Tag Archives: Ryan

Banal & Bankrupt Notions from the Squishy & Feckless Political Center: An Examination of the Weak, Useless, and (perhaps) Willfully Naive Thinking of Columnist Doyle McManus of The Los Angeles Times.

doylebanner 1Barack Obama Sworn In As U.S. President For A Second TermWithin days of President Barack Obama’s triumphant and stirring Second Inaugural Address, we were treated to a seemingly profound and thoughtful newspaper column by Los Angeles Times opinion writer, Doyle McManus, who gave us his sage and pointedly disappointed observations on the tone of Obama’s speech. Deeply serious Mr. McManus thought President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address should have struck a less partisan attitude. But who the hell is Doyle McManus? What is he thinking? Why is he such a naïve, right of center, post-partisan fetishist? And why should we just ignore what he writes?

6a00d8341c7de353ef0133f5907330970b-320wiDoyle McManus is a son of privilege. Born in 1952, the son of a San Francisco advertising executive, he graduated from Stanford University. A Fulbright scholar, Doyle attended the University of Brussels before joining The Los Angeles Times in 1978. Thirty years later The Tribune Company made him a columnist. Mr. McManus is an accomplished journalist — he’s covered every presidential election since 1984 — but he’s managed to keep his rose colored classes perched on the bridge of his centrist nose.

And his opinion of President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address is a gob of lukewarm spit.

Here’s middling, piddling, pusillanimous Doyle’s opinion column in The Los Angeles Times, along with my commentary IN BOLD CAPS:

Obama’s reach wasn’t long enough

By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

On the eve of Inauguration Day, White House political strategist David Plouffe promised that President Barack Obama’s inaugural address would include a call for bipartisan cooperation.

“He is going to say that our political system does not require us to resolve all of our differences or settle all of our disputes, but it is absolutely imperative that our leaders try and seek common ground,” Plouffe said on ABC.

But it was hard to find that outstretched hand in the inaugural speech Obama gave Monday.

mitch-mcconnell-make-obama-one-term-presidentREALLY, MR. DOYLE? DID YOU REALLY EXPECT THAT, AFTER REPUBLICAN SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL GREETED OBAMA’S FIRST INAUGURAL BIPARTISAN OVERTURE WITH A CLEARLY STATED DETERMINATION TO MAKE PRESIDENT OBAMA “A ONE TERM PRESIDENT”, THAT OBAMA WOULD STRETCH OUT HIS HAND TO HAVE IT BITTEN AGAIN?

In 19 minutes, Obama delivered an eloquent, powerful and often combative summary of his values as a progressive Democrat who believes that an activist federal government helps make America great.

And if there was any question about how ambitious an agenda Obama intends to pursue in his second term, the answer was clear: He’s going big, not small, just as he did in 2009.

The president listed a daunting series of priorities: a fiscal deal including tax reform, measures to reduce health care costs, a new immigration law, gun control and education reform. He made a point of promising progress on climate change, a priority he seemed to have abandoned during his difficult first term. He added full equality for gay Americans, an item that made its way onto his first-term agenda only through a campaign-year back door.

Obama knows that he will need to win some Republican votes, especially in the House, to accomplish any of those goals. But on Monday he chose to assert his electoral mandate rather than extend an olive branch.

0122-OBAMA-BOEHNER-sized.jpg_full_600AH, YES – THE OLIVE BRANCH! JUST HOW WILL EXTENDING AN OLIVE BRANCH – WHICH McCONNELL AND BOEHNER REJECTED DURING OBAMA’S LAST TERM – GET THESE NEANDERTHAL, TEA PARTY-DRIVEN REPUBLICANS TO MOVE FORWARD ON TAX REFORM, REDUCING HEALTH CARE COSTS, COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION LAW, GUN CONTROL AND EDUCATION REFORM – LET ALONE EQUALITY FOR GAY AMERICANS? ARE YOU SERIOUS, MR. McMANUS?

If there’s a second half of his strategy — a secret plan to help bring some Republicans to “yes” — the president is keeping it well hidden.

Most inaugural speeches are so anodyne — full of airy invocations of national unity and vague calls to greatness — that the words are forgotten by lunchtime. Not this one. It was a progressive’s call to arms.

1358788602_barack-obama-inauguration-speech-467OF COURSE IT WAS. IT WAS A MAJORITY OF AMERICANS – PROGRESSIVES, LIBERALS AND DEMOCRATS – WHO ELECTED HIM. AND HE WAS SPEAKING TO US – THE MAJORITY WHO ELECTED HIM AND WANT TO MOVE THE COUNRTY FORWARD. WHY DOES THAT SURPRISE YOU, MR. McMANUS?

“We have always understood that when times change, so must we,” Obama said, “that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges” (are you listening, Tea Party?) and “that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.

“A great nation must care for the vulnerable and protect its people from life’s worst hazards. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.”

And instead of gauzy invocations of common ground, Obama issued a series of surprisingly tart political zingers aimed, not so subtly, at his adversaries.

“Our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it,” he said. “We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky or happiness for the few.

“We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”

He even took aim at Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee, who has derided recipients of federal benefits as “takers” rather than “makers.”

photoAMAZING! OBAMA ACTUALLY RE-STATED THE ARGUMENTS THAT WON HIM RE-ELECTION! MR. McMANUS SEEMS TO BE SHOCKED THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA WOULD ACTUALLY EMPHASIZE THE KEYS TO HIS VICTORY: CHAMPIONING THE 99% — AND PROTECTING FDR’S NEW DEAL SOCIAL SAFETY NET.

“The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security … do not make us a nation of takers,” he said.

Ryan, who was on the platform listening, took the high road with a statement that said: “We (have) strong disagreements over the direction of the country. But today we put those disagreements aside. Today we remember what we share in common.”

Privately, though, many Republicans were seething.

AP771916897310_620x350BOO HOO HOO. PAUL RYAN IS SEETHING. CRY ME A RIVER, McMANUS. CAN YOU IMAGINE ANYTHING OBAMA MIGHT HAVE SAID THAT WOULD HAVE PLACATED ANTI-NEW DEAL TEA PARTIERS LIKE RYAN? SPARE ME THEIR CROCODILE TEARS. 

It was a long way from the Barack Obama of 2009, the brash young idealist who promised to change the way Washington worked, seek post-partisan solutions and banish “the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long.”

2700349-president-barack-obama-2013-obama-inauguration-650-430IT WAS A LONG WAY FROM THE RELENTLESS PUNCHES THAT OBAMA TOOK IN THE FACE FROM THE GOP AFTER OFFERING AN OLIVE BRANCH IN HIS 2009 SPEECH. WERE YOU THERE, MR. McMANUS? DID YOU MISS PRESIDENT OBAMA’S FIRST ADMINISTRATION? WERE YOU SLEEPING THE PAST FOUR YEARS – AND JUST WOKE UP, IMAGINING YOU’RE IN POLITICAL FANTSASY LAND?

This year, instead of an outstretched hand, he delivered a slap. “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate,” he said.

Obama has been trying this more pugnacious approach since the November election, and it has undeniably made him more effective — so far. He forced Republicans to back down on income tax rates at the edge of the “fiscal cliff,” and he appears to have forced them to back down again on their threats to block an increase in the federal debt ceiling.

boehner-kelly-clarksonDUH. GETTING TOUGH WITH THESE GOP CLOWNS ACTUALLY WORKS. BECAUSE REPUBLICAN IDEAS ARE MORIBUND – AND THEIR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA IS DETRIMENTAL TO PROGRESS.

It’s impossible to blame any politician, even a president who once promised post-partisan hope and change, for surrendering to reality and doing what works. But it sure isn’t pretty, and, more important, it may not always be effective.

At some point, Obama is likely to need willing collaborators from the opposition — if he hopes to pass an immigration reform law, for example, or negotiate a long-term deal to reduce the deficit.

When that day comes, the president may find himself wishing he had devoted a few more words of his second inaugural address to offering an outstretched hand.

obama-inauguration-elite-dailyREALLY, DOYLE McMANUS? DESPITE ALL HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY, DO YOU TRULY BELIEVE THAT THE GOP CULTURE WARRIORS AND TAX FETISHISTS WERE GOING TO BE ASSUAGED BY OBAMA SPEAKING A FEW “MORE WORDS” IN THEIR FAVOR?

DO YOU TRULY BELIEVE THAT BOEHNER, RYAN, McCONNEL, RAND PAUL AND THE REST OF THE GOP WILL ACTUALLY RESPOND POSITIVELY TO OBAMA “OFFERING AN OUTSTRECHED HAND”?

IF SO, THEN DOYLE McMANUS — YOU ARE EITHER A COMPLETE FOOL OR SOMETHING MUCH, MUCH WORSE. 

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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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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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