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“Dirty Dancers And Bad Money”: Mitt Romney’s “Dark Road To The White House”

Shady money, voter suppression, shifting positions, murky details and widespread apathy.

If there is a road map for a Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan win in November, that’s it. Distasteful all.

As The New York Times reported this week, Paul Ryan made the trip on Tuesday to kiss the ring of Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner who has pledged to spend as much as $100 million to defeat President Obama. No reporters were allowed in, of course.

As The Times’s editorial page pointed out on Friday:

“Last year, his company, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, announced that it was under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act — specifically, that it bribed Chinese officials for help in expanding its casino empire in Macau. Later, the F.B.I. became involved, and even Chinese regulators looked askance at the company’s conduct, fining it $1.6 million for violating foreign exchange rules, The Times reported on Monday.”

There was a saying I heard growing up in Louisiana: “Bad money doesn’t spend right.”

On Wednesday, a judge in Pennsylvania who is a Republican refused to block a ridiculously restrictive, Republican-backed voter identification law from going into effect in the state, which is a critical swing state. Surprise, surprise.

And to add insult to injury, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday: “On the same day a judge cleared the way for the state’s new voter identification law to take effect, the Corbett administration abandoned plans to allow voters to apply online for absentee ballots for the November election and to register online to vote.”

Corbett is Tom Corbett, the Republican governor of the state.

In June, State Representative Mike Turzai, a Republican and the Pennsylvania House majority leader, ripped the veneer off the purpose of the voter changes in the state when he declared, “voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: done.”

Angry yet? Well wait, there’s more.

As has been well documented, Mitt Romney has flip-flopped on many of the major positions he once held: abortion, taxes, guns. Now his vice-presidential pick, has traded his wingtips for a pair of toe-splitters.

Thursday, as Think Progress pointed out, Ryan adopted Romney’s position on China’s currency manipulation and stealing of intellectual property, saying: “Mitt Romney and I are going to crack down on China cheating and make sure trade works for Americans.”

However, as Talking Points Memo reported: “Ryan has consistently opposed measures to crack down on China’s currency manipulation practices, which tilt the playing field against American labor.”

Furthermore, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday: “In 2009, as Rep. Paul D. Ryan was railing against President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package as a ‘wasteful spending spree,’ he wrote at least four letters to Obama’s secretary of energy asking that millions of dollars from the program be granted to a pair of Wisconsin conservation groups, according to documents obtained by The Globe.”

Even so, Ryan denied the fact in an interview with a Cincinnati TV station on Thursday, saying, “I never asked for stimulus.”

Ryan later recanted. In a statement, he said of the letters: “They were treated as constituent service requests in the same way matters involving Social Security or Veterans Affairs are handled.” It continued: “This is why I didn’t recall the letters earlier. But they should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that.”

Oops! Paint a scarlet “H” on that man’s chest for hypocrisy.

Romney, for his part, has consistently resisted specifying what he would cut to get to the balanced budget that he promises, and he continues to resist calls to release more tax returns.

“Mitt Romney said on Thursday that he had not paid less than 13 percent of his income in taxes during the past decade,” The Times reported. But are we supposed to take his word for the rate being even that high? Absolutely not!

Show, don’t tell, sir.

America, this is the Republican ticket. Although most smart political observers currently have Romney losing the Electoral College, Romney, following this repulsive road map, is virtually tied with Obama in national polls of likely voters.

That is, in part, because of apathy. As USA Today reported, the 90 million people who are unlikely to vote in November prefer Obama over Romney by 2 to 1, and “they could turn a too-close-to-call race into a landslide for President Obama — but by definition they probably won’t.”

If this underhanded dirty dealing by the Republican ticket doesn’t jolt some of these unlikely voters into likely ones, I don’t know what will.

 

By: Charles M. Blow, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, August 17, 2012

August 18, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“There’s Always Lee Greenwood”: Note To Republicans, Musicians Tend To Dislike You

In the latest example of a recurring phenomenon, a Republican pol utilizing hip music on the campaign trail has gotten slapped down by the artist involved. This is per Emmarie Huttemann at the New York Times Caucus blog:

Representative Paul D. Ryan may love Rage Against the Machine, but the feeling isn’t mutual.

Tom Morello, guitarist for the politically outspoken rap-metal band, attacked Mr. Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate in a searing editorial for Rolling Stone.

“Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades,” Mr. Morello said.

Mediate’s Andrew Kirell reports that Ryan’s running-mate has had the same problem, as did John McCain in 2008:

Indie rock stalwarts Silversun Pickups have accused Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of illegally using their 2009 hit song “Panic Switch” on the campaign trail without their permission. Wednesday afternoon the band fired off a cease and desist letter to the campaign, demanding Romney discontinue use of any of their songs….

Note to Republicans: musicians tend to dislike you — whether that be for political reasons or for fan-pleasing purposes — so avoid playing their music at any point during a campaign event because you will likely get called out, and you will likely be embarrassed.

Notable musicians Jackson Browne, Foo Fighters, John Mellencamp, John Hall, and ABBA (?!?!) all demanded Sen. John McCain quit using their tunes during his 2008 campaign; the Wilson sisters from Heart famously reprimanded Sarah Palin for using “Barracuda” to promote herself that same year. Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist was sued by his doppelgänger David Byrne for using a Talking Heads song in 2010. And, of course, George W. Bush made a fair amount of enemies in Mellencamp, Tom Petty, and Sting.

The whole phenomenon is a bit bizarre. Political event organizers probably don’t coordinate with actual candidates in figuring out how to get audiences all lathered up before The Maximum Leader appears. I’ll never forget attending a monster Election Eve Clinton-Gore rally just outside Atlanta in 1992, and gazing in awe at the spectacle of 100,000 excited Democrats shaking tiny American flags to the beat of John Lennon’s Black Panther-inspired (if somewhat ambivalently worded) “Power to the People,” as Clinton worked his way to the platform, leaving his introducer, my former boss Sam Nunn, up there doing the White Man Shuffle.

But clearly, if you are a Republican, better stick to Big & Rich or maybe even Lee Greenwood.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, August 17, 2012

August 18, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Missing The Medicare Forest For The Trees”: GOP Want’s You To Believe They Are The Defenders Of “Socialized Medicine”

I was reading Charles Krauthammer’s column this morning, and noticed that he’s adopted the Romney/Ryan talking points on Medicare — the far-right columnist accused President Obama of “robbing Granny’s health care.”

My first instinct was to explain how wrong this is, but it occurred to me how disjointed the nature of the debate has become. The fight over Medicare, on a conceptual level, got off track recently and has been careening in the wrong direction ever since.

Given how critically important this is in the presidential election, let’s pause for a moment to consider the bigger picture.

The Romney/Ryan argument is that Obama/Biden is cutting Medicare, hurting seniors, and undermining the financial security of the Medicare system. All week, I’ve been making an effort to set the record straight by pointing to the facts: Obama’s savings strengthen the system; benefits for seniors have been expanded, not cut; the Republican budget plan embraced the same savings Romney/Ryan is now condemning; the GOP privatization alternative is dangerous; etc.

The facts are, to be sure, still true, and they’re important. But let’s ignore the trees and look at the forest.

What is Medicare? It’s a massive, government-run system of socialized medicine. It’s wildly popular, very successful, and one of the pillars of modern Democratic governance. This government-run system of socialized medicine was created by Democrats against the opposition of conservative Republicans, and it’s Democrats who’ve fought to protect it for more than a half-century.

Or to summarize, the left loves Medicare and always has; the right hates Medicare and always has. For liberals, the system is a celebrated ideal; for conservatives it’s an unconstitutional, big-government outrage in desperate need of privatization.

In 2012, once we get past all of the talking points and attack ads, we’re left with this: Romney/Ryan wants you to believe they’re the liberals. No, seriously. Think about what the Republican presidential ticket, Fox News, Krauthammer, Donald Trump, and the Republican National Committee have been saying all week: those mean, rascally Democrats cut our beloved Medicare and voters should be outraged.

In other words, the argument pushed by the most right-wing major-party ticket in a generation is that Barack Obama is a left-wing socialist who wants government-run socialized medicine and that Barack Obama is a far-right brute who wants to undermine government-run socialized medicine.

If you care about protecting the popular system of socialized medicine, the argument goes, your best bet would be to put it the hands of conservative Republicans who steadfastly oppose the very idea of a government-run system of socialized medicine.

The questions voters should ask themselves, then, are incredibly simple: putting aside literally everything else you’ve heard this week, why in the world would a Democratic president want to “gut” Medicare? Why would liberal members of Congress and the AARP join a Democratic president in trying to undermine the system Democrats created and celebrate?

Why would voters expect conservative Republicans to be the trusted champions of socialized medicine?

As a political matter, I understand exactly what Romney/Ryan is trying to do. As Greg Sargent explained this morning, “It’s important, though, to get at the true nature of the Romney strategy here. It isn’t about drawing an actual policy contrast with the Obama campaign. It’s about obfuscating the actual policy differences between the two candidates over the program.”

That’s exactly right. The Republican plan to deal with the intense unpopularity of the Romney/Ryan plan is to simply muddy the waters — both sides are accusing the other side of being against Medicare; the media doesn’t like separating fact from fiction; and voters, even well-intentioned folks who want to know the truth, aren’t quite sure what to believe. For all I know, this obfuscation strategy might actually work.

But while assorted hacks may find partisan value in falsely accusing Obama of “robbing Granny’s health care,” does that make any sense on a conceptual level? Since when do Republicans look at President Obama and think he’s too conservative when it comes to socialized medicine?

All I’m suggesting is that a little critical thinking on the part of the electorate and the political world can go a long way.

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 17, 2012

August 18, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Mitt’s Plot To Confuse You”: Goal Isn’t To Win Over Voters On Medicare But To Make Them Frustrated

What’s most noteworthy about the new Medicare-themed ad that the Obama campaign unveiled today is its defensive tone. The spot opens by referring back to a Romney ad that claims the president “robbed” $716 billion to pay for the new healthcare reform law, then contrasts AARP’s favorable assessment of Obama’s actions on Medicare with its ominous take on what Paul Ryan has proposed.

There’s a lot going on here, and that might be problematic for Obama.

Medicare is a supremely popular program, and attempts to cut or alter it dramatically always poll terribly. The hope for the Obama team is to replicate the success that Bill Clinton and Democrats enjoyed in 1996, when they positioned themselves as the last line of defense between Medicare and the Republicans who would (in the famous words of Newt Gingrich) let it “wither on the vine.”

But the issue is more complicated in this year’s campaign, because of the Medicare changes that Obama made through the Affordable Care Act. That the law cuts spending by $716 billion over 10 years is true, but the reductions do not affect benefits; instead, they’re aimed at hospital reimbursement rates and the excessively costly Medicare Advantage private insurance program, with smaller cuts for home healthcare providers and others. What’s more, Ryan’s own Medicare plan, which House Republicans almost unanimously endorsed (and which Romney has indicated he would have signed as president), upholds all of these cuts. But Ryan says he’s now running on the Romney plan, not his own, and the Romney plan (such as it is) calls for wiping out the Medicare cuts.

It’s all rather slippery, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work. The upshot is that Romney and Ryan are now running around blasting Obama for making savage cuts in Medicare, and running ads to the same effect. This, of course, is also what Republicans did in the 2010 midterms, when their landslide was keyed in part by an anti-Obama backlash among senior citizens. This complicates Obama’s hopes of replicating Clinton’s reelection strategy. Clinton never had to answer for his own cuts; he could just fire away at the “Dole-Gingrich” attempt to raid Medicare. Obama’s task is trickier. He has to explain his own actions first, then pivot to an attack on his rivals. As Greg Sargent points out, all the GOP needs to do here is to muddy the waters enough that swing voters throw up their hands in confusion and move on to other issues – like the economy.

If there’s a silver lining for the Obama side, it’s that voters still instinctively regard his party to be more supportive of Medicare than the GOP. A poll a few months ago found that voters trust Democrats over Republicans by a 40-24 percent margin to look out for the program. Obama has also enjoyed a wide advantage over congressional Republicans on this front. The gap is tighter when Romney enters the picture; a poll of swing state voters this week found Obama running 8 points ahead of Romney, 42 to 34 percent, on who would better handle Medicare. By comparison, Clinton was running more than 20 points ahead of Dole on the issue at this point in ’96. (Of course, he was also running about 20 points ahead of Dole in the horse race.)

That said, voters are more inclined to give Obama and Democrats the benefit of the doubt on Medicare than Romney and the GOP. And the Democratic assault on Ryan-ism is only beginning. The polls may look different a few weeks, or months, from now. But just because Romney’s running mate is the author of a reviled Medicare plan doesn’t necessarily mean that the GOP ticket will pay a price for it.

 

By: Steve Kornacki, Salon, August 17, 2012

August 18, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Oh So Good, But Oh So Wrong”: A Well Respected Man For Those Who Are Already Wealthy

Whenever I hear about U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), I can’t help thinking of the lyrics from the old Kinks song “A Well Respected Man.” Yes, a number of people seem to think that Ryan is “oh so good, and he’s oh so fine and oh so healthy in his body and his mind.” Indeed, Mitt Romney must have chosen Ryan as his running mate because “he’s a well respected man about town, doing the best things so conservatively.”

Ryan certainly looks the part, doesn’t he? What’s not to love about this kind-looking, young man, with the warm smile, twinkling blue eyes and thick head of hair? His serious demeanor at just the right photo moment shows us how much he cares for all of those struggling middle-class families. He even looks the part of the working-class man when he rolls up his sleeves.

Sadly, this nice-looking and apparently very respectable guy is getting it all wrong when it comes to his vision for the United States. He draws from the same old, worn-out Republican playbook. How many times do we have to hear about reducing taxes on the wealthy so they can be “job creators” before it just becomes a joke? Honestly, we already have lower taxes for the wealthy, so why haven’t the jobs been created?

The only jobs that seem to be created are the ones for the accountants and the attorneys as they broker deals so the wealthy can buy up even more oceanfront property. Seriously, people, how out of control are the tax laws in this country when someone like Romney can pay $12 million in cash for a home, demolish that home, rebuild on the site and then insist on having his property taxes reduced? Is anyone buying this “job creator” lunacy anymore?

Of course, if wouldn’t be the good old Republican Party line if Ryan didn’t redirect the public’s attention away from the wealthy and directly onto some poor, single parent just trying to get by. Oh, no, we can’t have any “entitlements” for the working poor.

I mean, Ryan wants people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. It doesn’t matter if they don’t have any boots; that’s just too bad for them. I’ve always thought it was odd that even though Republicans are notorious for their suspicions about evolution, they do seem to embrace that whole survival-of-the-fittest thing.

Even if you worked all of your life, paid into Social Security and expect to get on Medicare, you’re just asking too much of America, according to Ryan. Balancing the budget on the backs of working-class men and women is the overriding philosophy behind Ryan’s plan for America.

The bottom line is that Ryan is the choice for those who are already wealthy. I guess he is “A Well Respected Man” for that crowd. For everyone else, he’s oh so wrong.

 

By: Rose Locander, JSOnline, August 13, 2012

August 18, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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