GOP Convention Day Three: The Lying Is Escalated

The Republican convention on Wednesday was fairly uneventful until Paul Ryan gave his speech. Prior to Ryan speaking the most exciting moment was the applause which Susana Martinez received for saying she carries a Smith & Wesson. Condi Rice joined the rest of the party in avoiding mention of the president she served under. I tweeted a suggestion for a drinking game earlier tonight: “GOP Convention Drinking Game For Teetotalers: Have a drink every time George Bush is mentioned.” Rice did have a hard time finding any actual fault in Obama’s foreign policy in an interview earlier in the day.

Mike Huckabee’s speech was much weaker than I expected. I did wonder how Huckabee knows what percentage of his income Mitt Romney gave to charity? Has he seen Romney’s tax returns? How much of Romney’s donations went to the Mormon Church as opposed to real charities?

The day brought more news of racism on the floor of the convention and in the Romney campaign. There have been new problems for Romney, between antagonizing the Paul supporters (which might make a difference in a very close election) and embarrassment from the yacht holding a party for this top supporters flying the flag of the Cayman Islands.

Until Paul Ryan came on, the most annoying thing I heard from Tampa was in radio interviews during the afternoon in which Republicans repeated their usual claims of superiority on family values. The difference between liberals and conservatives is not that liberals don’t practice family values. The difference is that Democrats do not use big government to impose their values on others as Republicans do. Democrats are also more inclusive, allowing gays to practice family values as married couples as opposed to defining what a marriage must be for others as many Republicans do. Numerous studies looking at who is more “moral” have shown the blue states to come out ahead of the red states and atheists to come out ahead over those are religious. Any measurement of such things is questionable, but it certainly does not support the Republican view of being superior on family values.

The convention ended the evening with a weird mashup–Eddie Munster giving John Galt’s speech. (Herman Munster was backstage fuming over all the lies Eddie was telling).

Paul Ryan showed he was an excellent choice by Mitt Romney. Ryan has all the Romney lies down well, and even added a few of his own.

Ryan attacked Obama for a plant which closed in his district. The decision to close the plant was made under George Bush,  and the plant stopped production under George Bush while Ryan opposed bailing out the auto industry. He attacked Obama for the stimulus, leaving out all the stimulus money he sought for his district, and ignoring the fact that the stimulus saved the economy which was in free fall when Obama took office. He blamed Obama for the deficit which was run up by George Bush, with the votes of Congressional Republicans including Paul Ryan. He blamed Obama for the drop in the credit rating which was caused by the irresponsibility of Congressional Republicans who threatened not to pay the bills they ran up. He repeated the big lie that Obama cut money from Medicare to pay for Obamacare. The fact is that the cuts are for matters such as reducing the subsidies to insurance companies from George Bush’s plan, not to cut benefits for seniors, and that these cuts are also in Ryan’s budget. Obama is increasing benefits for Medicare beneficiaries such as eliminating the donut hole for prescription medications and covering preventive care not previously covered. In contrast Ryan seeks to turn Medicare into a voucher program which would greatly increase out-of-pocket costs for seniors. He also wants to greatly reduce Medicaid spending–much of which assists seniors on Medicare who cannot afford Medicare premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.

Ryan also spoke of freedom, but it is the conservative version of freedom which has nothing to do with the actual freedoms this nation was founded upon. Ryan supports the freedom of religious fanatics to impose their views upon others. Ryan supports the freedom of the ultra-wealthy to plunder the wealth of the nation and destroy the middle class.

Tomorrow night pathological liar Mitt Romney will speak.

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Huckabee Has Letter Calling Obama Advisers Political Whores Pulled

Honorable move by Mike Huckabee to demand that a fund raising  letter sent on his letterhead referring to Obama’s advisers as “morally repugnant political whores” be pulled. Huckabee denies having approved this. I am inclined to believe him. Compare Huckabee’s action in stating he did not approve this as soon as the letter went out to Ron Paul claiming he did not know about multiple racist and anti-Semitic items under his name, years after pocketing the money raised.

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Republicans Show Little Enthusiasm For Romney Nomination And It Appears Mutual On Mitt’s Part

It is now as official as it is going to get for a while. Barack Obama has obtained enough delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination and it would take a rather major and unpredictable event to change the trajectory of the Republican race to deny Mitt Romney the Republican nomination. It remains possible that Romney might fall slightly short of the number of committed delegates to win, but there are likely to be near 600 unbound delegates, making it easy for Romney to pick up enough to win the nomination.  This is ensured by the manner that the party leadership is increasingly backing him, seeing his nomination as inevitable. On the other hand, Joe Scarborough says that nobody in the GOP establishment believes Romney can win. Republican voters are accepting the reality of his nomination, feeling satisfied but only eleven percent are actually excited by this outcome. The same poll also shows that a majority of Republican voters realize that Romney says what he thinks people want to hear as opposed to what he believes.

With Romney’s nomination having been fairly certain for the last few weeks, we are starting to get some inside information about the campaign. After all, Americans have become too inpatient to wait until after a campaign is over as might have been the case in the past. According to the National Review, Mike Allen and Evan Thomas’ e-book, Inside the Circus says that “Romney didn’t even have an oppo book on Rick Santorum a few days before the Iowa caucuses.” Personally I think they were foolish to totally write him off, not that it mattered in the end. With the other conservative candidates rising and then falling, I expected Santorum to pick up enough conservative votes to achieve some victories over Romney. Ultimately Romney did have a winning strategy:

[O]n March 14 and 15, Romney had raised over $3 million in New York and Connecticut. … The Romney campaign had a clever pitch for the event. Schmoozing with his money pals before the events, a Romney fund-raiser pointed out that “slightly more than half the delegates” to the GOP convention at Tampa “are evangelicals.” These true-believer conservatives are averse not only to Romney but to semi-reasonable types like Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels. As a result, said this fund-raiser, the “responsible Republican guys” are “starting to realize” that at a brokered convention “it’s not going to be Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan, a ticket they could really love. It’s probably Huckabee-Palin or Palin-Huckabee.” That was enough to scare the Wall Street crowd into getting out their checkbooks.

With Republicans already showing little enthusiasm for Mitt Romney’s probable nomination, I wonder how the Huckabee and Palin supporters in the party accept this characterization of Huckabee and Palin as not even making his “semi-reasonable” list.

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Rick Santorum Becomes Eleventh Candidate To Lead GOP In Polls With Mitt Romney Severely Facing Problems

Although the conventional wisdom has been that Mitt Romney is the probable Republican nominee, he is certainly having a hard time establishing himself as a front runner. Before today’s poll came out, Nate Silver listed ten previous front-runners  in alphabetical order, including some Republicans who led in the polls without being a declared candidate: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Donald Trump. Today, Public Policy Polling makes Rick Santorum the eleventh. Santorum leads at 38 percent. Romney trails at 23 percent, with Gingrich at 17 percent and Ron Paul at 13 percent.

Rick Santorum does even better if he does not have to divide he conservative vote with Newt Gingrich. If Gingrich were to drop out, the poll shows that 58 percent of his supporters would go to Santorum. In a such a three way race, Santorum get to 50 percent, while Romney would be at 28 percent and Paul at 15 percent.

Leadership in the GOP race has not meant very much to date, but falling behind at this stage does create problems for Romney. He might go negative against Santorum as he did against Gingrich, but his negative ads are starting to backfire. Some suggest that instead of going negative against Santorum, Romney must convert to a positive campaign. I’m not sure how a man who lacks any core beliefs or convictions can do this.  His strongest pitch is that he can make up the biggest lies about Barack Obama.

The Maine caucuses conclude tonight with a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. There is speculation that Paul might be able to pull an upset victory. If you cannot beat a crackpot like Ron Paul, it is hard to see victory for the nomination as inevitable.

There’s another potential embarrassment for Romney. Public Policy Polling is also seeing the start of a surge for Santorum in Michigan. A loss in Michigan would be devastating to Romney, both for losing his home state and because of reinforcing Santorum’s dominance over Romney in the Midwest. Perhaps Romney will try to flip-flop on having been born and raised in Michigan. Would Mitt Romney’s birth certificate then become an issue?

CPAC is also conducting their straw poll. To paraphrase Jay Leno, Romney is promising to change his views to whatever views CPAC members desire. Romney pandered before them, claiming to be “severely conservative.” The word severe might sound out of place here, unless you see it as an honest admission from Romney, such as “I am severely insane” or, at very least, “I am severely out of touch with the voters of this country.”

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The Impact of the Iowa Caucus

The 2012 Republican Iowa caucus had far less impact on the race than the 2004 and 2008 Democratic races which propelled John Kerry and Barack Obama to victories in their party. The biggest question is whether we are seeing a repeat of the 2008 Republican caucus, with Rick Santorum playing the part of Mike Huckabee. Santorum benefited from being the last non-Romney candidate standing, surging with too little time for media scrutiny to harm his campaign. His eight vote loss to Mitt Romney might be analogous to Mike Huckabee’s win if it turns out to be an isolated win for a social conservatives. There is an outside chance that Santorum might capitalize upon this win to become a strong enough anti-Romney candidate to pull an upset. If conservatism was really a small-government movement a supporter of big-government such as Santorum would have no chance, but deep down many Republicans must realize their small government rhetoric is all talk. Even the Tea Party members (who have always been dominated by social conservatives) gave Santorum support.

The biggest difference between 2008 and this year is the desire of conservatives to prevent a replay of 2008 and allow someone they see as more moderate win the nomination. Newt Gingrich now wants an anti-Romney alliance with Santorum, but this looks a lot like a losing candidate trying to remain relevant. Gingrich might destroy Romney, and in the process destroy the GOPs chances at winning the general election. It is about time Gingrich does something useful.

Meanwhile conservative leaders are meeting in Texas to attempt to find a consensus conservative candidate. Good luck finding someone who adheres to the conservative line on most issues and doesn’t come across as bat-shit crazy to moderate and independent voters in a general election.

The biggest loser was obviously Michele Bachmann who dropped out of the race. Rick Perry almost left the race. As he has been raising money better than he has been debating, he might as well remain in the race. As volatile as this race has been, he could still maintain hope of becoming the surviving anti-Romney candidate down the road.

If measuring against expectations, Ron Paul also turned out to be a loser. After appearing to have a chance to win, or at least come in a close second, his third place left him virtually forgotten behind the close Romney-Santorum battle. Besides, there are few states where Paul has a chance to pick up many votes in a Republican primary.

Overall it was an unimpressive night for Republicans, who suffered from low turn-out, and for Mitt Romney. Romney spent years and millions of dollars to show that he could not appeal to any more voters than four years ago. Derek Thompson calculated how much each candidate spent per vote. Rick Perry spent the most per vote at $478.40.  Mitt Romney spent $154.90, Ron Paul  $103.30, Newt Gingrich  $89.84, Rick Santorum  $20.50, and Michele Bachmann spent $3.95 per vote. Santorum clearly got the most for his money.

It seemed that there were far more people tweeting about the caucus last night than participating. Some say it is unfair that such a small number of people could potentially choose our president. That is no where as bad as the 2000 election when the election was decided by nine people on the Supreme Court.

 

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The Rick Perry Nightmare

Rick Perry has jumped into the lead in the GOP nomination battle. Walter Shapiro points out that Rick Perry is a liberal’s worst nightmare:

Perry is not only a presidential candidate, but also a cowboy-booted sociological experiment. It is almost as if Perry’s political persona was constructed by bundling together all the fears and phantoms in the left-wing anxiety closet. Since the hysteria of the 1950s Red Scare, no Republican figure has matched Perry in his God-given ability to give liberals the heebie-jeebies. Others can rival the governor’s disdain for academic achievement (Palin), his cross-on-the-sleeve religiosity (Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee), and his antipathy to Social Security and Medicare (Paul Ryan and Barry Goldwater). But never before has a top-tier presidential candidate embodied the whole lethal package—and more:

From there, Shapiro discussed five specific areas:

  1. Anti-Intellectualism
  2. The God Card
  3. The Living Constitution in which “Perry stands out for his creative cut-and-paste approach to the Constitution.”
  4. Pistol-Packing President
  5. Daring to Call It Treason such as “Perry’s claim that Ben Bernanke would be ‘almost treasonous‘ if he persisted in loosening monetary policy to ward off a double-dip recession.”

Shapiro also referred to other views of Perry, such as the “theory of Dave Mann, editor of the Texas Observer, that Perry’s only governing ideology is ‘crony capitalism.'”

This description of Perry should not only be considered nightmares for liberals. Perry should be nightmares for any thinking American.  There is hope that Americans will see how far Perry’s views are from mainstream American values since, as Greg Sargent discussed, his views are out there in black and white. I recently noted how Perry’s campaign is embarrassed by Perry’s writings which oppose Social Security. His latest embarrassment is Perry’s comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism in a 2008 book. With the number of extremist views present in his book, Rick Perry should even be a nightmare for any Republicans who realize that they have to appeal beyond the far right in order to win.

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Huckabee’s Hard Drive

Mother Jones responded to Mike Huckabee’s denial that a hard drive with his records as governor have been destroyed. Maybe Rose Mary Woods erased the hard drive.

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Small Signs of Republicans Rejecting The Extremes

The major problem with the Republican Party is that it has been taken over by far right extremists, but there are two hopeful signs today that some are rejecting the extremes.

The first is that Sarah Palin, the major example of both the extremism of the GOP and of its disdain for intelligence and reason, is declining in popularity among Republicans. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that Palin’s popularity has fallen to a new low:

For the first time in Post-ABC News polling, fewer than six in 10 Republicans and GOP-leaning independents see Palin in a favorable light, down from a stratospheric 88 percent in the days after the 2008 Republican National Convention and 70 percent as recently as October.

In one sense, the poll still finds Palin near the top of a list of eight potential contenders for the GOP nomination. The former vice presidential candidate scores a 58 percent favorable rating, close to the 61 percent for former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and 60 percent for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, and better than the 55 percent that onetime House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) received.

But Palin’s unfavorable numbers are significantly higher than they are for any of these possible competitors. Fully 37 percent of all Republicans and GOP-leaning independents now hold a negative view of her, a new high.

In another first, fewer than 50 percent of Republican-leaning independents — 47 percent — hold favorable views of Palin.

I would hope this is a sign of the rejection of Palin’s policy positions and of the authoritarian right, but much of the opposition to Palin is simply a rejection of her personal ignorance and incompetence.

Findings such as this, along with criticism of Palin by many conservatives, has increased doubt about Palin’s ability to win the Republican nomination in 2012. It is far too early to make any predictions regarding how such a primary contest will play out. An early win in Iowa, where social conservatives dominate the Republican Party, could suddenly make her the front runner and possibly give her a victory similar to John Kerry’s victory in the 2004 Democratic primary race. Palin could also conceivably win the nomination by being first or second in many states, picking up a larger block of candidates than anyone else in a divided race. While it is premature to write off her chances of winning the Republican nomination, Palin is no Ronald Reagan and her chances of ever winning in a national race is extremely remote.

Meanwhile Politico reports that some “Republican House members are pushing back against conservative deficit hawks who are pushing for endlessly deep spending cuts, saying the right wing of the party is creating unnecessary divisions for the GOP majority.” A good sign, but I’m still waiting for the day when more Republicans push back against the growing tendency of Republicans to support increased government interference in the private lives of individuals and for a day when more Republicans push back against the right wing’s rejection of knowledge, reason, and science.

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Quote of the Day

“I’m upset that friend of the show Mike Huckabee criticized Natalie Portman for having a child out of wedlock. Listen, I’m no fan of unwed mothers either, but this is Natalie Portman we’re talking about. That unborn child is Luke Skywalker.” –Stephen Colbert

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Quote of the Day

“Republican Presidential hopeful Mike Hucka-BS is attacking actress Natalie Portman for getting pregnant without being married. It could get a little awkward if he runs into Sarah and Bristol Palin at Fox News.” –Jay Leno

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