Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Good Intentions

I don’t usually give thought to making New Year’s resolutions because designating merely one day a year to committing to being a better person strikes me as doing the wrong thing for the right reason. I could resolve to do the right thing, which would be to dedicate myself anew every day to being that better person (or maybe every other day), but frankly, I suspect I’d lose track either of the days or the resolutions, or both. I have a day for that: it’s called the Day of Atonement.

Caught up in the spirit of the season’s greeting cards—doves and olive branches, lambs and lions lying together, candelabras and children’s faces glowing—I thought I’d venture into “The World of Great Expectations,” the New Year’s resolution.

Feeling seasonally and strikingly beneficent this year, my first resolution, as I see it, should be to stop being so hard on the Republicans. I’ve stated that good intention before, but run into trouble adhering to it. How the hell can I… Oops, there I go! My second resolution ought to be not to be outraged when they go off half-cocked and… (breathe!) Well, after all, the Democrats have their foibles, don’t they? And while they’re not as loony as the Republicans… correction: not as oppositional… they have been known to be ornery. Not recently, not so unpatriotically, and in no way… Enough politics!

I resolve to give the gift of giving. I’m not playing with words, I mean exactly what I say and I mean to do it myself, and not just on holidays. I already put my gift where my gab is, and you can, too, via a marvelous non-profit organization,
Charity Checks. You can “Teach The Joy Of Giving” to children (as I did, joyfully), and do countless additional, affordable deeds with your funds that money alone can’t buy. That’s my holiday gift to you, and I’m feeling so good about it!

I resolve to be even more outspoken about incivility at any level in any form in any part of my life or the world. Not that I’ve ever been shy about making my feelings known—can you tell?—merely affirming more of what I think and feel, maybe louder. As a corollary to that, urging people, as an early role-model inspired me, to say what they mean and mean what they say, certainly to me.

Since these are my resolutions, I’m adding a second corollary: taking people to task for using language indiscriminately, starting with words and phrases as random and far-flung and corrupted as Nazi, fascist, socialist, Holocaust, genius, awesome, no problem, and—neither last nor least—the viral, “it sucks.”

I didn’t wait for New Year’s to resolve not to let taxi drivers off the hook when they don’t have the manners to say thank you for a tip. An actress friend gets out of the taxi and leaves the door open, but she’s diminutive and adorable, so I doubt if any driver is going to come after her. But I resolved long ago not to get punched in the nose; in fact, to try to leave this world with as much of me intact as I came into it with. So, I’ve tried waiting… just waiting… until it dawned on the driver to say thank you. I’ve tried asking, “Don’t you thank somebody when they give you something extra?” I’ve tried explaining, reasonably, “You know no one owes you anything; a tip is a way of showing appreciation for your service; a thank you is your way of showing your appreciation.” Have you noticed the change in New York taxi drivers? I haven’t either.

For years, I’ve been mentally threatening to have self-adhesive labels made up to slap on the back of the driver’s seat as I slipped out of a taxi without receiving so much as a thanks. The label would read something to the effect of: This driver doesn’t know how to say thank you. Please don’t reward him by tipping him. I’d probably be cuffed and fined for vandalism.

I resolve to keep my resolve never to watch a reality show… or Fox News… or buy a Murdoch paper.

As a final resolution, I will abstain from calling any other Republican contender but Newt Gingrich a megalomaniac. A puffy-faced, puffed-up megalomaniac. That’s not political, just an observation.

I see I’m already on the brink of breaking my first resolution.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Brown v Warren

Boy, did the Republicans show Elizabeth Warren! They denied her the leadership of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington—the bureau she conceived of and created—only to see her starting to run away with their Senate seat in Massachusetts. A UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll shows her leading Republican Senator Scott Brown by a 7 percent margin, 49 to 42. According to MSNBC show host Lawrence O’Donnell, who knows politics from the inside, “That is an absolutely devastating poll for any incumbent senator. Any sitting senator running for reelection goes into full panic mode as soon as his or her polling number drops below 50 percent. The rule in politics is: an incumbent polling at 42 percent absolutely cannot win reelection…” Did they give it to her!

It’s so beautiful it positively shines. Let’s follow the bouncing balls. Scott Brown bared himself—again—this time by defying his party’s marching orders and endorsing President Obama's nominee to lead the GOP-dreaded bureau, former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray—who was aggressively going after his state’s banks for foreclosure fraud when he was ousted by a Republican challenger—who was subsequently hired for the consumer protection bureau by Elizabeth Warren, the GOP’s bete noire who’s beating the tail off Brown and on the verge of taking Ted Kennedy’s coveted seat back from the Republicans. Now, Senator Brown, that’s what I call being hoisted on your own petard!

And why would Scott Brown do such a reckless thing? Because it wasn’t reckless, it was cynical. Both he and the GOP knew the party had the votes for a filibuster: they could easily deprive Cordray of the up-and-down vote they routinely rail about being deprived of. It’s conceivable, if not likely, that Brown’s GOP guidance counselor(s) advised him to “defy” the party to impress his constituency. See how well that’s working!

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Elizabeth Warren hasn’t won yet, not by a long shot! Be warned, Warreniks, the Republicans have her number. You’ve got to hand it to them! They’ve already exposed the college professor who’s never run for public office for being “a Harvard elitist and an
outsider,” and what’s more, they’re “stressing that she was born and raised in Oklahoma.”

Where do I start? “Harvard Elitist?” Where’s the problem here? Is it with Harvard, or with being educated or skilled, or, truth be told, with simply not being ignorant? And if ignorance is so glorious, as it seems to have become—particularly to roughly 50% of American voters in presidential election years—aren’t the ignorant the Ignorant Elitists?

“Outsider?” With every Republican presidential candidate turning him or her self inside out to be seen as
The Washington Outsider, while in actuality none of them qualify for being anything but insiders—an incumbent congressman and congresswoman, a former congressman who was the 58th Speaker of the House of Representatives, a former senator, a former governor and a present one, and a former ambassador—how can any Republican legitimately brand and denounce Elizabeth Warren for being “an outsider”? Haven’t they heard of the advice for people who live in glass houses? Surely it ought to be part of the platform of the Ignorant Elitists.

Finally… this is not for the faint of heart… let’s not mix words, I’ll just come right out and say it… the audacious Ms. Warren is so outside she was “born and raised in Oklahoma.” “Okla-Okla-Okla-Oklahoma!” “Where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain,” or at least probably did when Warren was born and raised there. Can you get more outside than that? Take note, Massachusetts independents, undecideds and, lest we forget—Republicans. Do they ever have her nailed!