Monthly Archives: August 2012

Live-Blogging the RNC Day Three: Part Two…

6:45 PM PST

Everybody’s hoping that Clint Eastwood will be the surprise guest. The GOP usually likes to say that Hollywood should shut up about politics and stick to entertainment. But in Clint’s case it’s different.

6:51 PM PST

I like the band that’s playing in the breaks during the RNC. They look as old as The Rockme Foundation. You don’t get to hear them in the clear too often, but they sound like a very competent cover band, especially adept at blues and R & B. (Which I’d never associate with Romney.)

6:54 PM PST

Oh, no!  It’s another emotional Mitt video with more Ann Romney. Plus darling home videos. Mitt loves Ann. I love my wife, too. Maybe I should be President of the United States!

I think Mitt Romney comes off much better in these video packages than he does in person. He looks the part, he’s got a great smile – and there’s a warmth that’s manufactured and underscored.

Uh oh!

There’s Clint Eastwood!

7:03 PM PST

Clint Eastwood is about to speak. His delivery reminds me of old Jimmy Stewart. You gotta love Clint. He seems to be fumbling a bit, rambling, and disconnected. It’s part Jimmy Stewart, part Admiral James Stockdale. This is the second vaudeville routine of the night, but more entertaining than the Newt & Calista Show.

My wife Victoria notes that the GOP has just given Obama and the Democrats the grand opportunity to call upon any Hollywood star they want (Clooney, Pit, Matt Damon, etc.) and the Republicans can’t criticize them for showcasing a Hollywood star.

7:15 PM PST

And now – Marco Rubio!

Marco?

Rubio!

Marco?

Rubio?

(We’ve all played that game.)

So, Marco Polo (sorry, Rubio) touts the same discredited policies that led to huge deficits under Reagan and turned a surplus into a deficit under George W – and that led to the Great Economic Collapse of 2008. Of course, Marco’s too young to know all this.

And now some blah blah blah about the Creator. Pandering to God. The last refuge of a scoundrel.

Blah blah blah American exceptionalism.

Nothing new and dramatic in Rubio’s speech. (I am enjoying my steak, however. It was rubbed with the “Chicago Back of the Yards” spice mix we bought in Evanston.) Oh, what did Marco Polo just say?

Right about now, my wife Victoria adds that Obama and the Democrats will have the last word.

7:32 PM EST

Mitt Romney jumps his cue – and blows his entrance! He’s walking past a sea of white faces, shaking dozens of white hands, giving awkward hugs all around.

“This will be a disaster for him,” my wife announces. My wife is always right. But, let’s see…

I’m just going to sit back for the next half hour and let the Mitt magic wash over me.

20 minutes in and Mitt’s doing a good job. If you forget that his party’s policies created this economic disaster, you might actually think he’s not full of cr@*p.

And, ah, the family nostalgia! Can we all just stipulate to the family stuff and get on with the nitty gritty of how each party will govern?

24 minutes in and NO policy specifics.

Does Romney understand that the GOP Senate Majority Leader made it his priority from Day One to make Obama a one-term President? Senator Mitch McConnell (Turtle KY) said it right out loud. Does Mitt agree with Yertle McConnell’s policy of constant obstruction?

Here comes the “Attack on Success” canard. Yawn.

29 minutes in – and Mitt’s warming up. He’s got the room rocking with a story about Steve Jobs. So far, it’s not looking like a disaster for Mitt.

But a half-hour into his speech – he’s given no clue as to what he’ll do in the Oval Office. NO specific policy statements. All generalities, bromides and rah rah.

Wow! Romney figured it out! We need jobs! LOTS of jobs! Amazing. I had no idea. HOW will you make those jobs happen, Mitt?

And now the lie about Obama raising taxes on small business.

And now the lie about Medicare.

And now more generalities.

Wait! Romney has a plan to create 12 million new jobs!

It’s a 5-step plan!

Step One: Lie about oil production. Let Big Oil run wild.

Step Two: Destroy public schools

Step Three: More Free Trade

Step Four: Austerity for the poor and middle class

Step Five: Champion small business by getting rid of Obamacare. (What??)

And now he repeats the lie about Obama raising taxes on the middle class, an anti-Gay shout-out, and a bit of religious pandering.

Now Romney takes Obama out of context about stemming the rise of the oceans: another shameless lie.

Boy, he’s piling lie on lie. The crowd loves it.

I can’t take out anymore.

He’s saber rattling against Iran and Russia and I’ve had enough.

I sat through this whole damn thing and my brain hurts. Where’s a bottle of Chardonnay when you need it.

Oh, there it is!

(Filling my glass.)

Here’s to next week’s Democratic Convention, President Obama — and a bold, fearless and comprehensive reply to all this GOP rot!

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Live-Blogging the RNC Day Three: Part One…

5:00 PM PST

Newt Gingrich just finished his underwhelming ventriloquist act. Why he chose to take the stage with a giant wooden puppet in the image of his wife Calista I’ll never know. But, I’ll give him credit, Newt’s lips didn’t move when he threw his voice to Calista. And his lips didn’t move unless he was lying.

Newt and puppet Calista added to the list of Big RNC Lies with the charge that President Obama has decimated energy production – despite the fact that Obama has been more coal and oil friendly than his progressive base wants him to be — and that domestic oil production has never been higher. 

And, yawn, Newt repeats the Great Waiving Work Requirements Under Welfare Lie.

5:01 PM PST

Craig Romney, the Nominee’s youngest son, is making a pitch in Spanish to Latino voters. Now, he’s too choked up to talk. Another story of immigrants made good. Now, he’s done. Mercifully, it’s over in a couple of minutes. So much for Latino outreach.

5:06 PM PST

Jeb Bush comes out and says his brother W made us safe from terror. Really? I thought we suffered the worst terrorist attack in US history on W’s watch?

Now, Jeb wants Obama to stop blaming George W for the economic disaster he inherited. Fine. Let’s also stop blaming the sun for sunshine.

Jeb appears to be a likeable guy. Something tells me he’d have a hard time in the GOP primaries. He’s too soft, too compassionate.

Wait, Jeb’s just 4 minutes into his speech – and he’s already mentioned Romney! That’s a record for this RNC. Now, back to crowing about his record in Florida.

Hold on. Jeb’s doing a comedy routine about milk. It has something to do with school choice. Oh, hang on…now I get it. He’s union bashing.

Jeb just introduced a black Florida student who got a good “election”. (I think Jeb meant “education”.)  The student is advocating for school choice. When the GOP talks about school choice they really mean privatizing schools for profit. Oh yeah, and union busting.

So far, Jeb’s speech is the longest 14 minutes of the RNC.  He made his case for school reform – but not much of a case for Romney.  It’s hard not to like Jeb. But Jeb Bush in 2016? Probably not enough sex appeal.

5:30 PM PST

Grant Bennett, a former Mormon bishop from Massachusetts gives us a dry but informative look at what Mitt Romney did as a Mormon pastor. I like this move. It humanizes Mitt even more than Mitt’s wife did on the RNC’s opening night, but MSNBC and FOX have already cut away to talk to each other rather than hear the bishop out. CNN is staying with Bennett’s earnest, lackluster presentation – if only to make Wolf Blitzer sound exciting by comparison.

5:40 PM PST

A Mormon couple whose young son died of Hodgkin’s disease recounts the help that Mitt gave them in their time of trial. Quite moving, and truly humanizing. Mitt helped their dying teenage son write his will. It’s a moment beyond politics. I like Mormon pastor Mitt a lot more than pandering politician Mitt. This was the most eloquent and effective event at the RNC so far.

5:59 PM PST

There’s been some kind of tribute to Bain Capital going on at the convention, but it’s hard to follow because, flipping from MSNBC to FOX, CNN and finally C-Span, nobody seems to be covering the whole presentation.

6:13 PM PST

Statuesque former Massachusetts Lt. Governor Kerry Healey strides out onto the stage in a bright red dress to tell us how Romney saved the Bay State. She hauls out the now-familiar canard about how Obama’s policies led to the nation’s credit downgrade – ignoring the fact that the Tea Party led House refused the President’s offers at compromise: crass politic brinksmanship that led to the credit downgrade.

And now she beats that old “Obama apologizes for America” drum. Can anyone on the GOP side actually point to a single documented moment where President Obama truly apologized for America? (Crickets.)

6:21 PM PST

I’ve got to make a salad and get the steaks ready to grill. Guess I’ll have to pass up Jane Edmonds, former Massachusetts Workforce Secretary. She’s a woman and she’s black. C-Span and MSNBC are covering her speech – but FOX and CNN are ignoring her in favor of doing interviews on the convention floor. I’m no better than they are – but I’ve got a dinner to prepare!

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Republican National Convention Day Two: What, Me Worry?

The second day of the GOP convention has just ended with Vic Presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s rousing speech – and while I am left with a better impression of Ryan’s political and oratorical talents, I’m still wholly unimpressed with the GOP message as expressed in this convention.

First of all, there was Rand Paul – the champion of Ayn Rand and Individualism.  He actually said, “the individual is more powerful than any collective.” Really? So, if one guy picked up a gun to fight against Hitler, he would have been more powerful than the millions of Americans who answered the call against fascism? One man with a shovel could have built the interstate highway system? Rand Paul’s central message is an absurdity.

Then there was John McCain. Did you hear his speech? If you did – and you agreed with old warrior John – are you really itching for war against Syria and Iran?

I loved seeing Condoleezza Rice on the GOP Convention stage. I actually like Condi. She’s a smart woman, up from poverty and educated at Stanford University.  But she’s particularly responsible for the Bush administration’s failure to prevent the 9-11 attacks and its heinous lies that led us into the catastrophic war in Iraq.

Not to mention the fact that Condoleezza actually mentioned the economic crash in 2008.  WHO was President in 2008? That’s right. George W. Bush. The Republican. Thanks for reminding us, Condi!

As for Paul Ryan’s speech, I have just two things to say.

Here’s the national deficit under Republican (Bush) and Democrat (Obama) administrations.

Here’s job growth under Republican (Bush) and Democrat (Obama) administrations.

The rest  (including Ryan’s rousing DNC speech) is bullpucky

And, by the way, there were few words in favor of Mitt Romney.

Tomorrow, Mitt’s got a big bar to leap.

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Republican National Convention Day One: One Little Lie & Two Big Lies…

“We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

Ashley O’Connor, Romney TV Advertising Strategist

Ohio Governor John Kasich’s Little Lie

In his address to the Republican National Convention tonight, John Kasich stretched the truth like well-chewed taffy by claiming that President Obama’s policies haven’t helped Ohio’s economy rebound in the past two years. But, by ignoring the positive boost that Obama gave Ohio by bailing out the auto industry and providing much-needed transportation funding and dollars for teachers, firefighters, and cops, etc. through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (AKA “The Stimulus”), Kasich was telling a lie of omission. It was a big lie, but a subtle one.

But there was another lie that Kasich told toward the end of his speech – a little lie, an unnecessary lie, an easily debunked lie – that shows how little he regards the truth when he’s looking to score a point or belittle an opponent.

After having made his case for what he’s done to fix Ohio’s economy, and therefore what the GOP can do for the nation, Kasich took on Vice President Joe Biden. “Folks, let me tell you this,” he said, “Joe Biden disputes a lot of those facts, but Joe Biden told me that he was a good golfer. And I’ve played golf with Joe Biden, I can tell you that’s not true, as well as all of the other things that he says.”

But how good a golfer is Joe Biden really? In a recent Golf Digest ranking of 150 prominent Washington golfers, House Speaker John Boehner was ranked 43rd, President Obama was 108th – and Joe Biden was ranked 29th. Kasich, who doesn’t live in Washington, didn’t make the list. But, as a golfer, Kasich is no Joe Biden. And as an honest politician, he’s even worse.

So what about the facts? Republicans just say what they want to say – the facts be damned — even when it comes to little things.

Former GOP Candidate Rick Santorum’s Big Lie

In his speech, Rick Santorum built upon the Romney campaign’s Big Lie about Obama gutting the welfare work rules. In a loud dog whistle to low information white working class voters, Santorum continued to peddle the nonsense that Obama has unilaterally waived work rules to make it easier for (we presume the shiftless minority poor folk) to collect welfare money for nothing.

By waiving the work requirement, Santorum accused Obama of “acting as if he’s above the law.” But the fact is that President Obama HAS NOT done what Santorum and the Romney campaign have charged. What the President DID DO is, at the request of a bipartisan group of state governors, give those state more flexibility in interpreting the work requirements so that they can get people placed in jobs faster and more efficiently: the very opposite of the GOP Big Lie.

But don’t take my word for it. The fact-checking website PolitiFact says Romney’s claims are “pants on fire” bogus and The Washington Post’s fact checker awarded the Romney campaigns welfare attack on Obama  four Pinocchios, its highest rating. And Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.org agreed that the claims are false.

FactCheck.org explains:

“A Mitt Romney TV ad claims the Obama administration has adopted ‘a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.’ The plan does neither of those things.”

“Work requirements are not simply being ‘dropped.’ States may now change the requirements — revising, adding or eliminating them — as part of a federally approved state-specific plan to increase job placement.”

“And it won’t ‘gut’ the 1996 law to ease the requirement. Benefits still won’t be paid beyond an allotted time, whether the recipient is working or not.”

Even a Republican architect of the law, Ron Haskins, told NPR: “There’s no plausible scenario under which it really constitutes a serious attack on welfare reform.”

But the GOP’s Big Lie beat goes on…

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s Big Lie

The “you didn’t build that” canard is alive and well – and bigger than ever. In her convention speech, Nikki Haley amplified the utterly bogus assertion that President Obama said that American business people didn’t build their own businesses.

Let’s make this perfectly clear. Here’s what President Obama really said:

“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.”

 (Applause.)

 “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

The Romney campaign pulled one line out of context – “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that” – and ignores the context to create a Big Lie. No matter that Obama’s whole speech is on video, no matter that I was able to Google it for this article in a matter of seconds. Say a lie loud enough and long enough – with all that billionaire super pac money to broasdcast that lie – and the truth no longer matters.

But, here again, don’t take my word for it. Here’s the word from the Romney campaign itself:

“Our most effective ad is our welfare ad,” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said at a forum hosted by ABC News and Yahoo! News. “Fact checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

Caveat emptor my fellow Americans.

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Storm Tracking with Pat Robertson…

On Sunday morning televangelist and former Republican Presidential candidate Pat Robertson took to the airwaves of his Christian Broadcast Network to weigh in on the direction — and intention — of Tropical Storm Isaac, which was gaining strength as it appeared to be headed toward Tampa, Florida, site of this week’s Republican National Convention.

“Isaac’s deadly winds shall be God’s vengeance upon Mitt Romney, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, and all of those godless, spineless cowards who knuckled under to the haughty, oversexed feminists and abandoned the Lord’s righteous Missouri Senate candidate this past week,” said Robertson, in one of his patented pronouncements, mixing the meteorological and metaphysical.

“Congressman Todd Akin shall see his profound medical wisdom and faith defended by the gale force Hand of God, as He wreaks his wrath upon Romney, whose magic underwear shall be scant protection from the tempest. An angry God will stand up for his Pro-Life champion by dealing death from above.”

But later in the day, as it became clear that Isaac would skirt the Florida coast, gaining power as it bore to the west in a wide swath from the Florida Panhandle to New Orleans, Robertson went back on CBN, telling his 700 Club co-host Terry Meeuwsen that “God’s way are mysterious — but The Almighty has told me that, rather than strike Tampa with the full force of his righteous hurricane he has decided instead to smite Romney and his fellow Republican apostates with the Drizzle of Damnation and repudiate them with a blast of Righteous Inconvenience.”

CBN has announced that as the National Hurricane Center revises it’s projections of Tropical Storm Isaac’s direction and intensity in the coming days, Pat Robertson will also issue an updated series of pronouncements regarding “those upon whom God intends to visit Isaac’s frightful devastation. Mr. Robertson is personally hoping for a landfall in New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of Katrina, so he can double down on his previous insanity.”

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Election 2012: The Stakes

With the Presidential Election less than 3 months away, the airwaves (especially in the “swing states”) are jammed with campaign ads and questionable, secretly funded Super Pac attacks. Until the party conventions are over and the debates begin, media coverage of the election will continue to focus on the horserace, breathlessly trumpeting every incremental rise and fall in the polls.

Before President Obama and his GOP challenger Mitt Romney – and their ticket mates Biden and Ryan — are finally able to square off face to face over the issues, the current phase of the election season is mostly about hot air, hot buttons, gaffes and guesswork.

Sometimes I think it would be better just to turn on AM sports radio until the debates get underway. News coverage of the recent NBA blockbuster trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers exhibited more frank and clear-eyed analysis than you’ll hear on Meet The Press or from George Stephanopoulos and his roundtable of pompous political hacks.

Everybody’s got an opinion, no matter how ill informed, and opinions trump facts. Politicians make claims and accusations — and the media debates the effect of those assertions on a gullible public rather than doing the hard work of establishing what’s true and what’s total bullshit.

Covering the Obama and Romney campaigns, the mainstream media tends to adopt a “plague on both their houses” standard of false equivalency. The GOP openly and repeatedly questions the President’s U.S. citizenship, his Christianity, and his love of country, while blowing racist dog whistles that are heard loudly by the angry white low information voters in their base.

But when Vice President Joe Biden responds to Romney and Ryan’s self-confessed intention to “unshackle” the big Wall Street Banks — and (somewhat clumsily) turns their own metaphor around by saying, “They’re going to put y’all back in chains!” – Romney has the gall to say Obama is running a campaign of hate. And few of the self-satisfied, pampered and intellectually lazy fools that pass for our political pundit class point out Romney’s blatant hypocrisy.

It’s enough to make you want to kick in your television set, tear your car radio out, and toss your newspaper in the trash unread. Rachel Maddow, Ed Shultz and Lawrence O’Donnell notwithstanding.

But as frustrated as we might get with this crass, corrupt and confounding electoral process (especially in a post Citizens United world) we must not forget that there’s truly a lot at stake in this election.

There are big differences between Obama and Romney.

And there are big differences between the Democrats and Republicans.

When I was a small child, I asked my father what was the difference between Democrats and Republicans. My father, born in 1927 and raised in New Orleans, was a child of the Depression and a product of Huey Long’s populism and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. “Republicans,” my father told me, “are for the rich man. Democrats are for the working man.” And as corrupt and pro-corporate as some Democrats may be (Max Baucus, I’m talking to you) – my dad’s dictum still rings true.

Any working person who votes for a Republican is voting against his or her own economic interest.

That’s not something you’ll hear from Wolf Blitzer on CNN.

So, now that I’ve made it clear where I stand in this election – here are ten reasons why you should vote a straight Democratic ticket on Election Day.

1. When President Obama wins re-election, he’ll need majorities in the House and Senate in order to get anything done that moves this country forward.

2. Romney loves trickle-down economics. Problem is, as we’ve seen for the past three decades starting with Reagan, nothing trickles down but misery for working people.

3. President Obama believes in tax fairness. He’s campaigning on the idea that the investor class and those with inherited wealth should pay the same tax rates as working men and women. Romney won’t release his tax returns because, clearly, he’s on the other side of this issue.

4. Romney says he’ll put an end to Planned Parenthood (as though he could) and Paul Ryan is a big fan of personhood for fertilized eggs. Unlike a lot of GOP hacks who simply give lip service to ending women’s reproductive rights in America – these guys just might try to do it.

5. Liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is going to be 80 years old in March of next year. Stephen Breyer is 74. Do you want Romney to replace them?

6. Picture two more years with John Boehner as Speaker of the House.

7. Imagine Yertle the Turtle, AKA Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader.

8. Romney thinks that saber rattling against Iran and Russia is a strong foreign policy. Which should come as no surprise since his advisors include nasty neoconservative nut jobs like Frank Gaffney and soulless fascist operatives like Dan Senor.

9. The Republicans give aid and comfort to climate change skeptics and won’t do anything to promote clean, renewable energy sources until their Big Oil masters have pumped every ounce of planet-killing poison out of the ground and burned it up.

10. Republican governors and state legislatures appear to have three main items on their agendas:

— Make it harder for poor people and minorities to vote.

— Vilify and break the unions.

— Restrict contraception and reproductive rights.

There are lots of other reasons to vote for Democrats and oppose Republicans – but these ten are more than enough.

I’m voting to re-elect President Obama – and I’m voting to put Democrats in the House and Senate in Sacramento and in Washington D.C.

Now, can we get those debates underway soon?

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Ms. Maura Sings This Friday @ 8:00!

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