^ "My Cousin Vinny" Gotta love it!
Two yout's? [/movie ref]
^ "My Cousin Vinny" Gotta love it!
Opinion: Ryan - a pure social Darwinist
Monday August 13, 2012, 5:52 PM
BY ROBERT B. REICH
PAUL RYAN is the reverse of Sarah Palin. She was all right-wing flash without much substance. He’s all right-wing substance without much flash.
Ryan is not a firebrand. He’s not smarmy. He doesn’t ooze contempt for opponents or ridicule those who disagree with him. In style and tone, he doesn’t even sound like an ideologue — until you listen to what he has to say.
It’s here — 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.
Ryan’s views are crystallized in the budget he produced for House Republicans last March as chairman of the House Budget committee. That budget would cut $3.3 trillion from low-income programs over the next decade. The biggest cuts would be in Medicaid, which provides health care for the nation’s poor – forcing states to drop coverage for an estimated 14 million to 28 million low-income people, according to the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
Ryan’s budget would also reduce food stamps for poor families by 17 percent ($135 billion) over the decade, leading to a significant increase in hunger — particularly among children. It would also reduce housing assistance, job training and Pell grants for college tuition.
In all, 62 percent of the budget cuts proposed by Ryan would come from low-income programs.
The Ryan plan would also turn Medicare into vouchers whose value won’t possibly keep up with rising health care costs – thereby shifting those costs on to seniors.
At the same time, Ryan would provide a substantial tax cut to the very rich – who are already taking home an almost unprecedented share of the nation’s total income. Today’s 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together.
Ryan’s views are pure social Darwinism. As William Graham Sumner, the progenitor of social Darwinism in America, put it in the 1880s: “Civilization has a simple choice.” It’s either “liberty, inequality, survival of the fittest” or “not-liberty, equality, survival of the unfittest. The former carries society forward and favors all its best members; the latter carries society downward and favors all its worst members.”
Is this Mitt Romney’s view as well?
Some believe Romney chose Ryan solely in order to drum up enthusiasm on the right. Since most Americans have already made up their minds about whom they’ll vote for, and the polls show Americans highly polarized, the winner will be determined by how many on either side take the trouble to vote. So in picking Ryan, Romney is motivating his rightwing base to get to the polls, and pull everyone else they can along with them.
But there’s reason to believe Romney also agrees with Ryan’s social Darwinism. Romney accuses President Obama of creating an “entitlement society” and thinks government shouldn’t help distressed homeowners but instead let the market “hit the bottom.” And although Romney has carefully avoided specifics in his own economic plan, he has said he’s “very supportive” of Ryan’s budget plan. “It’s a bold and exciting effort, an excellent piece of work, very much needed … very consistent with what I put out earlier.”
Romney hasn’t put out much but the budget he’s proposed would, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, throw 10 million low-income people off the benefits rolls for food stamps or cut benefits by thousands of dollars a year, or both.
At the same time, Romney wants to permanently extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, reduce corporate income taxes and eliminate the estate tax. These tax reductions would increase the incomes of people earning more than $1 million a year by an average of $295,874 annually, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.
Oh, and Romney and Ryan also want to repeal Obama’s health care law, thereby leaving 50 million Americans without health insurance.
Social Darwinism offered a moral justification for the wild inequities and social cruelties of the late 19th century. It allowed John D. Rockefeller, for example, to claim the fortune he accumulated through his giant Standard Oil Trust was “merely a survival of the fittest… the working out of a law of nature and of God.”
The social Darwinism of that era also undermined all efforts to build a more broadly based prosperity and rescue our democracy from the tight grip of a very few at the top. It was used by the privileged and powerful to convince everyone else that government shouldn’t do much of anything.
Not until the 20th century did America reject social Darwinism. We created a large middle class that became the engine of our economy and our democracy. We built safety nets to catch Americans who fell downward, often through no fault of their own.
What made us better off
We designed regulations to protect against the inevitable excesses of free-market greed. We taxed the rich and invested in public goods — public schools, public universities, public transportation, public parks, public health — that made us all better off.
In short, we rejected the notion that each of us is on our own in a competitive contest for survival.
But choosing Ryan, Romney has raised for the nation the starkest of choices: Do we want to return to that earlier time, or are we willing and able to move forward — toward a democracy and an economy that works for us all?
Robert B. Reich, professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was secretary of labor in the Clinton administration. An author of more than a dozen books, his latest is an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” He blogs at robertreich.org
I hear Paul Ryan likes to go "noodling", which is hunting for catfish with your bare hands, partly by sticking your arm down a hole where the catfish lives, and it latching onto the arm, where the noodler then grabs it with his/her bare hands. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noodling . Not sure if we should be looking forward to seeing the noodling video footage, or not, but they just love to show they are "real people".
Oh, and the "retro sit-com" personality? We Americans love that stuff. If Andy Griffith (RIP) had run for President, we would have voted for him in a heart beat.
This has become a more important election (sad that it was less important to begin with). Cards are on the table. It's about where the country is going, and more important, how it gets there.
The Opinion Pages
August 13, 2012, 5:24 am
The Ryan Role
Mark Kleiman points us to a lamentable but revealing column by William Saletan, which illustrates perfectly how the essentially ludicrous Paul Ryan has gotten so far - namely, by playing to the gullibility of self-proclaimed centrists, who want to show their "balance" by finding a conservative to praise.
OK, what? Where is that coming from? Did Saletan miss the whole discussion when the Ryan plan came out? Did he miss the point where even Jacob Weisberg apologized for his initial praise, admitting thatRyan is a real fiscal conservative. He isn't just another Tea-Party ideologue spouting dogma about less government and the magic of free enterprise. He has actually crunched the numbers and laid out long-term budget proposals.
Look, Ryan hasn't "crunched the numbers"; he has just scribbled some stuff down, without checking at all to see if it makes sense. He asserts that he can cut taxes without net loss of revenue by closing unspecified loopholes; he asserts that he can cut discretionary spending to levels not seen since Calvin Coolidge, without saying how; he asserts that he can convert Medicare to a voucher system, with much lower spending than now projected, without even a hint of how this is supposed to work. This is just a fantasy, not a serious policy proposal.I reacted too quickly and didn't sort out just how laughable Ryan's long-term spending projections were. His plan projects an absurd future, according to the Congressional Budget Office, in which all discretionary spending, now around 12 percent of GDP, shrinks to 3 percent of GDP by 2050. Defense spending alone was 4.7 percent of GDP in 2009. With numbers like that, Ryan is more an anarchist-libertarian than honest conservative.
So why does Saletan believe otherwise? Has he crunched the numbers himself? Of course not. What he's doing - and what the whole Beltway media crowd has done - is to slot Ryan into a role someone is supposed to be playing in their political play, that of the thoughtful, serious conservative wonk. In reality, Ryan is nothing like that; he's a hard-core conservative, with a voting record as far right as Michelle Bachman's, who has shown no competence at all on the numbers thing.
What Ryan is good at is exploiting the willful gullibility of the Beltway media, using a soft-focus style to play into their desire to have a conservative wonk they can say nice things about. And apparently the trick still works.
August 13, 2012, 1:54 pm
Romney/Ryan: The Real Target
So, let me clarify what I believe is really going on in the choice of Paul Ryan as VP nominee. It is not about satisfying the conservative base, which was motivated anyway by Obama-hatred; it is not about refocusing on the issues, because R&R are both determined to avoid providing any of the crucial specifics about their plans. It is — as Jonathan Chait also seems to understand — about exploiting the gullibility and vanity of the news media, in much the same way that George W. Bush did in 2000.
Like Bush in 2000, Ryan has a completely undeserved reputation in the media as a bluff, honest guy, in Ryan’s case supplemented by a reputation as a serious policy wonk. None of this has any basis in reality; Ryan’s much-touted plan, far from being a real solution, relies crucially on stuff that is just pulled out of thin air — huge revenue increases from closing unspecified loopholes, huge spending cuts achieved in ways not mentioned. See Matt Miller for more.
So whence comes the Ryan reputation? As I said in my last post, it’s because many commentators want to tell a story about US politics that makes them feel and look good — a story in which both parties are equally at fault in our national stalemate, and in which said commentators stand above the fray. This story requires that there be good, honest, technically savvy conservative politicians, so that you can point to these politicians and say how much you admire them, even if you disagree with some of their ideas; after all, unless you lavish praise on some conservatives, you don’t come across as nobly even-handed.
The trouble, of course, is that it’s really really hard to find any actual conservative politicians who deserve that praise. Ryan, with his flaky numbers (and actually very hard-line stance on social issues), certainly doesn’t. But a large part of the commentariat decided early on that they were going to cast Ryan in the role of Serious Honest Conservative, and have been very unwilling to reconsider that casting call in the light of evidence.
So that’s the constituency Romney is targeting: not a large segment of the electorate, but a few hundred at most editors, reporters, programmers, and pundits. His hope is that Ryan’s unjustified reputation for honest wonkery will transfer to the ticket as a whole.
So, a memo to the news media: you have now become players in this campaign, not just reporters. Mitt Romney isn’t seeking a debate on the issues; on the contrary, he’s betting that your gullibility and vanity will let him avoid a debate on the issues, including the issue of his own fitness for the presidency. I guess we’ll see if it works.
© 2012 The New York Times Company
That was quick.
Mittens is already running away from his VP.
Ryan called stimulus wasteful, then sought funds
By By SAM HANANEL | Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has been one of the harshest critics of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan. But months after Congress approved the nearly $800 billion package, the Wisconsin lawmaker was trying to steer money under the program to companies in his home state.
Rep. Ryan wrote letters in 2009 to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis seeking stimulus grant money for two Wisconsin energy conservation companies. One of them, the nonprofit Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp., later received $20.3 million from the Energy Department to help homes and businesses improve energy efficiency, according to federal records.
In a letter to Chu in December 2009, Ryan said the stimulus money would help his state create thousands of new jobs, save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That contrasted with his public statements denigrating the stimulus program as a "wasteful spending spree." It also conflicts with his larger federal budget proposal, which would slash Energy Department programs aimed at creating green jobs.
Ryan's office says his budget plan "calls for getting Washington out of the business of picking winners and losers in the economy — and that includes our energy sector."
Ryan's actions in Congress and as chairman of the House Budget Committee have been drawing fresh scrutiny since he was named last weekend as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's running mate.
A Ryan spokesman, Brendan Buck, noted the congressman's office's previous explanations that he was "providing a legitimate constituent service." The Wall Street Journal reported Ryan's efforts to secure stimulus money two years ago.
"If Congressman Ryan is asked to help a Wisconsin entity applying for existing federal grant funds, he does not believe flawed policy should get in the way of doing his job," Ryan's office said then.
Ryan also sent three letters to Chu in October 2009 seeking stimulus money for the Energy Center of Wisconsin, another nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficiency. The company later received $190,000 in stimulus money to conduct research on geothermal heating and $50,000 more to develop a training curriculum for students at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
Ryan's letters to the Energy Department were first reported by the Boston Globe.
"It's another example of how he talks out of both sides of his mouth," said Heather Taylor-Miesle, director of the NRDC Action Fund, the political arm of the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council. "It goes to show that their energy policy always has been, and probably always will be, disingenuous."
The vice presidential contender is not alone among Republicans who criticized the stimulus plan only to seek money later. Georgia's Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, for example, blasted the bill as a bloated government giveaway yet asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to steer $50 million in stimulus money to a constituent's bio-energy project.
Ryan's views are also consistent with his running mate's long-held position that the stimulus was a flawed idea that did not create private sector jobs.
"That stimulus didn't work," Romney said at an Ohio speech in June. "That stimulus didn't put more private-sector people to work."
Yet, in Ryan's letter to the Labor Department in October 2009, he backed the Energy Center of Wisconsin's grant application for stimulus money "to develop an industry-driven training and placement agenda that intends to place 1,000 workers in green jobs."
The company did not win the Labor Department grant.
Frank Greb, president of the Energy Center of Wisconsin, said the company sought help from the entire Wisconsin congressional delegation, a practice he described as routine. He said other lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans — also sent letters in support of the grants.
"I'm not surprised that any congressman would be supportive of entities within his district if he saw merits in the work and it was going to be beneficial to constituents," Greb said.
Ryan's budget proposal would cut billions in Energy Department funding for the development of clean energy and eliminate loan programs that have helped support 60,000 jobs, according to Rep. Henry Waxman, top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Associated Press writer Jack Gillum contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press
"At Least 13%"
THE DAILY DISH
by Gwynn Guilford
17 Aug 2012 09:23 AM
The Wire creator David Simon marvels at Romney's nerve in "declaiming proudly" that he paid at least 13% taxes every year:
Thirteen percent. The last time I paid taxes at that rate, I believe I might still have been in college.... I can’t get over the absurdity of this moment, honestly: Hey, I never paid less than thirteen percent. I swear. And no, you can’t examine my tax returns in any more detail. But I promise you all, my fellow American citizens, I never once slipped to single digits. I’m just not that kind of guy.
Dreher piles on:
What Simon is getting at is Romney is an extremely rich man who pays significantly less of a percentage of his income in taxes than millions of people who make far less than he does, and he still seems to think he deserves a cookie. I’m sick and tired of him and his wife whining about how people are so mean to them about their taxes.
Under his Veep's "tax plan" Romney would pay a lot less ...
Mitt Romney Would Pay 0.82 Percent in Taxes Under Paul Ryan's Plan
Under Paul Ryan's plan, Mitt Romney wouldn't pay any taxes for the next ten years -- or any of the years after that. Now, do I know that that's true. Yes, I'm certain.
Well, maybe not quite nothing. In 2010 -- the only year we have seen a full return from him -- Romney would have paid an effective tax rate of around 0.82 percent under the Ryan plan, rather than the 13.9 percent he actually did. How would someone with more than $21 million in taxable income pay so little? Well, the vast majority of Romney's income came from capital gains, interest, and dividends. And Ryan wants to eliminate all taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends.
Romney, of course, criticized this idea when Newt Gingrich proposed it back in January by pointing out that zeroing out taxes on savings and investment would mean zeroing out his own taxes.
Almost. Romney did earn $593,996 in author and speaking fees in 2010 that would still be taxed under the Ryan plan. Just not much. Ryan would cut the top marginal tax rate from 35 to 25 percent and get rid of the Alternative Minimum Tax -- saving Romney another $292,389 or so on his 2010 tax bill. Now, Romney would still owe self-employment taxes on his author and speaking fees, but that only amounts to $29,151. Add it all up, and Romney would have paid $177,650 out of a taxable income of $21,661,344, for a cool effective rate of 0.82 percent.
But what about corporate taxes? Aren't they a double tax on savings and investment, so Romney's "real" rate is higher than his headline rate? No. As Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has pointed out, Romney has structured his investments as "pass-throughs" that avoid corporate tax. In other words, the 0.82 percent tax rate is really a 0.82 percent tax rate.
It might seem impossible to fund the government when the super-rich pay no taxes. That is accurate. Ryan would actually raise taxes on the bottom 30 percent of earners, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, but that hardly fills the revenue hole he would create. The solution? All but eliminate all government outside of Social Security and defense -- a point my colleague Derek Thompson has made in incredible chart form.
Maybe Harry Reid's mysterious source that Romney didn't pay taxes for a decade was really a time-traveler from the future. If Romney wins, it could very well be true.
Tom Morello: 'Paul Ryan Is the Embodiment of the Machine Our Music Rages Against'
Rage Against the Machine's guitarist blasts Romney's VP pick and unlikely Rage fan
By Tom Morello
August 16, 2012 6:44 PM ET
Last week, Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan, the Republican architect of Congress's radical right-wing budget plan, as his running mate. Ryan has previously cited Rage Against the Machine as one of his favorite bands. Rage guitarist Tom Morello responds in this exclusive op-ed.
Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades. Charles Manson loved the Beatles but didn't understand them. Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn't understand him. And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine.
Ryan claims that he likes Rage's sound, but not the lyrics. Well, I don't care for Paul Ryan's sound or his lyrics. He can like whatever bands he wants, but his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent is antithetical to the message of Rage.
I wonder what Ryan's favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of "**** the Police"? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!
Don't mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta "rage" in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he's not raging against is the privileged elite he's groveling in front of for campaign contributions.
You see, the super rich must rationalize having more than they could ever spend while millions of children in the U.S. go to bed hungry every night. So, when they look themselves in the mirror, they convince themselves that "Those people are undeserving. They're . . . lesser." Some of these guys on the extreme right are more cynical than Paul Ryan, but he seems to really believe in this stuff. This unbridled rage against those who have the least is a cornerstone of the Romney-Ryan ticket.
But Rage's music affects people in different ways. Some tune out what the band stands for and concentrate on the moshing and throwing elbows in the pit. For others, Rage has changed their minds and their lives. Many activists around the world, including organizers of the global occupy movement, were radicalized by Rage Against the Machine and work tirelessly for a more humane and just planet. Perhaps Paul Ryan was moshing when he should have been listening.
My hope is that maybe Paul Ryan is a mole. Maybe Rage did plant some sensible ideas in this extreme fringe right wing nut job. Maybe if elected, he'll pardon Leonard Peltier. Maybe he'll throw U.S. military support behind the Zapatistas. Maybe he'll fill Guantanamo Bay with the corporate criminals that are funding his campaign – and then torture them with Rage music 24/7. That's one possibility. But I'm not betting on it.
The thing that annoys me more than the extremely low burden he was levied with is his CLUELESSNESS.
Most of us really do not WANT to see his returns. We know what they are. They will show him paying a smaller percentage than the "average american" even though he had and has much more latitude and wiggle room to actually afford paying it.
Most of us just want him to realize and PUBLICLY ACKNOWLEDGE that he is NOT the "Average American". That he does not pay the same share as the rest of us, and that his policies shift that even further. That the men that he and his party site as examples taxed MORE than what they are now calling for. That their own "charitable donations" and other expenses, many of them completely under their own control and selective contribution, just are not the same as being taxed at 20%-30% (average) NOT including fees for SS and other programs.
So long as he keeps trying to convince people that he is "just like everyone else", we will hear these demands for proof. Once he admits that he is a professional powerpoint/whiteboarder and does not have the foggiest about the average "blue collar Joe" he can stop trying to wear blue jeans, put his tie back on, and run on something of substance rather than the latest snake oil.
Silversun Pickups blast Mitt Romney for using their song
By Natalie Finn, E! Online
Mitt Romney should start hoping that there aren't too many Silversun Pickups fans in the swing states.
The alternative rockers sent a cease and desist letter to the Romney campaign Wednesday,
demanding that he stop playing their song "Panic Switch" at events and stating in no uncertain terms that,
even if Romney had asked permission, their politics don't mix.
"We don't like people going behind our backs, using our music without asking, and we don't like the Romney campaign,"
frontman Brian Aubert said in a statement to E! News.
Did the stars align behind Mitt Romney's pick for vice president?
"We're nice, approachable people. We won't bite. Unless you're MittRomney! We were very close to just letting this go because
the irony was too good. While he is inadvertently playing a song that describes his whole campaign, we doubt that 'Panic Switch'
really sends the message he intends."
But how do you really feel, sir?
"Seems as if the GOP is once again whimsically ignoring our great nation's laws to do whatever it wants to do, and shooting itself in the foot
in the process," added a rep for the band.
They are not following the Sacred Safety Republican Rule when it comes to music:
Stick to Country.
^^ Like the Dixie Chicks? (they were sooo good for George Bush!)
No, like "are you ready for some football" meatheads and mutual xenophobic Ted Nugent disciples.