Thursday, August 30, 2012

GOP Convention Day II: A Very Good Night For Republicans

If Tuesday at the GOP convention was all about “love” and “respect” Wednesday was all about “leadership “or the perceived lack thereof coming from the White House.
John McCain kicked things off by chastising the president for “leading from behind” on foreign policy.  McCain tried to convince a war weary nation that a US military presence is needed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Iran.  His words were music to the ears of a crowd that is big on tough talk, guns and things that go boom.  McCain has never met a war that he didn’t want to wage or a new weapon that he didn’t want to procure.  His comments were little more than a replay of his stump speeches in 2008.  McCain would like to see a large US military presence throughout the Middle East.  But he doesn’t address the fact that we don’t have the financial resources, the military personnel or the will to wage a war against five different nations.  John McCain is a war hero and his sacrifice should be acknowledged by all Americans.  But a country struggling to make ends meet has no stomach for another endless war.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took to the podium and gave a stirring speech on American leadership and exceptionalism.  Many of us didn’t know what to expect from her as she has shunned the spotlight since her time in the Bush cabinet.  But she gave one of the most soaring, presidential speeches we have ever heard.  The audience and national pundits were blown away.  Chris Mathews, a staunch liberal and no friend of the “W” years called the speech “Churchillian.”  If you missed it you should check it out on YouTube.
But the night belonged to Paul Ryan.  Ryan accepted the party’s nomination for vice president and then shifted into the mode that has traditionally fallen to the #2 guy on the ticket…attack dog.  Ryan did not disappoint.  If you read the text of his speech you find it filled with brutally harsh language and searing attacks against the president.  But Ryan delivered it with a smile and a boyish charm that had the crowd wanting more.  Ryan criticized the president for fiscal policies that added $5 trillion dollars to the national debt.  But he conveniently left out the fact that he voted for TARP, for the auto bailout, for the Bush tax cuts, for Medicare Part D and for two costly wars…all of which were unfunded and added $3.6 trillion to our debt. Ryan continued the lie about the president robbing Medicare of $716 billion even though his own budget proposal contains the very same cuts.  Ryan is Medicare…and his willingness to place the popular entitlement program at the forefront of the debate may prove to be the focal point for voters in November.  But the most important statement that Ryan made is one that will embolden Republicans and should deeply concern all Democrats.  He said that having seen what four years under Obama has brought the country: “without a change in leadership why would the next four years be any different than the last four years?”  Democrats will have to find a good answer for that question if they intend to win in November.
Noted columnist Peggy Noonan wrote about the mood of the delegates after hearing Ann Romney and Chris Christie speak Tuesday night:  “I want to tell you they marched out of the hall on Tuesday night on fire for their side.  But I was there and they did not.  They walked out like people who weren’t sure what to think or how to feel but were hoping for the best because the love their country.  A lot.”
That certainly was not the case on Wednesday.  Ryan and Rice left them energized with the very real belief that they can win in November.  It was a very good night for Republicans.       

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

GOP Convention Day 1: Optics, Platforms And Revisionist History

Here are a few observations from last night’s opening session of the Republican National Convention.

The first part of the session brought us a lesson in optics.  Delegates from US territories Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam etc. were awarded prime seating near the podium even though they will never cast a vote in this election.  You can't claim to be a party of "inclusion" if the TV cameras only reveal white faces on the convention floor.  Meanwhile the state delegations that dared to support Ron Paul in the GOP primaries found themselves seated in the nose bleed section.

Once the seating arrangements were decided a keffuffle ensued between Ron Paul delegates and those supporting Romney.  As the states proudly delivered their votes to the podium ("The Lone Star State of Texas casts 58 votes for the next President of the United States.. etc.)the person tallying the votes only announced the votes for Romney while ignoring the votes cast for Paul, santorum etc.  thsi incensed the ron Paul delegates who initiated a shouting match with Romney delegate.  Peace was restored but the animosity remained.          
The next part of the session dealt with the passage of the party platform.  The platform is supposed to document the core principles on which the party will govern.  This year’s platform:  calls for a constitutional amendment that would outlaw abortion with NO exceptions; extends 14th amendment rights to the unborn child, supports replacing family planning programs with abstinence education, supports the repeal of the president’s health care act, supports the right to possess unlimited amounts of ammunition, supports the right to carry extended capacity ammunition clips, supports the right of individuals holding a concealed carry permit from any state to carry their firearm across state lines, affirms that lawful marriage is between one man and one woman, supports the extension of the Bush tax cuts and the elimination of the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax and supports moving Medicare to a “premium support plan” and Medicaid to a state run block grant plan.
Once the platform was passed by the delegates it seemed to develop plague like qualities.  Party leaders took great pains to distance themselves from its existence; dismissing any attempts by reporters to dig into the platform specifics.   “The platform doesn’t matter” said former New York Governor Pataki.  Then why have a platform?
Romney’s roll call victory was orchestrated in the afternoon so that prime time would belong to a parade of Republican governors.  We assumed each of these guys was going to regale us with wonderful tales of all things Romney and the conservative principles that he would bring to the White House.  Instead we were forced to endure a chorus line of self congratulatory revisionist history as each governor told us what a great job they had done since taking office.  Kasich, McDonnell and Walker gave rhyme and verse of their accomplishments while barely mentioning Romney.  Even the ever popular Chris Christie couldn’t resist the opportunity to blow his own horn.  Christie was half way through his self promotion keynote address before he even uttered Romney’s name.  “Look what I did in my state!  I’m great!  Oh yeah…support Mitt Romney.”  Christie may have been addressing the 2012 GOP Convention...but clearly he had one eye on 2016.
While all the governors cited the horrible financial conditions they faced upon taking office none of them mentioned the eight Bush years of unfunded spending that brought about those conditions.  In fact Bush was never mentioned.  Neither was Cheney, McCain or Palin.  Instead the governors talked about how they courageously made the hard choices to balance their budgets.  Naturally they left out the carnage of reduced benefits and lost jobs those hard choices brought about.  Also absent were any specifics about how they would move the country forward.  And noticeably absent was any mention of the war Afghanistan.
Ann Romney was very good.  It is easy to see that she loves her husband very, very much.  But she didn’t tell us very much about the candidate.  And her message of “love” conflicted with that of Chris Christie who told us that being “loved” wasn’t important…gaining “respect” was the goal.
Tonight, the real star of the Republican Party speaks.  Paul Ryan will have his national coming out party.
Let’s see if HE mentions Mitt.                              

Monday, August 27, 2012

Debunking The Fiscal Conservative Myth

Sincethe Republican convention has been put on tempoary hold we would like to use this time to debunk a myth that has permeated the poitical conversation.
We have been led to believe that this election is a contest between the fiscally conservative Republicans and the liberal tax and spend Democrats. This myth was further enhanced by the selection of Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential nominee. Mr. Ryan is after all the poster boy for fiscal conservatism.
The problem here is that neither the Republican party nor Mr. Ryan has been very conservative when it comes to spending your tax dollars.
It is a matter of historical fact that the Republican Party over the past decade has approved more unfunded spending than any other time in our history.  George W. Bush authorized two unfunded wars and pushed through a perscription drug plan that was one of the  largest unfunded social policies in our history.  They also authored the infamous and unfunded  Bush Tax cuts and gave billions in subsidies and tax incentives to large corporations.  Their policies turned the Clinton surplus into a economic deficit.
But, you say, today’s Republican Party has learned a lesson from the Bush years.  They will return us to the path of fiscal responsibility. 
Not really!
Today’s Republican Party voted to extend the unfunded Bush tax cuts without paying for them.  They want to continue with the war in Afghanistan; an unfunded $2 billion per week.  Their current budget proposal includes massive increases in defense spending AND large across the board tax cuts.    
Yes, you say, but they want to offset those defense appropriations and tax cuts  by slashing expenses and reforming entitlements.
Not really.
The Republican budget proposal will slash discretionary spending.  But discreationary spending amounts to less than 20% of the budget.  These are the programs that middle class and working poor Americans value and depend upon. As as for entitlements..Republicans don’t want to reform entitlemants...they want to push the burden of entitlements off the federal books and onto the states and local communities.  And their “entitlement  reform”  doesn’t even begin until 2022.
M. Ryan was added to the ticket to give substance to Romney’s statement that he is a “severe conservative.”  But Ryan voted for every single unfunded proposal that Bush brought before congress.  And while Ryan was publically criticizing Obama’s stimulus he was quietly appropriating over $20 million in stimulus money for his constituents. Since accepting the VP nod Ryan has spent his time demonizing Obama for cutting Medicare by $716 million.  This from a guy who says that we need to cut Medicare.   And Ryan’s “bold” deficit reduction proposal doesn’t even sniff a  balanced  budget until 2040.
Republicans can talk about fiscal conservatism all they want.  But as they say in are what your record says you are.   

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mitt Finally Tells The Truth!

Mitt just can’t help himself.
At a fundraising event in Minnesota Mitt Romney finally told the truth about corporate America…big business is doing just fine; thank you very much.
“Big business is doing fine in many places” Romney said.  “They get the loans they need…they can deal with all the regulation.  They know how to find ways to get through the tax code, save money by putting various things in places where there are low tax havens around the world for their businesses.  But small business is getting crushed.”
Mitt’s right!  Corporate profits are at record highs.  According to Forbes Magazine the 500 largest corporations pulled in a record $824 billion in profits in 2011; up 16% from the previous year.  They are on course to rise an additional 17% this year.  CEO’s at these companies earned an average of $12.9 million; up 14% from the previous year.  That’s 380 times the wage of an average American worker according to the AFL-CIO.    
The DOW has risen 60% since Obama took office.  By contrast the DOW dropped 25% during George W. Bush’s eight years in the White House.
Life is very good for corporations and the top 1% wage earners.  According to Mitt things should be going well for the middle class as well…right?  After all  Mitt has always told us that when these “job creators” are doing well their good fortune trickles down to the average Joe in the form of good paying jobs and benefits.  All we have to do is let them prosper and the world will be a better place for one and all.
So why is unemployment at 8.3%?  Why have middle class wages remained stagnant for the past three decades while the job creators have watched their wages and profits skyrocket? And why does Romney want to give tax breaks and subsidies to those who “are doing fine” and pay for them by cutting programs that the middle class and working poor depend upon?
Romney’s desire to return to the world of trickledown economics is ill conceived.  It may have worked during the almighty Reagan years but it doesn’t work now.  The good fortune enjoyed by the top of the food chain no longer trickles down…it trickles out…to China and India and other players in this global economy.
Mitt Romney finally told the truth.  “Big business is doing fine…”
One more thing…
Can you imagine the outcry if Barak “the socialist” Obama would have said: “They know how to find ways to get through the tax code, save money by putting various things in places where there are low tax havens around the world for their businesses.”   
Now we know why Mitt won’t show us his tax returns…              

Thursday, August 23, 2012

There Must Be A Full Moon!

Mitt Romney desperately wants to talk about the weak economy and what he believes are the president’s failed policies.
Unfortunately for Mitt he’s not going to get the chance if his supporters continue to butt into the conversation.
CNN is reporting that Lubbock County Judge Tom Head is warning that the nation could descend into civil war if Barak Obama is re-elected; and is calling for a trained equipped force to battle the UN troops he says Obama would bring in.
No joke!
Head is Lubbock County’s emergency management coordinator. He says he has to:
“Think about the very worst thing that could happen and hope and pray for the best…In this political and financial climate what’s the worst thing that could happen right now?  Obama gets back in the White House.  No! God forbid…Regardless of whether the Republicans take over the Senate, which I hope they do, he is going to make the Unites States Congress and he’s going to make the Constitution irrelevant…He’s got his czars in place that don’t answer to anybody.”
So far so good…right?  A lot of people on the right share these views.
But then Judge Head got a little over his skis.
“Obama will give the sovereignty of the United States away to the United Nations.  What do you think the public’s going to do when that happens?  We’re talking civil unrest, civil disobedience, possibly, possibly civil war…I’m not  just talking riots here and there.  I’m talking Lexington, Concord take up arms, get rid of the dictator.  OK, what do you think he is going to do when that happens?  He’s going to call in UN troops, personnel carriers, tanks and whatever… (I’ll) stand in front of their personnel carriers and say “You’re not coming in here.”  And I’ve asked the sheriff.  I said: “Are you going to back me on this?” And he said: “Yeah, I’m going to back you.”  Well I don’t want a bunch of rookies back there who have no training and little equipment.  I want seasoned veteran people who are trained that have got equipment.  And then we may have two or three hundred deputies facing maybe a thousand UN troops.  We may have to call out the militia.”
Judge Head made these comments on CNN affiliate KJTV and made similar remarks on radio station FOX Talk 950.
First we have a sitting US Congressman who is running for the US Senate hijack the political narrative by talking about “legitimate rape.”  Now an elected county judge wants us to take up arms against the imminent invasion of UN troops.  And let us not forget the riveting debates that we have had about birth certificates, trans-vaginal ultrasounds and imaginary voter fraud; all brought to the table by members of the Grand Old Party.
Poor Mitt Romney!  He’s never going to get the chance to tell us his plans. 
If only he could get his supporters to shhhhhhhhhhh!        

They Have A Plan!

Several months ago the debt commission failed to reach a compromise on paying down our debt and reducing our deficit spending.  Their inability to find a bi-partisan solution  meant that a previously agreed upon series of drastic cuts to domestic programs along with huge tax increases brought about by the expiration of the Bush tax cuts would automatically kick in at the end of the year.  At that time we wrote that if congress failed to find a fiscally responsible compromise before 12/31/12 the economy would spiral into a deep recession; even worse than the one we experienced in 2007-2009.  The Congressional Budget Office and several other economic think tanks sounded the same alarm.
As the months wore on our elected leaders in congress did nothing to heed these warnings.  Republicans spent their time bringing one anti-abortion bill after another to the floor of the House and running a series of presidential primaries featuring a slate of some of the most bizarre and unqualified candidates ever seen in an election.  Democrats spent their days blaming Republicans for all the gridlock in Washington while refusing to consider reforming the primary cause of our deficits…entitlements.  The unwillingness of either party to commit to a serious conversation about the fast approaching economic cliff has led us to where we are today…which is stuck in the same disastrous place we were months ago.
The Congressional Budget Organization just released another reminder that time really is running out and the cost for doing nothing is severe.  The CBO said the $500 billion in sequestration cuts scheduled to occur at year end would reduce the GDP, increase unemployment to 9.1%, rob 2 million people of their jobs and send the economy into a long deep recession.
You would think that even this “do nothing” congress would respond to the urgency of this warning. 
Not so much! 
In fact both parties seem willing to let the fiscal cliff diving occur so that they can make political hay in the aftermath.  Sounds crazy but it is true.
Behind the scenes Democrats, still smarting from having their agenda held hostage by Republicans for the past two years, are saying that they are willing discuss entitlement reform in exchange for increases in revenues.  But they are willing to let the country go off the cliff first because it is the only way to get Republicans to take them seriously at the bargaining table.  Republicans are said to be willing to consider increases in the tax rates in exchange for entitlement reform.  But they want to let Armageddon occur first because if they vote on any tax issues now they would essentially be voting to RAISE taxes.  But once the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire any votes taken would be to REDUCE taxes.
That’s how these folks think! 
“Yes, we understand that the country’s fiscal solvency is important but we need to address it in a manner that makes us look good.”
So if you are wondering why these clowns are focused on “legitimate rape” when the economy is about to crash and burn… No worries!  They have a plan.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


There is an article on the front page of today’s New York Times that every American should read.
It is about the war in Afghanistan.
Included in the piece are the faces of each of the 2,000 young men and women who have given their lives in the service of their country.
2,000 lives lost in a war that has gone on for 12 years.  12 years...the longest war in our history.
Yet no one talks about them. 
 Not even the two men campaigning to be their commander-in-chief.
We thank the Times for their reporting and for putting this story on their front page.  It is a story that should be on the front page of every newspaper and every website that covers national news. 
It should be front page news every single day.
Because what story could possibly more important.

Muddled Mess

We hate to keep bringing up the subject of abortion and a woman’s right to choose; but each day seems to bring with it a new story where these issues take center stage.  Yesterday the issue of abortion served as the cornerstone for the muddled mess that calls itself the Republican Party.
Here is what we learned.
We learned that Mitt Romney finally joined a host of prominent Republicans in urging Todd Akin, the controversial and toxic candidate for the Missouri senate seat to resign from the race.  Unless you have been living under a rock you know that Akin said that according to doctor’s he has spoken with, women are unlikely to get pregnant as a result of rape because when a “legitimate” rape occurs a women’s body has a way of “shutting that whole thing down” to prevent pregnancy from occurring. 
We learned that Akin has ignored all demands for his resignation and has remained resolute in his intention to stay in the race.
We learned that the doctor that informed Akin that a women’s body would ward off pregnancy in the event of rape is Dr. John C. Wilkie.  In an article for Wilkie wrote that the trauma and emotional stress of rape can influence a woman’s menstrual cycle and therefore prevent pregnancy from occurring.
We learned that the same Dr. Wilkie served as a surrogate for Romney’s failed 2008 presidential campaign and that Romney publically embraced Wilkie as leader in the right to life movement.
We learned that the American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists disagree with Governor Romney, Congressman Ryan and Dr. Wilkie having found that “rape related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency…and is the cause of many unwanted pregnancies…an estimated 32,101 per year.”
We learned that while Republican Party leaders were publically condemning Congressman Akin’s comments and distancing themselves from his views the Republican Platform Committee quietly approved a plank in the party’s platform supporting a constitutional amendment that makes abortion unconstitutional with NO exceptions…even in the case of rape and incest.  The platform will be presented at next weeks’ Republican National Convention.
And finally we learned that the Romney/Ryan ticket opposes abortion EXCEPT in those cases of rape, incest and pregnancy which endangers the life of the mother.  This position is not only at odds with the before mentioned Republican Party Platform it also contradicts Paul Ryan’s sponsorship with the vilified Todd Akin of legislation which mirrors Akin’s views.
Confused?  Who wouldn’t be!  So allow us to summarize.
While Republican’s are publically opposing Todd Akin they are quietly crafting platform positions that are in lockstep with his views.  And Mitt Romney is staying the course of supporting whatever view will lead him to election in November.
This is what happens when a candidate tries to capitulate to every facet of his party.  Romney already had the most conservative members of his party in his pocket.  No matter how much they doubted his true conservatism they were never going to vote for Obama.  He should have courted independents and the more conservative leaning Democrats.  But as usual Romney would not take a stand trying instead to have it both ways.
The result is a disorganized muddled mess.
This is probably not what the Republican Party or the Romney Campaign wanted to be talking about the week before their national convention.               

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Individualism, Ideology, Intolerance and Idiocy

As we expected the fallout from Congressman Todd Akin’s indefensible comments about rape and abortion are dominating the news.  Republicans sought to distance themselves from Akin like the proverbial rats abandoning a sinking ship.  Several Republican heavyweights demanded that Atkin resign from his Senate race.  McConnell, Brown, Cornyn, Johnson, Huckabee, Priebus and Paul Ryan all called on Atkin to step down. Mitt Romney, ever the cautious candidate, condemned Akin’s statements but stopped short of calling for him to resign from the race; choosing to leave that task to his surrogates.  
Perhaps even more damaging than the resignation demands from party leaders is the action taken by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS Super Pac.  Crossroads had already poured over $5 million into the Missouri race and were about to spend an additional $850,000 in ad buys next week.  But Crossroads GPS announced yesterday that it was withdrawing from the race.   
Republican Congressman Todd Akin is running against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill for her US Senate seat.  This Missouri race is critical for Republican efforts to gain control the Senate. 
Akin was asked about his anti-abortion beliefs; specifically whether abortion should be allowed when a pregnancy results from rape.  Akin said that in the case of a “legitimate rape” pregnancy is unlikely because a women’s body shuts down to prevent pregnancy from happening.  Akin has since apologized for his comments but has vowed to continue with his campaign. 
Polls taken after Akin’s controversial remarks show him maintaining a small lead over McCaskill.
When you step back and examine what is really going on here you find a level of hypocrisy that is beyond the pale.  Republicans are not distancing themselves from the substance of Akin’s remarks.  They are distancing themselves from the in artful manner in which he said what they truly believe.  Their parsing of subtext and faux outrage is a joke.  Ryan’s call to Akin is particularly galling because in 2011 the presumptive vice presidential nominee co-sponsored an anti-abortion bill with Akin that parroted Akin’s comments and sought to differentiate “forcible rape” form other forms of rape. 
This whole Akin clown show is another instance of Republican’s marginalizing the rights of women.  Republicans have been waging the proverbial war against women since their evangelical Christian base swept them into office in 2008.  When Republicans weren’t opposing equal pay for equal work, restricting access to birth control, blocking funding for Planned Parenthood and inserting “trans-vaginal ultra sounds’ into the political narrative they were bringing 69 anti-abortion bills to vote on the House floor.  Their record makes it crystal clear…this is who they are.
Republicans have a huge problem with the “women” vote.  Obama leads Romney 54%-39% among all women and 60%-32% among single women.  For Romney to have any chance in November he needs to narrow that gender gap.  Note to Republicans:  restricting women's rights is not going to make that happen.
Once upon a time there was a distinction in the Republican Party between the “Tea Party Caucus” and the traditional “Moderate Republicans.”  But that distinction no longer exists.  If the past two years have taught us anything it is that the Republican Party is now firmly under the control of the evangelicals and the Tea Party Caucus.  From the debt ceiling debates, to taxes, to deficit reduction to women’s rights…time and time again we have watched the far right grab control of the party’s reins and drive their wagon…and the country…into the ditch. This is no longer the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan; a party that would seek compromise for the good of the country.  Gone is sacrificing the “I” for the good of the “We”. This is a Republican Party of individualism, ideology, intolerance and idiocy.
And every day that Republicans are talking about Todd Akin, “legitimate rape,” “forcible rape” and abortion is one less day that they are talking about the economy, jobs and Obama’s record.
Well done!                      

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tea Party Candidates: Ushering Stupidity And Insensitivity Into The National Spotlight

“It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s (pregnancy resulting from rape) really rare…If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down…But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something.  You know I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist not attacking the child.”
                                                                                                       Republican Congressman Todd Akin
Congressman Akin is a Tea Party candidate for the US Senate and an advocate of anti-abortion legislation.   In a local interview aired by KTY1’s “The Jaco Report” he was asked if there might be any exceptions to his stance against abortion; as in the case of women who have been raped.  The insensitivity and stupidity of Congressman Atkin’s statement speaks for itself.
Congressman Akin is just another in a long list of Tea Party candidates that have led to the denigration and marginalization of the Republican Party.  Herman Cain, Christine O’Donnell, Sharon Engle, Sarah Palin and now Todd Akin are just a few of the Tea Party right wing radicals  whose unqualified candidacies have brought into question the very legitimacy of the party.
Congressman Akin’s comments come at the most inopportune time for the Republican Party.  The Party’s national convention starts one week from today.  Party officials would like enter the convention’s national spotlight focused on their nominee and his plans for the future.  Unless Romney can quickly and effectively distance himself from Akin’s comments those intentions will be little more than a pipe dream.
If Romney wants to prove to the nation that he is a strong and principled leader he will marshal the party faithful and collectively and forcefully speak out against Todd Atkins.  He might even consider calling for Atkins resignation.
But that won’t happen.  Romney has had several opportunities to speak out against radical zealots who have embarrassed his party on the national stage.  Time and time again he has shied away from any controversy that might anger his Tea Party base.  And Congressman Atkin’s comments are particularly troublesome for Romney/Ryan ticket.
You see Congressman Akin co-sponsored antiabortion legislation that questions the legitimacy of rape and draws a distinction between rape and “forcible” rape. 
Atkins co-sponsor on that bill…Paul Ryan.
Romney and Ryan will conduct a joint interview later today.  Something tells us that Congressman Atkin will come up in the conversation.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Ryan: "Oops!... But..."

He was against it before he was for it.
Paul Ryan is the latest Republican hypocrite to spout off about all the evils of Obama’s stimulus plan while simultaneously requesting stimulus money for his district.
Congressman Ryan fancies himself to be a “true conservative.”  He finds the whole concept of government hand outs distasteful.  Over the past few years he has been quite vocal about his disdain for Obama’s stimulus; claiming that it didn’t work and didn’t create jobs.  But we now know that while he was publically criticizing the president’s plan he was writing letters requesting stimulus money for his constituents.
In 2009 Ryan wrote letters to the Department of Energy and the Department of Labor seeking stimulus money for two energy conservation companies.  One of them, Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp. received $20.3 million for the energy Department to help homes and businesses improve energy efficiency.
When pressed on the matter Ryan denied applying for any stimulus funds.  Later, having read the letters, he admitted that he was wrong; that he had in fact applied for the funds...BUT they were treated as “constituent requests.” We guess means that he only applied for the money because his constituents asked him to???
“Regardless”, Ryan said, “it’s clear that the Obama stimulus did nothing to stimulate the economy and now the President is asking to do it all over again.”
In Mr. Ryan’s defense he is merely parroting the talking points handed down from Republican headquarters: “The economy sucks so the stimulus didn’t work.”  Republicans intend to ride that horse all the way to November.
The problem they have is that according to virtually every economist the stimulus did work.  The problem is the stimulus wasn’t big enough.  While it is hard to prove a negative; economists agree that were it not for the money infused into the economy by the President’s stimulus plan the economy would have fallen into a deep depression. If you want proof look no further than the jobs numbers. 
When Obama took office the country was losing private sector jobs at a rate of 750,000 PER MONTH. Since the President implemented his plan we have had 29 straight months of job GROWTH.  Last month the economy generated 163,000 net new jobs…and increase of 913,000 jobs per month since Obama took over.  Where in the hell do Ryan and his cronies think that job growth came from?  In fact the net growth numbers would be even greater if not for the decrease in public sector jobs caused by Republicans implementing their austerity measures at the state and local levels.
Obama wants another stimulus and he wants the wealthiest Americans to pay for it by raising their taxes.  Republicans say that you can’t increase taxes at a time of a struggling economy because it will take money out of people’s pockets.  By “people” they mean the rich.   Yet Republicans want to slash federal discretionary spending which has exactly the same negative effect…only on the middle class and working poor.
Mr. Ryan has proven himself to be quite adept at that age old strategy used by politicians everywhere…when caught in a compromising hypocritical moment…lie.
Mr. Ryan says that he is a devout practicing Catholic.  As such he should know better.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

You Can't Make This Stuff Up!

DON”T SWEAT THE DETAILS – Let’s say you have an old car that hasn’t been running right.  You’re planning a long trip and are worried that the old beater won’t get you there.  So you stop in at the new car dealer and tell the salesman your story.  “I’ve got the perfect vehicle for you” he says.  And he shows you this wonderful red coup.  But they guy won’t tell you the size of the engine.  He won’t show you the accessories.  He won’t tell you if it’s good on gas.  He won’t even tell you how much it’s going to cost.  “Trust me!” he says.  “It’s just the thing to get you where you want to go.”  Then he asks you for a blank check.  “We’ll fill the amount in after you’ve taken delivery.” 
Would you buy a car from this man?
That’s Romney/Ryan on overhauling the tax code.  The Republican nominees say they will:  “lower the tax rates broaden the base and eliminate the tax loop holes.”  But when you ask them for specifics as to what loop holes they want to eliminate…they won’t say.  No more deductions for mortgage interest?  Not sayin’.  No more charitable deductions?  My lips are sealed.  Ryan says he won’t reveal them: “because they have to be worked out with congress after the election.”  Romney says he won’t reveal them: “because if I do I’ll just be attacked.”  Really!  So we are supposed to accept the Romney/Ryan tax plan without being given the specifics???
SPEAKING OF TAXES – Mitt Romney hoped that the announcement of his running mate would get the media off his back about his tax returns.  Nope!  In fact Anne Romney was asked about them in a recent interview.  An obviously irritated Mrs. Romney stuck to the company line:  “We have been transparent to what is legally required of us…there’s going to be no more tax releases given…because when we release information it only gives them (Democrats) more ammunition to attack.”
The media consensus is that whatever flack the campaign is getting for refusing to release additional years of returns is nothing compared to the damaging information those additional returns might contain.  Some pundits have opined that the information might be damaging enough to kill any chance Romney might have of winning the election.  The three common theories are:  1.) he paid zero income tax, 2.) he paid taxes at a rate far below that of the average American, 3.) he has avoided paying income taxes by sheltering huge sums of wealth in offshore accounts and 4.) the piece de resistance…that he committed a felony by failing to report offshore income and took advantage of the Federal Tax Amnesty Program to tell Uncle Sam about his offshore holdings without fear of jail time.  Romney’s continued silence only leads to more speculation.
STOPPING VOTER FRAUD IN PENNSYLVANIA – Republican Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson ruled that he would not grant an injunction that would have halted the states’ new voter ID law.  The law requires voters show a valid government issued photo ID that includes an expiration date.  The law makes it difficult for the elderly, disabled, poor and young adults to vote by outlawing the forms of ID they had used in previous years; such as utility bills, tax bills, or social security cards.  Many in this demographic do not have driver’s licenses…the most commonly used form of photo ID…because they use public transportation.  Opponents are expected to appeal the ruling before the State Supreme Court; but not in time for the November election. 
The purpose of the law was to eliminate what was originally described as “rampant voter fraud in the state.” But in a law suit to bring disposition of the law into the courts the supporters of the law agreed that there never has been any substantive instance of voter fraud nor is there any indication that there may be an increase in voter fraud in the upcoming election. In fact, during the 2008 elections there were only 4 cases over voter fraud found among over 650,000 ballots cast in the state.  Clearly this is a brazen effort on the part of Republicans to make it harder to vote for the demographics that typically support Democrats.  If you find that hard to believe consider the words of the state’s Republican House Majority Leader Mike Turzai who pronounced last June that the new voter ID requirement: “is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state.”
Congratulations to Judge Simpson and the Pennsylvania state legislature.  You have succeeded in overturning the very cornerstone on which this country was founded…the right that EVERY American…not just the ones who are wealthy and vote Republican… has to vote. 
ROMNEY LECTURES DEMOCRATS - Mitt Romney urged Democrats and specifically Barak Obama to: "take your campaign of division and hate back to Chicago."  This from the guy who carpet bomded his Republican primary rivals with millions of dollars of ugly personal attack ads.  We warned Romney earlier that he might get away with these negative tactics within the safe harbor of the Republican primaries; but when he got to the general election he was "gonna' need a bigger boat." His Republican challengers didn't have the fire power to fight back.  Obama does; and Romney doesn't like it.  Captain Romney is not used to being challenged.  He gets defensive.  He's a bit thin skinned.  You could see the annoyance in his debate performance during the primaries and you can see it now.  He doesn't handel return fire very well.  Better hunker down Mitt.  You thought the media scrutiny and the negative attacks were bad before...  Now that you've picked Mr. Ryan its only going to get worse. Surely you know that you reap what you sew.            


Missing From The Headlines

We’d like to use our time today to bring you waht we think is a very interesting story.  Perhaps we are wrong in our assessment as it is a story that has gone virtually ignored by the national media.  So at the risk of wasting your time…here goes.
The United States of America is at war in Afghanistan. 
2,088 members of the United States military have been killed in Afghanistan; the most recent on August 10, 2012 when six Marines were murdered by our Afghan partners.  The youngest Marine was 21 years of age.  He was 10 when the war started.
15,322 members of the United States military have been wounded.
The war in Afghanistan continues to cost American taxpayers $2 billion dollars per week.
The war was started without an exit strategy.  The president has said that we will pull out of Afghanistan in 2014...maybe.  The Republicans believe we should stay there as long as it takes to secure a victory.  No one can provide a definition of “victory.”
We don’t fault the national media for ignoring this story.  Americans aren’t really all that interested.  The two guys running for president don’t even mention it.  And there is only so much space and time to cover Biden’s malapropos and Romney’s stilted dialogue.
America is at war.  Our young men and women are dying.
Maybe we are wrong.  Maybe it’s not that important.
We just thought you should know.       


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Medicare: Fact vs. Fiction

The primary topic of recent conversation in the world of politics has been the candidate’s different views on fixing Medicare.  And as usual there has been a ton of misinformation produced primarily by campaign attack ads.  So we thought it might be helpful once and for all to set the record straight and tell you the truth about Medicare. 
This is not a partisan dissertation.  These are the facts as derived from multiple independent/bi-partisan sources.
Let’s start with the most recent accusation flying around today; that the President “stole” $716 billion from Medicare to pay for “Obamacare.”  That statement is simply and factually not true.
The President’s Affordable Care Act takes $716 billion in SUBSIDIES currently paid to private Medicare Advantage Plans and uses the money to close the so called “doughnut hole” that causes seniors to pay their prescription drugs.  That money goes toward eliminating co-pays for preventative care for seniors.   Medical experts are unanimous in their findings that access to preventative care allows for treatment of illness and disease in the earlier stages thereby reducing the need for more extensive, invasive and expensive treatment later.  “Obamacare doesn’t steal from Medicare.  It takes the money from PRIVATE INSURANCE PROVIDERS and gives it back to the TAXPAYERS to use for prescription drugs and preventative care.
“Obamacare” also uses some of the savings bring provide access to affordable health care for 30 million previously uninsured Americans.  These uninsured folks use hospital emergency rooms as their primary health care provider.  Local ER’s are the most expensive means of treatment provided under our healthcare system.  The cost for caring for these 30 million uninsured is passed on to the paying customers through increased fees and higher premiums.  Obamacare requires those that can afford health care to buy it or pay a fine.  It provides premium subsidies to those who are financially challenged.  By pulling these people out of the ER’s and onto the paying health care rolls Obamacare adds another layer of cost reduction to the existing system.
Obamacare also allows individuals to maintain their coverage even if they lose their job.  It makes it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions and prohibits insurance companies from cancelling coverage for pre-existing conditions as well.  It allows children to remain on their parents’ policies until they reach the age of 26 and it eliminates annual caps on benefits.
Romney’s plan makes the same $716 billion in cuts.  But it uses the money to partially privatize Medicare for those less than 55 years of age.  Those 55 and older will receive the same Medicare benefits they do today.  Those under 55 will receive a lump sum payment.  They will use this payment to buy insurance through a number of private plans or from Medicare itself.  If the lump sum payment proves insufficient to cover their medical expenses they will be expected to pay them out of pocket. 
It is important to note that Romney has said on numerous occasions that he will repeal “Obamacare” if elected.  Therefore all the “Obamacare” protections against discrimination and cancellation for pre-existing conditions will be eliminated.  As a result, under the Romney plan seniors who typically have some sort of pre-existing condition will be expected to obtain affordable healthcare with the finite “voucher” or “premium support payment” issued by the government. 
Independent analysts have found that the Romney Plan would require seniors to pay significantly more for their health care...some saying by as much as $6500 per year.  The Medicare Trustees responsible for overseeing the administration of the program have said the following: “The financial outlook for the Medicare program is substantially improved as a result of the changes in the Affordable Care Act.”   

Romney/Ryan: Rumblin' Stumblin' Bumblin'

The Rumblin’, Stumblin’ Bumblin’ Campaign continues. 
We commented on this topic the other day.  But this roll out of Paul Ryan has been so horrifically bad that it bears repeating.
The weeks between the announcement of the vice president pick and the national convention are traditionally a time of unbridled enthusiasm and rising poll numbers.  This is the time that the candidates strut their presidential bona fides before rabid crowds of party faithful.  It is the time when everything the candidate says is “genius” and the true believers can taste victory. It is the time of god, country, mom and apple pie.
Such is not the case with the Romney Campaign as it continues to sputter along with one fumble after another.
The Ryan roll-out started well.  Romney appeared more energized and confident than ever before.  Ryan, the boy wonder, seemed to infuse the campaign and the base with an energy that had been sorely lacking over the past several weeks.
But a mere thirty six hours later the wheels started to come off.  Romney began to distance himself from Ryan’s budget on 60 Minutes.  The next day he doubled down and either would not or could not delineate the differences between his budget and that of his running mate.  In an appearance staged before a backdrop of grimy faced coal miners the preppy Romney could not have looked more out of place.  Romney the automaton had returned to the campaign.
Ryan has not been much better. Constantly asked to comment on aspects of his own controversial budget plan he has struggled to move the conversation to the Romney budget; the budget on which the ticket is actually running.  Take his recent interview with Brit Hume on FOX NEWS.  Hume asked Ryan when we could actually expect to see a balanced budget.  After stumbling once again to turn the conversation to the Romney budget, Ryan could not answer the question saying they hadn’t actually run the numbers.  Now Ryan will never sit through a more favorable interview setting than he just did on FOX NEWS.  And the so called “budget guy” will never get a bigger series of softball questions than those served up by Mr. Hume.  But Ryan was hesitant and appeared uncomfortable; clearly having to think about what should have been easy responses.  Apparently debate prep is not part of the Romney/Ryan game plan.
Conservative pundits and even some Republican officials are deeply concerned.  Some have even said that they consider the run for the White House a lost cause and are focusing their efforts on gaining control of congress.
So what is it that causes previously successful individuals to look like bumbling fools when running for the two highest offices in the land?   Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are smart, accomplished guys.  But they have handled this window of opportunity like a Saint Bernard trying to catch a beach ball.
There is still time for Romney/Ryan to fix this.  But it is now far too late to say it’s still early.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thirty Six Hours

It only took him 36 hours…
Last Saturday Mitt Romney announced that he had selected Paul Ryan as his running mate.  For the first time in this campaign Romney looked presidential.  He seemed energized, confident and relaxed.  It was as if he was proud of himself for making this bold pick.
We naturally assumed that Romney was aware of the scrutiny the Ryan pick would generate.  Endorsing Ryan meant endorsing the controversial Ryan Budget; a budget wildly popular with the base and passed by the Republican controlled House.  Romney himself had said that if elected president he would sign the Ryan budget if it reached his desk.  He called the Ryan budget “marvelous.” Surely the Romney Campaign was well prepared and eager to defend all aspects of Ryan’s controversial plan.
We congratulated Romney on having the courage to make this bold pick and we looked forward to a substantive debate between the Romney/Ryan and Obama/Biden views for our future.  
Thirty six hours later Romney was back to his same old wishy-washy self.   During a “60 minute” interview with Bob Schieffer, Romney steered away from the Ryan Plan making it clear that it was his budget the ticket would be campaigning on, not Ryan’s.  On Monday, during an impromptu press conference, Romney was asked three separate times to explain the differences between his budget plan and Ryan’s…to delineate where he and Ryan agreed and disagreed.  Romney refused to answer; choosing instead to attack the president’s economic record.  He was clearly uncomfortable and unprepared to answer the question.
It is unfathomable to believe that the Romney campaign made this pick without being prepared to give a full throated endorsement to all that Ryan brings to the table.  Yet that is exactly what appears to have happened.  It is as if Romney thought he could energize his party by choosing Ryan while deflecting any controversy that Ryan’s views might bring to the table…hoping that eventually the probing questions would subside.
But they will not.  Democrats are going to define Romney with Ryan.  They will bury Romney under Ryan’s plans for Medicare and abuse him for his less than full throated support of his own running mate.  Once again Romney will be portrayed as a flip flopper who lacks the political courage to take a stand.  He doesn’t want to talk about his religion, he doesn’t want to talk about his time as governor, he doesn’t want to talk about his taxes and now he doesn’t want to talk about the specifics of a budget plan that he said he would pass on day one as president.
Normally a candidate will get a bump in the polls immediately after announcing his pick for running mate and he will ride that surge all the way to the convention.  But the Romney pick has failed to move the polls.  His performance over the past two days certainly has not helped.
“Politico” having conducted 36 interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives reports: “that there is an unmistakable consensus among political operatives in Washington:  Romney has taken a risk with Ryan that has only a modest chance of going right…and a huge chance of going wrong…the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger…(some) are worried that Ryan’s vocal views about overhauling Medicare will be a millstone for other GOP candidates in critical House and Senate races”
If Romney wants to win the White House then he needs to get out in front of this…and he needs to do it quickly.  He needs to get specific about where he stands on Ryan’s budget, how that proposal interacts with his own views and how it all comes together to build a better country.  He has an opportunity to change the narrative and define the campaign…to make good on the big and bold promise that the Ryan pick brought to the conversation. 
But if Romney continues along the same vague, evasive path that he has walked before he may well lose this election before he even gets to the convention.
We long for a substantive debate featuring two very different views of the country’s future. 
We’re still waiting.   

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ryan Pick = Debate On Entitlement Reform

Over the next several weeks you will hear a buzz in the political stratosphere over Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan as his running mate.  Ryan’s impact on the presidential race will be the main topic of conversation from now until the Democratic convention takes center stage in September. 
This is typical in American politics.  The candidate announces his choice and media frenzy ensues; scrutinizing everything from how the running mate was chosen to what he or she likes to have for breakfast.  Think Sarah Palin in 2008.  Naturally, some sort of controversy will emerge over the pick; for what would our politics be without controversy.  Usually the controversy is little more than some irrelevant nonsense fabricated by the opposition.  For in our political system running mates are usually chosen because they embody the most critical of campaign characteristics…they do no harm to the candidate.
But the Paul Ryan pick is different for two very important reasons.
For the first time in decades voters have a clear choice over the direction in which they want their elected leaders to take the country.  When Romney picked Ryan he didn’t move to the mushy middle to appease independent voters.  In fact he doubled down on differentiating his world view from that of the President.  Come November voters will have the distinct choice of whether they want lower taxes and less in the way of government services or if they believe that government is a necessary component in our democracy and those who have benefited the most should be asked to give back a little more.  The Romney/Ryan ticket supports the former viewpoint; Obama/Biden the latter.  The distinction is quite clear.
The other reason the Ryan pick is important is because he brings to the table a serious debate about the future of middle class entitlements; a debate that has been sorely lacking for decades.  Ryan does not believe that you can return the economy to fiscal stability without addressing the skyrocketing cost of entitlements. He has courageously expressed his highly controversial ideas for entitlement reform; controversial because they would completely alter the delivery of entitlement benefits that are so popular among Americans.
On the topic of entitlements, Paul Ryan is right.  You cannot have a serious conversation about economic stability without including substantive entitlement reform.  You can disagree with Ryan’s views on how to fix the entitlement problem…and we certainly do…but there is no doubt that middle class entitlements are the single most economic impediment to our financial security. 
Every economic think tank that has examined entitlements says the same thing…within the next twenty years entitlement programs will absorb 100% of our budget.  100% of our tax revenues will go toward paying Medicare and Medicaid benefits…leaving $0.00 dollars for defense, education, infrastructure, innovation, Pell grants, food stamps etc., etc. etc.  And that doesn’t count the interest that we need to pay on the $17 trillion we owe on the debt…
… Nor address the fact that Social Security will be essentially bankrupt in 2033.
We are very enthused about the Ryan pick.  Not because we agree with his ideology, but because we feel he will bring to the forefront a serious and long overdue debate about entitlement reform. 
And to all those partisan radicals on both the right and the left who see every debate in political terms… try to understand this simple concept.  Entitlement reform is not about politics…it’s about math.