Nel's New Day

October 20, 2012

U.S. Requires Election Monitoring from UN

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:42 PM  This fall’s general election is bringing the United States closer and closer to becoming a Third-World country. In the past, people from this country have gone other places to help them avoid voter fraud. Now United Nations-affiliated election monitors from Europe and central Asia will be at polling places around the U.S. looking for voter suppression activities by conservative groups such as True the Vote, which has tried voter suppression tactics before.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the ACLU, and other groups sent a letter to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a United Nations partner on democratization and human rights projects, warning of “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans — particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.” Forty-four observers from countries such as Germany, France, Serbia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan will observe voting at polling places and other political activity.

“They [will] observe the overall election process, not just the ballot casting,” said Giovanna Maiola, spokeswoman for OSCE. “They are focusing on a number of areas on the state level, including the legal system, election administration, the campaign, the campaign financing [and] new voting technologies used in the different states.”

A conservative organization, True the Vote, hopes to deploy hundreds of thousands of volunteers at polling stations to monitor election fraud, claiming that these poll watchers are well-trained. One example of their training is in their New Mexico videos that instruct poll challengers to “compare the photo on a voter’s ID to the voter. No photo ID is needed to cast a ballot in New Mexico.

Today I read a letter to my local newspaper about the need for photo ID in order to vote. Following is my response:

People who want mandatory photo ID for voters ignore the fact there have been ten cases of voter impersonation fraud since 2000. The privileged, usually white, class finds it almost impossible to imagine that anyone in this country would have trouble getting this ID. Yet the poor may have no access to transportation for these IDs, can’t get time off from their jobs to get them, and don’t have money for the necessary resources like birth certificates. About 11 percent of adult citizens–more than 21 million people–lack a valid, government-issued photo ID, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. The number rises to 20 percent for citizens over 65.

The states with these restrictive laws are all Republican controlled. Their legislators want to make voting “harder.” Students will vote “as liberal” because they “just vote their feelings” according to the New Hampshire House Speaker. An Ohio Republican senator said, “[Voting] should not be easy.” The Republicans also want to eliminate votes for Democrats.  Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai said, “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor [Mitt] Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done!” The conservatives have already gerrymandered the districts; the least they can do is let people vote.

If people really cared about stopping voter fraud instead of stopping votes for Democrats, they would address real problems such as stuffed and lost ballot boxes, trashed voter registration forms, rigged voting machines, destroyed provisional ballots, etc. Yes, all these problems are covered by existing laws, but so is voter impersonation.

Supporters of mandatory voter IDs are fond of using the analogy of photo ID requirements for boarding airplanes and purchasing alcohol. They don’t understand that voting is a constitutional right; flying and drinking aren’t. Keeping citizens from voting is voter fraud.

The Brennan Center report has warned that “The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012-63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency.”   machines,

October 19, 2012

Romney Has History of Avoiding, Controlling Women

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:10 PM
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In the most recent presidential debate, Mitt Romney refused to support equal pay for women, lied about seeking women for leadership positions when he was Massachusetts governor, obfuscated his position (that he’s changed four times in the last month) against women’s health rights, invalidated single mothers and lesbian parents by saying that gun violence could be eradicated through children having a mother and a father in the home, and rode roughshod over a female moderator. (To give the man some credit, he also tried to do the same thing to his opponent, President Obama, so that the last one was probably more of his style toward everyone who disagrees with him.)

There are two good reasons that Romney is not good at dealing with women: he feels superior to them, and he avoids them whenever possible. This was made obvious early in his campaign when he delegated “women’s issues” to his wife, Ann, as something beneath and foreign to him.

Romney grew up in a male-dominated religion that goes far beyond worship: it is an all-consuming way of life. Although women cannot be priests in the Catholic Church, they have leadership positions as nuns. Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) are far more limited in leadership than in the Catholic Church where they are unable to serve as bishops or stake presidents. In fact, for the first 30 years of his life in the LDS church, blacks were not allowed in any leadership position.

Beyond his religious training, Romney was surrounded in his youth by males, both as peers and authority figures, when he attended an all-boy school. As an adult, Romney spent his home life with five sons; the only woman in the home was his wife, who played a submissive role to that of her husband.

When Romney put together a team to head Bain, every member was white and male. The Republican insisted that he could not find “qualified” women and minorities. Romney also said that Bain had no affirmative action program until after he left Bain, which was another reason why they had few minorities employed. But over a decade later, the photo album of their private equity team does not show a single African-American or Latino member. “It’s shocking to me that after 25 years of experience at the very highest levels of corporate America, Mitt Romney needed our help [to find qualified women],” Jesse Mermell, one of the women who helped prepare the “binders full of women” told Huffington Post’s Jen Bendery on Wednesday.

Romney shows his preference for being surrounded by white men in his selections. While governor, the majority of judges he appointed were white males. Despite the fact that women went to Romney with a collection of resumes for highly qualified women after he was elected governor, a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout his administration. The study showed Romney initially hired 14 women among 33 appointments to his cabinet—42 percent of the total –but by the end of his four-year term, the number of women in his administration was 25 percent, lower than the previous or subsequent governors. 

Although the Mormon Church “allows” abortion in cases of rape, incest, the health of the mother, and the inviability of the fetus “permission” is not automatically conveyed by the Church even in those circumstances. After Carrel Hilton Sheldon discovered she had a life-threatening blood clot lodged in her pelvic region during her sixth pregnancy, the LDS leader, stake president, granted her the right to have an abortion. Yet Romney, a lay bishop at the time, showed up uninvited in Sheldon’s hospital room and tried to pressure her into not having the medical procedure because of his concern for the “child.” That was the same summer that he strapped his dog onto the roof for a 12-hour trip to Canada.

Romney used his power within the church to control women a year later. When Peggie Hayes became pregnant out of wedlock for the second time in 1984, he threatened her with excommunication from the LDS Church if she didn’t give her son up for adoption. Hayes said, “This is not like ‘You don’t get to take Communion.’ This is like ‘You will not be saved. You will never see the face of God.’ ” Romney denied that he had threatened her with excommunication, but Hayes said his message was crystal clear: “Give up your son or give up your God.”

This pattern didn’t stop. Over a decade later, when Randy and Janna Sorensen talked to Romney about how the LDS Church would not let them adopt because Jana had a job. Romney helped them—by showing them how they could get along financially if Jana quit her job. She did, and the church let them adopt.

Judith Dushku, a lifelong Mormon and an associate professor of government at Suffolk University in Boston, was in the same LDS stake until the church leadership gerrymandered the districts to keep them apart. She said, “If you were seated at a table with him and other Mormon men, you weren’t likely to be included in the conversation. [Romney] thought that any woman that wasn’t married to someone who can support them, who wasn’t following church tradition in that respect, was just almost too unusual to consider in any collegial way.” She also discussed his switch from anti-abortion to pro-choice during his run for the senator from Massachusetts against Ted Kennedy in 1994. According to Kushku, Romney said, “They told me it was OK to take such a position in a liberal state.”

In describing Romney, Dushku said that while Romney could be “charismatic and inspirational” he was also “dismissive” of those less privileged than him. She sees him as a man who is “used to having his way.” He can be “very pleasant,” but at times of conflict, “he can be very tough on people.”

Mormon women are expected to stay in their home—seen but not heard in the realm of public affairs and focusing on their families and children. According to church prophets, women have “three principal attributes or qualities: namely, the power to bear; the ability to rear, [and] the gift to love.”

When Dushku wanted to “receive her endowment,” a sacred ritual in which Mormons pledge their allegiance to God and their faithfulness to the church, she had to get permission from Romney, her stake president, because Mormon women not married to a church member were not allowed to enter an LDS temple. In her account to Michael Kranish and Scott Helman for their book The Real Romney (an edited excerpt of which appeared in the February 2012 issue of Vanity Fair), Dushku claims that Romney said something to the effect that “I suspect, if you’ve gotten through both of the interviews, there’s nothing I can do to keep you from going to the temple.”

“Romney just doesn’t have any sensitivity to women’s issues in general,” said Dushku. “But even more than that, he genuinely believes he’s always right, that he’s never made a mistake. He can never say, ‘I might have made a mistake, I didn’t understand that.’ In Mitt’s view, no one else has anything else to offer. He’s always right.”

“He’s not a man who has anything like a moral core,” Dushku concluded. “He’s very loyal to the Mormon church, pays his tithing, is faithful to his wife, and so on, but he doesn’t have a set of core values you can count on. I’ve known him for nearly 40 years. He may have a different suit on, but he hasn’t changed. His experience hasn’t changed. His performance was very consistent with the Mitt I knew back then. He can’t relate to average working women-teachers and nurses and care givers. He’s still coming from a place of privilege and entitlement.”

During the most recent presidential debate, Romney tried to turn women away from President Obama by saying that women had drastically lost jobs during the last four years. Despite the serious recession, however, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that there are 253,000 more women working in the United States than in January 2009, when President Obama took office. (Think Progress found 30 other lies that Romney told in last week’s debate; Steve Benen upped the ante when he found 40 other lies—in 41 minutes.)

More women would have jobs if the government had not had to cut over 800,000 public sector jobs during the past four years because of Republican tactics. Romney believes that the country needs fewer teachers and won’t even let teachers speak when he meets with people.

We know from Romney’s actions that he has low support from women and minorities—for good reason. Combine this attitude with his sneering at all the people who don’t make enough money to pay taxes, and we see that Romney  has little regard for over 80 percent of the people in this country. At least George W. Bush was willing to use the word “compassion” in his campaigning; Romney just wants “his kind” to triumph in their goal to possess all the resources in the United States.

October 18, 2012

Voter Fraud, Romney’s Lies, Plus Good News

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:50 PM
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In past years there have been reportings of people calling Democrats to give them the wrong date for the election. One of these was to tell voters that Republicans would vote on Tuesday and Democrats would vote on Wednesday. Most people reading this say, “Of course, everyone votes on Tuesday.” This year, it’s a county government agency in Arizona that tells Hispanics to go to the polls on the Thursday after the general election.

When Charlotte Walker of Sun City picked up her voter register card, November 6 was the date given in English. That’s the right date. In Spanish, however, people were told that they should vote on November 8, two days later.  The Maricopa County Elections Department said that they made the mistake only on cards that were handed out and that they may have handed out only about 50 cards—although they really don’t know.

Arizona isn’t the only state that’s still working on keeping people, many of them minorities, from voting. The good news in Ohio is that the Supreme Court rejected GOP attempts efforts to block early voting three days before Election Day. The bad news in Ohio is that Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted severely limited early voting hours on those crucial three days to 16 hours, none of them in the evening. Before this weekend, voters cannot cast ballots in-person on nights or weekends. Four years ago, with longer voting hours, and wait times were sometimes as long as two and a half hours. Minority voters who have less flexibility in getting time off from their jobs tend to vote in the evening; the GOP thinks that these same voters tend to vote Democratic.










In Pennsylvania, billboards in Spanish give the false image that people must have IDs in order to vote. A translation of this billboard is “If you want to vote, show it”–even though a court ruling last week blocked a requirement to produce an approved photo identification at polling places.


There’s an old saying, “follow the money.” That’s what Greg Palast did when he discovered that Mitt Romney has “concealed, until now, the fact that he and his wife, Ann, personally gained at least $15.3 million from the bailout—and a few of Romney’s most important Wall Street donors made more than $4 billion. Their gains, and those of the Romneys, were astronomical—more than 3,000 percent on their investment.”

A longtime aide to George W. Romney has accused Mitt Romney of shifting political positions in “erratic and startling ways.” Walter De Vries wrote, “It seems that Mitt would say and do anything to close a deal–or an election.”

When Katie Couric asked VP candidate Sarah Palin four years where she got her news, she didn’t have an answer. Romney does have answers. When Newsmax asked Romney the same question, the GOP presidential candidate said, “You know, increasingly, I’m getting news from electronic sources, whether Newsmax, Drudge, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal Online, even USA Today online, Fox online, CNN online.” There’s that token less-biased source of NYT, but the others are on the right, especially the Drudge, which even has a link to a site saying that black Americans will riot and kill and Romney if President Obama doesn’t win.

Kerry Healey, Mitt Romney’s Lieutenant Governor and a current surrogate for his campaign, called contraception a “peripheral” issue, and referred to women being denied contraception coverage because of religious objections a “hypothetical.” It’s no wonder that the polls show that women are returning to President Obama.

Yesterday I wrote about employers attempting an intimidation attempt to get thousands and thousands of their employees vote for Romney. They got the idea from Romney himself. An audio tape from June has recently been unearthed in which Romney addressed a group of self-described “small business owners,” probably including the Koch brothers. After he talked about how bad for business that President Obama is, he gave them their marching orders: “I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections. And whether you agree with me or you agree with President Obama, or whatever your political view, I hope, I hope you pass those along to your employees.”

In the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court ruled that employers can force their employees to contribute to candidates and threaten them if they don’t vote for the chosen candidates.

Each election seems to bring the United States closer to a theocracy operated by the far right. If this comes into fruition, women could possibly lose the minority representation that we have now. That’s what Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association (AFA) wants. He stated on his radio show this week that political leadership should be in the hands of men. His position comes from Paul’s letter to the women of Ephesus in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 which states, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, not Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” Fischer will probably not agree with a scholarly approach that this passage—and many others in the Bible—have been mistranslated because it’s written by women.

Romney and Ryan are leading the country to disaster in many ways; here are ten that Jon Perr put together.

1. Economists warn the Romney-Ryan plan means huge job losses, possibly 2 million within the next couple of years.

2. Romney and Ryan both supported Social Security privatization although they may now deny it.

3. 98 percent of Congressional Republicans voted for Ryan’s plan to ration Medicare.

4. The Ryan budget takes $716 billion from Medicare to give tax cuts to the rich.

5. Romney and Ryan will cut benefits for today’s seniors by taking away free preventative care now part of Medicare and reopening the “donut hole” in its prescription drug program which saved 5.4 seniors over $4.1 billion last year.

6. Romney-Ryan plans leaves at least 44 million more without health insurance by 2020: earlier this month, the Commonwealth Fund estimated President Romney would preside over a staggering 72 million Americans without coverage.

7. GOP ticket adds trillions more than President Obama in new debt. Both Romney and Ryan dodge the facts that Ronald Reagan tripled the national debt and George W. Bush roughly doubled it again. Ryan also skips over the fact that he voted for the drivers of most of the debt–two wars, the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, and the Medicare prescription drug plan. The same Republicans leaders who held the debt ceiling hostage last summer voted to raise it seven times under President Bush.

8. Romney and Ryan won’t name a single loophole they’d close. Will the Romney-Ryan administration end the $63 billion Earned Income Tax Credit for working families that Ronald Reagan called “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress”? How about the $89 billion a year home mortgage tax deduction? Many of those breaks help explain the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income taxes, otherwise known as Mitt Romney’s “victims” and Paul Ryan’s “takers.”

9. Ryan supports GOP Platform’s ban on all abortions, and Romney changes his mind each day depending on how much he thinks that he needs the women’s vote.

10. Ryan voted for the defense sequestration he attacks President Obama for.

We’ll finish today, however, with a great achievement for the LGBT community and all others who believe that we should have freedom in this country. The ultra-conservative Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs of the 2nd Court of Appeals struck down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. In so doing, the George H.W. Bush nominee concluded that any law which discriminates against gay men and lesbians requires heightened scrutiny because this class of people “have historically endured persecution and discrimination”; “homosexuality has no relation to aptitude or ability to contribute to society”; “homosexuals are a discernible group with non-obvious distinguishing characteristics, especially in the subset of those who enter same-sex marriages”; and “the class remains a politically weakened minority.” Thus any attempt by government to discriminate against gay people must have an ‘exceedingly persuasive’ justification.”

The case was Edith Windsor v. New York State that I wrote about in more detail on September 29, 2012. Congratulations, Edi!

October 17, 2012

Conservatives Say More Stupid Things

While most attention has been focused on the presidential debates within the past few days, conservative politicians and their supporters have continued to display their ignorance.

Last week, a lawmaker in Spain was forced to resign after saying, “Laws are like women–they are there to be raped.” No politician in the U.S. suffers from this when they denigrate women through their “classifications” of rape. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) started this with “forcible rape” in his attempt to restrict women’s rights. Somewhere along the way, another conservative added the term “honest rape,” and Rep. Todd Akins (R-MO) made matters worse with his claim that women couldn’t get pregnant with “legitimate rape.”

Another Republican representative from Wisconsin, Rep. Roger Rivard said, “Some girls, they rape so easy” when discussing a rape case involving a 17-year-old boy and an underaged girl. Now former wrestling CEO Linda McMahon added to the litany in her response to a question about whether victims of rape should be guaranteed access to emergency contraception. Connecticut’s Republican for the Senate said, “It was really an issue about a Catholic church being forced to offer those pills if the person came in in an emergency rape.”

Racism directed toward the president is going mainstream again. “We have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago, or Kenya.” That’s what Tommy Thompson’s son, Jason, said at a Republican fund-raiser in Paul Ryan’s Wisconsin district. Senatorial candidate Thompson then apologized for his 38-year-old son but only after Buzzfeed broke the story. Also, in attendance remarks was RNC chair Reince Priebus, who didn’t offer any apologies.

George Will, conservative pundit, wrote that the president may get some pity votes because of his ethnic background: “That Obama is African American may be important, but in a way quite unlike that darkly suggested by, for example, MSNBC’s excitable boys and girls who, with their (at most) one-track minds and exquisitely sensitive olfactory receptors, sniff racism in any criticism of their pin-up. Instead, the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure–thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him–seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president.” Nice cover, Mr. Will. If President Obama is re-elected, it’s just because he’s black.

In an extremely weak effort to gain votes from blacks for Romney, Ohio’s “Women for Liberty” is distributing a brochure claiming that Frederick Douglass, former slave and activist, would have voted for Romney, not President Obama. The brochure further states that Douglass was for “private wealth creation” whereas President Obama is working to “redistribute wealth.” If Douglass were alive today, there’s a good chance that the GOP would have tried to keep him from voting.

Before the debate, former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford said that President Obama is going to “come out and throw a lot of spears” at the second debate. Maybe if you live in the South, you don’t know that the term “spearchucker” is a racial slur. For those who have forgotten Sandford, he left his post as the governor to hike the Appalachian Trail—at least that’s what he told his staff—while he was visiting his mistress in Argentina. Another one of those “family values” conservatives.

Family values reared its head when Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), a doctor before the Tea Party helped him to Congress, not only had an affair with a patient but also pressured her into getting an abortion. The representative did not deny that he had done this—smart because there is a tape of him arguing with his mistress on how to carry out the abortion—but he said it was not important because it was old news. DesJarlais said he needed his mistress to get an abortion so that he could save his marriage.

The campaign for the senator from Massachusetts has gotten even more interesting. During the first two debates with candidate Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) ridiculed her for claiming to be a Native American, going so far as to allow his staff to dance around with tomahawks at a press conference. He has moved on to accusing her to work against women because of her job consulting Dow Corning when it went bankrupt in 1995 and needed a plan to settle claims filed by women injured by Dow’s breast implants. Brown didn’t point out the fact that Dow gave him $6,000, perhaps after his vote to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.

In addition, the state GOP’s MassVictory program is paying African-Americans, some of them homeless, about $8 per hour to campaign for Brown in an inner-city Boston neighborhood that strongly supports Elizabeth Warren. I wonder if that’s legal.

In an attempt to get votes for Mitt Romney, CEOs of huge corporations have been “encouraging” their employees to vote for the Republican candidate to keep their jobs. David Siegel, owner of Florida-based Westgate Resorts, wrote in an email to his employees that “the economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job” and noted that the company is “the most profitable [it’s] ever been.” He added, however, “What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration.” He went on to say that although he “can’t tell you whom to vote for,” the president’s re-election would mean “fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.”

Siegel is on record as claiming credit for George W. Bush defeating Al Gore in 2000, saying “I had my managers do a survey on every employee [8,000 total]. If they liked Bush, we made them register to vote. But not if they liked Gore.” [That “election” had a bit of help from the Supreme Court.] In 2007, Siegel had to stop building the country’s largest home—90,000 square feet—because he lost several millions, but he’s back on track now. Why would he want to get rid to President Obama when he’s done so well within the past four years?

The next one threat came from Richard Lacks, president and CEO of Lacks Enterprises, who warned his 2,300 employees that their take-home pay would shrink if President Obama were re-elected. Again, his company has done far better under this president than the last one, but Lacks said the Affordable Care Act would raise his company’s health insurance costs by 2 percent each year. “It is important that in November you vote to improve your standard of living and that will be through smaller government and less government,” Lacks said in a letter to his employees that announced their lump sum bonuses.

The number of Siegel’s and Lacks’ employees pales in comparison, however, to that of the Koch brothers, another employer “encouraging” their 45,000 workers at Georgia Pacific to vote for Romney. The Koch’s letter accuses the president of subsidizing a few favored cronies costing several hundred billion dollars, placing “unprecedented regulatory burdens” on business, and “excessively hindering free trade.” In addition, the letters talks about “runaway inflation” in a time of 1-2 percent inflation and historically low interest rates. It appears that the wealthier the employer, the bigger the lies.

Aside: Think Progress tallied 31 myths that Romney told in 41 minutes, an average of one every 45 seconds and better than the 28 in 38 minutes during his first debate.  [Correction: My math is weak: that’s one “myth” per 90 second; later tallying moved it up to one “myth” per minute.]

Polls can be fascinating to follow, and my latest favorite is the one from 7-Eleven. Yup, the convenience store is selling coffee in red or blue cups each emblazoned with a person’s choice for president. So far, President Obama is at 61 percent and Romney at 49 percent, just a little below the president’s chances from prognosticator Nate Silver.

Since last night’s debate, the term “binders full of women” has gone viral with its own blog. Women in Ohio have also formed their own “Binder Brigade,” protesting in front of the Republican Party state headquarters.

October 16, 2012

Presidential Debate Two

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:38 PM
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Eighty-two New York voters watched tonight’s presidential debate in person as 12 of them asked questions about both domestic and foreign policy. Candy Crowley did a fantastic job moderating as Mitt Romney tried to push her, and she refused to back down several times. Although some of Romney’s statements were obviously “fact-challenged”—his denial about calling the Arizona immigration law a model for the nation and his false statement of the number of jobs that Reagan got—President Obama got a final punch in his closing when he quoted Romney “when he says behind closed doors” that the Republican candidate has thrown away 47 percent of the people in the United States.

President Obama was engaged, sometimes casual and other times intent on pointing out the inaccuracies of Romney’s statements. Romney tried to use his bullying tactics from the last debate, at some points even seeming to heckle the president. These attempts mostly failed, largely because Crowley stopped him. When his last debate’s tactics didn’t work, Romney sometimes gave a sickly smile and other times tried to deliver a “gotcha” attitude.

Before the debate, Think Progress gave five facts that we wouldn’t hear at the debate; they were right on target.

1. The deficit is largely a product of tax cuts and wars.

2. When US officials asked for more security in Libya, they wanted it in Tripoli, not Benghazi.

3. 72 million people would be uninsured under Romney’s health plan.

4. If the DREAM Act were passed, it would add $329 billion to the economy by 2030.

5. The “six studies” that Romney cites in defense of his tax plan are actually 3 blog posts, 2 right-wing reports and 1 op-ed.

They missed the omission of climate change in the debate. Marriage equality also took a pass in the selection of questions and the candidates’ answers.

Romney did manage, however, to repeat—and repeat—his worn-out statements that have already been proved “fact-challenged.” No, 50 percent of college graduates are not without jobs: that figure includes “under-employed” which means that these graduates didn’t get the jobs that they wanted. His figure of 23 million unemployed is wrong.

Romney claimed he had “saved” the Olympics by balancing its budget, but in 2002, he said he would have been unable to host the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City (UT) had it not been for the “enormous spending and services of the federal government.”

Romney said, “I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing.” His white paper on education, “A Chance for Every Child,” takes a different position; he would reverse the growth in Pell Grant funding and criticized Obama for doubling funding for Pell Grants.

Romney tried to claim that the president had done exactly what Romney recommended in the auto bailout, but he was wrong. Romney’s proposed path probably would have forced General Motors and Chrysler out of business.

Romney said Obama quadrupled regulations on businesses. Bloomberg reported last year that Obama had put 5 percent fewer regulations on businesses than George W. Bush.

Romney says 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost under Obama. Although that is true, manufacturing jobs had been falling for over a decade before Obama took office. The trend actually reversed itself beginning in 2010 and since then, over 500,000 new manufacturing jobs have been created, showing that the president has been very good for manufacturing.

Romney says he saw a recent study showing that Obama will raise taxes on the middle class by up to $4,000. called that claim “nonsense.” oil production.

Romney said oil production is down 14 percent on federal lands under the current president.  In fact oil production on federal lands is up overall under Obama.

When Romney denied that he had said Arizona’s immigration policy should be the model for the nation, President Obama correctly stated that Romney’s immigration adviser wrote Arizona’s immigration law and that of several other states.

In the argument over gas prices, neither candidate pointed out that presidents have almost no effect on energy prices. Most are set on financial exchanges around the world through speculation. When Obama took office, the world was in the grip of a financial crisis and crude prices–and gasoline prices along with them–had plummeted because world demand had collapsed.

The Republican candidate also worked in several half truths. He believes that “every woman should have access to contraception.” Romney omitted the fact that he believes in a “personhood” amendment to the Constitution that would eliminate the rights of women to have oral contraception and the artificial insemination that gave Romney some of his grandchildren. He also supports the Blunt amendment which allows any employer to deny the company’s insured women contraception on religious grounds.

Between platitudes, Romney worked in his stale comments about the “crushed” middle-class.  “I’ve spent my life in the private sector.” “I know what it takes.” “I know how to make that happen.”  These were frequent remarks from Romney in lieu of specifics.

His response to the question of how he would reduce the salary difference between men and women was particularly weak when he said that as Massachusetts governor he had his staff being him “binders full of women.” He finished the question off by saying that women should be allowed flexibility in work hours, as he did, so that could go home and “fix dinners for the kids.” But he never said that he wanted equal pay, only more jobs for women.

Romney also had no response to President Obama’s statement that “Romney was for assault weapons before he was against it,” referring to Romney supporting assault weapons in Massachusetts. President Obama had some other great responses. After a spirited discussion about how Romney would cover the tax cuts, the president said, If someone came to you and said I want to spend $8 trillion but I won’t tell you until after the election how I’ll do it, you’d never take such a sketchy deal.” He pointed to the audience and said, “You’ll pay for it. The math doesn’t total up.”

At another time, the president said, “Gov. Romney doesn’t have 5 point plan; he has one-point plan by reducing taxes for wealthy.” And when refuting Romney’s platitudes about helping women, the president said, When Gov. Romney’s campaign was asked about the Lilly Ledbetter Act [that gives women the right to sue for equal wages for equal work], they said, ‘We’ll get back to you.’”

Romney’s had a bad day. Not only did the debate not work the way he probably assumed, but the conservative-leaning Washington Post shredded Romney’s bragging about his creating 12 million jobs during the next four years if he were elected. True, Moody’s Analytics, has predicted that these jobs would be created by 2016 no matter who is elected. But Romney’s policies could destroy these job creations.

Washington Post calls Romney’s claim “a case of bait-and-switch.”  The article explained, “The candidate’s personal accounting for this figure in this campaign ad is based on different figures and long-range timelines stretching as long as a decade–which in two cases are based on studies that did not even evaluate Romney’s economic plan.  The numbers may still add up to 12 million, but they aren’t the same thing — not by a long shot.”

Glenn Kessler gave Romney Four Pinocchios—again. Early ones were for Romney’s claim that President Obama wants to redistribute wealth, that he made an “apology” tour, that he would lighten work requirements in welfare, that he rewarded donors to his campaign, etc. Four Pinocchios is the worst of the rating; Romney managed to pick up several other corrections for his fact-challenged statements.

Romney will say anything to win, but tonight he took one too many chances. Jason Easley said, “When Romney was proven wrong in front of millions of Americans, you could see his balloon pop. His confidence was gone, and at that moment, Mitt Romney’s frail confidence was shot. (Anyone who has watched Romney’s debate performances knows that he is streaky. He runs hot and cold. In the Republican primary debates where he got off to a bad start, the night often got worse. Romney is not good at coming from behind.)”

Easley was talking about Romney trying to correct President Obama when the president said that he called the killings in Benghazi “an act of terror” in the Rose Garden the day after the tragic event. Crowley backed up what the president said. For weeks (or at least until the next and last debate this coming Monday) there will be long discussions about whether the president lied and whether Crowley was wrong to insert her statement.

Who won? The CBS poll judges it 37 percent for President Obama, 30 percent for Romney, and 33 percent a tie.  CNN said 46 percent for the president and 39 percent of Romney. Even ultra-conservative Charles Krauthammer declared President Obama the winner.

As Robert Kaiser said in the Washington Post, “Romney showed the same poise and debating skills we saw in Denver, but against a much more formidable opponent, they didn’t make such a strong impression, did they?” My opinion? The president brought it home.

Check out the transcript yourself.

October 15, 2012

VP Debate Redux

Another debate looms tomorrow night, this one with questions from the elusive undecided voters. A couple of weeks ago, the first debate moderator, Jim Lehrer, was objective but failed to guide the presidential candidates, especially when Mitt Romney was determined to take over through his incessant interrupting. During the vice-presidential debate, Martha Raddatz’s questions occasionally wandered into an ideological position.

Her lead-in to Iran stated that “there’s really no bigger national security…this country is facing.” It’s hard to know what she said during the ellipsis because of Ryan’s interruption when he said, “Absolutely.” It was either “threat” or “issue.” Either way the statement is debatable and definitely not objective. Her follow-up questions failed to address whether the United States has the right to attack any country it wants. After the past decade, preemptive attacks have become de rigueur.

Raddatz’s question about domestic issues showed the same disregard for objectivity: “Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process. Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive?”  The myth that both Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt has been debunked by many economists, but politicians are so intent on getting rid of the two programs that they ignore them.

Raddatz also asked the candidates how they felt about abortion because they are members of the Catholic Church. Yet she didn’t ask how they felt about the US government’s military aggression and its subservience to the wealthiest, two issues which the Catholic Church opposes.

One issue widely publicized after the VP debate was VP Joe Biden’s laughing, something soundly ridiculed by Fox News and their followers. In a Rolling Stone article,  Matt Taibbi strongly supported Biden’s actions, saying that everyone should be rolling their eyes at Ryan’s and Romney’s avoiding any concrete answers.

One example he gave was Raddatz’s question to Ryan about “how you pay for that 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. Do you actually have the specifics, or are you still working on it, and that’s why you won’t tell voters?” Ryan tried to convince the audience that they would succeed in doing this with Congressional bipartisan agreements. When Biden scoffed at him, Ryan said,

“Look–look at what Mitt–look at what Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill did. They worked together out of a framework to lower tax rates and broaden the base, and they worked together to fix that. What we’re saying is here’s our framework: Lower tax rates 20 percent–we raise about $1.2 trillion through income taxes. We forgo about 1.1 trillion [dollars] in loopholes and deductions. And so what we’re saying is deny those loopholes and deductions to higher-income taxpayers so that more of their income is taxed, which has a broader base of taxation …”

Once again, Ryan refused to answer the question about specifics, probably because there aren’t any. Instead, he and Romney will set the framework and then work out the specifics of getting there with the Democrats. He said in front of over 50 million people that the tax plan won’t be worked out until after the election. And by the way, he also said in front of 50 million people that he and Romney plan to get rid of Social Security.

Raddatz said, “No specifics, yeah.” And VP Biden laughed.

My favorite perspective of last week’s debate, however, comes from Oregon’s own David Sarasohn. His most recent column begins: “When Paul Ryan doesn’t want to be clear about a position, he tells a story. As we heard Thursday evening, that means it’s very often story time. So when Ryan was asked about Mitt Romney’s position on bailing out Detroit, or letting GM and Chrysler go under, he went into full storyteller mode.” Sarasohn then quotes Ryan about Romney helping a family that had been in a car crash. Nothing to do with Romney’s refusing to bail out Detroit, but a charming story about what a wonderful guy Romney is.

About the effect of Ryan’s budget on Medicare that leaves recipients without help? Ryan gave a lovely story about his mom and his grandmother. And Ryan’s belief that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) supported him, “a claim that always turns Wyden an interesting shade of purple, according to Sarasohn’s column. We in Oregon certainly know that Ryan was lying about his Medicare policy having bipartisan support.

What about the U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan in 2014? Ryan’s story this time was when he “sat down with a young private in the 82nd from the Menominee Indian Reservation who would tell me what he did every day.” Raddatz tried to move him along. Ryan moved into another story about one of his best friends from Janesville. Abortion? This time Ryan used an anecdote explaining why his firstborn was nicknamed “Bean.”

The benefit of these stories is that Ryan can talk a long time, look like a friendly fellow, and not address any issues. As Sarasohn said, “Politicians, of course, tell stories all the time: to humanize themselves, to connect with an audience, to provide an example that illustrates a policy. And sometimes, you get a story without the policy. That’s the story meant to lull you to sleep.”

Back to the elusive voters asking the question tomorrow night. Although 11 states (plus possibly Arizona) comprise the “swing states,” three may decide the president: Colorado, Florida, and Virginia. An average of the last two general elections shows that approximately 12 million people might vote in these three states; undecided voters are possibly six percent of these 12 million voters. That means that 720,000 voters may actually determine the next president. At least the rest of get to determine state and local elections.

Andy Borowitz has some acid remarks to make about tomorrow’s debate and the reaction to the first presidential debate:

“With his polite and well-mannered performance widely panned in the first Presidential debate, President Barack Obama is under mounting pressure to prove that he can act like an asshole in the second debate tomorrow night, a campaign aide confirmed.

“In America, we demand that our President remain cool and calm in a crisis but go batshit in a debate,” the aide said. ‘Tuesday night is all about that second piece.’ But even as Mr. Obama worked around the clock to practice being a douche, Mitt Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, doubted his efforts would succeed. ‘Being an asshole isn’t a skill that you can just pick up overnight,’ Mr. Rhoades said. ‘Mitt Romney’s been working on it all his life.’”

Aside: Yesterday I talked about the American Dream, and today this gem dropped into my email box: information about James Gustave Speth’s new book, American the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy, that explains how America is not broke. The money is just in the wrong places. More about this later.

October 14, 2012

Conservatives Erase the American Dream

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:36 PM
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One of the most important times of my days is “tea-time,” an occasion that my partner and I set aside before dinner when we talk about the past 24 hours. (“Tea-time” might be a misnomer because our “tea” varies from juice to the harder stuff, but it’s symbolic of sharing and focus.) Part of our conversation surrounds what makes us feel good about recent events and what makes us feel grateful. As always, I’m grateful for my partner, our pets, our home, and our security, however temporary it might be.

Yesterday one of the topics was the “American Dream”—what it is now, what it used to be, and why it changed. When I grew up, the dream was owning one’s own house, however small it might be, and having a secure job. But today more and more people are far away from this dream because the wealthy wants to possess the country’s entire resources even if it eradicates the dream for the majority of people in the United States.

How much money is enough? The Koch brothers are worth $62,000,000,000. The Walton family was worth $89.5 billion in 2010, the same as the bottom 41.5 percent of all U.S. families combined. That’s 48.8 million American households. That means that these eight people are worth more than the 47 percent that Mitt Romney says are mooching freeloaders. Yet these eight people aren’t satisfied with how much money they make. They’re working to elect Republicans who will lower their taxes to give them billions more.

Romney is much poorer at only $250,000,000, but he’s working to get more. With his tax shelters and his covert participation in Bain Capital, he gets more and more millions every year. He supposedly lives modestly (if you discount all his huge homes with the car elevators). If so, why does he need that much more money? When presented with these statistics, conservatives say that these people deserve this money because they work hard. But do they truly put in millions and billions of extra effort?

As most people know, the separation between the wealthy and the other 90 percent increases each year. The average net worth of a member of the Forbes 400 hit $4.2 billion, the highest level it’s been in at least a decade and up from $3.8 billion last year. After taking the government to the brink of shutdown and default in 2011, the House GOP voted to give the rich and corporations more than $3 trillion in tax breaks in its budget this year. If Republicans take over the Senate and presidency, they will succeed in doing this.

Income for the top fifth of American households rose by 1.6 percent last year, driven by even larger increases for the top 5 percent of households, said David Johnson, a Census Bureau official.  Yet median household income after inflation fell to $50,054, a level that was 8 percent lower than in 2007, the year before the recession took hold. There were 46.2 million people, 15 percent of the population, in poverty in the United States last year. That’s because most of the country’s resources go to the top 5 percent, wealthy people who do nothing to create jobs for those in poverty.

A major reason that the wealthy get wealthier is that they get the vast majority of tax breaks in this country. Romney criticizes the 47 percent because they are freeloaders on the other 53 percent. In fact, the other 53 percent receive their own form of government assistance in disproportionately benefiting from the federal government’s $1.08 trillion annual allocation for tax breaks. 

The top 1 percent of tax filers earning over $400,000 collected 23.9 percent (about $258 billion) in reduced taxes through deductions and exclusions. The top 10 percent of filers took in 40.3 percent (more than $435 billion). On the other hand, the bottom 60 percent of tax filers got just 20.1 percent of the tax reductions from deductions and exclusions, $217 billion or half of what was claimed by far fewer top earners in the U.S.

Between 1989 and 2010, the top 1 percent of the population went from holding 30.1 percent of the wealth to 34.5 percent, while the bottom 50 percent went from having 3 percent of the wealth to having just 1.1 percent. The share of wealth held by the next 40 percent of people, up to the 90th percentile, had also dropped, from 29.9 percent to 24.3 percent. Ten percent of people have 74.5 percent of the wealth.

And that’s why many people live like the ones in these photographs by Ann Hubard. And they will be joined by many more if people like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan get their way.

Every afternoon when my partner and I have tea-time, I say how grateful that I am for achieving my American dream. Conservatives may also be grateful, but they want to take away the dreams from other people in the country.

This quote of the week comes from Janis Lane, president of the Central Mississippi Tea Party: “Our country might have been better off if it was still just men voting. There is nothing worse than a bunch of mean, hateful women. They are diabolical in how than can skewer a person.”

October 13, 2012

Good News for President Obama

While Mitt Romney and other Republicans find it vital to point out the fallacies of President Obama’s policies and actions, the conservatives determinedly ignore the way that the current administration is bringing the country out of the disasters that George W. Bush and the other neocons brought onto the United States. Here’s a sampling:

U.S. consumer sentiment rose up from 78.3 to 83.1 this month, its highest in five years, shortly after the U.S. unemployment rate tumbled to its lowest in nearly four years.

During George W. Bush’s rule, the stock market crashed, and trillions of dollars of private wealth were erased with the market bottoming out at 6,547 in early 2009. Now the stocks have rebounded to almost twice that, closing out last week at 13,329.

A boom in oil production within the United States has the country on a course to cut its reliance on imported crude oil to about 42 percent this year, the lowest level in two decades. Republicans claim that the president’s energy policies drive up the prices because of shortages and regulations, but the reason behind inflated prices is speculation. The CEO of Exxon-Mobil, Rex Tillerson, told a Senate hearing last year that this speculation was driving up the price of a barrel of oil by as much as 40%.

For a while Mitt Romney was using the “are you better off than you were four years ago” question to put down what President Obama has accomplished during his term. Here are some differences

When the economy was in a tail spin in early 2009, the auto industry was on pace to sell 9.3 vehicles that year. Now, GM is coming back, Chrysler is solid, and Ford Motors is on a roll; September car sales in the U.S. reached a 14.88-million annual pace.

By the end of the first quarter of 2009, $16 trillion in home equity had been erased through bad bank methods. Now, home prices are heading up, and home equity has rebounded more than $11.5 trillion.

By February 2008, ten days after the current president took his oath of office, the unemployment had shot up from 5 percent the year before to 8.3 percent. In less than nine months, the unemployment rate topped out at 10 percent. Now the unemployment rate is 7.8 percent, still high but consistently declining.

Compare the current unemployment situation to that of President Reagan, patron saint of the conservatives. Ten days before he took office, the unemployment rate was 7.4 percent; nineteen months later it peaked at 10.8 percent in November 1982. By the time, Reagan started his second term, it had fallen to 7.3 percent, just 0.1 percent of recovery in four years. That’s only 20 percent of what the current president has managed in less time.

Obama inherited a deficit of nearly $1.3 trillion from Bush/Cheney the moment he took the oath of office, a deficit that he has dropped $200 billion this year, the smallest deficit in four years, despite the Republican policies that drive the deficit.

Although the conservatives refuse to admit that the 2009 stimulus benefited the country, “facts matter,” to quote VP Joe Biden.






















Although the Romney campaign constantly likes about how much the government has spent during the past four years, it is actually the Republican presidents that spend far more. As the chart shows, only Bill Clinton spent less during the last half century.












The above chart also shows how unemployment claims grew during the last part of George W. Bush’s rule, only to start shrinking after President Obama’s inauguration.

When Bill Clinton left office in 2001, the nation had a large surplus and was on track to pay off the entirety of its debt, roughly $5 trillion at the time, by the end of the decade. After their election, Bush/Cheney went on a binge, charging the costs of two wars, two tax cuts, Medicare expansion, and a Wall Street bailout with no idea of how to pay for them except to accuse the next Democratic president of having an enormous deficit. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) described the Bush/Cheney era as a time when the GOP decided “it was standard practice not to pay for things.”

It’s against this backdrop that the Romney-Ryan ticket intends to pass trillions in additional tax cuts, increase defense spending, increase entitlement spending, and destroy health care reform, a move that would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the debt. Once again the Republicans want to further bankrupt the United States.

In fact, Ryan has already contributed a grand total of $6.8 trillion to the federal debt during his time in Congress, voting for at least 65 bills that either reduced revenue or increased spending. It’s horrifying to imagine what he would do if he were give more control than he has had as one person out of 435 representatives in the House.

Aside: William Koch is facing a federal lawsuit for allegedly and illegally imprisoning and interrogating an employee. Kirby Martenson, a former executive for a number of Koch subsidiary companies, claims that he was fired, imprisoned, and interrogated for an excessive amount of time at the Old West ghost town replica that Koch built recently. Check out the entire story here.

October 12, 2012

Republicans Weaken Nation’s Security

During the past decade, the GOP has had serious problems with leaking national security. One was the Valerie Plame affair: the Bush administration exposed a CIA operative to punish her husband because he didn’t say what George W. Bush wanted. More than damaging one couple, this “leak” damaged past intelligence gathering and future intelligence assets.

During the Obama administration, the Republicans have falsely blamed the president and his staff for deliberately revealing classified information. The latest leak, however, can’t be blamed on the Democrats because it happened on C-SPAN. And it was done during an attempt to embarrass the president.

The confusion surrounding the death of four men, including the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, was whether the attack was because of an anti-Muslim film or because of terrorism. Disturbed by the current administration’s refusal to declare terrorism until an investigation could be carried out, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) set up hearings in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to show how weak President Obama is in foreign affairs and the country’s security. The plan backfired when it blew the cover of a Libyan CIA base.

After State Department officials showed a commercial satellite of the U.S. compound during a committee meeting, Rep. John Chaffetz (R-UT) called out, “Point of order! Point of order! We’re getting into classified issues that deal with sources and methods that would be totally inappropriate in an open forum such as this.” When a State Department official tried to shut him up by saying that the photo was from a commercial satellite, Chaffetz declaimed, “I totally object to the use of that photo. I was told specifically while I was in Libya I could not and should not ever talk about what you’re showing here today.”

If that wasn’t enough to alert everyone that the commercial satellite photo might reveal U.S. secret intelligence, Issa said, “I would direct that that chart be taken down. In this hearing room, we’re not going to point out details of what may still in fact be a facility of the United States government or more facilities.” Technology must not be Issa’s strong suit; it was already part of the record on C-SPAN.

Not content to stay quiet, Chaffetz added,  “I believe that the markings on that map were terribly inappropriate. The activities there could cost lives.” The public testimony that the Republicans insisted on eliciting was even more damning. Under questioning, State Department officials disclosed that there was a seven-member “rapid response force” in the compound the State Department was calling an annex and that it was under control of the “other government agency.” They were also forced to acknowledge that “not necessarily all of the security people” at the Benghazi compounds “fell under my direct operational control.” Still not satisfied with keeping any leftover intelligence under wraps, Issa said publicly that agency in control was not the FBI.

The end result was that the Republicans on the committee both scolded the State Department officials for not revealing information and not concealing intelligence. Republicans are determined to embarrass the administration, but they succeeded only in showing that the CIA may have let down the victims.

Issa finally suggested that “the entire committee have a classified briefing as to any and all other assets that were not drawn upon but could have been drawn upon” in Benghazi. It’s a bit late: the briefing is already on C-SPAN.

In trying to show that a similar disaster had not happened in the history of the county, the Republicans also show their ignorance. U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens is the eighth U.S. ambassador to die in the line of duty since 1950. Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and  Bush Jr. have all had attacks on embassies under their watch.  Seven different attacks in which people died happened under George W. Bush.

Republicans also tried to embarrass the administration by claiming that the State Department had turned down requests for funding at the Libyan Embassy. Regional Security officer of Libya, Eric Nordstrom, testified to that several times. He has also testified that he  that having more agents would not have prevented the assault. He also said he had sought mainly to prevent any reduction in staff, rather than have a big increase.  

The people who should be embarrassed about their position are the Republicans in Congress. They have spent the past two years slashing the budget for embassy security. Every House Republican voted for the Paul Ryan Budget that cut funding to the State Department by 20 percent, $400 million. This cut includes funding for embassy security.

When Chaffetz was asked if he voted to cut nearly $300 million from the U.S. embassy security budget, he said, “Absolutely. Look, we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have–think about this–15,000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, private army there for President Obama in Baghdad. And we’re talking about can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces? When you’re in tough economic times, you have to make difficult choices how to prioritize this.”

Ryan, Issa, and other House Republicans voted for an amendment in 2009 to cut $1.2 billion from State operations, including funds for 300 more diplomatic security positions. For fiscal 2013, the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program, well below the $2.15 billion requested by the Obama administration. House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Republicans’ proposed cuts to her department would be “detrimental to America’s national security”–a charge Republicans rejected.

Instead of trying to create jobs, the Republicans will use any means at their disposal in their sole goal to tear down the Democrats—even the result is weakening the country.

Aside:  Last night  Paul Ryan managed to tell 24 myths during the 40 of the 90 minutes that he spoke.

October 11, 2012

VP Candidate Debate

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:03 PM

Six days after the majority of people in the United States declared Mitt Romney the “winner” at the first presidential debate over President Obama, the only vice-presidential debate in this election pitted Paul Ryan against Vice-President Joe Biden and moderated by Martha Raddatz.

Nate Silver finds Paul Ryan to be the most conservative member of Congress to be picked as a running mate since at least 1900, and in the last few days, Ryan has been gotten snippy when challenged, even walking out on interviewers. Ryan prepared for this evening by reading up on VP Biden (forget about the subject matter such as foreign affairs) in the same way that he gets ready for bow-hunting.

Campaign advice for Ryan is to have him answer questions in broad terms and avoid the specifics. The second approach is to keep him talking about positive changes from a Romney/Ryan administration. Instead of giving any specifics about action in the Middle East, Ryan said only that these have to be in the interests of the national security. He concentrated on generalities in many other areas.

The debate moved so fast and furiously that Ryan’s head was spinning sometime. He started out strongly when he talked about the White House explaining that the anti-Muslim film was the reason for the attack in Benghazi (Libya) that killed the U.S. ambassador and three others before it said there was a broader problem. It was downhill from there as VP Biden took over the debate.

During the fiery exchange punctuated by VP Biden’s claim that Ryan’s statements were “malarkey” and “inaccurate,” Ryan limped during the foreign policy discussions especially discussing the timelines for leaving Afghanistan. At that point he tried to explain that the enemy should not be told the timeline but that Romney and Ryan agreed with this.

Ryan did work hard to give no credit to President Obama for any of his achievements. One time was when he said that the president had nothing to do about the sanctions on Iran, that these all came from Congress. The Republican VP candidate missed the latest sanction on Tuesday when President Obama made an executive order.

Also in play were the usual conservative lies about the president taking $716 out of Medicare, six studies supporting the Romney position that a 20-percent cut in taxes would create revenue, and “outsourcing policy to the UN. Ryan also used Raddatz’s question of whether he was ever “embarrassed by this campaign” because of its negativity to launch more negativity. He also referred to poor Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) of being a supporter for his Medicare program when Wyden has continually made it clear that he is not.

Ryan made two odd statements in answering the question about how his religion shaped his position on abortion. First, he said that “un-elected” judges should not decide abortion policy, which erases the third leg of the government. Second, he stated that the Romney position on legislating anti-abortion would include exemptions for rape and the woman’s health. This was Romney’s position a few weeks ago before he moved to absolutely no abortions. There seems to be another shift.

In a more forceful fashion than last week’s moderator, Raddatz kept both of the men in line, but her question about abortion was peculiar because she tied it to the two men’s religion, in opposition to the constitutional view that separates church and state.

Pieces that were not ignored in the debate:

1. Romney and Ryan would eliminate health care for 31 million people who are poor or disabled.

2. 62% of Ryan’s budget cuts come from programs that benefit low-income Americans with $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts.

3. Ryan voted, and encouraged other Republicans to vote, for future defense cuts he now blames on Obama.

4. Ryan voted to increase the debt ceiling by $4 trillion under Bush and voted six times to raise the debt ceiling, increasing it by $5.8 trillion.

5. Ryan wants to take 1 million students off of Pell Grants despite the fact that 74 percent of Pell Grant recipients in 2011 came from families with incomes of $30,000 or less.

6. Ryan has always voted against marriage equality and claims that preventing same-sex couples from getting married is a “universal human value.”

So who won the debate? Pundits are declaring both Ryan and VP Biden depending on their political beliefs, and the polls are equally split. The CBS poll of undecided voters saw 31 percent for Ryan and 51 percent for Biden whereas a CNN poll of all voters came out with 48 percent for Ryan and 44 percent for VP Biden. Fox refused to post the CBS poll.

The conservatives may feel that Biden did a good job as shown by Chris Wallace’s statement: “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a debate in which one participant was as openly disrespectful of the other as Biden was to Paul Ryan tonight. It was openly contemptuous and disrespectful.”

Mr. Wallace, that’s exactly how I felt about Mitt Romney last week. Five more days to see how President Obama does against Romney.

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