Republicans Go Nuts

First, let me apologize for that terrible, terrible pun in the title. I am, of course, drawing attention to the ejection of two attendees from the Republican National Convention for throwing nuts at a black CNN camerawoman.

According to witnesses, the individuals told her “this is how we feed animals” as they threw the nuts. Needless to say this kind of disgraceful behavior was quickly condemned by the convention organizers and rightly so. After ejecting the pair, organizers said:

Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.

Former Bush White House press secretary and CNN commentator Ari Fleischer told the BBC: “If it’s what has been reported to have been their motive it’s reprehensible. They have no place being at this convention.”

Of course Republicans have been going nuts in a more traditional and less overtly racist way for the last few days, swooning over their would-be heroes down in Tampa. In many ways it has been Paul Ryan who has stolen the show, leaving poor old Mitt to stand in his increasingly large shadow. I do feel genuinely sorry for Mitt Romney; he is basically what the Republicans have ended up with despite their clamor for seemingly anybody else. Perry, Gingrich, Santorum… All have briefly shone brightly, only to fade away, leaving Romney to be crowned as knight in shining armor ready to do battle with the “evil socialist” currently occupying the White House. It speaks volumes that as soon as he announced Paul Ryan as his running mate, focus immediately shifted to Ryan. I will admit that parts of Ryan’s speech were expertly delivered, with some fantastic lines, my favorite being his evoking Obama as the figure head of a failed dream:

College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.

Paul Ryan (via CBS News)

At least Ryan has ideas, ideas all his own (with a little help from Ayn Rand). If some of the other keynote speeches were anything to go by all they want to do is trash Obama. Devoid of anything to truly celebrate, some speakers launched into the convention equivalent of the glass-half-empty idiom: Let’s not offer anything constructive — just complain about stuff.

Not Ryan though, he was bold and visionary. He made several references to Obama, but at least he offered an alternative vision. Yes that vision is probably a road to ruin, but it is a vision. However, beneath the gloss and the image he presented to the world during his speech, there are a catalogue of half-truths, misrepresentations, and outright lies. And beneath those layers of deception lie ideas of great danger to 95% of the US population, especially the very poor and the middle classes.

Ryan accused President Obama of taking $716 billion out of Medicare. Wrong. The amount is actually savings in Medicare reimbursement rates, savings rates Ryan himself supported in his budget plan.

Ryan attempted to pin the blame for Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade the US credit rating from AAA to AA+ on Obama. Wrong. Standard & Poor explicitly stated that the games of political brinkmanship during efforts to raise the debt ceiling were behind its decision to adjust the rating. It was the Republicans who threatened not to raise the debt ceiling.

Ryan blamed President Obama for the shut down of a General Motors plant in Wisconsin. Wrong. The plant was closed while George W. Bush was in office.

The plans Ryan has for the federal budget have been highlighted to make life even tougher for the lower and middle classes, allowing for sweeping tax cuts for multi-millionaires. Those plans have been criticized by the leaders of his own faith, Catholicism. Ryan has championed his faith, much to the delight of his captive Republican audience. Father Thomas J. Reese, a priest at Georgetown University has previously been critical of Ryan:

I am afraid that Chairman Ryan’s budget reflects the values of his favorite philosopher Ayn Rand rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ. Survival of the fittest may be okay for Social Darwinists but not for followers of the gospel of compassion and love.

Additionally, 90 faculty members at the university went on to accuse Ryan’s budget of violating Catholic social teaching.

To the extent that Catholicism informs Ryan in his day to day decisions, I don’t think there is much cause for alarm. Certainly not when set against the backdrop of Romney’s Mormonism. Like a great many Catholics, Ryan simply ignores the bits that don’t square with the rest of his philosophy. He may play to the crowd and tell them it is central to his philosophies and political actions, but his actions don’t bear that out. He still votes for things the Catholic hierarchy cares about; abortion, contraception — the list goes on, but I’m not sure how much of that voting pattern is down to his faith. I think its more a case of his being a conservative than him being a Catholic. He could just as easily be a Baptist, for example, and have a very similar voting record.

Ryan may be lumbered with vast numbers of gormless idiots in his party, but — make no mistake — he is a very bright and attentive politician. He represents Obama’s biggest threat in the lead up to November, far more so than even Romney himself. Defeating the likes of Palin, Bachmann, and Perry would have been easy, but now Obama has a real fight on his hands.

About Mark Turner

Mark Turner was born and raised as a Catholic in the North East of England, UK. He attended two Catholic schools between the ages of five and sixteen. A product of a moderate Catholic upbringing and an early passion for science first resulted in religious apathy and by mid-teens outright disbelief.


  • Glasofruix

    I’m not quite sure, every time i follow a bit the US presidential race the first thought that comes to my mind is “the monkeys are trying to run the circus”. I haven’t seen ANY republican campaign yet that doesn’t consist of personnal attacks on other candidates and focuses on the issues at hand instead, oh and also tax cuts for the rich, every fucking time.

  • Tainda

    They have no clue.

    My daughter is voting in her first presidential election this year and she asked me who she should vote for.  I said “You think the rich should get tax cuts while the rest of us should pay exorbitant amounts in taxes compared to our salaries?”  She said “No way!”  I said “Then vote democrat”   I still don’t get why middle class people would vote Republican.

  • Shells

    Great writeup, but it’s important to realize that Obama lies through his teeth too. Every speech by almost every political figure out there is laced by lies and half-truths; we may disagree with Republicans because of their bologna social policies but that’s no excuse to give Democrats a free pass.

    Also, as someone who’s moderately Randian, the idea that Ryan is Randian is laughable. He’s closer to Rand than Obama is, but it’s similar to saying that deer poop is closer than dog poop to diamonds, because at least deer poop is in nicely shaped little balls. I think people just throw Rand’s name out there because Rand’s ideas are uniquely easy to misunderstand, and when misunderstood, they sound terrible. It makes for a bit of intrigue when read by an uneducated audience that’s not interested in hearing anything but straw men.

  • Shells

    The lower 50% of income earners don’t pay net taxes, so any tax cuts are going to go to the upper classes because they pay taxes disproportionately. You can argue for or against the merits of that, but that’s the factual situation at present. It may be that some of the Republicans like smaller government and hence want tax cuts, period, without caring about who will benefit the most.

    Middle class people vote for Republicans because they’re socially conservative or because they like smaller government. The social conservatives are probably beyond help, but lots of people like small government and individual liberty and don’t see that the Republican party supports those ideals in name only. However, lots of that group have started to realize what the Republican party has become, and hence the Libertarian party is growing like gangbusters.

  • moother

    Frankly, it’s the GOP who is a troop of monkeys…

    We should all be throwing nuts at them.

  • Tom Walters

    Where Randians are concerned - there’s no true Scotsman.

  • Shells

    Trust me, I recognize that fallacy. I can clearly tell you what constitutes the basic level of understanding necessary to have a meaningful conversation about Rand’s ideas. If you understand the difference between the selfishness of, say, Laveyan Satanism, and rational (long-term) self-interest, then we can talk. But most people just hear and repeat, “Rand says you should cut your neighbor’s throat” which is just darned absurd.

  • Shells

    With regard to Ryan specifically, he’s Christian, for one. Rand’s philosophy says that reason is the only way for man to understand the world around him, and hence is explicitly atheistic. It also promotes the maximum possible individual liberty and limits the role of government to the protection of freedom, something that Ryan claims to embrace but in reality embraces fitfully, in spurts, and then turns around and totally rejects in other places. Gary Johnson is the closest to presenting a Randian view of government, but he still has some noticeable differences with Randians. Paul Ryan is no Gary Johnson, much less a Randian.

  • Volunteer

    “Let me explain—repeat actually—what this means: About half of taxpayers paid no federal income tax last year. It does not mean they paid no tax at all. Many shelled out Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. In fact, only 14 percent of Americans didn’t pay either income or payroll taxes. Some paid property taxes and, it is fair to say, just about all of them paid sales taxes of one kind or another. So to say they pay no taxes is flat wrong.However, this class warfare-like rhetoric plays to a perception that the income tax is a chump tax: Only hard-working folks like us pay it. The welfare queens don’t. The super-rich don’t. It is a powerful emotional argument. It is also flat wrong.
    The actual number of Americans who don’t pay any taxes isn’t half, but 14%. This group of non-taxpayers of any kind is largely composed of the elderly and disabled. The people who don’t pay taxes do so because they can’t work.”  -Howard Glick of the Tax Policy Center

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their
    childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering
    when they can move out and get going with life.”

    No, instead, according to Ryan, they should be working the minimal wage jobs that they are qualified for since they couldn’t afford college since under Ryan and Romney’s view more government aid to college students means higher tuition costs. So if you are rich you can go to college.

  • Shells

    I said “net”. If you can find something which shows information based on net taxes, rather than on income taxes, please let me know.

  • Tainda

    And in the real world most parents of college graduates can’t afford their children to live with them after graduation.  At least not without a minimum wage job to help with bills and food.

    Ryan and Romney have no IDEA what it’s like to be an average American.  If they had to live like the rest of us, they would probably shoot themselves.

  • Ewan

    The point wasn’t about paying taxes, it was about “net taxes”, that is, taxes in excess of the state funded benefits your receive. If you pay 10k in taxes, but get 5k worth of education for your children, 4k worth of roads, 5k worth of defence spending, then you’re notionally 4k in ‘profit’. The fraction of the population that pays in taxes more than they get in benefits is remarkably small.

    This is normal and expected behaviour for a progressive tax system, but a lot of people on ‘average’ incomes who feel that they “pay their taxes” don’t realise just how much they’re actually subsidised by the very rich.

  • Marco

    Just a question (and i am honestly curious, no attempt a baiting here) : how do the disabled pay no taxes? How does that work? I am disabled. I sure as hell pay income taxes. 
    Is it the disabled that somehow are not on SSI? 
    For the record, I don;t pay taxes on the totality of my SSI, but a portion. Still, I pay taxes.

  • Marco

    I would like to see the republicans kick out every racist off their convention.

  • Jeff P

    There is one important difference between Randians and the tea-party. The Randians want both government and religion out of the social welfare business and believe that things will take care of themselves – over time there will be no more need for social welfare once business gets its proper footing and can employ the masses.

    The tea-party wants government out of social welfare but wants the role of religion to greatly increase to fill the social welfare role that government once took. Perhaps religion and tithing will become compulsory like taxes used to be. Freedom of religion will simply mean freedom to choose among one of the sanctioned religions but everybody must be involved with a church.

    The democrats mainly want to keep things the way they currently are with government providing most of the social welfare which to the exacerbation of the religious conservatives, diminishes the role of organized religion.

  • Alex

    I keep hearing a lot of this “small government” and “individual liberties” bullshit. Come back when the said “small government” stops the never-ending power trip at airports, ceases pointless war on drugs, gets its damn nose out of people’s bedrooms and relationships, and for once moderates its penchant for invading foreign countries, running national debt into astronomical amounts. Instead, all the “small government” types usually do is rally to cut tax revenue, education, food safety, environment protection, low-income assistance, corporate oversight, and god forbid help people with health care. That’s evil socialism, don’t you know, just like what Nazis would have done.

  • Patterrssonn

    Not surprising, Americans have always been suckers for utopian woo, and quick fixes, just ripe for the libertarian koolaid, Taxes r evil! Git rid o governmint n evryhin will be fine! Can’t believe there’s an entire political party based on that.

  • Patterrssonn

    Do those net benefits include trillions spent on wars to maintain your corporations access to cheap oil?

  • Patterrssonn

    Be pretty lonely in there.

  • Patterrssonn

    I other words would you prefer rule by government, corporation or religion?

  • Patterrssonn

    Ayn Rand is the perfect metaphor for how a country that embraced libertarianism would end up, broke, freindless and bailed out by socialism.

  • Agnostic

    How about overhaul of the banking system? Or, cutting out waste? Or, closing legal tax loopholes? Or weeding out corruption? Or, having a better mix in the congress instead of having a domination of lawyers? How about doing away with the idea that further debt is the solution to problems created by debt? I don’t follow the election closely either, but I certainly see that a system overhaul is necessary.

  • M16Murphy

    SSI isn’t subject to income tax.

  • whatme?

    The tea-party wants government out of social welfare but wants the role of religion to greatly increase to fill the social welfare role that government once took. ”  

    Oh, you mean like the Taliban, or Hezbollah?

  • kaydenpat

    First time I’m hearing about the nuts-at-Black-woman throwing incident at the RNC.  Shocking!  But not really surprising.  Dang Republicans. Control your people!