Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ryan and Republicans: What's Reality Got To Do With It?

Listening to Ryan and the rest of the Republicans give their soap box speeches this week  informed persons must have scratch their heads and thought:  "Just who do these imbeciles think they are fooling?"  Oh I forgot, stupid me.  The party of daily sound bytes emailed by the RNC to the entire Congressional delegation who repeat them in lockstep unity, not only lies to its own members, but learned from the Madison Avenue crowd way back in the Reagan days that if you repeat a lie enough, the ignorant, "American Idol" "Dancing with the Stars" watching masses think it equates to corroboration and believe it.

The High Priestess of this black art (no pun intended) Conde Nast(y) Rice was actually on stage last night giving a performance worthy of an Emmy.  GWB's "other wife" who misled and lied to the 911 Commission with her testimony that the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing was a "white paper" ordered by the President was worthy of a criminal charge of contempt of Congress.  I was watching her testimony and screaming wishing there was someone in charge who could force her to answer the question posed but no such luck.  Cheney and the White House lawyers had carefully negotiated the conditions of the 911 Commission for the purpose of giving the administration a pass.  (For the uninformed, Bush had over one month's warning that there were Al Queda members inside the United States and recent surveillance indicated they were engaged in activities in preparation for hijacking, to which Bush did absolutely NOTHING!)

But this two bit lying sack of sh!t of a public servant will forever be immortalized by going on all the Sunday morning Washington talk shows in the run up to the Iraq War and repeating  information which the administration knew with 100% certainty was false and then pointing to a false story they planted with a NY Times reporter as proof of it being true.  This is monstrous.  So it did not come to me as any surprise that Secretary Rice would give a speech worthy of the Democratic National Convention extolling the virtues of immigration to the bigoted Tea Baggers who have drove away a key demographic group that will spell their doom.

But Conde is old news.  What about that wunder kid, Paul "Alfalfa" Ryan.  Cryin' Ryan has been trotting out the most audacious criticism of the President without reminding the public of his position.  So when Ryan states that he is going to "save" Medicare he does not ever mention that the Ryan Budget would end the program as we know it and turn it into a voucher system leaving the elderly to fend for themselves without a safety net. 

Factcheck.org had this to say about Ryan's repeated false claims concerning Medicare and the Affordable Care Act  Ryan' sVP Spin:

     "Ryan continued the campaign’s false line of attack that Obama had “funneled” money out of
       Medicare to pay for the federal health care law “at the expense of the elderly.” But that’s
       contradicted by Medicare’s chief actuary, in a statement at the end of the
        most recent report of the system’s trustees  (emphasis added): 

         Medicare Actuary, April 23, 2012: [Obama's] Affordable Care Act makes important
         changes to the Medicare program and substantially improves its financial outlook …

          Medicare’s money isn’t being taken away. The Affordable Care Act calls for slowing the
          growth in spending, a move that — if successful — would keep the hospital insurance
          trust fund solvent for longer than if the reductions didn’t happen.
          Ryan himself proposed keeping most of these same spending cuts in his most recent
         “Path to Prosperity” budget. Yet, Ryan criticized Obama’s cuts as “the biggest, coldest
           power play of all” and suggested seniors would suffer as a result.
Ryan, Aug. 29: And the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly. … [T]hey just took it all away from Medicare, $716 billion funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.
       The Affordable Care Act calls for a $716 billion reduction in the future growth of Medicare
        spending over 10 years, with most of that — about $415 billion — coming from a reduction
        in the future growth of payments to hospitals through Medicare Part A.   And Medicare
        Part A’s trust fund, as we’ve explained before, is in trouble financially. It’s set to be insolvent
         in 2024,   even with these spending cuts. Without them, the trust fund wouldn’t be able to fully
         pay projected benefits in 2016, the Medicare trustees estimate."

Ryan talks about a GM plant closing near Janesville, a plant that candidate Obama spoke at and stated it was his hope that the plant would be around another 100 years.  The plant unfortunately did close, BEFORE President Obama took office and oh, by the way, the President's rescue of the American Auto industry has been an overwhelming success.  An American success story that Ryan opposed and Romney said he would have opposed.

Perhaps the biggest lie that is at the root of the Tea Bag movement and that has the great unwashed all stirred up over is the so called $5.8 trillion portion of the national debt the Republicans try and lay at the feet of President Obama.  The fact of the matter is about $1.6 trillion is attributable to the Obama Administration with the remainder of the $5.8 trillion attributable to the policies of the Bush Administration, namely tax cuts for the wealthy and the cost of Conde's war.

So there.  The record has been set straight .  So what's reality got to do with your plan for America Republicans?  Apparently very little.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Republican Candidate for Senate Seat in MO.: Has to Get to Akin Before He Gets To Remer

Not since Texas oilman, rancher and Republican gubernatorial candidate Clayton "Claytie" Williams made a crude joke about rape in front of reporters over 20 years ago, has a candidate said something as stupid as  Republican Todd  "legitimate rape" Akin.  In 1990, Williams quipped that rape was like bad weather. "As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it." Now 22 years later another male Republican candidate is just as clueless about human reproduction.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Plainsense Easily Defeats Romney Lover in First Surrogate Presidential Debate*






IssueShould Mitt Romney Disclose More than One Year of his Tax Returns?



Romney Lover:  

Welfare and political office are both voluntary, although one wants to work for the people, the other wants to drain resources from the people.  Seems like the resource drainers are the ones we need to be targeting not those who are trying to serve the people and make this Country better. 

Plainsense 

Conflating those that choose to run for elected office and disclosures that have become de riguer (set by his own father) to people who are on public assistance?  They have nothing in common.

Romney Lover:  

It wasn't a problem in the 60's when the last thing people wanted to recieve is public assistance. But, today with hundreds of millions of dollars spent on public assistance I think we need to rethink the ease at which we distribute those funds. In addition they has 1 out of 3 kids gets some sort of reduced lunches. That seems a little preposterous. I would start putting conditions on that type of help. For one I would contract with food processors to make food stamp foods. In addition, if you have a cell phone then you are not getting any public assistance. If you have cable no assistance, if you have a newer car no assistance, if you have any pets no assistance. I mean, lets get lean and mean. Your thoughts?

Plainsense :  

Get over it, there by the grace of God go you.  Would you trade places with them?  Then shut up.


Romney Lover 

Because I wouldn't trade places with them doesn't mean I'm in favor of them ripping off the taxpayer. So, if I don't want to trade places with someone I cannot criticize them now are you getting these rules from the "Plainsense playbook, how to confuse your opponent"?

Plainsense:  

Getting back to the real issue:  What is Romney hiding?  Tax cheat.  Offshore accounts.  Job killer How bout the $8 billion the GAO just gave up trying to find which was cash unaccounted for by Bush Admin in Iraq, a war they said would cost $47 billion and $1 trillion later ...and a war that did not need to be fought ... which is the bigger rip off ...again you can't see the forest for the trees... how bout the tax breaks to the uber wealthy who only create 4 % of the jobs we could save trillions... you as a middle class person are being ripped off and screwed and you say thank you mam,  more please?  Not me.   I ain't a slave on Romney's Farm.   I am casting off my shackles and your hackles!

Score:  Advantage Plainsense. 

*Actual IM discussion (edited for punctuation and flow).

Ecuador Grants Asylum to Romney Tax Returns

Stealing a page out of Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange's playbook, an insecure but well coiffed gentleman was seen lugging several banker boxes of files into the Ecuadoran Embassy in Washington, D.C. today.  After hastily scheduling a joint press conference with the Ecuadoran Foreign Ministry, the Romney Campaign announced that 10 of the last 12 years of Mitt Romney's tax returns have been granted Asylum by the President of Ecuador. 

The spokesman for the Romney Campaign, Paul Ryan, (rumored to have once been a big wheel in the U.S. House of Representatives and a significant player in the Washington political scene but now relegated to carrying water for a doomed presidential campaign), predicted "This is a real game changer".  Ryan  went on to state "...this should end all the wild speculation over off shore tax dodging foreign accounts, American jobs lost by Bain Capital shipping them overseas so that we can finally focus on the number one issue that is of paramount importance to red blooded, rib rock Republicans like our spiritual leader, Donald Trump:  why Barack Obama is ineligible to serve as President of the Unite States since his birth certificate is a forgery".

Truly the end of presidential politics as we know it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

New Tom Waits Music Video "Hell Broke Luce": A Nightmarish American Zeitgeist



Ten years ago I had the pleasure of meeting John Hammond, one of my favorite modern bluesmen.  I was backstage at the Harms Center for the Performing Arts (now called Bergen Performing Arts Center) in Englewood, New Jersey and two of my favorite bands, Roomful of Blues and Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers, whose ranks included many friends, were sharing a bill with Mr. Hammond.  I had brought with me from Minnesota a copy of the record John had done on the Vanguard label with the Nighthawks, which album remains one of the best examples of contemporary American blues/roots music.

I had first stopped in D.C. and picked up a couple of my friends from high school to share in what was sure to be an incredible night of music.  As I was commiserating and introducing old friends to other old friends in the hall outside the dressing rooms, I spied John Hammond through the window in the door to the backstage kitchen.  Seizing the chance to get my album signed, I strode in and introduced myself to John.  Just as my friends in the Nighthawks had told me, John was an extremely kind, soft spoken and affable man, despite a singing voice that even Howling Wolf would be envious of.  (Below you can see a picture I took of the back cover of my copy of the Hot Tracks album which both John and Jimmy Thackery signed that night.  A little over a year later, the Nighthawks were in St. Paul and I got Mark , Pete and Jan to sign thus completing all the players on the album.)

At the time John had an album of Tom Waits covers entitled "Wicked Grin" out produced by the legendary songwriter (Waits) himself.  I told John I really loved his new album especially the fact that I could finally understand Waits' lyrics on many of the songs for the first time.  John laughed and said that's what Tom said when they were making it.

We briefly discussed his project with the Nighthawks and the cover art that graced the album.  But John kept coming back to his new project and what a genius Tom Waits was.  I will never forget how the son of John Hammond Sr., the legendary AR man for Columbia Records whose discoveries/signings included Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Ray Vaughn and as a child who frequently rubbed elbows and shared meals with his father's business associates, a veritable who's who of American intelligentsia, and how he called Tom Waits the greatest genius he had ever met.  John than regaled me with all the projects Tom was doing at one time:  working on plays (writing and acting), music (producing others and songwriting) and poetry.  It made one tired and humbled just thinking about all the things Waits was doing as an artist

Fast forward ten years and Waits hasn't let up.  At an age when alot of us like to put up our feet, lean back and relax a little, well not for Mr. Waits.  In his latest video, "Hell Broke Luce" Waits has captured perfectly the state of American life where the middle and working classes are slaves to their underwater home mortgages and the Military-Financial-Banking-Industrial complex.  After watching this video one can't help but agree with Mr. Hammond.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney: "Join Me in Welcoming the Next President of the United States, Paul Ryan"

video

Romney Ryan: Wrong for America

Hardly America's version of the "Bold and the Beautiful", Romney's selection of Paul Ryan, that groody, little evil man from my neighboring state should put shivers up and down the spines of all Americans.  Ryan's Budget proposals as chairman of the House Budget Committee over the past several years would spell disaster for seniors and the middle class, let alone the fragile state of the U.S. economy.

 "An arrogant little prick" is how those closest to him describe Ryan.  Ryan is the poster child for the breakdown of functionality that has been the hallmark of the do nothing Congress, more specifically the extremist House of Representatives.  The broad based coalition of progressive organizations called Strengthen Our Social Security put out these quick facts about the Ryan Budget when it was first proposed:

Facts about Congressman Ryan’s Budget

(Click here for a pdf of this fact sheet.)
SOCIAL SECURITY
  • Congressman Ryan’s budget attacks Social Security on numerous levels.
  • It is based completely on misinformation that enemies of Social Security have been pushing for years. Contrary to what people like Representative Paul Ryan say, Social Security is not broken, and it is fully sustainable. When people like Paul Ryan say otherwise, it is not only factually wrong – it is damaging, irresponsible, and a disservice to all Americans who have paid into this program through a lifetime of hard work. We do not need to cut benefits to make sure that Social Security will be there for future generations – and it would be wrong to do so when there are better, more popular options.
  • Congressman Ryan wants to cut the Social Security benefits that the American people have earned – and he is trying to hide it. His budget endorses the cuts, though not the revenue increases, included in the proposal of the co-chairs of the Bowles-Simpson commission – but fails to mention that they proposed cutting the Cost of Living Adjustment of all current beneficiaries, raising the retirement age of people born after 1960 and slashing the benefits of younger working and middle class families earning $38,000 or more.
  • Congressman Ryan wants to use an unaccountable fast-track process to make those cuts. Fast-track processes, secret negotiations, and unaccountable commissions are the wrong way to make changes to Social Security. These processes just make it easier for politicians to cut benefits and use Social Security as an ATM for deficit reduction without having to face the citizens who have earned these benefits.
  • The Ryan Budget also makes totally irresponsible cuts to funding for the Social Security Administration – cuts which would make it hard for Americans to access the benefits they have earned and the services they have paid for. The funding for the Social Security Administration comes out of the contributions that hard-working Americans have already made to Social Security – and it is wrong to deprive them of the services they have already paid for. This is just another attempt to undermine the program.
MEDICARE
  • Congressman Ryan would raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 over 12 years beginning in 2023 for people born in 1958 – devastating new generations of seniors. This would increase out-of-pocket health care costs for everyone, and force more people near retirement to live without even basic health insurance. It would represent an indirect Social Security cut of as much as 45 percent.
  • The Ryan Budget once again ends Medicare as we know it and replaces it with a voucher system. This system will increase out-of-pocket health care costs for seniors – directly taking money out of their pockets. As the health care costs exceed the value of the vouchers over time, seniors who are not wealthy will be forced to forego the care they need – and the dignity that they deserve.
  • Congressman Ryan’s budget would break the promise of Medicare by shifting costs onto beneficiaries, increasing overall health care costs, and undermining seniors’ access to health care.
  • The Ryan Budget would drive up health care costs for everybody. Medicare has been successful in keeping costs down because it has considerable bargaining power – but by fragmenting that bargaining power, health care costs will rise even faster.
  • Low-income seniors would be hit the hardest. While the Ryan Budget promises that low-income seniors would receive accounts to help them with premiums and cost-sharing, Congressman Ryan’s budget last year left these seniors about $4,700 short – about one-third of their income.
BOTTOM LINES
  • Congressman Ryan’s budget would expand tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, while pulling away critical Medicare and Social Security protections from the middle class.
  • By ending Medicare “as we know it,” Congressman Ryan’s plan would increase health care costs and undermine the economic security of seniors.
  • Social Security should not be part of any budget deliberations, and should only be changed through legislation that goes through “regular order,” that is, the full congressional review and debate as has been the case since 1935. The law makes Social Security separate from the budget – and Social Security is projected to have a $100 billion surplus in 2013. Including it in the budget is wrong. When it is reformed through regular order, Congress should follow the will of those they are elected to represent, who overwhelmingly oppose all benefit cuts and overwhelmingly support requiring the wealthiest to pay their fair share.
 The contrast between the reckless, reactionary budget plans of Congressman Ryan and his fellow House Republicans and those of the President and the Democrats, which call for a balanced approach to deficit reduction with a focus on smart government spending focused on needed capital and public works spending with tax breaks focused on the middle class, could not be starker.  The choice is clear America, we can go back to the Reagan and Bush era trickle down economics that resulted in disaster and economic collapse (except for the very wealthiest) or we can focus on the middle class like every other post war administration has done. 

President Clinton, whose administration presided over the most prosperous economic times in recent history, had this to say about President Obama's accomplishments:



Sunday, August 5, 2012

Romney's Five Point Plan*

5.  Tax Reform consisting of broadening the base, flattening the rate and simplification.  Sounds appealing but based on an analysis by the conservative leaning Brookings Institute , it would actually mean cutting taxes on the wealthy and raising taxes on the middle class.**  Hmm, sounds kinda familiar and I don't think that it worked out so well in the past.

4.  Adopting a Fiscal Policy that includes, inter alia, cutting federal spending and cap it at 20 percent of GDP, turning Medicaid into block grants and pursue further entitlement reform (i.e. privatizing Social Security?) and pursue a Balanced Budget Amendment.  Three words:  dangerous, frightening and stupid.  Just ask Great Britain and Europe how austerity is working for their economies right now. Shifting the buck to the States solves nothing and just think where this country would be right now if we had not resisted the  Bush Administration's big  push for privatizing Social Security (a change the CBO deemed revenue neutral with all the savings, trillions of dollars, all going to Walls Street in the form of service fees***) in 2004-05 after the financial collapse they (the Bush Administration and largely Republican policies) caused in 2007-08.

3.  A Regulatory Policy consisting of  repealing and replacing "...Obamacare and Dodd-Frank Review" and eliminating "...Obama-era regulations, cap new regulatory costs at zero dollars", requiring "...Congress to approve all major regulations" and the tired and untrue.reforming "...legal liability system".  This isn't even a policy, but rather a pie in the sky, ridiculous, right wing rant and wish list.  The idea that any administration could easily repeal and replace, major health care reform, something that every administration has tried and failed since FDR is preposterous.

In reality, what could happen if the Republicans got their way, is that if the Affordable Care Act was repealed, all Americans would loose the vast and increasing benefits and protections that have and are to be implemented under the ACA, including the end to discrimination based upon pre-existing conditions, children being covered under their parent's plan until age 26, no lifetime cap on benefits and most recently rebates to employers and/or consumers of amounts over 20% of premiums not spent by health insurance carriers on actual medical treatment as opposed to administrative costs and profits (i.e. the Franken Amendment copied from Minnesota State law, Ski U mah!).  Moreover, if the ACA were repealed without simultaneously enacting new legislation, it is conceivable that all Americans would be left with some kind of pre-existing condition of one kind or another and we would all be left to the mercy of health insurance companies and whatever whim they decide to charge in the form of premiums.

The idea that "Congress approve all major regulations" just underscores how out of touch Mr. Romney is with reality let alone modern government.  Hello?  Mr. Romney, the current Congress cannot even agree on the sky being blue and you would have the requirement that all major regulation be approved by this band of jokers?  No wonder you believe the Garden of Eden in in Missouri and that African American were not our equals until the late 1970s.

Finally, any lawyer can tell you that nearly every state and countless pieces of federal legislation have addressed tort reform and any further moves in this direction is simply code for denying individuals their right to a remedy under law to the benefit of businesses, corporations and wrongdoers.  It's about time the American people realize that the trial lawyers, the plaintiff's bar, represents you and "tort reform" hurts you and your family by denying you full compensation if, God forbid, you or your loved ones are injured through the fault of someone or some entity.

2.  At first blush, Mr. Romney's Energy Policy seems innocuous enough and something we all agree with:  “Spending our energy dollars here for domestically produced energy while also funding research, development, and production of new sources of energy creates jobs, strengthens the dollar, and reduces our exposure to supply risks and volatility. We must vigorously embrace and develop all of our domestic energy sources.”  Agreed.  But when you look at what little detail his "plan" gives on how we accomplish this, you have to wonder where Mr. Romney was during the massive Amoco oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Mr. Romney's criticism of the President on energy policy boils down to siding with big oil and big coal at the expense of the environment and the American people and shows an utter disregard for one of the most basic tenets of good government:  stewardship of the land and natural resources.  Just remember America are you really comfortable with putting in charge those that do not believe in science, that global warming is not occurring or one of the most important scientific principles in history (i.e. evolution of species) which forms the basis for the biological sciences and its relation to the earth sciences?

1.  Labor Policy and Human Capital:  Romney's plan calls for appointing experienced and even-handed arbiters to the NLRB, guaranteeing businesses the right to allocate capital as they choose, protecting right of workers to choose whether to unionize and ending funding of union political campaigns through
paycheck deductions.  As for immigration and education policies, which Romney lumps together as "Human Capital", his plan calls for consolidating federal programs, returning authority, responsibility, and funds to states for retraining programs, supporting private-sector participation in the process, raising visa caps for highly skilled foreign workers and giving permanent residency to eligible advanced-degree recipients.  The first thing that immediately strikes you as you read these aspects of Romney's "plan" is the utter callousness with which Romney like many big business tycoons and millionaires view their fellow citizens, not as fellow human beings and Americans deserving of rights and protections and basic human dignity but rather as an input, a line on a spreadsheet no more deserving of rights than beasts of burden.  His policy can realistically be summed up as all for business and anti worker, vehemently anti union and needless to say anti immigrant.  But come on, Mitt would say "...my Dad was born in Mexico".

Finally, just last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reported "I’d been told by a very credible source that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid taxes for ten years".  Is it no wonder then why Mr. Romney has released only one year of his tax returns and his tax policy is nothing more than a return to the disastrous and failed trickle down theory?

Well Mr. Romney , in the case of your father it is just too bad that Ambrose Bierce's quote was not reality:  "To be a Gringo in Mexico -- ah, that is euthanasia!"




*Believe in America:  Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth


Friday, August 3, 2012