Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lies, Damned Liars, and Paul Ryan

Well, I didn't watch Ryan's speech last night because I knew I'd shout at the screen until  I was hoarse, but reading about it and watching video clips of it aren't doing my throat any better. Did Ryan say one word of truth beyond speaking his own damn name?


The speech effectively rallied his supporters in the audience. But on the merits it was chock full of misstatements of fact that undermine his reputation for brave, big ideas — which has hastened his rise through the ranks of the GOP.

Here are the top five examples:

  • Medicare Ryan forged his reputation in large part by drafting and advancing an unpopular plan to dramatically cut and privatize Medicare. Though he didn’t mention that plan once on Wednesday, he included it in his last two budgets, both of which preserved the Affordable Care Acts cuts to Medicare — taken mostly from overpayments to private insurers and hospitals.
    Instead, Ryan once again dubiously accused President Obama of being the true threat to Medicare.
    “You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn’t have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So, they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn’t even ask for. The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it.”
    Obama did use those Medicare savings — in the form of targeted cuts in payments to providers, not in benefits to seniors — to pay for the health care law. Ryan’s budget calls for using them to finance tax cuts for wealthy Americans, and deficit reduction. But by now calling to restore that spending commitment to Medicare, Ryan and Romney are pledging to hasten Medicare’s insolvency by many years.

  • U.S. Credit Rating Ryan said the Obama presidency, “began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.”
    Standard & Poors downgraded the country’s sovereign debt rating in 2011 because congressional Republicans, of which Ryan is a key leader, threatened not to increase the country’s borrowing authority — risking a default on the debt — unless Democrats agreed to slash trillions of dollars from domestic social programs and investments. Ryan even briefly toyed with the idea that the country’s creditors would forgive default for “a day or two or three or four” as long as Democrats ultimately agreed to GOP demands.
    • Janesville GM Plant Ryan criticized Obama for — yes — not using government funds to prop up an auto plant in his district.
      “A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: ‘I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years,’” Ryan recalled. “That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.”
      Ignoring the inconsistency of a Republican chastising Obama for not bailing out more auto manufacturers, the plant in question closed before Obama’s inauguration in 2009.
    • Bowles-Simpson Debt Commission Ryan chastised Obama: “He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.”
      Ryan sat on that commission. He voted against it. Following his lead, so did the panel’s other House Republicans.
    • Protecting the Poor Near the end of his speech, Ryan claimed the campaign’s top priority is protecting the poor. “We have responsibilities, one to another — we do not each face the world alone,” he said. “And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak.”
      Just under two thirds of the dramatic spending cuts in Ryan’s budget target programs that benefit low-income people. That plan also calls for large tax cuts for high-income earners.
  • Ryan lied so much, that even the mainstream media, with their reluctance to call out deceiving politicians, took notice. Salon's Joan Walsh went so far as to file a piece titled "Paul Ryan’s Brazen Lies." The New Republic asked "The Most Dishonest Convention Speech ... Ever?" "Meet The Press'" David Gregory accused Ryan of having "ideological amnesia."

    But remember, fact-checking isn't important to these people. We're in for a wild ride, folks. At this rate, I fully expect the President to be called a space alien before November.

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    Neal Armstrong
    First Human On The Moon,
    1930 - 2012

    The first human to walk on the surface of another planet died last weekend. Thank you, Neil, for that early morning walk on July 20, 1969. May we all have a life so accomplished, yet live so humbly. And may we not concede the universe to the Chinese!

    "Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) was not entirely human. He was the spiritual repository of our spacefaring dreams & ambitions. In death, a little bit of us all dies with him. Farewell my friend. And now, perhaps more than ever, I bid you godspeed." --Neil deGrasse Tyson

    Monday, August 27, 2012

    Kudos to Chris Matthews!

    This morning, MSNBC host Chris Matthews gave us a textbook example of how to talk to lying Republicans, backing RNC Chairman and escaped Muppet Reince Priebus into a corner and tearing off a piece. Matthews was incensed (and so am I) about the lying attacks on the President and the unfunny dog whistle Mitt Romney sent on Friday to the birthers. Romney gave a nod to the birthers in the form of an unfunny remark, and Mathews gave Priebus hell about it. Way to go, Chris! Here's the video, courtesy of ThinkProgress:

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

    The Imperial Candidate

    Usually, a person has to hold high office before catching the "Imperial Me" bug; not so with Romney & Rayn! They're already dictating to the press what questions they will and will not answer:

    The Plum Line:

    What if one of the two presidential candidates concealed huge amounts of information about himself and his plans for the presidency for the explicitly stated reason that revealing that info would allow it to be debated during the presidential race, to his own political detriment?

    In an interview with Time magazine, Mitt Romney was again asked whether he would detail what loopholes and deductions he’d eliminate to make his tax plan — which would cut taxes deeply in ways that disproportionately benefit the rich — pay for itself. Behold his answer:
    QUESTION: Is there something you’re willing to say that’s more specific about which deductions you would eliminate?
    ROMNEY: I know our Democrat friends would love to have me specify one or two so they could amass the special interest to fight that effort.
    Romney will not reveal more details how his tax plan will be paid for, because Democrats would attack those details. And he again confirmed that they will all be worked out with Congress — which is to say, after the election. In other words, if Romney reveals those details now, Democrats would subject his plan to more scrutiny.

    Then Romney went even further, forbidding questions about abortion and Todd Akin in a Denver interview:

    The Huffington Post:
    A Denver reporter granted a one-on-one interview with Mitt Romney Thursday said she was instructed not to ask him any questions about abortion or Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) controversial comments about victims of "legitimate rape."
    Shaun Boyd, a reporter for Denver CBS affiliate KCNC, was one of four local reporters to speak with Romney, according to the station. She said that the Romney campaign had set pre-conditions before allowing her to interview the candidate.

    So Thurston won't tell us his plans because we might vote against him if we knew them? Romney won't address questions that might open his campaign to additional scrutiny? Even Richard Nixon wasn't that arrogant! How is this anything but an insult to the electorate? And how the hell does he think this will make people more likely to vote for him?

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    94 - 0

    Support for President Obama among African-American voters, according to a recent poll, is 94% - 0%.

    That's right, zero percent for Romney. Zero!

    First Read:
    Looking inside the numbers, Obama continues to lead Romney among key parts of his political base, including African Americans (94 percent to 0 percent), Latinos (by a 2-to-1 margin), voters under 35-years-old (52 percent to 41 percent) and women (51 percent to 41 percent).
    I don't know if this indicates that African-Americans have better bullshit detectors that the average person, or if all the Rent-A-Negroes the GOP uses weren't polled, or just makes me laugh.

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Breaking The Outrage Barrier

    Entering the blog after a long absence.....Turn on the lights!

    Walking around the surface, then looking inside, checking old posts and examining the HTML....OK, that looks good. Let's get started!

    Outrage Engine....Ignition!
    Sarcasm Module...Online!
    Information Conduits....Open and free-flowing!
    Caffeine Injectors....Filled to capacity and ready!  
    Positronic Natural Intelligence....Online, rising to 100% capability and holding steady!

    Liftoff in 5....4....3....2....1....

    OK, I hope you had as much fun with that intro as I did. I'm back, for better or worse. Reasons of health and other catastrophes kept me away from the blog for most of this year, but I'm back to sow some intelligence, direct some righteous anger, and hopefully provide a unique perspective on our world. 

    What's attracted my attention and stoked my legitimate anger are the ignorant comments of Republican Congressman and Missouri candidate for the U.S. Senate Todd Akin, and the general issue of the Republican "war on women," I say that in quotes because I believe it's not just a war on women, but on the whole of the 20th Century.

    Now, Todd Akin himself is toast. There's no way that he can salvage his political career now that he's said, in public and on recorded video, the ignorant superstitions that he and his ilk believe. Typical of wingnuts like himself, Akin didn't realize that the unscientific and reactionary beliefs he and his fellow travelers hold are not equally believed by the rest of the populace. Living in the Fox News bubble as they do, these rightwingers don't realize that the majority of the country, those of us who don't rely on Fox as our primary source of information, actually believe and act on facts, proven by scientific investigation, and observable by anyone with a functioning brain.

    I don't need to repeat Akin's ignorant and reprehensible remarks about rape. I'm sure that if you're reading my blog, you're aware of them. I will note, however, that Akin's published response to the furor did not include an actual apology; Akin merely stated that he, as so many of his comrades have said before, "misspoke." I don't know exactly when the word "misspoke" became a synonym for "fuck you, I still mean what I said," but I've been away for awhile. Todd Akin has no intention of joining the rest of us in the 21st Century, and he doesn't see why he should. Neither the condemnation of his fellow Republicans, the withdrawal of funds by both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Karl Rove's Crossroads America super-PAC, the calls for him to drop out of the race coming from all quarters, nor the absolute refutation of his ignorant, misogynist beliefs by credible physicians and medical experts, has so far moved him to withdraw. He's determined to see this through to Election Day, and frankly, I couldn't be happier.

    But what this has brought to light is the general conservative rejection of science, reason, and modern civilization. In the Huffington Post, Soraya Chemaly writes:

    What Todd Akin said and believes doesn't just play into a media-catchy, election year "war on women" narrative. It's part of a reactionary, fundamentalist backlash to modernity. It's a war on science. It's a war on facts. It's a war on critical thinking. But, really, consider it a war on democracy. Statements like Akin's reflect the degree to which some men, steeped in all sorts of dangerous denialism, will go to protect their power and how they undermine equality and democracy to do it. Mitt Romney's smart, he gets how Akin made this obvious, which is why he's distancing himself so fast and furiously from this incident. But, Romney deep down inside agrees with the ideas that reside under the surface of such an obvious mistake. That's why he will not renounce his rights-stripping-for-women-personhood-for-fetuses happy running mate Paul Ryan, who shares the ideas expressed by Akin, even if he expresses himself less offensively.

    This is what's really happening. As the GOP has now been completely conquered by the conservative movement, insane beliefs like Akin's will find their way into the public awareness with increasing frequency. The wingnut echo chamber grows louder and louder, while the self-deluding occupants forget that they're all alone in there. Consequently, more and more of their anti-modernity agenda will find its way into the public consciousness, where it will be soundly rejected. Like exposing an infected wound to sunlight, this publicity will hopefully end this rebellion against everything that's happened since the Enlightment, which is a good thing. Democracy cannot flourish in a general atmosphere of such ignorance and hatred.

    Thomas Jefferson said, "if a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."  The conservative movement has flourished in part because of its acceptance and acquiescence to the forces of ignorance, hatred, and division. Let's hope we're seeing the beginning of the end.