I continue to be amazed when I encounter people who do not understand the significance of voting in this country.

The work I do depends somewhat on federal funding, which is highly competitive and has gotten increasingly so over the last 10 years. The people I work with depend almost exclusively on federal research funding, not only to fund the science they do, but to demonstrate their value to their colleagues. The reasoning goes like this – funding is so tight only the best get funded, if you are any good you will get funded. Prima facie it sounds logical. In reality the funding pool has shrunk significantly each year so the quality is not the issue. Congress is.

Here is an example: the funding stream that supports my work in 2004 gave 20 awards. In 2012 they gave out four. For the whole year. Now those awards not only have to go to top candidates but have to take into account additional variables like size of institution, population served (and other unknown variables), so the actual pool for possible awards in my category is now 1. One person/institution will receive this award to conduct essential, knowledge-producing research in this category. Why is this? Because research federal funding was severely cut during the Bush years and is not a priority to a GOP congress.

So when I talk to academics and they tell me they are too busy to vote, or the hours don’t fit their schedule I want to shake them until I hear their giant brains rattle.

I want to shriek at them, “Who is in office matters to your livelihood and the intellectual progress of our WHOLE FREAKIN COUNTRY you over-educated IDIOT!” But I don’t. I patiently (I hope) connect the dots for them so they understand that people in office who do not believe in science will not fund pure research. Knowledge generation is not the priority of people who say things like “Jobs, jobs, jobs” or “Drill, baby, drill”.

I explain that they have a right to their opinion on abortion but that a Romney/Ryan ticket with its person hood stance also means that IVF is no longer possible. You see all those extra embryos created so your sister-in-law or best-friend can have a successful implant would be people to a Romney/Ryan administration. “People” created in a petrie dish would be prohibited from being destroyed, and doctors would be prosecuted. Those are the kind of policies that loom if the intellectual crowd, always purported to be liberal anyway, doesn’t get out and vote.

Think. Your vote matters and has wide-reaching implications. Locally, regionally and nationally.

Think. How will you fit a visit to the Board of Elections into your busy, busy day?

That’s it for today. I have a three grant deadlines breathing down my neck that I need to go work on. Because one, really amazing research project is too much of a gamble, gotta put in three simultaneously. So really, one person not voting is too much of a gamble in my opinion.

I woke up with a headache this morning from too little sleep and way too much stimulation from the presidential debate, but with a tiny bit more understanding of the bajillion people on this planet that are fanatical about sports.

I don’t watch any sports, live or on TV, other than tennis. And even then only if its on. My family, and many, many other people, spend hours looking at and talking about sports. The only time this obsession had any impact on  my life was when I celebrated holidays with my family and football was on. All of them are screamers. My brothers, sisters, and their spouses and children. As in screaming at top voice at the TV if things in the game are going well, or if they are going poorly. This is a loud & stressful experience.

Last night during the debate, as I was yelling, gesturing rudely, gloating and furiously checking twitter & facebook, I realized I was behaving like a sports fan. Politics, it turns out, is my sport. A blood sport with deeply important, far-reaching, societal and humanitarian implications, but a “sport” nonetheless. Good clean fun.

It certainly explains the disconnect between me and my family. I never understand why they thought football was important, and they never understood why I thought social issues were important. They would have been shocked and baffled to see me throwing my hands up in a touch down gesture when Obama scored laughs with the audience, or when Romney let his shovel of a mouth dig a hole with women.

Before I end this I just have to say – binders full of women? gosh, get married before you have babies?  a flexible work schedule so you can get dinner on the table? – does he really think women will join him & Ryan on their trek back to the 1950’s?

I know the seasons not over yet, but my team clearly won last nights game.

Had another close encounter at my gym today. The facility I use is owned and run by Orthodox Jews but is also heavily populated by black Baptist women. This means its not only closed for Simchat Torah but for Good Friday too. Holiday closings can get irritating and I am always on the verge of quiting and finding a new gym.

This morning, as I was leaving, a Christian woman (evidenced by the cross necklace and church group sweatshirt) flung “Have a blessed day” at me. The problem is that not only is this a religious ambush, but its also insistent. Not “I hope you have”, or a request like “God bless you today”, but a command –  “Have A Blessed Day”. When someone says it to me my impulse is to say something snappy in return like, “Make me” or “Not if I can help it”, but that seems unnecessarily antagonistic. It is after all a casual religious intrusion rather than a formal one. The kind we are supposed to ignore in the polite society. I may have to write Miss Manners about this one so I can get one of her socially appropriate, cheeky answers.

If you follow the standard that you are the religion of the vagina that expelled you, I would be considered a lapsed Catholic. I usually just say I was “raised Catholic” because that’s where it began and ended, but even when I participated in all the functions and folderol, I would never impose my religious beliefs on anyone else. That’s downright rude if you ask me.

That brings me to another bizarre moment. Some people higher up on the food chain than me were going on about how impressed they were that Romney did his mission work in France and had to speak French to try and convert people to Mormonism. As if it is somehow remarkable that he could be annoying in more than one language. Didn’t speaking French help label John Kerry an elitist? I sense a double standard in play – its OK to speak another language if you will use it to bend others to your will.

I am glad Mitt Romney speaks more than one language, everyone should as citizens of the world, but I draw the line at admiring his proselytizing for the Mormon Church. We are constantly being subjected to formal religious ambush. Our house is regularly visited by the “elders” from LDS that would like to engage us in hearing the word. And the Jehovah’s. And the Baptists from the church a few blocks over. You’d think we were a bunch of heathens or something to attract so much attention.

I do my best to get us off their lists by informing them that we are Jewish (my husband and daughter), and by stringing Tibetan prayer flags across the front porch. But in the atmosphere of the election, with Mormons living across the street from us and Pre-Vatican II Catholics on the other side, I can’t predict how long it will be before I counter-attack some hapless bearer of Good News with a big ole Sez You.

I’m sure my manners and religious tolerance will return on November 7th.

Everything that could be said about the presidential debate on Wednesday appeared to have been said by 9 am Thursday. God bless the Internet, Twitter and instant fact-checker blogs. I think we read most of it before we even went to sleep. What did we do four years ago? I can’t even remember. My daughter remembers the debate watch party we had in 2008, but not much about the debate. I wonder if she will remember this one.

The thing I will remember is the unabashed, repetitive lying and distortion.

We may never go back to truth telling in this country again. Or maybe we will get to the place where we require Fair Witnesses, white robes and all. Come to think of it I may need to re-read Heinlein as I no longer Grok how lies are told and become conspiracy theories, are reported as news and then endlessly commented upon.

I don’t know who is being persuaded by what at this point. The psychology behind it predicts more of the same. Democrats had better be running everything flat out as if we are about to lose tomorrow. Its the only way to win.

While I have not engaged in a scientific study I do believe I have recently heard the Worst Reason Ever for voting for Romney.

A potential voter said (I will find the link so you can listen for yourself) that he usually votes Republican but he gave Obama a chance so we could have the first black president. He is disappointed because he thought that would mean we would have a post-racial society and since it didn’t work, he’s voting for Romney. “Maybe he can fix all this race nonsense.”

I would bet that creating a post-racial society isn’t even on Romney’s radar. Furthermore, I would be knock-me-down-with-a-feather surprised if Romney and his allies didn’t consider themselves to be “color-blind”. You remember color-blind, that’s when someone with white skin pretends that the color of someones non-white skin is not a factor in their identity. Isn’t that nice of us to say we will completely ignore and disregard a part of your identity for your own good?

That’s the kind of post-racial Mr Disappointed Voter will be looking at with a Romney administration. All those pesky minority issues will go away because the majority doesn’t EVER have to pay attention to them unless they want to. And who wants to? It’s a depressing bore to be reminded that someone thinks they are being treated badly because of their color (or sex or religion).

“Nobody gives me a free pass just cuz I’m white right? I worked for everything I have, no one gave me any handouts…” Blah, blah, blah.

OK that was a little rant-y. If I had more time today I would circle back to the misunderstood comment Obama made that no one makes it alone. Not having to recognize your advantage is called White Privilege, sometimes its also white male privilege. You can learn about it at Teaching Tolerance, or Peggy Macintosh, or the white privilege conference or Tim Wise, a white man out teaching other white men.

Anyway I think Obama’s failure to create a post-racial America through his sheer existence wins Worst Reason Ever. It certainly beats my previous favorite. A West Virginia man said he was voting for Romney because, “Hussein – as in Barack Hussein Obama – means I hate coal.”

And that one was even a little bit funny.

On-Air-Sign

We are the 47% may not become a crowd chant but it sure does make for interesting news & commentary. Thank you Mr. Romney, for so firmly removing the foot from your mouth and speaking the truth as you know it.

Behind his comments about 47% of the US population believing they are entitled to food, housing and health care, lurks the fact that many people do believe it to be true. Many people, like myself, believe the US government should subsidize health care, food and housing for those who cannot acquire those things through their own work. The difference between Mr. Romney and this bleeding heart liberal is that I know for a fact that hard work does not always get you what you need.

People accuse Romney of “being out of touch” but this implies he was ever in touch with the experiences of working class or poverty class people in the US. I think he is insulated, as Obama is now too, from the day-to-day realities of working for a living. And not quite making it. A symptom of the Internet age if you ask me.

What we have is a social & cultural Bubble. Even though we each have access to scads of information and experience (especially the wealthy and privileged) it is still completely normal to live in a social Bubble where most everyone thinks like you. And, because the Internet makes it so easy, we can filter out all the information that does not reinforce our current beliefs. People tend to live near people with similar values, which means dissent is reduced or limited through social politeness. In other words, a Bubble. There is an interesting quiz you can take to find out about your Bubble.

Some people would say that they do not live in a bubble – they are informed citizens! I would argue that they probably spend more time reading the back of cereal boxes than they do reflecting on their information diet. The Bubble can be a place of perfect ignorance and safety.

I remember once hearing Clarence Thomas talk about how programs like Affirmative Action should be eliminated because they are not needed. The interviewer was incredulous and said something along the lines of what about all the people who experience(d) obstacles because of race or gender? and Justice Thomas answered, and I paraphrase: I don’t know anyone like that. Its hard to fathom the monumental hubris it takes to imply that something not part of my experience, cannot be part of yours.

But thats the key. Thomas didn’t know anyone who experienced prejudice and Romney doesn’t know anyone who works really hard and still can’t get ahead. It is also a valid experience that bootstraps break off and you can find yourself suddenly on your ass. I doubt that’s part of the Romney narrative. Their bootstraps seem to be sewn on good and tight.

The 47% comment has put us back at the fundamental question of who we believe we are as a country. I have ranted about this before – are we a country who takes care of our citizens? Or are we a country that protects the morality of our citizens? Or maybe we are simply a country that works hard to stay in our Bubble.

 

more-n-more-blue-bubbles-hi

In following all of the upheaval in the Middle East, starting with the needless death of Ambassador Stevens and three others in Libya, violent protests Tunisia, Sudan, Yemen and ongoing protests in front of multiple embassies, I noticed a phrase being used that I found particularly disturbing.

In reporting on the video that is fueling the ongoing violence, some journalists used the phrase “anti-Islamic activists” and included Terry Jones, the nut burger pastor from Florida, as part of this group. I started to wonder, has 9/11 been subtly framing the reporting on this incident, or have we as a society forgotten what the word activist means?

Pro, Anti, and Activist can be tacked onto just about anything, but that doesn’t mean it belongs there. Activism, the way I understand it, means doing something (protesting, boycotting, campaigning) to change something (social, economic or political) to something different (better). For example, a person who is anti-abortion can protest outside a clinic to change minds (social) or write their legislature to change laws (political) and this makes them an activist. Misguided in my opinion, but an activist nonetheless. If you want a refresher, this website has some interesting links and background history on activism.

So what is a person making a movie trailer about a Islam, ridiculing its major religious figure, trying to change? It’s a far stretch to say this is political activism, but lets stretch for a minute:

If you are a political activist/social critic trying to rally supporters by exposing damning information that is withheld, obfuscated or overlooked by mainstream media, you would still have to have a desired outcome for other activists to take action on. Otherwise it is exposing information for titillation sake, which makes it tabloid news not activism.

The trailer-maker – I think we really should stop insulting filmmakers by referring to him that way – stated his goal as exposing the hypocrisy of Islam because “it is a cancer.” By any stretch of the imagination I still can’t consider him an activist.

The purpose of his trailer (which its reported that almost none of the protesting Muslims have seen) appears to be to portray Muslims as violent and insult their Prophet so as to provoke protests and violence. Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood use all opportunities to promote unrest, so now Muslim protesters are chanting “Death to America, Death to Israel” across six countries. The snake eats its tail and the trailer-maker can now say “See, I told you they were violent and want to destroy America.”

Now what.

There are all sorts of free speech & hate speech nuances with this incident, not to mention the way it is playing out with Romney’s statements, and the GOP are circling the wagons, I suspect I will revisit this topic again.

Here’s hoping I will be using the past tense for all further discussion.

I wanted to call this post “F-you Chris Christie” and leave it at that. However, there was so much in his keynote to take offense at I thought folks might need the specific reference that made me so furious. And I quote:

“Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the debacle of putting the world’s greatest health care system in the hands of federal bureaucrats and putting those bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor.” Emphasis added by me.

This is not the first, and will surely not be the last, instance of doublespeak by GOP candidates, but I count it as one of the most insulting. I cannot think of a clearer example of a federal bureaucrat coming between a woman and her doctor than the platform plank that calls for eliminating abortion without exception. A woman’s doctor would not be allowed to prescribes abortion for any reason if republicans are able to continue their state by state assault campaign to create ever more restrictive abortion laws. The Guttmacher Institute chart (below) speaks volumes.

Abortion used to be legal in the US. The really dirty truth is that the American Medical Association became seriously focused driving the “untrained” out of the profession, to justify professional credentialing and build private practices.  So they had to stop midwives from dipping into their profits. An easy way to do that was to criminalize abortion unless a licenced physician judged it necessary.

Which meant that rich women got abortions, poor women got back alley hatchet jobs, the midwife tradition was lost for generations and we went from Comstock laws to Roe v.Wade to the 2012 Republican Convention.

And along the way the republicans never bother to let the truth get in their way.

After the doctor/patient doublespeak by Mr. Christie, I want to know why the stage didn’t erupt in hellfire from the force of the lie. Isn’t God (or the Devil) supposed to be paying close attention to every little detail of all of our lives? There should have been some smiting going on last night if you ask me.

I just saw an interesting program on the American abortion debate on FaultLines on Al-JazeeraEnglish. The premise of the show is that they examine the role of the US in the world from the AlJazeera perspective. I think there were a few places they could have provided additional viewpoints (its pretty heavy on the anti-choice rhetoric & plays into a few stereotypes I could live without), but it was refreshing to see someone at least attempt to be balanced about presenting why this is such a divisive issue for the US. 

I freaked my husband out this morning.

I told him that my father refused to fill out the FAFSA for me when I wanted to attend college. In case you have not reached that point in your life yet, the FAFSA‘s the very long and intrusive document you complete to see if you qualify for student aid, scholarships and work study. Its income based and counts all sorts of parental assets.

The topic came up because the man of the moment, Mitt Romney, had remarked last March that if students couldn’t afford college they should “borrow money from their parents”. If this doesn’t officially qualify as Romney’s “let them eat cake” comment I can’t imagine what will. Obama correctly pointed out that not everyone has parents that can give them a loan for college.

Mitt’s parents paid for his college but not his living expenses. His hard work/hard luck story is that he and Ann lived by selling off stock that his dad bought him with his birthday money each year. They were frugal and had to suffer bad furniture. That is so very different than the consequences from reducing the amount, number and eligibility for Pell grants given to low income students and raising the interest rates for all other student loans.

My parents didn’t get into all that student loan stuff when I graduated from high school. They didn’t help me pick out colleges nor did they fill out applications. If I was going to college, which they fully expected, I had to figure it out myself and pay for it myself. My dad had a kind of queasy feeling about the federal government.

The feds obviously had his social security number and DOB and so forth because he was in the Air Force and the Army, and he paid his taxes, but he really didn’t hold with giving them any information that wasn’t required, and the FAFSA wasn’t required. My eldest brother also refused to fill out the FAFSA for his daughter but his only excuse is that he is an idiot.

I can kind of understand my fathers position, it probably stemmed from his upbringing in rural Pennsylvania. Family lore was that his beloved grandmother (for whom I am named) was a bootlegger during prohibition. That’s just one reason to be wary of the federal man.

My larger point is that as queasy as one might be with federal governments involvement in day to day life there are sound reasons why this is preferred over the Ayn Rand/Every Capitalist for Himself system. My parents tax return probably would have qualified me for those Pell grants that Republicans insist are the very milk that addicts you to the government teat, so really, they did me a favor. 

I don’t know what the qualifications were in 1983 but the ones that send R&R into fits are a family of 4 has to make $30k or less in order to qualify for ~$4,900, the student has to attend full time at a 4 year college and you can’t use funding for summer classes (which are shorter and cheaper). Why cancel funding to a program that excludes so many already?

The problem is the recession and lack of low-middle wage jobs. Because laid off/downsized workers need training and retraining to qualify for the jobs that remain in the US, people need to go to college. In 2006, 5.2 million low income students qualified for Pell grants and went to college. In 2010 that ballooned to 9 million. You see why R&R have to cut this off right now?

Those folks need to ask their parents for a loan to go to college not the government. Or maybe they could ask some republicans with off-shore accounts and foriegn corporation addresses (Eaton anyone?) to consider manufacturing in the US and paying their actual taxes.

Just a thought.

As a parent I spend a great deal of time making sure that my child’s opinions and arguments are supported by facts and evidence. Since she was very small we made it clear to her that she was free to believe anything she wanted, but that it didn’t make it true. “What do you think?” was, and is, asked frequently because she has to know how to jump start her thinking, and root it in logic, without us spoon feeding her.

She has shifted her belief system many times and probably will again before all is said and done. Once, when she was 4 or 5 years and had started getting into computer games, we were shopping at Costco and she asked me if we were really people in computer game that someone else was playing. I said ‘what do you think’ and she followed this argument line for a while ending with the conclusion that it was silly.

I remember this incident because a woman nearby overheard her question and stopped dead in her tracks with her jaw hanging. Cracked me up. A few years later she decided there was no God because it didn’t make sense. Who am I to argue.

My point is that we work very, very hard to make sure that she can separate what is belief, which requires no evidence, and what is fact, which requires evidence. I would like the rest of the f’n  world to work as hard as I do at preserving this important distinction.

Right now Romney trying to distance himself from Akin and Dr. Jack Willke even though he was once proud that Willke “supported and endorsed” him in 2007. Willke is the medical doctor, and so called father of the pro-life movement, who “BELIEVES” the theory that rape induced pregnancies are rare, and “BELIEVES” the trauma of rape shuts down the woman’s reproductive system. Willke “BELIEVES” this so much that he has included it in educational materials and calls himself an expert on human sexuality.

Can we revoke this mans medical licence for not knowing biology? Or can we at least make people who believe this kind of stuff have to wear signs that say “Crazy Town Banana Pants”?

I mean come on!

Its hard to believe people can be this ignorant of basic biology, but I guess if it interferes with your world view you can just leave bits out.  Personally I don’t BELIEVE that Romney and Ryan are possible as a presidential ticket, does that mean they will just quit and go away?

I’ll just take that one on Faith.

Sometimes the republicans just make it too easy.

Todd Akin cannot back pedal fast enough to make up for his idiotic comments about “legitimate rape” and abortion. Its not an error, or foot-in-mouth disease, its only the truth leaking out.

Hyper conservatives are being forced to condemn his comments as indefensible and Karl Rove’s PAC is pulling ads. All in all a good day for getting people on the record trying to distance themselves from stupidity. Take Rep. Jeff Flake, who I picked for a random spot check because of his name. Flake is running for Senate in Arizona, tweeted “I oppose abortion, but exceptions must be made for rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother”. You don’t say! Lets look at Jeff’s record for a minute:

That would mean that Jeff has now made his first ever exception to his 100% pro-life record. Kudos Jeff!

Fish in a barrel.

Now that abortion is front and center in the public discussion again, I want folks to remember that this whole “its not really rape” issue exists solely to prevent an exemption for abortion. The crazy talk about women being raped secreting “special secretions” – I wish I made this shit up – so they can’t get pregnant, means that if they do get pregnant, they weren’t really raped. It wasn’t a legitimate or forcible rape, the made up terms that Ryan and Akin favor.  Get it?

I really hope we can get deep enough into the topic to hear about Ryan’s position that the definition of life is tied to economic freedom. It is essential that people understand that when Ryan advocates for fetal “personhood” he fundamentally opposes human rights for women.

I have a slightly different view than Ryan in that I believe economic freedom also belongs to women and is truly possible if and only if they have agency over their reproduction. If, when and how.

It should be a human right for a woman to access any medical procedure that stops conception, interrupts conception or aborts conception for any reason, at any time in their reproductive lives, and up to 24 weeks of gestation of the fetus. This is not a moral decision, a group decision or anything that Anthony Comstock ever should have had his filthy hands on.

Remember when republicans are talking about rape they are always talking about abortion.

I did a bad thing.

I calculated the amount of money my husband and I would owe in additional taxes if the R&R ticket becomes reality. The proposed GOP tax structure that would, among other things, take away the earned income child tax credit, deductible mortgage interest and deductible student loan interest, would increase the check we write to Uncle Sam by roughly $10,000 every year. That is some chunk of change for a family not even in the 4%.

Now I know a lot of people don’t like doin math but at some point folks have got to add up the seriously negative impacts of the GOP agenda and recognize that R&R economic policies would spell disaster for the US.  That may sound alarmist, but I think we need to sound the alarm that this election is going to be really important. Not just ideologically as to how we define ourselves as a country, but serious nuts and bolts policies that could initiate a decline that could take generations to recover from. And I am not even mentioning the M word today.

Trying to sort out the information being disseminated by the media and slogging through the political “messaging” is tough even if you pay attention. Its also disturbing to watch facts distorted until they are fiction and lies spoken as truth. Every day.

As wearing as current events are whenever I consider withdrawal someone invariably remarks that they don’t pay attention to the news “because its too depressing”. That’s so lame it forces me to stay in the deep end with the grown ups.

Its only a few weeks until September 4th. I’m sure I can hang tough through the clown show. More importantly early voting starts in my little swing state on September 1 so we can start to get down to business. I will schedule my rest and relaxation for November 7th. Possible the rest of that week.

As much as I would like to be talking about music, I am instead compelled to write about the 33rd house vote to repeal health care reform (that’s ACA to liberals and Obamacare to conservatives). I thought it was the 31st, but I stand corrected. This kind of political theater makes my head hurt.

We are asked to believe that the vote demonstrates Republican commitment to principles (e.g. opposing “government takeover”) rather than just reminding their constituents that they are against all things Obama. Empty symbolism, a try for the Guinness Book of World Records, how ever you look at it its a time waster. Which is a less elitist word for obstructionist.

I would love to see that hard line, unified style come back to bite when folks realize that standing in the way of something is not the same as doing something. Maybe Trent Lott is right and there should be events like Seersucker Thursday in the House for team building and civility. Oh wait, the Senate just discontinued that tradition because it’s “frivolous”. I guess rope courses and communication seminars won’t make it to Boehner’s “Ways to Get to Compromise” list.

I am now seeing and hearing stories about how much it costs to stage one of these symbolic votes, which used to be occasional before they became regular, and $2 mil is a pretty symbolic number. Thats what it costs to run Congress every day. And there are no refunds, just voting day.

Michele Bachman on Fox News said the repeal vote was a “foretaste of what’s going to come this fall” which I mistakenly read as “foreskin”.  Freudian slip as I contemplate a Romney presidency I guess. Bachman also noted that house republicans have “so many positive plans to bring down the price of health care. We can’t wait to do it! I think all of us have plans up on our Web site. We have so much that we can do. That’s what we can’t wait to do is just unleash it all after this fall’s election.”

Since neither Bachman nor Boehner has proposed a bill to replace ACA, we will be in for more “showcase” votes to quote Bachman again.

A musical interlude as they (and we) gird loins for vote number 34. How can they resist? They’re really good at it now.

While it is no longer actively in the news cycle, the incident with Mitt Romney attacking a supposedly gay classmate keeps rolling around in my head. The history seems pretty clear cut. A group of popular guys at a prep school attack a classmate who is “different” and cut his long (ish) bleached hair. No punishment follows.

In the present this incident is incredibly complex.

Because we now have evidence that the harassment gay kids are subjected to has direct and lasting effects – like suicide – a story like this can no longer be swept into the “youthful hijinks’s” category. Its not as if he held the scissors and didn’t cut a la Clinton’s failure to inhale, witnesses confirm Romney’s actions.

Some people may say that we can’t use 2012 standards to judge 1965 behavior, but while it is true that twenty + years ago there was a great deal more tolerance for intolerance, there were still standards of decency. You can argue that Romney was a product of his time, but the problem remains that no time in history actually justifies lack of compassion or victimization.

It’s true Romney was a young man and we have all been guilty of selfish or cruel acts in our youth that hopefully do not totally define who we are now. A bigger red flag for me is that Romney didn’t seem to remember or regret his actions against his classmate. Now I think I am a very different person at 47 than I was at 17, and I am sure I was casually shitty to lots of people in my past, but I know I would remember a deliberate act of violence.

I guess the smorgasbord of how we as a society condone, ignore, deny and justify bullying is what is under my skin. There is evidence of bullying based on race, gender, religion or sexual orientation every day and its a roll of the dice if it is dealt with or dismissed as the product of a PC nanny state.

The President of the US may or may not be the “Leader of the Free World” anymore, but the position can absolutely be “Bully-in-Chief” as easily as it can be Commander-in-Chief. It matters to a whole lotta people if the president has an attitude that can be viewed as condoning harassment of any kind. A ripple effect of intolerance taking place in the midst of the polarization and tea party extremism we’ve got right now is an ugly, ugly prospect.

I can’t think of a novel dystopian enough to reference so here is a mash-up: Fahrenheit 451 + Clockwork Orange by way of The Handmaid’s Tale and then filmed like Children of Men.

Sad fugee face if Romney becomes president.