A Great Day for Progressives or a repudiation of Romney?

Barack Obama’s victory last night will give progressives in the US some vindication. However, I think the election results could also be viewed as an outright rejection of the Tea Party faction within the Republican Party. The severe mocking of some of their candidates and their ridiculous positions on rape, for example, on social media played a huge role. The Republicans have also not figured out that the US is no longer a huge monolith to which they can appeal. There is an ever-shrinking number of rich, old, white guys and, the women they control, to effectively elect regressive Republicans. Unfortunately for Obama, Democrats did not gain control of the House of Representatives, which means there will be more gridlock in Congress.

The Tea Party has seriously damaged the credibility of the Republican Party. Its presence has blurred the lines of the separation of church and state – a fundamental principle upon which democracies are built. Their ridiculous stands on rape and abortion sufficiently shocked enough women, most of whom who thought the issue had been settled. The spectre of rich, white men being able to tell women what they could do with their bodies scared enough of them so they went out and voted. The Tea Party has moved the Republican Party so far to the right that it was no longer recognizable to many. Mitt Romney is seen as a moderate by Tea Party standards, which I am sure, scared the crap out of informed Americans.

The role of social media cannot be discounted either. Within minutes of a gaffe or ridiculous policy position being uttered the internet buzzed with mocking graphics. Every single day for months some Republican position was being mocked whether it was Big Bird or ‘legitimate’ rape, nothing escaped. These graphics spread like wildfire basically reducing Republican positions to small sound bites for the internet generation. Republicans seemed to ignore this channel to mock Obama. It is not surprising, as the Republicans didn’t appeal to youth in anyway. Their error, however, was not understanding that many people are on social media and would see these graphics. I can remember the very effective graphics of Mitt Romney putting his dog on the roof of his car and the flurry of Big Bird ads after Romney said he would cut funding to PBS.

Even though Obama has been re-elected, it would be wrong to think that things are going to substantially change. American presidents, who head up one of the branches of government,[1] has less power domestically than a Canadian prime minister with a majority government. Our prime ministers control both the executive and the legislative branches of government. This means they have the power to control the legislation that is introduced and enforce the party discipline to ensure it is passed. While the US does have a party system, the idea of party discipline is not used. Instead if a US president wants to pass legislation they must lobby for all their votes.[2] The Republicans still have control of the House of Representatives, which will make Obama’s legislative agenda difficult. As a 2nd term, ‘lame duck’ President, Obama will be able to spend whatever political capital he has as he cannot be reelected. Some presidents in this position decide to become more active in foreign policy as this is mostly within their control.[3] If Obama decides to do this, we can only hope that he uses his power for good.

I think the reelection of Obama is more of a repudiation of Tea Party Republicans.[4] Had Romney had any control over the other candidates running he may have been able put forward a more moderate campaign. Had Romney denounced some of the more wacky ideas[5] he may have had more success. However, Romney’s elitist attitudes[6] probably drove women and minorities into the arms of the Democrats. In trying to appeal to be conservative enough for the Tea Party, Romney did not attract any new voters to the Republican Party.

If the Republicans are ever to be successful as a party they will need to do several things. First, they must divest themselves of the Tea Party. It is clear that this faction within the party cost them many races; virtually all of the rape deniers were defeated. Second, they must develop more centrist policies that appeal to women and minorities. Third, they must figure out social media. The Democrats, and particularly Obama, are much more savvy when it comes to the internet. They understand how it works and they use it to their advantage. Fourth, Republicans need to understand that their traditional base of support is eroding and there are no new heirs apparent on the horizon. Insisting that everyone can become a millionaire and successful if they just pull up their bootstraps is a garbage nightmare and has no place in politics today.

I am relieved that Obama won because the alternative was so completely scary. Romney seemed to lack the intellectual capacity to be president of the United States. I had visions of him invading Iran because he falls for the ‘weapons of mass destruction’[7] line. He was also scary because no one really knew when he would flip-flop or adopt a completely new position. I think many Americans realized that he may say one thing but would quite likely do another if he were elected.

[1] The Executive.

[2] This is how Americans end up with so much ‘pork barrelling’ in their legislation – they end up tacking unrelated things on in order to get the votes.

[3] Bill Clinton did this.

[4] Obama also had the ‘incumbent factor’ working in his favour. Most sitting US presidents who run for a second term are re-elected. Recent exceptions to this were George Bush Sr. and Jimmy Carter.

[5] Women can’t get pregnant from legitimate rape and even if they do it is God’s will come to mind.

[6] “Let the foreclosures run their course” and the whole 47% thing.

[7] Or nuclear weapons.

One more thing…

When we were at my mother’s, every time I cooked something my mother kept saying that Deb did it. It was so bizarre. Here was an exchange between my mother and Deb:

Mom: Thanks for the great grilled cheese sandwich.

Deb: All I did was put my order into the short-order cook.


Oh, and I think Matt has been on Redemption Island so long that he is starting to look like Jesus!

The power of mothers

Mothers have great power. Some mothers choose to use their power for good. They support and empower their children. Good mothers recognize and celebrate the strengths and accomplishments of their children while supporting them through any difficulties they may experience. Sadly, I do not have a mother like this.

Instead, I have a mother who belittles me at every opportunity. Deb says it is because she can’t stand how smart I am. She knows I am sick and today is a particularly bad day. I have to take powerful laxatives from time to time to make sure that my system does not cease up due to medication. I can’t take the medication I need if things are not moving. This is actually not a colitis symptom. I also have Irritable Bowel Syndrome which, of course, exacerbates the whole situation. Someone accidentally tracked poop in the house. Deb said she would clean it up but instead my mother handed me a brush and the carpet cleaner and said “here this will keep you out of trouble.” She knows I am sick, really sick today and bending straight over at the waist puts huge pressure on my sciatica and my bowel. Agony. I was in tears.

She has an ability to make me cry easily. Over the years, I have gotten better and she is not really as able to do this but not right now. I am not strong right now. I know that. I knew that before we got here. Most years I am really good at keeping the peace. I am not able to do that this year. I am also not able to see the little pitfalls she puts in my place. She has managed to pack more crap into 2 days than she usually does in a 4 or 5 day visit.

My anxiety level is completely ramped up because of pain and my lack of emotional stability. She has a way of getting me when I least expect and she can seriously destroy my self-esteem when I am here. This brings up all sorts of negative thoughts I would not think otherwise. I think part of the reason I embrace work while I am here is because it is a touchstone for me that brings me back to my reality. My mom is out with Deb (poor Deb) doing some errands. I will be back under control by the time they get back because I will not allow that women to know that I cried.

I am also so grateful that Deb stayed. I told her she could go to be with Kirby if necessary but of course I did not want her to go. Thankfully Kirby is fine and at home and Deb is here with me. We also have Piper and Sawyer with us which is awesome too. Although even the dogs don’t escape the criticism. My mother has told Piper she is fat about 6 or times per day since we got her. I can only imagine how poisoned her mind must be that she wants to put us through this hell.


Like most people, I have been reading a fair bit lately about how to become more environmentally conscious. Personally, I think peak oil is going to have a far greater effect on how we live and consume resources than any environment campaign. We can talk all we want about reducing emissions, plastic bags in landfills etc but until it hits us in our wallets we are not going to pay enough attention to make any substantive changes.

I have been reading a couple of green blogs on a daily basis to try and make some changes in our house. We have been using CFL bulbs for a long time and my latest project is to always try and remember to bring the cloth grocery bags. We are batting about 80% right now which is way better than it was for sure. One blog I read is called Our Green Year. At first I really enjoyed this blog. But now it is just getting funny. The things that Craig and Layla are doing, for the sake of the environment, are getting a little ridiculous. Everyday there is a new post and they almost always have the line: “Layla and I _____ (fill in the blank with environmentally pure behaviour).

Here are some examples of things that Craig and Layla have committed to doing:

Day 2: They joined the Green Party
Day 4: The started to store snow.
Day 9: they made milk jug flower pots
Day 14: Sees Craig and Layla washing their windows with socks and vinegar.
Day 17: Now we are getting a solar bbq
Day 26: they began to limit their showers to 5 minutes.
Day 32: they are now bringing their own takeout containers to restaurants.
Day 34: Sees the Bairds giving up their dryer.
Day 45: The Bairds tackle the pesky problem of those paper receipts you get in your cloth bags.
Day 49: Now, they are baking their own bread.
Day 49: The Bairds discover recyclable pens (can you contain your excitement??). Here is a quote from the blog entry for that day: “They are made from corn, and are completely environmentally friendly, so this is big for Layla and I because now we can make notes on our recycled paper with biodegradable pens and be completely net-zero in our writing lives.”
Day 57: Getting rid of pop cans and making their own soda!
Day 58: The Bairds are now making their own butter.
Day 75: Craig and Layla commit to only using one tank of gas per month.
Day 80: They start the global warming diet.
Day 82: Now the Bairds are going to wash their clothes by hand. But, go figure, they are having trouble locating a washboard.
Day 86: In an effort to conserve paper, the Bairds commit to: “We will write small on our paper pads and we will use both sides.”
Day 92: Craig and Layla are now going to collect the water that is run in the shower while getting the temperature correct. They will use this to water their gardens.
Day 96: My favourite day! On this day, the Bairds commit to trying to reduce their possessions to one hundred items. I tried to have a discussion with them about how one would do this (see the comments for that day) but I did not get very far. And, yes, for the record I was freaked out by that thought. We have multiple dogs, dog stuff alone would add up to 100 items: bowls, leashes, collars, brushes, combs etc.
Day 98: Crafting with old cds!
Day 115: Craig and Layla have a new toilet rule. Check it out to see.
Day 122: The Bairds commit to learning to like cold food to save energy.
Day 136: Craig and Layla have assured us that should they feel the need to buy jewelry it will be second hand jewelry.

Honestly, I don’t know how they can manage to do all of this and they are only at Day 138. I mean, seriously, when do they find time to sleep between making their own bread and butter, washing and drying their clothes by hand and sourcing second hand jewelry?

All of this has led Deb to take a fearless inventory of how we could do better on the environmental front:

Christine and I have decided to reduce our Carbon Handprints (anyone can reduce a footprint, it’s so passé).

From now on we’ll be going to the ocean when we need salt. We’ll boil seawater over an open fire in the back yard.

We are going to connect a treadmill to a generator to create electrical power. We will use dog power on the treadmill, hanging a bone from the handle and putting a bowl of water just out of reach.

Our guests will be directed to the closest Gas Station should they need to make use of washroom facilities. Christine and I will train our bladders to fill completely before requiring emptying.

In order to save trees, Christine and I will only purchase one book at a time, which we will both read at the same time. Our bookmarks will be made out of tree bark indigenous to the area.

Again, in order to save trees, we will suspend our subscription to our daily newspapers, and steal those of our neighbor.

In order to save on fossil fuel purchases, we will learn to siphon.

In the winter months, should we have snow, we will assemble our dogs into a sled team, with Clio and Mollie in the lead positions. We will travel only in large clockwise circles.

We will decrease our dependency upon processed food by making our own bread, and baking it in an outdoor brick oven, made with bricks from our neighbors’ deck.

Christine and I will reduce our dependence on ink by filling her fountain pen with the blood we drain from the body of the next Terasen Gas goon that knocks on our door to sell us utilities we already have.

We will recycle by collecting, carding and using all the dog hair in our home to knit an extra blanket to give to Craig and Layla for those nights that they turn their furnace way down.

We will lessen our trips to the Landfill by keeping only one filled garbage bag per week in our bear-resistant container, and adding one bag per house on our street for private pick-up.