Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday Satire: Ryan Edition

   I am having problems with my Internet after one of Florida’s lightening storms, so I’m having to post from a public location until the problem is resolved, so, needless to say, I am not in a good mood.

"In college Paul Ryan drove the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. So he and Romney have something in common. Both have the experience of driving a car with a dog on the roof." -David Letterman
"Mitt Romney is hoping to energize conservatives with his choice of Paul Ryan as running mate. That's like trying to spice up a bowl of oatmeal with more oatmeal." -Jimmy Fallon
"Mitt Romney kept his selection of Ryan as his VP nominee secret for more than a week. You know how he was able to keep it secret? He had it hidden next to his tax returns." -Jay Leno
"A new poll actually found that 42 percent of Americans do not approve of Mitt Romney's running mate, which isn't too bad considering most Americans don't approve of Paul Ryan's running mate." -Jimmy Fallon
"Paul Ryan is full of excitement, he's drawing big crowds. The only thing holding Paul Ryan back now according to political experts is Mitt Romney." -David Letterman
"Tell me one area where Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin would disagree? I cannot find one area. So somehow he's the smartest guy in the party and she's the stupidest woman on earth, but they agree on everything." -Bill Maher

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

NYT Disembowels Ryan Budget Plan

You didn't really think I was going to say eviscerate again did you? :)  The Times has had a string of hard hitting editorials on Romney's VP pick of Ryan, and they have another today.

Romney-Ryan Plan for America

I love the way they immediately, and rightfully, link Ryan's budget proposal to Romney.  Romney is going to have to do a lot of squirming to distance himself from the Ryan plan.  Of course, Romney has had a lot of experience lately in the squirming department, and if there were an Olympic event of squirming, Romney would win gold by a long shot.

Below the fold are excerpts from the editorial.

It’s no wonder that Mr. Romney does not want to take full responsibility for his running mate’s ideas. Mr. Romney hasn’t issued a real budget plan and appears to have no interest in doing so before the election, perhaps for fear that voters might realize how little they would like it.


Even less familiar to voters are Mr. Ryan’s plans for the rest of the federal budget, which if anything are worse than his Medicare proposal. By cutting $6 trillion from federal spending over the next 10 years, he would eliminate or slash so many programs that the federal government would be unrecognizable. That has long been a goal of the Tea Party ideologues who support Mr. Ryan fervently, but it is not one shared by anywhere near a majority of Americans.


The federal government simply would not be there to help the unemployed who need job training, or struggling students who seek college educations. Washington would be unable to respond when a city cannot properly treat its sewage, or when the poor and uninsured overload emergency rooms as clinics close.


These cuts are so severe that the nation’s Catholic bishops protested the proposal as failing to meet society’s moral obligations, saying the plans “will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors.”


Mr. Ryan’s budget would not reach a surplus for 30 years, according to the C.B.O., because he would cut taxes, largely for the rich and for corporations, by $4 trillion.


Whatever his political considerations were, Mr. Romney made a clear statement in choosing the most extreme of the vice-presidential possibilities, both in Mr. Ryan’s economic views and his positions on social issues, like his opposition to contraception coverage under the health care reform law for employees of religiously affiliated institutions, repeal of the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy, and sensible gun control.

What was Rmoney thinking?  Did he really think he was going to be able to avoid all the mean spirited wing nut crap that Ryan has proposed.  He literally is talking about dismantling the federal government, sending us and the world into a deep economic depression, and making the United States a 3rd world country.

The Republican party has morphed into a group of cultists who are completely out of touch with reality, and who's greed and selfishness would end the America we've built over the past 200+ years.  If the rest of the media will step up to what the New York Times has been editorializing over the past couple of days, maybe the American public will wake up to the threat the Republican party actually presents to the worlds future.

Originally posted to pollwatcher on Mon Aug 13, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Romney Can’t Get His Medicare Right, He’s Wearing his Flip-Flops Again

Mitt's Medicare Muddle

  By Jed Lewison   Tue Aug 14, 2012

If you want proof that the Romney campaign still hasn't figured out how to handle the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan, just check out what they've been saying over the past 72 hours:

  • Romney had barely walked off stage after announcing he'd picked Paul Ryan when his campaign said Romney would not be running on the Ryan plan.
  • In an interview with 60 Minutes, Romney said the election wouldn't be a referendum on the Ryan plan and that his plan wasn't the Ryan plan.
  • On Monday morning, Romney avoided talking about either his plan or the Ryan plan, instead attacking Obama for achieving $700 billion in Medicare savings ... even though Ryan supports those savings.
  • On Monday afternoon, Mitt Romney claimed the Romney-Ryan plan would expand Medicare, even though it would actually end it.
  • At the same press conference, Romney said he couldn't think of any differences between his plan and Ryan's plan.
  • On Tuesday Morning, Romney surrogate John Sununu claimed the Ryan and Romney plans were "very different."
  • Two hours later, a senior Romney adviser said Ryan and Romney were "100 percent on the same path" on Medicare.
  • If you know what they're going to say next, you've got a better imagination than me.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Donald Trump Weighs In On Romney’s Pick Of Ryan…Twice

   Leave it to the Donald to jump in to the flip-flop circus.

   Back in May of this year, Trump said:

On Tuesday morning, that bluntness was on full display as Trump spent several minutes plainly questioning the political chops of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and declaring, with characteristic conviction, that the Ryan budget would be an abject disaster for Romney.

"It is catastrophic what he's done," Trump told CNBC. "If they lose, it will be the single biggest reason why the Republicans lost: the Ryan plan." [...]

"I think the worst thing [Romney] can do is strongly embrace that budget if he wants to get elected," he said. "This will be the single worst move in the Republican Party for many years. This is going to be catastrophic."

   Trump now:

    The @PaulRyanVP choice was a bold pick by @MittRomney. Energizes the base and changes the trajectory of the race. #RomneyRyan2012
@realDonaldTrump via web

    Donald Trump was correct the first time.

Romney Flip-flops on Ryan Budget Plan

    On Saturday Mitt Romney’s campaign team said:

Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget, and as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance.

   I guess that he had not yet gotten the memo from Ryan’s backers at that time, because that story has now changed to this on Sunday:

TOP ROMNEY ADVISER ED GILLESPIE: Well, as Governor Romney has made clear, if the Romney, sorry, if the Ryan budget had come to his desk as a budget, he would have signed it, of course, and one of the reasons that he chose Congressman Ryan is his willingness to put forward innovative solutions in the budget.

RNC CHAIRMAN REINCE PREIBUS: First of all, he did embrace the Ryan budget. He embraced it.

   That Rush idiot and the Fox News people must have been ringing Romney’s phone off of the hook, or else someone told him that his tax rate would be almost non-existent under the Ryan budget plan.

    Romney can certainly embrace that.

    I said it on Saturday, these two are another Cheney/Bush team, and Ryan would be calling the shots in the White House.

   We cannot allow that to happen in November.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paul Ryan, Ayn Rand, and the Political Contradiction of Christianity

Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate Saturday morning. In the process, he increased #AynRand Twitter tags to previously unseen levels. The Romney choice set off a national discussion on Ryan's fascination with the philosopher and put Ryan's ideological foundation on display.

What few pundits have mentioned is the way in which Paul Ryan  - and conservative politicians in general - is willing to employ a detached version of Christianity for political purposes, leaving the policy-making to be guided by some other moral foundation.

Ryan's thoughts on Ayn Rand are clear. He has stated that Ayn Rand was the single most influential thinker in his choice to enter politics. He has stated support for Rand's moral justifications of capitalism. He even stated that Ayn Rand's philosophies shaped him as a person. If that wasn't enough, Ryan burdens his family members with Rand's unbearable literature through painfully uncreative Christmas presents. In the office, he attempts to shape other young political minds in the name of selfishness by strongly suggesting that his staffers read Rand's writings.

You can find quotes from Ryan on Rand dating back a decade and as recently as a couple of years ago. In fact, Rand featured prominently in Ryan's 2009 campaign, as he quoted her philosophy in a widely distributed video. Enter April 2012, when Paul Ryan's political star had risen to the point where being linked to militant atheism was toxic. This development led to an interesting Ryan quote:

“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan said this year. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas…Don’t give me Ayn Rand.”

That brings into play a number of questions. Chief among them - how does a person's core guiding principle change so quickly and without an apparent traumatic experience? Why are Rand supporters overjoyed at the selection of a candidate who rejects Ayn Rand's philosophy? Why does Ryan's budget plan incorporate the rugged and soul-less principles that Rand championed?

Ryan stated repeatedly that Rand shaped his thinking and provided justification for his own adherence to brutal, unbridled capitalism. If one were to undergo a dramatic shift in philosophy, rejecting the principles of Ayn Rand, wouldn't there be some evidence? Wouldn't there be some policy change that might enable us to do more than just take Paul Ryan at his word?

The problem for Ryan is one shared by many conservative politicians. Namely, their actions don't match their beliefs. For these individuals, embracing Christian morality means upholding convenient parts of the Bible while quietly ignoring others. 

How could a politician driven by Christian morality propose a budget that establishes a country where producing wealth is rewarded at the expense of the demonized poor? How could one support increased government spending on war-gaming while decreasing support for the sick and disenfranchised?

Whether you believe the tenets of Christianity is irrelevant. For politicians who claim to live by the creed, many conservatives are doing a terrible job of, you know, actually following the demands of Jesus:

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.”

“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”

"Then I will turn to those on my left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.  For I was hungry and you wouldn't feed me; thirsty, and you wouldn't give me anything to drink; a stranger, and you refused me hospitality; naked, and you wouldn't clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn't visit me.' 'Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?' 'And I will answer, 'When you refused to help the least of these my brothers, you were refusing help to me.'"

"'If you have two coats,' he replied, 'give one to the poor. If you have extra food, give it away to those who are hungry.'"

"Sell what you have and give to those in need. This will fatten your purses in heaven!"

It is no secret that politicians use religion as a tool to drive the electorate to vote against their financial interests. The fact that they do it with such a straight face is difficult to swallow. There is no way to reconcile a Christian-claiming political platform that rejects the moral duty of men to take care of those in need. Many are quick to adhere to the Bible's teachings on a host of subsidiary issues. From abortion to gay marriage to gun rights, conservatives pound the Bible at every turn. What, though, is more central to an American life than issues of fiscal policy? On arguably the most relevant issue, conservative politicians run from their Bible, opting instead to use another system of morality to explain and defend their capitalistic greed.

A proper definition of the Christian's duty, drawn from the words of the guy who Christians follow, leave no wiggle room. The religion is not one that allows a check the box choice on certain life choices. It is about dedication and sacrifice. That flies directly in the face of a new conservative ideology that puts Jesus Christ in the closet until we want to use the words of the Apostle Paul to shame someone out of the closet.

Even if we take Paul Ryan on his word, believing the absurd supposition that he now rejects the moral philosophy that shaped his past and drove his policy, there's a huge problem in approving his request to be linked to St. Thomas Aquinas. Paul Ryan, a rugged objectivist more than willing to exalt individual achievement over the collective good, takes his cues for the guy who said this?

“Man should not consider his material possession his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without hesitation when others are in need.” — St. Thomas Aquinas

There it is, Congressperson Ryan. The words of Thomas Aquinas, the man whose "epistemology" you claim shaped you. The implications of Ryan's actions and beliefs should be clear. He is, in practice, no more a Christian than he is a member of the postal worker's union. He is another in a long line of conservative politicians willing to use Christianity in their policy making, except where it poses an inconvenient challenge to the real religion of their party - the religion of personal wealth accumulation. Unfortunately for the nation, this distorted view of the basics of Christianity seems to reflect the real inclinations of the electorate.

Originally posted to Grizzard on Sat Aug 11, 2012