Friday, August 31, 2012

Assessing the Republican Convention

Say goodbye to the GOP’s Smoke and Mirrors Show, otherwise known as the Republican National Convention. The well-intended but poorly executed strategy to humanize the automaton-like Mitt Romney and make him appealing to voters was overshadowed by the gargantuan egos of the party's two insatiable, self-aggrandizing rock stars, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie, who took to the podium not to share warm and fuzzy Romenydotes or to faithfully lobby for their nominee but to selfishly devour the limelight in setting their own 2016 presidential tables.

As if that wasn't enough to derail Team Romney, there was the sad, geriatric unraveling of "mystery speaker" Clint Eastwood, whose bizarre, rambling conversation with an empty chair symbolizing "Invisible Obama" was a disastrous use of prime time network coverage. He was a mystery speaker alright, because it was an absolute mystery what the heck he was talking about. Enough with the Henry Fonda "On Golden Pond" old codger routine. The only thing missing was the goofy fishing hat. What was he thinking? Was this just a pathetic attempt by an aging Hollywood icon to stay relevant? And did you catch the cutaway of Ann Romney during Eastwood's unscripted, meandering, 3-times-as-long-as-planned meltdown? She looked as though dirty Uncle Harry had exposed himself at the July 4th BBQ. And rightly so: Eastwood seemed crazier than Charlton Heston in “Bowling for Columbine.”  

As for the Invisible Obama symbol, the irony isn't lost on us in the context of Ralph Ellison’s award-winning classic Invisible Man which, as describes, “tells the story of a young, college-educated black man struggling to survive and succeed in a racially divided society that refuses to see him as a human being.” Which makes Eastwood's reference a horrifically insensitive and inappropriate choice. Whichever unthinking campaign orangutan decided to give this precious airtime to Clint instead of using it to showcase the human qualities Romney’s handlers insist he has, should be fired and forced to watch an endless loop of "Every Which Way But Loose." Funny, isn't this the same Clint Eastwood who Republicans crucified last winter over his Super Bowl ad they accused of being blatantly pro-Obama? What a difference seven months makes, huh?
With friend likes Christie, Rubio, Eastwood and the lyin' Paul Ryan, Romney needs no enemies. But in truth, Romney is his own worst enemy. No amount of amped-up "humanizing" from others can make him appear any less stilted and wooden...or any more likable, sincere, accessible and trustworthy. Even when sharing an emotional story of his parents’ marriage and his father’s death his delivery was robotic and unemotional. Come November he's going to have to convince voters all on his own that he's "human" enough for the most important job in the world. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paul "Lyin" Ryan and the GOP Smoke and Mirrors Show

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The Republican convention was a pathetic showcase of war-mongers, gun-toters, aging-Hollywood-icons-I-used-to-love-but-now-feel-sorry-for and religious fanatics rattling sabres and espousing all sorts of extremist rhetoric to their rapacious, Kool-aid drunken base. To be sure, they're certainly giving voters a clear choice for November.

Now add liars to the cast, as Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's running-mate and the GOP's Boy Wonder, took to the stage Wednesday night and shamelessly and smugly lied his way through an awkward, angry speech. The Washington Post reported that out of eleven subjects he discussed just two were truthful, six were false and three were misleading. But remember, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers," as Romney pollster Neil Newhouse asserted this week, bringing to mind Tina Fey's brilliant Sarah Palin who opined, “I just hope the lamestream media won't twist my words by repeating them verbatim."

In regurgitating the standard Republican propaganda, Ryan hopped from one disingenuous, deceptive attack on President Obama to the next. The two biggest outright lies: (1) he blamed Obama for a December 2008 GM factory closing in his hometown of Janesville, WI which obviously shut down before he took office; and (2) he absurdly blamed Obama for the failure of the Simpson-Bowles bi-partisan debt-reduction commission when in fact it was Ryan, who as a member of the commission, was the lone Republican "no" vote....essentially killing it.  He failed to mention this little factoid when accusing Obama of "doing nothing" with the Commission's plan.

Ryan was also guilty of perpetuating the "You didn't build it" lie even as he had the hypocritical audacity to say a few minutes later that when businesses fail it's not the fault of the owners but rather the government for not doing enough. That's right, he said the government didn't do enough. Confusing, right?

Ryan championed college students and lamented their financial struggles, yet it is he and his soulless party that seeks to cut most college tuition assistance programs while also raising student loan interest rates.

Ryan implausibly portrayed himself and Romney as the great protectors of Medicare from the Great Raider Obama. This coming from a guy whose position on Medicare is to annihilate it. He also called Obamacare a "government takeover of health insurance" even though it puts 30-million new customers in the hands of private insurance companies. C'mon, what kind of cockamamie Socialism is that!?   

Ryan again beat his small government drum despite that fact that as a Congressman he voted for TARP, the auto bailout, Bush's prescription drug plan and two wars--all unfunded--as he voted for massive tax cuts for the wealthy...all of which added trillions to the national debt.

Ryan accused his opponents of being "silent about their record" yet it's his boss who's running like Usain Bolt away from his taxes, offshore investments, Mormonism, years at Bain Capital and record as Massachusetts governor.

Notwithstanding the above, the ticket is doomed to fail not because of Ryan's radical positions or pathological aversion to the truth but because the man at the top of the ticket, as his lackluster, uninspiring, 'unhumanizing' "speech Thursday night demonstrated, lacks character, principles and vision, and is still viewed by voters, despite the GOP's Tampa Smoke and Mirrors Show, as unlikable, untrustworthy and incapable.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why All the Fuss Over Ann Romney?


Okay, let's get the obvious out of the way first: Ann Romney is a bright, charismatic, attractive,woman with a warm, inviting smile and an easy manner. It doesn't take much to understand her appeal and why Team Romney is hanging its hopes on her ability to "humanize" her husband Mitt in the eyes of voters. But Ann Romney is not running for president. And if having an awesome mate was the essential requirement for occupying the Oval Office, I'd be running the country.    

I also can appreciate the Romneys' personal story of hardship in facing breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, challenges which require an enormous amount of strength, courage and hope...all of which is rightfully inspiring. But look inside any American family and you'll find people coping with all illness, death and tragedy. My wife was brutally murdered six years ago, leaving me to raise a 2-year-old alone. But my story, however horrific, doesn't make me special, nor does it qualify me to be president. 

The Romney campaign is desperate, so it's pushing Ann out front and center in a major coattails campaign. Yet her prime time speech Tuesday night in Tampa at the Republican convention was predictable and I suspect it won't have any material impact where it counts: with women and independents. Groovy wife or not, Romney is still the same guy who, along with his running-mate Paul Ryan, have such "severely" conservative extremist views on gay marriage, reproduction, abortion and rape that they make women’s and indies' hair curl. When you get right down to it, all Ann’s speech did was demonstrate what everyone already knows: that she's immensely more likable than he is. In fact, that she gave a great speech and is so charming and accessible glaringly reminds voters that he is not. 

Having to working with the worst presidential candidate in modern history, Team Romney is doing whatever it can to define their guy through the rock-star qualities of those around him; qualities which he woefully lacks. But Ann’s charisma and Ryan’s conviction do nothing to mask the fact that Romney's a cypher-esque cad in an empty suit who’s failing miserably in connecting with voters. The estimable assets of others do not make him any more attractive or presidential.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chris Matthews' Smackdown of Reince Priebus Should Be Taught in Journalism School

A week after blogging about how Soledad O'Brien's amazing interview with John Sununu deserves to be taught in journalism school I find myself  advocating yet again for the same thing, this time for MSNBC's Chris Matthews for his super-sweet smackdown of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. 

The action took place on Monday's edition of "Morning Joe." As the wussified hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough looked on embarrassingly and apologetically, Matthews ripped into Priebus over the GOP's reprehensible attacks on President Obama's citizenship and welfare stance, saying the Republican party was playing "that little ethnic card... the race card." The "Hardball" host was clearly emotional, frustrated and angry.

Matthews heatedly referred to the recent Mitt Romney ad about welfare work requirements and Romney's recent "birth certificate" joke he shamelessly cracked in Michigan last week which was meant to appeal to the party's lowest common denominator. "That cheap shot ... was awful...It is an embarrassment to your party to play that card ... you are playing that ethnic card there," he chided a smirking Priebus. "You can sit there and giggle about it, but the fact is your party is playing that card." 

"It was a moment of levity," Priebus disingenuously replied in defense of Romney. "What was the joke?" Matthews demanded. "What is the joke in the fact that he (Romney) has a birth certificate? I don't get it...It just seems funny that the first joke he ever told in his life was about Obama's birth certificate," he quipped to supportive laughter from the live audience. 

Bravo to Matthews. His cross-examination of an obnoxious, defiant Priebus was unrelenting. Like O'Brien last week, he had the balls to challenge the lies and rebuke the liar. Unfortunately though, he didn't get any support from Brzezinski or Scarborough who, rather than applaud their colleague for doing his job in seeking the truth, seemed horrified at his behavior...more worried that Priebus might never want to bring his lying, smarmy self back on the show again. They scoffed at Matthews' allegations and appeared annoyed and defensive of Priebus. When the segment was over they seemed utterly shocked, as if something strange and unacceptable had just happened.

When did television news people become so horribly afraid to demand honesty and truth from their guests? Instead, they roll over like sheep, allowing these propagandists free, unchallenged airtime to spew their dishonest, divisive rhetoric. When someone finally steps up and holds them accountable it is they who are viewed as being out of line. With the exception of a couple of righteously indignant journos like Matthews and O'Brien, the American news media, given all that's at stake in this most critical election, appears utterly useless right now. 

I'm holding out hope that Aaron Sorkin's fictional anchorman Will McAvoy on HBO's "The Newsroom" will soon have some serious influence on his real-life colleagues...if he hasn't already.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Romney: It's Not My Platform...Those Guys are NUTS!

So here we have the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, on the eve of the GOP convention, distancing himself from his party's oppressive platform, which includes outlawing abortion in all cases including rape, incest and the health of the mother. Welcome to "Personhood"...that is, of course, if the person in question is a rapist or a sexually abusive relative. No wonder Romney wants to run from this insanity.

But wait...didn't he put Rep. Paul Ryan on the ticket with him? The same Paul Ryan whose own extremist reproductive positions mirror those of his party's platform? The same Paul Ryan who's co-sponsored two repressive, regressive rape and abortion bills with the party's newest goat, Rep. Todd "Super-Rape-Sperm-Repelling-Vagina" Akin? Yes, that Todd Akin... the one who believes a rape-baby is a "blessing" from God? The same Todd Akin who thinks there should be "some punishment" for rapists? 

And isn't Romney the same guy who went from being pro-choice during his stint as governor of lefty Massachusetts to being the staunch anti-abortion guy who seeks to de-fund Planned Parenthood? The same Romney whose homoerotic bromance with Ryan is making Marcus Bachmann downright giddy?

"This is the platform of the Republican Party; it's not the platform of Mitt Romney,” RNC Chair Reince Priebus said in defense of Romney.

It's all so confusing, like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon but without Kevin Bacon and only needing two degrees to tie Mitt back to the legitimate-rape-and-abortion-obsessed radicals. 

But here's the kicker: on the MSNBC Sunday program "Up with Chris Hayes," Romney policy advisor Avik Roy went even further in the distancing game by answering "very little" when Hayes asked how much currency the Tea Party radicals, whose influence on the platform is clear, will have in a Romney administration. Did you hear that Tea Partiers?!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Republicans Taking a Cue From the Great Richard Pryor?

It's one of Richard Pryor's best bits: a woman catches her man and another woman having sex. In a moment of supreme male arrogance he says "Are you gonna believe me or your lyin' eyes!?" Welcome to the 2012 Republican campaign strategy.

This is the year of unprecedented GOP hypocrisy, distortion, deception, dishonesty and lies. And it's all about what they say not what they actually do:

-They claim to care about the poor and middle class yet seek the smallest government possible through massive cuts to low and middle income Americans while giving massive tax cuts to the rich

-They claim Obamacare is "socialism" and a "government takeover" of health care, yet it puts 30-million new policies in the hands of private insurance companies  

-They claim to be patriots concerned with national security and then shamefully Swift Boat Obama over Osama bin Laden's killing, saying he had nothing to do with it (remember John Kerry's "fake" medals?)

-They promise to protect, preserve and save Medicare as they plot to destroy it

-They claim to be "for women" yet consistently legislate against them and show them nothing but contempt through their views on workplace equality, abortion, contraception and rape

-They pander to Hispanics as they seek to build a fence around Mexico and deport 14-million immigrants

-They abhor the subject of sex yet are more obsessed with what takes place in a vagina than a gynecologist 

-They claim to value education yet compare student loans to Stage 3 cancer; seek huge cuts in school lunches, Head Start and in hiring teachers

-They claim to be concerned about the environment as they passionately work to end government regulation of polluters

-They claim to support equality and civil rights yet obsessively seek to prevent gays from fucking up marriages as much as they do (50% of "straight" marriages end in divorce)

-They say they champion minorities, yet have conspired, with the help of the courts, to enact Draconian voter ID laws to disenfranchise them and prevent them from voting

-They claim to be for religious freedom but impose their extremist doctrine on everyone else

-They claim to be deficit hawks yet support the Ryan budget which adds roughly $1.5 trillion annually

-They claim to be the party of "values" as they discuss "forcible rape" and "legitimate rape"

-They pretend to support science (a la Todd Akin on the House Science Committee) as they espouse VoodooSpeak about magic vagina-juice which kills rapist sperm

-They self-righteously demand Akin quit the race as they're simultaneously adopting a party platform which supports his positions

-They distance themselves from Akin and condemn his statements yet have co-sponsored (Ryan) two bills with him redefining rape and abortion

-They make stump speeches about running honest campaigns while they're lying about things such as President Obama's alleged "You didn't build it" comment 

Hypocrisy. Distortion. Deception. Dishonesty. Lies. Should be the Romney/Ryan bumper-sticker.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Guns, God, Gays, Abortion and Now Rape: Republicans Simply Can't Help Themselves

It's a recurring Republican theme: "This year's election is going to be about the economy. We're gonna focus like lasers on nothing but the economy and jobs, jobs...wait...did someone say abortion! Let's get 'em, fellas!" And off they go down the familiar conservative abyss.

Poor Mitt Romney. All he wanted to do was talk about the stalled economy and lingering unemployment. But then he went ahead and put Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who never met an anti-abortion bill he didn't like or wish to co-sponsor, on the GOP ticket with him. As it turns out, Ryan is so in bed with Rep. Todd "Magic Sperm-Repelling Vaginas" Akin on issues of rape that they might as well be gay lovers.

So with a little more than two months left before the election, Romney and the Republican Party find themselves mired in a heated debate over the definition of rape, abortion and Medicare, which is another of Ryans' Achilles Heels. But it's their own fault. They simply can't help themselves. They're like junkies, so strung out on emotion and religious dogma that no matter how rosy their campaign picture looks they must destroy it with the social-wedge-issue drug. Election after election after election, regardless of the real issues facing America, they put same-sex marriage, contraception, abortion, religion and weapons at the top of the agenda. Guns, God and Gays. Same old same old. Hey stupid, what happened to It's the economy, stupid!

Shocking as it may seem, the GOP has become the party of rape. It's as if they're going hard after the rapist vote. It's bizarre that the candidates who seek to legislate one tax rate for all want several levels of rape. Who'd have thought in 2012 we'd be parsing the meaning of legitimate vs. illegitimate, and forcible vs...vs...what, "gentle" rape? That we'd still be insisting women go through with pregnancies even if they've been raped or are victims of incest or if their own lives are at risk medically is unconscionable. Jeez, what the hell is wrong with these people? 

As my astute girlfriend Phoebe said, "To old, white, rich, God-fearing Republican men women are simply breeders. We exist mainly to birth and raise babies. Getting pregnant is our only legitimate job in life. So it doesn't matter if they impregnate us or if some violent beast rapes us. It's all the same to them."

Which explains Akin's comment about rape that "If God has chosen to bless this person with a life, you don't kill it." Silly me. Here I was all my life thinking rape was a horrific crime. Good to know it's a blessing.

The real blessing this week has been Akin himself. His reprehensible comments not only assured his opponent Sen. Claire McCaskill's re-election, but more importantly it's cast a huge spotlight on the Republican Party, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and exposed them for who and what they really are. Has there ever been a presidential ticket  with more contempt for women, the poor and seniors?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

An Open Challenge to Journalists


In the wake of Soledad O’Brien's delicious CNN on-air smackdown of Republican surrogate John Sununu last week there unfortunately appears to be more lies and deception being spread than ever.

I fully understand the nature of the 24/7 news cycle. Especially with cable, it's an awful lot of airtime to fill. But that's precisely the problem. That insatiable need for constant content, no matter how truthful, has allowed for endless and unprecedented duplicity in this election in particular by a parade of surrogates, SuperPacs and the candidates themselves.

The next two months promises an unrelenting and exhaustive inundation of deceptive attack ads and rhetoric on both sides. Rather than fire up the electorate this disingenuous campaigning is more likely to turn off voters. It's time for journalists to do their job and challenge these lies, just as O’Brien so masterfully did last week. The news media's role is to deliver information. Factual information. It has an obligation to seek the truth, yet it's become an embarrassing, pathetic open platform for fork-tongued politicians and their spokespeople. I consider myself an intelligent, well-read political junkie who understands the intricate details and nuances of most issues, yet I often find myself scratching my head wondering what the real truth is. Can you imagine how difficult it is in this toxic climate for the average, typically apolitical American to decipher fact from fiction?

So here’s my suggestion to the media (besides watching Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom" and taking a cue from fictional anchorman Will McAvoy; imagine if real journalists had his balls?): challenge the spin. Be armed with the facts. Shoot down the lies. Shoot them down again and again if necessary. And if the guests get belligerent because of it, throw them off the air. Let these people know that unless they speak the truth they will not be allowed to exploit the public airwaves, or usurp our cable subscription fees, to spread their lies.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Republicans Gone Wild!

It’s been a hellish week for Republicans. First it was revealed that Rep. Kevin Yoder (KS) had skinny-dipped during a drunken frat-like frolic with about 20 other representatives, staff and families in Israel’s sacred Sea of Galilee last year just two weeks after nearly paralyzing the nation’s economy over the debt ceiling crisis.

Then Ohio GOP election official Doug Priesse told the Columbus Dispatch: “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban -- read African-American -- voter-turnout machine.” He was referring to the state’s early voting procedures. He also voted against the weekend voting rules that made it easier for thousands of low-income and minority voters to get to the booths in the 2008 election.

And then there’s the mother of all gaffes from Missouri Congressman and Tea Party loon Todd Akin, who’s running against Claire McCaskill for Senate: If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Akin was explaining his strict views on abortion to a local television news reporter. Akin does not support abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

Where is the outrage among Republicans? Since when is rape a political wedge issue? How would Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell and Akin himself feel if it was their mother, wife, sister, daughter or granddaughter who was sexually brutalized? And just what the hell is a “legitimate” rape? Maybe it’s akin (pun intended) to “forcible” rape, another favorite Republican term. Apparently these imbeciles never looked at a dictionary, which defines rape as “forcing another person to have sexual intercourse.”

While Priesse’s and Yoder’s offenses are despicable, it is Akin's utterly ignorant, misogynistic, insensitive, empathy-deficient remark that’s beyond the pale. These radical ultra-conservatives like Akin have nothing but contempt for women. Their philosophies are Neanderthal and their behavior unconscionable.

And get this: Ryan has co-sponsored not one but two bills with Akin: The Sanctity of Life Act, informally known as the “Personhood” bill, and another which would allow for abortion exception in cases of "forcible rape" only. Is this the guy we want just a heartbeat away from the Oval Office? Someone who sanctions terms such as "legitimate rape" and "forcible rape?" Someone whose views on women's rights and issues mirrors that of a radical extremist like Akin. But the bazillion dollar question really is, What woman in her right mind would vote for Romney and Ryan?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Romney/Ryan MediScare

Paul Ryan was out on the stump Saturday defending his controversial plan to end Medicare as we know it. Speaking Saturday to supporters at The Villages, a sprawling retirement community in central Florida, Ryan presented his mother, Betty Douglas Ryan, on stage with him in an effort to convince the crowd that (a) he likes old people and (b) they somehow trust him on the Medicare issue.

“You learn a lot about life. Medicare was there for my family, for my grandma, when we needed it. And Medicare is there for my mom when she needs it now, and we have to keep that guarantee.”

The only problem with this sugary rhetoric is that it's patently untrue. Ryan and his presidential running mate Mitt Romney would gut the 47-year-old government health care program and send seniors packing for VoucherVille, where the subsidies for private coverage would trail inflation and result in an average additional cost to seniors of $6400 annually, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget.

"Our solution to preserve, protect and save Medicare does not affect your benefits,” Ryan assuredly told the crowd. “It’s a promise that must be kept. But in order to make sure we can guarantee that promise … we must reform it for my generation.”

And of course, by preserve, protect, save and reform, Ryan and Romney really mean dismantle. You’ve got to hand it to Republicans. Only they could look seniors in the eye and promise to save Medicare as they’re drafting plans to destroy it.

It’s outrageous how the GOP ticket is portraying itself as the great protector of Medicare while painting Obama and Democrats as the ones cutting it. If the administration doesn’t squarely get in front of this debate and define Romney and Ryan as the Medicare Killers they are they just might succeed with this propaganda, just as Bush and Cheney, the AWOL and Deferment Twins, successfully convinced voters that they were the great warriors while the Vietnam hero with the five medals, John Kerry, was weak and incapable of defending America.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Soledad O'Brien's Amazing John Sununu Interview Should Be Taught in Journalism School

CNN's Soledad O'Brien did something which is extremely rare in television news these days: she actually did her job. And it was the best example of truly awesome journalism I've seen since Katie Couric so deftly gave Sarah Palin the opportunity in 2008 to destroy herself. Perhaps, given the unprecedented polarization and partisan vitriol in politics today, coupled with the right-wing's propaganda campaign of lies and distortion, we just might see a return of the mainstream media as a potent force in this heated election.

The action took place Tuesday afternoon, as O'Brien was interviewing former New Hampshire governor and George W. Bush Chief of Staff John Sununu. With the actual documents in hand, O'Brien pointed out the striking similarities between the Medicare plans of Mitt Romney and his controversial vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan, who seeks to change the government guaranteed health care program into a voucher system.

“But it’s very different,” Sununu insisted. “For example, when Obama gutted Medicare by taking $717 billion out of it, the Romney plan does not do that. The Ryan plan mimicked part of the Obama package there, the Romney plan does not. That’s a big difference.”

O’Brien essentially accused him of lying:

“I understand that this is a Republican talking point because I’ve heard it repeated over and over again. These numbers have been debunked, as you know, by the Congressional Budget Office. … I can tell you what it says. It (Obama's Medicare plan) cuts a reduction in the expected rate of growth, which you know, not cutting budgets to the elderly. Benefits will be improved.”

At this point Sununu, clearly agitated, became nasty and indignant, angered by O'Brien's insistence on fact over fiction:

“Soledad, stop this!” Sununu replied, raising his voice. “All you’re doing is mimicking the stuff that comes out of the White House and gets repeated on the Democratic blog boards out there.”

O'Brien continued reading from the Romney and Obama plans verbatim, and cited, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and CNN's own independent analysis in refuting Sununu's deceptive rhetoric.

“Put an Obama bumper sticker on your forehead when you do this!” Sununu barked.

And here's where O'Brien, following a heated exchange where she demanded "Let me finish...let me finish!," demonstrated that she has more balls than anyone in television news right now:

“You know, let me tell you something. There is independent analysis that details what this is about. … And name calling to me and somehow acting as if by you repeating a number of $716 billion, that you can make that stick with that figure as being ‘stolen’ from Medicare, that’s not true. You can’t just repeat it and make it true, sir.”

In punctuating this incredible interview, O'Brien closed by reminding Sununu of how Romney has called Ryan's plan "brilliant."

Imagine an America where the political discourse is not shaped solely by lying, duplicitous surrogates like Sununu but by honorable journalists who serve as a beacon of truth in holding politicians to a higher standard.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

How Ryan Just Sank Romney's Campaign

Saturday afternoon Mitt Romney excitedly introduced his vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, as "the next president of the United States!" It was more than just the usual Romney verbal gaffe. In putting the Wisconsin Congressman on the ticket, the presumptive Republican nominee signaled a supreme lack of confidence in his campaign and simultaneously broke two cardinal rules of presidential politics: never name someone who has more juice than you, and whose positions are more radical than yours. Positions which will dominate the debate. As a result, August 11th will long be remembered as the day Romney unofficially lost the election.

Ryan's got the juice alright, but it's the kind which makes only the party's base salivate. He's a star, but given his extremist views it's more porn than rock. His controversial budget would end Medicare as we know it, turning it from a government guarantee to a voucher program which, as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office analyzed, would shift about $6400 in health care expenses to the average senior citizen.

Ryan's voting record in Congress is enough to make independents run for the hills of Obama Mountain. He's voted for steep educational cuts involving Head Start and college aid; for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage; for school prayer; against gay adoptions; against a hate-crimes law; against abortion; against gun control; against raising the minimum wage; and against the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill., the president's official website, accuses Ryan of "taking us backward" on women's health and equal rights issues: "Ryan co-sponsored a bill that could ban in-vitro fertilization, as well as many common forms of birth control, including the pill. It could also ban all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. He supported letting states prosecute women who have abortions and doctors who perform them. Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps women fight for equal pay for equal work. He voted against repealing the discriminatory policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and supports writing discrimination into the Constitution by amending it to ban gay marriage. "

As a Congressman, Ryan has been a faithful rubber-stamp of the reckless economic policies of the Bush administration. We've seen how, from 2000-2008, the combination of deep tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations along with less government regulation led to the worst financial crisis since The Great Depression. Policies which failed miserably yet are the backbone of the GOP and in particular, the Romney/Ryan campaign. If Ryan has his way, there'll be huge, debilitating cuts to everything including education, the arts, law enforcement, libraries, food inspections, Amtrak and other transportation, highway construction and other infrastructure projects. Romney has just taken ownership of a budget with an attack on Medicare which Newt Gingrich referred to as "right-wing social engineering" and which House Speaker John Boehner fears could have wide political evidenced by the polls which show that a majority of Republicans, and 70% of Tea Party voters, do not support Ryan's Medicare plan. When Gingrich calls you radical you know you're in trouble.

But get this: before he was elected to Congress Ryan worked in his family business, Ryan Inc. Central, a construction firm his great-grandfather founded in 1884. It's always the sons of privilege like Romney and Ryan who lack empathy for those in need and who abhor government spending which helps those who don't have rich daddies to give them jobs. It's always the silver-spooners with the biggest family handouts who resent government aid the most.

But back to the ticket.. The real issue, the only issue, that truly matters is whether Paul Ryan is Sarah Palin 2.0: an arrogant, self-proclaimed "Young Gun" who's a too young, too brash, inexperienced, foreign-policy neophyte who's simply not ready to be president should something happen to his boss.

Obama has spent the Summer successfully beating Romney to a pulp as the rich, out-of-touch elitist with the dubious tax history and offshore shelters, and recent polls show it's worked. Romney's approval numbers have tanked, while Obama's pulled appreciably ahead in several key swing states and grown his overall lead. And now Team Obama will spend the next two and half months hammering Ryan and his radical positions, and I suspect the outcome will be exactly the same.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Unfair and Imbalanced

Why does Fox News even bother to portray itself as anything but the overtly biased right-wing propaganda machine it is? The self-proclaimed "Fair and Balanced" network is so in the tank for Republicans it's laughable. Oh, they strike a fair balance alright, and it lies somewhere between batshit crazy Bachmannia and heartless, detached Romney Hood.

The Faux News Network wouldn't know objectivity if it smacked it in the Hannity. And in a hotly contested presidential election year, it's been offering up campaign drivel so slanted that it seems written by RNC head Reince Priebus himself.

Speaking to unabashedly biased Stuart Varney on Tuesday's "Your World with Neil Cavuto," NY Post writer Josh Margolin cited unnamed Democratic campaign officials supposedly in a panic that they won't fill Bank of America Stadium during President Obama's big convention speech in Charlotte, NC next month.

Margolin, allowed unchallenged to assert unsubstantiated nonsense as fact, claimed the liberal excitement over Obama four years ago has disappeared and that Democrats are resorting to contests, blanket give-aways and other desperate means to ensure a full house. When asked by Varney to describe "the type" of sources he's quoting, Margolin unconvincingly said "high-ranking campaign officials, top convention people." So what we have here is this: some no-name hack for the Murdoch-owned Post (which also owns Fox) makes public an unsupported claim and then immediately provides the convenient explanation for when his manufactured non-story will ultimately be proven unfounded.

And in a brilliantly comical segue to the next story about a controversial new Priorities USA Action super-pac ad attacking Romney and Bain Capital, Varney rhetorically asked: "Has the campaign stooped to a new low? We turn to key political strategist Karl Rove...." I guess when seeking insight on "stooping to new lows" what better expert is there than the man his former boss, George W. Bush, appropriately nicknamed "Turd Blossom."