Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It’s Paul Ryan’s Party: With Romney VP Pick, Movement Conservatives Openly Control GOP at Last

It’s Paul Ryan’s Party: With Romney VP Pick, Movement Conservatives Openly Control GOP at Last


I’m not sure I believe in Freudian slips, and Barack Obama made a similar mistake when he introduced Joe Biden four years ago, but what the hell: When Mitt Romney slipped up this morning and introduced Paul Ryan as "the next president of the United States," he spoke the truth. The premise of my April profile was that Ryan had become the leader of the Republican Party, with the president himself relegated to a kind of head-of-state role, at least in domestic affairs. As Grover Norquist put it, the only requirement for a nominee was enough working digits to sign Ryan’s plan. Ryan’s prestige within the party is unassailable. If he doesn’t want something to happen, it won’t happen (say, several bipartisan deals to reduce the deficit that he squashed.) If he wants something to happen, however foolhardy (like putting the entire House GOP caucus on record for his radical budget plan despite a certain veto) it will happen. It is Ryan’s party.

The only real question left was how to handle the optics of this reality. The original operating plan of the Romney campaign was to run against the bad economy, and then implement the Ryan Plan, which of course is a long-term vision of government unrelated to the current state of the labor market. Romney’s campaign had been bravely insisting for weeks that the plan was working, or that it was due for a 1980-like October leap in the polls, but clearly Romney did not believe, or had come to disbelieve, its own spin.

So Romney is conceding that the current track of the campaign is headed for a narrow defeat and has decided to alter its course. Obama has successfully defined Romney as an agent of his own economic class, a ploy that was clearly designed to make the attacks on Romney’s policy agenda hit home. (Focus groups had previously found that undecided voters found literal descriptions of Romney’s plan so radical they didn’t believe them.)

Romney has made the risky but defensible calculation that, if he is to concur with most of his party’s ideological baggage, he might as well bring aboard its best salesman. And Ryan is that. During his rise to power he has displayed an awesome political talent. He is ambitious but constantly described by others as foreswearing ambition. He comes from a wealthy background but has defined himself as "blue collar," because he comes from a place that is predominantly blue collar. He spent the entire Bush administration either supporting the administration’s deficit-increasing policies, or proposing alternative policies that would have created much higher deficits than even Bush could stomach, but came away from it with a reputation as the ultimate champion of fiscal responsibility.

What makes Ryan so extraordinary is that he is not just a handsome slickster skilled at conveying sincerity with a winsome heartland affect. Pols like that come along every year. He is also (as Rich Yeselson put it) the chief party theoretician. Far more than even Ronald Reagan, he is deeply grounded is the ideological precepts of the conservative movement — a longtime Ayn Rand devotee who imbibed deeply from the lunatic supply-side tracts of Jude Wanniski and George Gilder. He has not merely formed an alliance with the movement, he is a product of it.

In this sense, Ryan’s nomination represents an important historical marker and the completion of a 50-year struggle. Starting in the early sixties, conservative activists set out to seize control of the Republican Party. At the time the party was firmly in the hands of Establishmentarians who had made their peace with the New Deal, but the activists regarded the entire development of the modern regulatory and welfare states as a horrific assault on freedom bound to lead to imminent societal collapse.

In fits and starts, the conservatives slowly advanced – nominating Goldwater, retreating under Nixon, nominating Reagan, retreating as Reagan sought to govern, and on and on through Gingrich, Bush, and his successors.

Over time the movement and the party have grown synonymous, and Ryan’s nominations represents a moment when the conservative movement ceased to control the politicians from behind the scenes and openly assumed the mantle of power.

With Ryan It's '64 and Goldwater Again

By Edward Koch

Mitt Romney has done this country a great service by selecting Paul Ryan as his running mate. He has changed the nature of the election from one that is about who is the best candidate to lead us out of the aftermath of the Great Recession to one that concerns fundamental party policies and philosophy.

He has turned the election into what we had in 1964. President Lyndon B. Johnson was finishing the term of our martyred President Jack Kennedy and running for his own first term against Sen. Barry Goldwater, Republican from Arizona. Goldwater was the leader of the conservative wing of the Republican Party and ultimately the leader of the entire party in that election.

The 1964 race became a referendum on whether the United States should jettison the principles of the party of hope — the Democratic party — created by FDR that united the aspirations of the middle class and addressed the needs of the poor and the concerns of women, blacks, Jews, other minorities, and farmers.

FDR, a wealthy man, was denounced by many of his peers as a traitor to his class.

What FDR gave to our country was the promise of greater fairness for all of its people. One of his greatest contributions, many would say, was the Social Security program that was intended to assist these who had worked all their lives to retire at 65 with dignity. That concept was extended by President Johnson in 1965 with the creation of both Medicare and Medicaid. The former is basically for the elderly and the latter is for the impoverished of all ages.

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are the very programs that the Republicans and conservatives beginning with Goldwater have been seeking to chip away at and ultimately eliminate. For example, President George W. Bush rightly recognized that Social Security needs to be changed to make it solvent. However, his proposal to privatize the program, making payments dependent on stock market performance, makes no sense, particularly in view of the effects of the Great Recession on the stock market.

A better approach would have been and still would be to gradually increase the eligibility age (we fortunately live much longer today than we did in 1935), and apply the current Social Security tax to our entire personal income — it stops now at $110,100 — with such additional fiscal measures as are necessary to bring in more revenue. The program eligibility could also be made subject to a needs basis. Those who are wealthy don't need the employer subsidies which could be added to and used for those who do.

There are changes of a fiscal nature short of privatization that could similarly protect Medicare from going bankrupt. Unfortunately, privatizing Medicare is the signature proposal of Paul Ryan and his budget adopted by the Republican House of Representatives. Ryan would give those 55 or younger vouchers to buy health insurance policies to replace the current Medicare entitlement program.

Already the Romney-Ryan team is screaming it is unfair to attack Ryan on this his signature proposal. But he cannot run away from it and his philosophy. Listening to the talking heads, I hear a little buyers' remorse setting in.

The Republicans, at the urging of Paul Ryan, want to change Medicaid into a limited block grant to be provided to each state to take the place of the existing entitlement program which provides benefits to an unlimited number of eligible beneficiaries.

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and so many other programs are in great danger if the philosophy of the Romney-Ryan team prevails at the polls.

The lack of Romney-Ryan compassion is also highlighted by their support for the Republican House-adopted budget, which slashes food stamps that are provided to poor children and others. And then there is the matter of a woman's right to choose. The Republicans are trying in every state to deprive women of all their rights under Roe v. Wade, seeking to make it more and more difficult for a woman to exercise her right in consultation with her doctor to obtain a legally permissible abortion.

The Republicans in many states are seeking to depress the black vote, requiring unneeded identification papers for voting. The effort to roll back citizen rights goes on.

The Times this morning summed up the philosophy of Paul Ryan, reporting, "though best known as an architect of conservative fiscal policy, Rep. Paul D. Ryan has also been an ardent, unwavering foe of abortion rights, has tried to cut off federal money for family planning, has opposed same-sex marriage and has championed the rights of gun owners."

The Democrats have made their share of mistakes over the years. However, they have recognized them, made needed changes and are willing to make more changes for the good of the country. We Democrats led by President Obama support the "grand bargain" entailing revenue increases and expense reductions. The Republican leadership, on the other hand, is largely interested in cutting spending for social programs, while rejecting revenue increases, particularly if such increases include higher taxes on the rich.

I am a proud Democrat but not an ideologue. I have identified myself through the years when I served as a member of Congress and mayor of New York City, as a liberal with sanity. When I thought it appropriate and in the best interest of my country, state and city, I have crossed party lines; for me, the people always come first.

I look around and see millionaires and billionaires thriving and while most of us don't resent their wealth, we do object to their not paying their fair share of taxes. We are supposed to have a progressive tax system and instead the Congress bought by their wealthy supporters has provided loopholes that permit the wealthiest corporations and individuals to pay in some cases nothing at all.

People who get their income from stock trading, unlike those of us who receive salaries, pay at a rate of 15 percent when a salaried employee receiving the same income could be paying at a 35 percent rate. This is simply not fair.

Thank you Mitt Romney for selecting Paul Ryan as your running mate and thereby unwittingly turning this election into a crusade by all Americans who put country first and are willing to join hands across party lines to fight for fairness for all of our fellow citizens.

There’s a reason that George W. Bush immediately supported the announcement of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate. Paul Ryan was a loyal Bush/Cheney vote on all of the worst of that Administration’s historic screwups.

Let’s begin with the Iraq War Resolution, which was supported by far too many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Ryan was a solid “Yay” for this resolution. This tragic distraction ended up costing well over $800 billion, mostly funded through emergency supplemental appropriations bills that were conveniently not included in the deficit until 2010. Simply: There is no better example of wasteful spending in the last few decades than the Iraq War. And Paul Ryan voted for it.

Continue Reading >> 1 2 3 4 5


Allergic to issues, obsessed with personality, and unwilling to confront the reality of Republican radicalism, most members of the mainstream media have focused their coverage of the GOP presidential nominee on a single banal inquiry: “Who is Mitt Romney?” 

Allow me to clear this one up: it doesn’t much matter.

About the Author

Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman is a Distinguished Professor of English, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and Professor of...

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Befitting a Republican who sought statewide office in navy-blue Massachusetts, Mitt Romney spent most of his political life, in the words of The New Yorker’s Louis Menand, as “a liberal Republican cryogenically preserved from the pre-Reagan era.”


 Back in Massachusetts, Romney believed that “abortion should be safe and legal in this country” and pledged to “sustain and support” Roe v. Wade. He promised not to “line up with the NRA” and proudly boasted of the state’s “tough gun laws.” He refused to sign Grover Norquist’s “no tax” pledge as governor and termed it an example of “government by gimmickry.” He endorsed equal rights for gays, a generous immigration policy and, most famously, instituted universal healthcare for the state’s citizens based on an insurance mandate.


That fellow is as difficult to locate today, however, as the balance of a Cayman Islands bank account. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney opposes pretty much everything that Republican Senate candidate and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney ever said and did. Even so, countless journalists (and perhaps not a few undecided voters) have been racking their brains trying to decide whether President Romney might revert to that nice liberal Republican who occupied his body until 2005 or so. Many conservatives apparently fear the same.


But that Mitt Romney passed into history together with that “maverick” media hero, John McCain (remember him?), and for much the same reasons. All successful statesmen must be able to demonstrate flexibility in making pragmatic political calculations, but Romney appears to do little else. Even the non-maverick-y McCain, circa 2008, defended Barack Obama when his more rabid supporters attacked the president’s patriotism, birthplace or religion. Romney, however, offers his silent assent under the same circumstances. So while the Tea Party amateurs—the naïve and frequently ill-informed pawns of wealthy corporate funders like the Koch brothers and their ilk who served as foot soldiers for the lunatic candidacies of Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich—may have pined for a more “authentic” conservative than Romney, the pros always knew better. As Norquist himself explained, “We just need a president who can sign the legislation that the Republican House and Senate pass. We don’t need someone to think. We need someone with enough digits on one hand to hold a pen.”


In a Romney White House, those digits may go limp with fatigue. A Romney victory would likely bring with it a large majority in the House and quite possibly a Republican Senate as well, and hence a tsunami of regressive legislation. As the longtime nonpartisan analysts Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein argue, a Republican victory in November will likely prove a key turning point in modern American history. It will offer Republicans the opportunity, in Mann’s words, to put “in place a radical view of policy that goes well beyond anything Republicans have proposed in the past,” one that has moved so far rightward that “no Republican president in the modern era would have felt comfortable being a part of [it].” What’s more, they will likely succeed owing not only to Romney’s eagerness to blow with whatever winds may be buffeting him, but also, as Mann and Ornstein put it, to his party’s “demonstrated willingness to bend, break, or change legislative rules and customs that have stood in the way of radical change in the past.”


If you think the Tea Party has gone away, think again. Its members are not holding demonstrations so much anymore because they are staffing campaigns, winning Republican primaries (often against veteran incumbents and well-funded establishment favorites), or replacing the staffers of those they have scared into submission. As Dave Weigel writes in the Washington Monthly, “After 2010, the movement evolved. Activists got jobs with newly elected Republicans. Political organizations like the [corporate and conservative billionaire-funded and -controlled] Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks grew their staffs and budgets. Elected Republicans continued to draw on them for strength, support, and warm bodies at campaign events.” Under a Romney administration, many of these ignorant fanatics will be called upon to staff a significant number of the more than 3,000 federal appointments that a president makes, and his hundreds of potential judicial appointments as well.


The result, should Romney become president, will be a mixture of policies that favor the superwealthy, punish the poor and middle class, restrict the rights of average Americans, and—I say this without hyperbole—cause a degree of almost unimaginable and unprecedented chaos in virtually every area of American public life.


As president, Romney promises to focus on economic policy, and it is here where his impact may be greatest. The primary purpose of the modern Republican presidency has been to make the extremely rich far richer at the expense of the rest of us, and Mitt Romney promises to outdo all of his predecessors in this regard. George W. Bush’s $2.5 trillion in tax cuts, while ruinous to the nation’s balance of payments, succeeded in distributing only 12.5 percent of those trillions to his friends and cronies in the wealthiest 0.1 percent. Romney does Bush quite a bit better by proposing—on top of already unsustainable budget deficits—an additional $10.7 trillion in tax cuts over the next 10 years, with fully 33 percent directed toward the top one-tenth of 1 percent. The fine print calls for a reduction in both individual and corporate tax rates, as well as the complete elimination of both the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax. The net result would be that the superwealthy—those who enjoy an income in the vicinity of $3 million annually—keep an additional $250,000. According to the Urban Institute–Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, the cost will likely exceed $9 trillion in lost revenue in the coming decade.


Meanwhile Romney’s friends on Wall Street can also expect, under his presidency, to see the complete defenestration of the Dodd-Frank bill, which helps (albeit insufficiently)to protect consumers from the predatory practices of large financial institutions, while at the same time placing limits on the kinds of malpractice that caused the 2008 financial crisis.


Romney’s budget-busting plans also call for a cornucopia of new spending for each of the three major armed services, including the addition of 100,000 ground troops for the Army, an additional six new ships each year for the Navy, and more F-35 stealth warplanes for the Air Force. This adds up to a $2 trillion increase in the coming decade above what had previously been budgeted. (Congress and President Obama had earlier agreed to a $450 billion reduction.) These increases would come at a moment when the United States spends more on its military than its seventeen next-largest competitors combined. In fact, fully 64 percent of all 4.4 million employees on the federal payroll are already either in the uniformed military or work for the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security.


How will any of this be paid for? Romney pretends that significant savings will come from closing tax “loopholes,” but this is nonsense. Those loopholes were placed there specifically to reward the donors who pay the costs of our lawmakers’ political campaigns (just like the more straightforward across-the-board tax cuts for the superrich). Tea Party champions, including Senators Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky, are trying to prevent the Treasury Department from cracking down even on wealthy expatriate tax cheats. The notion that these loopholes will somehow be eliminated—especially when they continue to be expanded every time the tax code is adjusted—is too childish for adults to take seriously, save perhaps for a few gullible reporters and right-wing pundits.


All of the above would put unbearable pressure on an already stretched entitlements budget, as well as on those federal programs for the poor and middle class that have so far escaped the scalpel, while simultaneously raising the tax burden on these households. Regarding the latter, for instance, a tax plan released by Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch ends the Child Tax Credit, the American Opportunity Tax Credit (for college tuition) and a more generous Earned Income Tax Credit—which, when added together, would raise taxes on more than 20 million families, according to Seth Hanlon, the director of fiscal reform at the Center for American Progress.  1 2 3 next › last »


The Empty Foreign Policy Of Romney-Ryan

Praising Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as “bold” has quickly become the most overused meme of the campaign, but there is one especially daring quality to Romney’s pick: together, Romney and Ryan have less foreign policy and national security experience than any national ticket of either party since the 1940s.

Romney’s glaring lack of foreign policy credentials has been well documented throughout the campaign. With no relevant experience of his own to draw on, Romney tends to regurgitate talking points from his neoconservative foreign policy team — which is stacked with veterans of the George W. Bush administration — then try to swiftly change the subject back to jobs.

There is a good reason for this strategy: When the Romney campaign shares extended thoughts on international affairs, it tends to highlight its disturbing lack of knowledge. Indeed, in the midst of Romney’s disastrous overseas trip, even his fellow Republicans acknowledged that Romney’s foreign policy is “strangely amateurish.”

Unlike past presidential candidates like Bush and Barack Obama, who picked vice presidents who burnished their thin diplomatic resumes, Romney instead chose to double down on emptiness.

Despite having worked in Washington for virtually his entire adult life, Ryan has next to no experience in international relations. Ryan has largely avoided the topic throughout his seven terms in the House — preferring to focus his attention on budgetary issues instead — but he has taken a few notable stands.

Ryan’s most high profile foreign policy moment came in a June, 2011 speech to the Alexander Hamilton Society. There he argued in favor of American exceptionalism — hardly drawing a controversial line in the sand — and addressed a few issues of the time in broad terms. With regards to the Middle East, he declared that “We have a responsibility to speak boldly for those whose voices are denied by the jackbooted thugs of the tired tyrants of Syria and Iran,” but declined to elaborate on what should be done. He argued that “Now is the time to lock in the success that is within reach” in Afghanistan and Iraq, but did not explain how to do so. Continue Reading >> 1 2


Ryan Pick Leaves Global Void

In picking House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan for the vice presidential slot, Mitt Romney signaled a disinterest in filling his own gap in foreign policy experience – as well as a likely avoidance of international affairs as a major topic in the presidential race, observes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar….http://consortiumnews.com/2012/08/13/ryan-pick-leaves-global-voigap/

Romney appears to have concluded, not surprisingly, that foreign policy does not offer him many potentially winning issues. Reactions to his foreign tour, which — fairly or unfairly — were disproportionately negative, probably firmed up that conclusion. It may be no accident that reportedly his choice of Ryan also firmed up about the time he was finishing the foreign trip.


Rove and the Koch brothers have taken over this campaign.    Read »

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No change

Obama, The All-Powerful

The campaign is in a bit of a silly season right now. Speaker Boehner’s office is blasting the President for not taking personal responsibility for the drought. Expect them to blame him for the dramatic cool that takes place after summer and the sudden falling of leaves from trees. A reporter from the Business Insider made the mistake of taking a fundraising email seriously. And there’s a rumor going around that Paul Ryan profited from insider trading in 2008 that has been pretty quickly debunked. The polls don’t seem to show any major shifting in favor of either side since the Ryan announcement. But as Obama was riding high, we expect them to tighten some more.

Missouri in Play?

A new poll shows Mitt Romney only up by one in Missouri, which is rather surprising because it also shows the state’s Democratic Senator losing by 11 percent. Missouri used to be a bellwether state. But, as it was the only swing state that went for McCain, it has lost that status.

Ryan Helps in Wisconsin

You know that Paul Ryan isn’t particularly popular outside of the GOP base as of now. And he isn’t getting great press in Florida. But I suppose this is good news for the Romney campaign: Wisconsin is a little more in play now that Ryan is on the ticket. One advantage Ryan has over Romney is that he actual has only one home state he could lose. Romney has as many as four — Massachusetts, Michigan, California and New Hampshire.

"An Extreme Choice" -- What Two of Wisconsin's Leading Progressive Journalists Think About Mitt Romney's Pick of Paul Ryan

"He’s to the right of both President Bushes. I think he’s to the right of Dick Cheney," says Matthew Rothschild of the Progressive Magazine.

Debates Announced

The presidential debates and moderators have been announced. Two of the moderators are female, answering the calls of these teenage girls. Conservative firebrand quickly called the moderators “left-erators” likely because they don’t have a Fox News contact or an AM radio show. It’s actually a little toned down for Malkin. How about COMMIE-tators!

VERDICT: We’re assuming Romney never wanted to hear the words “less popular than Palin” in his life. But so far that’s what Paul Ryan is. The day goes to the President.

Some great reporting reveals a self-serving man who is often tone-deaf to his impact on others and whose internal compass seems to spin wildly.
August 14, 2012  |

Mitt Romney’s current media handlers would like you to think he’s a mild-mannered guy who has become increasingly conservative over the years—especially since he was pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-tax increases, pro-gay and fairly liberal as Massachusetts governor before he ran for president in 2008 and started pandering to right-wingers.

But a more complete picture of Romney is emerging this summer. Some great reporting by journalists reveals that the man behind the smile isn’t just a political flip-flopper who can't be trusted, but a self-serving man who is often tone-deaf to his impact on others and whose internal compass seems to spin wildly. 

These seven recent reports reveal the real Romney—starting with a young man who didn’t care how he made money, as long as he made it.

1. Bain Capital Launched with Funds Tied to Salvadoran Death Squads

People who start new businesses are always hungry for investors. But as Huffington Post reporters Ryan Grim and Cole Stangler found in their report, “Mitt Romney Started Bain Capital With Money From Families Tied To Death Squads,” there was no possible way that anybody in 1984 could "check out" these families and be convinced this money was clean, as Grim told Democracy Now.  
“After initially struggling to find investors, Romney traveled to Miami in 1983 to win pledges of $9 million, 40 percent of Bain’s start-up money,” Democracy Now’s report began. “Some investors had extensive ties to the death squads responsible for the vast majority of the tens of thousands of deaths in El Salvador during the 1980s.”

As Amy Goodman noted, “The investors include the Salaverria family, whose former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, Robert White, has previously accused of directly funding the Salvadorian paramilitaries. In his memoir, former Bain executive Harry Strachan writes, 'Romney pushed aside his own misgivings about the investors to accept their backing.' Strachan writes, ‘These Latin American friends have loyally rolled over investments in succeeding funds, actively participated in Bain Capital’s May investor meetings and are still today one of the largest investor groups in Bain Capital.’”

2. Romney Wants Tax Cuts For the Rich Paid By Higher Middle-Class Taxes 

Romney’s tenure as Massachusetts governor showed he had no aversion to raising taxes or fees, according to a report by John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign—including raising the state fee assessed to families before cremating the dead, which the state’s media called creepy. So it is not surprising that independent analyses find Romney’s 2012 tax proposals would hit other vulnerable people.

The proposals, in an analysis cited by the Washington Post and others, would cut taxes for the wealthiest 5 percent but raise taxes on everyone else. Extreme Liberal's blog posted a graphic that shows exactly how it would work, saying, “You may notice that everyone pays more in taxes right up until you get to the top 5 percent of the population. According to the analysis, those who make $3 million dollars a year would get a TAX CUT of $250,000.”

Romney obviously wants to protect the interests of the ecomonic class of Americans in which he resides—the rich. But what’s emerging is a more nuanced picture: he has no qualms beating up on the poor, including playing the race card, like many previous Republican and Democratic presidential candidates.

3. Romney’s Racist Attack on Welfare

We have all seen this ugly script before. Bill Clinton went after Sister Souljah in 1992. Four years later he signed a bill “ending welfare as we know it” to win conservatives. Fast forward to spring 2012 and Newt Gingrich attacked Obama as the “food stamp” president, a swipe at poor and non-whites receiving benefits. Now Romney has accused Obama of wanting to eliminate work requirements for public assistance recipients.

As Matthew Rothschild, editor of the Progressive has written, there are so many layers of hypocrisy here. “Romney says Obama wants to take the work requirements out of welfare reform. As evidence, he cites the administration’s recent decision to let states apply for waivers on these requirements,” he writes. “Never mind that some Republican governors have been applying for them. Never mind that Romney himself applied for one when he was governor of Massachusetts. And never mind that to get this waiver, states must be able to show that they’ve recently moved at least 20 percent more of their welfare recipients into jobs than in previous years. No, facts don’t matter.”

4. Romney, the Bad Neighbor

The personal is political. Romney thumbing his nose at his neighbors at a vacation home in La Jolla, Calif. shows that Romney does what he wants and doesn’t really care about the impact on others near him. There’s no other way to interpret it, according to this New York Times report, that recounts how after Romney bought his beach house he offended his neighbors by seeking to quadruple its size.

“The only thing he wants small is government and taxes,” said Mark Quint, a Democrat who lives three doors away and who hates the prospect of more McMansions such as Romney's plan. “He likes big houses, big families and big religion.” Quint also was peeved, the Times reported, because Romney had complained to the local police about beachgoers who drank or smoked pot nearby. The cops told Quint to report people smoking or drinking, saying, “Your neighbors have complained.”

Romney may end up buying another nearby large property, the paper speculated, even though he’s hired a local team to shepherd the project through the permit process.

5. Intolerant Then, Intolerant Now

There is always the question of how much people change—or don’t—over a lifetime. Before Romney entered business and politics, he was an active member of the church who took his pastoral role seriously, even as a graduate student at Harvard University.

This Washington Post profile of Romney from that time—as the young but highest-ranking Mormon in Boston—notes how he told an older, recently divorced women who had converted to Mormonism not to have premarital sex. At the time, the Post said many Mormon couples were at Harvard and the women were curious about feminism. The report goes on to say that Romney tempered his views by the time he became Massachusetts governor—which the 2008 McCain campaign opposition research reports shows. 

Another report from that period in Vanity Fair notes how Romney told a Mormon single mother who became pregnant to put her child up for adoption—which she refused. When she faced serious medical issues, he refused to come to her hospital bedside.

6. The Tip o the Iceberg?

As Romney seeks to convince Republicans that his views are more traditional, the question is not just "where is the real Romney?" but if he ever moderated those views in the first place. There are other stories of straight-laced insensitivity. Everyone has heard about how he put the family dog in a cage strapped to the roof of his car for a drive to Florida. But a $200 million man and national candidate who doesn’t tip a barista?

There are many profiles of Romney—such as in Vanity Fair—that say his aloofness and clinical focus have been key to his success in business: he does not let empathy get in the way of making a profit or closing a deal. But a president has to make ordinary people think that he understands and cares about them. And this is where Romney still seems challenged.

In 2010, Romney and his wife apparently went to a Borders bookstore in Utah and ordered two hot chocolates and didn’t tip the baristas, according to the blog Jesus’ General. That was cheap. But what happened next has been called strange. They didn’t finish the drinks, so Mitt approached the baristas and urged them to drink it.

The Portland Mercury blog wrote about this incident and believes it’s true, saying, “Jesus’ General is best known as a satirical Web site, but I know the guy who plays the General, I've met him personally, and he swears that this story is true. It’s told by Bryan Young, an assistant director on the documentary This Divided State; one of the baristas in question is Bryan's brother.”

7. Romney Campaign Takes Money From Olympic Bribery Scandal Figures

Romney’s relationship with dark financial patrons cannot be explained away as youthful indescretion—the start-up funds from men tied to Salvadoran warlords. Apparently, the candidate who likes to say that he helped the 2002 Winter Games move from the fiscal red into the black, and who helped to turn a page after an Olympic bribery scandal, has allowed his 2012 campaign to take donations from figures from that bribery scandal, according to longtime investigative reporter Wayne Barrett.

Barrett, a Newsweek/Daily Beast contributor and Nation Institute fellow, told Democracy Now about the tainted campaign cash. “He was a managerial success, Barrett said. “The problem is that he was brought in because of the worst Olympic scandal in history, and he befriended and awarded contracts to people deeply involved in the scandal that caused him to be recruited to this rescue operation. And he’s still collecting money from them.”

Romney, as we all know from his tenure at Bain, has a very can-do attitude about money. He will take it whereever he can find it, and use it for whatever is most expedient.
Americans will be introduced to a very stage-managed Romney in the weeks ahead, starting with the Republican National Convention. But glimpses of the real Romney will keep coming through. And the more Americans get to know him, the greater the chances that they will not feel comfortable with him as their next president. 

The Faces of 'Occupy Wall Street'. Occupy Wall Street has attracted people from all backgrounds. ... Wall Street's Big Concern: Can Ryan Help Romney Win? Published: Monday, 13 Aug 2012 | 12:07 PM ET. Text Size. By: Jeff Cox CNBC.com Senior Writer. Wall ...
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Wall Street's reaction to Paul Ryan's place on the presidential ticket may well depend on Main Street's response — namely, whether the Wisconsin congressman can help Mitt Romney win the election.

Chatter around the financial markets Sunday and Monday indicated a dichotomy: Investment pros almost unanimously like the firebrand vice presidential nominee, but they're not as sure that he'll help the Republicans unseat President Obama.

With so much of the Street's money flowing to Romney, the stakes in him getting elected are huge.

"The whole election has been transformed overnight. 

Instead of focusing on Barack Obama's mediocre performance on the economy, the election now may be a referendum on the Paul Ryan budget," said Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Potomac Research Group in Washington. "The Paul Ryan budget polls very poorly."

Valliere worries that while the message of fiscal responsibility is a positive one, the timing may not be right for someone as aggressively reform-minded as Ryan.

"The most important development is that this pick makes it unlikely that Romney can win Florida because of the anxiety Ryan generates among senior citizens over Medicare," he added. "If Romney can't win Florida, he can't win the presidency."

Are Romney and Ryan really the enemies of gays, the poor and seniors? And if they are, who are they the allies of? How about Bishop Eddie Long?

The Ryan selection moves the Grand Old Party harder to the right than at any time since 1964, when the true believers got a nominee, a platform and 39 percent of the vote. Democrats are no longer running against Romney and a ticket mate. They are running against a pairing that, definitionally if not officially, would better be described as the Ryan-Romney ticket.

How would the Senate look without Senators elected by voters?

Before the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913, that's exactly how it worked, with increasingly corrupt state legislatures picking Senators.

While there's no chance of the amendment being repealed, a small number of Republican Senate candidates are coming under fire for even broaching the subject.

The Michigan Democratic Party held a conference call this morning in reaction to a Roll Call report that former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R), who is challenging Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D), is championing a repeal of the direct election of Senators. On the call, Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer charged Hoekstra with hypocrisy.

"We should be focused on jobs and the economy, not taking away people's right to vote for their U.S. Senators like Hoekstra proposes. It's hypocritical that Hoekstra is running for Senate but would then take away the public's right to vote for this office if elected," Brewer said.

Last November, Hoekstra told a conservative talk radio program on WAAM in Ann Arbor that allowing people to elect their own Senators weakened the power of the states relative to the federal government.

"The direct election of U.S. Senators made the U.S. Senate act and behave like the House of Representatives," Hoekstra said. "The end result has led to an erosion of states' rights."

Hoekstra is not the only Republican Senate nominee to express such opinions. And their Democratic opponents are attempting to profit.

In Arizona, presumptive Democratic Senate nominee Richard Carmona has circulated a Huffington Post story that cited Rep. Jeff Flake (R), his presumed general election opponent, making similar comments to conservative supporters last week.

Rep Todd Akin, the GOP nominee facing Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in Missouri this fall, signaled during a primary debate in May that he might favor repeal. (More…)

There is no one Republican Party in 2012, as shown by who is bankrolling various factions. READ MORE»

By Kurt F. Stone
The Ryan Factor
Paul Ryan's ascension gives both conservatives and progressives something to crow about . . . and also makes one wonder if perhaps Mitt Romney's advisors aren't really working for the reelection of Barack Obama.

By Robert Reich
The Ryan Choice
In Ryan's views and policy judgments we find the true ideologue. More than any other politician today, Paul Ryan exemplifies the social Darwinism at the core of today's Republican Party: Reward the rich, penalize the poor, let everyone else fend for themselves. Dog eat dog.

The question is whether anything short of hyperpartisanship is possible for a Republican leader in today's Washington. At the national level, moderate Republicans are scarce and endangered. The policy factories, Congressional stalwarts and interest groups Romney will need to staff a government have been ideologically purified and politically schooled, and are mostly conservatives of the uncompromising kind. President Romney will be as much a captive of this Republican Washington as its leader. Ask John Boehner.
Houston Chronicle (blog) - 14 hours ago

The first post-pick polls are out. The quickie polls by Gallup and JZ Analytics tell us that the presidential race is, once again, a statistical tie. Is this news good, bad or inconsequential to the Republican ticket?

This morning, we looked at ten reasons why Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan could improve Romney’s chances of beating President Obama this fall.

Now we’re taking a look at some reasons why Ryan could hurt the GOP’s chances. Let us know what you think of Ryan’s selection — and our analysis — by posting a comment.

1. Ryan’s pick obviously wasn’t an instant game changer.
Much as the choice was hailed by both economic and social conservatives, it only moved the polls a few points toward Romney. The so-called “bounce” was smaller than the one prompted by John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin in 2008. “A bounce to a tie is not good,” said independent pollster John Zogby of JZ Analytics.

2. He’s unlikely to bring any state into the GOP column that wouldn’t have gone Republican without him.
“Most studies indicate that VP candidates only have a noteworthy effect in their home states, and even that is a mere couple of percentage points,” said Mark P. Jones, chairman of the Rice University political science department. Jones said Ohio Sen. Rob Portman or Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell would have been more likely to swing their home states to Romney.

3. His selection changes the election narrative from a referendum on President Obama to a choice between two economic visions.
Core Republicans are elated that Romney picked the party’s leading supporter of cutting both spending and taxes as its standard-bearer. But Ryan’s selection changes the political dynamic in a way that could prove costly to Romney. To date, Republicans have cast the election as a referendum on President Obama’s economic performance. That’s good for the GOP: a vast majority of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction and a majority disapprove of the president’s economic stewardship. But Ryan’s high-profile budget proposals transform the debate from a referendum on Obama to a choice of plans for the future. Democrats say the Romney-Ryan approach would hurt middle-class Americans and the elderly while benefiting the rich people like Romney. Democrats would much rather take their chances with a “choice” election than a “referendum” election.

4. His strong pro-privatization views on Social Security and Medicare could cause trouble among elderly voters.
Ryan could face a backlash among senior citizens because of his strong advocacy of partial privatization of Social Security and transforming Medicare into a private voucher program for Americans under the age of 55.

Zogby said his latest poll shows Romney with a 20-point lead over Obama among older voters and “he can’t afford to lose any of those people” if he hopes to win important states with large elderly populations, including Florida, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“As soon as the barrage happens, it’s going to be rough,” Zogby predicted. “There is some baggage here.”
Republicans already are playing defense: “Do not say: ‘entitlement reform,’ ‘privatization,’ ‘every option is on the table,’” the National Republican Congressional Committee said in an email memo obtained by Politico. “Do say: ‘strengthen,’ ‘secure,’ ‘save,’ ‘preserve, ‘protect.’”

5. Even if Romney reassures seniors, he could face a rebellion among baby boomers.
Romney’s double-digit lead among baby boomers could be threatened by a protracted debate over Medicare. As Romney and Ryan try to reassure over-65 voters that they won’t be affected by changes to Social Security or Medicare, they may incur the ire of baby boomers who fear that they will feel the impact of any changes.

“Boomers are really mad about working hard all their lives and then having benefits taken from them,” said Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

6. His record on immigration could reinforce Romney’s woes among Latino voters.
During the primary campaign, Romney staked out a hard-right position on immigration, calling conservative Texas Gov. Rick Perry a “liberal” on the issue and pledging to veto the DREAM Act as president. Latino voters are vital to victory in key swing states such as Florida, Nevada, Colorado and Virginia. By picking an opponent of comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act, immigration-rights groups and some analysts say Romney missed an opportunity to pivot toward the center on the hot-button issue.

Ryan “has no bona fides for Latino voters,” said Gary Segura of Latino Decisions, a nonpartisan polling company. “He compounds Romney’s problem among Latinos. He doesn’t in any way help him.”

7. He’s untested on the national stage.
Like Dan Quayle before him, Ryan is viewed as a rising star on Capitol Hill with an ability to attract middle-class independents. But the national spotlight sometimes burns untested selections. We’ll get a good idea of how presidential Ryan can look during the upcoming vice presidential debate.

8. He has a voting record.
It’s always more convenient to choose a running mate without a long paper trail. Virginia Gov. McDonnell, New Jersey Gov. Christie or first-term Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have cast fewer votes on controversial issues. Democrats have rifled through Ryan’s 14 years of House votes and already are churning out the attack emails.

9. He will be labeled an extremist.
Republicans portray Ryan as a mainstream conservative. Democrats will try to paint a portrait of a young, far-right conservative who was picked to pander to the GOP’s hard-right base. Both sides are battling over a tiny group of truly undecided independent voters. But the stakes are large in independent-minded swing states such as Virginia, North Carolina and New Hampshire.

10. He has no foreign policy experience.
Ryan has less foreign policy experience than any vice presidential candidate since … Sarah Palin. And Romney’s first foray into foreign policy, the gaffe-plagued trip to England, Israel and Poland, didn’t quite end the doubts about the GOP’s standard-bearer. Then again, Barack Obama had no foreign policy experience when he took office — and most Americans think he’s done pretty well.

Paul Ryan's Political Baggage

Ryan implied the military lies:

In March, Ryan accused the military’s top brass of not “giving us their true advice” when it comes to the correct size of the Pentagon budget. “We don’t think the generals believe that their budget is really the right budget,” he said. Dempsey fired back, saying Ryan was “calling us, collectively, liars.” The congressman later apologized.

Ryan voted AGAINST the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell."

Ryan supports the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. While in office, he has voted in favor of the Marriage protection act, twice in favor of an amendment to the Constitution to define marriage.

On birth control and abortions:

Ryan:  "Personally, I believe that life begins at conception, and it is for that reason that I feel we need to protect that life as we would protect other children," Paul Ryan wrote in a 2009 op-ed.

Ryan supported mandatory ultra-sounds for girls and women seeking legal abortions.  As a "Get Government Out of Our Lives" conservative/libertarian, he supports government-forced examination of girls' and women's uteri. 

He also supported the Protect Life Act, which would allow federally-funded hospitals to deny a woman an abortion, even if it's necessary to save her life.  IOW, he's in favor of taking a desperate life and death decision away from a girl or a woman, her family, and her doctor and giving it to the government. That's a real "death panel" idea. 

Ryan also co-sponsored the Federal Abortion Ban, which criminalizes abortion and prescribes a two-year prison sentence for doctors in some cases, and the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which defines life as beginning at fertilization and could outlaw some birth control and IVF.

Ryan's personhood amendment could, in theory, subject every girl or woman who suffers a miscarriage to a criminal investigation on why the miscarriage occured.  When a person dies unexpectedly, an investigation into the causes of death follows.  Personhood for zygotes and embryos would require an investigation into every cause of death by miscarriage.  Government would have to set up a gigantic agency to handle the millions and millions of miscarriages suffered each year by girls and women.

Paul Ryan is strongly opposed to the free-contraception mandate included in Obama's healthcare reform. Four times he has voted to defund Planned Parenthood, and his proposed budget would completely defund birth control, STD screenings, and cancer screenings for low-income women available under Title X.

Paul Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, legislation that makes it easier for women to challenge unequal pay.

Paul Ryan has stated with deep conviction that the writer Ayn Rand has influenced him and his philosophy more than any other person in his life.  Now that the country has the opportunity to examine Rand's atheism and pro-abortion position, Ryan is running away from his stated conviction and loyalty to Randian thought and politics.  No wonder Romney chose him.  He can flip-flop on core convictions quicker than he can.

Paul Ryan loved Ayn Rand, before he said he didn't.

"He told the Weekly Standard in 2003 that he gave his staffers copies of 'Atlas Shrugged' as Christmas presents. Speaking to a group of Rand acolytes in 2005, Ryan said, 'The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.'

Even three years ago, Tim Mak of Politico noted, Ryan channeled Rand. 'What’s unique about what’s happening today in government, in the world, in America, is that it’s as if we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel right now,' Ryan said. 'I think Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism, and that morality of capitalism is under assault.' “

"Jonathan Chait, writing in New York magazine, suggested Ryan cannot slough off his connections to Rand’s thinking that easily. The journalist cited Ryan’s 2009 remarks about the immorality of government attacking productive members of society.

'It is not enough to say that President Obama’s taxes are too big or the healthcare plan doesn’t work for this or that policy reason,' the lawmaker said. 'It is the morality of what is occurring right now, and how it offends the morality of individuals working toward their own free will to produce, to achieve, to succeed, that is under attack, and it is that what I think Ayn Rand would be commenting on.' ”

Ryan Shrugging Off Ayn Rand?

"[Ryan's devotion to Ayn Rand and her philosophy] began, according to a 2005 speech Ryan gave to The Atlas Society, when he was still a student. And it guided his thinking on monetary policy decades later:

'I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are,' he told the group.  'It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff.'

Ryan has since denied making his staff read the books.

He continued: 'But the reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.'

Rand’s literary inner circle was called, ironically perhaps, 'The Collective.'

Ryan has...taken a step back from his avid Rand-regard in the past few years. And in an interview with the National Review this April, he did a pretty firm about-face:

'I reject her philosophy,' Ryan says firmly. 'It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas, who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. 'Don’t give me Ayn Rand,' he says.

So after all that, Paul Ryan, it seems, has shrugged off Ayn Rand."

Why should we believe a guy on anything who, his entire life, professes his strongest support of Randian ideas, then when he understands those ideas will be uncomfortable to defend as he seeks high political office, runs away from them?

The Israeli government is exploiting the American political timetable to pressure President Obama to support an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites. READ MORE»

We Are Witnessing a Financial Holocaust Brought on by the Banksters " Which Is Causing Many Deaths. Fraud is the business model adopted by the giant banks. The Obama administration has made it official policy not to prosecute fraud.

Indeed, the "watchdogs" in D.C. are so corrupt that they are as easily bribed as a policeman in a third world banana republic.

The mouthpieces in Wall Street and D.C. pretend that financial fraud (like Libor) is a "victimless crime".

But the World Bank notes that the financial crisis -- you know, the one caused by financial fraud -- has driven between 64 and 100 million people into destitution.

Paul Moore -- former Head of Risk at HBOS -- says that the financial crisis has resulted in the greatest humanitarian crisis since WWII.

The recent stock market volatility could have been restricted by a tax on transactions that would make the small quick score less attractive

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