Why Seamus keeps dogging Mitt and what Melissa Harris-Perry got wrong

Yesterday during her show Melissa Harris-Perry, Melissa weighed in on the dog kerfuffle with Mitt Romney and Seamus (pronounced SHAY-mus) and more recently, with Barack Obama eating dog meat when he was five years old in Indonesia. (video below)

She — along with a lot of Senators and campaign advisors — made the mistake of thinking the whole dust-up is about the treatment of a dog.

It isn’t.

Here is the real issue.

Faced with a complex problem — namely how to transport five boys of various ages, his wife, himself, luggage and a large dog in a station wagon on a five-hour trip — Mitt Romney failed at the solution, specifically for three reasons:

1. The solution he arrived at did not include empathy for the one occupant, Seamus, in the car who was the most vulnerable and dependent on his ability to make a quality decision. Mitt saw him and treated him as property, not as a living being.

2. Mitt Romeny showed poor risk assessment. If the carrier would have broken free of its restraints while the car was traveling at a high rate of speed, Seamus would have died a horrible and gruesome death. The risk is the same reason why it is illegal for passengers to ride in an RV trailer.

3. Ann Romney asserted in an interview that Seamus liked riding in the carrier. Just because Seamus liked riding in the carrier doesn’t mean it was the best thing for him. Leaders need to assess risk against immediate gratification. Sometimes what the population you govern wants something that isn’t the wisest course of action, like a tax cut while trying to reduce the deficit. A leader is someone who has the wisdom and foresight to say “no.”

Like most of the dog-people arguments made before hers, Melissa mistook the plot for meaning. It is the same mistake high school students and college undergraduates make about literature. The Scarlet Letter is not a story about adultery; The Awakening is not a story about a women who cheats on her husband with a playboy. Literature is about something bigger than the plot, yet most people never get beyond the plot.

Melissa committed this sin and never got beyond the plot of the dogs and silly season.

The reason the Mitt-Seamus dog story is substantive is because it is about a grown man — who wants to be the next President of the United States — being faced with a series of decisions to solve a problem and making the wrong choices. The presidency is all about solving complex problems within a set of constraints.

The puppies here at the DogWalkBlog assert that how Mitt Romney solved the Seamus problem gives us a glimpse into how he would solve the inequity of the tax code, health care for the elderly and women and the treatment of war-time veterans as President.

And that glimpse is far from silly. It is positively terrifying.

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What Barack Obama is doing right or how he is navigating a room full of teenagers

I listened to President Obama’s press conference yesterday. I watched Chuck Todd ask questions and look really confused as he was getting a pretty straight-forward response from the president. Then, I watched as Todd was asked about the press conference later by the afternoon and evening “MSNBC Dog and Pony Show” hosts and how he went into editorial-hyperbole mode and got everything all wrong like he always does. Let’s remember, I watched the same press conference. I know what I saw and heard.

Then I watched the late night MSNBC hosts Olbermann, Shultz, O’Donnell and Maddow rip President Obama a new one for capitulating to the Republicans. Olbermann may have a point, but Maddow kinda glossed over some facts, like not every Democrat is on Obama’s team. Most are on their own “I have to get re-elected in 2 years” team so they are not really thinking clearly.

And I’m trying to figure out what the heck is going on that these otherwise really smart people just are not seeing. And here is how I can best explain it.

It is like being in a family of teenagers. The GOP is the teenager who is defiantly against anything mom and dad do. It doesn’t matter what it is, they are going to say “no” if mom and dad say “yes.” Just as simple as that.

The “professional left” is like an “entitlement” teenager who just found out that mom and dad are not really her best friends but her parents. And sometimes parents say “no” to things. Entitlement teens lash out at their parents by saying things like “you don’t love me” or “I hate you,” etc. Their “love” for mom and dad is rooted in what they can manipulate them into doing.

Now here is the kicker: The teenager is not capable of seeing past the end of their nose. They are not responsible for making the mortgage payment, keeping the water and heat on, making sure the gutters don’t leak, making sure the tuition is paid and there is food on the table. For most teenagers, food is magically produced when they open the fridge door. In short, they can afford to have me-centric opinions of the world. Someone else is paying their bills.

Parents can’t afford a me-centric view.

The GOP absolutely, positively, without a doubt would have blocked all unemployment benefits to over 5 million unemployed citizens with impunity. They are incapable of seeing beyond their own noses and view themselves as defiant for a cause, just like the defiant teenager sees his actions as noble and principled.

The Left wants it all right now and is really pissed off at her defiant brother whom she sees as manipulating mom and dad more effectively than she can, even though she is just as manipulative and devious with her false love.

Someone had to be the responsible parent, even if it meant that the defiant teen would gloat in victory and the entitled teen would be screaming “I hate you!” at the top of her lungs. And I think that is what we saw; a parent trying to do the best thing from a crappy list of options, who would risk the scorn of one teen and the vilification of another to keep the lights on for the family. At least for one more month.

Or not. You decide and comment below. I assume you care.

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Facebook’s privacy mess just a way out of a larger mess that has everything to do with software management

facebook privacy

It seems that everyone has an opinion on Facebook’s privacy mess and I would be remiss if I didn’t just jump right on the bandwagon and try to grab some limelight (two clichés in one sentence!)

Here is what I think is going on.

I think Facebook’s privacy policy is more a reflection of a user culture that wants to be able to customize and individualize everything than it is a deliberate attempt at obfuscation. “Share this thing with these three people, but not that one but only on the third moon of every…” You get my point… As you throw in more stuff, you increase the settings combinations exponentially.

But Zuck’s stated views on privacy is not helping his case. It may just be his way of trying to manage the tangling mess of settings by stating “everything is not private” just to be able to get out from under the hell of customization expectations he created.

Or he really is a monster.. I dunno.

Health care reform my puppy butt

Yesterday, Keith Olbermann had a one-hour special comment about health insurance and health care in America. He has recently had a first-hand experience with his father.

I don’t know how much it cost to produce one hour of Countdown nor do I know what the lost opportunity costs are from insurance ad revenue MSNBC will probably never get because of this and having Wendall Potter as a frequent guest, but I do know how much influence this hour will have on moving the health care debate.

Zip. Nadda. Nothing.

If Keith Olbermann’s celebrity and MSNBC’s money and reach can’t even blow a little breeze into the health care debate in this country, what chance do any of us have of being heard? Exactly.

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Listen to the groundhog

Punxsutawney Phil being yanked from his comfy home by people who can't wait to know the future.
Punxsutawney Phil being yanked from his comfy home by people who can't wait to know the future.
I love Groundhog’s Day. It is a silly holiday that you can just hype up and people giggle at.

When reading a post from Chris Brogan today, along with my Wall Street Journal, The Waterboy and a healthy dose of Morning Joe, I’ve come to a conclusion about this economic mess. The economy prognosticators have it all right. And all wrong.

Here is why Punxsutawney Phil — that famous groundhog — is relevant to what is going on with this economy prognosticators right now and what we can take away from him. If Phil sees his shadow, gets scared and scurries back to his burrow, there are six, long weeks of Winter left. If he doesn’t see his shadow, there are only six weeks left of Winter. Yeah!

We can learn a lot from this annual holiday in Punxsutawney, PA, but accurately predicting the future is not one of them. The “Inner Circle” of Punxsutawney have figured out how to get thousands of people to visit their little town in a very cold part of the country in the dead of Winter and all the news media talking about them for a whole daily news cycle. They created a legend of a groundhog, dress up in top hats, hold this grand ceremony and declare the future of Old Man Winter!

That is all these economy pundits are doing. Nobody knows the future. The quality of the remaining six weeks of winter is not a function of a skittish groundhog or a proclamation made by a fraud in a top hat, but by the decisions you make with that time. Will you hibernate and wait out winter or go out and play with the snowflakes? The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

As I mentioned in my comment to Chris Brogan’s post:

My take on all this future stuff, however, is to look at future films of the past — even as recent as the 1980s. Nobody got the 16:9 television. Even when screens were larger, wall-sized, the 4:3 format still reigned.

For the astute reader, you may have seen the mention for the movie The Waterboy in my opening paragraph. At one point in the movie, (toward the end, you have to watch the whole thing) Coach Klein envisions his nemesis Coach Beaulieu with the head of a cute puppy, is no longer scared of him and adopts a new-found self-esteem.

The next time you watch Joe, Pat and all these other prognosticators on television predicting gloom and doom, envision them with the head of a groundhog.

Then, go make your own future. It will happen whether you wait it out or not.

Joe Biden get a German Shepherd

Stolen from www.msnbc.com
Stolen from www.msnbc.com
Vice President-elect Joe Biden has picked out a 3-month-old male German shepherd from a suburban Philadelphia kennel to bring with him to Washington.

Biden, riding deep with seven black Secret Service vehicles, rolled up to German Shepherd breeder Linda Brown’s home in Chester County, Penn. on Saturday and rolled out having chosen the nation’s Second Dog. From the Shepherd side of this family, we think that is a pretty good choice. Brave, but good.

Read the whole story at MSNBC.com

The election is not about race

Sure, Barack Obama is African-American and yes, he is the first black president of the United States of America and that is historic. But, he is also a really smart man who knows how to inspire greatness in others and instill dreams that people act on instead of just wishing and praying.

Obama was elected because he could inspire a nation to act, because he enabled us to see a brighter future that was not built on hate, war or fear.

Obama was elected because ultimately, Americans want to be ethical, brave, smart, gracious, humble, proud and smart. We want to be able to see the World and be liked and respected; not because our military can bomb the crap out of any other, but because we have earned respect by giving mutual respect. Because we have developed our talents, skills, hearts and minds to their maximum capactity, knowing that capacity is limitless.

And then we give them away freely, knowing that even if they don’t come back to us, they at least make the world a better place.

That is the real wealth that needs to spread around.

Arrianna Huffington writes in her blog:

Obama’s victory holds up a mirror, reflecting the country we are. And it turns out to be the kind of country we’ve always imagined ourselves being — even if in the last seven-plus years we fell horribly short: a young country, an optimistic country, a forward-looking country, a country not afraid to take risks or to dream big.

Let me put it another way. I wish I were the person my dog thinks I am. Today, America, you are. Let’s hope you remain.

To ignore the generations of African-Americans who paved the road ahead for Obama would be a mistake. But, to attribute Obama’s win to his race would be an even greater one. That being said, CNN and MSNBC, please stop propping up black people as pundits simply because they are black. That no more qualifies them to comment than does Palin’s foreign policy experience based on her proximity to Russia.

This country wants to be smart, hopeful and happy once again. Media, start leading again! Reject the format of arguing know-nothing pundits and journalist wanna-bees and let’s start having serious conversations around real issues. The country is changing and growing up. Stay in step.

And Malia and Sasha when you go to pick up that new puppy, please go to the Humane Society and pick out a mutt. They make the best kind of dog, especially the skinny ones whose ears are a little uneven and stick out just a little bit more than they should.

Party? What party?

I was settling in and almost asleep when some idiot on CNN was railing on and on about how this Clinton/Obama race is tearing the party apart, that it is bad for the Democrats, that they need to heal together to win the election in November. And, then as I hit that level of rage between annoyance at being kept awake and the dread of some human idiot won’t ever shut up, I got an epiphany!

Here is what CNN, MSNBC, Fox and all the other media is missing that the American people know:

The job of President of the United States of America is held by one PERSON, not by a PARTY. Nobody cares about the Democratic Party any more. Americans want the best PERSON to win the election, even if the two people running against each other for the job are members of the same party!

If anything comes of this, I hope it is the death of the two-party system. Against any of the two Hillary or Barack, McCain looks like a really, really old guy who can’t remember his name. But, Barack vs Hillary, that is a clash of Titans! THAT is a race to watch and people just don’t really want this one to end.

I sure hope the loser of the Democratic primary runs as an independent. Either way, Hillary or Barack would win this thing, whether as an independent or a Democrat. Choke on that, Howard Dean!

Ok, Colbert is on now… that’s a much quieter (boring) show and I’m curling up and taking a snooze.

Now you can listen to the podcast in Rufus’ own voice.. really!!