Mitt Romney's Speech: Lukewarm Mashed Potatoes and a Plan to Create the Sunrise

Last night's acceptance speech for the nomination to the top of the Republican ticket was, by most accounts, a plate of warm mashed potatoes. Not too hot, not too cold, not overly seasoned or anything to get excited about. It was a speech, he didn't trip over the podium and fall into the audience in giving it, and the absence of humiliating failure is a success of sorts. What will be remembered will be Clint Eastwood's rambling, incoherent stand-up routine (at least, I think it was supposed to be comedy of some sort). Advice to future convention planners: if a prominently scheduled speaker can't give you any advanced copy of a script, do not let them go on. I don't care who it is or how starstruck you are -- if it's not in writing, it doesn't get broadcast. Abraham Lincoln, risen from the grave by the personal hand of God had better have a stack of 3x5 index cards someone can look over. If not, hit the road you spooky undead emancipator.

Inspiring it was not. It will never be quoted by someone with tears in their eyes. Jonathan Bernstein pretty much nailed it when he summed it up this way: "A generic speech and a generic convention for a generic Republican candidate." It was a speech by a guy who's running for president. Not the first and not the last and certainly not noteworthy. If speeches had a color, this one would be beige.

Unfortunately, it was also the generic speech for a generic Republican in a way worth remarking on. While it steered mostly away from substance and toward humanizing a seemingly robotic candidate, you can't have a completely substance-free acceptance speech, no matter how badly you might want one. You're going to have to talk about your opponent. You're going to have to talk about policy. You're going to have to make a case beyond, "No really, I do have a pulse."

And it was in those moments that Mitt slipped into the old habit of slinging the BS.

The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler fact-checked the speech and found six inaccuracies or distortions (you could argue seven, but I'm cutting some slack for a vague statement on taxes). The first is pretty weasely and that's the one I want to concentrate on. The rest of the lies are pretty familiar, but this one seems new.

In this statement, Mitt promised to create jobs. Specifically, "And unlike the president, I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs." He didn't say how and, as Kessler points out, he didn't really have to. That would probably happen if he didn't do anything at all.

[T]he number is even less impressive than it sounds. This pledge amounts to an average of 250,000 jobs a month, a far cry from the 500,000 jobs a month that Romney once claimed would be created in a “normal recovery.” In recent months, the economy has averaged about 150,000 jobs a month.

The Congressional Budget Office is required to consider the effects of the so-called “fiscal cliff” if a yearend budget deal is not reached, which many experts believe would push the country into a recession. But even with that caveat, the nonpartisan agency assumes 9.6 million jobs will be created in the next four years. (This is a revision downward; CBO had estimated 11 million in January.)

But Moody’s Analytics, in an August forecast, predicts 12 million jobs will be created by 2016, no matter who is president. And Macroeconomic Advisors in April also predicted a gain of 12.3 million jobs.

In other words, this is a fairly safe bet by Romney, even if he has a somewhat fuzzy plan for action. We have often noted that presidents are often at the mercy — or the beneficiary — of broad economic trends, and Romney’s pledge appears to be an effort to take advantage of that.

So, given those numbers, does Mitt Romney have a "plan" to create jobs? I suppose sitting on your hands doing nothing constitutes a plan, but reaping the benefits of something that's going to happen anyway isn't actually "creating" anything. This is a brand new, shiny lie. Romney has a plan to create jobs in the same way that I have a plan to create a sunrise tomorrow. His "plan" is merely to take credit for something he didn't do.

So yeah, the whole speech was bland and tasteless, despite being seasoned with a few lies and the promise to take credit for something he wouldn't be responsible for. If this is any indication of how he's going to do in the debates (Mitt's Republican debate opponents have been idiots and lunatics, so you can't measure future performances by those), he's heading into a bloodbath.

Romney's really going to have to crank it up a notch and I think he may be at full volume already. He just may not have it in him -- even with the help of lies.


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Ryan Offers Lies to Those Who Demand Lies

I was going to start off by saying that Paul Ryan's speech at the Republican Convention last night proves that Team Romney's got nothing. But that wouldn't exactly be on the money. Ryan managed to spend a half hour attacking Obama, so it would be more accurate to say that Paul Ryan's speech proved that Team Romney has nothing true. You can blow a half hour on lies, an hour on lies, or -- as Mitt Romney himself has proven -- a few months on lies. The amount of time you can spend lying is limited only by your imagination. So, gun to my head demanding I say something nice about Romney-Ryan: they've got a lot of imagination.

The biggest, most obvious, most ridiculous lie was that Barack Obama promised to keep open a Wisconsin auto plant that's shuttered to this day. Of course, the problem is that Obama never made that promise and that the plant closed during the Bush administration.

Not even Fox News can get fully behind this steaming pile of BS. In a piece titled "Paul Ryan's speech in 3 words," Fox's Sally Kohn describes the Ryan speech as "dazzling," "deceiving," and "distracting." You might've noticed that only 33% of those descriptors are positive.

I find myself asking a rhetorical question I ask so often when talking about Republicans; how good can Team Romney's arguments be when they have to lie to support them? They should stand on their own, without embellishment. But they can only stand if they're planted deep, deep in BS. One thing's for certain, Ryan's a good fit for Romney. When they handed Paul Ryan that speech, he knew the timeline of the GM plant -- it's in his hometown. Anyone else would've protested that they'd look like a liar and a fool, but that's only a worry that troubles those capable of shame. Ryan, like his new boss, is apparently shameless.

"The sanctimonious V.P. nominee seems to have forgotten the Ninth Commandment: 'Thou shalt not lie,'" writes Joan Walsh. "Ryan believes he can say anything and get away with it."

That's because, with a certain segment guaranteed to vote Republican, he can. They already believe that Obama's a secret Kenya Muslim Marxist terrorist mole planning to hand America over to the New World Order. They'll believe anything, so long as it sounds like something Rush Limbaugh would say. Because they are -- to a large extent -- nihilists who don't care about the truth. The rest are just gullible.

But it's the former who are the danger to the country -- and those are the ones Ryan's speech was aimed directly toward. It's a widely accepted fact that this will be a "turnout election," with very few undecided voters. The side that gets their base riled up and out the door is seen as the favorite to win. The GOP base just wants to hear damning indictments with a Sarah Palin-like connection to fact. They aren't arguments, they're trolling. They don't care about truth, they just applaud statements most likely to insult liberals.

The Washington Post editorial board writes that Ryan's "speech that was part introduction of himself and his small-town origins, part testimonial to his running mate and -- in largest part -- a slashing and, in many elements, misleading indictment of President Obama as both a spent force and a threat to American freedom. Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama have starkly different visions about the role of government, but to caricature the president’s vision as 'a government-planned life, where everything is free but us' insults voters who surely know better."

This isn't quite true. There where plenty of people listening to that speech who know better. And they aren't insulted because they just don't care.


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Romney's Path to Victory Paved with Racism

Klan of ferris wheelAnd things are off to a rousing start at the Republican convention.


Two people were removed from the Republican National Convention Tuesday after they threw nuts at an African-American CNN camera operator and said, "This is how we feed animals."

Multiple witnesses observed the exchange and RNC security and police immediately removed the two people from the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The convention released a statement saying, "Two attendees tonight exhibited deplorable behavior. Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated."

First, this once again confirms what is becoming a pretty solid belief with me -- that a lot of people join the Republican Party because they think it gives them permission to be absolute jerks. And the reason is that it does. You just can't be so obvious about it.

Second, the covert racist nature of Republican politics and Mitt Romney's campaign is beginning to spill over into overt racist actions and statements by Republicans. And this will probably become a trend.

The racist nature of the GOP campaign was admitted to earlier this week, when a Republican strategist all but spilled the beans to Ron Brownstein of NationalJournal.

[Jonathan Chait:]

A Republican strategist said something interesting and revealing on Friday, though it largely escaped attention in the howling gusts of punditry over Mitt Romney’s birth certificate crack and a potential convention-altering hurricane. The subject was a Ron Brownstein story outlining the demographic hit rates each party requires to win in November. To squeak out a majority, Mitt Romney probably needs to win at least 61 percent of the white vote — a figure exceeding what George H.W. Bush commanded over Michael Dukakis in 1988. The Republican strategist told Brownstein, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this” — “this” being a near total reliance on white votes to win a presidential election.

Chait writes that Romney's and the Republicans' messaging is aimed squarely at older white voters. "You'll be safe from our assault on America's social safety net," they tell white seniors. "The Ryan plan doesn't touch anyone over 55. We're going after welfare and Medicaid -- their assistance. Your assistance is safe in our hands."

According to Chait, Republicans "promise to hold their disproportionately old, white base harmless and impose the entire brunt of their ambitious downsizing of government on young, poor, and disproportionately nonwhite Democratic constituencies."

Of course, these are the tactics of the rational -- if immoral -- players in this campaign. The irrational players are the base, the chumps, the morons who throw peanuts at black people. And they're a problem for the GOP, because they're also ideologues.

Ideologues don't modulate. They believe they're absolutely, 100% correct. They believe their own lies and tell them freely. And when those lies are insulting, then they do what Chris Christie did last night -- they call them "hard truths." The peanut throwers seem to think that someone needs to put these black people -- who are all on welfare and who all steal tax money from white people -- in their place. As they were walked out of the hall by security for being too obvious, they probably grinned like the heroes they no doubt believe they are.

Of course, that's the problem for the Republicans and Romney. It's hard to get the shameless to be cautious. The dopes keep opening their mouths and letting all the stupid leak out.

This was what killed the last GOP campaign, the inability of the Republican base to not say what's on their mind. McCain/Palin rallies turned into lynch mobs, as the hatred and panic the candidates and the party had stoked got away from them.

That failed strategy seems to be the same one Romney's running now (currently without the "pals around with terrorists" BS, but the campaign is still relatively young). Except this time will have to be worse. In order for it to work, they've really got to peg the needle. McCain won 55% of the white vote, but it wasn't enough. Before him, Bush won 58% and it was barely enough. Romney needs 61% of the white vote for the same strategy to work, so Republicans are leaving no stone unturned in making this "white people vs. the world."

Expect more of the lynch mob campaign rallies -- only this time expect the racism to be much, much more overt.


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Four Years of Hatred and Lies Bear Fruit

Given the news, you have to wonder what terrorists, if any, are at this year's Republican National Convention. Gawker is reporting that a certain Isaac Aguigui attended the 2008 Republican Convention as a page. So who's Isaac Aguigui?

He's one of the leaders of this:

[The Atlantic:]

In a disturbing report out of Georgia, prosecutors say four U.S. soldiers plotted to overthrow the government and assassinate President Obama. Details remain slim about the case, but the AP's Russ Bynum says the soldiers allegedly bought $87,000 worth of "guns and bomb-making materials and plotted to take over Fort Stewart, bomb targets in nearby Savannah and Washington state, as well as assassinate the president." The plot was apparently uncovered in relation to a murder case surrounding the killing of former soldier Michael Roark and his girlfriend Tiffany York in December. On Monday, Pfc. Michael Burnett, one of the accused soldiers, plead guilty to manslaughter and gang charges in the murder case. "Burnett told a Long County judge that Roark, who had just left the Army, knew of the militia group's plans and was killed because he was 'a loose end,'" reports Bynum.

...In Washington state... the group plotted to bomb a dam and poison the state’s apple crop. Ultimately, prosecutors said, the militia’s goal was to overthrow the government and assassinate the president.

We remember what the 2008 campaign was like, right? A respectful but vigorous debate of the virtues of two competing plans for America, put forward in rational terms that treated Americans like adults capable of... Oh, who am I kidding? It was like this:

[Frank Rich, 2008:]

If you think way back to the start of this marathon campaign, back when it seemed preposterous that any black man could be a serious presidential contender, then you remember the biggest fear about Barack Obama: a crazy person might take a shot at him.


“I’ve got the best protection in the world, so stop worrying,” Obama reassured his supporters. Eventually the country got conditioned to his appearing in large arenas without incident (though I confess that the first loud burst of fireworks at the end of his convention stadium speech gave me a start). In America, nothing does succeed like success. The fear receded.

Until now. At McCain-Palin rallies, the raucous and insistent cries of “Treason!” and “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” and “Off with his head!” as well as the uninhibited slinging of racial epithets, are actually something new in a campaign that has seen almost every conceivable twist. They are alarms. Doing nothing is not an option.

For the right, doing anything different was not an option. The right hasn't moderated their messaging since then. If you listen to rightwing talk radio and read wingnut blogs, you know that Barack Obama is an illegal alien, a Marxist, a terrorist, a Black Panther-type who's destroying America with Socialism. He's a big gay-, feminist-, Marxist-atheist-, and abortion-loving Muslim fundamentalist, because in rightwing circles such contradictions in propaganda are ignored.

And now, after four years of this insane, paranoid BS, two people are dead and four are arrested in a plot to kill the president, poison thousands, flood thousands more, and stage a coup. Weird huh? It's almost like all that hateful BS comes with consequences.

Prosecutors are calling those consequences "domestic terrorism."


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Someone Rumored

Have you heard it yet?
When The Man Comes Around
For the date is set
So Send In The Clowns

As all of Heaven whispers
The clowns wear such frowns
And damn he should have kissed her
All her clothes fall down

Then it makes the evening news
Don’t they all say wow?
But they thought they knew
Ask about it now

Click, click, he’s Someone Rumored
Who once loved but just knows he knew her

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Number One Stop

Isn’t this the number one stop?
But two is not a winner
And I’m more than a beginner
This just happens a lot
Can’t be what I’m not
So what if I’m a sinner
If it makes me a grinner
Wanna know what makes me hot

Sing with me, “Girls, Girls, Girls”
Sex and horror, my new gods
Top of the world Ma
In my pocket, the whole wide world
Show me what I got
I’m headed for that number one spot

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Reflected Human

When will my REFLECTION show?
It never will you know
There is no reason to believe
As if you were helping me
But I’m no longer blind
How I use to mind
What I once did see
And so you laugh hehe

COLLECTION of such thoughts and fears
Leaving me broken, left with my tears
So I’m shattered, splattered, and misconstrued
Is that what I want… don’t want to be you
Be free to choose, I have a voice
Have to remember, I still have a choice
Put the pictures away, one after another
Black or white… I’m not a color

The future, the past, RECOLLECTION some
No the present, isn’t fun
Because I never will forget
Angels still say, “Not Yet”
All that will become fable
Say goodbye, to Turning Tables
Don’t have to clean my plate
Because before it’s too late

Some AFFECTION must be shown
Right down to these bones
I’ll Say what I need to say
Right now, if just for today
To that thing in the mirror
Who draws ever nearer
Know that I love you
Could it be so true?

For there will be OBJECTIONS
They come from all directions
With anything we could be
They will never be happy
We’ll show them who we are
If it breaks a million hearts
I don’t want to be them
Only reflected human

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Lesson 133 ~Retaining Reinvention~

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lesson 133 ~Retaining Reinvention~

Hey Lady Lu…
How many times a day do I think “who am I” the answer is does it even matter anymore; I exist and still it returns to “Who You Are” What about the “Man In the Mirror” it’s not as if I haven’t wanted to change and yet I return to the limbo of being and becoming… nothing.

I suppose it might help to know how I got to this point and all I can tell you is it starts with The Abomination; as much as I hate to give that thing any credit he went “Inception” on my ass and I can’t shake the idea. What about who I want to be… Luna you don’t know how badly I wish I could see the monster because the monster has to be better than this; famous or infamous like I told you before it doesn’t really matter. The last few days however still show me for what I am, scared, pathetic, and weak; simply the thought of using the phone…

I think I told you before about this time I was in high school; for maybe a span of five minutes I was free, a normal everyday high school senior… why couldn’t I stay that way? What about when I was at work and those bitches were talking about me and I just wanted to hate the damn world and everyone in it and yet I walk around with a plastered smile and I took this test the on The Walking Dead the other day and it said I was Rick huh, my world is full of “Space Junk”. Finally there’s the Local Author’s Expo coming up and I have no books, no supplies, and nothing else; should I even bother going; I am such a “Loser” Luna.

So what have I learned today… maybe that I wish I couldn’t remember and to quit “Waiting On The World To Change” because it never will for me “Everyday Is Exactly The Same” For a final thought why do I want to remember, shouldn’t the goal be to forget, all of this Retaining Reinvention.


~Retaining Reinvention~

Memories of boos
And shoos
Yet I’m staying
For want of saying
Fuck you
Of course you knew
No need explaining

Like I could mention
Who I am
Don’t understand
My reinvention
If only I could see
Who I want to be

Copyright © 2011, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

If Only the Party Could Keep Republicans Away From Their Own Convention

Birther Tea Party protester
I'm about to write a sentence I never though anyone would ever write: I was reading an article in the New York Times and came across a quote from Dan Quayle that made a lot of sense.

“The Republican Party needs to re-establish its philosophy of the big tent with principles,” said Dan Quayle, the Republican former vice president. “The philosophy you hear from time to time, which is unfortunate, is one of exclusion rather than inclusion. You have to be expanding the base, expanding the party, because compared to the Democratic Party, the Republican Party is a minority party.”

Think the GOP is going to start being more friendly to gays, women, blacks, Latinos, Muslims, etc. any time soon? Yeah, me neither. Which means that the brain trust who currently identify the hot button issues for Republicans are dumber than Dan Quayle. That's quite an accomplishment -- and not a good one.

The article highlights the biggest problem facing the Republican Convention. No, it's not tropical storm Isaac. It's the fact that the average Republican voter might show up and spoil everything.

[Many GOP leaders] said they were concerned about the crosscurrents that have churned the party, particularly since the emergence of the Tea Party movement three years ago. And on Sunday, thousands who supported the presidential campaign of Representative Ron Paul of Texas rallied here to challenge what they view as business as usual among Republicans.

Some leaders expressed worry that the turn to contentious social issues in the days leading up to the Republican National Convention, where the party platform is likely to embrace a tough anti-abortion stance and strict curbs on immigration, could undercut the party’s need to broaden its appeal. Many of them said they feared it was hastening a march to becoming a smaller, older, whiter and more male party.

Part of the problem with the GOP voter lies in the way they see themselves. In the Wall Street Journal today, conservative pundit Michael Barone writes, "The core of the Republican Party throughout its history has been voters who are generally seen by themselves and by others as typical Americans -- but who by themselves don't constitute a majority of what has always been an economically, culturally and religiously diverse nation."

So the average GOP voters see themselves mainstream Americans -- but they aren't. When they "defend their values" (i.e., attack other Americans), they're actually contracting their base and causing themselves to lose ground, while perceiving their attacks as a defense of the ground they hold. In this sense -- and perhaps only in this sense -- they are conservatives. They want nothing to ever change and want those things that have changed to change back. In most other senses, they're mostly radical extremists.

So the Tea Party, which GOP leader after GOP leader identifies as the biggest problem in the NYT piece, see themselves as just average Americans. Everyone knows that President Obama's a secret Muslim Kenyan Marxist who wants to deliver the nation to UN world dictatorship by building a NAFTA superhighway. They actually believe this is the mainstream of American thought. So they don't censor themselves or modulate their message. They just go out and bellow "the truth" as they see it, secure in their certainty that everyone else will see it that way too.

So how do you keep people like that from making fools of themselves? You don't, because it's way too late for that. They've been fools for three years now. The best you can do is try to manage the chaos and hope for the best.

But the feverish base still has a lot of control here -- why else would there be a video tribute to Ron freakin' Paul? And what do they get in return for that tribute? Paul says he doesn't "fully endorse" Romney for President. So nothing, really.

And then there's the "Akin divide" -- with the not completely insane Republicans on one side and the nuts who think Todd Akin is absolutely right on the other. With a ridiculously strict ban on abortion written into the party's platform, the pro-Akin nuts are winning.

Republicans may yet be thankful for Isaac. By forcing them to cut one day from their convention, Republicans have reduced an embarrassing national display by 33%. It might've been wiser to cancel it altogether.


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Why Romney's Afraid of Abortion Questions

And that would be Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, affirming a point I made yesterday -- specifically, this one:

[Trying to spin it] is stupid. Either the [RNC's strict anti-abortion] plank means what it says or it doesn’t. If an “unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed,” then what the hell do rape or incest have to do with anything? If a woman is impregnated through rape, how is that not an “unborn child?” If a young teen is molested and made pregnant by Uncle Perv, how is the fetus not a person to whom “Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply?”

How can they create exceptions and remain consistent in their reasoning? They can’t. They can’t possibly. And they never meant to.

And now here's Ryan, applying exactly that lunatic logic. "I'm very proud of my pro-life record," Ryan explained in an interview, "and I've always adopted the idea that, the position that the method of conception doesn't change the definition of life." That is, if abortion is "killing a baby," then it doesn't make any difference how the patient got pregnant. Like Todd Akin, Ryan sees abortion as evil -- regardless of how pregnancy occurred. No exceptions for rape or incest.

Then Rep. Ryan goes on to dig in deeper; Mitt Romney's position on the issue goes pretty far -- but not far enough for him. "And the president, in this case the future President Mitt Romney, has exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother," Ryan said, "which is a vast improvement of where we are right now." In an earlier interview, Ryan called Romney's position a "good step in the right direction."

Like Todd Akin and all the other anti-abortion nuts in the GOP, Paul Ryan is merely being consistent in his reasoning. Republicans can't make the arguments they make and have people come to any other conclusion. If abortion is murder, then it doesn't matter how the woman got pregnant -- i.e., "the method of conception doesn't change the definition of life." They dig themselves a logical hole which forces them to hold the most extreme and unpopular position on the issue.

Steve Benen makes a very good point here: "Why is Mitt Romney trying to shut down media discussion of this topic? Probably because of answers like these."

Mitt Romney won't allow questions about abortion or Todd Akin because someone (read "Paul Ryan") might slip up and say what they actually think. And, in doing so, they demonstrate that it's not possible to honestly believe that life begins at conception and that abortion should be allowed in cases of rape and incest. It's just not logically consistent and someone who says they hold both positions has to be -- absolutely has to be -- lying about at least one of them.

The problem with the right's anti-abortion arguments is that, if you spend too much time explaining them, it leads you into some very dark territory -- a place where women are forced to give birth to rapists' children against their will, because a clump of cells that doesn't even qualify as an organism is considered a "person" by people who confuse philosophy with fact and religious faith with medical science.

It's not a pretty or popular argument, so best to just ignore it and hope everyone gets tired of asking about it.



GOP Fights Akin-Like Lunatics of Their Own Making

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)
Todd Akin has become a real headache for the GOP. But there are more of these headaches in the pipe. And those headaches are self-inflicted, like a hangover after an ideological bender. Observe:


In a local television interview, Hillsborough County (New Hampshire) sheriff candidate Frank Szabo said that he values the life of an unborn fetus so much that, when it came to elective and late-term abortions, he’d be willing to kill for it:

But Szabo may have inflamed the issue further when asked if he would use deadly force to prevent an abortion.

“I would respond specifically by saying that if someone is under threat, a full-grown human being, if they’re under threat, what should the sheriff do? Everything in their power to prevent them from being harmed,” he said.

When pressed about what he would do if he learned that a doctor was about to perform an elective abortion, Szabo replied he would do what it took to prevent that from happening.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Well, I would hope that it wouldn’t come to that, as with any situation where someone is in danger, but again, specifically talking about elective abortions and late-term abortions, that is an act that needs to be stopped.

As with the Todd Akin scandal, Republicans are distancing themselves from the candidate. But can they really disown the logic here? To an extent, Akin's thinking was entirely logical, given the premises he believes. No, not the whole built-in anti-rape birth control thing, but the idea that abortion is an evil even in cases of rape or incest. If a fetus is a person and abortion is murder, then why should the circumstance of conception make any difference? Why should a "child" be punished for the acts of their father?

Akin is not outside the Republican mainstream -- as Mitt Romney's running mate Paul Ryan so handily demonstrates. As with Akin's, Szabo's sin isn't in holding his position, but in drawing attention to it. While shooting abortion doctors may not be within the mainstream of GOP thought, the arguments that makes it an entirely logical position to hold are. As they try to cast people like Szabo as a lone nutjob, they write the argument that abortion is literally murder into their party platform. Until they get their own arguments back into reality with the rest of us, they're going to continue to have people following their reasoning and losing their damned minds in the process -- oh look, there's another one now.

"If you want to marginalize pols like Todd Akin, don't keep saying you are absolutely certain that as a matter of divine, natural and constitutional law, human life begins at conception," writes Ed Kilgore. In other words, don't try to have your cake and eat it too. If you don't want people to come to insane conclusions, don't set up irrational logical equations that lead directly to those conclusions.

Republicans can try to distance themselves from Akin and Szabo all they want, but the party is guaranteed to keep producing them -- and that puts the GOP brand on political crazies.


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Romney's Campaign of Lies Meets Honest-to-Goodness Journalism

Packages of bologna
How long can the media avoid reporting that Mitt Romney's campaign is built on lies? Apparently, for the period of time beginning with Romney's campaign launch to just about now. Check out the opening paragraphs of the Associated Press piece, out today:

Mitt Romney claims he's got a winner with his criticism that President Barack Obama is giving welfare recipients a free ride. Never mind that aspects of his argument against the Democrat are factually inaccurate.

Those flaws aside, Romney's team is pressing on with the charge that the president ended a provision requiring welfare recipients to work. Romney aides insist the argument is helping them gain ground with middle-class voters anxious about the economy and independents who see Obama's welfare changes as an indication that he is a typical liberal, not a moderate. But the campaign offers little evidence to back up those assertions.

Obama's team, in turn, says Romney's welfare charges are dishonest. Numerous independent fact-checkers, including The Associated Press, have determined that Romney and his surrogates are distorting the facts.

This looks suspiciously like journalism. The average media outlet tends to avoid calling liars liars, instead reducing truth to a "he said/she said" matter of opinion; "Mitt Romney says Pres. Obama's giving welfare recipients a free ride. The president disagrees. Big debate! Controversy! Perhaps harsh words! Who's right? Who cares?"

And this is the AP -- a wire service. That means it's being republished all over the country. Team Obama is no doubt happy with this reporting, but so should anyone be who's been concerned with the decline of the quality of American journalism during the past few decades. Whether this will be an ongoing trend is to be seen, but it's reason to hope for the best.

And what a blow it would be to the Romney campaign to suddenly have reporters citing facts. Mitt's been able to get away with quite a bit by relying on the media skittishness about calling out lies. As a result, his lying has reached Michele Bachmann/Sean Hannity/Rush Limbaugh levels -- i.e., it's depressingly constant.

We exist in a world filled with verifiable facts. Most of the media seems to live in some other world. In that world, true and false aren't logical values, they're buzzwords thrown around by politicians looking to put a positive or negative spin on a story. There are no facts, just opinions -- and all opinions are treated with equal validity.

Maybe it's the Todd Akin story that finally broke the seal on truth-based reporting for the AP. It was like an inoculation; Akin's statement was so ridiculously untrue that it awakened journalism antibodies, which then protected the host reporters from looking like complete idiots. You can't write, "Rep. Todd Akin believes ladies have built-in emergency contraceptives. Maybe he's right, maybe he's wrong. Who even knows?" without looking as astonishingly stupid as Akin. At a certain point, pure shame and self-respect has to make it impossible to resort to the "he said/she said" model.

One story doesn't mean the plague has ended. The AP themselves may relapse back into laziness and cowardice. But there is hope. Truth may yet prove newsworthy.


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Which Abortion Position Will Romney Finally Settle On?

Akin says, 'You're telling me women don't secrete their own birth control?'
Party platforms are mostly BS. They've become a way for political parties to throw the base a bone. The GOP had a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage nationally as a plank, for example, but this never became a serious effort. They took on the "problem" state by state, in a way that attempted to maximize GOP voter turnout.

So it's tempting to dismiss reports of a certain plank in the GOP's 2012 platform as red meat for the chumps. We''ll call it "the Todd Akin plank."


The Republican Party is once again set to enshrine into its official platform support for "a human life amendment" to the Constitution that would outlaw abortion without making explicit exemptions for rape or incest, according to draft language of the platform obtained exclusively by CNN late Monday.

"Faithful to the 'self-evident' truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed," the draft platform declares. "We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children."

This runs counter to Mitt Romney's supposed position that abortion should be legal in instances of rape -- I say "supposed position" because Romney swaps policy stances as often as he changes his socks.

Mitt's current position on abortion is actually his fourth. As a senatorial candidate and later liberal Governor of Massachusetts, Romney was vocally pro-choice. When it became clear that a pro-choice candidate could never be nominated for the presidency by today's Republican party, Romney became as anti-abortion as it was possible to be, endorsing the very constitutional amendment spelled out in the plank above. As always, Romney's position depended on what his audience wanted to hear, so he also took to saying that the issue ought to be left up to the states -- which contradicts the amendment position, since a constitutional amendment would ban abortion nationwide, states be damned.

Now, Romney says he'd make an exception for rape -- which also contradicts his earlier support for the "human life amendment." You've got to write this stuff down to keep it straight.

As I've said, Romney's position depends on what his audience wants to hear. Right now, his audience is national, the nation is outraged at Todd Akin, so Romney is very, very disappointed with Rep. Akin as well. But at the convention, Mitt's audience will be red meat Republicans -- many of whom are so "pro-life" that they'd execute doctors for performing abortions (yeah, I'm not sure they actually understand what "pro" means when applied to the word "life") and many of whom believe Akin is a hero. Whose butt do you think he'll spend most of his time kissing then?

Again, normally a political party's planks are a joke -- but normally a party nominates someone who's demonstrated even the tiniest shred of leadership. Mitt Romney has not. Romney's idea of "leadership" is to be led, either by public opinion or political pressure or both. What he says now -- what he promises now -- is completely irrelevant. The word of Mitt Romney is as strong a bond as wet Kleenex.

Mitt Romney believes what Mitt Romney is told to believe, so pay attention to what the GOP base are telling him.


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A Look Of Elsewhere

I am looking to another world
Should I care about the grass?
Just want to say At Last
Have I finally found a girl?
Let’s just say, she’ll give me a whirl
For my life’s task
Though some call it crass
She says “sure”

The Look of Love
There it is again
Behind the camera lens
Because this is enough
Cupid won’t play fair
A Look Of Elsewhere

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Reflective of Correction

No second coming or a resurrection
New direction with my reflection

Opposing me, every step of the way
I’ll be him, tomorrow, today
He looks and sees a memory
I look and see a destiny
That he and I, me and him
Are the beginning and the end
Just two beings caught in the light
But only I want what’s right

And what is right, he goes left
Difference between life and death
Am I right or is he wrong
Don’t ask me What’s Going On
Is what he says to me right now
I’m Gonna Make It, someway somehow
It’s all I reply and he ask why
Do I tell the truth or do I lie

What’s it like, on the Otherside
Not at all how I live mine
Opposites I think like hours
Only imagine all the Power
Though I fear he has the will
My body’s cold but warmth he feels
Loving Just Another Girl
While he has the whole wide world

A missing beat, his heart is gone
But he looks forward to the dawn
Money, power, women, galore
Now tell me what I’m living for
It gets better… but not today
Tell you what I need to say
The Man In The Mirror I want to be
Why you ask… he gets me

Survive, to thrive; just deny
For the wicked do not lie
If my want but to conquer
There is no more time to saunter
Being him you may call sin
Sex and horror… it begins

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

What’s So Wrong With Won

One man… alone on an island
Just me and this eye
For beautiful young women
Did I ever try?
Suppose I couldn’t lie
Now I’m walking on the sun
How’d I get so high
What’s so wrong with won?

Two… could you ever understand
Do not ask me why
When I’m already banned
Once scared to fly
Not allowed to die
Ain’t I having fun
Your stares I do deny
What’s so wrong with won?

Three… to finally be a man
You’ve already said buh bye
A baby I did waah
Without you… what surprise
Have some cookies and my pie
My future I will run
What’s so wrong with won?

To you I won’t comply
Once poor and lonely son
Ask me who am I?
What’s so wrong with won?

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Lesson 132 ~Aisle On Stage~

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lesson 132 ~Aisle On Stage~

Hey Lady Lu…
When I was in my junior year of high school I found myself awaiting the horrible but inevitable facedown with a bully and I prayed, don’t ask me to who yet I prayed. I survived not because of God, didn’t have you back then, or because I won, I survived because it is simply what I do.

The days are coming Luna… the one that most concerns me at the moment is Friday, seven and a half hours no where to go and nowhere to hide… from people. There is also the Local Authors Expo and I’ll be surrounded but also alone; yes I know I am very confused. What’s the difference between the days, I haven’t the slightest clue like the difference between life and death and don’t I sound like a good little Christian now or not.

Continuing... Thursday, November 24, 2011

You know there is nothing happy about today… it’s Thanksgiving Day and I have survived the first of three bad days; as we both know tomorrow will be the worst out of the three. “Anxiety” Luna is truly killing me, this fear of people, getting fired, and my gospel of I Don’t Know and no I don’t mean like Bill Maher. A day off and all I can think about is my day on; you know how I think in the next five minutes everything is going to turn to shit, every five minutes gets me closer to the 430 where the world will be shit, running around like a chicken with my head cut off, like I could ever be a “Rooster”.

So what have I learned in the past few days, honestly that there is a difference between knowing and the truth… I don’t know a damn thing and the truth is I rather not be here. As for my final thought… this is Hell and I can’t escape standing around like an idiot in the Aisle On Stage.


~Aisle On Stage~

Smile and ACT
Holla Back
In fact

Be someone else
Other than yourself
As Jesus was nailed
Was that an epic fail?

To PLAY this farce
Break my heart
Labeled stupid not smart
And my art

These words and phrases
Shocked or amazed yet
Not fazed
I’m not saved

From the want of MOTIVATION
Forced exaltation
I’ll lock myself in the basement
Escaping my own nation

Still I’m tired
No closer to my desire
Wanting to expire
But not get fired

So the CURTAIN rises
And the surprise is
“Can I help you Miss”
“A lovely day this is”

Who am I?
Trying to abide
Attempting to survive
Why can’t I cry?

Because the SHOW
The more you know…
Yet I continue to go
Shovel those coals
Never reaching my goals
All these damned souls

Copyright © 2011, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Being 'Pro-Life' Means Lying Very, Very Easily

Pro-choice protest
When Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri said that it was almost impossible for a woman to get pregnant from "legitimate rape," he was repeating a lie that's been around for a while now. The "pro-life" camp has always been the "pro-lie" camp. Whether it be linking abortion to breast cancer and depression or claiming that nine months of pregnancy -- with all the medical expense that goes with it -- is merely "inconvenient," they've always lied without hesitation.

And there's a reason why they lie so easily -- they believe they're 100%, absolutely correct. Further, they believe their position is endorsed by their god and, through a simplistic process of elimination, assume it's opposed by their devil. The enemies of the anti-abortion movement are the allies and minions of Satan, so any tactic -- no matter how dishonest and shameful -- is smiled upon by Jesus. This is not a political debate, this is war. Nothing is off the table. Deceit is an acceptable and legitimate tactic in war. Especially when that war is as fundamental as a battle of good vs. evil. If ever the ends justified the means, it's in a cosmic struggle for the fate of the universe.

All of which makes statements made by "pro-life" politicians worthy of a grain of salt, as Akin's comment so clearly demonstrates. If you believed a lie could save America from it's worst and most dangerous enemy, you'd do it. So will they.

But in terms of utility, it turns out that the "legitimate rape" line wasn't the wisest lie. Legal abortion in cases of rape and incest -- which the hardcore anti-abortion folks oppose -- is actually a very popular idea. Even among those who otherwise oppose abortion. And dismissing rape is never a smart thing to do in any context. This may very well cost Akin an election that he was winning just days ago.


No two controversies are alike, and we’ll have to wait for polling data to see what impact this has on the race. But based on some loose historical precedents, the remarks could be enough to swing the polls to Ms. McCaskill.

In August 2006, Senator George Allen, then the Republican incumbent in Virginia, was videotaped using the term “macaca” at a rally, which was interpreted by some as a racial epithet against a staff member for his Democratic opponent, James Webb.

The polls quickly shifted against Mr. Allen. He had led by an average of 12 points in the three polls conducted just before his comments. But his lead was whittled down to just two points in the three polls conducted just after the remark, and Mr. Allen eventually lost the race by about 10,000 votes.

Akin's "Macaca moment?" A lot of Republicans believe so and are calling on him to drop out of the race before he does any more damage to the party or the anti-abortion cause.

So now the smart tactic is to look at all the outrage and denounce the lie. And if you have to lie in that denouncement, well... the soul of America is at stake, so the Lord will forgive you. Lying about lying can get confusing, but with practice you get the hang of it.

[New York Times:]

A campaign statement that neither Mitt Romney nor Representative Paul D. Ryan opposes abortion in rape cases contradicts Mr. Ryan’s earlier position on the issue.


“Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,’’ a Romney campaign spokeswoman, Amanda Henneberg, wrote.

Although Mr. Romney has stated this position before, Mr. Ryan, a seven-term congressman from Wisconsin, has opposed abortion in the case of rape. During his first run for the seat in 1998, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that he opposed abortions in all cases except to save the life of the mother.

But a hypothetical Vice President Ryan wouldn't be calling the shots, right? What about Pres. Romney? That's a little harder to figure out.

[Mother Jones:]

In 2007, Romney told ABC News he supported a "Human Life Amendment" to the Constitution that would "make it clear that the 14th Amendment's protections"—equal protection under the law, for example—"apply to unborn children." The proposed amendment, long a part of the Republican Party platform, is the national equivalent of the state-level personhood measures that have proliferated in recent months. Both the state and federal versions of the proposals would extend legal rights to early term fetuses, effectively making all abortions illegal. Voters in Mississippi considered, and rejected, a ballot initiative on the matter on November 8, but activists recently launched similar efforts in Wisconsin and Georgia.

Here's a shocker -- that's a flip-flop for Romney, who previously said he believed "that abortion should be safe and legal in this country" and vocally supported Roe v. Wade. By the first statement was made when he was trying to out-liberal Ted Kennedy in a run for his Massachusetts senate seat and the support for Roe came when he was playing liberal as the governor of that same state. I think it's been well-established that Romney's most deeply held convictions are the product of determining what is most likely to get applause, so that casts doubt on those positions. Throw in the propensity of anti-choicers to lie and Romney's position on post-rape abortion becomes a complete mystery.

The best we can do when trying to figure out Mitt's real position on all this is to make an educated guess; was he lying back then or is he lying now?  Since he chose a tireless opponent of abortion in all circumstances to be a heartbeat away from his presidency and has expressed support for a "Human Life Amendment," I think it's safe to assume that protecting Roe hasn't been foremost in his thinking.

I'm going to go ahead and make what I consider the safer assumption that he's lying now. The issue's too important to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that -- for perhaps the first time in his entire political career -- Mitt Romney is not pandering with an eye on poll numbers.


[image source]


Ryan and Medicare: A Recipe for Increased Costs

Doctor sees patients
Against the background of Mitt Romney's continuing attacks on Barack Obama and Medicare, PolitiFact checked a statement by Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter. "You know, I heard Mitt Romney deride the $700 billion cuts in Medicare that the president achieved through health care reform," Cutter told Face the Nation. "You know what those cuts are? It’s taking subsidies away from insurance companies, taking rebates away from prescription drug company. Is that what Mitt Romney wants to protect? And interestingly enough Paul Ryan protected those cuts in his budget."

Not surprisingly -- since they also rated Romney's statements on this subject "mostly false" - PolitiFact rated this as "true."

But none of this is extremely surprising. It's a well-established fact that the Romney campaign is built on a mountain of lies. And this is yet another -- PolitiFact goes further than Cutter and argues that it's dishonest to even call the amount a cut. "Well, there are cuts and then there are CUTS. Neither Obama nor his health care law literally 'cut' a dollar from the Medicare program’s budget," the editors write. "Rather, the health care law instituted a number of changes to reduce the growth of Medicare costs. At the time the law was passed, those reductions amounted to $500 billion over the next 10 years."

OK, so Mitt's lying. Mitt always lies. If I wrote a "Mitt caught in a lie!" post every time Mitt was caught in a lie, it would actually become boring -- like starting every day trying to figure out a new way to say, "The sun came up again!" It's not even news anymore, it's just who the guy is.

No, more interesting is where the bulk of the spending reductions come from, because it demonstrates the failure of the sort of ideas Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan embrace. Observe:

What kind of spending reductions are we talking about? They were mainly aimed at insurance companies and hospitals, not beneficiaries. The law makes significant reductions to Medicare Advantage, a subset of Medicare plans run by private insurers. Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, and the idea was that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But in recent years the plans have actually cost more than traditional Medicare. So the health care law scales back the payments to private insurers.

Paul Ryan's plan to replace Medicare with a voucher program starts to look pretty familiar, doesn't it? The idea with the Ryan plan is to bring down cost by introducing competition into what is currently a singlepayer system. Turns out that doesn't work out very well. And why should it?

The problem that Ryan and Bush had was that they didn't consider a scientific discovery called "math." Medicare as it is now works pretty simply: Medicare pays the doctor. Under Ryan's plan, Medicare pays a for-profit insurance company that pays the doctor. In other words, it introduces a completely unnecessary middleman into the equation. And that middleman has to get his beak wet. Of course costs will go up. How could they do anything other than go up? Medicare doesn't need to make a profit, so it can provide coverage at cost. A private insurer has to see profit, so the price of coverage is cost plus profit. For the record, cost plus anything is more than just cost.

Yet this is the sort of thing Republicans always want to sell you. When they talk about vouchers, it means they want to introduce profit to a system where it doesn't exist and increase costs. Ditto privatization. The idea isn't to help you, the idea is to help the corporations that would make the profit. And they make that profit from your pocket. It's a scam, pure and simple, and you're the mark.

Not only are Mitt Romney's attacks on Obama over Medicare depressingly familiar in their dishonesty, but so is the Republican alternative. There is nothing Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan are saying about Medicare that is remotely honest.

Keep that in mind in November.


[image source]


So When's Ryan Going to Bring All This Supposed 'Substance?'

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan
Well thank God Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan to be his running mate. Now we can finally have a debate of substance. This has been the media's line -- as they've gone straight to covering Ryan's workout schedule. But don't blame the media entirely. They're only half-wrong on this one. They're being forced to cover a physical fitness infomercial because Paul Ryan is a man largely without substance. He pretends to be a serious, wonkish deepthinker -- and the media has inexplicably fallen for it -- but when you start examining the facts and cracking the numbers, the most substantial thing about Paul Ryan is his status as a P90X success story.

For example, consider this headline from Talking Points Memo -- "Paul Ryan Slams His Own Medicare Cuts In Ohio":

Speaking at his alma mater Miami University in Ohio, Paul Ryan slammed President Obama for adopting Medicare cuts that, until last week, were openly supported by Ryan himself.

“The president, I’m told, is talking about Medicare today,” Ryan said. “We want this debate.”

Ryan went on to say that “what I don’t think he’ll be telling people is that the president took $716 billion from the Medicare program — he raided it to pay for Obamacare.”

Like Romney, Ryan has pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which included $716 billion in savings taken from health care providers, not seniors’ benefits. But unlike Romney, Ryan wrote and passed two Republican budgets that kept the cuts in place.

The lesson here is just because you throw around the lingo doesn't make you an expert. If you use "string theory" and "special relativity" like buzzphrases, you're still not an astrophysicist. Paul Ryan can talk about growth and spending all he wants, but it doesn't make him an economist.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is playing the same game, telling us his Medicare plan is "the same if not identical" to Ryan's. This is yet another in a long series of polar reversals (i.e., "flip-flops") from Mittens.

So Barack Obama would trim $716 billion from Medicare and this is the worst thing ever! Meanwhile, Ryan and Romney would both cut Medicare by $716 billion and this is the height of responsibility. Starting to see the problem? This isn't substance -- it's not even close -- this is weak and inept spin. Steve Benen encapsulates the whole story down to five points:

1. President Obama extends new benefits to seniors on Medicare and finds savings in the system to strengthen Medicare's finances.

2. Paul Ryan approves of Obama's Medicare savings and incorporates them into his own budget plan.

3. Mitt Romney endorses Ryan's plan, which includes Obama's Medicare savings.

4. Romney changes his mind, and tries to argue he's for and against the Medicare savings at the same time (for them in Ryan's plan, against then in Obama's law).

And finally 5. Ryan denounces the Medicare savings he supports.

"So to review," Benen writes, "the Romney/Ryan ticket is for and against Obama's Medicare savings, for and against including Obama's Medicare savings in the Republican budget, for and against extending benefits for seniors, and for and against strengthening Medicare's finances -- all at the same time."

You'd get more substance and consistency from a chicken with her head cut off. And keep in mind that the press considers Ryan one of the very most serious conservatives out there. Depressingly, they're probably right; the current crop of GOP members are more interested in propaganda, spin, and winning partisan battles than governing. Ryan goes the extra mile by dressing up his BS in numbers he's largely pulled out of his butt, which makes him an economic genius by comparison. But when push comes to shove, we aren't going to get any substance out of these guys.


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Voter ID and How the Media is Failing Democracy

voter ID meme image
Here's some bad news; American democracy just took another hit.

[New York Times:]

A Pennsylvania judge on Wednesday refused to grant an injunction on a new voter identification law that Democrats say could harm President Obama’s re-election chances by unfairly targeting minorities, college students and others in a key swing state.

The decision by Robert Simpson, a commonwealth court judge, clears the way for Pennsylvania to require voters in the Nov. 6 general election to produce photo identification before they are allowed to cast ballots.

This isn't entirely bad news -- or, at least, not as bad as its being presented. The odds of this affecting the election outcome are slim to none. Pennsylvania's RealClearPolitics polling average is Obama +7, with the most recent poll putting the president up 11 points. At this moment, to call Pennsylvania a "swing state" -- as so many are doing -- looks like an abuse of the term. Romney's looking pretty doomed here and voter ID can't possibly disenfranchise enough people to make the difference for him (Nate Silver estimates the law would skew results 2.4%).

Still, that's cold comfort for those who will be disenfranchised. Republicans can stop pretending they're all about freedom and limited government now; they insist that a right can be denied by a government bureaucrat demanding the proper paperwork. That's not a right, that's a privilege -- and in a free society, voting is a right. Republicans are most definitely not the friends of freedom they pretend to be. They're anti-patriots who are the enemy of freedom. And the Tea Party types who think they're patriots are either chumps, dopes, or -- if they really understand what the GOP is doing -- as anti-American as the party they worship. If you just read that and are horribly, horribly offended by it, know that I can't adequately express how little I care. You're not worthy of that respect, so quit waving around your hankie and faint already.

The problem facing Democrats on this issue seems to be mostly a media unwilling to explain the issue to voters. The Washington Post polled voter ID and found it very popular among voters -- with one important caveat:

A new Washington Post poll found that 74 percent of respondents strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that voters should be required to show a government-issued ID when voting.

However, 51 percent of the randomly selected 2,047 adults surveyed nationally between July 18 and 29 said they had either heard not much or nothing at all about voter ID laws.

“From a public awareness standpoint, it’s pretty low awareness,” said Jon Cohen,
The Post’s director of polling. “We’re talking about under half of all American adults who have even heard something of this raging controversy.”

Let that sink in; less than half of all adults have even heard of the controversy surrounding voter ID laws. That is beyond awful. That's journalistic malpractice on an epic scale. You can't even blame the media's weak he said/she said approach to reporting, because the American public doesn't even know that "he" and "she" are arguing.

Democratic messaging on the issue could be better. You get the feeling that they aren't making as big a fuss as they should because they don't want to be seen as potential sore losers. They should be as riled up as they've ever been in history -- and they aren't. But the media really deserves the lion's share of the blame here. You can't have voters this poorly informed without something being very, very wrong with the information system.

Republicans may hate democracy, but the media seems pretty lukewarm to it. Which is stupid; without democracy to protect freedom, their industry fails.


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Selection of Ryan Has Many on the Right Almost as Worried as They Should Be

retiree protesters express concern for grandchildrenPart of the media consensus on Mitt Romney's choice of running mate seems to be that conservatives just love Paul Ryan to pieces. And that's true, up to a point. The Tea Party types think he's great, but they're reactionaries who measure a politician by the responses of liberals -- lefties hate him, so he must be OK. And, of course, the rightwing punditry likes him for similar reasons; liberals will fight this guy tooth and nail and conflict equals ratings.

But there's one group on the right who don't like Mitt Romney's choice at all. We'll call them "people who know what the hell they're talking about" or PWKWTHTTAs.


Away from the cameras, and with all the usual assurances that people aren’t being quoted by name, there is an unmistakable consensus among Republican operatives in Washington: Romney has taken a risk with Ryan that has only a modest chance of going right — and a huge chance of going horribly wrong.

In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives — old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike — the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election.

While many of these PWKWTHTTAs are genuinely excited to see someone as hard-right as on the ticket, Politico reports that "the more pessimistic strategists... think the Ryan pick is a disaster for the GOP. Many of these people don’t care that much about Romney -- they always felt he faced an improbable path to victory -- but are worried that Ryan’s vocal views about overhauling Medicare will be a millstone for other GOP candidates in critical House and Senate races."

At this point, I'd point out that the difference between a pessimist and a realists is dependent entirely on the context of history; i.e., a realist is a pessimist who's been proven right. And right now, the pessimists' arguments are looking pretty realistic. And the pessimists make up the bulk of the PWKWTHTTAs.

"There are a lot races that are close to the line we're not going to win now because they're going to battle out who's going to kill grandma first, ObamaCare or Paul Ryan's budget," a Republican strategist who works on congressional races told The Hill. "It could put the Senate out of reach. In the House it puts a bunch of races in play that would have otherwise been safe... It remains to be seen how much damage this causes, but my first blush is this is not good."

In any sane party, Paul Ryan would be considered toxic. His budget plans have been wildly unpopular and the party's response to that unpopularity has been as clueless as it's been inept. For example, when addressing the fact that seniors hate the Ryan Plan, pundits run straight to the fact that no one over 55 would affected by the Medicare privatization.

But that assumes that these seniors' concerns are entirely selfish -- i.e., quintessentially Republican. They're not. Seniors on Medicare have direct experience with the program's effect on a person's life. That Medicare will always be there for them is great -- but they want it to be there for their kids, too. And pointing out that Ryan's privatization scheme would only affect their children and grandchildren isn't the selling point that airheaded pundits seem to believe it should be.

And it's that that may be the largest problem Paul Ryan brings to the ticket. It's not the Republican plan itself, it's the tendency of the plan's defenders to completely miss the point. When some runs the "no one under 55 will be affected" defense, they're actually confirming some of people's worst fears. After all, if the plan were so earthshatteringly awesome, why would seniors be exempt? What pundits and politicians believe is a selling point is actually perceived as evidence that it's a lousy deal. And good evidence, if you bother to apply logic.

As much as concerns about the unpopularity of the Ryan Plan should keep Republicans up at night, so should the right's misunderstanding of Ryan detractors' objections. In defending the plan, they wind up sounding like Republicans -- all selfishness and greed, no compassion or sympathy. "Sure, your kids will be screwed," they might as well say, "but you'll be OK and that's all that matters, right?"

And that defense may do more to kill them at the polls than anything in the plan they're defending.


[image source]


Why Romney Picked Ryan -- A Dumb Guy Told Him To

Bill Kristol pretends to think
I suppose I have to write the obligatory Paul Ryan post. The good news about that is that there's a lot to talk about with Ryan. The bad news is that everyone's saying it. The worse news is that a lot of pundits are trying to come up with new, clever things to say about Ryan and down that road lies idiocy. I was resigned to repeating (and hopefully clarifying) some of the unstupid things pundits were saying -- a not very fun post to start the week.

And then I saw this:


Once again, Bill Kristol gets his way — and once again, watch out.

For two consecutive presidential cycles now, the founding editor of the Weekly Standard has successfully led the conservative media drumbeat for a bold vice presidential pick: In 2008, he fervently supported and promoted Sarah Palin for months before the country even knew her name. In 2012, he urged Mitt Romney to “go for the gold” with Paul Ryan.

For a generation, stretching back to the 1980s, Kristol has used his influence to goad Republicans to be bolder and more ambitious — and riskier, for themselves, the Republican Party, and the nation—in their decisions. This extends beyond political calculation to policy. In 2003, Kristol was at the forefront of the lobbying effort for the Iraq war, which — however history judges it — cost far more in blood and treasure than he and his fellow neoconservatives had anticipated.

There are really only two questions when dealing with Bill Kristol; why do conservatives keep listening to him when he has such an awful, awful track record and how can a man with such an awful, awful track record get conservatives to listen to him? It's a stumper I've been scratching my head over for years. Still, no wonder John McCain called Ryan a "bold choice" -- he made a similar choice at the behest of the same brainiac with disastrous results.

Part of the reason why Romney might've listened to Kristol is the same reason that McCain did -- sheer, animal panic. Both races have been close (Romney's is closer), but the Republicans have always been looking at Obama's back. When you've tried everything sane and you're still looking at the frontrunner's backside, stupid things start to seem tempting.

And there's evidence to support my theory that Ryan was a panic choice.


Mitt Romney appears to have picked Paul Ryan as his running mate over the objections of top political advisors, offering a glimpse at the leadership style of the Republican nominee in the most important decision of his campaign.

Romney's aides have stressed publicly in the 24 hours since Romney electrified conservatives with his choice that the pick was the governor's alone. They have been less forthcoming on the flip side: That much of his staff opposed the choice for the same reason that many pundits considered it unlikely — that Ryan's appealingly wonky public image and a personality Romney finds copasetic will matter far less than two different budget plans whose details the campaign now effectively owns.

"Everybody was against [Ryan] to start with only Romney for," said one top Republican, who is skeptical of the choice and griped that Romney's top advisors have "been giving Mitt everything he wanted in this campaign."

When everything's going great, you don't make anything but the safe choice. There's no reason to take a risk. When things aren't going so hot, then you find yourself making the "bold" choice -- which is, more often than not, a reaction to your situation. And reacting to your situation is a trap that's hard to escape, once you've fallen into it. Anyone who's played any sort of strategy game knows this. You're too busy patching holes to see any progress. You're delaying the checkmate, in hopes that your opponent will make a mistake that saves you.

The thing is, listening to Wrongway Kristol probably isn't delaying the checkmate, so much as hastening it. Romney may get a post-Ryan bounce in the polls -- he may even overtake Obama for a second or two -- but a bounce is all it will be, as it's slowly revealed that the choice of Paul Ryan just confirms all the stuff voters hated about Romney in the first place.


[image source]


How Long Before Romney Reaches for the Panic Button?

Mitt Romney panics
Here's what Mitt Romney likely read with his Cheerios this morning (don't expect him to be in a chipper mood today):

[MSNBC's First Read:]

It’s not an even race – Obama’s ahead: The Olympics are wrapping up and, at the end of July, when the Olympics began, we wrote that we were basically at halftime of the general election -- and Obama had a narrow lead. Well, it’s a little bigger than that now. (People may want to quibble, but you can’t dismiss every poll on sampling.) There’s clearly movement toward the president and clearly problems for Romney personally. We had found it in our polling for the last month and it hadn’t shown up everywhere yet. Now it has. The latest evidence: three new polls out today – from CNN, Fox, and Reuters/Ipsos – all showing President Obama leading Romney by seven points or more and at or near 50%. (CNN 52-45%, Fox 49-40%, Reuters/Ipsos 49-42%). What’s more, Romney continues to have an image problem. In CNN, Obama’s fav/unfav is +14, Romney’s -1. And in Fox, Obama’s +12, Romney’s +1. (Ipsos didn’t ask fav/unfav.)

Worse for Mittens, James Downie points out that the economy is actually improving, although not as much as anyone on the left would like. Needless to say, those on the right -- having bet all their stake against America -- do not want to see the economy improve. This likewise puts the Mittenman in a bad position.

"Before this week, Obama’s chances were pretty good, largely because of strong numbers in the swing states. Now the gap is widening. If the economy doesn’t, er, bail Romney out, he will need a brilliant performance in the next few months to win," he writes. "A performance, if the campaign so far is any guide, that Romney doesn’t have in him."

Actually, if history is any guide, Romney has never had it in him. The only reason that he's not a career politician is that he has a lot of trouble winning elections. He failed to unseat Ted Kennedy, won the governorship of Massachusetts, and went on to do not so awfully well in presidential politics. In all the campaigns Mitt Romney has run, exactly one was a winner. This is not a stellar record of accomplishment.

Romney's running mate choice is coming up here pretty quick and that can shake up these numbers. But that would likely be a bounce. For a brief moment, John McCain got ahead of Barack Obama -- before falling even further once everyone realized what a nasty lightweight Sarah Palin was.

And the choice of Palin was the result of one big factor -- panic. Almost-always-wrong pundit William Kristol urged McCain to pick the Queen of the North and McCain listened. Let the record show that listening to Bill Kristol is a very bad idea. But everyone said McCain needed to choose someone who'd shake up the race and McCain took that advice, dialed up to eleven.

This is what conservatives do when they're up against the wall -- they panic. That's why Republicans lost their minds after 9/11 and start torturing people and tapping phones illegally. They really don't seem capable of measured response. I'm not saying that Romney's going to choose some complete nutjob as a running mate -- he probably wont -- but his attacks are going to get more desperate and transparent. See his welfare lie for an example. He won't have to choose a Sarah Palin to lose, he's becoming a Sarah Palin before our very eyes. As Mitt Romney gets deeper in trouble, he runs further to the right.

And running further to the right is running away from the general election voter. Unless Romney can break the cycle, he'll wind up helping Obama win by making a series of boneheaded decisions at the advise of the base.

Can Mitt break the cycle? Like Downie, I just don't think he has it in him.


[image source]