Yes. I do have to go there.

Okay. I’m on that horse again. You know the one, the one that goes straight to wonderland, where everything is rosy and pretty . . . no wait. Not that one. The dead one. That’s the one I’m on, the proverbial one in the front yard that I continue to beat whenever I come across some glaring instance of some person who is pretending to be for the people, while that same said someone is obviously not of the people.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ann Romney, spouse of the Mitt, and her take on what it means to be without.

And P.S. Dressage (aka dancing horses), even in the Olympics, is not the same thing as hippotherapy.

                    

Reprinted from the Huffington Post

Larry Womack: Ann Romney Addresses the Common People

Last night, Ann Romney took the stage at the Republican National Convention to tell us all that she (and, by extension, Mitt) understands the troubles of the average American. That she knew what it was like to be one of us.

The problem with that, obviously, is that she doesn’t.

I hope I’m not dating myself too terribly by recalling that old Pulp song, “Common People.” If you haven’t heard it, you can listen to it here. Or, if you would prefer a William Shatner cover set to suggestive clips from Star Trek: The Animated Series (and who wouldn’t?), you can check that out here instead. The song is about a sort of poverty tourist — a privileged woman who thinks it’s very novel and amusing to slum it for a bit. The narrator, of course, doesn’t find his own meager means nearly so amusing because, unlike his delighted companion, his poverty is real, not pretend. “If you called your dad,” he points out, “he could stop it all.” Still, she persists.

Last night, Ann Romney was that woman and we were the common people.

Romney opened with a long, agreeable “I feel your pain” routine that, at times, seemed to resonate. She, like most speakers last night, was especially interested in appealing to women. She then applied it to a personal narrative, portraying her upbringing as exceedingly modest. In fact, her father — admittedly a remarkable self-made man — was a manufacturing magnate and mayor of the affluent Bloomfield Hills by the time Ann was growing up. Finally, she went on to describe her early days with young Mitt in rather humble terms:

We were very young, both still in college. There were many reasons to delay marriage. And you know what? We just didn’t care. We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on saw horses, our dining room table was a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen. But those were the best days.

The image is adorable, you must admit. Two struggling students, madly in love, happily eating tuna off of an ironing board. Even doing their own housekeeping! No staff at all. These people actually had to wash their own dishes. Mitt Romney, we are told, started out with nothing.

Happily for them, the Romney idea of “nothing” is probably not yours, mine or even that of a lucid billionaire. Before they got married, Mitt Romney’s regular “allowance” from his parents was large enough to buy him regular flights back and forth from Stanford, where he was attending college, to Ann’s home in Michigan. When they did get married and move into that “basement apartment,” both were spared the inconvenience and indignity of actually having to get a job — Mitt just sold some of his stock to “get by.” And while they may have walked to class together, they probably didn’t need to; even they acknowledge that Mitt’s parents had given them a car. And when they moved to Boston — after Mitt Romney obtained his MBA and JD from Harvard — his parents “helped” the young couple buy a house.

Even slogging through that pile, Romney came across as sweet, good-natured and, to the best of her ability, genuinely empathetic. There were even moments that felt truly candid — a rare thing coming from a convention stage — as Romney spoke about her battle with MS and her no-doubt horrifying brush with breast cancer. After Rick Santorum’s long whisper through a fog of insanity and Nikki Haley’s jarringly oblivious implication that companies like Boeing don’t need the government to succeed, Ann Romney was one big, huggable breath of fresh air. But the financial narrative she presented contrasted so strikingly with reality that I actually found myself wondering if she really is crazy enough to believe that she has at any point in her life been genuinely poor.

The Romneys ate off of an ironing board. They seem to think that’s what poverty feels like. Well, I went camping once. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what homelessness feels like. Trying to pass this situation off as anything like the fear and heartbreak experienced every single day by millions of Americans living in genuine poverty is insulting, insensitive and, frankly, deranged.

The people living out of cars, in homeless shelters and on the streets didn’t have more stock to sell. They don’t have two rich daddies they could turn to if things got scary. Or two rich mommies. Or every rich person doing business in one entire state and two entire industries, who knew that helping out an influential person’s son or daughter might benefit them later.

Just to be perfectly clear: I do not mean to imply that Mitt Romney has been some sort of slouch. Whatever you or I might think of his methods, the man has obviously worked hard for his fortune. Not “digging ditches” hard or “nursing home orderly” hard, but hard. A lot of trust fund babies waste their lives partying and pretending that they’re important, instead of working hard and actually becoming important. It’s a sad thing to see, but you see it often. Young Mitt Romney took full advantage of every opportunity he was granted and is clearly a genuinely successful businessman. Anyone can—and should—applaud the young Romneys’ frugality, determination and dedication.

But that success must also be credited in large part to his unique level of privilege, which clearly shielded the young couple from the true nature of poverty. And real poverty, I am afraid to inform Mrs. Romney, is not merely a series of choices in décor. It is not some sort of a lark. It is not an act of youthful defiance. It is not living frugally simply because you want to prove a point. It is having nothing to fall back on. It is knowing that if you fail or run into even a tiny bit of bad luck, you and your family will not have food or shelter.

Real poverty is not knowing where your children’s next meal is coming from. It’s not being able to put shoes on their feet or take them to the doctor. It’s living in constant fear of losing your job or getting sick. It’s not having a car to take you to that job. It’s wondering if you’ll still have a home two months from now. It’s hunger. It’s cold. And, above all, it is fear. It’s a thousand other worries that millions upon millions of Americans have endured that Ann Romney never will. It is not a cute anecdote about how cheap your insanely privileged husband is. [emphasis mine]

I don’t say this to pick on the Romneys, or to suggest that anyone resent their circumstances. I say it because, unlike many others who have never really known these fears, either, they sometimes seem incapable of discerning the difference between their reality and everyone else’s. That is an enormous problem.

You see, a man with this mindset might understand what it takes for the very wealthy to succeed, but cannot possibly fathom what it takes to allow the rest of America to do the same. In Mitt Romney’s world, college kids can just borrow tens of thousands of dollars from their parents—if they can’t bring themselves to part with more stock. In the real America, there are over one million students who are currently homeless. Still, in Mitt Romney’s world, there’s nothing wrong with wasting billions in taxpayer money that could be used to pay down the national debt or lift these students out of poverty, so long as the nation can also move more money from those college kids to private lenders. In Mitt Romney’s world, unemployed with $200,000 million in the (known) bank is somehow comparable to unemployed with nothing. In Mitt Romney’s world, people say things like, ” I’m not concerned about the very poor,” and “corporations are people, my friend!”

His wife may have just given the common people another glimpse of it, but Mitt Romney’s world is nothing like the one in which we live and our nation cannot be effectively governed from it. Sounds like a nice place, though.

I had never seen the video clip above (from “The Newsroom”) until Sunday when I found it on Izak Mak’s I Want Ice Water, and boy did it do a number on me. This guy is saying all of the same things that Brett and I have been discussing on the way to school all summer: America is not the country it once was. As I told him, he is unfortunate enough to be witnessing the decline of a nation, and I was fortunate enough to come of age at a time when this country was riding high.

What happened to us? Way too much for me to go into in just one short post. But this I do know: We are our own enemy. We do not have the best interests of our citizenry at heart. We do not place value on education for all. We do not work towards a common good. Everyone is angry at everyone else. Everyone is to blame and no one is to blame. The system is broken, and still we hear the same things over and over and over.

When Barack Obama ran on a platform of change, I believed him. I believed the idealistic young Senator, and I think that he truly believed as well. Then he was elected. Then everything changed. That’s how our system works: wear everything down until nothing happens. Change? Screw that. Status quo all the way. Change means that we can’t have things the way we want them to be. Change means that we cannot continue to do what we’ve been doing all along. Change implies that something is wrong, and in our collective xenophobic minds, such an implication is an impossibility: America is never wrong.

Yes, I’m ranting. But dammit Jim, I’m doing the best I can . . . The engine is still going to blow.

Here’s some food for thought (also found on I Want Ice Water):

“Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.” ~ Poe’s Law (2005)

HRH Queen Elizabeth II in Ascot Purple Net Hat

                    

“It is impossible for an act of Fundamentalism to be made that someone won’t mistake for a parody.” ~ Poe’s Corollary

Since I managed to raise a few hackles with yesterday’s posting of the article “What Republicans Really Want,” I decided to follow up with another brilliant editorial by Mickey Maurer in The Indiana Business Journal. I mean, I’m just about well enough to gather my own thoughts to create a real post, but I figured in the interim, what the hell?

And besides, who knew that I’d find so many great pictures of purple hats . . . I want a purple hat.

“In any fundamentalist group where Poe’s Law applies, a paradox exists where any new person (or idea) sufficiently fundamentalist to be accepted by the group is likely to be so ridiculous that they risk being rejected as a parodist (or parody).” ~ The Poe Paradox which results from an unhealthy level of paranoia

The Indiana We’ve Always Wanted

My fellow Tea Party Republicans, I have an idea. Let’s enact legislation requiring immigrants and homosexuals to wear purple hats. If we are going to treat them differently, we have to know who they are—on sight. Then we can confront someone wearing a purple hat and if he doesn’t speak English, boom, back to Mexico. Likewise homosexuals. We do not want them here, either.

There are no legal challenges to the current law banning same-sex marriages, but the law does not sufficiently set apart and condemn homosexuality. The proposed marriage rights amendment that passed the House and is before the Senate in committee goes a long way. It prohibits not only the union but the other incidences of marriage attached to any unmarried couple.

Under this legislation, homosexuals cannot receive violence protection against assault by their partner, cannot automatically make health care decisions for their partner in an emergency, cannot qualify for partner’s benefits for health insurance or life insurance, cannot share custody of their shared children, and cannot adopt. But the amendment does not go far enough. We need to compel gays to wear purple hats so we can identify them and encourage them to live in San Francisco or Key West, anywhere but our God-protected sacred land.

I confess—this idea is not original. Remember armbands? They have been used to identify the people who are not like us for hundreds of years — before even the Spanish Inquisition or the Aryan Society of Germany. This kind of designation and identification of the objects of righteous wrath has been seen many times before in many variations—and it works.

We cannot be derailed by the moderate Republicans and some Democrats who supported the election of a Republican majority in the Indiana Legislature with the encouragement of the governor in a good-faith effort to effect a sound fiscal policy. Pay no attention when those moderates claim that this well-intentioned effort has unleashed the serpent of prejudice and hatred that may send Indiana reeling economically, socially and morally.

The purple hat legislation will be no ordinary bill. It will go to the core, to the heart, of who we are as Hoosiers. Hoosiers are white, heterosexual, English-speaking, Christian men and women. The purple hat legislation will tell the world that we will not abide anybody that is not just like us. That seems fair. Anybody that does not meet our definition of Hoosier must be penalized and encouraged to leave. Live and let live—but not on the banks of the Wabash.

We have to carefully teach our children. They are not born with the same fine-tuned understanding that we have about what God wants. They are too pure and accepting of their fellow man. That is why you must continue your good work in suppressing attempts to enact school bullying legislation. Our children must be encouraged to harass their undesirable classmates, the kids wearing the little purple beanies.

We could take the time to overcome our ignorance and learn that those with the purple hats are more similar to us than we like to think. Though some have problems with our language or have a different sexual orientation, we may learn that they have ambitions, goals and ideals—that they are human beings who love our country and this state. But why bother? Better to treat them like toxic waste and ship them out.

Why stop with immigrants and homosexuals? With this good idea we can double back and pick up the gypsies and the Jews and the blacks and the Catholics. Well, not the blacks, they do not need a purple hat—after all, they are black.

What difference does it make if we precipitate an economic disaster? Who cares that we will lose opportunity for businesses that may have otherwise considered moving to Indiana and for conventioneers who will undoubtedly revel elsewhere? We may not be as economically viable, but at least Indiana will be ours.

Your legislative representatives are going to love this idea. Soon we will have the Indiana we have all been hoping and praying for.•

__________

Maurer is a shareholder in IBJ Corp., which owns Indianapolis Business Journal.  His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send e-mail to mmaurer@ibj.com.

More later. Peace.

Music by Ana Jonson, “We Are”