Tag Archives: Olympics

“Akin” for Understanding

 

Photo appears courtesy of Wikimedia commons

For a little over a month I have avoided writing anything too in depth about the wild and crazy world of partisan politics.  I see no need to assist either of the presidential candidates with the slinging of their mud. I don’t want to react to the newest soundbites or quotes from speeches designed to influence my opinion. I find the campaign stops and bus tours ludicrous. I have trouble believing that one millionaire truly understands me better than the other millionaire.

I could go into a few things that have moved me over the last month. Romney’s senseless comments at the Olympics, or Obama’s complete misunderstanding of small business and entrepreneurs. I could lambaste the president for saying he does not need to prove anything while arguing that Romney should have to prove…see how easy it is to fall into the trap?

There is no better way to understand our partisan bickering than the view of a complete political meltdown.  Over the weekend we were offered a perfect example of a politician making cringe worthy remarks and the media running with them. When Todd Akin went on a St Louis morning show to talk about his race for the U.S. Senate, who knew the six time congressman from Missouri would coin a new phrase and draw up battle lines all across the country.  The foolishly uninformed statements made by Mr Akin can be viewed here.

Akin for a clue Photo appears courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Two things happened very quickly following the “legitimate rape” fiasco. First Democrats tried desperately to tie these comments to the general belief of any pro-life politician. This opportunistic approach is exactly the kind of thing that makes me despise election year news coverage.  Second, anyone with a reputation to protect ran screaming from Todd Akin and were quick to point out his views were strictly his own and not the views of… well… anyone who has ever taken an eighth grade health class.

What amazes me is that people have come to Akin’s defense. Explaining that he misspoke…I see when he said that a woman’s body has ways of  “shutting that whole thing down” what he meant to say was “Rape is a deplorable thing and no one can question the choices someone makes after a traumatic experience like that.”

The current division in our society has left us in an odd place. We feel compelled to defend anyone who shares our beliefs regardless of how indefensible their actions may be. We also find ourselves too quick to assume that the thoughts and opinions of a whole group of people who disagree with us can be summed up by the raving of one mad man. (Joe Biden speaks for all Democrats, right?)

 

I long to view national politics the same way we do on the local stage. Outrageous claims are seldom made in attack ads on the local level, because you have to see that person and their family afterward. The expectations are higher with lower offices, sources must be named and comments explained. On the local stage Blind Faith is just a super group featuring Eric Clapton, not something we grant the members of our party– simply because they are members of our party.

In my next piece I will probably return to slamming the current administration, but for now let me appeal to you as a person. We have to be the difference! The standards we have for those meant to represent our beliefs and positions should be twice as stringent as those we place on others. We are judged by the company we keep both personally and politically.

 

 

 

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The Week in Geek: Aug. 3, 2012

One thing I’ve learned watching the Olympics this week is that it’s all about techn-geek (technique, get it?). That doesn’t really work, but I’m bad with puns. Here’s what you need to know to sound fascinating this weekend!

Avengers Babies! We make our dreams come true! Avengers babies! We'll do the same for you!

This is probably the only way to make AvX interesting – make it adorable. Image courtesy of Scottie Young on Deviant Art.

British gymnast Jennifer Pinches flashed the Nerdfighter sign before her routine, but that wasn’t the only nerdtastic moment from the ladies in leotards.  Mexican gymnast Elsa Garcia Rodriguez Blancas did her floor exercise to a Zelda medley.

Some tremendously disturbed and wonderful person created Goodnight Dune.

TJ is filling his custom world in Mutants and Masterminds with superheroes and intrigue and he wants to fill you in.

Some guy who has only ever seen the first 30 minutes of Jurassic Park wants to build his own. With live dinosaurs. Before you say it, no, Mike, we will not honeymoon there. 

Oh, Coulson!

Oh, Coulson, you old stalker, you! Image courtesy of krusca on Deviant Art.

Proving that sometimes stereotypes exist for a reason, a team of Russian scientists is working on the more than slightly unethical mission of making us immortal. What’s better is that they’re supposed to have it by 2045, comrade.

Proof that not only am a geek, I’m kind of a jerk.

Someone get a squeegee because the trailer for the 7th season of Doctor Who is out, and it’s making Whovian heads explode.

Making the joke that everyone else has made because I love me a bandwagon – the title for the X-Men: First Class sequel has been released, and it is not X-Men: Second Class.

Speaking of film developments and Dr. Who, ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston has been tapped to play the villain in Thor 2. Before you get your panties in a twist, Loki will be there, and Rose will not.

They just ordered in schwarma.

Black Widow isn’t there because she’s out being a spy, not slacking like these Aven-jerks here. Image courtesy of Hallpen on Deviant Art.

Everyone needs an inspiration. J. Fortune’s was none other than the manliest man of mystery, James Bond.

Proving the nerds are more successful than normies, Todd McFarlane’s cover art of Amazing Spider-Man #328, featuring Spidey gut-busting the Hulk, sold at auction for a record $675,250.

Even though Bane sounded like he was narrating a particularly violent episode of Masterpiece Theater, I presume starring Dame Maggie Smith as the Tomb Raider (Armed only with withering comebacks no less! Admit it, you’d watch it.), it could have sounded much worse.

Felicity took a long look at Mitt Romney, and the longer she looked the more she found wrong.

J.K. Rowling has said the wizarding gene it dominant, but how to you explain wizards born to muggles or squibs? Biology student has it all figured out.

In a theme near and dear to my journo heart, Topless Robot, in addition to having a wonderful name, has a list of the 10 best journalists from comics.

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The More Romney We Come Across, The More Problems We See

Mitt Romney’s tour abroad (which includes all of two European countries and Israel) has produced some interesting commentary from the would-be next president. No doubt most of these comments are blips on the radar, but with enough points on the page we can start to connect the dots.

Late last week an anonymous foreign policy advisor within the Romney campaign had choice words for the Daily Telegraph concerning the Obama administration’s regard for the UK.  Specifically:

Gage Skidmore  via Wikimedia Commons

“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage and he [Romney] feels that the special relationship is special…”

And further on

“The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”

Curious words given how many Americans don’t have Anglo-Saxon history. Many of those same Americans owe a lot of historical hardship to that heritage. The problem with that Anglo-Saxon heritage is that it’s wrapped in colonial history and colonialism hasn’t been kind to everyone.

Are we to take it to mean Barack Obama doesn’t appreciate the Anglo-Saxon heritage because he’s not Anglo-Saxon? Was this a subtle reminder about some of the convenient differences between Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama?

Maybe, but it feels more like this was a nuanced commentary on a shared history that was poorly stated.

There was also some commentary Mr. Romney had for the British people concerning preparedness for the Olympics:

“A few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, supposed strike of immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”

Not racist. Not really even that important… even if it is kind of a dickish thing to say to a country trying to get excited for the risky business of turning the Olympics into an economic boon.

And then there’s the trip to Israel where Romney was overheard commenting on the cultural differences between Israelis and Palestinians.

“It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel…”

And a more complicated cultural comment on the triumph of the Israeli economy.

“Culture makes all the difference… And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few others things?”

The first comment is interesting because while contentious, or so I read according to experts in middle eastern geopolitics, but it falls in line with previous presidential comments. So maybe not so serious, even if it did get serious attention. Guess that’s Liberal Media: 1, Romney: 0

The second comment is a little weirder. By comparing Israeli success by citing their GDP against Palestinian scores. If the idea is that Israeli culture is the deciding factor… it means that other comparable cultures cannot be as successful.

Are these hints at the careless, racist culture within the Romney camp?

Maybe, but it feels like there are a couple different elements at play. We’ve already talked about how the Mitt Romney isn’t class sensitive, but it feels like he also doesn’t understand why you can’t comment on someone else’s culture without perilous risk. Our culture is made up of the values we hold important.

It would be kind of like me saying that the culture of Alabama is the reason poverty is rampant in that state. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not (though we should try not to confuse culture with politics or economics) because it still pisses people off when they hear it.

More importantly, Mr. Romney was supposed to be taking this tour to prove that he’s capable of leading abroad. And maybe he did just that. These 3 gaffes represent only the smallest part of what he did in Europe and Israel. And, to be fair, it seems like he failed at making complicated observations that are probably more correct than not. The problem is that instead of coming back from Europe looking like the next president, he looks like a rookie. This may just be a PR failure, but it’s a failure none the less.

Finally, there is a part of me that wonders if some of this has to do with how foreigners feel about Barack Obama. It’s no secret that our president has enjoyed a higher approval rating abroad than at home until recently. Actually, even in decline 63% of Europeans approve of Obama’s policies. It makes me wonder if Romney’s walking through a PR minefield.

It often seems like American liberalism is European conservatism, which would make Romney the crazy right winger trying to lead the country with the most nukes and drones. But that is just a hunch.

What I do think is that the Romney camp isn’t very good at dealing with folks that aren’t like themselves. Take that NAACP speech he gave last month. That was a prime opportunity to address a huge disparity in our electoral politics: Why do African Americans (and other minorities and women) vote for Democrats over Republicans in such large margins?

That’s a real question that deserves a real answer, and it would have been fascinating to hear about why the candidate thinks that happens and how he would like to address it. Hell, if the GOP could figure out how to stop Dems from pulling down the minority vote or the women’s vote they could probably win every election outside of a coastal state… and maybe a lot of those too.

Instead it turned into he said she said about whether Romney was trying to get booed to fire up his own base.

What it seems like, from my vantage point, is that Romney isn’t very good at appearing empathetic. It looks like he doesn’t understand  why racial, cultural, or economic differences matter to the people in those circumstances. That may or may not be true, given that I’m looking at three things he said in a sea of other statements, but even the appearance that he doesn’t get “it” is a real problem.

 

(Feature Image: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)

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