Posts Tagged ‘newt gingrich’

Title has nothing to do with the post, I just liked the line, and so I stole it shamelessly. 

Amused has a good post riffing on the trend (I guess?) of children not being invited to weddings. I’m not really interested in that particular question, but I want to highlight it because she brings up two themes that have appeared here before: home ownership and freedom of speech.

Bashing weddings is not unpopular, and I hasten to separate myself from the crowd that always rushes to point out that the money spent on a wedding would be better used towards a downpayment on a home. I actually hate it when people say things like that…

The American obsession with home ownership for its own sake, no matter the cost or individual circumstances, is almost as ridiculous as the obsession with “perfect” weddings.

Agreed. We have spent the last 60 years or so bashing the notion of home ownership into our collective national psyche so entirely that it seems impossible to ponder doing otherwise. It has been the basis for public policy, and is essentially what people think of when they think about “The American Dream”. Home ownership has become, in fact, a measure of self importance. You aren’t really successful until you have a house in the ‘burbs. You can’t really feel good about yourself until you have that well manicured, tiny lawn, and that not so tiny payment. Back in January, I highlighted a quote by Gingrich stating that home ownership “is the greatest achievement” of peoples lives and makes them “feel like they are good solid citizens.” No room for even the possibility that maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt isn’t worth it for the chance to sit in traffic! Of course there’s nothing wrong with home ownership. For some, it works out great. For others, its not for them. That’s all fine. I merely reject the idea that home ownership status should be viewed as some kind of national metric for self worth or merit.

More important than home ownership, though, is the notion which many seem to forget, that freedom of speech is not freedom of consequence-free speech:

It was said repeatedly in the thread I linked that the marrying couple have the right to decide who does or does not attend their wedding. After all, it’s their day, and the guest list is their prerogative. That is, of course, true. However, there is often a confusion in people’s minds between having the right to do something and having the right to receive only innocuous reactions to whatever it is you do simply because you have the “right” to do it.

Amused’s point here was that the marrying couple has every right to ban children from their wedding. Their guests (or not) also have every right to be offended by that ban. It’s simple, and it’s a perfect example of the point I discussed in the link above that speech (and actions) have consequences and just because one has the right to do something doesn’t mean they can do it with impunity. Others may be offended. Maybe they won’t be. They may act on that feeling. They are well within their rights to do so.

Bet you never thought you’d see a question on wedding etiquette lead to a quote from Newt Gingrich and a civics lesson!


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OK, OK, a couple months late and a few million bucks short but hey, who’s counting?

Newt Gingrich hinted he may withdraw from the presidential race if he has a poor showing in the Delaware primary Tuesday – a state where he has been actively campaigning for several weeks.

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Stay classy, NOM:

BuzzFeed obtained a confidential strategy memo from an anti-gay marriage group, the National Organization for Marriage, with a goal of “fanning the hostility” between black voters and gay voters by casting President Obama as a radical foe of marriage.

Obama is “a radical foe of marriage”? Clearly. Just look at his personal life! Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, is just all about marriage.

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Newt Gingrich says that defeating President Obama is a matter of national security, because he is incapable of defending America. Newt also points out that we run the risk of “someday in your lifetime of losing an American city” to a terrorist attack.

Well, yes, I suppose that’s true. That is a possibility. It could happen! But let’s be clear. It would be just as possible under President Gingrich, President Romney, President Paul, President Santorum, or President Anyone-the-hell-else. Isn’t fear-mongering fun?

Every time I step into the subway I run the risk of being in an enclosed space with someone that has the Ebola virus. It could happen!

Every time I go out to eat, I run the risk that some USDA APHIS agents fell asleep on the job and my burger contains active mad-cow prions. It could happen!

Is America at risk of suffering a terrorist attack? Of course it is. To pretend otherwise is naive. But what does that mean? Should we give in to fear and let the threat control and define us as Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove before him seem to want? Or should we go about our lives?

I, for one, will continue taking the subway, eating burgers, and living in American cities.

And I’ll leave you with this, from The West Wing (I know, I know). Newt (and Rick Santorum) would do well to take note:

What’s Islamic extremism? It’s strict adherence to a particular interpretation of 7th century Islamic law as practiced by the prophet Mohammed, and when I say “strict adherence,” I’m not kidding around. Men are forced to pray, wear their beards a certain length. Among my favorites is there’s only one acceptable cheer at a soccer match: ‘Allah-uh-Akbar.’ “God is great.” If your guys are getting creamed, then you’re on your own. Things are a lot less comic for women, who aren’t allowed to attend school or have jobs. They’re not allowed to be unaccompanied, and oftentimes get publicly stoned to death for crimes like not wearing a veil. I don’t have to tell you they don’t need to shout at a soccer match because they’re never going to go to one. So what bothers them about us? Well, the variety of cheers alone coming from the cheap seats at Giants stadium when they’re playing the Cowboys is enough for a jihad, to say nothing of street corners lined church next to synagogue, next to mosque, newspapers that can print anything they want, women who can do anything they want including taking a rocket ship to outer space, vote, and play soccer. This is a plural society. That means we accept more than one idea. It offends them… You want to get these people? I mean, you really want to reach in and kill them where they live? Keep accepting more than one idea. It makes them absolutely crazy.

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A lot of links today since I haven’t had a lot of time to write recently.

To start off, Energy and Climate:

Marriage Equality:

  • The government won’t defend the section of DOMA that applies to the military
  • Andrew Sullivan has a must-read on equality opponents constantly yanking away the football

The absurd shouting match on Birth Control and “Religious Liberty”:

General Interest:

Anything else?

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Kevin Drum highlights a bunch of polling data that suggests that Obama’s core constituencies from 2008 are “magically reassembling before our eyes”. Broadly speaking, over the past couple years we’ve seen a lot of reporting on how women, independents, college kids, etc were “abandoning Obama”. But now, according to these numbers, Obama’s coalition is back, baby! But what is magical about it? I actually think the reason behind this shift is really simple.

During the first years of Obama’s presidency, there was not an election going on. So when folks evaluated the President, they held him against their own version of an ideal President, and not surprisingly, found the real guy lacking. But now that there’s an election, Obama doesn’t have to compete with Bizzaro-Obama. He only has to compete with Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul.

And in these comparisons, Obama is coming out ahead. Nothing magic about it.

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Barack X

Bill Maher discusses the fictional Obama that the GOP candidates have created to run against:

The whole video is worth watching, but pick it up from the 2:50 mark for the part about the fake Obama.

Via The Dish

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Oh SNAP!, ctd

Obama, defending himself against Newt:

“First of all, I don’t put people on food stamps, people become eligible for food stamps. Second of all, the initial expansion of food-stamp eligibility happened under my Republican predecessor, not under me. No. 3, when you have a disastrous economic crash that results in 8 million people losing their jobs, more people are going to need more support from government.”

Some facts about the SNAP program here.

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Newt continues to spew his nonsense about food stamps (SNAP benefits), calling Obama the “food stamp president” and claiming he has put more people on food stamps than any other president. Well, luckily the good folks at the USDA keep data on this kind of thing, so I think I’ll use it to make a chart. Here’s the number of people receiving SNAP benefits from the beginning of the Bush 1 administration through today, by Presidency:

Data from USDA FNS

Looking solely at the total number of people enrolled in the program, you will see Gingrich is just barely correct. Under Bush 1, enrollment increased by 7.3 million people. Clinton reduced it by 9.8 million, GW Bush increased it by 10.9 million, and Obama increased it by 11.2 million.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. The upward trend were currently seeing, and the reason enrollment has risen so high under Obama, began during the Bush administration in 2007 – 2008! What ever could have happened around then that would cause people to need help affording food? Oh right, the bottom fell out of the economy, and it shrank by 9%! To claim Obama is responsible for a trend that began during the Bush administration is ridiculous. Enrollment in these programs is a function of the economy, presidents (Bush, Obama, or any others) don’t “put people on food stamps”.

And regarding the racial breakdown of SNAP beneficiaries, Ezra Klein points out:

about 34 percent of beneficiaries are white, 22 percent are black, 17 percent Hispanic, 7 percent Asian or Native American, and 20 percent “race unknown.”

And finally, my own personal pet peeve: the idea that receiving SNAP benefits will cause someone to not work because they’re perfectly happy living on the government’s dime. According to USDA data, in 2010 30% of beneficiaries had jobs. The money they received from the program was, as its very name implies, supplemental assistance. And lest you think that this number has decreased to 30% as Obama’s socialism has turned us all into lazy welfare queens, the precentage of beneficiaries with jobs has more than tripled since 1990.

But why is that? Why is it simply not true that SNAP stops people from wanting to find gainful employment? In 2011, the average monthly benefit per person was at its historic high, clocking in at a whopping $133.85, or $4.37 a day.

So next time someone tells you that people on food stamps just don’t want to work, challenge them to eat for less than 4.4o a day.

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I Don’t Understand

Newt Gingrich:

“Those who, you know, live in high-rise apartment buildings writing for fancy newspapers in the middle of town after they ride the metro, who don’t understand that for most Americans the ability to buy a home, to have their own property, to have a sense of belonging is one of the greatest achievements of their life, and it makes them feel like they are good solid citizens.”

Hey! I live in a high-rise apartment building, and I take public transportation to work! (OK I don’t write for a fancy newspaper, but 2 out of 3 aint bad). So, I guess Newt is right. I don’t understand.

I don’t understand why Newt thinks it would be better for me to move into the suburbs, spend hours a day sitting in traffic, and get into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt to buy a house. Because my current plan of living downtown, taking the train places, and paying off debt is obviously just big government socialism?

Apparently I’m not the only one that doesn’t get it, given that the recent census data showed the urban downtown cores growing.

Oh, and Newt? This apartment dwelling metro rider feels perfectly fine in the “good solid citizen” department.

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