Posts Tagged ‘Paul Ryan’

GOP: A Party Without a Head or a Heart

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

Republicans discussing health insurance for women.

Republicans discussing health insurance for women.

The narcissist-in-chief (NIC) got snookered. The self-proclaimed master “deal-maker” let himself get sucked in to putting his reputation and the power of the office he holds behind a deal — a Republican “health care” plan — that stunk so bad he couldn’t get it passed even though his party controls the House of Representatives, the Senate and the presidency.

This is where ego and ignorance can take you. An unholy combination that, in this case, resulted in the NIC thinking the sheer magic of his name and the unlimited power of his position were enough to get politicians to vote against their own self-interests.

Turns out the magic was myth and, surprise, there are limits on the power of the presidency. Business and politics are not the same. Opposites, in fact. The failure of the Republicans to get their much ballyhooed replacement for Obamacare through the House of Representatives tells you all you need to know about today’s Republican Party. It is, for starters, a gaggle of angry constituencies — a party of convenience for various factions who know nothing about governing, but want to use the government to advance their own (pick one or two) narrow, selfish, greedy, racist, sexist, privileged, bigoted, ignorant, holier-than-thou view of the world.

These ideologically driven groups don’t necessarily like or agree with each other, but they have nowhere else to go. Where politics is concerned, the Republican tent is big enough to accommodate anyone who thinks Democrat is a four-letter word and the mission of Republicans is to oppose anything Democrats propose, even if it might actually help some people. Certainly their playbook over the past eight years says Republicans ought never try to work with Democrats to reach a compromise that gives everybody something. You know, governing.

So, there was the NIC, huffing and puffing at this smirky, young upstart Paul Ryan last week, telling him never mind you don’t have the votes to pass the bill, you go back to the House and you tell them I said vote yes on this health bill tomorrow or you’re stuck with Obamacare. Ryan, who sold the NIC on the bill but hasn’t a clue about how health care works, does as he is told. For good measure, Steve Bannon, the White House destroyer-in-chief, tells the rebellious troops — the Freedom Caucus (pseudonym for tea party we-hate-government types) — they have to vote for this bill. It’s an order.

Well, this gang can out-Bannon Bannon. They think the bill, which would toss 24 million Americans off health insurance, is too generous. They want to raise the cost and cut out a bunch of benefits. Say, maternity care, coverage for mental illness, including addiction. And they have the Koch brothers telling them that, if they vote no, they will get donations to their reelection campaigns so they can continue to swindle the voters back home and funnel more money to the wealthy and big corporations. This gang tells Bannon to stick it.

Since a few Republicans (and all Democrats) actually object to the bill as, well, stupid, Ryan still hasn’t got the votes to pass it and he begs the NIC to let him postpone the vote again. Humiliating as it may be, the NIC says OK, makes a pledge to himself to get rid of Ryan, blames the Democrats for not voting for a bill which they were not asked to help write (and which he never bothered to read), denies ever promising to repeal Obamacare “immediately” upon taking office, and sets out to destroy the only health care plan millions of Americans have in place. A party incapable of following the leader has a leader in name only.

The next day, Ryan says, “This to us is something that we’re not going to give up on, because we’re not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the American people.”  A slip of the lip reveals the heartless truth.

Without Obama to blame for everything, Other than more tax breaks for the rich, Republicans have no message. Instead, they destroy. Blame. Make up excuses. Lie. But never govern.

The NIC is true only to himself and his delusions. His usefulness as a tool for the Republicans is about used up with all the executive orders he issued getting rid of regulations that protect our water, our air, our investments, our parks, immigrants, wildlife, the arts, community groups and anything else Bannon puts on his desk. But actually passing bills? Republicans had seven years to come up with a new health plan or work with Democrats to fix what needed fixing in Obamacare. Instead, they kept passing meaningless bills to kill it and then rushed through a tax-break plan masquerading as a health plan in two months. Their own members found it to be either too generous or too cruel to defend to constituents. Too stupid to know (or care) how politics works, the NIC said take it or leave it; I’ve got a wall to build and a tax code to rewrite next week.

Good luck with that.

Never mind that there is no leader and no compassion, there is not even a sense of awareness in the Republican Party. When the White House was still trying to woo the Freedom Caucus on the health care bill, it convened a meeting led by Vice President Mike Pence, he of the grim (when do I get the job?) smile. Much of the talk was about whether there should be coverage for maternity care and mammograms. A photo of the meeting showed about two dozen white men, and no women, seated around a table supposedly making sense of the situation. There was even a crude joke about mammograms.

That’s today’s Republican Party — headless, heartless and clueless.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Trying Not to Get Out the Vote

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

 By Jeffrey Page

Americans have never been enthusiastic about voting. Whether they saw it as a chore, or maybe something that interferes with a nice day off from work, they’ve avoided the polls to a degree that makes a laughing stock of a country governed by elected leaders.

Since the 1820s, the nation’s highest voter turnout was recorded in 1876 – a full 100 years after the colonies declared they would no longer be ruled by British kings and princes – when just 81.8 percent of eligible voters actually cast ballots. Even in the Great Depression of the Thirties, the highest turnout we managed was 65 percent.

And in the 11 presidential elections from 1972 to 2012, the average turnout was an anemic 53.6 percent, with the vote of 1996 falling to 49 percent. Some people say it doesn’t matter who’s in office so why bother voting? That argument will not stand the next time you use Obamacare, the next time you need an abortion, the next time there’s a vacancy on the Supreme Court, and certainly not the next time Paul Ryan proffers a budget that eliminates funding for early education.

Remember the public service announcements about the importance of voting? The message that suggested a free society could remain free only as long as its citizens exercised the franchise? Americans are deaf to such appeals now.

Some people see this lack of interest in the electoral process as dangerous. Others see it as an opportunity.

We’re supposed to be a nation that treasures its freedom in the voting booth. But now, some politicians see an opportunity, through statute, to make voting more difficult and inconvenient. Thus they discourage certain voters from going to the polls while encouraging others to pull the appropriate levers or slip their ballot into the computer.

Given our national apathy, who’s going to complain?

The New York Times recently ran an extraordinary story whose headline was shocking, even in this time of rabid partisanship in Congress: “New GOP Bid to Limit Voting in Swing States.” The report basically was a catalogue of measures that Republicans are supporting around the country. The truth here is that the Republican Establishment is engaging in voter suppression, which kind of negates the GOP’s eternal yammering about being the “party of Lincoln” and striving for a government of, by, and for the people.

In a nation where we don’t carry in-country passports, some Republicans would force people to carry voter ID cards to prevent election fraud – a rare offense. The existence of pre-Election Day voting makes casting a ballot convenient and easy, especially for working people but some on the right would cut the number of such “early days” or eliminate them altogether.

In Ohio, the governor killed a measure that allowed people to register and vote on the same day, another convenience. Ohio feared voter fraud, but again, there have been no reports of voter fraud.

Great American politicians believe that in a democracy, you encourage as many people as possible to get to the polls and, if needed, you provide assistance for them in the voting booth.

Great American cynics believe that party comes before nation so you educate your base, and then make voting as complicated and inconvenient as possible for the people whose votes you can’t count on.

USS Mittanic Lists in Turbulent Seas

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Illustration by Lance Theroux

By Emily Theroux

The decks are beginning to creak aboard the ship of fools that the GOP insists cannot be sunk. The legendary iceberg looms in the dark water dead ahead, but the captain and crew have had too much $100-bill bubbly to see disaster coming.

When the USS Mittanic put out to sea after the Republican primaries yielded a lackluster contender no one was really thrilled by, the shipbuilders who were funding the crusade to purge Barack Obama from office thought they had come up with a sure bet. Willard “Mitt” Romney wanted the presidency so badly that his fat-cat donors figured, once they had ponied up to install him in the Oval Office, he’d be happy to “dance with the ones that brung him.”

America faced a stalled economy, with Barack Obama at the helm. Everyone with a conservative blog and half a brain or less believed “Nobama” was a foreign, socialist, Muslim, job-killing tyrant who was universally hated by his “subjects.” How could they be so sure? Because Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Erick Erickson, and Rush Limbaugh told them so, and that handful of towering intellects had yet to be conclusively proven wrong.

Romney, the former “Taxachusetts” R.I.N.O., had instantly reversed every principle or ideal that he had ever claimed he held, declaring in the most withering tone he could muster that he had been “a severely conservative Republican governor.” He’d be putty in the hands of the Brothers Koch and Karl Rove, who were running the show. What could possibly go wrong?

As it turned out, just about everything.

In a recent interview, David Koch discussed wealthy donors “investing” in political candidates with the expectation of receiving some kind of return, now that the Citizens United case has made such a breach in the democratic process possible.

It had never occurred to the campaign’s high rollers that their enormous cash stash might not be enough to close the deal and actually buy the American presidency outright. (That was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as are a lot of the things I write — which I feel I need to declare, since this campaign’s have become so surreal that readers are starting to take parody and satire as accounts of actual events.*)

GOP masterminds had all the bases covered, including getting so many Republican state legislators elected in 2010 that voter ID bills have already been passed in 33 states. Their goal was to disenfranchise black, Latino, poor, and college-age voters, in case Mitt began to straggle behind the president in the polls.

They had even had the foresight to establish a movement called True the Vote, a conservative “voter vigilante” organization whose website is packed with right-wing lies. The group plans to sic one million volunteers on polling places in poor and minority neighborhoods all over the country. Their goal, in plain English: bullying Democratic voters by singling them out, challenging their identification even if the state has no law requiring photo IDs, telling voters they’re in the wrong place, or they don’t have the proper paperwork, or the election happened yesterday whatever intimidates people enough to make them leave without making it into the voting booth.

Do what you have to do to get where you need to go; that’s Citizen Rove’s motto. Leave what your parents taught you at the door when you agree to work for totally unscrupulous people. It doesn’t matter how you play the game. Winning is everything. Failure is not an option.

If Romney can’t get there by following the rules, he’s not above winning ugly.

 

‘Republicans don’t fall in love; they fall in line’

Yet it still wasn’t clear that their plan would work. The GOP had put up the best candidate in the bunch, and by mid-September, the public disliked Mitt Romney so much that he was clearly losing.

Ever since the Mother Jones website linked to Mitt’s Big Bloopers Reel a week and a half ago, and all of that rot that proverbially starts at the fish’s head began to ooze out, a really big stink ensued on the far right. The religious fundies were hopping mad, praying that God would smite the listing vessel with something godawful, maybe a North Atlantic typhoon. That would fix those Beltway Republicans for the mortal sin of dredging up Romney again from the dustbin of history, brushing him off, and dressing him in mom jeans and a blue checkered shirt that he didn’t take off for the next four months.

But that’s the way it’s done in the Greed and Opulence Party, whose entitled members feel they can afford to be magnanimous. For the current campaign’s “winner,” they almost always choose the previous campaign’s loser. For some reason, the GOP put stodgy old Bob Dole up against ever-popular incumbent Bill Clinton in 1996, and sure enough, as Ann Coulter warned at the outset of the current cycle, “He lost.” They ran John McCain in 2008, eight years after he had lost the nomination to George W. Bush (who, even though his father had been president before him, happened to be the first “D.C. neophyte” that the GOP had nominated since Ronald Reagan recaptured the White House  from Jimmy Carter in 1980).

Mitt Romney embarked on his general election voyage in 2012 as the also-ran of 2008. This blueprint for failure has caused disastrous results for Republicans, yet for some reason they refuse to abandon it. The party keeps going with the “safe” moderate and then expecting him to hang a sharp right and morph into a firebrand wingnut ideologue. As hard as he tries, Mitt-bot’s demeanor and delivery are so mechanical and repellent that nobody’s buying it.

Now, the Romney/Ryan campaign is imploding before the presidential debates have even begun. The rats are deserting the ship left and right. Normally blustery N.J. Gov. Chris Christie’s allegiance to the current GOP nominee sounding iffy; he crooned Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” at the convention, and the other day he admitted to a reporter, “We had a bad week. If the election were going to be held tomorrow, that would be a problem.” Christie added that the campaign still had 42 days to catch up, but he didn’t sound that convincing.

The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan, who once worked for Saint Ronnie,  clambered into one of the first lifeboats, pronouncing Romney “incompetent” one day and then bumping her criticism up several notches the next day to “a rolling calamity.” Her emergence from the elephant herd handed the press a colorful metaphor for kicking off MittWit’s upcoming bus tour.

  • Tim Pawlenty resigned last week, trading in his leading role in the sinking of the USS Mittanic for a cushy sinecure as a banking lobbyist.
  • Obama is currently 8 points ahead in Ohio, the state that no Republican who won the national election has ever lost.
  • Remember those folks at NASCAR that Mitt trashed, cruelly mocking their cheap plastic ponchos? A new Zogby poll showed that 49 percent of NASCAR fans now favor Obama, while only 42 percent would vote for Romney.

“The Romney campaign has the stink of death right now,” warned Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis, who seemed to be keeping a safe distance from the sinking clown show.

 

Politico satire taken seriously by pundits because this campaign is so crazy, it almost could be true

Roger Simon of Politico, inspired by the bedlam the Romney campaign has become mired in, turned the tragicomic Plight of the Right into a wickedly funny satirical riff on a quote that appeared in The New York Times. The speaker, GOP operative Craig Robinson of Iowa, had described the stinking rift that has sprouted like a dank mushroom in the ill-fated Romney/Ryan union. Here’s an excerpt:

“Paul Ryan has gone rogue. He is unleashed, unchained, off the hook.

“‘I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him,’ Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa, told The New York Times on Sunday.

“Coming from a resident of Iowa, a state where people are polite even to soybeans, this was a powerful condemnation of the Republican nominee.

“Though Ryan had already decided to distance himself from the floundering Romney campaign, he now feels totally uninhibited. Reportedly, he has been marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, ‘If Stench calls, take a message’ and ‘Tell Stench I’m having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.'”

I came across Simon’s piece late last night, after somebody posted it on Twitter. I clicked on the link, began to read it, and couldn’t stop laughing at the hilarious picture Simon had evoked in his Ryan parody. My first thought was that it had to be satire because it couldn’t possibly be true. Unfortunately, not everybody realized it was a joke.

  • Paul Krugman of The New York Times, who apparently fell for Simon’s account of PowerPoint’s origin as “a way to euthanize cattle,” blogged about Politico’s fantastic Ryan “scoop,” calling the V.P. hopeful’s alleged tantrum “just bad behavior.” Upon learning that he had been unintentionally “scammed” by a political column that Politico didn’t label “satire,” Krugman revisited his own column and used a heavy hand with the strike-through key. One reader retorted in the comments section that Krugman was “just dumb as bricks” for falling for Simon’s spoof; another branded Krugman “a sore loser.”
  •  Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC absolutely couldn’t resist the opportunity for a lengthy on-air snark-fest at Ryan and Romney’s expense.
  • Tommy Christopher of Mediaite who did, to his credit, express some trepidation about using unattributed Ryan “quotes” apparently succumbed to how newsworthy they would be, if true. “For what it’s worth, I believe the quotes are real,” wrote Christopher, who later posted an indignant update.
  • Comedy Central‘s Dennis DiClaudio called “the Stench” one of those “affectionate nicknames” that politicians (“namely,” Dubya) bestow on each other, like calling Rove “Turdblossom,” or Vladimir Putin “Pootie-Poot.” (DiClaudio attempted to save face by printing a Photoshopped picture of Paul Ryan and Peggy Noonan having finger sandwiches.)

BuzzFeed reported that conservative blogger Jammie Wearing Fools, who apparently wasn’t punked by Simon’s spoof, offered the embarrassed pundits a way out: “Satire should actually be funny,” Jammie opined.

Bloggers, of course, weren’t the only night owls online in the wee hours. The Twittersphere pounced on the story, and within three hours, the hashtag #TheStench was trending at No. 3 in the U.S.

“Over at Politico, where the story originated,” I posted on my blog-in-progress, “the attribution may be a little murkier, but ‘the dirt’ is so funny that Tweeters (who aren’t constitutionally capable of sitting on their hands when a good joke is idling) had no other choice than to just take #TheStench and run with it.

Mail from AARP Misses the Mark

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

By Michael Kaufman

My mailboxes, traditional and electronic,  have been filled to the brim lately with communications from the AARP. I keep hoping they will contain information about how the organization is fighting tooth and nail to preserve Social Security and Medicare as we know it, for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. I look for information that exposes the lies suggesting these great social programs are on the brink of insolvency and must be “privatized” and/or replaced by “voucher” plans that will provide reduced, inadequate coverage. Of course, folks will have the “option” of purchasing additional coverage in the “free marketplace” (as Mitt likes to call it) but those who can’t afford it will be left to fend for themselves.

People will die if this happens but when Alan Grayson tried to point this out when he was in Congress the people who made up the story that “death panels” were included in the Affordable Care Act attacked him for being an extremist.  Now they are talking about moving up the “retirement age” to 70 when there is little or no opportunity for seniors to obtain good jobs as it is now. So what does the AARP have to say about all this?

Well, there was the recent issue of the magazine with pictures of Mitt and Anne Romney on the cover and a folksy interview inside. There was the email from AARP Member Offers suggesting that I “race home with $100 cash back bonus from the AARP Visa card from Chase.” Another email announced, “Michael, You Could Win a $5,000 Dream Spa Vacation for Two!” Another blared, “Michael, Last Chance! Win $50,000 for Your Retirement.”

The main headline in the August 17 edition of the AARP Webletter said, “Slideshow: Marilyn Monroe’s Life in Photos.” I saw enough photos of poor Marilyn when she was alive, thanks. She would be about 86 now. I didn’t look at the slideshow but the headline made me want to see “The Misfits” again. 

A Jo Ann Jenkins from the AARP Foundation sent an email urging, “Michael, Get our 2013 calendar before it’s gone!” She said I could “reserve” my copy by making a tax-deductible donation to the AARP Foundation. And every other day (or so it seems) an envelope arrives bearing the AARP logo and containing offers for all kinds of insurance policies. All are from big-name insurance companies that pay the AARP royalties for its endorsement and use of the AARP logo.

Lately I’ve also been getting envelopes and emails reminding me to renew my membership in the AARP, something I have routinely done for the past 10 years, but which I am now reconsidering. I wouldn’t mind all the fluff they send if it was accompanied by at least some sense of urgency regarding the current state of affairs.

We are weeks away from a national presidential election that will be decided between candidates from two major political parties. Neither is any bargain when it comes to representing the interests of ordinary people versus corporate donors and lobbyists. But one has declared war on all social programs affecting seniors (along with the war on women’s health rights, public employees, Head Start, immigrants, trade unions, the environment and the voting rights of African Americans….to name a few). Yet the AARP refuses to make an endorsement.

Last week I got a letter from Michael Olender, associate director of the AARP in New York State, announcing an AARP-sponsored forum on Medicare fraud to be held Thursday, September 27, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church of Monroe, 142 Stage Road. Experts from AARP and various agencies “on the frontlines of fighting Medicare fraud” will explain “the basics about Medicare fraud including how it is committed, how to spot it, and what to do if you think you recognize it.” Refreshments will be served. Admission is free but reservations are required by calling 877-926-8300.

I am thinking about attending if only to remind them that if Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Nan Hayworth have their way, there will be no Medicare fraud to fight against….because there will be no Medicare.

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com.
 

 

Legitimate Rape-gate’s ‘Akin Plank’ Clobbers V.P. Candidate Paul Ryan

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

By Emily Theroux

Democrats are calling “no exemptions for rape victims” the “Akin Plank” of the 2012 Republican Party platform — no matter how peevishly Mitt Romney demands that rape cases remain exempt from the GOP’s customary call for a constitutional ban on abortions.

In the irony to beat all ironies, “Governor Ultrasound” — Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, who wanted to be vice-president so badly that he dropped the “mandate” from the ultrasound bill that had made his nickname a household word — ended up chairing the GOP’s platform committee. Having flubbed his shot at national office, McDonnell re-upped the anti-exemption plank during the same week that GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin made the rape issue a bigger headache for Romney’s chosen veep candidate than it probably ever would have been for McDonnell.

Todd Akin/AP

Akin, the Senate wannabe, opened a copious can of worms this week on the topic that never fails to trip up Republican candidates, primarily because they can’t stop bringing it up. The resulting abortion flap has entangled GOP vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan and brought the Republican “war on women” roaring back to life.

The buzz about Missouri Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill was that she really wanted to run against Todd Akin, so she ponied up for GOP primary ads calling Akin “too conservative.” After winning the primary, Akin spoke two bewildering words during a St. Louis TV interview that could help McCaskill and the Democratic Party hang on to their Senate majority: “legitimate rape.”

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors,” Akin said, that pregnancy resulting from rape is “really rare. If it’s a ‘legitimate’ rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

A puzzled America heaved a collective sigh and chorused: WTF?

‘Real women’ (i.e., decent ones) ‘ don’t get pregnant from rape’

Paul Ryan

Things only got worse when Akin tried to explain, to the dozens of reporters who subsequently besieged him, what in God’s name he was talking about. Aiming for specificity, he fell back on religious-right claptrap from legislation he had co-sponsored in January 2011 with numerous House members, including Paul Ryan — H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion” bill, designed to severely restrict government funding for abortions covered by the rape and incest exemptions provided by the 1976 Hyde Amendment,  a semi-truce between abortion rights supporters and pro-life forces that has defined rape and incest for the past 36 years.

By redefining rape  as “forcible rape” and incest as “incest “with a minor”, GOP culture warriors could exclude from taxpayer-funded coverage all abortions of pregnancies resulting from:

  • Statutory rape (sex with underaged partners, whether forced or “willing”);
  • Coerced rape (any rape that occurs without the victim’s consent or against her will, whether the rapist is a date, an acquaintance, a stranger met in a bar, or an ex-husband or ex-partner);
  • Rape of a woman with limited mental capacity or mental instability;
  • Rape of an unconscious woman or one impaired by drugs or alcohol;
  • Incest with anyone over 18 years old.

Akin’s notion that female physiology prevents  “forcible” (i.e., “legitimate”) rape from resulting in pregnancy came from a 1972 article written by Dr. Fred Mecklenburg, then a medical school professor. Ever since Mecklenburg argued that a traumatized rape victim “will not ovulate even if she is ‘scheduled’ to,” anti-abortion activists have based their argument that no rape exceptions to abortion bans are necessary on Mecklenburg’s theories, which are partly based on horrific experiments conducted at Nazi death camps.

I gathered that Akin (who, incredibly, sits on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology) wasn’t speaking entirely for himself and didn’t mean “okay” when he said “legitimate.” What he did mean, however, was equally offensive and a classic example of circular reasoning. Women who claim they were impregnated during rape weren’t really raped, the theory goes, because it’s nearly impossible for a woman to get pregnant during “forcible” rape — the only kind of unwanted sexual assault that ever befalls virtuous women wearing proper, unprovocative attire.

If your “forcible” attacker isn’t holding a knife to your throat, and you really resist him by issuing unholy screams, kicking him in the “man-parts,” or resorting to strategic eye-gouging (things a woman who wasn’t “asking for it” would always do), then some mysterious bodily mechanism dispensing spermicidal “secretions” kicks in, and voila! — you don’t get knocked up!

Terry O'Neill of NOW

Therefore, as Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, summarized the theory’s flawless logic, if a woman does get pregnant, then by definition, “she cannot have been raped.” (This lunacy is even more disheartening when you factor in the National Women’s Law Center’s grim statistics: At least 32,000 American women per year are impregnated by their rapists (very likely a lowball number, since an estimated 54 percent of rapes aren’t reported .)

What conservative politicians don’t appear to know about human anatomy is staggering. The “forcible rape” canard is junk-science propaganda devised by anti-abortion radicals and partisan quacks like Dr. John Willke (once president of the National Right to Life Committee), who were enlisted to boost the religious right’s agenda. Willke, who has written several books about this theory and is considered something of a “guru” to the pro-life movement, is another of Akin’s unnamed sources of medical expertise. During his last presidential run in 2008, Mitt courted and won Willke’s endorsement.

Akin’s pro-life demagoguery is part of a coordinated attempt to “redefine” rape, incest, threats to a pregnant woman’s life, the inception of human life, contraception, in-vitro fertilization, and similar issues over which the GOP’s evangelical Christian wing continually pressures the party to slide rightward. Akin’s “House-mate,” fellow culture warrior Paul Ryan, with whom the Missouri Tea Partier has co-sponsored dozens of anti-abortion bills, is up to his ears in this anti-women crusade – and Romney is trying to keep women voters from finding out about it.

‘Bruises don’t define rape; the lack of consent does’
House Republicans, as ever consumed with controlling women’s bodies instead of creating jobs, proposed their failed bill in order to keep women they perceived as rape-victim “posers” (my term, not theirs) from trying to trick Medicaid into paying for “non-exemptible” abortions. The Old Boys’ Club of conservative white men who control Congress believe that women who claim to have “gotten pregnant from rape” really engaged in something that ardent pro-lifers privately term “consensual rape.”

H.R. 3’s sponsors were cagey enough to refrain from putting that explosive terminology in the bill, but the language of “forcible rape” proved so horrific to women’s rights advocates and the public that activist groups MoveOn.org and EMILY’s List started an online petition campaign to pressure the House to remove it. “Bruises and broken bones do not define rape,” the petition stated. “A lack of consent does.” Republicans had to delete the offending definition entirely. (The propagandists had been saying it for so long, they had no idea how bizarre and scary it would sound to normal people.)

Not all rapes may technically be “forcible” — but do pro-lifers really believe they shouldn’t be classified as rape? Would they want their teenaged daughters to bear the children of adult predators — or of their own grandfathers, brothers, or uncles — which happens entirely too often, in families of all social classes? A national study found that the majority of rape-related pregnancy cases “occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often-related perpetrator.” One-half of all pregnancies in under-aged girls are caused by adult men. That sounds frighteningly “forcible” to me.

These caveats are “distinctions without a difference” in the convoluted world view of Ryan, Akin, et. al., who believe that all abortions should be criminalized. The only exception that Ryan says he makes is for emergency abortions performed solely to save the life of the mother — even though he voted for H.R. 358  (called the “Let Women Die Act” by women’s rights groups), which would permit hospitals to refuse to perform emergency abortion procedures on women who would die without them.

‘Legitimate Rape-gate’ exposes Ryan’s radical social agenda

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney desperately wanted the “GOP war on women” trope to evaporate. Indeed, without the constant media attention to abortion and birth control, the gap in women voters’ approval between Romney and Obama had shrunk to only 15 points — before “Legitimate Rape-gate” propelled the issue onto the front burner again.

Establishment Republicans jumped all over Akin, calling his statement “dumb” because it exposed their backroom culture-war machinations and Paul Ryan’s involvement in them. Desperately hoping to isolate the Romney/Ryan ticket from “AkinPain,” the party blamed it all on the poor sucker whose comments had gone viral. Karl Rove unceremoniously yanked every cent of expected Crossroads GPS funding from the campaign coffers of the party scapegoat. GOP poobahs, from Mitch McConnell to Scott Brown to Kelly Ayotte, called for Akin to abandon his Senate run. But a defiant Akin skipped out on the official deadline for quitting the election, vowing to soldier on alone.

The “Double-R” Republicans at the top of the ticket were also quick to throw Akin’s candidacy under the bus. “Indefensible!” chortled Tweedle-Rom, flanked by Tweedle-Ry, during a local TV appearance. Mealy-Mouthed Mitt did all the pandering so Forcible-Rape Ryan wouldn’t have to publicly contradict his own orthodoxy.

“A Romney/Ryan administration wouldn’t oppose abortion in instances of rape,” Mitt wheedled, madly spinning an issue that, by the following day, had become a Mitt-averse plank of the Republican Party platform. The entire country knew that Mitt was “at odds” with his own party’s national platform.

Throughout Mitt’s sanctimonious denunciation — as if Akin were alone in his insensitivity to American women — a sheepish Veepster gazed gratefully at his personal “white knight,” the only man on earth who could prevent a hostile takeover of Ryan by his own past.

My husband, Lance, and I watched as Mitt, like the perennially apologetic father of Dennis the Menace, groveled to half of the electorate over Little Paulie’s wayward baseball. Lance put words in Mitt’s mouth:

“Don’t worry, Mrs. Wilson. My son will pay for the broken window.”

Mitt’s V.P.: The Prince of Partisan Pop

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Union members demonstrated against Mitt Romney's vice-presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, in Las Vegas. (Photo: BuzzFeed)

By Emily Theroux

On Twitter, Rupert Murdoch called Mitt Romney’s V.P. pick an “almost perfect choice,” and a Fox News fanboy dubbed him “the rock star of American politics.”

So why does Witless Mitt appear to have a classic case of buyer’s remorse?

Wayward Willard apparently made the most important decision of his entire presidential campaign in full panic mode. His press secretary, Andrea Saul, had just committed the cardinal sin: forgetting to lie about “Romneycare.” During a Fox News broadcast, Saul was asked about a pro-Obama super-PAC ad in which a laid-off steelworker said that, after his former plant was shut down by Romney’s Bain Capital and he lost his company-sponsored health insurance plan, his uninsured wife later took ill and died. Observing that, if the family had lived in Massachusetts, they would have been covered by Romney’s universal health care law (a forbidden subject in MittWorld), Saul effectively implied that “Obamacare” was a pretty good deal for America.

Erick Erickson

A Full Fringe Freakout ensued. Erick Erickson of Redstate.com sent out The Tweet of Doom: “OMG. This might just be the moment Mitt Romney lost the election. Wow.” Laura Ingraham informed her TRN radio audience that, although she “might be the skunk at the picnic,” she had to say it: “Romney’s losing.” Rush Limbaugh mercilessly castigated Saul on Clear Channel. And Ann Coulter imploded on Hannity, demanding Saul’s head on a platter by the following morning. (As of press time, Saul still had her job.)

Mitt had already grown desperate to change the subject from relentless questions about his unreleased tax returns. Seeking immediate surcease, the Much-Maligned Mittster discovered all possible means of egress were marked “No Exit.” Terrified of spending all eternity with two or more raving partisans in Sartre’s cramped version of hell, Mitt jumped at his first chance to get back in the wingnuts’ good graces. Harry Reid, he could deal with, but being on the outs with El Rushbo & Co. was no freaking Pee-Wee boxing match.

The Mittbot clicked into autocorrect. Salvaging his doomed campaign became paramount; careful deliberation gave way to frenetic  forward motion. He had to do Something Big — and very distracting. Spurning the advice of seasoned pros with far better political instincts than his own, the one-term, faux-conservative governor flashed his only wild card, two weeks before the GOP convention was slated to begin in Tampa.

 

Whose budget plan — Ryan’s? Of course not — Romney’s!

Paul Ryan

The presumptive Republican vice-presidential nominee, Mitt announced, was Paul Ryan, 42,  the wonkish seven-term Wisconsin congressman of “Young Guns” renown (along with Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy). Ryan, an extreme social and fiscal conservative who serves as chairman of the House Budget Committee, has championed the obliteration of women’s reproductive rights and gay civil rights. He favors uncompromising, hard-right fiscal policy, devotes countless hours to manic P90X fitness workouts, and secretly worships at the bizarre altar of the fanatical ideologue Ayn Rand.

A post on Erickson’s blog gave Mitt props for picking Ryan — and also let him wriggle off the hook for Saul’s unforced error: “Contrary to some people’s opinions, Romney has run a stellar campaign. He can’t help it if Eric Fehrnstrom and Andrea Saul have had some brain-dead moments …well, maybe he could. There is no such thing as the perfect campaign.”

But almost immediately, mainstream reporters began clamoring to sort out how Ryan’s signal political achievement — his 2010 “Road Map for America’s Future,” a radical budget plan that would convert Medicare into a voucher system — would affect the campaign. That led to edgy, defensive bravado on Mitt’s part (Paul who? Who said anything about Ryan’s plan? Hey, I’m the candidate here. My plan’s not exactly chopped liver, ya know. )

Then why appoint Paul Ryan V.P.? they queried. This perfectly reasonable question visibly stunned Romney. His heretofore choreographed campaign began unraveling. His own budget plan remained vague and sketchy like the rest of his policies, but the Ryan plan was something the press — and unfortunately, the public — could sink their teeth into.

Mitt the Whiner

Once again, the Romney campaign backed away from focusing on the economy (his only imaginable path to victory) and started flailing away at Democrats on the stump with an ever-shifting drumbeat of lies and innuendos: Obama wants to keep soldiers from voting. Obama’s going to take the ‘work’ out of welfare reform. Biden is a racist. (Why? He said an unregulated Wall Street would put us “in chains.” Chains = slavery, no matter the context. He used the word “y’all,” so he must have been talking about race. Or something.) Resign, Biden! (Sez Sarah Palin.) Obama’s campaign is based on division and anger and hatred. (Dog-whistle translation: Obama is a scary, angry black man. Be afraid. Be very afraid.) Obama is being mean to me. Obama and Axelrod, go back to Chicago so ‘us decent Americans’ can take our country back!

(Romney himself once said, “There’s no whining in politics.” It’s available on videotape for anyone to see. So why is this man still whining, when it makes him look like such an insufferable ass?)

 

When the #MittHitsTheFan, GOP insiders remember to duck

Several days after Romney’s announcement, it emerged that, after publicly praising his veep pick, some three dozen GOP strategists and operatives  met individually with Politico reporters to express serious reservations about Ryan’s potential effect on Romney’s candidacy as well as Senate and House contests. “Away from the cameras, and with all the usual assurances that people aren’t being quoted by name, there is an unmistakable consensus among Republican operatives in Washington,” Politico’s resulting scoop revealed. “Romney has taken a risk with Ryan that has only a modest chance of going right — and a huge chance of going horribly wrong.”

Mark McKinnon

“(T)he most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election,” the Politico article, co-written by Alexander Burns, Maggie Haberman, and Jonathan Martin, stated. Some even think the Ryan pick is “a disaster for the GOP” and might cost Republicans the Senate if voters latch onto “MediScare” again. “Very not helpful down ballot — very,” a top Republican consultant told Politico.

Why on earth would Mitt choose a candidate who’s going to tar down-ticket Republicans with the same “class warfare” brush — the “Medicare menace” that enabled a Democrat to win an upstate New York district that had voted Republican since before the Civil War? The risk-averse Romney should have refrained from prodding the dry tinder of districts whose GOP representatives are backing as far away from Ryan as possible, before a spark of doubt among an aging populace bursts into a conflagration.

Meanwhile, wrote a Daily Kos blogger, “The Florida papers are destroying Paul Ryan” — in a state that Romney desperately needed to win. ” So much so that a distraught and panicked Village (a term used by progressive bloggers to denote the mainstream media) believes ‘Mitt Romney is in big, big trouble’ for selecting the man who wants to pull the plug on Grandma.”

The only GOP strategist brave enough to speak to Politico for attribution, former Bush senior adviser Mark McKinnon, called Mitt’s decision “a very bold choice”  that meant “Romney-Ryan can run on principles and provide some real direction and vision for the Republican Party.” Then McKinnon added his single caveat:  “And probably lose. Maybe big.”

 

Ryan’s list of negatives continues to mount:

  • “Willard’s Choice” has doubled the number of rich white men atop the GOP ticket. (Mitt could have picked Pawlenty or Portman — two boring white men — but that would scarcely have budged the Etch a Sketch.)
  • Because Ryan proposed eliminating the capital gains tax and Romney’s income is derived almost entirely from investments, Romney would pay virtually no taxes under Ryan’s plan. (Way to pick a winner, Mitt!)
  • In the 14 years since Ryan left Wisconsin for Washington, only two of his many proposed bills have ever been passed. One renamed a post office; nobody remembers the other one.
  • Romney’s ratings haven’t received the customary “bounce” from his veep announcement.
  • #MittTheTwit didn’t rack up any  points bad-mouthing Palestinians in Israel. Only six percent of American Jews answer “Israel” when asked what most influences their presidential vote, says Peter Beinart of The Daily Beast — who adds that Romney (the perennial outsider who never has a clue) probably lost the remaining Jewish vote by choosing Ryan. (The economy, health care, a positive view of government spending, and fear of the Christian right top the list. And get this, Mitt: “Almost 80 percent of American Jews think it’s fine for a woman to have an abortion for any reason.” Giving birth control to teens ranks right up there, too — and support for school prayer is a definite minus. Sorry, Willard — you’d be a lot more popular if you were still governor of Massachusetts!)
  • According to the Gallup poll and reason.com, “a clear majority, 58 percent, of Americans” have never heard of Paul Ryan. Snooki, Kim Kardashian, or Donald Trump would have been more readily recognized by the typical American voter. (And maybe Chris Christie, if he keeps insulting people on a regular basis. He might even get his own reality show.)

 

Union demonstrators protest Ryan’s Vegas star turn

Out on the campaign trail, hecklers interrupted Ryan’s debut campaign appearance at the Iowa State Fair, where the veep candidate showed his snarky side while dodging reporters’ questions. “We’ll play ‘Stump the Running Mate’ later,” he snapped at an NPR reporter. “I’m just going to enjoy this fair right now.”

The following night, the man of the hour attended a GOP fundraiser at billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. The event, however, attracted more than big bucks. Outside, several hundred union protesters filled the plaza, according to Alternet. Protestors carried signs reading  “Romney/Ryan Road to Ruin,” “Paul Ryan Hustling for the 1%,” and “This is What Democracy Looks Like!”

John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, had come to Vegas for his union’s annual convention, BuzzFeed reported. “Romney Hood, Ryan Hood, not in our neighborhood,” Gage chanted.

The GOP strategists may not see eye-to-eye with the 99 percenters, but they are definitely worried about the added angst of a Ryan candidacy. “Everybody loves Paul Ryan. Everybody supported the Ryan plan,” one party insider told Politico in D.C. “But nobody thinks Ryan should be the tip of the spear.”