Trump Smash: Paul Ryan’s Heroic Media Image Finally Cracks

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“Fittingly, in a year where Trump is playing human tire fire with one of America’s two established political parties, Ryan’s game with the media has grown more complicated. Now that he’s officially left the #NeverTrump movement, he’s completely beholden to the whims of a candidate who worships no one but himself.

It was never clear to begin with that the Donald gives a shit about Ryan’s awesomely lopsided legislative agenda. And a mere week after his “sudden” endorsement, the Speaker tussled with Trump’s racist, embarrassing feud with U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. Don’t look now but the con man has been conned.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

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T’was the Night Before the Election (November 5, 2012)

T’was the night before the election, and all through Ohio
Margaritas were flowing like Cinco De Mayo.
Because Buckeye State residents were confident no matter who won,
Their days in the swing state spotlight were temporarily done.

Camp Romney retired its campaign of fluff,
Hopeful that the Etch-a-Sketch shaking had been enough.
To overcome the ire of chicks,
Who believed in their reproductive freedom, even without dicks.

Team Obama was bolstered by last minute polling,
That saw the incumbent ahead, and his opponent’s effort stalling.
Healthier job creation, increases in home sales, residential,
Images of a post-Hurricane Barry looking Presidential

Gave Obama a boost in the waning days
That claims about Jeep production in China just couldn’t sway.
Jon Stewart and Colbert toasted a winning season of lampoon,
Almost (but not quite) wishing Romney a boon.

Because jokes and puns write with ease
When your campaign platform has more holes than Swiss cheese.
From “extreme conservative” to moderate and back
While crying foul over ads that attack

One’s revolving positions, so hard to cement
Except for that business about the 47 percent.
“Borrow money from your parents” just doesn’t seem to be
A responsible education policy.

The Tea Party zealots, clutching copies of Ayn Rand,
Hoped that they’d filibustered enough to render Obama an also-ran,
When out of the blue from the sound bite penalty box
Came Joe Biden with Paul Ryan’s socks.

That was the only thing left of the GOP candidate, you see,
After Biden leveled him in debate, cheerful as could be.
“Medicare won’t change” promised Ryan, as long as you’re a Boomer,
But the rest of you will be screwed much sooner.

Romney/Ryan failed to learn the lessons of Bush
That entitlements turned vouchers have the appeal of stale tush.
Romney ran away fast from his running mate’s “serious” clunker
And all but banished him to the Cheney bunker.

But hide and seek is no game to play
With middle class voters still clawing their way
Back from the failed policies of Bush Number 2
That left the economy of ’08 a rancid stew.

“He’s had four years and his policies haven’t worked,”
Claimed Cantor and Gingrich and Boehner the Jerk.
Hoping upon hope if they said it was so
The voting public would forget the party of “no”

So off to the polls went John and Jane Public
In between looking for jobs and food for the stomach.
Because things are not fine but they’re definitely improving,
With much more to do to get the economy moving.

Believing in change, if slower than desired
Is a certainly preferable to being stuck in the mire
Of endless wars and tax cuts for the rich,
Watching the American Dream stuck in a ditch.

So “yes we can” re-elect Obama and forge ahead
With hope for the country that’s far from dead.
So to all you suffragists on the left and right,
“Happy Election Eve to all, and to all a goodnight!”

Post-Op Political Musings (June 10, 2011)

A little over two years ago, I began my life on this blog as “Becky Boop,” anonymous, citified political commentator known for her thoughts on the peaks and valleys of the Obama agenda and slice of life pieces on day to day existence in a big metropolis.

I came out from behind my pen name in an effort to be as real a writer as I am a person. The death of a close friend, a long bout with unemployment, an impending divorce and surgery this past Tuesday for Stage 2 cervical cancer left me with a sudden desire to stop hiding behind a pseudonym. All in all, I feel I am better for it. Becky Boop may have been a lot of fun, but she was certainly no reflection of “me.”

However as I go over some of my posts from the last six months or so, I have a hankering for some of Becky Boop’s former silliness, the journalistic joie de vivre that seemed to come so naturally to my alter ego. I have gotten pretty far away from aiming my torpedo at the cultural and political movers and shakers who depend on bloggers and the media to state the obvious, to shout with definitive clarity that the Emperor, is in fact, walking around naked.

I spent a large part of the week in post-op convalescence, and since it is the summer and most of the network’s regularly scheduled programming is on break, I made CNN my constant companion. Even in a haze of discomfort and drugs, it was hard not to notice that this was a pretty fucking strange week, politically speaking.

  • Rep. Anthony Weiner – It is my privilege to report that today, June 10, 2011 is the first in many that Mr. Weiner’s name has been absent from the front page ofThe New York Times. While I find the congressman to be an epic, tasteless pig and a truly unworthy husband, folks, there’s nothing illegal about lying to your wife and the press. I am hoping that his absence from the headlines and Weiner’s refusal to resign means we are reaching the end of this sad, if titillating spectacle. I do not think Rep. Weiner should heed panicked Democratic calls to vacate his post, any more than I believed it wise when Governor Eliot Spitzer called it quits after the Ashley Dupre scandal. Is there anyone living in the State of New York who believes David Paterson was an upgrade? Weiner was voted in to do a job, and only his constituents have the right to decide his ultimate political fate.
  • Hillary Clinton – Former First Lady, Presidential candidate, Secretary of State, and future head of the World Bank? Yes! The fact that this story materialized so fast, and was just as quickly quashed by the State Department, leads me to believe that it’s probably true. Nobody expected Clinton to stay on for two terms as the nation’s top ambassador, and since she can’t launch another Presidential bid until the 2016 elections, why the hell not?
  • Newt Gingrinch – Yesterday was certainly a busy news day. Blink and you may have missed Gingrinch’s nascent presidential campaign imploding in a huge way, losing his campaign manager, spokesman and senior strategist before disembarking from an ill-timed Greek cruise taken with third wife Callista. From the outset, The Ging struggled to stay on message with the official Republican party platform (frankly, one of the few good qualities he had going for him), labeling Paul Ryan’s Medicare voucher plan a piece of “right wing social engineering.” Rather than play the game and work the media rounds until he had done successful establishment penance, Gingrinch said “eff it” and jetted off to work on his tan. John McCain, take note of a real maverick. While Newt technically remains in the hunt, it’s going to be tough to mount a credible campaign with no donors or staff. I for one will miss him.
  • Sarah Palin – Will we EVER be rid of this woman? For those who believe she is going to give up her various soap box perches and millions in speaker fees to re-enter the icky world of public service, a place where people tend to be held accountable for their ignorance (though certainly not always), I have a bridge to sell you. However, this week the focus was not on Candidate Sarah, but former Alaskan Governor Palin. After a nearly three year delay that no one has adequately explained, thousands of pages of emails sent in the first two years of her term were made public. There doesn’t seem to be anything as exciting as Palin’s version of Paul Revere’s ride in there. The story is in what’s missing. According to a report from Yahoo, the emails “have been heavily redacted, while 2,275 pages are being withheld for reasons including executive privilege.” Whatcha hiding Sarah?

Newt Gingrinch Gains a Little of My Respect…Before Promptly Losing It (May 18, 2011)

I have taken a detour the last couple months from my regular obsession with the political arena to talk all things divorce and cancer. But as I am enjoying a relative “good” period, filled with some degree of life satisfaction and emotional equilibrium, I am inspired to join the endless sport of Capitol Hill navel gazing once again.

I am a huge fan of NBC’s Meet the Press, the Sunday morning political chat stalwart now hosted by David Gregory. While Gregory with his whiny, waffley interview style is no match for the “just the facts” tenacity of the otherwise cherubic Tim Russert (may he rest in peace), MTP is a habit I just can’t break. In years past, I would enjoy the show while indulging in the traditional Sunday hangover remedy of carbs and Gatorade, but now I am in my 30s and am usually well rested and alert. There are things to like about aging.

Anyway, this past weekend I queued up my Tivo to watch the show commercial-free and nearly deleted it altogether when I saw that the featured guest was former Speaker of the House, and current Republican Presidential candidate, Newt Gingrinch. I will NEVER forgive Newtie for the 90s – from the ridiculous government shutdown of 1995, to his laughably hypocritical pursuit of President Bill Clinton on the “family values” front. This from a man on his third marriage, the second which began under the auspicious influences of infidelity.

For a number of years, Newtie sort of fell off the political radar, only emerging as the occasional commentator on really important issues like President Obama’s African, colonial worldview (I was under the impression that Hawaii ceased to be a colony in the late 1950s). Rhetorically, he was swatted away like the pop cultural gnat he became (though he prefers the term “gadfly,” thank you very much).

But Newt got my attention on Sunday’s Meet the Press when he addressed rising GOP star Paul Ryan’s irresponsible, top two percent-friendly budget proposal. Specifically commenting on the plan’s goal of dismantling Medicare as we know it, converting it to a voucher program, his Newtness said: “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering.”

Well ok! Newt never stood a chance of getting my vote, but such refreshing honesty, such lack of pandering! Maybe we have a new Maverick on the right.

But of course my praise and excitement was premature. Once the Tea Party establishment (who seem to accrue power in inverse proportion to their distance from the mainstream) got wind of Newtie’s comments, Gingrich began backpedaling faster than a honey badger.

Paul Ryan had this to say to Reuters: “I think he now understands the magnitude of his comments — how wrong they were. And I think he’s going to have more to say about that. And he’s working on that. He basically called and apologized. And I accepted his apology.” Newt – you just got served by a man with a freakishly big head.

Last time I checked, Ryan is a lowly House member from the minorityparty, but we currently live in an upside down political universe, where less is apparently more. As the brilliant Paul Krugman put it: “Normally, a party controlling neither the White House nor the Senate would acknowledge that it isn’t in a position to impose its agenda on the nation. But the modern G.O.P. doesn’t believe in following normal rules.”

And an article in the “Caucus” section of today’s New York Times asks, “Can Newt Gingrich Control Newt Gingrich?”

I may be wholly biased and partisan but I happen to believe that running afoul of an increasingly wingnut right establishment, which has essentially declared war on the middle class, is the FIRST positive thing Newt has done in awhile. Alas, no more. He has been cowed and has summarily returned to placating the ultra-conservative. I would have hoped he’d take a lesson from 2008 also-ran John McCain (another formerly bold player who relinquished any and all respect I ever held for him). Winning over your party’s base almost necessarily means alienating the mainstream in this century. In short, the already debatably electable Gingrich just become untouchable.

A Lot of Politically Surprising Things Happened Last Week…But Has Anything Changed? (December 16, 2013)

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As we barreled toward the New Year last week, it seemed that each morning brought with it some genuinely surprising political news. Taken together, the most welcome unifying theme was a phenomenon we haven’t seen in Washington in quite some time: movement.

Six days ago, concerned Americans, weary of the fiscal showdowns, debt ceiling crises and many years without an operating Congressional budget resolution awoke to a bipartisan shocker. Democratic Senator Patty Murray and Republican Representative Paul Ryan hammered out a budget compromise that avoids another painful government shutdown on January 15, and if passed by the Senate, eliminates the arbitrary and debilitating sequestration cuts that went into effect last March.

The exhausted and cynical among us wondered how long it might take for the Heritage Foundation, the Koch Brothers and their ilk to scare Ryan, Boehner and other Republican leaders into hasty retreat. And sure enough the predictable reproaches and accusations of fiscal treason arrived right on cue, before the full details of the Murray/Ryan compromise were even available. But then another amazing thing happened. Not one but two full days in a row, a beleaguered and angry Speaker Boehner went on the offensive against the third party groups who have exerted undue influence on U.S. government. In a Washington Post article entitled, Boehner attacks tea party groups as House approves budget deal, writers Paul Kane and Ed O’Keefe observe, “After years of placating conservative groups that repeatedly undermined his agenda, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) took direct aim at some of his tea party critics Thursday, accusing them of working against the interests of the Republican Party.”

Obvious and overdue certainly, but amazing nonetheless.

But the week was not yet through bestowing minor gifts of karmic delight upon the frazzled liberal and moderate. Hot on the heels of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s November decision to push through long-threatened changes to thePresidential nominee filibuster rules, the chamber began attempting to clear the enormous backlog of Executive Branch appointments. Embarrassed and angry Republicans did what they could to slow the process down, which only brought more self-inflicted pain from newly empowered Democratic leadership. Per a Thursday, December 12 Daily Kos post:

“The Senate is in the midst of a marathon session forced by Mitch McConnell and his minions in full revenge mode. In retaliation for the Democrats changing the rules on nominations to end Republican filibusters, Republicans insisted on using up every bit of time available to delay votes as long as possible, by insisting on using all 30 hours of possible debate on nominees. The tactic merely delays the inevitable.”

After neglecting to do much of anything for a full calendar year, it’s like Congress woke up, chugged some 5-Hour Energy and suddenly remembered it was hired to do a job. The week’s events offered a glimmer of hope, no matter how small, that the legislative bodies just might prove capable of governing after all.

But hold on a minute. There was also plenty to warrant a collective pause, enough sobering activity to make us wonder if we might not be getting ahead of ourselves in all the giddy celebration. Because yes, the House and Senate managed to perform some actions that were once considered routine business, but has anything fundamentally changed?

Last Friday’s latest school shooting in Colorado soberly reminds us of Capitol Hill’s repeated failure to pass anything resembling sensible legislation to control the gun violence that has ended more American lives than all the wars in our nation’s history.

And about that awesome budget deal? Sure it avoids another pointless and reckless budget shutdown, but it doesn’t do much of anything to help the unemployed, jumpstart the infrastructure and educational investment we badly need or help shore up cash-strapped local economies. The Economic Populist headline from late last week says it all: Congressional Scrooges Deny Unemployment Benefit Extension. Because nothing says “goodwill toward men (and women)” like kicking the long-term unemployed when they’re down.

The moral of the story is this: there is reason for optimism. Hope that the flailing GOP is finally ready to get serious about wresting control of its party from the one percent interests that have completely marginalized its platform and messages. Hope that the Democrats have learned that there is no compromising with economic and social terrorists, and that they are finally willing to try governing without waiting for partners that will never arrive. But there is still plenty of reason to worry that for the foreseeable future, no one is fighting for the dwindling middle class, the working poor, the mentally ill and those terrorized by gun violence. Let this season of somewhat renewed hope be tempered by raising the bar of government expectation a little higher. Keeping us afloat is not enough.

Paul Krugman’s Stubborn Mastery of Facts Continues to Undermine G.O.P Policy (September 9, 2013)

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Every now and then a pundit publishes a piece of writing so simple, so right on, that it’s necessary to force a momentary pivot away from the gaping maw of the 24/7 news cycle to celebrate it. It’s one thing to share a link on Facebook or retweet a story, but I have to wonder if those sorts of essentially mindless activities have supplanted the demand of critical thought. And as a busy person who is as often as guilty of the “read, digest and move onto the next thing” as anyone else, I’m going to practice what I preach this week.

Because friends, Paul Krugman’s Monday morning column, “The Wonk Gap,” subtitled, “What the G.O.P. doesn’t know can hurt us,” is really what it’s all about.  I have long admired The New York Times’ Nobel Prize-winning economist for his approachable, accessible good sense. That approval went to another level in the fallout from the late 2008 financial collapse and the Great Recession that we seem unable to fully shake. While a large assortment of Krugman’s colleagues began to issue battle cries railing against the Federal deficit and debt, when it was clear that our biggest problem was the dual devastations of joblessness and demolished home value and equity, Krugman refused to throw in with popular opinion.

The result is that while the often-heartless austerity team has been proven wrong time and again (there’s zero examples of cutting a nation’s way to prosperity – see Greece, Spain, etc.), Krugman’s Keynesian philosophy has been vindicated over and over. He labeled the 2009 stimulus package too small and argued that a larger plan would pose no great threat to our nation’s long-term debt structure. With a U6 unemployment ratestill hovering near 14 percent, a measure that includes people seeking full-time employment, as well as those forced into part-time positions out of basic necessity, the jobs situation hasn’t improved much in the last four years.  Meanwhile factcheck.orghighlights the obfuscations of the GOP’s favorite debt policy fraud, Paul Ryan, by concluding “Ryan’s chart ignores $2 trillion in deficit reduction and compounds that exaggeration by projecting the inflated deficit figures out for many decades in the future.”

If the data fails to support the G.O.P. platform and the liberalism of economists like Paul Krugman has been proven to encompass solid policy as well as human empathy (imagine!), why then have the failed ideas of the modern Republican Party been so difficult to banish from our discourse? Let’s go to the man himself for a possible answer:

“[A sizeable portion of today’s Republican leaders] are inadvertently illustrating the widening ‘wonk gap’ — the G.O.P.’s near-complete lack of expertise on anything substantive. Health care is the most prominent example, but the dumbing down extends across the spectrum, from budget issues to national security to poll analysis. Remember, Mitt Romney and much of his party went into Election Day expecting victory.”

Moreover by tuning out any creditable sources that conflict with the party’s wish fulfillment, Krugman writes, “conservative ‘experts’ are creating false impressions about public opinion…Modern conservatism has become a sort of cult, very much given to conspiracy theorizing when confronted with inconvenient facts. Liberal policies were supposed to cause hyperinflation, so low measured inflation must reflect statistical fraud; the threat of climate change implies the need for public action, so global warming must be a gigantic scientific hoax. Oh, and Mitt Romney would have won if only he had been a real conservative.”

I experience a genuine surge of adrenaline, accompanied by an increased pulse rate, flushed cheeks and giddiness when I read truth manifestos like this one.  Whereas the majority of conservative pundits have to contort themselves to make anything resembling a logical point, Krugman’s very success is located in the simplicity of his arguments. He is unafraid to continuously point out, very respectfully, that the emperor is wearing no clothes.

I respect Krugman’s apparently genuine belief that there will be a time when facts win, when the people of this Great Union will pause to wonder why they keep getting poorer, availing themselves of less and less opportunity anytime the modern Republican party controls an arm of the government. More war, less jobs and the removal of the social safety net even as the top one percent and the corporate interests they represent gobble up remaining resources. There are certain weeks I feel almost too demoralized, too exhausted to continue raising my voice in an attempt to counter the efforts at middle and lower class suppression I see everywhere I look. It is in part the stubbornness of experts like Krugman, with too many credentials to ignore, that inspires me to continue. We can’t let today’s G.O.P. destroy this great democracy. If Krugman can find new and interesting ways to spread a staunchly consistent message, then so can I.

Obama and Romney Campaigns Play the Waiting Game (November 6, 2012)

For those of us who haven’t yet completed our ballots, there’s nothing left to do but vote. Residents of the hotly contested and closely watched swing states must be ready to breathe a sigh of relief, welcoming a return to fast forwarding through conventional television commercials promoting toothpaste, cars and tampons. I wrote these lines last evening on my blog:

T’was the night before the election, and all through Ohio
Margaritas were flowing like Cinco De Mayo.
Because Buckeye State residents were confident no matter who won,
Their days in the swing state spotlight were temporarily done.

After an extremely long and intense campaign, there is something to be said for the collective exhaust of the voting public. On a certain level, before the returns are counted and cable news channels morph into trigger-finger caffeine freaks, ready to call the election at a second’s notice, and before the long-winded pundits begin their Wednesday morning quarterbacking, it’s nice to take a moment and exhale.

We the people have worked hard during this interminable electoral season. While the Wall Street Journal reported that 41 percent fewer television viewers tuned in to see Paul Ryan accept the Republican Party’s nomination for vice-president (versus the near-record numbers of disbelievers who couldn’t stay away from the spectacle of Sarah Palin), and less folks checked out the Democratic presentation as well, it was a banner cycle for the the presidential and vice-presidential debates.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “A total of 67.2 million people watched the [first] debate between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, according to figures released late Thursday by the Nielsen Co. – a 28% increase over the 52.4 million who tuned in to the first debate in 2008.” It is meaningful that the public remained this engaged heading into the home stretch, suggesting that years of prolonged unemployment, decreased home value, rising fuel and food prices and skyrocketing college tuition led to a certain thirst for voter information.

And despite the endless flip-flopping and shape shifting of Candidate Romney, it was entirely clear that the electorate was left with two very distinct choices: Obama the incumbent, the idealist come pragmatist who displayed fortitude, character and leadership in bringing the U.S. economy back from the brink, ended the war in Iraq, took steps to stem the rising tide of healthcare spending and clarified the rights of gays and lesbians to serve their country without retribution. On the other hand, voters were presented with Romney, the shameless panderer who positions were often impossible to quantify, but in instances of clarity, a return to Bush-era failings was the clear takeaway. Let’s call this agenda the Survival of the Mittest.

No matter who emerges victor (Obama) today is a day for celebrating ourselves and our participation in the democratic process. We survived a tough four years: reducing our household debt, looking for work or clinging desperately to the jobs we have and finally, finally under the leadership of our President, things are looking up. Despite the concerted efforts to disenfranchise voters at the polls, unaffected by the struggles of daily survival, we are the winners today. Our voices will be heard.