellectual gap and make it wider, enough to let people know that the concepts are distinct. (Link credit: Ken Gardner on Twitter.)

Contrast Ferguson’s article about the plentiful opportunities of the USA with this young man. He’s eighteen years old, can’t afford the third year of his forty-thousand dollars per year bachelor of arts in sociology. He is one of the 99%. And he does it in style, what with his Abercrombie And Fitch v-neck shirt. But that’s, as we tend to say when we’re running out of words, the thing with these people. The sheer lack of self-awareness, the total obliviousness to irony and hypocrisy, are just annoying. The young man is rather fetching. Most of the submissions on that tumblr account have resorted to prostitution. He should be glad he’s not there yet.

Maybe he should read Sarah Bowman’s advice: occupy a job. Or he should listen to @kimberlyhaney (proud mother that she is) describe her son on Twitter thusly: “My 18 y/o works 30 hours a week, goes to school full time & buys his own clothes & gas. Buys his own books, owns his car. He wears Polo, because he shops at the outlet malls & asks for nice clothes for birthdays & Christmas. He also buys silver.” Scandalous bastard that I am, did respond by telling her to vet whoever the lucky lady he decides to bring home. He is a prime target for gold-digging women, and even the young ones have sharp hooks that sink deep.

All this talk of the American Dream reminds me of a different time in my life. I had a dream once. I could’ve been, if everything happened according to plan, a Ph.D. in a biology field. I could’ve written tons of academic papers, or done corporate research for a biotech firm, or I could’ve chosen a more Spartan lifestyle in marine biology. But I was dealt a different hand due to some unfortunate circumstances back in 2001. I could’ve despaired and wallowed in self pity, but thankfully my mother taught me well and taught me right. I learned to design websites instead. I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for the events that brought me here and by God I swear, I am very happy to have different dreams and different goals now.

Finally, let’s remember the dreams that were snuffed before they could even begin. Melissa Clouthier on “choice:” “The majority of women say that parents, boyfriends, and worst of all, husbands forced the woman to abort the baby. The trauma is devastating and long lasting.” I would never know the horror of having to make this choice, and heaven help me on the day I pressure a woman into aborting a baby.

Prayers and Petitions

Deepest of condolences to Fingers Malloy on the passing of his mother. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him at CPAC and Right Online this year and he is an upstanding gentleman.

May the victims of Gaddhafi’s long reign finally rest in peace.

The Bother from the Other: Oct 20, 2011

My friend Tommy posted on Facebook with a reminder about barking up the wrong tree:

While I oppose Occupy Wall Street 100%, I think “I am the 53%” is a political loser and messaging at its worst. We need to look at who the 47% are. Some of those people simply don’t make enough enough money to have federal tax liability. While I think everyone should pay something in the way of federal taxes, this sends a bad message as it appears to vilify those who don’t make enough, while leaving out they still may pay state, local, sales, Social Security, and property taxes. Also, some of these people still have taxes taken out their check, they just get it back – after the govt uses it as an interest free loan. I think if we wish to call out President Obama for his pathetic use of class warfare, we should be careful we don’t head down that same road.

Occupy events across the nation are resembling the Arab Spring in embarassing ways: sexual harrassment and assault. The other day we were treated to the reports of Nan Terrie and her $5500 laptop, whose value she overestimated, as she has her self worth. I’ve tried my damned hardest to not comment on the Occupy Movement until I could get a handle on the very nature of the effort, but I give up. Not on commentary, but on figuring them out. They can’t be.

Megan McArdle on Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan: says more about her assessment of the candidate than the plan itself, which, as most policy wonks have agreed on is dead in the water, politically and economically.

Ace of Spades on Herman Cain’s foreign policy know-nothingness. And here’s the sad thing about all this Herman Cain bashing (on this first edition of my new daily edition, no less!): I think he’s a great guy, someone who means well and has ideas that would fix the ills of this country. He’s no Ike Eisenhower, and the critique that he’s never held elected office is an important one. The Presidency is not the same as being a CEO: Congress says “no” more often than a Board of Directors does. I would support a candidate who understands the inherent roadblocks built into our system of government as set in place by the Founding Fathers.

Miscellany:

William Newton on the role of art in how we Catholics worship: This should shine a light for anyone who considers us idolaters; though if you’re going to hold that opinion about Catholics, then a reasoned explanation would hardly move you anwyay.

Bad Catholic (a young man of a mere 18 years) on the cure for pornography: It involves the use of actually more naked women, but by expressing beauty and truth. He quotes John Paul II: “the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.”

Only 3% of Ford buyers choose “trend [colors],” like ochre or pink. They’re not trends; they’re freaks. (Side note: Joe Clark is one of my favorite authors; he’s Canadian and is wont to fix the spelling of material he quotes to fit his country’s orthography. Turnabout is fair play.)

Passive-aggressive “Help Wanted” note. We should look on Tumblr to see if the former employee has posted her “We are the 99% note.”

Prayers and petitions:

Elisha Krauss, former Sean Hannity radio show producer, has a friend named David who was in a parachuting accident. He’s conscious and is able to answer questions, but is in need of spinal surgery. May the Lord guide his surgeons’ hands and may he recover as much as God wills it.

Safe travels to Ryan Gilbert, who is on a road trip from Enid, OK to San Diego, CA. He’s in his hometown of Ogden, UT right now and will get back on the road after the weekend. I have had the pleasure of meeting him in my recent trip to OKC. May his tires stay inflated the rest of the way.

Deepest of condolences to John Brodigan on the passing of his father.

Damages, Season 4. On the season so far.

The fourth and current season of Damages is the first to show on DirecTV instead of FX. Despite the lower budget and the smaller audience, it’s still one of the best shows on TV. Ellen Parsons is heading a wrongful death suit against a Blackwater-style private security firm operating in Afghanistan. Her lover, Chris, is her key witness and the bigwig is played by none other than John Goodman.

The season has the hallmarks of the past three: retroactive continuity, timelines that run back to front against each other, and gradual, but significant, revelations that leave viewers waiting eagerly for the next episode. There are some things that seem different about this new season. For one, it’s set three years after the events of the last one; Patty Hewes is the de facto parent to her granddaughter, and she’s lost that sharp edge. She’s distracted and looking for her son. By the fifth episode, you get this feeling that her son isn’t well off, and the writers have planted the seeds of worry (not that he is a sympathetic character, no, but he’s one character out of a very small cast) over his fate.

Highstar—the “Blackwater” of the series—is a very different Big Bad from previous seasons. There’s more depth to the organization, and there is an elegance to the dynamic between Jerry Boorman (played by Dylan Baker), a Machiavellian and amoral loyalist to Highstar, and Howard Erickson (John Goodman), the CEO who’s a study in contradictions.

Despite the differences from previous seasons, the show remains highly entertaining and intriguing while following a deliberate pace that doesn’t bore. And if you’d like to see how much detail and how many twists get into the show, here’s Fast Rapper Watsky to get you all caught up:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PARsx03hpNM

The Undefeated: a review

I saw a rough cut of The Undefeated, the much-discussed “Palin documentary,” at RightOnline last month. I skipped the first part—I was socializing!—with the montage of insults. When I walked into the screening they were already talking about her early days in the Alaska state government.

If you’ve read Going Rogue, you would already know most of the facts presented in the show. If you get your news from the “Lamestream Media,” you would hear the facts presented with what you would think is “spin.” If you get your news from The Daily Show, you probably won’t be interested in seeing this movie anyway, and you would probably have a fixed, firm belief about Mrs. Palin and this movie probably won’t do it for you (unless you want to do a “Daily Show Viewer goes to the zoo” feature, then I hate to burst your bubble but that’s been done by The Atlantic).

What I like about the film: it’s a fair treatment of Mrs. Palin’s record in the Alaska state government, in that it cuts through the negative spin added by the media’s coverage of her time back then. She’s been spun as a vindictive, spitful betch—it’s “bitch,” but you just have to inflect and pronounce it a certain way to empasize the frivolty of those saying so—who uses bipartisan methods to “get back” at her “enemies.” Or maybe she was just doing her job and doing what she believed she was elected for. You know? Because that’s what government officials do. (Heck, consider our president now, who continues to believe he has a mandate despite the results of the 2010 elections, which in his mind doesn’t even seem to be a signal for him to change course.) It skips over a lot of details that we’d consider “recent memory,” such as the 2008 election.

The participation of Andrew Breitbart, Tammy Bruce, Mark Levin and Sonnie Johnson added a very passionate, spirited presentation in addition to the voice over narration.

What I dislike about the film: man, is the pacing languid. A viewer’s time on film is currency, and this one spends it like Obama does our money. I have heard that the theatrical release has addressed this isssue, so I won’t beat it up for that.

The tone of correcting the record in the first two thirds of the film gives way to a  bit of “woe is me” in the final acts. This was unncessary. This was the documentarian’s chance to end on a high note; and the title may be The Undefeated but the wrapup made me feel just a little beaten down.

The participation of Andrew Breitbart, Tammy Bruce, Mark Levin and Sonnie Johnson had one drawback. With the exception of Sonnie Johnson, whose testimonial style was relaxed and steadfast, the other three seemed a little too wound up for camera. I understand that this is serious business and that yes, we should be wound up with the way the media has treated Palin, but, the problem with having people do this on screen for you is that you no longer feel the need to.

In the film, A Time To Kill, Matthew McConaughey’s character definitely won his defense case by placing the jurors in the shoes of Samuel L. Jackson’s character. It roused the attention of everyone in the courtroom in what was considered a hopeless case. Without the lawyer preaching to the jury how they should feel and decide, he gave them every reason to decide in his client’s favor, and they did.

It’s an odd, odd cinematic paradox: if the characters you are watching are already feeling an emotion on your behalf, you no longer feel emotions for them or whoever it is you’re supposed to feel for.

Takeaways: this isn’t “propaganda” so much as it is “my side of the story.” It will correct the record for viewers who think they know about Palin, but for those who believe they already know everything there is to know, well. There’s no shaking that.

Finally, while I support the filmmaker’s commercial efforts, if they want this message out to as many people as possible, they need to be far more lax with copyright enforcement. I don’t know if any segments have been leaked yet, much less the whole movie, but Conservative treatment of the media has to be through disintermediation and circumvention. Perhaps after a while, maybe the documentarian himself should release this in 10-minute segments, for free, on YouTube. Maybe 30-minute chunks on Vimeo. Maybe seed this film across multiple torrent trackers. I don’t know. I know it’s sold out in Texas, but what about everywhere else, where there aren’t that many supporters but perhaps enough open minds to make a difference?

And lastly, The Undefeated should serve as a warning to all Conservatives. We can not let the media dictate the narrative. Many players bungled her rollout, even she herself. But we know better now. I am not a fan of cultish defenses of a candidate, but neither do I believe that we should merely let the media present “facts” about someone, unchallenged.

Collected thoughts

Quick bites on today’s highlights:

Today was Atlantis’s last launch. I never got over the Columbia space shuttle disaster so I stopped watching. I tried a few times. I would hold my breath, waiting for it to just explode and of course they wouldn’t. So I stopped, because I still couldn’t get the idea out of my minds. Columbia was a reminder of just how helpless we are over many things beyond our control. I’m glad Atlantis left safe. I wish a safe return for them. And what a sad, sad day it’s been for America.

Betty Ford, widow of former president Gerald Ford, has died. She’s contributed much to help a lot of people with addiction problems, and her name will always be held in high regard. I have a tendency for the grim and morose, and so I wonder: what could Nancy Reagan, who recently had her birthday, or Maggie Thatcher, could be thinking? Have they made peace with their mortality? It is my fear that I will grow old and watch all my contemporaries die before I do, or that I wouldn’t even be ready to pass away when I do.

Paul Ryan paid $350 for a bottle of wine. With his own money, and apparently so that he could avoid the ethical issue of having drank a glass of the wine with dinner. He paid his share of the check and tipped the waiter $80, too. The Liberal site, Talking Points Memo, is trying to make this an issue and is failing miserably. Joshua Green of The Atlantic, is also trying to rally his Jacobin cohort. This is such a pathetic symptom of the Left’s lack of ideas.

First, they attack him on grounds of hypocrisy. How dare he enjoy luxury when he demands austerity of the government? Is this even a point worth arguing against? I feel dumb trying to even parse this line of emoting. I suppose they want us to “practice what we preach,” which means to these anti-intellectual demagogues they would never rest until anyone who pushes austerity for the government would live in personal poverty.

The absurdity is that because our President believes in a big-spending government, he spends plenty of our taxpayer money with these regal events, these galas and private concerts, a vacation in Spain for his wife, and numerous counts of golf. But he is living true to himself, you see. He is acting according to principle, which makes this good. What a twisted, messed up concept of “good” these people have.

Our jobs numbers are terrible. Which is not a surprise to anyone familiar with this President’s mistaken choice of economic ideology. I can’t say he’s stupid and naive; he certainly is smart enough to have gone through college and write something. I can’t say he’s malevolently undermining the country; I am not one of those people. I think he’s read from a different set of books, one that unfortunately teaches the wrongest of wrong lessons. But, oh well.

Michele Bachmann’s irresponsible duplicity

Let’s preface this with a few qualifiers: should Michele Bachmann win the nomination for president, I will actively campaign for her, volunteer for her and in fact spend less time shouting at Obama supporters online and turn my support into action. I will not countenance Obama’s reelection. However, this is primary season, and there’s something Michele Bachmann needs to answer for before I could even think of being as supportive of her as I have before.

It’s not about her ideology: if anything, her strong commitment to fiscal responsibility is one of the things that tuned me in to her. However, she does this…thing. And it’s this thing that has annoyed the hell out of me since this morning and I just can’t seem to let it go. Here’s how it happens:

  1. Boehner has a bill (spending, social, whatever) and consults with her as the leader of the Tea Party Caucus for ideas that would have her lend their support.
  2. Her demands are of the nature that would make the bill unpalatable to the Left—no problem there—but would make the bill impossible to get past Harry Reid.
  3. Boehner then goes elsewhere for support, even courting whatever few moderate Democrats are left. Well, now that there’s also a large Republican majority in the House, he doesn’t even need to consult those. He consults the more moderate wing of his own party.
  4. The House passes the bill. Michele Bachmann votes against it “for not going far enough.”
  5. The bill dies in the Senate, because Harry Reid is Majority Leader and won’t let whatever bill hit the floor.
  6. (Also note that whatever originates in the House will face Obama’s veto pen, anyway.)

Hooray divided government! Seriously. If we captured the Senate—thanks Christine O’Donnell and all her enablers, and thanks Sharron Angle for giving us yet another six years of Harry Reid—we would have a better chance at having a showdown with Obama over whatever legislation we would throw on his lap. We would pass Obamacare repeal every week and tire him out and turn it into a show. No. Unfortunately, our dreams of a truly Divided Government are going nowhere, because we aren’t passing the bills that we can manoeuvre Democrat senators in Conservative states to vote for (despite their ideology, as a matter of personal preservation). The House has passed quite a bit that hasn’t even made it to the floor of the Senate.

This story thus far is no surprise to anyone. Here’s where  I got floored: Michele Bachmann later goes and demagogues the issue against Republican Congressional leaders on talk radio and cable news. She doesn’t spend as much time demonizing Harry Reid’s tactics; she doesn’t spend as much time saying that The People have spoken in 2010 and that the Senate needs to get a clue even though we don’t have a majority; she doesn’t spend as much time as she should be doing telling Dear President that he needs to get a clue from the 2010 election and have a showdown. None of that!

She sits back, and whines. Then, she becomes the center of attention for movement Conservative “leaders” who then threaten to primary rather effective Establishment Republican Leaders with their cartoonish candidates who would lose in the general. Because, let’s scorch the Earth and go down in flames, better to die pure than live flawed.

I swear: I am not calling for moderation, but her demagoguery towards the Republican leadership is irresponsible. They are not the enemy here. If she spent as much time attacking the right targets, focusing on Blue Dog—hate the term—Senators and not so much her should-be allies, you wouldn’t be reading this. But this is what she does, and this may be a politically beneficial move for her in the House, but she is running for the President Of The United States, not the President of The Tea Party, not the President of The Republican Party. We have a President in office right now who already governs with spite and vindictiveness. If she can let this go, she would make a good President. If not, all I can say for her is at least she’s not Obama.

The personal blog of Jayvie Canono: on WordPress, Politics, Design and Life.