Saturday, November 17, 2012

MITT ROMNEY- CONTRACEPTIVES FOR VOTES?

Mitt has done it again and some folks (including some forward thinking Republicans) feel that he needs to keep his mouth shut and keep his out of touch thoughts to himself.  On the other hand and on the positive side, we say, keep those comments coming, please. Romney is a veritable treasure trove of gaffs and source of material for Jon Stewart, SNL, journalists and bloggers everywhere.  Romney’s recent post-election remarks validate the results of the 2012 presidential election and should prompt some to ponder the consequences had this man been elected President.  I had naively hoped that Romney and Obama would have been able to collaborate and at least share ideas about how to move forward, but that now seems impossible.  Bottom line: As some have offered - Romney has made himself irrelevant.
  
Romney and Ryan don’t seem to have a clue why they lost with both deflecting from reality.  Romney in a telephone conference with private donors this week didn’t key on any of his failings as a candidate, rather offered lame and absurd excuses why he didn’t win the election.  He immediately went to the dark side indicating that Obama’s “gifts” to specific demographic groups, such as “forgiveness of college loan interest” to voters under the age of 29, “free health care” to African-Americans, “amnesty” to the children of illegal immigrants  (to lure Latinos) and “free contraceptives” for young, college-age women were the reason he lost the election.  The insinuation was that Obama used these programs to bribe his voting base. Clown Limbaugh characterized Obama as Santa Claus to their lost electorate.

We are confused at this point since these also sounded a lot like issues that Romney embraced during the presidential debates.  For example, he pledged to “make it easier for kids to afford college” touting his record as Governor of Massachusetts though he now characterizes college loan assistance as a bribe.  And my favorite… In the debates Romney stated that, “Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.”  In his most recent remarks Romney characterizes the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) policy that requires insurance plans to cover birth control for insureds as “free contraceptives” for young women. Romney’s exact quote was, “Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women…” Gads! Can’t you just see the line at the polls, one contraceptive-one vote…

Backtracking through time it certainly appears that Romney is now formally re-embracing his “47%” remarks once and for all unmasking himself as an insincere elitist completely out of touch with reality and that means the majority of the electorate.  Oh, and his performance in 2012 vs. McCain’s in 2008?  While he still lost them big, Romney actually picked up a greater percentage of votes among African-Americans, young voters and those contraceptive motivated non-married women.  He did lose ground with Hispanic voters - 67% to 71% though with a margin of error +-3% we can call it close to a statistical draw overall.  We did note what while the Hispanics were 9% of the total vote in 2008 they increased to 10% in 2012.  The overall minority-voter base as a percentage of the overall electorate was twenty-eight percent - 2 percentage points greater than four years ago.  That percentage will only grow in the coming years – a harbinger of an electorate to come.

A very clear and resolute Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal with an eye seemingly focused on 2016 and beyond criticized Romney for his “gifts" remarks, calling them "absolutely wrong."  Jindal continued, "We have got to stop dividing the American voters," and "We need to go after 100% of the vote, not 53%. We need to go after every single vote."  Jindal was commenting as the new Chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) at their meeting in Las Vegas (licking their wounds) where it seems that many party leaders are now predicting that the GOP will lose again if it, “keeps running the same playbook based on platitudes in place of detailed policies.”  It looks some are considering a Republican reboot though that begs the question of their sincerity and the degree that they are they going to reinvent themselves to become more palatable to the electorate.  A now chastened Romney tried that chameleon act and we see the results.

While Karl Rove was not at the RGA meeting, former Mississippi Governor Haley (Hurricane Sandy did it!) Barbour was, casting doubt on the credibility of the body. Then you have Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell who trying to deflect from Washington to the states, offered that enlightened Republican Governors can advance what Washington can’t, stating that, "Washington is broken.” While that certainly fits the obstructionist Republicans, that’s probably not the message he intended to convey.

Though I thought I would never see it, some (not many) Republicans may apparently, “get it,” objectively analyze and learn from their loss, understand and respect the will of the electorate (in many cases their constituents) and craft an agenda that preserves Republican principles and appeals beyond the mostly White, male voters that are its primary base. As the LA Times opined and cautioned, “The hegemony of the straight white male in America is over.” That said, if the Republicans are really serious in their attempts to reform and make themselves palatable, they need to divest themselves of the right wing extremist nuts that populate its ranks to especially include the Tea Party Teavangelicals and many of those who competed in the sideshow for the Republican presidential nomination.  If that splits the party, so be it.

It seems to this writer that however close the margin, the agenda of the new electorate has been assured.  Despite all the significant data generated by exit polls, the never ending media analyses, statistics and proclamations – it would appear that those who voted for Obama also trusted his judgment and leadership abilities more and, frankly, liked him better than Mitt who consistently derided and cast aspersions on many within the winning electorate and lied through his teeth during the campaign. The new electorate has spoken decisively and understanding and alarmed by the mission of the far, far right, refused to let science or their government be held hostage to religious or ideological dogma. Hope you’re listening Rick.

Ah, if the voice of reason projected by Jindal starts to resonate and grow in the GOP and they aren’t just talking to themselves, perhaps I can once again ponder my role as a progressive Republican.  But, then again…

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Monday, November 12, 2012

VETERAN’S DAY 2012 - LEST WE FORGET

Sunday was Veterans Day and sadly remembered without any surviving members of The Great War. The world's last WWI veteran was Florence Green of Great Britain who passed on February 4, 2012, fifteen days shy of 111.  Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last surviving American veteran of World War I, died on February 27, 2011.  Frank was 110 years old and was identified by the US Senate as, "The last veteran to represent the extraordinary legacy of the World War I veterans".  The passing of Buckles and Green prompted a farewell for not just one man or woman, rather a whole generation, and, indeed, those millions of Allied soldiers who paid for our freedom with their lives.  Buckles was buried with full military honors in Arlington Cemetery in a ceremony presided by President Barack Obama who along with many other dignitaries who came to salute Buckles and his now departed generation.

Another one of those WWI soldiers was my Grandfather, Colonel G. Edward “Ned” Buxton, Jr. who as Commander of the 2nd Battalion, 328th Infantry Regiment, of the 82nd Division saw service in key battles in World War I including the Battle of Saint-Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  He was an over the top commander who to the chagrin of General Pershing carried (and used) an American Enfield rifle and served from the trenches like peers Patton and Donovan earning a Purple Heart for his exploits.   Buxton went on to serve with distinction as the Inspector-General of the 82nd Division until he was returned to action as a commander and combatant in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive - the crowning American contribution to WWI that ultimately brought about the Armistice of November 11, 1918.  Many know Buxton (then a Major) as the commanding officer of one Alvin C. York who with Buxton as a “Dutch Uncle” and counselor served with distinction in that conflict. They remained Friends thereafter for life. For the record, we are assured that York carried a Springfield Model 1903 rifle and a Model 1911 .45 caliber APC semi-automatic pistol.

In World War II Buxton was appointed First Assistant Director of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and as the OSS Planning Group and Action Director of Strategic Services, was a key figure in all policy as well as operational decisions.  He was tasked with the handling of the procedural and operational aspects of running the OSS and frequently served as Acting Director.  Buxton’s life was dedicated to service from start to finish.  He was an extraordinary leader and soldier-citizen who reflected the best of our greatness and character and the values of our society.

We have many to thank for their service and ultimate sacrifice - those from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and all those conflicts before, in-between and after.  For those who kept the peace and by their service protected our borders and Citizens from harm’s way and for those members of our Armed services who participated in operations we know and many that we do not – we remember and thank you.

In our Family we sincerely thank Brothers David and John, Uncles Richmond and Seabury and all those who came before including Grandfather Buxton all the way back to Capt. James Buxton of the First Massachusetts and Revolutionary War fame. We recognize and salute all their comrades in arms.  We remember a loving Grandfather Alden Llewellyn Littlefield who distributed replicas of the original red Flander's poppy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island in order to raise awareness and monies for Veterans. We say well done...

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, November 10, 2012

2012 ELECTION POST MORTEM – DUH!

The pundits are going to be talking about this election for many years and will probably underscore its significance as the end of an era.  This was the great epiphany for The Republican Party and it initially appears that they may not have gotten the message.  I’ve made it no secret that this life-long Republican voted for Barack Obama and in that Tea Party domain they call the State of Texas, voted for many more Democrats.  I feel no great elation or exhilaration with the Democratic victories, rather a somber relief that Obama’s reelection may allow us the potential to further the work of The People in a much more stable and not so strident and vitriolic environment.  Even with a Romney victory our house would have remained absolutely divided. We have no option – no alternative - now but to sit down and do the work of The People.  That charge is especially directed to an obstructionist Republican House of Representatives who up to now were dedicated only to choreographing Obama’s swan song.

The ability of Congress to do the work of The People is predicated on the realization by the Republicans (real or imagined) that they have to rethink and retool many of their cornerstone planks and contemplate collaboration, negotiation and, if necessary, concession (gads!) for the greater good. They have to understand that a platform that included a gobbledygook of unworkable, fictional numbers from an adamant, profit-driven theorist doesn’t work anymore and (like it or not) has been rejected by a majority of the electorate.  They need to grasp the concept that their mostly dogmatic views are out of line with those of most Americans. The window of opportunity for their current agenda is now lost forever as their base continues to dwindle. If they listen to the Tea Party and (according to some), “try a more conservative approach” again in four years, they will surely lose and probably by an even greater margin. 

Ted Cruz’s absurd appeal to “Restore the Constitution” (which is working just fine, thank you), may play in Texas but probably not anywhere else.  The America the Republicans are “trying to preserve” and revive no longer exists and, at the very least won’t tolerate their rhetoric.  They threw a party and not enough folks showed up.  We have evolved well beyond the northern European model and gone global becoming that which we have always preached – a land of Freedom and Opportunity for all. We crafted the invitation and they came. They are us, we are them and that’s been the American mandate from the start.

The issue now primarily revolves around the economy all within the paradigm of changing demographics and the imperative to meet basic societal needs and far from the Bill O'Reilly (47%) absurd assertion that Obama’s electorate voted for him because, “They expect he will give them stuff.”  I guess that includes me and my Social Security and Medicare benefits paid for with a lifetime of work and financial contributions.
  
The Republicans ultimately set the stage for a kind of class warfare - a “Them vs. Us” where like a dog with a sock they won’t relent and where ultimately in this changing landscape have become a minority party – and exceedingly so.  If the Republicans and, yes, Democrats don’t “get it” now, then they never will.  Having failed that, they will forever put our Republic in jeopardy.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a student of history to see the markers of the inevitable all around us.

Yet, we still hear the Haley Barbours, Karl Roves, Rush Limbaughs, Bill O’Reillys and others of their ilk state with straight faces that nothing has changed (the lipstick on the above pig) with Barbour incredulously opining that it was only Hurricane Sandy that defeated them. Other Republicans have blamed NJ Governor Chris Christie outright for his post-Hurricane Sandy bi-partisan praise for Obama as the reason Republicans didn’t win the Presidency.

Amazing that the Republican hierarchy would tolerate these behaviors but, wait, they are the party.  Again, we thank Haley, Karl, Rush, Bill and The Donald and their legions for allowing the world to see and experience their absurd and divisive behaviors.  How can we forget Donald Trump who with Obama’s reelection assured, maniacally tweeted that the election was a “total sham and a travesty…We are not a democracy” followed up by, “We can't let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty.”  In response to Trump’s treasonous rant the distinguished, popular and always incisive NBC News anchor Brian Williams coolly commented, “Donald Trump has driven well past the last exit to relevance and veered into something closer to irresponsible.”  Amen… Sounds like an equally appropriate exit for the Republican Party if they don’t distance themselves from statements like that. They haven’t yet though we note Trump’s tweets have been taken down...Donald, you’re fired!

And how about that “rabble of Ole Miss students” who brought dishonor upon The University with their racially motivated, placard burning protest to President Obama’s reelection. There were no riots just a few stupid and probably drunk students.  We have come a long way from the debacle of 1962 and they remind us of an ugly past and behaviors reminiscent of the ignorant sociopaths that ran Mississippi and The South back then.  Those few students disgraced themselves and Ole Miss and have no right to continue any association with The University.  We hope The University can identify every one of them and mete out the appropriate punishment. 

The behavior of those relative few prompted a counter-protest and peace walk where almost 700 students demonstrated against this idiotic display. All this comes after the election and crowning of Courtney Pearson, the first African-American Homecoming Queen in the school’s history.  Sounds like Chancellor Daniel Jones has some work to do… Maybe those students can go work for Donald Trump.  But, back to the adults…OK, you know what we mean.

The Republicans were mostly deep-sixed by the extreme posturing and the absolutely idiotic and insensitive remarks of people like Michele Bachmann or the “dangerously stupid” Todd Akin and the misguided inappropriate offerings of a now discarded and isolated Richard Mourdock.  The latter two probably cost the Republicans the Senate and perhaps even the Presidency. After their incredibly stupid remarks about rape and pregnancy, how could anyone vote for them?  Well, some did and in impressive though insufficient numbers.  Point - If pragmatists and the center of the party can prevail, they can rid themselves of these Neanderthals and embrace a more sensitive agenda that appeals to more than just fat rich old white guys who are fast becoming an anachronism.  OK, let’s restate - many White Guys – fat, skinny, old, young, rich, poor, etc. – not including this writer. 

Results reflect that Romney lost 55% of the Women overall while losing 67% of unmarried Women. Romney lost 71% of the Latinos.  Romney lost 93% of the African-Americans.  Romney lost 73% of Asian-Americans and, frankly, most of the bloc of minority (soon to be majority) voters. Bottom Line: The Republicans did not embrace policies that appealed to a majority of the electorate and failing that – lost the election. The Democrats maintained a much more moderate stance with the above results.

So, while some very public and influential Republicans have convinced themselves that there is nothing wrong with their party or their agenda (Palin is “perplexed”), that they let themselves be seduced by that Mormon guy, damn that hurricane and those unfounded (?) attacks on Romney’s character, ad nauseum, they are not the future of a viable Republican Party.  And all that from some Holier than thou Republicans who patently tried to disenfranchise Democratic leaning voters.  Goes around – comes around

First, the Republicans have to publicly and very quickly admit that what once worked for them is now broke and won’t play anymore.  If they can’t do that then all is lost for the Grand Old Party. They absolutely have to embrace and maintain a more moderate posture that supports realistic and workable core values. The lying and rhetoric has to stop and we as constituents have to hold them to higher standards.  They have to relegate the extreme fringes of their party to their far right domains and fight like Hell to resist any further hijacking. Though they probably won’t admit it, The Republicans won’t win any national elections on the backs of the Evangelical Christians and/or the Tea Party.     

The challenges of the next four years will eclipse even those of the previous four making a purposeful and collaborative, rational approach to government absolutely imperative.  That’s where Mr. Romney and other Republican leaders including House Speaker John Boehner can come in and riding white stallions, be partners in that process.  For Love of Country and for all the right reasons Romney (if he has any credibility or sense of purpose left) can at least try to twist the arms of those Republicans that seem bent on self-destruction and get us back on the right track.  When we realize that (for whatever reason and motivation) he represents almost half of our kicking and screaming electorate, it is nothing short of smart politics and by inclusion, the way to heal the wounds of rejection and tap into some of his good ideas and energy.

Voters have told both parties to forthrightly get on with the business of government.  Democrats need note there is no stunning mandate, rather it’s their clarion call to quickly get on with their work. And do I think that the Republicans received the message and will maturely respond?  No, I don’t.

Then again, aren’t we all happy that Big Bird will continue to be with us a while longer?

Aye,

Ned Buxton

PS.  Four days after the general election the State of Florida finally announced today that Obama won their 29 Electoral College votes bringing his total to 332 to Romney’s 206.  Obama also won the national popular vote 51% to 48%. Aye, NB

Sunday, November 4, 2012

MY PREFERENCE FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS

My Mother (God Bless Her!) is spinning in her grave as I write this post.  As I have mentioned in previous posts I chastised my Mother for voting the straight Republican ticket year after year despite the candidacy of folks from other parties who were clearly superior and in a position to provide a far greater service to the public. Not surprising given her role as the private secretary for two Rhode Island Republican Governors (John Chafee and Chris Del Sesto) and as a Republican Precinct Chairman in Rhode Island and as one of the early movers and shakers of the Republican Party in Dallas, Texas.  Yes, she was totally committed to the Republican Party and there was no doubt they were the party of Right.
 
So, what’s the big deal?  Well, I voted early last Saturday and Son like Mother voted a straight ticket - but I voted Democratic.  This was no baby and bath water scenario.  My motivation was the realization that many of the Republicans in this state and those in my district have been hijacked by the Tea Party and are having a love fest with the fundamentalist Christian Far, Far Right – the tail wagging the dog.  It’s not pretty though there are still a few Republicans with reasonable, rationale and truthful voices that really care about their fellow man. We note, however, that they are few, damn few and we mourn the loss of the moderate and progressive wing of the Republican Party and wonder if it can ever be fixed.  At this point, we think not… So, I ultimately also voted for some Republicans in races not contested by Democrats.  I did vote for the reelection of Barack Obama. He deserves four more years to continue his work and clean up the mess he inherited.

Now despite all my questions about Romney, the real motivation for his candidacy and his truthfulness (or lack thereof) during the course of his campaign, I really didn’t know what I would do when it came time to cast my ballot. As I was standing in the voting booth it all came down to my concern for those same issues and mostly Romney’s repeated failure to embrace the truth during his campaign.  He is the absolute Spin Meister and I just don’t trust him. There are so many legitimate issues he could have embraced and made the cornerstone of his campaign but he chose the dark side of spin and deception.  When Romney incredibly took credit for the auto bailout, demonstrated his lack of math skills (his seven point plan), his capacity to try and instill fear into the populous (Jeep move to China?) to his absolutely ludicrous and specious death penalty for Big Bird, well, that was the end for me.
 
Romney hasn’t demonstrated clear judgment or the real character to qualify him to be President of the United States.
So, the rhetoric, the noise from most Republicans who have been obstructionist and primarily responsible for the failure of Congress to do the work of The People and then try and blame Obama even for the sins of the previous Republican administration, just wasn’t right.  Politics or not, you have to draw a line and the above spin (and much more) was it for me.

Are there Democrats that I hold in the most unfavorable light?  Absolutely, and Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi top that list.  They spoil the broth and otherwise taint what could be a better Democratic Party.  And the thought of Joe Biden being in the position to succeed an ill or incapacitated Obama absolutely scares the hell out of me. His performance in the vice presidential debates points to some serious weaknesses.

Having said that, here we all are with the opportunity to honestly vote our conscience.  Some may paint me na├»ve by demanding honesty from politicians and while they may have a point, I know that I’m not wrong… I guess that you can chalk that one up to my Christian upbringing.

Having said all this We really wonder if anything is really going to change. Despite a persistent negative record and unequalled, historical disapproval ratings of a dysfunctional Congress, it doesn’t appear that there will be a major shift in power in the Senate or House of Representatives.  Translation?  More of the same… Why do we keep doing this to ourselves?

Oh, and my motivation to vote?  Love of Country.

Aye,

Ned Buxton