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Romney the bully

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 05-10-2012 | in Political, Human Relations, Critical Thinking,

"And If anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that." This was Mitt Romney's version of prominent people's typical mealy-mouthed response to charges of misconduct. Romney made his almost apology after saying, "Back in high school, I did some dumb things."

According to a Washington Post story, by Jason Horowitz, Romney, was upset seeing the dyed blond locks of another male student. Reportedly, "John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality." Romney organized a group of students that attacked Lauber and held him down while Romney cut his hair. Lauber left school long enough to return with brown hair.

I do not place much value on apologies. What someone did was an accident or it was intentional. Someone cannot sincerely apologize for circumstances of an accident she or he did not control. Additionally, someone apologizing for intentional harmful conduct does not change the victim's pain or loss. Nevertheless, the tone of someone's apology does tell us much about the likeness of her or his character then and now. Many people see no relevance between this 1965 incident by high-school senior Romney and his character as presidential candidate 47 years later. I would agree except for his responses to the news article.

"Back in high school, I did some dumb things," Romney said, "And If anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that." This remark suggests that many of the shallow character traits of a high school senior remain part of Romney's character 47 years later as presidential candidate.

Romney refers to a time-back in high school- and not to specific acts. "Back in high school" could refer to annoying faculty members by streaming their homes with toilet paper. It could refer to bullying weaker or less popular students by jumping ahead of them in line. On the other hand, it could refer to assaulting Lauber and other male students that he decided acted too feminine or that he presumed were gay. An apology does not admit responsibility if it does not specify the bad conduct.

"And if anybody was hurt. . ." Translation, "Forty-six years later, I still do not understand how what I did "back in high school" was offensive or hurtful to anybody. Nevertheless, I apologize if they took offense or felt hurt." This sham of an apology denies responsibility and shifts it to the victim.

I heard Romney in a live radio interview with Brian Kilmeade talk about the article. He said, "I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school, some might have gone too far, and for that I apologize." Again, he trivializes the pain his assaults caused others by apologizing for "hijinks," noisy and mischievous merrymaking, and for "pranks," tomfoolery. This choice of words effectively denies his bullying did serious harm. He used those terms even as he admitted that he remembered the incident where he and other boys forcibly cut Lauber's hair. Society advanced far since 1965 to understand the continuing stress school bullies cause victims. Nevertheless, Romney obviously missed the message.

Some incidents from youth stick in the mind to influence adult attitudes. I noticed some older students in my new school calling one boy "Sister Brown." I substitute Brown for his actual last name. I knew him from church by his actual name. The nickname seemed disrespectful to me. However, I said nothing. Seemingly, they were friends from kindergarten and he always responded by laughing. However, one day I looked direct into his eyes as he laughed and saw pain and misery so deep and strong it distressed me. They taunted him because they believed he was gay and he understood the scorn. He left town a short time later, but I never forgot that look of pain.

I relate this incident to acknowledge the experiences that influences my conclusion about Romney. He lies when he asserts that homophobia did not motivate his assault on Lauber and others that he perceived exhibited feminine traits. Often, I saw young males target for bullying someone with a small frame and whom they decided displayed female traits. In all cases, they presumed the targeted person was gay. It is not a coincidence that many adults living openly gay were high school targets of taunting assaults by Romney and his gang of vigilantes. Nevertheless, Romney claims he never knew or presumed them gay in high school.

The news about Romney's bullying conduct in high school is not necessarily a relevant indicator of his adult character. Nevertheless, he makes it relevant with responses more characteristic of the bullying teenager than of someone who matured and changed attitude over the past 46 years.

A foreign policy of American exceptionalism dooms U.S. superpower status.

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 03-19-2012 | in Political, Government, Democracy, Critical Thinking, Economics,

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wrote a book, "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness." This title reflects his campaign theme that President Obama is an international apologist reluctant to speak out with confidence for American ideals abroad. The book justifies high defense spending as necessary costs of American exceptionalism and world power status.

Romney asserts that President Truman created a new world order for the United States based on three pillars: "active involvement and participation in world affairs; active promotion of American and Western values including democracy, free enterprise, and human rights; and a collective security umbrella for America and her allies." He claims that every one of Truman's successors-Republican and Democrat up to George W. Bush- continued in these broad traditions with some modifications and occasional deviations. Romney charges, "President Obama is well on his way toward engineering a dramatic shift in this American foreign policy, based on his own underlying attitudes." He promises a return to the foreign policy traditions of Truman.

Romney's position against foreign policy change contradicts conclusions made in "No Apology." Truman was President of the United States from 1945-1953. The world changed drastically over six decades. Old enemies like Germany and Japan now are allies. Former allies like China and Russia now are rivals. In his book, Romney describes four contestants for world leadership as the United States and the West, China, Russia, and the Jihadists. In addition, he reports the rise and decline of superpower nations over thousands of years to decide that resistance to change was a main cause of their decline. Nevertheless, Romney believes the U.S. President should continue Truman's 20th century foreign policy of American exceptionalism without major changes.

We must shift from the U.S. 20th century foreign policy of American exceptionalism, because it is expensive and paternalistic. Romney said, "The U.S. military provides global humanitarian relief. . . Our military is also charged with deterring nuclear attack whether from rogue nations or a future would-be superpower; preventing space attack and cyber-attack; protecting world shipping routes; supporting nations in their defense against insurgencies and helping failed states avoid becoming bases for terror; stopping ethnic cleansing and genocide; and maintaining the capabilities to respond to conventional wars wherever they might occur on the globe."

There are about 7 billion people in the world with 300 million in the United States. This means that only 4.23 percent of the world's population live here. It is unrealistic for American leaders to believe this small population of free people can continue those costs and remain solvent, no matter the nation's productive might. The many roles he described for the U.S. military-with some roles omitted-will destroy the United States financially if it continues trying to fulfill them all. Nevertheless, Romney rationalizes, "America spends more on our military than other nations simply because we have so much more to protect and defend-not only for ourselves, but also for our allies. The assumption that American taxpayers should pay extra to defend allies rather than them paying their national costs is not a foreign policy philosophy of free people. It makes Americans taxpaying slaves for our allies' defenses.

Supporters for massive defense spending to fulfill this role as international mentor and police ignore how the financial drain threaten national security. Republicans brag how President Reagan defeated Soviet Russia by forcing it to spend itself into bankruptcy with defense costs. They ignore that he also spent America into debt. America's defense spending increased from $158 to $304 billion or 92% during Reagan's eight years in office. The national debt increased from $995 to $2869 or 188%. Spending for education-the main engine for keeping up with change and retaining superpower status-remained flat. Image what those cost will be under a Romney presidency that promises to increase defense spending to protect the world. America is a wealthy nation that suffers much homelessness, inadequate schools, crumbling infrastructure and inefficient health care compared with many of our allies, because of aggressive spending to control the fate of other nations.

Expanding demands for self-rule internationally that reject autocratic rule and colonialism is why 20th century ideas of American exceptionalism will fail. We doom our future as a superpower if we continue the attitude of "America and the West"- a term used by Romney-as the natural international leader and deciding force in world affairs.

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