GOP Convention Day Four: Lies, Damn Lies, and Romney-Ryan

Mitt Romney continues to campaign against the imaginary version of Barack Obama he created rather than the real Barack Obama. The only way he can keep from being humiliated in the debates is if he can speak to an empty chair like Clint Eastwood did. Unless the goal was to have someone come on to make Romney look good by comparison, the Clint Eastwood appearance was very odd. If they wanted to put on an old crackpot, why didn’t they just go with Ron Paul?

Romney came out by walking through the convention–the first candidate to do this since Michael Dukakis. Romney’s speech started out with his biography. When he got to his father, George Romney, why didn’t he point out how many years of tax returns his father released? He moved on to attack fictional Obama, such as repeating his false claims about Medicare, attacking Obama for an “apology tour” which only occurred in Romney’s mind. He attacked  Obama for raising taxes on small business and the middle class when Obama actually decreased them while Romney’s tax plan will increase taxes on the middle class. It was just bizarre to complain about jobs going to China from the man who was an out-sourcing pioneer. Romney announced a plan to create 12 million new jobs which reminds me of Richard Nixon’s secret war to end the Viet Nam war. Where’s the beef? His talk about Iran was scary, raising fears that he will get us into another war (while failing to pay for it).

Romney’s failure to address the big issues of the day can be seen in his outrageously ignorant attack: “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet.” As Craig Crawford tweeted: “Mitt not worried about rising seas , he’s got a car elevator.”

Paul Ryan’s speech has been called the most dishonest convention speech ever. Romney did have fewer lies in his speech, but only because it was so devoid of content. The Romney-Ryan ticket is shaping up as the most dishonest in history.

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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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GOP Convention Day One: The Party Which Was Not There

The first day of the Republican convention was cancelled due to Tropical Storm Isaac. You know what one less day of the convention means–twenty-five percent fewer lies.  It also means there is no longer enough time to fit in John Galt’s speech. Mitt Romney is really upset that he doesn’t have an opportunity to remind everyone once again that he is the white candidate. Rush Limbaugh sees this all as an evil plot hatched by the Muslim socialist Barack Obama of Kenya. On the other hand, the Christian Broadcasting Network wonders if prayer moved the storm away from Tampa to protect the Republicans. Would this make Republican prayers responsible for whatever happens in New Orleans or where ever the storm does hit?

This afternoon I received an email from the Romney campaign saying it is my last chance to enter to join Romney in Tampa for the Convention. While this is comparable to the type of fund raiser Obama is also holding, it does seem to be in poor taste to offer to bring people to Tampa at the moment.

One might think that keeping the Republican convention from convening would spare them a day of embarrassment, but it didn’t work out that way. Mitt Romney gave delegates a copy of his book No Apology. His views flip-flopped between the hard cover and paperback editions, and delegates were given the hard cover with his former view that his Massachusetts health care plan could be a model for the nation–a view removed from the paperback.

The Republicans now claim that social issues are a distraction. They are not a distraction–they are fundamental issues of individual liberty. Mitt Romney, who has refused to answer questions about abortion the last few days, would prefer the issue did not come up. Unfortunately for Romney, another Republican candidate accidentally revealed how Republicans think of rape and abortion rights. Tom Smith, the Republican Senate nominee in Pennsylvania, compared rape to out-of-wedlock pregnancy.  Quick, call Todd Akin. If sex outside of marriage is comparable to rape in the GOP world, does this mean that women have a way to shut down pregnancies from sex outside of marriage as they do for legitimate rape?

Can we shut down these ignorant Republicans?

Romney’s convention speech might be his best chance to portray himself as an acceptable candidate as Ronald Reagan once did. While I am skeptical as to how many will actually read the platform, a Pew Research Center survey found that more people are interested in the platforms than candidate speeches. This could be really bad news for the Republicans. As might be expected, the hard line platform opposes abortion and gay rights while adopting crackpot economic ideas from Ron Paul and the deceptively-named Tea Party. The platform goes beyond previous platforms which opposed child porn by also targeting adult pornography. How will this play in the red states, which consumes more porn than the blue states?

I imagine that tomorrow we might hear Mitt Romney blame those in the path of the storm for their suffering. In Romney’s mind they should have borrowed money from their parents to build mansions in safer areas.

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Romney’s Travel Troubles Continue

Romney’s international travels gave Jon Stewart a lot of material (video above). Things weren’t as bad for Romney in Poland as they were in London and Israel. He did receive the endorsement of Lech Walesa, but Solidarity distanced themselves, criticizing Romney because he “supported attacks on trade unions and employees’ rights.” Romney was also greeted with chants for Obama and even ran into supporters of Ron Paul while in Poland.

The trip provided another example of Romney’s dishonesty. He denied making the controversial comments which he did make about Palestinian culture in Israel. Greg Sargent found that Romney made the same fallacious argument in his book, No Apology.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak undermined the Republican argument against Obama on Israel in this interview with Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: You’ve studied U.S.-Israeli relations over many years. How would you describe the relationship today?

BARAK: I think that from my point of view as defense minister they are extremely good, extremely deep and profound. I can see long years, administrations of both sides of the political aisle deeply supporting the state of Israel, and I believe that reflects the profound feelings among the American people. But I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past.

BLITZER: More than any other president? LBJ, Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush?

BARAK: Yeah, in terms of the support for our security, the cooperation of our intelligence, the sharing of thoughts in a very open way even when there are differences, which are not simple sometimes, I found their support for our defense very stable.

Steve Benen debunked another anti-Obama talking from the Romney campaign on Israel:

Beth Myers, a top Romney aide, also told reporters recently that it’s “pretty amazing” Obama hasn’t visited Israel.

The attack at least has the benefit of being partially accurate — Obama visited Israel as a candidate, but has not been back during his first term. If Republicans choose to find that outrageous, their complaints are grounded in fact.

The problem, however, is the selective nature of their disgust. George W. Bush didn’t visit Israel at any point during his first term, and neither did Bill Clinton. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush didn’t travel to Israel during their respective terms in office at all.

Many journalists have questioned whether Romney’s gaffes will harm him in the campaign. Chris Cillizza downplayed the damage:

It’s hard to imagine that Romney did himself any favors in answering lingering questions about his foreign policy acumen during this trip.

On the other hand, there is an argument to be made that nothing — literally, nothing — other than the economy at home matters to undecided voters. And that goes double for foreign policy, which is a bottom-of-mind issue (is that a thing?) for most voters.

In a late May Washington Post-ABC News poll, 1 — yes, one — percent of people said that foreign policy was the most important issue of the 2012 campaign. One!

Of course this might be the case when voters think that either candidate is capable of handling foreign policy. This could change as voters see that Romney is as inept as George Bush.

 

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Group of Republican Delegates Suing For Right To Vote As They Choose On First Ballot

It was pretty obvious even before the primaries began that Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee. There were moments when perhaps there might have been a possibility of challenging him, but that ended when Rick Santorum failed to win in states such as Michigan and Ohio. Therefore I was curious when I saw a story that delegates to the Republican convention were suing to be able to vote for the candidate of their choice on the first ballot. Certainly releasing some Romney delegates would not change the outcome. Sure, some might vote for Sarah Palin or someone else preferred by the far right of the party, but Mitt Romney would still be the nominee.

This begins to make sense if Ron Paul supporters are behind this. Ron Paul’s campaign has been fighting hard for delegates, and in some states Paul supporters are going to the convention pledged to vote for Mitt Romney on the first (and almost certainly only) ballot. I was already wondering if they would create any havoc at the convention as, while pledged to vote for Romney, they would still be free to vote as they choose on any other matters. If delegates become free to vote for the candidate of their choice Paul will have more votes than he should based upon the actual votes in some states. This still won’t change the outcome, and I still wouldn’t put it past the GOP to manage to totally shut them out of the convention, but it will be interesting to see if the Paul supporters manage to find a way to have an impact.

 

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Quote of the Day

“Ron Paul’s son is a senator from Kentucky, and he’s now endorsing Mitt Romney. I know how that feels. My son watches Jay.” –David Letterman

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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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Accusations of Violence By Occupy Wall Street Demonstrate Differences Between Left and Right

Yesterday I pointed out how Fox was trying to twist the news with unfounded suggestions of a connection between the bombing plot broken up yesterday and the Occupy Wall Street movement. The suggestion was made with a subtle comment that “It is unknown if the bridge incident was connected to Occupy Wall Street’s plans for nationwide protests Tuesday.” Such a formula would allow Fox to tie any unrelated groups together this way. Not surprisingly, the right wing blogs and Twitter have considerable chatter today falsely claiming Occupy Wall Street was involved in the plot to blow up the bridge.

Further reports on the arrest clarify the lack of a real relationship between those arrested and Occupy Wall Street. USA Today reports:

What sets the alleged Ohio operation apart is its link to self-proclaimed anarchists — with no connections to international terrorist organizations — who believed that members of the ubiquitous Occupy protest movement had not gone far enough to express their displeasure with high-flying corporate America.

More recent plots disrupted by the FBI have focused on traditional terrorist targets — military facilities and crowded public places — with the goal of inflicting mass casualties.

The operation outlined Tuesday in federal court papers described a poorly financed operation by inexperienced players who at times joked about their lack of terror savvy but sought to use the cover of the Occupy campaign in Cleveland to strike a violent blow against U.S. corporate properties and interests.

From the earliest point in a seven-month undercover inquiry starting in October, an FBI informant said the group of suspects expressed “displeasure at the (Occupy) crowd’s unwillingness to act violently.”

Almost immediately after the charges were announced, the Occupy campaign moved to distance itself from the allegations.

Acknowledging that the suspects — Douglas Wright, 26; Brandon Baxter, 20; Anthony Hayne, 35; Connor Stevens, 20; and Joshua Stafford, 23 — were “associated with Occupy Cleveland,” the group said in a statement that the five were “in no way representing or acting on behalf of Occupy Cleveland.”

Four of the suspects are from the Cleveland area; Wright is from Indianapolis.

Citing the arrests, Occupy Cleveland canceled a scheduled May Day rally Tuesday.

Ed Needham, a spokesman for Occupy Wall Street, said the alleged Cleveland plot “goes against the very fabric of the Occupy Movement.”

“The Occupy Movement is a social movement rooted in compassion as well as social justice,” he said.

U.S. authorities also sought to separate the criminal case against the five men from a blanket indictment of the protest movement.

“The FBI and the Department of Justice do not investigate groups or movements,” U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said. “The defendants stand charged based not upon any words or beliefs they might espouse, but based upon their own plans and actions.”

While violence is far more often associated with right wing extremism, there are extremists on both the left and right who will resort to violence. This demonstrates a key difference between the left and right. The right is dominated far more by their more radical elements as compared to the left, with many on the right willing to ignore the problem of right wing violence. Occupy Wall Street is to the left of the Democratic Party and many liberal groups but has not shown the degree of extremism seen on the right. As noted above, the local Occupy group immediately repudiated the use of violence and did not try to defend those who promoted violence. Many liberals have also shown concern about the violence occurring at the Occupy demonstrations. Other liberal bloggers join me in having concerns about the tactics of Occupy Wall Street and want a clearer repudiation of the use of violence in demonstrations nation-wide.

In contrast, when there have been discussions of right wing violence, it has been common for many in the conservative movement to show reluctance to dissociate themselves from those who promote violence. We saw this in the reaction of conservative bloggers to a report from the Department of Homeland Security on far right extremists. We were reminded of  the frequent use of violent rhetoric by the conservative movement  following the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. Ron Paul has pandered to neo-Nazis and white supremacists to raise money, bringing in elements to the conservative movement which would have been ostracized in past years before the move by the conservative movement to the extreme right. Will the conservative bloggers who falsely accuse Occupy Wall Street of being involved in a bomb plot speak out against the real problem of right wing violence?

 

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Mitt Romney Remains A Weak Candidate, Except Among The Very Religious

Last night’s primaries, occurring after Rick Santorum left the race, turned out to give pretty much the same picture as when there was more of a contest: Mitt Romney will be the nominee, but many Republicans would prefer to vote for someone else. Smart Politics points out the weakness of Romney’s victories:

Over the last 40 years there have been nearly 80 contests in which the presumptive Republican nominees played out the string after their last credible challenger exited the race.

In every one of these contests, the GOP frontrunner won at least 60 percent of the vote, even when ex- and long-shot candidates remained on the ballot.

But on Tuesday, Romney won only 56 percent of the vote in Delaware and 58 percent in Pennsylvania, home to Rick Santorum who dropped out on April 10th.

While Romney avoided the embarrassment of winning with a mere plurality, never has a presumptive nominee won a primary contest with such a low level of support at this stage of the race with his chief challenger no longer actively campaigning.

Clearly the author doesn’t consider either Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul to be a credible challenger, and the assumption looks valid. Even Newt Gingrich has realized this, dropping out of the race. While Ron Paul’s chances at winning are still the same as at any other point in time,  zero, it will be interesting to see if he manages to receive more primary votes as the last candidate standing, allowing him to take a larger block of delegates to the convention than would otherwise occur.

Jimmy Carter says that, while he would prefer Obama, he would feel comfortable with Romney:

“I’d rather have a Democrat but I would be comfortable — I think Romney has shown in the past, in his previous years as a moderate or progressive… that he was fairly competent as a governor and also running the Olympics as you know. He’s a good solid family man and so forth, he’s gone to the extreme right wing positions on some very important issues in order to get the nomination. What he’ll do in the general election, what he’ll do as president I think is different.”

I would refer Carter to yesterday’s post on this subject. There is certainly a reasonable chance that Romney is more moderate than he now claims to be. It is really impossible to tell what opinions Romney has, or if he even has any, considering the way he can sound sincere while taking either side of any issue. Unfortunately Romney has painted himself into a “severely conservative” corner and will have difficulty moving out. Even should he prefer more moderate positions, it is hard to see him resisting the wishes of a far right wing Congress, which is the most likely result should conditions in the fall favor a Romney victory.

It is clearly far too early to predict who will win. Polls now favor Obama, but they can change by November. I am encouraged by Obama’s strength in most of the battleground states, although he is likely to lose some states he won in 2008. Republicans who were encouraged by a narrow Romney lead in Gallup’s daily tracking poll will not want to see that Obama has jumped to a seven point lead. I suspect that this is more a measure of the uncertainty among many voters as opposed to a major change in positions, but does emphasize the weakness of Romney as a candidate.

Gallup has also found that the usual partisan breakdown along religious lines still holds in a race between Obama and Romney:

Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama by 17 percentage points, 54% to 37%, among very religious voters in Gallup’s latest five-day presidential election tracking average. Obama leads by 14 points, 54% to 40%, among the moderately religious, and by 31 points, 61% to 30%, among those who are nonreligious.

If this is viewed purely based upon religion, the results might not make any sense considering Obama’s religious views. There are two additional factors in play. Many Republicans are still fooled by the attacks from the right wing noise machine, with a meaningful number still believing Obama is a Muslim. The other factor is that the concern among many on the religious right is not whether a candidate is religious but whether they will use government to impose their religious views upon others. In this case, perhaps the religious right has a better understanding of the outcome of a Romney presidency than Jimmy Carter shows.

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Santorum Suspends Campaign; Romney Nomination Inevitable

It is time for Romney to shake his Etch A Sketch. Rick Santorum has suspended his campaign.  Most likely he realized that it is better to get out now as opposed to being humiliated by a loss in Pennsylvania.

Gingrich is still in but his campaign appears dead. Even Herman Cain is dropping Gingrich for Romney. Ron Paul is still in the race, running ads attacking the other Republican opponents, but he remains with zero chance of ever winning the nomination. It was already pretty clear, but in case anyone had any doubt it is now as certain as it can be before the conventions that the general election will be Romney vs. Obama.

May the honest, consistent man with integrity win.

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