Tag Archives: Gingrich

The Difference Between Children and Adults

The facts are relatively straightforward:

In Afghanistan, American soldiers inadvertently burned several copies of the Koran. Apparently, it was an honest mistake; however–predictably–it infuriated many Muslims. Some of them have responded violently, and a recent attack that killed two Americans may have been prompted by the incident.

President Obama apologized for the burning of the Muslim’s holy book.

Newt Gingrich and other Republicans criticized the President for apologizing even before the recent attacks. Locally, Gary Varvel’s cartoon on the matter showed caskets covered with American flags and the President off to the side apologizing–defiantly suggesting, with the attitude of five-year-olds everywhere, that “they’re worse than we are, so we shouldn’t apologize.”

Let’s (patiently–in the manner of parents of small children everywhere) use this as a “teachable” moment. A couple of lessons come to mind.

First, let’s try putting ourselves in the other guy’s shoes. How do you think the bible-thumpers in the United States would have reacted if bibles had been accidentally burned by Muslims? With reason and understanding, acknowledging that “accidents happen”? Of course not.

Now, let’s talk about appropriate/inappropriate behavior. Violence is never appropriate; it is a sign of immaturity and lack of discipline. It doesn’t matter “who started it”–fighting doesn’t solve anything. It makes things worse, and it doesn’t persuade anyone of anything. So the Afghans’ response was wrong.

Lesson three is important. Adults apologize for their mistakes. Those apologies are not a sign of weakness; quite the contrary. As we constantly admonish our children, admitting when you’ve done something wrong–accidentally or purposely–and saying “I’m sorry” when that is appropriate are signs of honesty and maturity.

And as I used to tell my children, you apologize when you’ve done something wrong even if the other guy is a jerk who doesn’t accept that apology. Because it’s the right thing to do.

It’s what separates the children from the adults.



Remembrance of Things Past

The Republican candidates for President continue to appeal to the current GOP base with what passes for policy in the party these days: Romney has just promised to cut funding for the arts by half; Santorum promises not just a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage, but also to retroactively “annul” those marriages that have already occurred (good luck with that, Rick); Gingrich wants poor children with no “role models” or a “work ethic” (i.e., black kids) to clean public school toilets, and Ron Paul wants the US to withdraw from contact from the rest of the world. They all pooh-pooh climate change and vow to reverse current measures to protect the environment. They all promise to control my uterus, and to charge me big bucks if I am impertinent enough to demand birth control. They all want to eviscerate labor unions and cut what’s left of the social safety net.

And none of them will ever, ever, ever raise taxes on rich folks. Promise.

I remember when the Republican Party didn’t resemble the Gong Show. I remember when Republicans were fiscally prudent adults who paid for the wars they waged, were pro-equality (okay, maybe not the southern ones), and were concerned about the health of the planet.

Young people to whom I defend the “old” GOP tend to be skeptical of my recollection, but I have proof of a sort. The other day, cleaning out some files, I came across a summary of the national Republican Platform of 1956. To today’s GOP, it would read like the Communist Manifesto.

A sampling:

  • We are proud of and shall continue our far-reaching and sound advances in matters of basic human needs–expansion of social security–broadened coverage in unemployment insurance–improved housing–and better health protection for all our people.
  • We favor a comprehensive study of the effects upon wildlife of the drainage of our wetlands.
  • We recognize the need for maintaining isolated wilderness areas.
  • We favor a continuously vigorous enforcement of anti-trust laws.
  • We must continue and further perfect…programs of assistance to the millions of workers with special employment problems, such as older workers, handicapped workers, members of minority groups, and migratory workers.
  • We must extend the protection of the Federal minimum wage laws to as many more workers as is possible and practicable.
  • We must continue to fight for the elimination of discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry or sex.
  • We must revise and improve the Taft-Hartley Act so as to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions, management, the individual worker and the public.

I miss that party. RIP.

Luck of the Draw

A friend of mine used to have a saying to the effect that he’d rather be lucky than smart. While I think President Obama is pretty darn smart, if current trends continue, he may also prove to be very, very lucky.

Conventional wisdom–which is conventional because it tends to be right fairly often–is that Presidents presiding over poor economies have a hard time getting re-elected. Ordinarily, then, even a President who didn’t have a lot of people who already hated him for the color of his skin would be in trouble in 2012. But the Republicans, bless them, are helping him out.

The GOP field–filled with embarrassingly retrograde candidates–is one thing. These are mostly people who would have trouble running for City Council in normal times, and they have even some reliable Republican voters wincing. Those voters may not switch in November–but they also may not vote.

But if Obama is REALLY lucky, here’s the scenario: Gingrich wins the nomination, and Ron Paul runs as an independent. As conservative columnist Kathleen Parker has pointed out, no one thinks Gingrich can win the general election. He’s an unstable megalomaniac, without the discipline to run a sustained campaign. And Ron Paul–who will not run again for his House seat–has sent signals that suggest he’s contemplating a third-party run. He’s done it before, and he has the donors and volunteers to sustain such a candidacy. None other but George Will speculated that Paul would pull 80% of his votes from the eventual GOP candidate.

Paul could be a spoiler if the candidate is Mitt. If the candidate is Gingrich, Obama will have quite a mandate.

Hard to believe that anyone could be THAT lucky, but you never know.


Maybe the Gingrich Stole Christmas??

Okay–there isn’t going to be much of a post today, because I am waging my  own “War on Christmas.” And unlike the one manufactured by the professional rabble-rousers on Faux News, mine is personal.

I have been crawling on the floor under our pre-lit “keep it simple, save a fir” tree all morning, trying to figure out why some of the lights don’t work. I’ll spend most of the rest of the day–assuming we’ve accurately diagnosed the problem (I’ve sent Bob to the hardware store for replacement fuses–those teensie little fuses that are hidden in the plugs that are hidden in the needles and are impossible to remove without the eagle-eyed vision of the young and the skinny talons of a small but vicious bird) wrapping gifts.

I was raised Jewish. We don’t know how to wrap. I’ll try my best, but I’ll undoubtedly end up with the sad and lumpy-looking packages that are so unlike the beautiful, beribboned gifts you see on television.

When I’m done grousing, I’ll admit that Christmas–the way my husband celebrates it and the way I’ve learned to approach it–is a lovely family holiday. In our “multi-cultural” home, the tree has a yarmulke on top and among the ornaments are dreidles and other decidedly non-traditional elements. There’s a menorah on the fireplace next to the tree, and we send gifts to a Buddhist cousin and give and get others from atheist family members. It really IS a “wonderful time of the year”–as the song goes. (Well–at least it’s a festive occasion that makes a generally cold and unpleasant time of the year SEEM wonderful.)

For those who celebrate the holiday as a “holy day” (which, by the way, is what “holiday” means Mr. Dumb-ass O’Reilly), I have the utmost respect. For those who want to throw tantrums whenever they see someone’s enjoyment of the season deviating from their script, I  say “Bah, Humbug.”

What cracks me up about the “War on Christmas” folks is that they tend to be the same people who agree with Newt Gingrich that poor kids ought to do janitor duty in their schools. Listen, guys, I’m not a Christian, but it seems to me if you’re really into the religious meaning of Christmas, it might be appropriate to act a bit more…Christian.

Just sayin’


The Kids Are All Right

Republican Presidential hopefuls keep playing to their (aging and shrinking) base.

Mike Huckabee recently said something to the effect that President Obama isn’t “really” American, because he wasn’t a Boy Scout with a father in Rotary. For his part, Newt Gingrich, that intrepid defender of traditional marriage, wants to impeach President Obama for his decision not to defend the constitutionality of DOMA in court.  (Lest you question Gingrich’s  commitment to “traditional” marriage, I would point out that he’s had three such marriages himself, and in each one, he dutifully behaved the way men “traditionally” behaved–at least in 19th Century France–by cheating on his wives.)

I hate to tell Newt this, but in the 21st Century, traditions are changing.

A new survey from Pew has confirmed what any objective observer can see: a continuing and rapid rise in support for same-sex marriage since 2009. Currently, 45% say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while 46% are opposed. In Pew surveys conducted in 2010, 42% favored and 48% opposed gay marriage and in 2009, just 37% backed same-sex marriage while 54% were opposed.

And despite the current war on women being waged in Congress, Pew found that opinions about abortion have also liberalized. In 2009, for the first time in many years, the public was evenly divided over whether abortion should be legal or illegal in all or most cases. But support for legal abortion has recovered and now stands at 54%.

Independents have become more supportive of both gay marriage and legal abortion since 2009. Roughly half of independents (51%) now favor same-sex marriage, up from 37% in 2009. And 58% of independents say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 47% in Pew Research Center surveys two years ago.

When you look at the age breakdowns in these and other polls, you’re left with an inescapable conclusion: if we can just hang in there until the old farts in my age cohort die off, the kids will be all right.