Paul Ryan vs. the Nuns: Round 2

Fuel up the bus, it’s time for the nuns to hit the road again.

This summer’s Nuns on the Bus tour, you may recall, focused on the good sisters’ moral opposition to the House Republican budget, usually referred to as the Ryan Budget, after House Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, its author.

Chris Lisee reported for Religion News Service at the conclusion of the nuns’ successful tour:

A group of Catholic nuns ended its nine-state bus tour here Monday (July 2), speaking out against a Republican federal budget proposal they say favors wealthy Americans at the expense of poor families.

Led by Sister Simone Campbell, the “Nuns on the Bus” rejected the budget proposal of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., which it called “immoral” and “unpatriotic.”

Ryan’s budget “rejects church teaching about solidarity, inequality, the choice for the poor, and the common good. That’s wrong,” said Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby.

Nuns on the Bus claims that the Ryan budget would raise taxes on low-income families while cutting taxes for millionaires and corporations, push families into poverty, and kick 8 million people off of food stamps.

The sisters “claimed” such things because they happen to be true. The Ryan budget is a call for radical austerity for the poor and radically irresponsible largesse for the very rich. Ryan’s scheme calls for the most extreme redistribution of wealth in more than a century — a redistribution from the poor and to the wealthy.

What about the middle class? Well, Ryan’s budget would get rid of that. If his plan were implemented, the middle class would be joining the poor.

As Kris Benson summarizes: “The Ryan Plan will privatize anything and everything, raise your taxes if you make over $50,000 per year, cut them if you make over $200,000 per year, and end Medicare and Medicaid as we know it.”

Yes, Benson is writing there for Wonkette — a snarky blog famous for filthy jokes. But go ahead and click through to Benson’s detailed analysis of Ryan’s plan, and then click through all the links he provides to sober, disinterested studies demonstrating that he’s not overstating his description of the Ryan plan. The Wonkette link is appropriate, because if the Ryan budget ever becomes law, then all most Americans will have left is snark and dirty jokes.

Ryan’s immoral, unpatriotic, anti-poor budget is newly important because Paul Ryan is now his party’s candidate for vice president. Former Massachusetts Gov. and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made that announcement Saturday morning.

Statistics wizard Nate Silver notes that Ryan “is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900. He is also more conservative than any Democratic nominee was liberal, meaning that he is the furthest from the center.”

Charlie Pierce doesn’t use the same careful quantitative measures of political extremism that Silver employs, but Charlie knows extremism when he sees it. And he sees it in “Paul Ryan: Murderer of Opportunity, Political Coward, Candidate for Vice President“:

In his decision to make Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin, his running mate, Romney finally surrendered the tattered remnants of his soul not only to the extreme base of his party, but also to extremist economic policies, and to an extremist view of the country he seeks to lead.

… Paul Ryan is an authentically dangerous zealot. He does not want to reform entitlements. He wants to eliminate them. He wants to eliminate them because he doesn’t believe they are a legitimate function of government. He is a smiling, aw-shucks murderer of opportunity, a creator of dystopias in which he never will have to live. This now is an argument not over what kind of political commonwealth we will have, but rather whether or not we will have one at all, because Paul Ryan does not believe in the most primary institution of that commonwealth: our government. The first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution make a lie out of every speech he’s ever given. He looks at the country and sees its government as something alien that is holding down the individual entrepreneurial genius of 200 million people, and not as their creation, and the vehicle through which that genius can be channelled for the general welfare.

Pierce also recommends Ryan Lizza’s recent profile of the Z-E G-S in The New Yorker.

Kevin Drum relays Michael Grunwald’s frustration with the indefensible claim that Paul Ryan is a “deficit hawk.” Grunwald notes that Ryan: “voted for the Bush tax cuts, the Bush military and security spending binge, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the bank bailout and the auto bailout, and against the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan.”

Ezra Klein makes the same point, in wonkier fashion:

[Ryan] is not primarily interested in reducing the deficit or cutting federal spending. He has voted to increase deficits and expand government spending too many times for that to be the case. Rather, the common thread throughout his career is his desire to remake the basic architecture of the the federal government.

… Ryan says that under his budget, everything the federal government does that is not Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security will be cut to less than 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050. That means defense, infrastructure, education, food safety, energy research, national parks, civil service, the FBI — all of it. Right now, that category of spending is 12.5 percent of GDP.

… Ryan is also known as having a deep allergy to debt. But such a  concern isn’t evident in his voting record. He voted for the George W. Bush tax cuts, as well as the war in Iraq and the unfunded Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. Perhaps his most ambitious policy proposal prior to his celebrated budgets was the Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005, a plan to privatize Social Security. The program’s actuaries found that Ryan’s plan would require $2.4 trillion in additional costs over the first 10 years, and the Bush administration ultimately dismissed it as “irresponsible.”

… But the real north star of Ryan’s policy record isn’t deficits or spending, though he often uses those concerns in service of his agenda. It’s radically reforming the way the federal government provides public services, usually by privatizing or devolving those public services away from the federal government.

That was, again, the George W. Bush administration calling Ryan fiscally “irresponsible.” There aren’t many people the Bush administration could look down on when it comes to fiscal irresponsibility, but Ryan’s budget-exploding $2.4 trillion proposal made him one of them. Compared to Paul Ryan’s approach to fiscal responsibility, George W. Bush looks like Bill Clinton.

Also from Team Ezra, Suzy Khimm crunches the numbers and finds “Ryan wants to give the wealthy even bigger tax cuts than Romney does.” And Dylan Matthews explores “Paul Ryan’s non-budget policy record, in one post.”

Grist’s Philip Bump looks at Paul Ryan’s environmental record (not good), and the Human Rights Campaign looks at his record on LGBT equality (even worse).

Republican pundit David Frum looks at “What’s Right and Wrong in the Ryan Plan.” Final tally, according to Frum: Ryan is “right” about three things in his plan; Ryan is “dangerously wrong” about four things in his plan; and Ryan is “wrong, wrong, wrong” about one other aspect of his plan.

Frum also predicts/describes “The Coming Democratic Attack Barrage” against Paul Ryan:

A woman’s voice over. “You’ve worked hard all your life. You’ve paid Medicare taxes for almost 30 years. But under the Republican plan, Medicare won’t be there for you. Instead of Medicare as it exists now, under the Republican plan you’ll get a voucher that will pay as little as half your Medicare costs when you turn 65 — and as little as a quarter in your 80s. And all so that millionaires and billionaires can have a huge tax cut.”

That ad will draw blood and will — as Henry Kissinger used to say — have the additional merit of being true.

The Romney-Ryan campaign should be worried about the prospect of such a devastatingly truthful ad. And they should be even more worried that Romney’s selection of Ryan as his running mate will wind up putting those Nuns on the Bus back on the road. As Rachel Maddow put it:

Don’t mess with nuns. It’s not a warning. It’s not advice. It’s not a threat. It’s fact that I have learned from personal experience. Ask anybody in my family, if you mess with nuns, you will lose every time. You will always regret messing with nuns.

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  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I bags “Nuns on the Bus” for the name of my band!

  • Tonio

    Cool! You could use Sweet’s “Fox on the Run” as your theme song, with new lyrics.

  • Tricksterson

    As long as I can have “Nuns With Guns”

  • Emcee, cubed

    The reactions to the criticisms of Ryan on Facebook and other place is actually scary stuff. One post talked about Ryan supporting the “top-down economics that imploded our economy.” People were seriously commenting that top-down economics is how capitalism works, and bottom-side economics is how Marxism works. I mean, REALLY? If you want to argue that top-side economics is a good thing and makes the economy stronger, I’ll think you are wrong, but at least it is a legitimate argument. But to say that it is only capitalism IF it is top-down? So…the entire 200+ years before Reagan first tried to sell us this BS, we were a Marxist country, I guess?

     

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Top-down is how aristocracy works though.

    These Republicans aren’t trying to take us back to the 19th century. They’re trying to take us back to the 14th century. Except they want to remove all responsibility aristocrats had toward everyone else in the 14th century. Can anyone imagine Paul Ryan throwing a huge multi-day feast for everyone on his lands every month? 

  • DiscreteComponent

     I’d give some thought to the Republicans want to take us back to the 1st Century BC and the old Rome Republic.

  • Elmjcil

    Trickle down has not happened.
    It has been in effect for many years now.
    Corporate profits and bonuses HAVE happened.
    Where is the trickle down?
    It seems the previous “trickle” has slowed down to an occasional drip.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    The most annoying thing about the phony deficit debate is how it’s being used as new justification for the same legislative priorities that Republicans have had for a long time.  If we had zero federal debt and a net budget surplus, I bet that Ryan would still support the items in his legislative agenda, because he legitimately thinks that they are good things in and of themselves. 

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    In the aftermath of the 2008 election, I assumed that the Republican party would undergo a restructuring, that it would become a more moderate party, more open to dialogue and compromise, in an effort to distance itself from George W. Bush’s sinking popularity.  

    I was wrong only in the direction the party was going, and boy was I wrong there.  

    Assuming that the Republican party looses the 2012 election as well, I desperately hope it goes through more restructuring to, again, be more centrist, because extremism is obviously not working in its favor.  

    I prey this time that I am right… 

  • Emcee, cubed

     Yeah, not so much. More likely what will happen if Romney loses is that the Republicans will suddenly remember that they never liked or trusted Romney because he was too close to being a moderate, and they’ll try and go for someone even further to the right, like Santorum.

    I have to say, though. Romney choosing Ryan brings out mixed emotions for me. Half of me is doing the happy dance, because I believe Romney just tanked even the minimal chance he had to get elected. And the other half is making me want to get all my documentation in order and figure out the requirements to emigrate to Canada or Australia, ya know, just in case…

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Half of me is doing the happy dance, because I believe Romney just tanked even the minimal chance he had to get elected.

    Yes, I have heard the argument today that Ryan’s selection as running mate is identical to Sarah Palin’s selection as running mate, except Ryan has a penis.  

  • Emcee, cubed

     I saw that meme. Laughed myself silly over it, but not sure it really holds water. Palin was a complete unknown to most of the country before she was picked. Ryan has a reputation, for better or worse. I also think that Ryan isn’t quite as gaffe-prone as Palin was. He is also much less likely to go off-script the way she often did. So while I think it wasn’t a smart choice, I think it is for different reasons.

  • PJ Evans

    He’s a much better public speaker, I understand. And really good with word-salad answers that sound good while he’s spinning them.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    I wouldn’t put it like that.  Rick Perry is Palin with a penis; Ryan is a whole different breed of scary, nationally unelectable extremist.  Palin and Perry are just profoundly ignorant and pridefully stupid.  Ryan isn’t stupid, but he views the world through an ideological lens formed by an unholy fusion of Opus Dei’s authoritarian Catholic bigotry and Ayn Rand’s pathological hatred and contempt for anyone she deemed inferior to the Nietzschian übermensch protagonists in her novels.

  • Tonio

    I’m curious to know the criteria Nate Silver used to determine that Ryan is more conservative than VP picks in the past. I tend to avoid using the L and C words because they seem too context-dependent, and because the classic definition of conservative as opposing change seem too simplistic as well. My own classification system is whether the pol in question stands on inequalities of power and privilege based in economic status and personal characteristics. One side seems to either oppose them or view them as sometimes unavoidable, and the other seems to view them as good or at least natural.

    That’s partly how I explain how this year’s election won’t have any white Protestants – the Catholics on one side are pushing social and economic agendas that would increase privilege, even though US Catholics at one time were on the losing end of social inequality. Politically, the bishops and the Catholics who agree with them are almost fundamentalists with rosaries. 

  • The Lodger

    Politically, the bishops and the Catholics who agree with them are almost fundamentalists with rosaries. 

    Personally, I think of them as the Rome division of the Church of Shut Up and Do What You’re Told.

    CSU&DWYT: Operations worldwide, other branches in Salt Lake, Mecca and throughout the Southern U.S.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Got any civil engineering skills? Medical quals?

  • Emcee, cubed

     *sigh* no. And I doubt I’m actually serious. I lived through 8 years of Reagan and 8 years of Bush II and didn’t do it. (Though I have a friend who just recently became a citizen, and from his reports I would SO love it there. I need to at least visit.)

  • hidden_urchin

    What about mechanical engineering? 

  • PJ Evans

     I do GIS with gas pipelines….

  • GDwarf

     

    Yeah, not so much. More likely what will happen if Romney loses is that
    the Republicans will suddenly remember that they never liked or trusted
    Romney because he was too close to being a moderate, and they’ll try
    and go for someone even further to the right, like Santorum.

    Oh, definitely. Romney is a moderate, of a sort. He’s trying his best to be a complete non-entity. He doesn’t seem to have any actual views on anything. What he’s for or against depends entirely on who his audience is that day. So you can bet that the GOP will conclude that they didn’t win because Romney failed to appeal to the far-right.

    Plus, it’s a well-known phenomena that when a leader fails they lose some supporters, but the ones that remain become much more fanatical. The far-right will simply continue to become more and more extreme every time it suffers any sort of setback, which means the GOP leaders will keep pandering to them, because they’re the loudest.

    The good news is that the more extreme the GOP gets, the fewer voters will support it. Eventually the leaders will realize that and force it center-ish again, and then the cycle will repeat.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/IYAEYNMM6DFBT4NV32GDYJ6VPQ naf

    I’m going through the same emotions!

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I have been wondering what the logistics would be to start an underground railroad to get the poor out of the US if the worst happens.

    I will have to stay here, even though I will take a serious hit financially, but I have a house and part of the possession order for my son restricts the places I can live to this side of the Rio Grande (in fact, it restricts what side of the Blanco River I can live on).  I might be willing to help a few people over the border into Mexico, though. . . .

  • aunursa

    I would support helping anyone who wants to leave the United States following the election to do so.

    Under one condition: If the Romney-Ryan administration turns things around, lowers unemployment, and provides an environment in which businesses can grow, take risks, and offer millions of good job opportunities — that no one whose chose to leave the United States because of the results of the 2012 election is allowed to return.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    Not even to see the flying pigs and have a snowball fight with Satan?

  • Tricksterson

    Well, if they have TV the snowball fight will probably be televised and flying pigs are no respectors of borders so they’d probably see some during the yearly migration.

  • aunursa

    A couple of changes…

    I would support helping anyone who wants to leave the United States following the 2012 election to do so.

    Under one condition: that no one who chooses to leave the United States because of the results of the 2012 election is allowed to return until after the president is not a member of the 2012 winning ticket. 

    [In other words, if Obama-Biden wins, someone who left due to that outcome could not return until neither Obama nor Biden is president.  If Romney-Ryan wins, someone who left due to that outcome could not return until neither Romney nor Ryan is president.  Could be a 4-year exile.  Could be 16 years.]

  • Tonio

    The irony is that GWB was less extremist on issues like illegal immigration. Both Bushes pushed hard for capital-gain tax cuts, where the dominant effect is to redistribute income upward, but on this issue they look like Marxists compared to Romney and Ryan. People who favor more progressive taxation are often accused of favoring redistribution downard, but the reality is that all income is redistributive. 

  • reynard61

    I <3 those Mother (Mary)-Lovin' Nuns on that Mother-Lovin' Bus!

  • aunursa

    If Ryan is a poor choice for vice presidential candidate, which one of these Republicans under consideration should Romney have chosen instead?

    * Paul Ryan, representative (WI)
    * Tim Pawlenty, former governor (MN)
    * Rob Portman, senator (OH)
    * Rick Santorum, former senator (PA)
    * Marco Rubio, senator (FL)
    * Bobby Jindal, former governor (LA)
    * Chris Christie, governor (NJ)

  • Gotchaye

     Strategically, Rubio or Jindal.  I get that Romney wants to shake things up, but inviting an election about policy differences when your policy is the Ryan plan is a terrible idea.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    If Ryan is a poor choice for vice presidential candidate, which one of these Republicans under consideration should Romney have chosen instead?

    If the question is to be answered in terms of which I would prefer for their policies, the answer is the same as x/0.  

  • aunursa

    For those who say that Ryan is a terrible choice, presumably they would consider one of the other finalists to make Romney’s campaign more formidable and/or they would consider one of the other finalists in a better position to serve as vice president.

    The question isn’t necessarily about whom you would prefer Romney had chosen.  I presume that many commenters, who are rooting for Obama’s reelection, would prefer the worst possible Republican ticket in order to give Obama-Biden 2012 the greatest chance of victory.  Obviously that’s not the intent of my question.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Oh, OK. So it’s not “who should he have chosen” in order to meet the ends I’m concerned about–good policy that improves the lives of poor people–but who he should have chosen to meet the ends he’s concerned about–presumably, getting elected for a start.

    On that, I dunno. Whoever has a high approval rating among so-called independents but doesn’t make the wingnuts froth at the mouth?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t know anything about Portman, so I can’t express an opinion there, but of the other names, the only one who isn’t batshit is Christie.

  • wendy

    Portman was George W Bush’s budget director. That’s all you need to know about him. 

  • Kubricks_Rube

    My choices for a potential GOP VP were not on Romney’s shortlist. I could stomach Snowe or Collins from Maine, and despite his disastrous run as head of the RNC, I’ve been impressed with Michael Steele when I’ve seen him on Real Time with Bill Maher. And John Huntsman Jr.

  • DiscreteComponent

     For a very good analysis of the possible choices that Mittins had I recommend this: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/11/a-risky-rationale-behind-romneys-choice-of-ryan/  

  • aunursa

    Yes, Nate Silver’s analysis ability is well respected even among conservatives.  The only thing I would question is where he said “It is not the case, as a general rule, that undecided voters tend to break against the incumbent.” In order to reach the conclusion that incumbents running under 50 percent often do win reelection, Silver analyzed  83 House, Senate, and gubernatorial races.  By contrast most incumbent presidents who polled under 50 percent have lost their bids for reelection.

    For those who are interested in conservative perspective on how Ryan affects the race, here is Ed Morrissey’s analysis on CNN.com. 

  • PJ Evans

     Nate Silver is a better analyst than you.

  • aunursa

    I won’t argue with that.  Nate Silver makes his living as a political analyst for the New York Times.  Of course he’s far better than me.

    That doesn’t make him infallible.

  • Lori

     

    For those who are interested in a conservative perspective, here is Ed Morrissey’s commentary on CNN.com
    of how Ryan’s selection will “draw a clear contrast in governing
    philosophy” between the two parties and force the election to be about
    issues rather than distractions.  

    This is not a Conservative perspective. Plenty of people think the same thing. For example, James Fallows had a good article about it in The Atlantic. One that doesn’t rely on “the Dems would have stuck Romeny with the Ryan budget any way” which, as I said earlier, is pure spin.

    The Conservative perspective is that the clear contrast favors the GOP. That’s true only as long as they can keep people thinking that the Ryan budget can’t possibly say what it actually says. If the obfuscation spell breaks Ed Morrissey is going to be praying to whatever god he worships for distractions.

    This is pure BS:

    By adding Ryan to the ticket, Mitt Romney is reminding voters that
    Republicans have at least proposed definitive solutions to long-term
    problems. Democrats haven’t.  

    This too:
     

     

    Democrats’ idea of
    budgetary reform is to demand an increase in taxes on people making more
    than $250,000 a year — a policy that the Tax Foundation, a research
    group that favors lower taxes, says would produce $40 billon a year in new revenue, in budgets with trillion-dollar annual deficits. 

    Although I do give Morrissey at least some credit for acknowledging the bias of his source it’s still bull. The GOP wants to cut funding to things like NPR for “budgetary reasons”. If every little bit counts when cutting programs then much bigger amounts count when it comes to taxes.

    Conservatives should definitely keep reminding people of the way the
    GOP-lead House behaved about the budget and the debt ceiling though.
    Folks were really impressed with that.  Hit that talking point a little
    harder next time, Ed. Some folks in swing states may not have picked up
    on it.

    Last, but not least, the issue of Romney’s refusal to release any more of his tax returns is not a “silly season distraction”. Romney doesn’t get to try to make his money a selling point and then be coy about how much he has and what he’s done with it.

  • aunursa

    This is not a Conservative perspective. Plenty of people think the same thing.

    That’s particularly nitpicky, even for you.  Some elements are shared by commentators who themselves are not conservative; nevertheless, it’s still a conservative perspective. 

    If the obfuscation spell breaks Ed Morrissey is going to be praying to whatever god he worships

    I presume that he prays to the God of the Catholic bible. 

    the issue of Romney’s refusal to release any more of his tax returns is not a “silly season distraction”.

    I think that most voters will conclude that Obama’s plans and Romney’s plans for dealing with the current economic situation and the federal budget are critical issues that will affect their lives.  Which candidate has more experience and a better understanding of what it takes to turn around a financial crisis — that is what matters to most voters — because those decisions will determine whether their lives and the lives of their relatives and neighbors are better or worse four years from now.  The matter of Romney’s personal finances, which does not affect their lives, is a silly season distraction.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Obama is being honest about how much he has paid in taxes. Romney is not. This is an important point, not a distraction. Also important and not a distraction is the question of how much the Romney plan will benefit Romney; this is not a question that can be accurately answered without data that Romney refuses to release.

    (It would also be important to ask how much the Obama plan will benefit Obama, except we know the answer to that. Obama is well into the income bracket that Obama wants to raise taxes on.)

  • Lori

    Some elements are shared by commentators who themselves are not
    conservative; nevertheless, it’s still a conservative perspective.    

    So, many people from various points on the political spectrum have this perspective but it belongs to conservatives? Whatever.

     

    The matter of Romney’s personal finances, which does not affect their lives, is a silly season distraction.  

    No, it’s really not. It’s plainly an issue that Romney doesn’t want to deal with, but it’s not a silly distraction.

    Why did Romney use more years of returns to vet his VP candidates than he’s personally willing to show to voters? That’s not snark, it’s a serious question. The obvious answer is that he wanted to know if there was anything in those returns that could make him regret his choice after he was already committed. Imagine that.

    It’s not silly for people to wonder why he doesn’t just release the returns. The claim is that if he does people will simply ask for more years (I guess he expects Dems to treat his taxes the way the GOP treats Obama’s birth certificate). There’s a simple response to that and Romney knows it. He releases the exact same number of years worth of returns that Obama has and not one more. If he did that and people were still pestering him for more I’d back him up and I think a lot of other people on the Left would too.

    It’s entirely possible that Romney is refusing to release more than 2 years of returns because he truly believes that his vast wealth and where he stashes it are none of the Little People’s business. Romney has pointed out that McCain only released two years to which I say  two things—McCain couldn’t remember how many houses he owned and he lost. Just sayin’.

    It’s also quite possible that there’s something in those returns that could cause Romney real problems. Credible theories range from the merely embarrassing (he doesn’t
    actually tithe 10% to the LDS, even though he said that voters could
    & should judge him for saying that he does & then not following
    through) to the more seriously embarrassing for a guy who wants to run the country (he stashes way more money in foreign tax havens than we currently know) to the illegal (several possibilities, including the fact that his IRA is either a scam or a miracle).  

    It’s not silly for people to want to know the answer since all those possibilities say different, substantive, things about the man who wants voters to put him in charge of the county.

  • aunursa

    It’s not silly for people to wonder what is in Romney’s returns.  What’s silly is for the Democrats to spend week after week demanding that Romney release the returns.  He’s already said that he won’t release any more years.  The Democrats would rather harp on this distraction than debate substantive issues.  (Hopefully Ryan’s candidacy will turn their attention to the issues that do matter to voters.) 

    Any vice presidential candidate would certainly be within his right to decline to release his tax returns and expose his entire personal financial situation to the Romney campaign … and Romney could choose to cross that candidate off his list.  Similarly, since Romney has chosen not to release any more tax returns to his 300 million potential employers, the voters can decide whether that information is crucial to their decision on whether to hire him.

    The fact is, however, Romney’s personal financial profile is not the issue that will decide this election.  It’s not even among the issues that will decide the election.  By November 6th, 130 million Americans will have voted; not a single one of them will have chosen which candidate to elect based on Romney’s tax returns — or his decision not to release them.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     I haven’t read this whole exchange, so I apologize if I’m missing something crucual that was already said here, but: I don’t see the problem, then.

    If Romney’s tax returns aren’t relevant to me, I don’t spend time talking or thinking about them. If other people spend time talking/thinking about them, well, that’s their choice… it’s an election season, people of every conceivable political persuasion spend time talking and thinking about all kinds of stuff I consider irrelevant.

    (I usually assume they do consider those things relevant, if only on purely rhetorical “it makes my opponent look bad” grounds, because that seems the more charitable assumption.)

  • Lori

     

    The fact is, however, Romney’s personal financial profile is not the issue that will decide this election.  It’s not even among
    the issues that will decide the election.  By November 6th, 130 million
    Americans will have voted; not a single one of them will have chosen
    which candidate to elect based on Romney’s tax returns — or his
    decision not to release them.  

    Since you are clearly psychic, what are this week’s Lotto numbers? Wait, don’t tell me. Your “gift” doesn’t work that way, personal gain, blah, blah, blah.

    Your persistent assertions that you know what issues do and do not matter to voters are really perplexing. Where did you get this belief in your own vast knowledge? Is it from your obsessive reading of polls?

  • aunursa

    Your persistent assertions that you know what issues do and do not matter to voters are really perplexing. Where did you get this belief in your own vast knowledge?

    It’s called common sense.  But please don’t take my word for it, Lori.  Go to your nearest grocery store or shopping mall.  Stop the people who stroll by and inquire whether they plan to vote in the November election.  For the first ten who answer in the affirmative, ask them the following questions: On a scale of 1 to 10, how important to your decision are the candidates’ respective experiences in leading economic recoveries? The candidates’ plans for improving the current economic situation?  The candidates’ tax returns?

  • Lori

     

    It’s called common sense.  But please don’t take my word for it, Lori. 
    Go to your nearest grocery store or shopping mall.  Stop the people who
    stroll by and inquire whether they plan to vote in the November
    election.  For the first ten who answer in the affirmative, ask them the
    following questions: On a scale of 1 to 10, how important to your
    decision are the candidates’ respective experiences in leading economic
    recoveries? The candidates’ plans for improving the current economic
    situation?  The candidates’ tax returns? 

    Whatever you have, it isn’t common sense.

    If I was going to the grocery store to conduct a highly unscientific version of one of your beloved polls I’d ask different questions.

    -Does Romney’s refusal to release any more tax returns change your perception of how honest and trustworthy he is?

    -Do perceptions of a candidate’s honesty and trustworthiness effect how you vote?

    -If it turned out to be true that Romney cheated on his taxes would that change the way you look at his tax proposals?

    I might even throw in this one:

    -If it turned out that Ban-initiated outsourcing made Romney significantly  more money that previously reported would that make any difference in your perception of Romney’s plan for the economy?

    I could go on, but I won’t bother.

    The fact that no one is going to rate his tax returns as their #1 issue or vote solely based on it doesn’t mean that they don’t matter.

    I realize that you’re a partisan hack and therefore inclined to dismiss anything that might be inconvenient for the GOP candidate, but that doesn’t make your view the right or “common sense” one.

  • aunursa

    Does Romney’s refusal to release any more tax returns change your perception of how honest and trustworthy he is?-Do perceptions of a candidate’s honesty and trustworthiness effect how you vote?
    -If it turned out to be true that Romney cheated on his taxes would that change the way you look at his tax proposals?
    I might even throw in this one:
    -If it turned out that Ban-initiated outsourcing made Romney significantly more money that previously reported would that make any difference in your perception of Romney’s plan for the economy?

    Your questions are so loaded, they would bias the results in the extreme.

    The fact that no one is going to rate his tax returns as their #1 issue or vote solely based on it doesn’t mean that they don’t matter.

    Lori, you’re free to believe whatever fantasy you want.  If you want to believe that Romney’s tax returns matter, you go right ahead.

  • Lori

    Your questions are so loaded, they would bias the results in the extreme. 

    Funny how biased questions don’t seem to bother you when you link to a poll that says something you like.

    And don’t say you don’t like to blatantly biased polls because we’ve all seen you do it and you’ve been called out on it again and again.

    Lori, you’re free to believe whatever fantasy you want.  If you want to
    believe that Romney’s tax returns matter, you go right ahead.  

    Right back at ya.

  • aunursa

    You’re certainly free to object to any poll question you consider to be biased.  That said, none of the the surveys that I have cited ever had a question that comes anywhere close to the ones you posed in terms of adding bias into the results.  And there’s a reason for that.  Most pollsters get paid to accurately report opinions.  The more accurate they are at predicting, the more they are trusted.  Introducing bias into their questions directly counters their goals.

    The polls support my contention that Romney’s tax returns don’t matter.  If you choose not to believe the pollsters, and if you don’t want to take your own poll (using unbiased questions), then we’ll see in November who’s right. 

  • Lori

    Oh gawd, you’re an ass. We’re talking about a totally hypothetical “poll” that involves me accosting random strangers in the Meijer parking lot to ask them about Romney’s tax returns. Since it will never, ever happen in any way, shape or form it doesn’t matter that I didn’t phrase the questions in an unbiased way.

    My point had nothing to do with polls and everything to do with the fact that Romney’s lack of transparency about his tax returns will almost certainly cause some people to suspect him of being less than honest. Thinking that someone is dishonest tends to color the way one views them and other things that they say. The idea that every single voter will totally ignore this and vote bases solely on policy is ridiculous.

    For the last freaking time—no one has ever said or suggested that people are going to vote against Romney soley because of his tax returns. That doesn’t mean that the returns are the total non-issue that you want them to be.

  • AnonymousSam

    Completely off-topic, but you mentioned Meijer and suddenly I’m vaguely homesick. There’s a store chain here called Fred Meyer and it’s not the same thing. I say Meijer and I get pointed at a small grocery store.

    I vaguely miss Michigan. Too bad it went straight to Hell after I left.

  • Lori

     I totally understand. When I lived in California and would visit my parents I always wanted to go to Meijers. No reason except that it’s tied up somehow with “home”.

  • aunursa

    Since it will never, ever happen in any way, shape or form it doesn’t matter that I didn’t phrase the questions in an unbiased way.

    I’ve read a lot of funny things today, but that is the funniest. 

    For the last freaking time—no one has ever said or suggested that people are going to vote against Romney soley because of his tax returns. That doesn’t mean that the returns are the total non-issue that you want them to be.

    It isn’t a matter of whether I want them to be or not.  They simply aren’t an issue.

    And note the difference between the following assertions:

    No one will to vote against Romney solely because of his refusal to release his tax returns.
    I am not making this assertion.

    No one will base his or her decision to vote or for select a candidate based on Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns.
    I am making this assertion.

  • Lori

     

    I am making this assertion.  

    You’re an idiot.

  • Lori

     

    It’s not silly for people to wonder what is in Romney’s returns.  What’s
    silly is for the Democrats to spend week after week demanding that
    Romney release the returns.  He’s already said that he won’t release any
    more years.  The Democrats would rather harp on this distraction than
    debate substantive issues.  (Hopefully Ryan’s candidacy will turn their
    attention to the issues that do matter to voters.)    

    So Romney’s refusal to release his returns means that everyone should just stop talking about it and let the whole thing go down the memory hole? Romney has spoken so the issue is obviously closed and attempting to continue it is just silly.  Well sure.

  • Gotchaye

    I want to add to what Lori said just above two reasons why the tax return thing is especially important and is particularly relevant to determining “which candidate has more experience and a better understanding of what it takes to turn around a financial crisis”.

    We don’t have a perfect population of informed and rational voters.  Not everyone follows politics closely, and people have certain biases.  One way that this has manifested in this election cycle is that people are very ignorant of what’s in the Ryan plan (and of Republican proposals for the budget more generally).  The Ryan plan is pretty bad – the Obama campaign would be happy to do nothing but hammer that until the election, and that was actually the first thing they tried.  The problem is that many people just don’t believe the Democrats when they describe the Ryan plan, as has been mentioned in this thread.  Again – they don’t believe that Romney is the kind of guy who would propose the sorts of things he has actually proposed.  So it’s necessary to correct this objective misapprehension if you want voters to be making an informed decision.  Years of tax avoidance or Romney insisting that the little people have no business knowing how he’s handled his money will help here, and in a pretty direct way.  It’s not far from “rich guy who cares way too much about money” or “guy who looks down on the middle class” to “guy who wants lower taxes on the rich and higher taxes on or much lower benefits for the middle class”.

    Our politics also involves a lot of argument by anecdote.  This isn’t a good thing, but lots of people stop paying attention when statistics start getting thrown around.  Each side tries to find anecdotes that make their position look good, and they try to get more people to pay attention to their anecdotes than to their opponents’ anecdotes.  I don’t think it makes sense to call these anecdotes “distractions”.  Talking about particular rich people who have it really good and who pay next to nothing in taxes is pretty relevant to making a political case for higher taxes on the rich.  Talking about particular individuals who made a lot of money in finance doing things of questionable social utility is an important part of pushing for financial industry reform.  We happen to have a great example of both in Mitt Romney, and because he’s the Republican candidate it’s really easy to push his relevance as an example (over some Joe the Plumber type who’s aspiring to some day be in the top tax bracket, say).  The Democrats have been using the “what’s in Romney’s taxes?” game to get people to pay attention to explanations of all of the different things rich people can legally do to pay very low taxes.

    Finally, I think this sort of conversation has to be judged relative to what it displaced.  If we had been having a really substantive, wonky public debate about the economy and what to do to fix it, Romney’s taxes probably would be a distraction.  But that’s not what was going on.  Mostly, Romney was just pointing out repeatedly that the economy was bad, blaming Obama for that (despite Obama actually doing a good job using Romney’s own preferred method of ignoring the first year or so), and then insisting that he would do better in uselessly general terms.  How is /that/ not the distraction?

  • aunursa

    Talking about particular rich people who have it really good and who pay next to nothing in taxes is pretty relevant to making a political case for higher taxes on the rich.

    If Democrats have evidence that Romney broke the law, then they should present that evidence.  If Romney has followed the law in order to pay as little in taxes for which he is legally liable, then he’s a typical American.

    If you’re upset with Ryan’s budget plan, then vote for the candidate who offers a better plan.  If you’re upset with the current tax laws that allow someone with Romney’s wealth to pay or not pay whatever amount, then vote for the candidate who promises to make the tax laws more to your liking.  If that’s what’s important to you, then your issue is with the tax laws, not Romney’s ability to follow them in order to minimize his personal tax liability. 

  • Tonio

    I detest Harry Reid’s pseud0-birther tactics, partly because it treats Romney as guilty until proven innocent. To my knowledge, Reid hasn’t accused Romney of breaking the law. Very frustrating that you’re mischaracterizing positions on the issue as nothing more than personal preferences, as if there weren’t any larger questions involved about what type of society is the most just. The principle here is that people who can afford to pay more in taxes should pay more, plus experience has shown that societies with huge economic inequalities tend to be undemocratic because both wealth and power end up concentrated in a few hands.

    The issue isn’t whether Romney took advantage of every nuance in the tax law for his own benefit, it’s that he and his running mate are pushing a tax law concept that benefits the very wealthy at the expense of everything else. That’s feudalism without the titles. I don’t know if Romney explicitly believes that this lopsided benefit is inherently a good thing, but the effect here is all that matters.

  • aunursa

    The issue isn’t whether Romney took advantage of every nuance in the tax law for his own benefit, it’s that he and his running mate are pushing a tax law concept that benefits the very wealthy at the expense of everything else.

    If the issue isn’t Romney’s taxes — and you agree that it isn’t — then the Democrats should discuss the real issue.  If the issue is the current set of tax laws, then attack the current laws, attack Romney’s and Ryan’s proposed changes to the law that would continue that inequity, offer Obama’s plan that would change the tax law to something that you would prefer.  Romney’s personal tax return is a silly non-issue.

  • Tonio

    Another post that wrongly treats politics as a game where winning or losing has no real consequences away from the board or table. I’m not a Democrat, and that party doesn’t do enough to combat privilege, so it’s pointless to point out to me that you want that party to focus on something other than the tax return. If Romney was able to take advantage of the tax laws so as to pay nothing or almost nothing, it’s valid to ask if he grasps the principle behind progressive taxation, or if he believes that people with his wealth are entitled to exemptions from taxes. That’s not the same as demanding that he release his tax return. Again, stop making this about what I prefer or what anyone else prefers.

  • aunursa

    Another post that wrongly treats politics as a game where winning or losing has no real consequences away from the board or table.

    I have no idea what that statement means. 

    If Romney was able to take advantage of the tax laws so as to pay nothing or almost nothing,

    Well which is it? Do you want to know what’s in his tax returns or not? Your answer seems to be YES and NO at the same time.

    It’s certainly valid to ask whether Romney grasps the principle behind progressive taxation or if he believes that people with his wealth are entitled to tax exemptions.  Neither the media, the Democrats, nor you personally — none of you needs his tax returns to ask those questions.

  • Tonio

    I have no idea what that statement means.

    The whole “Yay conservative, boo liberal” theme of your posts. You act like you’ve scored a gotcha when you think you’ve spotted hypocrisy, usually when you bring up an equivalency that turns out to be false. You don’t seem to understand that people who threaten to leave the US based on the election results aren’t serious and are simply venting, and I’m one of those who disapproves of that type of venting. Your complaint about the use of the tax return sounds less like an ethical one and more like one about unsportsmanlike conduct.

    Do you want to know what’s in his tax returns or not?

    While part of me is curious, part of me also sees another person’s returns as none of my business. Either way, I wouldn’t know how to read the returns at that level of income. What I don’t like is Reid flinging accusations without proof and wrongly placing the burden on Romney to prove the accusations false. It would have been a good idea for Romney to release his returns at the start of his campaign, long before Reid mouthed off, but that doesn’t justify Reid’s backing him into a corner.

  • Gotchaye

     For the record, I’m uneasy with what Reid’s doing myself.  Even if Reid has a credible source, the effectiveness of what he’s doing doesn’t depend on that, and in the future might cause other public figures to be more willing to make similar accusations without a credible source.

    Also, you asked earlier about the method Nate Silver used to say that Ryan is the most conservative VP pick.  I imagine it’s something like what’s been used to try to show increasing polarization and rightward drift of the Republicans.  Described here: http://voteview.com/blog/?p=494

  • Lori

     

    in the future might cause other public figures to be more willing to make similar accusations without a credible source.  

    I think we’re well past this already. Given the number of GOP figures who are or have been publicly “birther-curious” Harry Reid is not even close to being a trend-setter on this. I’m sure that in the future someone will use Reid as an excuse, but an excuse is not the same thing as a reason.

    I have very mixed feelings about what Reid is doing. I’ve seen both condemnations and support that make very valid points. The one thing I’m sure of is that he’s following on this, not breaking new ground. The fact that a lot of people are uncomfortable with his “sauce for the goose” approach doesn’t change that.

  • aunursa

    This is my comment which you characterize as “Yay conservative, boo liberal” theme of your posts. You act like you’ve scored a gotcha when you think you’ve spotted hypocrisy:

    If the issue isn’t Romney’s taxes — and you agree that it isn’t — then the Democrats should discuss the real issue. If the issue is the current set of tax laws, then attack the current laws, attack Romney’s and Ryan’s proposed changes to the law that would continue that inequity, offer Obama’s plan that would change the tax law to something that you would prefer. Romney’s personal tax return is a silly non-issue.

    First, I fail to see where I suggested hypocrisy.  Second, I made no judgment on the validity of the current tax laws, Romney’s plan, Ryan’s plan, or Obama’s plan.  I fail to see where I suggested “yay conservative.”  The only thing I said that I can even remotely identify as “boo liberal” is my argument that Democrats should stop harping about tax returns because it distracts from the real issue(s).  I would say the same thing if a Republican candidate demanded that his Democratic opponent release his tax returns.  Republicans are by no means immune from offering stupid distractions from the important issues affecting America.  I stated as much on a recent thread, when I agreed that Phyllis Schlafly lies when she suggests “that every time he quotes the relevant portion of the Declaration, President Obama skips over ‘Creator.'”  That issue is even more of a distraction than Romney tax returns.

    It’s true that sometimes my comments are “Yay conservative, boo liberal.”  So what is your complaint?  It’s fine when a commenter cheers your side and mocks your opponents, but it’s wrong when a commenter mocks your side and cheers your opponents?

    Your complaint about the use of the tax return sounds less like an ethical one and more like one about unsportsmanlike conduct.

    Actually it’s neither.  It’s neither unethical nor out of bounds for the Democrats to continue to ask for Romney to release his tax returns.  What it is is a distraction. We have serious problems, and we need serious answers.  And every minute spent by either campaign on a silly non-issue is one minute that Obama and Romney are not addressing the issues that matter.

  • Tonio

    I was describing the overall theme of your posts, not necessarily criticizing that specific post. My complaint is not that you’re being partisan, but that you consistently  accuse your critics of having no motivation other than partisanship. I don’t care that you criticize Democrats as a group, since they deserve their lumps like any other group. I do care that your criticisms of Democrats aren’t grounded in any real political philosophy – these sound like a football fan who rejoices when a penalty call goes against the other team but taunts the referees when the call goes the other way. rap like that is exactly why I have never belonged to a political party. My idealistic side says that politics shouldn’t be a team sport, not that there shouldn’t be teams, but that the teams shouldn’t treat loyalty as the highest good.

  • aunursa

    The posts and most comments on this site criticize Republicans and conservatives for the same types of mistakes, errors, falsehoods, misquotes, and reasoning errors that are committed by the Democrats and liberals — and with similar frequency. I often point out examples to show that both sides commit the same types of sins.  In other words, I’m not pointing out hypocrisy on the part of one side; rather, I’m pointing out a double-standard of those people who condemn one side for the sins that both sides commit at relatively the same rate.  Therefore YES — my critics are partisan.  I am not necessarily in a position to discuss any other motivations. 

    I freely acknowledge that Republicans commit the same penalties.  I’m not clear in your analogy who are the referees that I am taunting.

    I’m not sure what you mean by loyalty.  My voting record includes:
    President: 4 votes for Democrats, 3 votes for Republicans
    Governor: 3 votes for Democrats, 3 votes for Republicans *
    Senator: 7 votes for Democrats, 1 vote for a Republican **
    Representative: 8 votes for Democrats, 6 votes for Republicans

    I freely acknowledge that I am a conservative.  Nevertheless I vote based on the person, not the party.  I have voted for Democrats as recently as two months ago.  I suspect that many American posters on this board have never voted for a Republican, much less have a voting record that even comes close to mine in terms of balance between the major parties.

    * In 2002 I selected a write-in candidate because I was disgusted with all of the ballot candidates.
    ** In 1998 and 2004 I declined to vote for a candidate.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The posts and most comments on this site criticize Republicans and
    conservatives for the same types of mistakes, errors, falsehoods,
    misquotes, and reasoning errors that are committed by the Democrats and
    liberals — and with similar frequency. I often point out examples to
    show that both sides commit the same types of sins.  In other words, I’m
    not pointing out hypocrisy on the part of one side; rather, I’m pointing out a double-standard of those people who condemn one side for the sins that both sides commit at relatively the same rate.

    Uh-huh. MaddowBlog is up to like thirty posts detailing Romney’s lies (dozen or more lies per post) and citing sources to prove that Romney’s lying. Can you credibly accuse Obama of having lied three or four hundred different times over the course of this campaign? Come to think, can you credibly accuse Obama of having lied three or four times over the course of this campaign? Cite your sources, please. Because it’s really hard for me to believe that both sides lie about as often when I have no knowledge of one side lying at all.

  • aunursa

    Can you credibly accuse Obama of having lied three or four hundred different times over the course of this campaign?

    For example, HotAir has a feature called the Obamateurism of the Day, sharing statements (and sometimes actions) by the president that are false, stupid, or both.  They’ve documented Obamateurisms since about Inauguration Day.   The commenters vote on the most outrageous entry for the “Obamateurism of the Week”, and eventually, the “Obamateurism of the Year.”

    If you get all of your political news from Rachel Maddow and other media sources that share and reinforce your own point of view, I can understand why you would have little to no knowledge of the outrageous statements made by your side, and allow yourself the illusion that one side lies and the other side doesn’t.

  • Lori

    And Hot Air is credible because? You clearly think that Ed Morrissy is a valuable thinker, but the fact that you believe it doesn’t make it true so you’re going to need to provide more than that.

    More to the point, most of the “Obamateurisms” seem to be focused on things Morrissy and other Right wingers think are stupid, not things that are lies so this is not an answer to Ellie’s question any way.

    Also to the point, calling Obama an “amateur” is pretty rich coming from the Right wing, which complains constantly about “Washington insiders”. The fact is, the Right loves insiders as long as they’re inside the Right. See: Ryan, Paul. Being an outsider is only a virtue when someone is using lack of experience to defeat a Democrat, a la the Tea Party.

    The fact that you linked to Hot Air as an answer to Ellie’s question is a perfect example of the kind of BS that Tonio called you out on.

  • aunursa

    Ed Morrissey is certainly as credible a source as Rachel Maddow.  In fact Hot Air and others have documented instances where Maddow herself has been less than truthful.

    Again, if you want to believe that Maddow is credible but Morrissey is not, or that Romney lies but Obama doesn’t, don’t let me stop you from indulging in your fantasy.

    EDIT: They’re not calling Obama an amateur. Obama-teurism.

  • Lori

    Obama-teurism.

    Which signifies what? That Obama’s influence in the film is as great as the writer’s?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     You’re think of Obamauteurisms, a series of art films he made in college. It’s completely different

    Lori already answered my point about why Edwards and Craig. While the
    former’s treatment of his wife was reprehensible, that doesn’t compare
    to the latter seeking to disenfranchising an entire group of people.
    Sure, they both posed as family men, but that’s not relevant here.

    It’s that false equivalency thing again. Edwards mistreated his wife and family. Craig mistreated a whole class of millions of people, including probably tens or hundreds of thousands of his constituents.

  • Joshua


    They’re not calling Obama an amateur. Obama-teurism. 

    What? Do you think we are stupid? Why try such a silly line of argument over something that doesn’t even matter anyway? Of course name was devised to imply that Obama makes amateur statements. Your alternative doesn’t even make sense, -teurism is not a meaningful suffix.

    And to the point, I clicked your link, and it took me a good bit of hunting to find an actual quote of Obama’s there. Refuting his statements doesn’t seem to be the purpose of the site as much as providing conservative commentary.

    It just doesn’t seem to be comparable to Maddow’s lists. Also, not remotely as well footnoted, which would help.

  • EllieMurasaki

    HotAir has a feature called the Obamateurism of the Day, sharing statements (and sometimes actions) by the president that are false, stupid, or both.

    Topmost thing: a free-to-attend rally drew more people than a costs-to-attend fundraiser, and the latter ran out of tickets before it ran out of space in the room. Where in this is the lie? Where is the stupidity on the part of anyone but the person who thinks Obama’s people should have sold a ticket to everyone who could fit in the room and to hell with fire-department-mandated maximum room occupancy?

    Second thing: the auto industry lost 13000 jobs since the government started bailing it out. Not ‘none’ or ‘negative’, but not ‘all the auto industry jobs’ the way we were headed before the auto industry bailout. Not seeing the lie here either, or the stupidity on the part of anyone other than the person who thinks Obama promised that the bailout would add jobs in the auto industry rather than minimizing the losses of the jobs already there.

    Third thing is a poll, so fourth thing: …is the President not allowed to relax sometimes? Or, given that Bush holds the record for most days in office on vacation, is it only Democratic presidents who aren’t allowed a breather?

    Fifth thing: the Bush tax cuts were meant to be temporary. Or at least we were told at the time that they were meant to be temporary. Nobody’s raising taxes on anybody (Obama should raise taxes on the rich, but I haven’t heard that he’s going to); the debate is whether these temporary tax cuts should end. And if Obama wants to make the middle-class tax cuts permanent, I’m not seeing the problem with his attaching his name to them.

    Okay, bored now.

  • aunursa

    Fair enough.  Below the poll is the list of all Obamateurisms of the week for 2012.  Highlights include…

    * “Just like we’ve tried their plan, we tried our plan — and it worked.”
    * “The private sector is doing fine“
    * “I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”
    * Blames Fox News for his unpopularity because “they hear Obama is a Muslim 24/7, and it begins to seep in”
    * Uses Boeing plant in SC to cheer manufacturing after his NLRB tried to shut it down
    * Famous opponent of signing statements issues one covering 17 provisions of bill he signed

    “You didn’t build that” is the current favorite to win the “Obamateurism of the Year” award.  While Democrats are claiming that Obama’s statement was taken out of context, Republicans are now including the preceding statements as well in online video ads. According to conservatives, the statement in context is even worse.  If Romney does win, we can point to July 15th as the turning point in the election.

    And for your further education, here is conservative media watchdog (yeah, conservatives have them, too) Newsbusters Rachel Maddow file.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    * Blames Fox News for his unpopularity because “they hear Obama is a Muslim 24/7, and it begins to seep in”

    I don’t get it. Is this supposed to be a gaffe or something?

  • Joshua


    I don’t get it. Is this supposed to be a gaffe or something? 

    Truthfully, that was pretty much my response to all that I read on that link. At least, all that did seem to be refuting things Obama actually said, when I eventually found some.

    I put it down to the fact that I frequently didn’t know what they were talking about, not being a USAian, but it may be that there just isn’t anything there.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Below the poll is the list of all Obamateurisms of the week for 2012.  Highlights include…
     
    That list of highlights, which I assume includes your strongest evidence that Obama lies as much as Romney does, contains precisely one false statement: that it would be unprecedented and extraordinary for the Supreme Court to overturn a federal law. If your assertion that Obama lies as much as Romney does is true, then surely you can do better than that. And in case you’re somehow not clear on the situation, it’s not Maddow or MaddowBlog saying Romney lies so much as it’s MaddowBlog pointing out places where Romney says things contrary to fact or contrary to previous statements of Romney’s.
     
    And the ‘you didn’t build that’ bit? False only if one assumes, contrary to what context makes clear, that ‘that’ means one’s business, rather than the roads that carry one’s customers and one’s products to one’s place of business and the government programs that mean people can be customers for more things than just food and rent, and that one built one’s business all by oneself, without borrowing or being given startup capital, without taking advantage of tax and other incentives designed to encourage the start-up and growth of businesses, without hiring anyone whose labor and/or ideas made the business more profitable than it would otherwise be.

  • Lori

    Exactly. The Right wing complaints about “you didn’t build that” are themselves untrue, so using that as an example of Obama lying is rather ironic. 

  • Tonio

    The posts and most comments on this site criticize Republicans and conservatives for the same types of mistakes, errors, falsehoods, misquotes, and reasoning errors that are committed by the Democrats and liberals — and with similar frequency.

    Neither party and neither group are free of errors. The problem is this – whenever someone here criticizes a Republican or conservative using such errors, the type of example you bring up from the other side most often isn’t comparable, yet you bring it up like you’ve scored a point. The way you do this treats all errors as the same, as if one side can only criticize the others’ errors if its own record is unblemished. It’s false equivalence to bring up, say, John Edwards if someone criticizes, say, Larry Craig, because the two types of sexual transgressions aren’t remotely the same. It would be fair to bash Democratic critics of Craig if a member of their own party was making a career of homophobic demagoguery while secretly gay. But your approach is not much different from the tactic I’ve seen elsewhere, where some Republicans act as if the Democrats have no standing on anything because of Robert Byrd or Chappadquiddick, or because of the old Southern Democrats’ opposition to civil rights.

    I’m not clear in your analogy who are the referees that I am taunting.

    The referees weren’t meant to be analogies for anyone. I was using the game example to suggest that your prime interest is in seeing conservatives get more points on the board, not in implementing any policy goals. Which brings me to my next point…

    Nevertheless I vote based on the person, not the party. I have voted for Democrats as recently as two months ago. I suspect that many American posters on this board have never voted for a Republican, much less have a voting record that even comes close to mine in terms of balance between the major parties.

    Having a party affiliation is not a bad thing, as long as one is choosing the party that more closely aligns with one’s own political philosophy. Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with keeping an open mind between candidates from both parties for the same reason. But “balance” in one’s voting record isn’t a virtue in and of itself. That suggest the voting habits I’ve read about elsewhere, where the voter basically says, “One party has had its shot at running things, time to give the other one a try for a while.” At times your posts are  almost the opposite, sounding defensive of your party as if belonging to one was merely a loyalty exercise. The two parties may be opponents but they aren’t opposites. 

  • aunursa

    I don’t understand what you mean by the sexual transgressions of John Edwards and Larry Craig aren’t comparable.  I presume that both politicians campaigned as family men with values that reflected those of their constituents.  Presumably both politicians used the smiling faces of their families frequently in campaign appearances and campaign photos to highlight their “normalcy” (for lack of a better word.)  Why is it unfair to compare their sexual indiscretions that demonstrate that it was all a facade?

    your prime interest is in seeing conservatives get more points on the board, not in implementing any policy goals

    In my absense conservatives don’t get any points on this board.  I’m not sure what you mean by my prime interest is not in implementing policy goals.  I don’t participate on this board in order to implement policy goals.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t have policy goals that I would like implemented.  I’m confused by your point.

    But “balance” in one’s voting record isn’t a virtue in and of itself.

    My point is not that balance in and of itself is a good thing, but that having experience on both sides of the spectrum, I am better able to see things from different points of view.

    That suggest the voting habits I’ve read about elsewhere, where the voter basically says, “One party has had its shot at running things, time to give the other one a try for a while.”

    The problem is, in our current system there are only two viable alternatives.  The only way for independent voters to hold either party responsible for their actions is to reelect them if their plans succeed and elect the other party if their plans fail.

  • Lori

    I don’t understand what you mean by the sexual transgressions of John Edwards and Larry Craig aren’t comparable. 

    Of course you don’t.

    Why is it unfair to compare their sexual indiscretions that demonstrate that it was all a facade?  

    Because Edwards didn’t score points by voting to prevent adulterers from having civil rights.

    If all Larry Craig had done was present himself as a solid family man his “wide stance” would have been much less of a scandal. The scandal wasn’t pretending to be straight, it was having the voting record of a raging homophobe while being secretly gay.

    The fact that you don’t get this says a great deal about your logic skills.

  • Lori

     

    My point is not that balance in and of itself is a good thing, but that
    having experience on both sides of the spectrum, I am better able to see
    things from different points of view.  

    You display little, if any evidence of being better able to see both POVs. What you usually display is the kind of hackery that comes from having swithced sides and wanting to justify the switch.

  • aunursa

    You display little, if any evidence of being better able to see both POVs.

    I would be willing to bet money on the following.  We will choose a political issue.  In one week you will prepare a 250-word statement in support of the conservative position.  I will prepare a 250-word statement in support of the liberal position.  Then others can vote on which one is more faithful to the opponents’ actual position, and which one reads more like a caricature.

  • Lori

    I can support the conservative position. I just have to turn off 90% of my morals and at least half my brain. If I cared to bother, I could write 250 words that no one would be able to tell didn’t come straight off a right wing blog. And I don’t even mean Red State or one of the other pure hate factories. The fact that I wouldn’t bother doesn’t mean that I can’t.

    I’m sure that you could do the same for the liberal position. That had nothing to do with the kind of arguments you generally make, the points you raise or the evidence that you present. Regardless of what you can do, what you actually do here is mostly partisan hack work.

  • aunursa

    I could write 250 words that no one would be able to tell didn’t come straight off a right wing blog.

    I would bet that you could not.  Without the assistance of conservative materials to review, I would bet that you would write a charicature of what you think is the typical thought process of conservative intellectuals.

    You reject my assertion that I understand liberal arguments better than almost anyone here understands conservative arguments, but you’re not will to test the assertion.

    You accuse me of being wrong about the relevance of Romney’s tax returns to voters, but you’re not willing to take a poll that might in some small way test that assertion.

    You cite your own assertions as fact, and you reject my assertions out of hand.  You reject surveys by respected pollsters that support my assertions.  But of the two of us, I’m the only one willing to put my assertions to the test.  I’m confident enough that I’m willing to let you conduct the survey and I trust you to report the results.  I’m willing to take a test to determine the validity of my assertion that I better understand your point of view than you understand mine.  I’ve finally figured you out:  you’re just a windbag.

  • PJ Evans

     Fail.

  • Lori

    I would bet that you could not.  Without the assistance of conservative
    materials to review, I would bet that you would write an easily
    recognizable caricature of what you think is the typical thought process
    of conservative intellectuals.  

    You’re an idiot. I hear Conservative opinions literally every single day. Some because I seek them out, others because I can’t escape from them. I have no need to “review”.

     

    You reject my assertion that I understand liberal arguments better than
    almost anyone here understands conservative arguments, but you’re not
    will to test the assertion. 

    You apparently have reading comprehension problems. I firmly believe that if you wanted to you could produce a reasonable facsimile of a Liberal opinion piece. I don’t care. Because A) being able to reproduce something doesn’t prove understanding and B) the comments of this blog aren’t an essay contest, they’re a discussion. What you bring to the discussion is not a clear-eyed understanding of both sides of the issues, it’s partisan hackery.

    You accuse me of being wrong about the relevance of Romney’s tax returns
    to voters, but you’re not willing to take a poll that might in some
    small way test that assertion.

    The “small test” you propose is so small as to be pointless. Of course I’m not going to actually do it. If you want to see what a handful of random folks at the grocery store think you feel free to go right ahead and ask them.

    You reject surveys by respected pollsters that support my assertions.  

    The problems with many of the polls you link to have been discussed here many times, in great detail, by people other than me. The fact that you’re trying to turn your obsession with (badly conducted) polls that say what you want to hear into my issue says a great deal about you. It isn’t good.

    I’ve finally figured you out:  you’re just a windbag. 

    I’m truly wounded. I don’t know how I can go on without your respect.

  • Tonio

    This business about the “typical thought process of conservative intellectuals” sounds like a convoluted tone argument. I’m reminded of how opponents of same-sex marriage insist that it’s not fair to call the homophobes for “wanting to preserve traditional marriage.” Without unpacking the assumptions behind that last phrase, their motives don’t matter, because what they advocate has the effect of denying civil rights based to people based on sexual orientation. Similarly, Aunursa’s posts imply that everyone else here really believes that self-labeled conservatives like to kick puppies for fun. (I’m deliberately avoiding using the C and L labels myself.) Many of us have been told him over and over that when someone advocating positions that cause cruelty, the person’s intentions and motivations aren’t relevant. If I accidentally step on someone’s foot, the right thing for me to do is apologize, not to become defensive about not intending to hurt the person’s foot.

  • Tonio

    Lori already answered my point about why Edwards and Craig. While the former’s treatment of his wife was reprehensible, that doesn’t compare to the latter seeking to disenfranchising an entire group of people. Sure, they both posed as family men, but that’s not relevant here. 

    My reference to “board” was not about Patheos but about a hypothetical political scoreboard. I don’t doubt that you have policy goals, but accusing critics of having a double standard doesn’t accomplish them. That’s simply “So’s your old man,” like the honor of conservatives is being besmirched. 

  • aunursa

    Sure, they both posed as family men, but that’s not relevant here.

    I understand what you’re getting at.  Craig is a hypocrite, Edwards isn’t.  And if Craig is cited as a hypocrite, I wouldn’t respond “But Edwards, too.”

    Edwards becomes relevant when only Republican sex scandals are mentioned, the implication being that Democrats are never involved in sex scandals — or at least there is the feigning ignorance toward them. And that’s generally when I would note the Edwards example.

    accusing critics of having a double standard doesn’t accomplish them

    I don’t point out a double-standard in order to accomplish policy goals.  I point out a double-standard with the hope that it will be scrapped in favor of a single standard for everyone.

  • Tonio

    I understand what you’re getting at. Craig is a hypocrite, Edwards isn’t.

    That’s not my point at all. Craig’s promotion of homophobic discrimination would be wrong even if he were  straight. And it would be wrong of Edwards to push for depriving adulterers of civil rights even if he weren’t  one himself. It’s about the level of harm caused by their stances and behavior. 

    Edwards becomes relevant when only Republican sex scandals are mentioned, the implication being that Democrats are never involved in sex scandals

    No one here is making such an implication. You’re simply choosing to make that inference. Do you honestly believe that the posters here who bring up Republican sex scandals see the Democrats as squeaky clean? Jeez, would you like some kind of Patheos Fairness Doctrine where any poster who mentions Craig or Mark Sanford has to automatically mention Edwards or Bill Clinton? (At least Sanford vs. Edwards would be a more equal comparison.) While it’s fair to call Craig a hypocrite, it’s only relevant in a political context if one hypothesizes that self-hate over his impulses was his motivation for pushing discrimination against gays, and I don’t know if that was indeed what motivated him. Morality is about what outcome one’s actions have for others, and by any reasonable standard, Craig was responsible for far more harm than Edwards.

  • aunursa

    aunursa: Craig is a hypocrite, Edwards isn’t.
    Tonio: Craig’s promotion of homophobic discrimination would be wrong even if he were straight. And it would be wrong of Edwards to push for depriving adulterers of civil rights even if he weren’t one himself. It’s about the level of harm caused by their stances and behavior … Craig was responsible for far more harm than Edwards

    If it’s about the level of harm caused by their political stances, what does their behavior have to do with it?  If it’s not a matter of hypocrisy, why single out someone (i.e. Craig) caught in a sex scandal in the first place?

    would you like some kind of Patheos Fairness Doctrine where any poster who mentions Craig or Mark Sanford has to automatically mention Edwards or Bill Clinton?

    No, but it would be nice in the plethora of posts by our host and the ensuing comments about the “evil, hypocritical Republicans” for someone once in awhile to remember that both sides have their scoundrels.  It’s too much for me to expect that people to accept the reality that both sides have about the same number of scoundrels. 

  • Tonio

    It’s the combination of their stances and their behavior that is the problem. The reason to single out Craig is because his stances and behavior lead to much greater harm. By “behavior” I mean not just what Craig did in the bathroom, but his public condemnations of LGBT people and his votes against marriage equality. 

    it would be nice in the plethora of posts by our host and the ensuing comments about the “evil, hypocritical Republicans” for someone once in awhile to remember that both sides have their scoundrels

    I’m tempted to offer you a fainting couch. “Same number of scoundrels” totally ignores the point I’ve been making. Someone like Craig isn’t merely a scoundrel, because he works to deny civil rights based on sexual orientation. Edwards would only be equivalent if, say, he pushed show-us-your-papers laws like in Arizona yet his mistress was Hispanic. 

  • aunursa

    I’m sorry, then.  I’m failing to understand your point.  If you want to discuss it further, you can email me at aunursa (at) comcast (dot) net.

  • Lori

     

    Edwards becomes relevant when only Republican sex scandals are
    mentioned, the implication being that Democrats are never involved in
    sex scandals — or at least there is the feigning ignorance toward them.  

    In a word, bullshit. No one here acts like Democrats are never involved in sex scandals. The issue is that Republicans are the party of self-righteous family values and hatin’ on teh ghays, so there’s nearly always an extra layer of hypocrisy to their sex scandals.

    It’s not OK make a name for oneself, and often a lot of money through fund-raising, by voting to harm millions of GLBTQ people. It’s especially not OK to do that when you’re a closet case. It’s not OK to vote for laws that harm other people’s families or to engage in slut-shaming. It’s especially not OK to do claim that you’re oh-so-sacred Christian values  mandate that you treat people like crap at the same time that you’re breaking the 7th commandment. It’s the 2nd layer of bullshit that’s the real issue.

    Since the Democrats don’t have slut-shaming and hating on the gays as official party positions their sex scandals tend to be single layer displays of poor judgement or assholery, and therefore more of a private issue than the public’s business.

  • aunursa

    The issue is that Republicans are the party of self-righteous family values and hatin’ on teh ghays, so there’s nearly always an extra layer of hypocrisy to their sex scandals.

    The person to whom my comment was directed claimed that it was not about hypocrisy. 

  • Tonio

    Lori might see the issue as about hypocrisy, but I was speaking only for myself. My original point was that it’s false equivalence to respond to condemnations of Larry Craig with some version of “but what about John Edwards.” That might be a fair response if the originalm condemnation was of Mark Sanford. In the strictly technical sense, Craig was attempting to cheat on his wife as well. But I condemn him not necessarily for that but for promoting hatred and discrimination toward a group while pretending not to be a member. I choose not to call that hypocrisy because that wrongly focuses on his character and not on the millions he has harmed by denying them civil rights. His having been in the closet, like Rekers and Haggard, illustrates the phoniness of their demagoguery – they were selling other gays down the river for their own gain.

  • Tonio

    It would be also false equivalence to compare Sanford with Bill Clinton, although in this case Sanford comes out looking better. Simple infidelity and misuse of travel funds aren’t as immoral as abuse of power (sleeping with a subordinate) and lying under oath.

  • Lori

     

    If Democrats have evidence that Romney broke the law, then they should present that evidence.    

    What a convenient circular argument you’ve constructed there. If there is evidence that Romney broke the law it’s in his tax returns. Which he refuses to release. And it’s just a silly distraction for people to keep talking about the fact that he won’t release them.

     

    If Romney has followed the law in order to pay as little in taxes for which he is legally liable, then he’s a typical American.  

    Both Romney’s use of offshore tax havens and his IRA make me suspicious that he may have gone well beyond the typical American effort to pay the least tax he’s legally required to pay.

  • Beroli

     I also blink at “Then he’s a typical American” as a moral defense for the man who wants to lead the country. “Then he’s done nothing wrong” would make sense as an argument, but “Then he’s neither worse nor better than average” would seem to be a compelling argument that we should not elect him. However well the electoral system we have works or doesn’t, I’m pretty sure it’s not based on “will produce results comparable to picking one American by lot to be President!”

  • AnonymousSam

    I’m trying to think of the last time I stored some of my millions of dollars in an international bank so I wouldn’t have to disclose how much money I actually made. Either I’m not typical for an American, or neither is he. I lean toward the fact that he’s part of the 1% and I’m part of the 99% as a sign that it’s not me.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Romney has actually *said* that the reason he’s refusing to release his returns is that they will hurt his election chances.

    Which is like one step below pleading the fifth and into the territory of “I refuse to answer on the grounds that I am totally guilty and answering would prove it.”

  • Billy McDoniel

    If you’re upset with Ryan’s budget plan, then vote for the candidate who
    offers a better plan.  If you’re upset with the current tax laws that
    allow someone with Romney’s wealth to pay or not pay whatever amount,
    then vote for the candidate who promises to make the tax laws more to
    your liking.  If that’s what’s important to you, then your issue is with
    the tax laws, not Romney’s ability to follow them in order to minimize
    his personal tax liability.

    In my last post, I went out of my way to talk about how the voting public isn’t perfectly rational and informed because it’s very easy to fall into thinking that it is when talking about this sort of thing.  Like here – your replies to this round of posts only make sense with that assumption.  Political argument is not best done by presenting all the facts in as dry and unbiased a way as possible, once, and then shutting up and moving on to something else.  Maybe – maybe! – there’s something admirable about doing that, but it all but guarantees a loss.  I already explained at length why it makes sense to build a political case against the Ryan plan by attacking Mitt Romney as a particular example of a general problem and how it turned out to be necessary to attack Mitt Romney’s character in order to get the public to believe that Romney had proposed the things he’s actually proposed.

    I’d understand not replying to me at all – you’ve got a minority view in this community and get multiple objections to anything you post – but you’ve replied to me in such a way that I’m not sure what to do other than to slightly expand on and refer you to my previous post, which specifically addresses the problems with what you’ve just said.

  • Gotchaye

    That was me.  Disqus is annoying.

  • Tonio

     

    Maybe – maybe! – there’s something admirable about doing that, but it all but guarantees a loss.

    Without necessarily endorsing the political case you describe, you’re right that facts alone don’t seem to be persuasive. If they were, Romney’s race-baiting would be universally scorned. I still think that facts should be persuasive and I become frustrated that they’re so often not.

  • aunursa

    I’d understand not replying to me at all – you’ve got a minority view in this community and get multiple objections to anything you post – but you’ve replied to me in such a way that I’m not sure what to do other than to slightly expand on and refer you to my previous post, which specifically addresses the problems with what you’ve just said.

    Yes.  One of my comments received three responses, another one received two responses.  Your previous comment was quite lengthy.  I don’t feel the need and I certainly don’t have the time — as some people do — to respond point-by-point to a post of that length.  I respond to what draws my interest.  If you have a specific point that you consider most important, then going forward you should emphasize that point.  (Sometimes when I have several points, I >> highlight my most important point << and/or directly ask my opponent to address that point first.)

  • Gotchaye

     To be clear, I wasn’t objecting that you had only replied to some of what I said; I understand doing that.  I was observing that the post you replied to specifically addressed problems I had with your framing, and that your reply came across as so unaware of my objections that a further reply on my part could as easily have been a copy-paste of my previous post.

    You quoted and objected to my claim that Romney’s tax returns are relevant to making a political case for higher taxes on the rich by saying in part: “If you’re upset with the current tax laws that allow someone with
    Romney’s wealth to pay or not pay whatever amount, then vote for the
    candidate who promises to make the tax laws more to your liking.”

    That’s not a substantive reply.  I’m not sure what to make of the use of your use of “you”, since I was talking about what the Democrats ought to do in light of facts about the broader public (I already think that taxes on the rich should be higher, and the tax return talk is not making me more likely to vote for Obama).  The part of my post that you quoted was saying that the tax returns are relevant to making a political case for higher taxes on the rich.  The whole point was that talking about the tax returns is useful for convincing more people to be “upset with current tax laws”.  You’re taking characteristics like “upset with the current tax laws” as immutable, but the whole point of political argument is to get people to change their minds about this sort of thing.

  • wendy

    If Democrats have evidence that Romney broke the law, then they should present that evidence.  If Romney has followed the law in order to pay as little in taxes for which he is legally liable, then he’s a typical American.

    The WHOLE POINT of talking about taxes is to say “we think there’s something wrong with the law, we’d like to change it”. For the right-wing, that means claiming taxes in general are too high, and rich people in particular are being assessed too much and it should be lower. For the left-wing, it means claiming there’s all kinds of special arrangements available for rich people that the rest of us don’t get, don’t even know about, so they don’t pay much at all, their taxes should be higher.

    Romney’s tax returns will illustrate, and strongly support, one of those contentions. The guy who doesn’t want us to see them… obviously thinks they’ll support not-the-view-he’s-campaigning-on.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    Jindal is, alas, not Louisiana’s former governor. He is still in that office, wreaking havoc.

    Rubio or Portman would have been the best choices for balancing the ticket geographically and bringing in much needed electoral votes. As I’ve said before, Jindal wouldn’t have brought in any electoral votes Romney didn’t already have. Christie said in the past he didn’t want the job and I don’t know if he changed his mind.

  • Lori

    I don’t know about Rubio. The main argument that I saw for picking him is an attempt to pick up some of the “Latino vote”*. That’s a group that’s tricky for both parties right now. The GOP’s immigration policy is a huge negative for them, but a lot of Latinos are still on the more conservative side of social issues like marriage equality and abortion, which is a negative for the Dems. The theory was that having Rubio on the ticket could swing the balance in Romeny’s favor. The problem is that Rubio is Cuban and that carries a lot of baggage with other Latinos, much of which is really not good. In fact, it some respects it  exacerbates the GOP’s immigration policy problem.

    Portman may have been a better choice, if we’re defining better as more likely to help Romney get elected.

    *There are a lot of issues with identifying a supposed “Latino vote”, but it’s not worth it to get into that for this conversation.

  • PJ Evans

     The biggest issue with the ‘Latino vote’ is that it isn’t monolithic. Rubio might get the Miami Cuban-American vote, but the Mexican-American vote – probably not.

  • Lori

    Exactly. Rubio doesn’t have any particular appeal to Mexican-Americans and would actually be a negative for many of them. The interests of Cuban-Americans and Mexican-Americans have significant points of divergence. I don’t know about the Cuban side of things, but I know that the Mexican-American community is very aware of that divergence and has some resentment about it.

    Just putting a brown guy next to the block of cream cheese would not have solved the GOP’s “Latino problem”.

  • Matri

    I said it before and I’ll say it again: A block of Brie cheese!

    Tell me it would be worse!

  • Lori

    The fact that the applicant pool is pathetic doesn’t make Ryan a winning choice. We’ll see how people respond, but I think the Medicare issue is a serious problem. The majority of voters like Medicare and don’t want to exchange it for coupons that will cover substantially less then what’s covered now. They especially don’t want to have their Medicare taken away so Romney’s federal tax rate can fall below 1%. I saw someone describe tying himself to Ryan’s privatization proposal as Romney throwing himself spread-eagle on the third rail.

    The rest of Ryan’s plan will also be a serious problem for Romney if the Obama campaign can figure out a way to convince people that it says what it actually says. The Ryan Plan is so toxic that a high percentage of people simply don’t believe that anyone would actually propose something so obviously shitty. They have mixed opinions about the fantasy versions of the plan that they believe must be what it says, but they hate the actual plan. If enough people get it through their heads what Ryan actually wants to do to the federal budget Romeny is going to wish he’d never met Ryan, let alone chosen him as his running mate.

    Ryan will shore up a part of the base where Romney is weak and he’ll placate the donors, but when it’s August and that’s still what you’re working on your campaign is in trouble. Maybe Romney figures that if he can bring in enough of those sweet, sweet unregulated donations he can literally buy the election. His personal history certainly gives him reason to believe that he can get most anything he wants with money. We’ll see.

  • friendly reader

     I know I’m being a bit of a stickler on language, but nobody is going to “lose” Medicare. Current Medicare recipients will continue to receive the same benefits.

    The problem is that people under 55 will never get Medicare* in the first place.

    *Oh, it’ll still be called Medicare, but you can stick a name on anything.

  • cjmr

    “The problem is that people under 55 will never get Medicare* in the first place.

    Yeah, some of us in our 40’s figured that out back somewhere in GWB’s first term.  We’ll have to work until we die because we will never get Medicare or Social Security, and the stock market will keep tanking at regular enough intervals that our retirement accounts will not be worth squat, either.

  • Amanda

    “Yeah, some of us in our 40’s figured that out back somewhere in GWB’s first term.  We’ll have to work until we die because we will never get Medicare or Social Security, and the stock market will keep tanking at regular enough intervals that our retirement accounts will not be worth squat, either.”

    I’m in my 30’s, and right now working until I die doesn’t sound too bad, because at least I’d be WORKING. I can’t even find a job that offers a worthless retirement account! Ever since I graduated I’ve only been able to find part time or temp work with no benefits.

    I’ve had conservatives argue at me that we should raise the retirement age because people are living longer anyway. Is that really true? I’ve read some things that suggest life expectancy in the US is actually going DOWN, especially for poor people (a category that grows ever larger), because of lack of access to health care. Sounds plausible to me. I sure don’t have access to health care.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’ve had conservatives argue at me that we should raise the retirement
    age because people are living longer anyway. Is that really true?

    I don’t know about what life expectancy is doing now, but life expectancy has certainly gone up since Social Security started; half of everybody was expected to die before retirement age, and that’s no longer so.

  • PJ Evans

    Social Security bases its projections on life expectancy after retirement. That hasn’t increased nearly as much – most of hte increase in life expectancy is from people not dying young.

  • DiscreteComponent

     Welcome to the GOP permanent majority.

  • PJ Evans

     I wouldn’t want to bet on them not doing anything to people who are already getting Medicare and SS.

  • friendly reader

    I’m inclined to agree, and yet going down the “they have a secret plan they’ve yet to implement!” path gets you into the world of paranoia that I don’t want to enter. As of right now, they are not “taking away” anyone’s Medicare, but rather denying it to future recipients. These kinds of distinctions matter in the world of talking points and echo chambers.

  • PJ Evans

     I’m trying to avoid going down that road, but I don’t trust the GOP not to make things worse if they get more power. Medicare Part D is a good example….

  • Lori

    The thing is, people do tend to think of Medicare as something they have, even before they’re old enough to use it. They’re paying into the system and their plan for how they’re going to manage their retirement includes Medicare. If you end that program & replace it with something that will cover less and cost them more they feel that something has been taken from them (even if the crappy new thing is still called Medicare).

    I think they’re basically right about that, which is why I talk about the Ryan Plan taking Medicare away from people.  I think that’s especially true when we’re talking about people who are in their 50s and don’t have a lot of time, or frankly a good enough economy, to come up with the money to replace what Medicare would have given them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    I know I’m being a bit of a stickler on language, but nobody is going
    to “lose” Medicare. Current Medicare recipients will continue to
    receive the same benefits.

    The problem is that people under 55 will never get Medicare* in the first place.

    *Oh, it’ll still be called Medicare, but you can stick a name on anything.

    I’m still trying to find information on how it would affect non-senior renal patients on Medicare, seeing as I’m dependent on it to Not Die.But given that Ryan requires his staffers to read Atlas Shrugged, I’m pretty sure I qualify as a “parasite” to be disposed of under his plan.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Unfortunately, Romney’s choices for running mate are suffering the same issue that the Republican primary had:  namely that there simply are no good candidates this round.  The rightward shifting of the party has meant that the people most likely to have bipartisan support and get things done that the other side will not knee-jerk a veto on are also least likely to get support from their own base.  John Huntsman was a good example of a traditional strong Republican, but he dropped out of the race, and eventually turned away from the party (if not necessarily toward any particular other party) out of concern for its dysfunction.  

    At the moment, Romney and Ryan have one big advantage going for them:  they are not Barack Obama.  This election will tell us if that is enough.  

  • JonathanPelikan

    Well Huntsman also had to drop out of the primary because he was running dead-even with driftglass of the Professional Left, last I checked. It’s possible he still actually owes votes to the bank due to the margin of error.

    Register my shock that the guy running on being the only fucker loosely orbiting the general area of fact, reason, and humanity apparently got less support from this conservative movement than Donald Trump.

  • AnonymousSam

    I know. Very briefly, I had actually been debating whether I would vote for Huntsman or Obama. For one thing, Huntsman actually scored pretty well on the SCA scorecard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    For one thing, Huntsman actually scored pretty well on the SCA scorecard.

    When I read this line, the first thing I thought was “The Society for Creative Anachronism scores politicians?”

  • Emcee, cubed

    Mine too, especially since Mom just finished Pensic (She was packing up camp when I talked to her this morning.) But since the FBI classifies SCA as a paramilitary group, I suppose maybe they should…

  • Lori

     

    But since the FBI classifies SCA as a paramilitary group  

    Pardon?

  • Emcee, cubed

     Admittedly, this is old info, and it is possible that they have been reclassified. But this fact was a source of great amusement to the people involved when I was in college…

  • Jenny Islander

    We were reclassified as being of little to no interest to law enforcement years ago.  We also used to be–technically speaking–the world’s largest private army, although Blackwater, or whatever they’ve rebranded themselves as, has probably surpassed us.

    Speaking of the FBI . . . well, there’s a song about the FBI (de doo doo doo):

    HARMLESS HISTORICAL NUTS As I was out shopping, expecting no harm Two big F.B.I. men grabbed me by the arm Dragged me into a cellar, shown lights in my eyes Demanding full answers without any lies About this new threat to good patriotism, This Society for . . . creative anarchism.
    I said they’re just… ….. harmless historical nuts Who wear boiler plates on their butts Who dress up in clothes from the 12th century To bash on each other with sticks and debris And make up the worlds largest private army….. Harmless historical nuts
    I answered ’tis true to that club I belong But pardon me gentlefolk, you’ve got the name wrong Now, I swear by the cross and the host and the chrism That last word is actually anachronism It just means outdated, pray why don’t you look In Sir Merriam Webster’s reliable book
    It’ll says we’re just…. ….. harmless historical nuts Who wear boiler plates on their butts Who dress up in clothes from the 12th century To bash on each other with sticks and debris And make up the worlds largest private army….. Harmless historical nuts
    When finally persuaded to look up the word They blushed and they winced loud enough to be heard They hastily sent me back out on the street But I new it wasn’t over and once more we’d meet So I passed on the warning to realms far and near To give the impression for all the next year
    That we’re just… ….. harmless historical nuts Who wear boiler plates on their butts Who dress up in clothes from the 12th century To bash on each other with sticks and debris And make up the worlds largest private army….. Harmless historical nuts
    And yep, soon enough four infiltrators came in All snooping for politics, sniffing for sin Three went away again scratching their heads But the fourth quit his job and turned stick jock instead He’s won coronets, he’s in love with the sport And we still have a copy of his last report
    It says we’re just… ….. harmless historical nuts Who wear boiler plates on their butts Who dress up in clothes from the 12th century To bash on each other with sticks and debris And make up the worlds largest private army….. Harmless historical nuts Harmless historical nuts
    Leslie Fish, ladies and gentlemen.  And apparently this is pretty close to how it actually happened!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     The image of Leslie Fish telling the FBI that she is Totally Not An Anarchist is terribly funny.

  • wendy

    She’s not anymore, I guess she outgrew it. Now she’s total GUNS GUNS GUNS!!! wingnut. Really into guns. Obsessively. Leslie loves her guns, and was one of those “open-carry outside the hall where Obama is speaking” activists. She’s pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, but votes with the people who aren’t because GUNS!!!! are way more important. 

  • AnonymousSam

    Forsooth, but these would-be lords are a poor hand at the lance! Prithee, rattle them not so harsh, their bones be but fragile things — perhaps the children be better opponents for thee, Romney?

  • Lori

    They totally should.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    A group that actually knows how the 14th century worked judging people who want to take us back to it? I’ll go for that.

  • AnonymousSam

    Judging by medieval standards, if we just invert the scores, we’ll know exactly who to vote for: the one least like a feudal lord. :D

  • Dan Audy

    I think from an electoral map standpoint Marco Rubio would have been the best choice.  The chance of carrying Wisconsin with Ryan doesn’t compare to the fact that Ryan’s ‘budget’ is absolutely toxic in Florida.  A chance at gaining 10 electoral college votes isn’t worth absolutely losing 29. Losing the positives from Rubio combined with the negatives for Ryan there isn’t a snowballs chance in hell that Romney can carry Florida despite the voter suppression the GOP is engaged in.  No matter how  many black and hispanic voters they prevent from voting the elderly white voters aren’t going to vote for someone dedicated to burning medicare to the ground.

    From a personal perspective I think Chris Christie is the least appalling human being on the list and I’m steadfastly a supporter of the parts of the Republican party that can occasionally act in a moral fashion.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     My mother-in-law, who is a teacher in New Jersey, was hoping it would be Christie, as this would get him out of New Jersey while the public school system still existed.

  • aunursa

    A “Romney insider” (take it for what it’s worth) told the New York Post that Christie was high on Romney’s list, but he refused to resign as governor in order to run.  According to the same source, Christie could be announced as the GOP convention’s keynote speaker as early as Tuesday.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     Portman. I don’t like him, but he’s far better than the rest of that list.

  • Phillyexpat2

    Christie has plenty of things to hold against him and would not have made a good VP candidate either.  As for batshit, well, I guess it depends on your definition of batshit.  For relative values I think he qualifies.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    I am seriously freaking happy about this (^_^) Romney has just picked up an albatross and hung it around his own neck for us.  I think this proves Bluegal’s theory honestly – Mitt does not really want to be President.

  • wendy
  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The most ridiculous thing about that article is the first line: Paul Ryan’s plan is a path to prosperity for Mitt Romney.

    You don’t take a path to somewhere you already are. The Paul plan won’t make Romney rich; he’s extremely rich already.

    OK, now I’m going to read the rest and check the maths.

  • PJ Evans

     And you can see what would happen to your own taxes at http://www.romneyplan.org
    They do make simplifying assumptions, but that’s understandable.

  • reynard61

    “Mitt Romney would pay 0.82 percent in taxes under Paul Ryan’s plan(…)”

    Romney/Ryan 2012: We’ve got ours, we want yours, and we’re gonna make damn sure that we get it *ALL!!!*

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Reading Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity (sic.), I’m immediately struck with the thought that, apart from being bullshit economic policy and even worse social policy, it’s yet another plan designed to make Generation X and beyond really, really hate the Baby Boomers. If Medicare is terrible and you can’t afford it, cut everyone off, not just everyone currently below the age of 56.

  • Tonio

    Given that Romney’s Mormonism is anathema to fundamentalists, I was expecting him to pick a running mate with solid culture-warrior credentials like Santorum or Huckabee or even Rick Perry.  But his pick of Ryan might accomplish the same thing. Fundamentalism and Randism are simply two variations on the Just World Fallacy. And Romney is pushing the Southern Strategy hard, so Ryan’s arguments against government give his partner’s race-baiting the illusion of philosophical depth. I don’t know if Rand herself believed in white exceptionalism, but that may be the motivation for large numbers of her modern acolytes.

  • aunursa

    I believe it’s the first time in American political history that a major party doesn’t have a Protestant on the ticket.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    -cough- JFK was Catholic.

  • Dash1

    Having a someone who is not a Protestant on the ticket is not the same thing as having a ticket without a Protestant on it. LBJ was Disciples of Christ. Protestant.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    My apologies, I misread. (Plus I wasn’t aware Ryan is a catholic, and assumed he was protestant. My mistake)

  • Amaryllis

    Edited: Never mind, I see it’s been covered.

  • JonathanPelikan

    I think he’s talking about veeps, too. Ryan is Roman Catholic.

    Which makes it extra super hilarious when he needs to quickstep away from questions about, say, the fact that Ayn Rand hated religion every bit as much as she hated socialism. Or even when people ask him to reconcile Christianity with his monstrous budget proposal to fuck the poor.

  • Tricksterson

    But LBJ was Protestant.  Hes said “on the ticket”, not as a Presidential candidate only.

  • The Ridger

     Yeah, but LBJ wasn’t. “on the ticket” =/= heading the ticket

  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    Pfeh, I misremembered. This probably is the first time that a major party has no Protestant on the ticket.

  • Nobama

    Not true. Neither Barack Hussein Obama nor Joe Biden are protestant. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    [citation nee–who am I kidding, look at your handle. He says he’s Christian, the churches he’s on record as attending–remember the Jeremiah Wright incident?–are Protestant churches, that seems pretty clear indication that he’s Protestant, and if you’re going to try to refute that, you need to provide evidence that he’s lying and that the Jeremiah Wright incident never happened.

  • Tricksterson

    No she did not.  She wrote an article describing racism as the crudest form of collectivism.  On the other hand when lookung for an example of “a black man of genius” she apparently couldn’t come up with any by name. (even in the early 60s and exempting writers artists and poets due to ideological incorrectness George Washington Carver came immediately to mind when I first read it, striking a false note to me).  Had no problem coming up with examples of white mediocity though.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Given that Romney’s Mormonism is anathema to fundamentalists….

    I’m pretty sure that’s not much of an issue right now.   At this point, I think most members of the Republicanist cult would vote for Emperor Nero if he was on the ticket running against Barack Obama.

    Now, AFTER the election, if Mitt fails, they’ll immediately do a 180 and go back to insisting Mormonism is a devil-cult, but until then, they’re all brothers in the arms of Lord Reagan.  :-P

  • Tonio

    That’s probably because Romney has been playing the race card so heavily. It’s the same political faction that formed as a response to the threat of losing tax-exempt status for their segregated schools. They still care less about Mormons allegedly being heretics and more about preserving white exceptionalism and white privilege. 

  • aunursa

    I preface this comment by noting that 48 hours ago, all I knew about Paul Ryan was that he was a darling of the conservatives and the author of a controversial budget plan.

    Several here, and many of the liberal talking heads on TV, have indicated that Ryan is toxic for Romney because now Obama and the Democrats can run against the controversial Ryan budget plan.  But the conservative talking heads have responded that the Democrats were going to tie Romney and the Republicans to Ryan’s budget anyway … and so, who better to defend the plan than the author himself.
     
    Ryan is said to be articulate, charismatic, and very knowledgeable.  Someone above said that he is Sarah Palin with a penis.  Actually he is Sarah Palin with 14+ years in Congress*, an extensive understanding of economic issues — particularly government spending, and a less grating voice. He energizes the conservative base**, but doesn’t carry any of Palin’s baggage that would turn off independents and moderate Democrats.  His background doesn’t include foreign policy, so that is a potential liability.

    Some conservatives say that Ryan’s presence on the ticket will affect the race, not just in Wisconsin, but the upper midwest from Iowa to Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Since Ryan’s proposed changes to Medicare wouldn’t affect current recipients, it’s unclear how he will affect the race for Florida’s coveted electoral votes.  It may come down to whether the Democrats are able to convince seniors that the Romney-Ryan plan will kill Medicare, or the Republicans can convince them that the plan will save Medicare.  

    It’s fascinating that both liberals and conservatives seem delighted with the selection of Paul Ryan — obviously for different reasons.  Four years ago the left-wingers and right-wingers were thrilled with McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin.  We’ll see how well this selection turns out.

    * In addition to 7 terms as a Representative, he served on the staffs of two senators and Rep. Jack Kemp.

    ** According to a campaign spokeswoman, the Romney campaign received $1.2 million in donations in the first 4 hours, and more than $2 million in less than 12 hours after the VP announcement.

  • Lori

    The conservative talking heads have responded that the Democrats were going to tie Romney and the Republicans to Ryan’s budget anyway … and so, who better to defend the plan than the author himself.

    This is just spin. What the Dems were going to tie Romney to is his own record and his pattern of being a flip-flopper (aka, a liar). Yes, Romney had endorsed the Ryan Budget, but in that Romney way that means he’s for it today and will be against it tomorrow. Now Romney is stuck with it though. He tried to distance himself from it about 5 minutes after he announced the pick, but that’s not going to fly and was really just sort of stupid.

    As for Ryan being the best person to defend the plan, he wasn’t able to get people to go for it before so why should anyone assume he’ll be able to sell it now. When people understand what’s in the Ryan Plan most of them hate it. Because it’s a horrible plan and astonishingly naked class warfare.

    Ryan is said to be articulate, charismatic, and very knowledgeable. 

    Some see charisma, others see essentially a jumped up used car salesman. He is in many respects still the guy whose high school classmates voted him biggest brown-noser. Some people really like that as long as it’s their butt he’s kissing. Others find it very off-putting.

    As for the knowledge, I think his abiding love of Rand speaks against that but obviously opinions differ there.

    * In addition to 7 terms as a Representative, he served on the staffs of two senators and Rep. Jack Kemp. 

    Which makes him a somewhat ironic choice for a party that constantly complains about Washington “insiders” and a nominee who once suggested a Constitutional amendment mandating that the president had to have worked a certain number of years in the private sector.

    What I think will be interesting to watch play out is the fact that all those years in the House mean that Ryan has an actual record. That could prove to be an awkward fit with Romney’s disinclination to take positions and stick with them. Ryan’s record could prove to be especially tricky if people notice that the voting record which most closely resembles his is that of failed presidential candidate and general whackadoo, Michelle Bachmann.

    It’s fascinating that both liberals and conservatives seem delighted
    with the selection of Paul Ryan — obviously for different reasons. 

    I think Ryan is well-liked by a lot of  Conservatives who don’t much like Romney. I also think a lot of Conservatives are trying to put the best possible face on the choice in hopes of boosting a campaign that hasn’t been going all that well. In any case, I don’t know that liking the VP candidate is going to translate to a lot of enthusiasm or be much help with GOTV. I don’t think Ryan is People don’t go to the polls to elect a VP.

    I think Liberals are pleased because they see the Ryan Plan as something solid and hard for Romney to evade that can be used for GOTV.

  • Gotchaye

     I don’t think Ryan’s a Palin-level disaster, but until now Romney thought that it made sense to fight back against claims that he supported something like the Ryan plan.  His campaign has been about being as vague as possible in order to make the election a referendum on Obama, and he’s taken offense when it’s even implied that he’s going to cut some specific area of the budget.  Recently there was a kerfuffle because Romney slipped up and accidentally promised enough other stuff that middle class tax increases were mathematically necessary.  It’s now going to be a lot harder for him to object to Obama’s campaign assuming Romney’s support of the Ryan plan in every particular absent a just-as-specific substitute.

    I don’t think it has anything to do with Ryan as a person or as a spokesman.  Ryan being on the ticket at all makes it much easier for the Democrats to run against the Ryan plan, which is what they’ve been trying to do all along.  Ryan may be the very best turd-polisher in the world, but any chance of Romney not needing it polished is gone now.

  • Lori

     

    Throughout Obama’s presidency, the Republicans have made a few major
    strategic blunders, and almost all were rooted in the same thing. They
    convince themselves that what they want is really, really popular (or
    would be if it weren’t so misunderstood) and then pick a fight about it,
    which they lose badly. 

    Which is the root of Mark Kleinman’s joke about the fact that it’s no longer possible for Democrats to be atheists or agnostics since, “as a purely statistical matter the frequency with which Barack Obama’s
    electoral opponents have self-destructed strongly suggests that he is
    either on a personal mission from God or has sold his soul to Satan.
    Neither hypothesis is fully consistent with atheism.”

    As an atheist I found that highly amusing.

    It’s not like Obama doesn’t have major weaknesses as a candidate. Obviously some of them are of no use whatsoever to the GOP since they’re actually worse on those issues (national security state, I’m looking at you). They really should have been able to get traction on the economy though. The fact that most of our problems are their fault should have been trivially easy for them to overcome since people have a natural inclination to blame whoever is in charge. In light of this near-gimme what did they do? The nominated Captain Vulture Capitalism, the guy whose on year tax write-off on his wife’s show horse was more money than I’ve made in the last I don’t know how many years combined. 

    They gained some ground by trumping up fears about the deficit and then picked a VP whose budget plan actually increases the deficit because it takes all the money saved through austerity and tax increases for the poor and middle class and gives it as a gift to the wealthy. The supernatural hardly seems more ridiculous as an explanation of that than the notion that Republicans really thought all this was a great idea.

    It’s possible that enough of the undecided middle will be bowled over by Ryan’s charisma and knowledge that they’ll combine with the racist vote to hand Romney a victory. Anything is possible and with something like the Ryan budget on the line it’s way too dangerous to count unhatched chickens. I just think it’s weird that Romney apparently thought this was his best shot.

  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    It’s not like Obama doesn’t have major weaknesses as a candidate. Obviously some of them are of no use whatsoever to the GOP since they’re actually worse on those issues (national security state, I’m looking at you).

    Why is it that all the ideas and plans on which there is true bipartisan agreement in Washington, DC are ideas and plans that well and truly suck?  Are all of these folks in Congress and the White House really so sure that they will always be powerful enough to keep their opponents (politicians, businesspeople, or stalkers)  from using these things against them?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     That’s probably Romney’s biggest obstacle this year. He has an advantage in that he can hammer Obama on the deficit and the sluggish recovery. His problem is that he doesn’t really have any solutions that would resolve those issues and wouldn’t alienate a lot of people at the same time.

    He can crow about how the deficit has grown under Obama, and that’s true, but he has to be careful not to go into details as to how he would fix the problem because then Obama and his surrogates could point out the flaws in Romney’s own economic policy, which is based on the notion that military spending is essentially free and lowering the tax rate always increases federal revenue, no matter what the tax rate was before or what the economic conditions look like.

    Likewise, he can crow about the unemployment rate, which is still abysmal, but he can’t say how he would fix it because a key part of his agenda is shrinking the public sector and reducing non-defense spending, which is classic contractionary fiscal policy and the opposite of what intuitively makes sense in a recession.

    Here is where his tax cut idea would fit, but I’m not sure that people will buy raising taxes on the poor and middle class and lowering them on the wealthy will be that much better than Obama’s current policy, which is more or less the opposite. And Obama could always point out that he continued the Bush era tax rates (which were lower for each group) just a few years ago and they didn’t really have any additional benefit.

    I think that’s the one area where Ryan might actually be a detriment. He can tie down Romney to a specific series of proposals that can be attacked, even if they aren’t ones that Romney personally came up with. Politicians thrive when they aren’t committed to one idea like that and Romney’s camp are likely coming coming up with strategies to manage this situation.

  • EllieMurasaki

    He has an advantage in that he can hammer Obama on the deficit and the sluggish recovery

    Read some MaddowBlog: he really can’t. Romney’s said he wouldn’t count the economy in the first year of a presidency against that president because said president would obviously still be dealing with the previous president’s fuckups. Take the first year off Obama’s economic numbers and Obama starts looking really good. (Instead of merely good.) And Obama’s deficit is no worse than Bush’s.

  • Lori

    What’s true and what can be sold aren’t the same thing. I think that if they had been even half-way smart the GOP could have eaten Obama’s lunch on the economy. Instead they’ve apparently decided to go another way and I’m grateful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Read some MaddowBlog: he really can’t. Romney’s said he wouldn’t
    count the economy in the first year of a presidency against that
    president because said president would obviously still be dealing with
    the previous president’s fuckups.

    Huh, I didn’t know that he said that. I personally think that it doesn’t matter what Romney said in the past because he changes his opinion (without ever admitting it) very rapidly. If he thinks it’ll help him, he’ll blame Obama for everything even up to the stuff that happened during 2008 if he thinks the media won’t . Have you been ignoring Romney’s campaign ads? I’ve started doing that, but some of them still slip through (especially when they pop up on the Internet) and Romney is definitely attacking Obama on the economy. (“The slowest economic recovery ever!” booms the campaign ad announcer guy). 

    Romney’s attacks on Obama’s recovery policies may not be empirically valid, but they’re his strongest lines of attack at this point. He certainly wouldn’t want to go after Obama on culture warrior stuff; if that was going to decide the election then Santorum would have won the primary.

    And Obama’s deficit is no worse than Bush’s.

    That’s true too. But the GOP strategy is to push Bush down the memory hole; as far as they can tell, the deficit really only started ballooning out of control in 2009. Sure, if you take the long view of things, you might discover a brief 8-year period ending in 2008 where certain politicians (probably Democrats) may have advocated certain expensive redevelopment projects somewhere in Asia, but that’s all ancient history now! You might as well start dredging up the Teapot Dome scandal or reevaluating the Louisiana Purchase, as far as they’re concerned! You and Maddow deal in facts and reason, but I’m talking about Romney’s campaign strategy here and those things just aren’t as important!

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Romney’s said he wouldn’t 
    count the economy in the first year of a presidency against that 
    president because said president would obviously still be dealing with 
    the previous president’s fuckups.

    Which still won’t stop his followers – I saw one “joke” to the effect of the record crowds at Obama’s inauguration being because people without jobs don’t need to make arrangements to take off work, and therefore All Obama’s Fault. The absolute obliviousness to the idea that they must’ve lost their jobs before Obama took office because they were watching him take office is just stunning.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Well, he can’t unless he just lies.

    I mean, he can just say* that the recession has worsened in the last three years. Who’d call him on it? I mean, except for people who will instantly be dismissed as being in on the librrl conspiracy?

    (I don’t understand how lying works in politics. I mean, it’s clear that the republicans can literally say whatever they want about the democrats and will not pay for it. So why not just accuse Obama of *literal* murder?  Why is “Obama, despite nevr having indicated as such and in fact been *resistant* to such ideas inspite of massive provocation, is secretly planning to ban all guns as soon as his second term beings” not-too-far, but “Joe Biden’s trunk is full of meth and dead hookers” is?)

  • Lori

    Joe can prove that he doesn’t have a trunk full of meth and dead hookers by opening the trunk. Obama really can’t prove that he’s not going to BAN ALL THE GUNS on January 21, 2o13.

    IOW, I think the line is drawn based on utility, not morality.

  • PJ Evans

    He can crow about how the deficit has grown under Obama

    And then everyone points out that the deficit was much smaller before we had Republican presidents like Reagan and Bush43, who didn’t connect their tax cuts and their increased spending to the huge increases in the deficit while they were in office.

  • Tonio

    While I suppose Ryan may be preferable in some ways to a culture warrior, I wouldn’t be happy with any VP pick for Romney, except maybe for someone like Olympia Snowe. Ryan wouldn’t be a male Sarah Palin unless he’s engaging in demagoguery that’s both anti-intellectual and American exceptionalist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Well, I can’t imagine Ryan being stumped by really easy softball questions like, “What newspapers do you like to read?”, so there’s a plus there. Really, I don’t think that Ryan is an especially bad choice. He has his flaws, but so does almost everyone else, really. I definitely don’t think that Romney would want Tim Pawlenty that near him, not unless he wants to stupefy everyone at their campaign rallies.

  • PJ Evans

     Pawlenty said that he provided ‘several years’ of tax returns to Rmoney’s campaign. It’s interesting that the VP choices had to do that, but Rmoney won’t do that for us.

  • PJ Evans

    I’d like to buy shares in popcorn companies. This election seems to call for more popcorn.

  • Emcee, cubed

    Four years ago the left-wingers and right-wingers were thrilled with McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin.  We’ll see how well this selection turns out.

    This is actually not true. (At least not this close to the announcement.) As I said earlier, when McCain picked Palin, she was a complete unknown quantity. So at least most liberals I knew weren’t thrilled with McCain’s pick at first. In fact, a lot of us thought is was rather an underhanded trick by McCain to play to the people who voted for Hillary in the primaries. It wasn’t until days later (since the McCain campaign kept her pretty shielded for a while) that we learned how bad of a candidate she really was, and got that “bwahahaha!” thing going.

  • Termudgeon

    Wait, why does Obama not count a a Protestant?

  • Lori

    He’s protestant, just not a white protestant.

    The GOP is fielding the first ticket we’ve ever had without a protestant and this is the first presidential election we’ve ever had without any white protestants running.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The GOP is fielding the first ticket we’ve ever had without a protestant and this is the first presidential election we’ve ever had without any white protestants running.

    So it’s true. White Protestants really are an oppressed minority in America.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Wiki says Protestants are 51% of the US population and surely more than two percent of US Protestants are people of color, so I’ll give them ‘minority’…

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Only 51%? Wow. For some reason, I thought it was a lot more than that.

  • aunursa

    Of course Obama counts as a Protestant.

    In my post I noted that it’s the first time in American political history that a major party ticket (i.e. the Republican Party ticket) doesn’t have a Protestant.  I did not suggest that it’s the first time that both major party tickets do not have a Protestant.

  • AnonymousSam

    If reducing the deficit is so important, perhaps the military can stand to use explosives from January instead of June. Am I the only one struck by the irony of sitting on history’s most destructive weaponry, and yet still scrambling to build more and more deadly, efficient, and hopefully useless equipment for the future we hope not to have?

  • PJ Evans

     Not only that, but the Pentagon has said it doesn’t need more money.

  • AnonymousSam

    There are things we contracted for the Iraq war that don’t even make sense… like armored attack boats. We’ve used them precisely once (locally, to apprehend a guy in his boat on a lake who supposedly had a gun). Couple of million each, naturally. Yeah, you can argue that we might need them for nautical threats in some hypothetical future war, but it doesn’t strike me as the reasoning of a healthy mind to constantly build better killing machines in preparation for what shouldn’t happen.

  • Lori

    Are you talking about the boat they built for the SEALs? Because if so I’m guessing they’ve used it more times than we know. I’m not saying that necessarily makes it a good use of our tax dollars, just that the thing almost certainly isn’t a one use product.

  • AnonymousSam

    I can’t remember any of the specific details about it anymore, but it might have been. At the time I read about it, it had only been used once (and wastefully at that). I’m sure it’s been used again since then — but there wasn’t particularly any need for it at the time and it’ll be considered obsolete long before the next model is built, I’m sure.

  • Lori

    The new boat they built for the SEALs was intended at least partially to allow them greater flexibility dealing with things like pirates, so it was at least semi-legit. We may be talking about different boats. I’ve never been a serious tech-head about Pentagon procurement so it’s entirely possible that I missed a thing (or a thousand).

  • wendy

    Pretty sure Iran has a rather extensive shoreline; and of course, if anybody were trying to mine the Straits of Hormuz, maneuverable little bulletproof boats would be very helpful in our efforts to stop them. 

  • PJ Evans

     Most of that shoreline is desert, I understand, as well as mountainous. And the Straits of Hormuz could be mined using small boats, because the actual shipping channels are fairly narrow, in the middle of a lot of shallower water.

  • Lori

    Obviously. And yes, that was part of the justification for the new boat they built for the SEALs. However, the fact that Iran has a coastline doesn’t automatically mean that the new, high-dollar boat was a good use of money. Determining that would require a lot more detail than I have at this point or care to take the time to look up. If Anonymous Sam and I are talking about different, expensive new bulletproof boats then Iran may have nothing to do with what he’s talking about. I kind of wonder if his expensive boat was different and driven more by the War on Drugs than the possible war with Iran.

    The Pentagon is famous for being able to come up with a reason for every expensive weapons system that they buy. That doesn’t mean that all those systems are actually needed, especially for the price.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    There are things we contracted for the Iraq war that don’t even make sense… like armored attack boats. We’ve used them precisely once (locally, to apprehend a guy in his boat on a lake who supposedly had a gun). Couple of million each, naturally. Yeah, you can argue that we might need them for nautical threats in some hypothetical future war, but it doesn’t strike me as the reasoning of a healthy mind to constantly build better killing machines in preparation for what shouldn’t happen.

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    We could stand to reduce our R&D from ‘full speed ahead’ to maybe settling for just being the best in the world, though.  Perhaps exhibiting some sort of tolerance for collaborating with NATO and other allied nations on projects (so we can avoid things like the Comanche affair… or our steadfast refusal to use existing RPG interception systems because they’re not made by Raytheon).  And we could really stand to deal with the corruption immanent in the defense industry.  A typical weapons contract is probably 50% graft and 25% inefficiency.  Look at stuff like Haliburton just ‘losing’ a few billion dollars…

  • Lori

    When I was in grad school I took a class on financial crime. One of the things I learned is how easy it is to go from legal use of tax havens to illegally hiding and/or laundering money. It wouldn’t exactly be a stunning surprise if Romney crossed the line separating aggressive tax reduction from illegal tax avoidance, and just didn’t get caught and would like to keep it that way. 

  • TheFaithfulStone

    an extensive understanding of economic issues

    Hey everyone!  Freshman philosophy for you.

    Paul Ryan believes in Ayn Rands economic philosopy. 
    Ayn Rand believes that gold backed money is more “real” than fiat money.
    Ergo, Paul Ryan has an extensive MISunderstanding of economic issues.

    That was easy.  Simple syllogisms FTW.

    But actually, it doesn’t matter.  There is no idea so stupid you can’t find at least one person to support it.  Romney / Ryan is running on the idea that their idea isn’t stupid enough to lose them the election, or that at the LEAST they can bald-facedly lie about it enough to convince enough people of that.

    I’m kind of turned off by Reid suddenly showing up to the gun fight that’s modern American politics armed with an actual gun and not a rusty butter knife – but then Republicans kind of brought this on themselves what with swift-boating, birthering, and the whole-cloth paranoia of the NRA.

  • Graeme from BC

    Is a man not entitled to the sweat on his brow?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yes, of course, which is why the Ryan plan sucks: the people who work for a living will subsidize the people who push money around for a living.

  • Tonio

     The point I understood Obama to be making is that life isn’t a competition and that given the interdependence inherent in any society and economy, no one is solely responsible for his or her success. Isaac Newton once said that “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” paying a debt to the scientific minds that came before him. Similarly, every outstanding artist or musician draws upon the influences of others. We wouldn’t have the Beatles without Chuck Berry, or the Rolling Stones without Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf, and those English groups regularly acknowledged their forebearers.

  • AnonymousSam

    I’ll wager my brow has garnered far more sweat in a single year of my life than Romney has had in his entire, and yet my entitlement appears to be “Bend lower, slave.”

  • Vermic

    The motto of Romney et al. seems to be “Keep all the sweat you like, we’ll just take the money.”

  • LL

    I certainly hope Ryan’s selection has improved chances for an Obama reelection (not that I’m happy with everything Obama has done), but I’ve learned the hard way not to expect too much of politics, esp. where the general public is involved. They are, largely, idiots. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/graeme.sutton1 Graeme Sutton

    No bioshock players here I take it? Should have figured. Everyone who responded to my last comment should look up the phrase “Is a man not entitled to the sweat on his brow” on youtube.

  • AnonymousSam

    Bioshock player. Didn’t get the reference, mainly because it sounds like every other word out of the 1% and their sympathizers nowadays. But yeah. Andrew Ryan.

        “I am Andrew Ryan, and I am here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?

        ‘No,’ says the man in Washington, ‘it belongs to the poor.’
        ‘No,’ says the man in the Vatican, ‘it belongs to God.’
        ‘No,’ says the man in Moscow, ‘it belongs to everyone.’

        I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose…

        Rapture.

        A city where the artist would not fear the censor,
        where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality,
        where the great would not be constrained by the small.

        And with the sweat of your brow, Rapture can become your city, as well.”
        ―Andrew Ryan

    It gives Ayn Rand orgasms. Says something that Rapture becomes a dystopia of the typical societal decay leading into societal meltdown manner.

  • Dan Audy

    Given what an insightful and entertaining take of Randian economics Bioshock was (while also being fun), I am really looking forward to Bioshock: Infinite which seems to be taking a similar approach for the concepts of American Exceptionalism and racial purity.

  • http://formerconservative.wordpress.com/ Formerconservative

    Bioshock is one of the most thought provoking and truly unique and unforgettable experiences in any medium of entertainment.  Its a must play!

    I’m one of the few people on earth who also likes Bioshock 2.

  • Tonio

    Is Andrew Ryan’s name a deliberate rewording of Ayn Rand’s done for effect? Revealing that the answers that the character condemns for his question are all straw men to some degree.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/graeme.sutton1 Graeme Sutton

    Yes, the whole game is a parody of Atlas Shrugged, it even has the same basic premise (i.e. the so-called “productive” people withdraw from society to create their own utopia except it turns into a dystopian fascist state under Andrew Ryan and then unregulated use of a new chemical leads to everyone becoming insane, drug-addicted mutants).

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I honestly cannot fathom how anyone can harrumph about Romney being asked to release his tax returns. Because:

    “Release your birth certificate”
    “No, the long form”
    “No, in a different format”

    It beggars belief.

  • Lori

    That’s a good point, and ties into the conversation we had recently about why “nice” homophobes really can’t complain about being lumped in with openly not-nice homophobes.

    I also think we’re getting perilously close to No True Scotsman. There’s not much point in continuing once you get there. 

  • S Crosby

    Wow.  Do you guys (Patheos) have anyone who discusses issues from a center-right perspective?  It would be helpful broaden the horizon a bit.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Wow.  Do you guys (Patheos) have anyone who discusses issues from a
    center-right perspective?  It would be helpful broaden the horizon a
    bit.

    They’re called “Democrats”.

  • Eminnith

    Patheos is a rather large website, with a fair range of different kinds of blogs. If you do not see what you want here at the Slacktivist blog, click on one of the links to other channels down at the bottom of the page. You might be able to find a center-right Atheist blog or a center-right Spirituality blog or a center-right Muslim blog (the Catholic channel appears to have noone near the center AFAICT).

  • joyce

    Are the “Nuns on the Bus” simply women who care about humanity (rightly so), but are Catholic Christrians who have forgetten about what abortion is, and especially late sage obortion, and obortion just because it is a convenient form of birth control?  I totally support their efforts toward mankind, but we cannot overlook what they ignore in trying to accomplisth their goal.

  • PJ Evans

     How about considering that the nuns care that people shouldn’t have to have kids that are the result of rape or incest, 0r that put the life of the mother in danger?
    The Republicans don’t care about that: they’d rather see those women die.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, abortion’s a convenient form of birth control compared to all the others. So much easier to do a large dose of hormones that’ll fuck with your system massively than daily small doses, and so much easier to have abdominal surgery than to use a condom. Ever, ever so much easier to wait through months and months of health problems and discomfort and potential risk to one’s life until a fetus is days from birth (healthy birth, of course, there’s no such thing as a pregnancy that goes horribly wrong in the end stages) and have an abortion than to have an abortion before anyone else has noticed that one is pregnant.
     
    Joyce, has it ever once occurred to you that there’d be less demand for abortion if there were less opposition to contraception?


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