Well. We’ve had three days to absorb the messages and lessons of the 2012 Election—some of us (in fact, a majority of us) are vindicated; others are nursing exploded heads. I give the “exploding heads” crowd generally forty-eight hours to get their shit together and rejoin the human race. Usually that’s enough, with football and weekend activities for a distraction. [I’m willing to grant one tiny subset of the EHs a few days extra—namely, Team Romney—because (Mean Mitt) they had their credit cards cut off before they could get a taxi home or even buy a post-election beer to cry in.]
Anyone old enough to have lived through eight or more US presidential election cycles could pretty accurately guess what a Republican reaction to an Obama re-election would look, smell and sound like, because the same geniuses that came up with supply-side economics, trickle-down theory and preventive war are still calling the shots and winding up the rusty old clockworks that make the GOP tick. For better or worse, those good old boys appear to be more long-lived than their base which is dying off in droves, these days.
Even the gang at The American Conservative, not famous for their funny bones, posted up a number of humorous pre-election predictions of the GOP’s likely reaction to an Obama win. Those “serious conservatives” were not taken in by Unskewed Polls or gut feelings that Republican electoral exuberance would usher in the Age of Romney. The TACs consider themselves “true political conservatives,” Burkean conservatives, not to be mistaken for “movement conservatives.” They suspected that Romney would not win the election for a number of thoughtful and well-articulated reasons. And they were pretty much right on the money. So perhaps the GOP establishment might want to reconnect with them sometime soon.
And the Old Guard Republicans have not let us down. From Karl Rove’s apoplectic meltdown on Fox News’ Election night coverage to hating-for-dollars Rush Limbaugh’s insight that:
It’s just very difficult to beat Santa Claus. People are not going to vote against Santa Claus, especially if the alternative is being your own Santa Claus. He continued that Obama supporters “think the Democrat Party’s gonna punish the people who have unfairly gotten stuff that they shouldn’t have. They got more stuff than other people have stuff and that stuff’s gotta be redistributed.
And let’s not forget The Donald’s twittermanic call to arms for the “torches and pitchforks crowd” . . .
But the hands down winner of this year’s GOP Exploding Head has to be Old Guardian Mary Matalin’s on-air tantrum bound to become a classic.
It’s easy to point fingers after a loss and I wouldn’t normally do it, but consider what happened.
Project Orca was supposed to enable poll watchers to record voter names on their smartphones, by listening for names as voters checked in. This would give the campaign real-time turnout data, so they could redirect GOTV resources throughout the day where it was most needed. They recruited 37,000 swing state volunteers for this.
I worked on the Colorado team, and we were called by hundreds (or more) volunteers who couldn’t use the app or the backup phone system. The usernames and passwords were wrong, but the reset password tool didn’t work, and we couldn’t change phone PINs. We were told the problems were limited and asked to project confidence, have people use pencil and paper, and try to submit again later.
Then at 6PM they admitted they had issued the wrong PINs to every volunteer in Colorado, and reissued new PINs (which also didn’t work). Meanwhile, counties where we had hundreds of volunteers, such as Denver Colorado, showed zero volunteers in the system all day, but we weren’t allowed to add them. In one area, the head of the Republican Party plus 10 volunteers were all locked out. The system went down for a half hour during peak voting, but for hundreds or more, it never worked all day. Many of the poll watchers I spoke with were very discouraged. Many members of our phone bank got up and left.
I do not know if the system was totally broken, or if I just saw the worst of it. But I wonder, because they told us all day that most volunteers were submitting just fine, yet admitted at the end that all of Colorado had the wrong PIN’s. They also said the system projected every swing state as pink or red.
Regardless of the specific difficulties, this idea would only help if executed extremely well. Otherwise, those 37,000 swing state volunteers should have been working on GOTV…
Somebody messaged me privately after my email and told me that North Carolina had the same problems—every pin was wrong and not fixed until 6PM—and was also told it was localized to North Carolina.
Once volunteers signed up, they were invited to take part in daily conference calls, but rather than focusing on training, these tended to be cheerleading sessions, with any tactical considerations reduced to answering questions such as would it be OK to wear a red sweatshirt to the polling place. Then there were other minor problems such as this:
On one of the last conference calls (I believe it was on Saturday night), they told us that our packets would be arriving shortly. Now, there seemed to be a fair amount of confusion about what they meant by “packet”. Some people on Twitter were wondering if that meant a packet in the mail or a pdf or what. Finally, my packet arrived at 4PM on Monday afternoon as an emailed 60 page pdf. Nothing came in the mail. Because I was out most of the day, I only got around to seeing it at around 10PM Monday night. So, I sat down and cursed as I would have to print out 60+ pages of instructions and voter rolls on my home printer. Naturally, for reasons I can’t begin to comprehend, my printer would not print in black and white with an empty magenta cartridge (No HP, I will never buy another one of your products ever again). So, at this point I became panicked. I was expected to be at the polls at 6:45AM and nothing was open. I was thankfully able to find a Kinko’s open until 11PM that was able to print it out and bind it for me, but this is not something I should have had to do. They expected 75-80 year old veteran volunteers to print out 60+ pages on their home computers? The night before election day? From what I hear, other people had similar experiences. In fact, many volunteers never received their packets at all.
It got worse:
At 6:30AM on Tuesday, I went to the polls. I was immediately turned away because I didn’t have my poll watcher certificate. Many, many people had this problem. The impression I got was this was taken care of because they had “registered me”. Others were as well. But apparently, I was supposed to go on my own to a Victory Center to pick it up, but that was never communicated properly. Outside of the technical problems, this was the single biggest failure of the operation. They simply didn’t inform people that this was a requirement.
It’s worth giving Ace of Spades the click and reading the rest of Ekdahl’s article if you’re amused by descriptions of extreme ineptitude, but here’s his signoff:
The bitter irony of this entire endeavor was that a supposedly small government candidate gutted the local structure of GOTV efforts in favor of a centralized, faceless organization in a far off place (in this case, their Boston headquarters). Wrap your head around that..
BOSTON—From the moment Mitt Romney stepped off stage Tuesday night, having just delivered a brief concession speech he wrote only that evening, the massive infrastructure surrounding his campaign quickly began to disassemble itself.
Aides taking cabs home late that night got rude awakenings when they found the credit cards linked to the campaign no longer worked.
One of the best things about the Romney campaign post mortem is reading the collective cri du cul emanating from the right-wingers. One interesting feature of their distorted view of the election is the contention that Romney, like his predecessor John McCain, was not conservative enough. Yes, even though paleolithic paleoconservative rape-apologists like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lost their senate bids because of their knuckle-dragger comments concerning women’s rights, Mittens somehow lost because he wasn’t regressive enough.
I believe this is the true conservative ticket that can win the White House back for the GOP. Let’s meet the candidates, shall we? Here’s the totally-not-insane presidential candidate, speaking calmly and eloquently about the importance of the separation of Church and State:
Here’s the one-hundred-percent-not-sexually-confused Ted Nugent eruditely discussing the psychosexual implications of the Second Amendment:
How could the GOP fail to capture the all three branches of government with such a dream team at the top of the ticket?
So. It is two days post-election, and while the hangover is gone, I must confess to a certain amount of residual giddy elation over the fact that things still seem to work the way they are designed to work. A living proof that the American idea still works—the idea that we will govern ourselves and we will elect people to represent us as we are—not as a privileged few would like us to be.
In a renewed spirit of bipartisanship, I’m even willing to share my observations of how things went so terribly wrong for Republicans (I won’t even gloat much about the fact that since 2009, I’ve predicted that the GOP was about to “conservative” itself right out of existence).
The clearest failure was that Mitt Romney didn’t run to represent the American people, as they are, he didn’t even seem to have a very good grip on who they are, today, or what they want and need from their union. To be sure, he didn’t even seem very clear on what he, himself wants and needs from that union.
The Republican Party will continue to ignore hard realities at their peril. The further they divorce themselves from real daily life in America and embrace outdated, irrelevant idealogies from the distant past, the closer they lumber toward extinction.
From my perspective, here are some of your mistaken beliefs that will prevent you from ever effectively connecting with the American people of today and the foreseeable future:
Most Americans are strong-willed, level-headed, adaptable people who have worked together, very effectively, to overcome all sorts of adversity, obstacles and plain old bad luck in the past. As such, fear-mongering is not a terribly effective method of persuasion.
Most Americans love facts, technology, education and competing with the world’s great thinkers to further advance intellectual progress. They are put off by denial, magical thinking and deliberate ignorance. They are dismayed by the notion that future generations might, in part, be schooled by idealogues who find proven facts inconvenient or offensive to their personal beliefs using educational materials that are substandard, to satisfy some notion of ideological-correctness.
Most Americans perceive themselves to be inquisitive, independent thinkers capable of deciding for themselves which elected representatives will serve their interests best. They are not mindless zombies being jerked in one direction or another by biased media, requiring a “pundit class” to parse their own political environment and process for them. Most Americans are quite adept at sniffing out bullshit wherever it lurks . . .
Most Americans are proud to be diverse and, at the same time, unified, “to live and let live.” Most Americans are not only rooting for but assisting their fellow Americans’ pursuit of happiness. Most Americans do not feel threatened by differences of race, creed, color or sexual orientation and no amount of baiting will change their minds. Every new immigrant that is assimilated into the American society reaffirms and renews American values—we don’t need politicians to do that for us. We do that ourselves by making room, embracing and helping newcomers succeed. That growth is organic and systemic in American society—politicians’ only job is to stay out of the way and let it happen.
Most Americans love fairness and they perceive Super Pacs, and “dark money” and political “non-profits” and billionaires trying to buy elections as egregiously unfair, distasteful and un-American . . . no matter what the Supreme Court says.
Most Americans love peace and hate sending their children off to war but will do it if the cause is just and the truth is told. Most Americans are proud of their military and happy to support them but don’t necessarily long to have a military whose global footprint is ponderously overbuilt and epicly wasteful.
Most Americans believe in group effort, cooperation and compromise to achieve the common good. As recent polls will attest, they are disgusted by obstructionism, intransigence, bullying and hostage-taking.
Most Americans voted for Barack Obama. Most Americans did not vote for the Republican agenda. Most Americans will not support Republican candidates in the next mid-term elections if Republicans don’t change radically and quickly.
In addition to civic duty, I’m willing to admit that part of the reason that I voted for Barack Obama was revenge. That was the last small, petty bit of silliness that the Romney campaign dragged around to the must-win states that they didn’t win—an offhand remark from Obama: “Voting is the best revenge!” Naturally, because this is what a flailing campaign does, they tried to construe this as something other than the obvious point:
You vote against Romney and move on. Don’t hate—just win.
I’m not as chill as the President is. I like winning, and I like that we did. But I still have some bad feelings, so let me sum up more ways in which it is revenge, and not just because “living well is the best revenge.” (Which I will always hear in Ivana Trump’s voice, interestingly.)
You also vote because the bastards don’t want you to, and together we work on doing what we need to do. You look at the disenfranchisement, the long lines, the attempts to end early voting, the robocalls and leaflets that gave wrong election dates and the negative ads not designed to make people vote for a given candidate—but to make them give up their franchise in despair. You look at all that undemocratic fuckery and you have to vote. You have to try and change it. You have to believe that we can do better; but more than that, we have to do it together.
And for Obama’s part, he has to keep the faith with us that we put in him—and his victory speech is long on the promise that he will keep that faith. But here’s a thing he doesn’t have to worry about now—re-election. His mandate is that he did get re-elected this time. He has four more years. It’s all he’ll get. So this “why doesn’t he make a big friendly bipartisan gesture” talk I’m hearing?
Boehner and McConnell can fold that noise up into all sharp corners and sit on it until 2014. If they want to continue to be obstructionist, that’s fine—but the next referendum is on them. And voting is the best revenge.
This post isn’t really intended to be a troll of you fine Roasters—clearly, I wouldn’t seriously suggest a literal endorsement of Les Mittserables in the least, but I did want to expand on Betty’s “How Low Will they Go?” post and especially Big Bad Bald Bastard’s comment regarding David Frum’s actual endorsement of a person who, to the very best I can estimate, we have only about a 47% chance of guessing at any time how he will act on any given issue. That’s well within a practical margin of error of a coin flip, no? That makes him the Schroedinger’s Candidate for the purposes of this election—and if one of our economic problems is uncertainty, I don’t like the looks of Mitt for either our short-term or our long-term problems.
But let’s seriously examine what a Romney presidency really means in a situation where the US Congress is likewise GOP-controlled, supposing that people actually did knuckle under and vote for Count Mittula out of a kind of Stockholm Syndrome:
The Teabaggers already have progress tied up in the basement, and if we don’t vote for Romney, they’ll start beating it with wet ropes! Or dry ropes! Or copies of Atlas Shrugged! It could get ugly! Oh noes!
I’m not in the mood to negotiate with hostage-takers just yet (what do I look like, the Reagan Administration?) Now, if you were to ask me, this would actually be more of a stellar argument against having a GOP-controlled anything. I would vote for Obama to particularly spite those bastards, and vote against any Republican just on the general principle that you can’t do me like that. After all, there are some GOP Senate candidates that are actually advertising on the hopes of Obama having coat tails, and a divided government becoming the hot, bipartisan thing. Fuck all that. (Actually, as a Smark going back a handful of years, screw a bunch of Linda McMahon.) Even if you don’t love Obama—I’d say the best thing is for people to vote for Democrats because Republicans in charge of the House have seriously sucked. Their suckage is not about a failure of the White House. Their suckage is about thinking legislating ladyparts creates jobs because Jesus. Mitt Romney is not the guy who can fix that. Why? Because he at least half the time pretends to believe it—if he doesn’t actually believe it. It’s hard to say.
So what is left for the people who want to endorse Romney to rely on? His business acumen? Seriously? As if that creates jobs! It didn’t when he was governor of Massachusetts and it’s dubious that it did when he was CEO of Bain. His job was to make money as the Bainiac-in-Chief, and as the Head Manager in Charge of The People’s Republic of “Taxamachusetts” (where he earned the title Governor FeeFee) he didn’t exactly earn plenty of points for either bipartisanship or fiscal awesomeness. Actually, in his only elected position, his veteoes were overruled by the majority Democratic state legislature more often than not, (No wonder he spent the half of his term that he spent thinking about being a part of the 2008 GOP presidential primary instead of being MA Governor bad-mouthing Massachusetts altogether, amirite?) And then there’s his record on civil rights. Which is so bad compared to what he promised when he ran for MA Senate against liberal lion Ted Kennedy, you know?
See, despite the wishful thinking of the Log Cabin Republicans, Mitt would be a garbage disaster for LGBT* people, because he gave money to NOM, for one thing. and he didn’t realize that gay couples might want to raise families for another. If anyone thinks he would stand up against bullies against LGBT folks, well, he’s okay with acknowledging the LGBT folks, except for the B and the T . Or really being, you know, helpful towards them. (What can I personally say about that? Um, as a former teen who is bisexual and was bullied, I can from experience say more education and acknowledgement about and of bisexuality might be helpful.) And I don’t think you need to read “binders full” about women to know he doesn’t stand in your corner if you are a feminist. Or just a woman, in general.
So what it comes down to, for me, is that, even leaving aside all Obama’s accomplishments and the ways in which (understanding foreign policy, macroeconomics, not being a mouthbreathing tool amongst other nations’ leaders) he’s simply superior, Romney is manifestly not the guy for the job. A serial lying bigoted know-little can’t understand why the job is even important, let along behave is if it was something more than the penultimate Big Deal on his CV. So I am manifestly not endorsing Mitt Romney. Not to talk up Obama, which I could, forever! But to point out that whenever I see someone who supports Romney, I think so much less of that person. Uck. Him. Such a lying sack. After the Election—good riddance!
Romney is telling voters that it’s a nice little country they’ve got there, and it would be a shame if something were to, you know, happen to it. Ryan told an evangelical group founded by uber-crook Ralph Reid that the president’s policies undermine “Judeo-Christian” values.
What other whoppers will they lob before the day is out? Perhaps we can gauge their desperation by how close they come to screeching about a Mandingo eating their baby…
I’ve been taking some time out from blogging in this last week or so before the Poll To End All Polls.
This was partly out of deference to the savage storms whose aftermath some of you folks are going to have a hard enough time living through without some anonymous smartarse from Scotland looking out his window and muttering, “60 m.p.h. winds and horizontal rain—barbie weather!”
It also took a while for Ms. YAFB to rev up on the runway at Glasgow airport through one canceled flight and eventually jet stateside to visit her own version of Republican Mom/Lefty Daughter Hell, with Thanksgiving and eventual escape a long, LONG way away when you’ve the prospect of no heating, phone, Internet, or lights. She’s now safely landed, picked her way over of the NY State relics of the storm and people’s livelihoods and dreams, and miraculously somehow managed to have power restored to her mom’s house within an hour of arriving, so some of our Brit can-do stiff upper lip has obviously rubbed off over the years. If you get a GOTV phonebank call from an excitable jetlagged woman with a faint Scottish burr, a tendency to profanity, and a pathological distaste for Mitt Romney, treat her kindly.
I’ve also been wary of reenacting the Guardian‘s infamous Clark County Project of 2004. This predictably disastrous experiment in transatlantic diplomacy rallied well-meaning lefty readers to write to undecideds in Ohio in the hopes of drumming some British common sense into them along the lines of “Quit voting for Bush, WTH are you thinking?!”, garnering reactions ranging from “Have you not noticed that Americans don’t give two shits what Europeans think of us?” through “Please be advised that I have forwarded this to the CIA and FBI,” to “KEEP YOUR FUCKIN’ LIMEY HANDS OFF OUR ELECTION. HEY, SHITHEADS, REMEMBER THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR? REMEMBER THE WAR OF 1812? WE DIDN’T WANT YOU, OR YOUR POLITICS HERE, THAT’S WHY WE KICKED YOUR ASSES OUT. FOR THE 47% OF YOU WHO DON’T WANT PRESIDENT BUSH, I SAY THIS ... TOUGH SHIT!” and beyond.
Oh, I’ve still been keeping apace with what I can glean from various online resources, and from what I can see from that limited perspective, Mitt & Co. look like they’re resignedly scaling the first steps of the Kübler-Ross model. But a lot of what’s been cooked up in the way of late gamechangers from the Mittens camp and hangers-on is just desperate replays we already covered a month or more ago, like Fox news’s Benghazigate drive, all of which have been overshadowed by meteorology and President Obama opportunistically acting all presidential and competent and hanging out with his BFF Chris Christie. Indeed, other than a few flurries of stupidity that have leaked out from some public speeches, it looks like Romney and Ryan have largely been trying to keep their heads down, presumably for fear of forgetting which of the policy positions they once proclaimed they’re now abandoning because they’re running for election, for Pete’s sake.
In among all this, I’ve been marveling at what a total damp squib Ryan’s been on the stump, given the rapturous welcome that greeted his pick as the HAWTNESS on the ticket. Last I looked, even Free Republic was back to revolting against the Yoke of Mittness. With just a few longer-form interviews as support from his running mate, Mitt’s been driven to serve as his own attack dog throughout, slinging zingers and recycled lies from his windy vantage point on the roof, and ostentatiously dispatching stocks of his own hot Groundhog Day fudge to the needy in New Jersey and points west where echoes from his denunciation of FEMA are drowning out his recent sudden change of heart. If I compared being attacked by Ryan or Romney to being savaged by a dead sheep, I’d not only risk angering flyover country, I’d be underestimating the viciousness of zombie sheep (not to mention ripping off one Denis Healey).
It’s probably been a frustrating few months for Ryan, doomed to beta male groupie status and hampered by a near total lack of charisma in trying to shake off the utter rout that was his VP debate performance. He’s been seeking succor by doodling on napkins what the future might hold if his prayers are answered and he finally escapes the deadend daily drudgery of serving as the Republican Party’s fiscal boy wonder among the grizzled congressional rabble, as the gloriously named Trip Gabriel at the NYT managed to shake out of nameless gabby “aides” yesterday:
... if the Republican ticket prevails, Mr. Ryan plans to come back roaring, establishing an activist vice presidency that he said would look like Dick Cheney’s under President George W. Bush.
Now THAT’s what I call a lede! They’re going to be hiring White House caterers, by the sound of it:
Mr. Ryan would dedicate most evenings to dinners with senators and House members of both parties, aides said, as he steps into the role Mr. Romney promised: architect of a Romney administration’s drive to enact a budget that shrinks the government and overhauls programs like Medicare.
In Lundtspeak, of course, “shrink” translates as “render totally inoperable and thus irrelevant” and the “overhaul” is likely to resemble my babyhood tendency not to consider any toy truly played with till I’d reverse-engineered it into a messy pile of component parts destined for the trash. But where did that Dick Cheney comparison come from? Are we in HuffPo headline territory here?
OK, let’s see: 5 days to lift-off, hours of cheesy synth tracks; a third-rate Captain Spaulding chasing a minstrel in blackface, and a crappy word puzzle that nobody cares about. Yep, that’s Mitt Romney in the Home Stretch…with nothing to hope for, except maybe that everyone else won’t forget about him. Good luck with that one, Mitt.
“If you hadn’t had the storm, there would have been more of a chance for the [Mitt] Romney campaign to talk about the deficit, the debt, the economy. There was a stutter in the campaign. When you have attention drawn away to somewhere else, to something else, it is not to his [Romney’s] advantage,” Rove told The Washington Post.
If President Obama wins this election (and I think he will), what does that say about the power of Super PACs? Here’s OpenSecrets.org’s total Super PAC spending broken down by ideology:
Conservative groups have outspent liberals two to one. For nearly four years, their political operatives in Congress have worked very hard to sabotage every attempt President Obama has made to deal with the crappy economy so that they could run as the out party during a persistent economic crisis, and their 2012 standard bearer promised yesterday that unless he is elected, Republicans in the House will continue to fuck America up the ass for having the temerity to elect a Democrat as president.
And yet it looks like there’s a pretty decent chance that they’ll not only fail to unseat President Obama, the Dems will retain narrow control over the Senate and pick up some seats in the House. What does it mean? Dr. Krugman thinks it might reveal a so-called political genius as a common grifter:
Well, what if we’ve been misunderstanding Rove? We’ve been seeing him as a man dedicated to helping angry right-wing billionaires take over America. But maybe he’s best thought of instead as an entrepreneur in the business of selling his services to angry right-wing billionaires, who believe that he can help them take over America. It’s not the same thing.
And while Rove the crusader is looking — provisionally, of course, until the votes are in — like a failure, Rove the businessman has just had an amazing, banner year.
If this scenario comes to pass, the biggest losers, of course, will be the billionaires who have spent astonishing sums to purchase our democracy fair and square—with bupkis to show for it on November 7. Sheldon Adelson and family will be out $53.69 million. The Koch Bros. will be $36.66 (number of the devil!) lighter.
They’re businessmen. Maybe they’ll conclude it would have been cheaper to just pony the fuck up on their taxes? Hahahaha!
The incomparable comedian and writer Steve Allen coined a useful term “dumbth” as a measurement of the willful ignorance of the (particularly) American people as a part of his book of the same name which suggested ways in which education could be improved. I humbly suggest “Trumpth” to mean the kind of willful ignorance that only the Donald Himself displays the way he does, and which is naturally personalized with his very own name, just like one of his buildings. It was his dumbth that made the Donald a birther; but it’s sheer Trumpth to think that his ignorant Twitterings could or should make President Obama render information like his school records—that no president has really ever been asked for before—public.
It’s an illness with me that I pick at things. A hangnail. A bugbite. Donald Trump’s stupidity. Indulge me. Because unless I totally explore the joke that is Trump’s awkward foray into politics, I can never really expand adequately on the joke that is Mitt Romney (Mr. Clean! snerk) and Donald Trump (bad cop?) in an alliance against President Obama. Because that—is what I’m staring at—
See, from the time that Trump endorsed Mitt to the time that it became clear that Trump was way down the rabbit hole on birtherism (contemporaneous, natch), I wondered when a more sober and circumspect Romney would distance himself from the iron grip of a genuine nutter. And then he didn’t. In fact, it looks like Mitt is pleased enough that Trump is willling to repeat the shameless lies of his advertisements:
even though they are quite clearly wrong; so long as Donald Trump will lend his CEO of a particularly (un)helpful 1980’s, art of the deal, greed is good, lifestyles of the rich and infamous cache to the campaign—in the form of everyone’s favorite form of campaign communication, the robocall, Romney is quite willing to embrace this kind of dumbth—the Trumpth, for all it’s worth.
I’m a cynical person. I do not understand this. Why does Romney want to embrace the success of tehstoopid? Is this the signal that “willfully dumb” is the new Republican smart? Is that why Unskewed Polls is so popular? And does anyone on that side suspect this is the sort of thing that even makes smart Republicans think of endorsing Obama because of odd factors like functional government and acceptance of science?
Sitting in the dark on the job for two days, one has time for contemplation. Because I was sitting in the dark as a result of a major storm, disaster response has been on my mind. I’m going to riff off of one of the last blog posts I read before losing the electricity, Bette Noir’s “compare and contrast” post about President Obama’s approach to disaster relief and Mitt Romney’s statements about disaster relief in one of the primary debates. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript of the debate, hosted by CNN’s John King:
“FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role,” Mr. King said. “How do you deal with something like that?”
Romney’s response: “Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.
“Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut – we should ask ourselves the opposite question,” Romney continued. “What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot ...”
King interjected: “Including disaster relief, though?”
Romney replied: “We cannot – we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.”
In times of disaster, it is important to remember the original motto of the United States, E Pluribus Unum, which is Latin for “out of many, one”. Combined, the states form a more powerful whole. In times of natural disaster, the federal government can coordinate the response more readily than the states which have been hit. The United States is a vast country, the nature of disasters differs from location to location- while different states can concentrate on their areas of expertise, a central coordinating agency is better able to marshal resources that will be needed after local resources are exhausted.
To compound Romney’s idiocy, his assertion that he’d rather have the private sector administer disaster responses is truly a howler. Of course, Romney’s not really an idiot- he’s the sort of sociopath who would prefer that there’s an executive skimming off the top when funds are allocated for disaster aid. If Romney gets elected president, expect well-connected wealthy insiders to get even wealthier on the misery of disaster victims. In anticipation of such a (literal) windfall, Jeb Bush has founded a for-profit disaster response corporation. If disaster response is privatized, there will be a two-tier approach to relief and recovery operations- the rich folks will be whisked out of the disaster area in luxurious helicopters with fully-stocked bars while Joe and Jane Schmo will die horribly… the executives have to make a profit, after all. I imagine Jeb Bush’s privatized disaster response will be just as successful as his brother George’s privatized war.
In the ‘90’s the town of Rye Brook, New York decided to experiment with privatized firefighting services. The private firefighting corporation cut corners with wages, ensuring that the workers were poorly-trained and had a high turnover rate, and they refused to engage in a mutual assistance agreement with neighboring municipalities, and the result was disastrous. Imagine how poorly a private corporation, with an eye towards maximizing profits, would handle a disaster of the magnitude of a Sandy.
Let’s start with the obvious—Romney’s Campaign is not suspended. You can tell, because they are still lying about stuff. They’ve decided to pretend they are also doing some “relief events”, because they will be taking non-perishable items that no one wants and send them to—where did the worst of it hit—oh, that’s right, New Jersey. I’m not kidding:
On a day when millions of Americans face serious hardship as they recover from Hurricane Sandy’s damage, Mitt Romney clearly decided it would be crass to campaign in a conventional way. So he turned a scheduled rally in Kettering, Ohio, this morning into a “storm relief event,” and posed before piles of donated canned goods.
“We’re going to box these things up in just a minute and put them on some trucks, and then we’re going to send them into, I think it’s New Jersey,” he said, according to the Washington Post. “There’s a site we’ve identified where we can take these goods and distribute them to people who need them.”
You can feel the love in the above picture, that’s for sure. I’m not even going to dwell on Mitt Romney, because there’s more examples of disaster bringing out the best in people—like the Obama Administration getting advice from an old hand at dealing with bad situations: Former FEMA Director Michael Brown.
You might wonder what Bush’s FEMA head—famous for being the guy who did a “heckuva job” during Hurrican Katrina—had to say. After all, if folks learn from mistakes, he probably has a lot of wisdom to impar—meh. Here’s him:
“One thing he’s gonna be asked is, why did he jump on [the hurricane] so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when in…Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas?” Brown says. “Why was this so quick?… At some point, somebody’s going to ask that question…. This is like the inverse of Benghazi.”
Wow. Look at him pairing a weird criticism (Obama reacted too quickly to a natural disaster—which is kind of time-sensitive if you want to save lives and stuff?) with a partisan smear. You go, Michael Brown! I mean seriously. You go, now. Heckuva a job staying under a rock, dude.
Oh, and finally? I wasn’t going to give this guy attention, but here:
He obviously needs some kind of attention—like a gangrenous appendage. (Amputation?)
You know, I think my title may be misleading. I meant, “OMG the assholes.” Sorry about that.