Wednesday, May 6, 2015

12 Motivational Moments with a Republican Leader – My Take

I saw (and heard – there is audio attached as well) these in an article on npr:

It’s a pretty good set of points made by Ohio Governor John Kasich, but in my opinion these are not quite what they seem and most certainly not what was advertised by the click-bate title of the article …

"People thought a Croatian was something that climbed out of the ocean or something."

His accent belies his Croatian / Czech background and in the audio clip he mentions that no one could pronounce his name. I have co-workers from that part of the world and yes, the names are pronounced very differently from how we interpret the spelling, but that goes for French and any other non-English origins in the USA. You hear mangled pronunciation all the time on broadcasts of every sort. No news there. And the fact that he calls out the ignorance of people in his state with respect to Croatia and its place in the world does not seem to me to be motivating in the least.

"If somebody's throwing bricks through my window, and I'm afraid of what they might do to me, I don't know how I make a great deal with them based on trust."

That was said regarding the Iran deal. I was not aware that Iran has been throwing bricks through figurative USA windows. Perhaps he is talking about the backing of terrorist groups around the world? But the idea that a leap of faith is required must cut both ways, no? Like when the USA engineered the Shaw’s ascendency to the helm of the country and the feeding frenzy on their resources. And, of course, the rather constant meddling in general. Just saying that this is a knife with two edges, and so a deal requires both parties to hold their respective noses. Nothing motivating there.

"I look at things pretty simply. You go to the car dealership and you want to buy a new car, and you're so hungry to get that car, you'll pay anything for it. Very silly way to do anything."

The article does not mention what he is commenting on here, so we are left to presume that he is talking about acquisitiveness in government through deficit financing? Like the spending of trillions to stomp enemies harder than they could stomp today? He probably was not talking about that. No. He’s probably talking about universal health care or something that has the power to do good rather than make people filthy rich. Can’t say that’s all that motivating.

"I see they've got this deal in Congress, and it's the same old deal. Here's what it is: Let me spend— I'm going to have the chocolate cake today, but I will go on a diet, like, next year. OK? It's typical."

How is this motivational? Frankly, it is what all countries in the world have been doing for a very long time. The USA was at some point financed by its own people purchasing bonds and so on. The world has changed of course, but one of those changes has been the spectacular increase in the wealth gap with the 1% taking 77% of all generated wealth for the last 3 decades (as one example of how this has played out.) That money is not “trickling down” to benefit the whole economy, but is rather sitting off shore somewhere for those families’ future generations to spend. The US government has to borrow 40% of what it spends now to make up for such shortfalls. And the burden of guilt for that falls squarely on the Republican ideology of no taxes for the rich in my (admittedly lay) opinion. So yes, (a Republican) Congress does what they always do, and the quote that calls that out is depressing, not motivational.

"On all these programs, I want to kind of quote my mother, who used to say, 'Johnny, it's a sin not to help all those who need help. But it's equally a sin to continue to help people who need to learn how to help themselves.' "

That’s actually a very well made point. The problem, of course, is that it completely ignores the Republican role in creating such desperate need for help. Starting with Reagan, the working poor have been systematically vilified as “lazy” and the mantra that they just need to “work harder” has managed to drown out the need to actually fix the system so that the middle and lower classes can find a job that does not stink and that pays a living wage. So no, I don’t find this lovely parable being uttered by a Republican motivational in the least.

"In terms of the spiritual side, look, you know, people don't have to think the way I do. I mean, I don't care if they're a humanist or if they're a believer of some faith. My feeling about it is, I think, you know, all people are made in the image of God, and everybody deserves respect."

That one almost worked. He is, on the one hand, magnanimously expressing respect for everyone whether they believe in his God or not. Awesome. But on the other, the Governor of an important state in the USA is saying unequivocally that everyone is made in the image of God on the record. I cannot quite see where the separation of church and state is being respected there. Demotivating at the very least.

"My mother taught me about pressure cookers. Pressure builds up, the top blows off. So the leaders have to be able to explain to people that you don't have to compromise your principles to be a compromiser."

Since the battle between Democrats is fought by Republicans using strict adherence to an ideology that is dangerous to the economy and to people’s health and welfare, leading to despicable laws being put on the books all over the USA and some of the most destructive brinkmanship in years with budgets and debt ceilings and so on, I find it hard to believe that this comment is anything but pandering BS for his base. How would that motivate anyone except the ideologue?

"I get frustrated. I'm frustrated with things right now in my state, but [table bang] you don't knock the chess pieces off the chessboard. You don't give up. This is America!"

Ok, I’ll give him that one. If America is known for anything (on the positive side I mean), that would be the ability to conquer any problem of any magnitude by staying the course.

"I really wish I could take credit for all this, but I got these really smart people [table bang] and they do a really good job. And that's how it works. Team."

I’ll give him this one too. There is no substitute for a strong team led well. You can do almost anything with that. Of course, if staying in power is the end result, then I find it more deflating than anything. What a waste.

"The reason why I wouldn't prefer a path to citizenship is, um, I've tried to tell my daughters, you know, you don't ditch the line for — to get Taylor Swift tickets. OK? You stand in line. If you didn't get there at the right time, you don't get 'em. And, uh, I don't like people who ditch the line. That's part of the problem with those who came in illegally."

Wow … this was said with respect to illegal immigrants. Cutting in front of legitimate immigrants is the obvious target of this example. And of course, that is almost exclusively targeted to Mexican immigrants who arrived across the southern border and stayed because it is the one place where it can ben done in sufficient numbers to really matter. The hypocritical aspect of this is obvious – these people are good enough to come in and work under the radar at jobs that Americans will no longer settle for, but they are not good enough to be naturalized once they have been there for years and years contributing to the smooth running of the society. A cynical position from a cynical party. And to use “Taylor Swift” tickets as an equivalence is just embarrassing. You’re playing with peoples’ lives, not their social calendars.

"I had 28 percent approval after my first year. I mean, you have to work to do that poorly. And, you know, you see how the election turned out. So, you know, do your job."

Gotta give him that one. The people want you to do your job and you will get your rewards if you do it (or pander, which works too.) Of course, this smacks of a gross oversimplification but without more context available than the quote he can be congratulated for his acquisition (or reacquisition) of power. That might even motivate someone, somewhere.

"Most of the time, I kind of know what I think. I kind of know how I feel about something. And, you can't run around trying to please everybody. You gotta just be a leader."

Not terribly motivating, because reading this with even a shred of critical thinking leads you to conclude that this leader is “kinda competent, most of the time.”

So ultimately, the article is basically click-bate (as are most of the articles with teaser titles these days.) I enjoyed reading it, if only to ponder how poorly these sound bites match the alleged intent of the article (to inspire or motivate the reader in some way or other.) I wish the Internet had less of this low quality writing, but we are where we are. (I closed this with an intentionally trite phrase that will hopefully grate on everyone who might read this :-)