Category Archives: I don’t think that word means what you think it means

“Fail.” You keep using that word . . .

Since my brother and I appear to be communicating by blog these days (::waving::  Hi, Bruce!), I’d like to respond to this post* by paraphrasing my second favorite movie line:**  “‘Fail.’  You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.

Republicans are fond of saying that Obama is a failed president, that his policies have failed, and that there’s just a whole lot of fail going on.  The only possible definition they could have in mind for the word “fail” is “not doing what Republicans would like a president to do.”  Because by any reasonable, apolitical, measure Obama is a resounding success.  I’d really like to know how the definition of “fail” accounts for:

  1. Killing bin Laden.
  2. Saving the US auto industry.
  3. Repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” ending defense of DOMA in court, and supporting marriage equality.
  4. Supporting the overthrow of Gaddafi.
  5. Signing the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
  6. Getting us out of an expensive and destructive war we should never have started.
  7. Appointing two righteous women to the Supreme Court.
  8. Passing Obamacare.
  9. Passing the Stimulus.
  10. Passing Wall Street Reform — not enough, but it’s better than nothing.

This is just sort of Amy’s top ten; there are a number of websites devoted to listing the President’s accomplishments, including

There are, in fact, several very business-oriented metrics that suggest President Obama is a success.  For example, the Dow was at about 8,000 when Bush left office; it closed at 12,820 on Friday.  (This continues the general trend that the Dow likes Democratic presidents much more than Republicans.) And Corporate profits are way up under Obama.   So, um, “socialist” doesn’t mean what they think it means either.

I think that leaves for the definition of “failed” when used as an adjective in the Republican mantra “failed president” such things as

  • Failing to cut taxes for millionaires.
  • Failing to appoint Federalist Society members to the Supreme Court.
  • Failing to leave the health of our citizens to the mercies of the perverse incentives of the insurance industry.
  • Failing to continue the war in Iraq.
  • Failing to not be concerned about bin Laden.

Ultimately, it is perfectly reasonable for Republicans like my brother to disagree with Obama.  But calling his administration “failed” seems like a weirdly transparent but ultimately content-free branding campaign.


* The upshot of Bruce’s post is that all teen-age boys do cruel things, so we should not judge Mitt Romney by his decision to assault a classmate to cut off his hair or physically trick a blind teacher into walking into a door.   I don’t think any of my brother’s escapades (he takes the fifth but I’m aware of at least some small percentage of them) rise to the level of cruelty the Washington Post article describes of Romney.  But if in fact all boys do these things, perhaps it’s time to elect a girl to the presidency.

** My favorite is “Sometimes I sing and dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn’t make me Madonna.  Never will.”  Don’t ask me why.  I have actually used this quote on opposing counsel, though not to his face.  We have an opposing counsel who has, on his voice mail, a pompous quote-of-the-day, which you have to listen to, all the way through, before leaving him a voicemail.  It’s generally something from Gandhi, or the Buddha, or a Hallmark card, and it’s often very long, with no option to push # and just skip it.  After several years of superhuman effort exerted toward not saying, “Dude, you are working your ass off to deny the civil rights of people with disabilities; stop it with the quotes, already,” I finally left him two quotes of my own.  The first was this one; the second was “I used to be disgusted; now I try to be amused.”   No reaction to either one from him, but I cracked myself up!

Lactation: I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

Though what this judge thought it meant is beyond me.  The awesome Barry Roseman posts a quote of the day for a bunch of us civil rights lawyer types.  Here was today’s:

The commission says that the company fired [Donnica Venters] because she wanted to pump breast-milk.  Discrimination because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical discrimination is unlawful.  Related conditions can include cramping, dizziness, and nausea while pregnant.

Even if the company’s claim that she was fired for abandonment is meant to hide the real reason — she was wanted to pump breast-milk — lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.   She gave birth on December 11, 2009.  After that day, she was no longer pregnant and her pregnancy-related conditions ended.

Firing someone because of lactation or breast-pumping is not sex discrimination.*

Hold on.  You may have missed the last line, so I’ll re-WordPress-special-quote-function it:

Firing someone because of lactation or breast-pumping is not sex discrimination.

Makes total sense:  none of the men were permitted to lactate or pump breast milk at work either.  QED!


* EEOC v. Housing Funding II, Ltd., 11-cv-02442 (S.D. Tex. Feb. 2, 2012), slip op. at 2.

Yes, we have a voting problem, Part Deux

Just last month I was being cynical about Republican efforts to prevent voting fraud by making sure that students and poor people don’t vote.  But thank goodness the Republicans are on the ball, so we could catch poor student Charlie White and punish him for his voting transgressions.

Oh.  Wait.

Jury finds Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White guilty on 6 of 7 felony charges

Do you love that his name is Charlie White as much as I do?   And it’s really a Republican hypocrisy two-fer, because it turned out that his vote fraud, er, “confusion” was, well, I’ll let break it to you gently:

The charges stemmed from confusion over where White lived when he campaigned for secretary of state in late 2009 and 2010. White claimed that he lived at his ex-wife’s home on the east side of Fishers. But the jury convicted him based on allegations that he actually lived in a townhouse on the opposite side of town that he bought for him and his then-fiancé. The townhouse was outside his Fishers Town Council district.

Note that it’s “confusion” when a conservative politician bails on his wife, shacks up with his fiancé, and fails to notify the secretary of state so he can stay on the city council of the city in which he no longer lives, but potential “fraud” when an 84-year-old woman who has voted in every election since 1948 doesn’t have a birth certificate because she was born at home in 1927.

Why are some atheists such a**holes?

From a billboard in Boulder:

Billboard with text "God is an Imaginary Friend.  Choose Reality.  It will be better for all of us.  Colorado Coalition of Reason."

Right, because making fun of other people’s beliefs has done so much — throughout history — to promote peace and understanding.

How about “Choose Mutual Respect:  It Will Be Better for All of Us.”

I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean.

Newt Gingrich asks: “Do you want to move towards American exceptionalism, reassert the Constitution, reassert the nature of America, or do you, in fact, want to become a secular, European, sort of bureaucratic socialist society?”

Evidently his own answer is, “neither, thanks; I prefer a dictatorship.”

How do we know this?  Because he has decided to abandon the rule of law, one of the key things that makes America exceptional.

On “Face the Nation,” Gingrich announced not only that court decisions that are out of step with popular opinion should be ignored, but that as president he might have judges arrested by the Capitol Police or the U.S. Marshals.

Ignoring court decisions and having judges arrested is what dictatorships do.

He was referring to a decision to keep a public high school graduation secular, something required by the Constitution.  But ignoring unpopular opinions would not only let us establish government-ordained religion and reinstitute racial segregation, it would let undermine one of the pillars of our economy.   I’m thinking foreclosures are fairly unpopular decisions these days — shall we be allowed to ignore them?  How about evictions?  Don’t want to pay a judgment for breach of contract?  Form a mob and show how unpopular it is!

In my field, decisions tossing ADA cases based on procedural grounds such as standing or mootness are unpopular.  Shall we ignore them and bring our sledgehammers with us when we visit inaccessible facilities?  (Do NOT tempt me!)

Or are we only allowed to ignore decisions that are unpopular with conservatives?

And this guy is supposed to be the brain trust of the Republican party?

What’s funny is that Gingrich is smart.  He knows how important the rule of law is, which also means that he knows he’s full of shit.  But he has apparently decided that the only way to win this time around is graft the arrogance that has always been a side effect of his intelligence to some sort of random right wing slogan generator to create a FrankenCandidate who would be immensely entertaining if he weren’t so frightening.

And finally we have the Republican party 2011:  proclaiming conservative values while embracing a someone with three marriages and multiple affairs; decrying elitism while embracing a pompous windbag with a $500,000 line of credit at Tiffany’s; and proclaiming American exceptionalism while rejecting the rule of law.