Friday, August 31, 2012

GOP Super Pacs Dwarf Dem Ones in Fundraising


The Hidden Candidate

“When Gore Vidal died a few weeks ago, eulogies quoted his famous observation that “the more money an American accumulates the less interesting he himself becomes.” Vidal originally wrote these words in a 1972 essay on Howard Hughes, but who could read them today and not think of Willard Mitt Romney?”


The Most Dishonest Convention Speech ... Ever?

“You’re going to read and hear a lot about Paul Ryan’s speech on Wednesday night. And I imagine most of it will be about how Ryan’s speech played—with the party loyalists in Tampa, with the television viewers across the country, and eventually with the swing voters who will decide the election.

I’d like to talk, instead, about what Ryan actually said—not because I find Ryan’s ideas objectionable, although I do, but because I thought he was so brazenly willing to twist the truth.

At least five times, Ryan misrepresented the facts. And while none of the statements were new, the context was. It’s one thing to hear them on a thirty-second television spot or even in a stump speech before a small crowd. It’s something else entirely to hear them in prime time address, as a vice presidential nominee is accepting his party’s nomination and speaking to the entire country.”


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ryan’s Mystery Meat Budget

I am weary of mystery meat.  The latest serving was dished out today by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), who released a fiscal plan that airily promises both trillions of dollars in tax cuts and a nearly balanced budget within a decade, but never says how he’d get there.


Mexico chalks up success in health-care reforms

A revamp of Mexico’s beleaguered health-care system is proving to be a runaway success and offers a model for other nations seeking to reform their own systems, according to a review published this week in The Lancet1. The key to the scheme’s success is the way in which it has modified its reforms in response to scientific assessments of their effectiveness, the authors say.


Patients Would Pay More if Romney Restores Medicare Savings, Analysts Say

The 2010 health care law cut Medicare reimbursements to hospitals and insurers, not benefits for older Americans, by that amount over the coming decade. But repealing the savings, policy analysts say, would hasten the insolvency of Medicare by eight years — to 2016, the final year of the next presidential term, from 2024.


Romney’s Choice

Paul Ryan is the charming ideologue driven by an ambition robust even by Washington standards. He has been the young man in a hurry, with dead aim; the indefatigable persuader; the self-created “man of ideas,” articulate and conspicuous. “Ideas” politicians can be more likeable and interesting than wise. Yet those who broke out in celebration upon learning that Mitt Romney had chosen Ryan as his running mate, certain that the Wisconsin Congressman’s radical worldview would surely sink the Romney ticket, may find him more dangerous than they currently assume.


Jared Bernstein: What the heck happened to the middle class?

The Growth of Inequality: This one has to be high up in the mix. Yes, overall economic growth has been slower over the period when middle-class wages and incomes have been stagnating, but growth has been positive—real GDP is up. And productivity growth actually accelerated over the last few decades. Back when I studied econ, it was generally asserted that as productivity rose, so did living standards. And there’s logic to that—if an economy can produce more goods and services per hour, its citizens should be better off.

But that’s only true on average. If, due to other factors, the distribution of that growth eludes the middle class and the poor, then society may grow richer on average, but for the middle class, growth is nothing more than a spectator sport. And the evidence suggests that in recent decades, that's exactly what's happened.


Romney Hailed as Regular Guy by Woman with Horse in Olympics

TAMPA (The Borowitz Report)—On the opening night of the 2012 Republican National Convention, the Presidential nominee Mitt Romney received fulsome praise for being a “regular, down-to-earth guy” from his wife, Ann, whose dressage horse, Rafalca, competed in the London Olympics.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Comeback Skid

Paul Krugman writes:

If there is a distinctive feature to New Jersey’s belt-tightening under Mr. Christie, it is its curiously selective nature. The governor was willing to cancel the desperately needed project to build another rail tunnel linking the state to Manhattan, but has invested state funds in a megamall in the Meadowlands and a casino in Atlantic City.

Also, while much of his program involves spending cuts, he has effectively raised taxes on low-income workers and homeowners by slashing tax credits. But he vetoed a temporary surcharge on millionaires while refusing to raise the state’s gasoline tax, which is the third-lowest in America and far below tax rates in neighboring states. Only some people, it seems, are expected to make sacrifices.


Chris Matthews' Smackdown of Reince Priebus Should Be Taught in Journalism School

The action took place on Monday's edition of "Morning Joe." As the wussified hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough looked on embarrassingly and apologetically, Matthews ripped into Priebus over the GOP's reprehensible attacks on President Obama's citizenship and welfare stance, saying the Republican party was playing "that little ethnic card... the race card." The "Hardball" host was clearly emotional, frustrated and angry.

Matthews heatedly referred to the recent Mitt Romney ad about welfare work requirements and Romney's recent "birth certificate" joke he shamelessly cracked in Michigan last week which was meant to appeal to the party's lowest common denominator. "That cheap shot ... was awful...It is an embarrassment to your party to play that card ... you are playing that ethnic card there," he chided a smirking Priebus. "You can sit there and giggle about it, but the fact is your party is playing that card."


Soledad O'Brien's Amazing John Sununu Interview Should Be Taught in Journalism School

CNN's Soledad O'Brien did something which is extremely rare in television news these days: she actually did her job. And it was the best example of truly awesome journalism I've seen since Katie Couric so deftly gave Sarah Palin the opportunity in 2008 to destroy herself. Perhaps, given the unprecedented polarization and partisan vitriol in politics today, coupled with the right-wing's propaganda campaign of lies and distortion, we just might see a return of the mainstream media as a potent force in this heated election.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Mitt Romney Sure Does Lie a Lot, Doesn't He?

“Paul Waldman has done a lot of academic research on political ads. In fact, he says, he has personally watched "every single presidential general election campaign ad ever aired since the first ones in 1952." So what does he think of Mitt Romney's new ad that claims President Obama has a plan for "dropping work requirements" for welfare? "Under Obama's plan," says the narrator, "you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check."

    I've seen ads that were more inflammatory than this one, and ads that were in various ways more reprehensible than this one (not many, but some). But I cannot recall a single presidential campaign ad in the history of American politics that lied more blatantly than this one.


Robert Shiller on Human Traits Essential to Capitalism

The Yale economist says rising inequality was a major cause of America's economic problems, and that little is being done to reduce the disparities. He gives us a reading list to understand how we got to here.


Charts and Graphs
This from the Daily Kos – sad but true – we Democrats win on graphs, facts, spreadsheets, etc. but lose to the Luntzian-inspired Republican propaganda machine:
I used to have a stump-speech critique of the Democratic Party that went something like this:
Republicans sell their policies with appeals to emotion. They hit you in the gut. Democrats sell their policies with charts and graphs and spreadsheets, in other words, appeals to the intellect. There's no question which has been more effective. Just take a look at how Coke, Pepsi, and Apple sell their products. This is why "framers" like Frank Luntz exist in the first place. 
There's a reason so many economically disadvantaged whites and tea party suckers are propping up Wall Street Republicans at the expense of their own self-interest. The Democratic desire, no, (pathological) need to win the debate on intellectual terms is oftentimes the cause of our undoing. (Another example? Liberals argue for gun control by citing gun deaths statistics. Conservatives have built an entire warm-and-fuzzy culture around gun ownership that will always trump those stats.)

Inquirer Editorial: Voter ID simply unnecessary

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson's refusal to stop Pennsylvania from potentially denying hundreds of thousands of voters their constitutional right to cast a ballot is disturbing.

Simpson's ruling Wednesday validating the state's new voter-ID law is steeped in legal precedents, but the past rulings he cites appear to be just as ideologically based.

Allegations that the ID law is a ploy to suppress the minority vote in the forthcoming presidential election have been bolstered by the unguarded statements of a top Republican legislator. House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) said the law "is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania."


Tom Morello: 'Paul Ryan Is the Embodiment of the Machine Our Music Rages Against'

Last week, Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan, the Republican architect of Congress's radical right-wing budget plan, as his running mate. Ryan has previously cited Rage Against the Machine as one of his favorite bands. Rage guitarist Tom Morello responds in this exclusive op-ed.

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. Charles Manson loved the Beatles but didn't understand them. Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn't understand him. And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine.


Great Infographic from

Check out this great infographic from


Monday, August 13, 2012

Where Have All the Good Jobs Gone?

Fascinating paper – fewer and fewer jobs can be considered ‘good jobs’ these days. This study by the CEPR used the criteria of pay greater than $18.50 per hour, and employer contributions to retirement and health plan. The percentage of jobs considered ‘good’ is 24.6%.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Question We Want to See Asked of Romney / Ryan

This is from Mike Allen’s Politico Playbook blog (8/12/12):

BREAKING - CBS release: "Mitt Romney and ... Paul Ryan ... will give their first joint interview to Bob Schieffer, the CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent and Anchor of FACE THE NATION. The interview, to be taped today in High Point, N.C,. will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES tonight ... (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT)."

A QUESTION WE PREDICT SCHIEFFER WILL ASK RYAN: "How many years of tax returns did the Romney campaign ask you for?"

BOB'S FOLLOW-UP TO ROMNEY: "Do you think the American people deserve less?"

President Obama Fiscal Speech George Washington University (April 13, 2011)

Here’s President Obama’s Fiscal Speech at George Washington University. Paul Ryan was in the audience and got a chance to hear all of his ideas repudiated – and rightly so. An excellent speech – Obama 2012!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Paul Ryan Profile in the New Yorker -- Jared Bernstein

An excellent analysis by Jared Bernstein – also very timely! 

“It’s actually not hard to write down plans that purport to quantify Ayn Randian visions.  You cut deeply here and there—always from 30,000 feet up so you don’t have to get into fights about specifics—you turn big programs over to the states (e.g., you “block grant” foods stamps and Medicaid), you privatize social insurance, you voucherize Medicare with vouchers whose costs lag prices.”

Six Things to Know About Ryan-and Romney

Here are six things you need to know about Mitt Romney. I see no way that the American middle class is going to fall for this as a path forward. It pretty much decimates the middle class on behalf of the wealthy.

From the site:

Many millions of working-age Americans would lose health insurance. Senior citizens would anguish over whether to pay their rent or their medical bills, in a way they haven’t since the 1960s. Government would be so starved of resources that, by 2050, it wouldn’t have enough money for core functions like food inspections and highway maintenance. And the richest Americans would get a huge tax cut.

Krugman said it best – he’s the ‘flim-flam’ man…

Cumulative Growth in Average Income After Transfers and Federal Taxes

From the Congressional Budget Office, this report deals with trends in household incomes from 1979 to 2009.



Nice article from New Yorker on Paul Ryan – this quote from the article talks about his Ayn Rand influence. Ryan is so clearly on the side of 'selfishness as a virtue' as espoused by Rand -- I can't imagine this being a good choice except that it satisfies the conservative base who don't really care for Romney.
Like many conservatives, he claims to have been profoundly affected by Ayn Rand. After reading “Atlas Shrugged,” he told me, “I said, ‘Wow, I’ve got to check out this economics thing.’ What I liked about her novels was their devastating indictment of the fatal conceit of socialism, of too much government.” He dived into Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman.

In a 2005 speech to a group of Rand devotees called the Atlas Society, Ryan said that Rand was required reading for his office staff and interns. “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” he told the group. “The fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.”

Mitt Romney will name Paul Ryan as his VP. Here’s what that means.

Thanks Ezra for staying up late last night to post this analysis:

"It’s not just that Romney now has to defend Ryan’s budget. To some degree, that was always going to be true. What he will now have to defend is everything else Ryan has proposed. Ryan was, for instance, the key House backer of Social Security privatization. His bill, The Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005, was so aggressive that it was rejected by the Bush administration. Now it’s Romney’s bill to defend. In Florida."

Romney Chooses The Flimflam Man

I think we win – Romney has chosen the flimflam man as his vice-presidential running mate. Thanks to Paul Krugman for this analysis in a 2010 column: 

“Mr. Ryan has become the Republican Party’s poster child for new ideas thanks to his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a plan for a major overhaul of federal spending and taxes. News media coverage has been overwhelmingly favorable; on Monday, The Washington Post put a glowing profile of Mr. Ryan on its front page, portraying him as the G.O.P.’s fiscal conscience. He’s often described with phrases like “intellectually audacious.”

But it’s the audacity of dopes. Mr. Ryan isn’t offering fresh food for thought; he’s serving up leftovers from the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce.”