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damn liberals

Kind of. For about 10 seconds.

It’s tough to be a politician nowadays what with the ever shrinking size of recording devices and of course, the Internet. Oftentimes in this hyper-connected, over-sharing, real-time-news-update-by-the-second, meme-obsessed world, WWW is the kingmaker. At the same time, it could also easily topple a career. (Ironically, the same world is causing its people to command shorter and shorter attention spans and therefore the ups and downs are becoming less and less definitive and permanent. Think Mel Gibson. Think Numa Numa Kid. Who? Exactly my point).

What the Internet giveth, the Internet taketh.

But I digress (which happens often here by the way).

I felt sorry for Mitt Romney in the first ten seconds after I read about (and later saw) the recordings taken by someone at a closed-door fundraiser of his. What happened to the sacred divide between public and private? What has the world come to if one cannot speak with candor at a private event? If one has to worry about tapes of one speaking one’s mind behind a closed door being leaked and then shared and reshared across the Interwebs faster than one could stick one’s foot in one’s mouth?

Here is one of the choicest quotes from Romney’s private speech to his wealthy donors back in May, in case you have not encountered it (i.e. your butcher’s wife’s brother-in-law has not sent it to you yet):

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what… These are people who pay no income tax…

My job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Transcription of the above quotes from Mother Jones

In addition, the following is actually my favorite because Romney told a joke and his audience actually laughed! Who said that he had trouble connecting with his voters?

“My dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico… and had he been born of, uh, Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. He lived there for a number of years. I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.”

Sounded like someone who was denied entrance to a university and blamed on all those people of color for taking his spot. We can debate the (de)merits of Affirmative Action until the cows come home, but, wait, News Flash! You are running for the President of the United States, and your strategy is to whine about it being “Not fair!”?

Not surprisingly, Romney’s got the facts wrong. I don’t really fault him for it, for about ten seconds, since he is not the only one getting confused. Thanks to Fact Checkers (courtesy of Washington Post), we know the following

“Some 44 percent of those who do not pay income taxes are because they benefit from tax benefits aimed at the elderly, while another 30 percent benefit from tax credits for children or for the working poor

But not all of these people are automatically Obama supporters. In fact, according to a map published by the Tax Foundation, eight of the top ten states with the lowest income-tax liability are the heart of Romney country — the deep south. The only exceptions are Florida, a battleground state, and New Mexico, which leans toward Obama. Meanwhile, most of the states with the lowest level of nonpayers are Obama states.

As for other entitlements, of course Social Security and Medicare are reserved for the elderly — and are generally popular. But it seems simplistic to think these are all Obama voters, especially since polling indicates that the Republican share of the vote among white seniors have increased in each of the last five elections, to 58 percent in 2008.” [Emphasis mine]

Or, you could save yourself some time by looking at this easy-to-read chart from Tax Policy Center:

So there you have it.

Ever since the release of the tape on Mother Jones there has been a lot of outcry by the “liberal media” against Romney’s equating Obama voters with people who wait for government handouts (and vice versa). The Washington Post went a bit on the side of overdramatic and called this “Mitt Romney’s Darkest Hour“, and so did one of Bloomberg‘s bloggers who predicted “Today, Mitt Romney Lost the Election“.

All the brouhaha aside, IMO, this is not going to change anybody’s mind. On the contrary, any such talk will most likely deepen the resentment felt by many GOP supporters who are already deeply suspicious of the so-called liberal media. (Thanks to Faux News.) I don’t see white seniors changing their minds because of what Romney was caught saying. It’s the liberal media’s fault! It’s a conspiracy! as it always is. The “fact checkers” are probably in on it too! There is no winning an argument if people whose minds you are trying to change distrust “facts”. Besides, when Romney’s talking about people who sit around and wait for handouts, he was obviously not talking about THEM. It is not an outcome I’d like to see if Romney somehow comes out of this 47%gate a victim of “espionage” planned by the Obama campaign. I can already see them turning this whole thing around by pointing a finger at the  oh-so-scary, conniving “liberal media” in cahoots with the Dems.

 

 

So why am I wasting your time with this mental dribble?

 

Here is a collection of Tweets today from my Twitter stream. Quickly! I’d better put this up before HuffPo publishes yet another Top 10 Most Hilarious Tweets on [some mistake made by some celeb’s] masked as journalism.

 

In conclusion…

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I know that I suffer from a severe case of liberal guilt and that’s why I don’t think I can truly relax in places where there is a clear demarcation, often times physically, between the privileged and the underprivileged. You can accuse me of being a hypocrite if you want. I would not know how to defend myself. So there. 

I am in Shanghai now on a business trip. I never feel truly comfortable when I am in China because people mistake me easily for a local (I can fake a Beijing accent when speaking Chinese vs. my natural, Taiwanese-accented Mandarin Chinese) and yet they could tell that there is something off about me. They’d ask me where I am from. When I explained that I grew up in Taiwan and now live in the US, inevitably there would be lots of questions about the comparisons between Taiwan and China, the US and China, and the topic always leads to, uncomfortably at least for me, how I have a much better life.

“You went to good school.” They’d conclude with regret or longing or something in their voice, if the person I’m speaking to is from outside of the upper-middle class.

The hotel I am staying in provides massage services until 2 am. It sounded like an awesome idea: travelers with jet lags will LOVE to be able to get a massage when they have trouble going to bed anyway. So I called the extension and booked a 60-minute acupressure massage session in my room.

“So where are you from?” My masseuse asked as she tried to figure out in which direction I should lie on the bed. I was still confused because she had come in with nothing. Where’s the oil? The lotion? The blanket? The towel?

“Taiwan? Wow. It must be a lot nicer over there.” I tried to deflect the conversation by suggesting that people love coming to China nowadays because of the opportunities.

“More opportunities?”

“Yeah, you know. More land. More people…” My voice trailed off as I backed myself into a corner. Sure enough, she told me that she’s not from here. “We came from [another province].” Instinctively, I understood that she’d meant “we, the masseuses working at this hotel”. She was here, like many other migrant workers from rural China, by herself leaving behind two children and aging parents.

She told me about the farms back home, how before she got married at 23 she was already considered to be an old spinster, how massages were unheard of because god forbid if the neighbors got wind that either you got a massage from a man or you gave a man a massage.

She said that she wished she could visit Taiwan some day. I suggested jokingly that perhaps she should visit other places before Taiwan if she ever has a chance. “But when will I have a chance to visit another country? It costs so much!” I simply forgot how much it costs to travel, to fly on an airplane overseas. My plane tickets to Shanghai cost almost $2000 USD, which translates roughly into 4 months of her wages if she works every single day.

Finally came the question I dreaded the most, “How much are you paid over in the US?” (Yes, people do ask you this question sometimes.)

I gave a lame response of how salaries may be higher in the US but our costs of living are higher and also we have to pay more taxes. Lots more. She didn’t seem to mind my not answering her question.

“I am paid 100 yuan a day. I did so many massages today but I will still get 100 yuan.”

I was surprised. And embarrassed somehow. In my panic, I also wished that I had pretended to speak no Chinese. Then I felt extremely guilty and ashamed of myself.

“You know, you are smart [why’s she so sure of that?] and you went to good school [ibid]. Me? I don’t know how to do anything. No skills. No brains.” She said, matter-of- factly.

Fortunately for me our conversation veered off when she got to my derrière. She said jokingly, “You look so thin but oh your [backside] is so big!” I was not offended the least because I was so relieved.

“Hey. That’s what they call Son-bearing hip, ok? All the grandmothers loved me when I was young. They know I’d be popping out boy babies.”

“Oh, my butt is huge too.”

We bonded over son-bearing hips. And thick thighs. Yes, once I turned to lie on my back, she was surprised by how “there is no meat on your face”. She proceeded to wonder out loud how it’s possible that I could have such thick thighs since my arms and my mid region looked great. I wanted to hug her for the compliments. These were sincere and not backhanded at all.

By the end of the session, I had determined to give her a great tip even though tipping is a complex matter in China. Yes, hotel workers cater to Westerners may have come to expect tips, most Chinese are not accustomed to it. Some people actually resent the thought that “foreigners are training workers in China to expect tips from all”.

“I don’t have the exact change. How about you bring these to them and keep the change. Will they let you keep the change?”

She looked utterly confused. “Don’t you have exact change?”

“No. I am sorry. That’s what I meant though: go downstairs with the money, and keep the change. If I give you these bills, will the change go to you at all?”

“Oh no. No. They’ll never give me the change.”

“Ok, here’s what you are going to do: Give them the bills. Tell them I asked you to bring the change up to me. But then just go home.”

Now she looked scared. “They may catch me leaving with the money… I will bring the money to your room.”

As she hurried out, it dawned on me that this might not have been the best idea because what was I trying to prove? What was I trying to do to this poor woman so I could feel better about myself?

A knock on my door.

“Hi. Good evening. Here’s your change back.” Standing there, holding out the money was not my masseuse but a better-dressed, more cosmopolitan-looking young woman.

Somehow I was not surprised. Of course they wouldn’t allow her to bring the change back to me. I was saddened, imagining my masseuse’s disappointment caused by me.

Why did I try to meddle in somebody’s life?

Another knock on my door.

“Oh, I was so scared! Did she bring you your change?” Now she’s embarrassed. “I just want to make sure that you’ve got your change. They told me that I could leave. So I made a turn when nobody’s looking and came upstairs.”

Giving someone a tip should not made either the giver or the receiver feel as if they’re having an illicit affair. I was really upset at “them” by this time. The irony did not escape me of course.

Her eyes widened as I pushed the change into her hand. “What are you doing? You are nuts.”

“Well, you know. I used a coupon and I think you the person who did all the work should enjoy this reward and not me.”

 

It’s now past 3 am here. I am not sleepy at all. I don’t know what I am trying to say by recounting my encounter with my impotent conscience.

Maybe I am hoping that one of you will call me out on it as an atonement.

 

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Instead of reading my blog, here are two things I came across today that you should read over the weekend:

From the New York Times, A Gay Former N.B.A. Player Responds to Kobe Bryant, by John Amaechi, who in 2007 was the first NBA player to come out. We have all heard that Kobe called a referee in the heat of an argument the F-word. Many came to his support, claiming that it’s just the way the Sports World, the good ol’ boys club works. Mr. Amaechi begged to differ, in a rational, respectful and persuasive voice.

Here is a quote from the very powerful, and may I say, surprisingly well-written (yes, I have my bias against people in sports. SORRY!) article:

Many people balk when L.G.B.T. people, even black ones, suggest that the power and vitriol behind another awful slur — the N-word — is no different from the word used by Kobe. I make no attempt at an analogy between the historical civil rights struggle for blacks in the United States with the current human rights struggle for L.G.B.T. people, but I can say that I am frequently called both, and the indignation, anger and at times resignation that course through my body are no greater or less for either. I know with both words the intent is to let me know that no matter how big, how accomplished, philanthropic or wise I may become, to them I am not even human.

 

 

With a title 9 Things The Rich Don’t Want You To Know About Taxes, how can you not be intrigued? Unless of course you are this guy:

The "NEW" GE way indeed...

These are the 9 secrets:

1. Poor Americans do pay taxes.
2. The wealthiest Americans don’t carry the burden.
3. In fact, the wealthy are paying less taxes.
4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all.
5. And (surprise!) since Reagan, only the wealthy have gained significant income.
6. When it comes to corporations, the story is much the same—less taxes.
7. Some corporate tax breaks destroy jobs.
8. Republicans like taxes too.
9. Other countries do it better.

Charts and numbers galore!

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“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

February 4, 2011 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

. . . . . But, Wait, There is more! Inspired by Vapid Blonde’s brilliant idea in her comment, that Papa Bear’s words when read out loud could sound almost like a children’s book, I present you with these… . . .

39 comments

$5000 a Bullet

January 13, 2011 this i believe

Many of us have seen Chris Rock’s standup routine on gun control, or as he called it “Bullet Control”, either on YouTube or in the movie Bowling for Columbine. In the wake of the shooting in Arizona, there is a heated discussion surrounding the fact that 1) the gunman fired off a large capacity magazine […]

32 comments

I Comment Therefore I Am – Trolling

June 15, 2010 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

When I was in college, Deconstruction and Postmodernism were in vogue, later when I was in graduate school, Cultural Relativism was all the rage, and I thrived in the academic environment that prized my way of examining and understanding life and people from all perspectives. In real life, this makes me a person with no […]

33 comments

Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. For real.

June 12, 2010 through the looking glass

Oh man. I should have written this post Thursday night or Friday early morning when I was still riding the high from being at a live taping of my favorite radio program, Wait Wait Don’t Tell me. Instead I am suffering from the backend of the pendulum swing, crashing hard, filled with doubt and self-loathing. […]

23 comments

WTF Wednesday: Letter to Congressman

April 21, 2010 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

Now that healthcare reform bill has been signed into law, and we are NOT holding our breath to see when changes can really be carried out, probably years, and by then, I’d probably be dead from holding my breath especially since I can in all honesty hold my breath for only 10 seconds under normal […]

11 comments

WTF Wednesday: Here, have an MRI

March 24, 2010 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

Thanks to the straight (and stern) talks from you, I went to see a doctor today. Just a random doctor since I don’t really have a family doctor. My Ob-Gyn is the only doctor that I “keep in touch” throughout the years. And oh, yes, my dentist. I have been forced to drop quite a […]

32 comments

WTF Wednesday: Fighting “I Guess I’m a Racist” with “I Guess I’m a Lazy Ass”!

December 16, 2009 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

UPDATE (12-17-2009): I realized that my attempt at satire actually makes it even more confusing. My apology. I will lay it out straight: The “I’m a Racist” ad is ridiculous also because it predicted on the faulty assumption #1 HCR is mostly about the African Americans #2 Ergo I have been accused of being a […]

20 comments