Political Gum Hockey

Political Commentary and Humor

Romney Goes All-In Against the Middle Class by Picking Paul Ryan as VP Running Mate

Mitt Romney has decided to go all-in against the middle class by selecting Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate. Ryan is the author of the infamous budget plan that decimates the middle class, turns Medicare into a voucher program, and yet increases spending on Defense contractors and other corporate giveaways.

Not surprisingly, Paul Ryan has been bankrolled by the billionaire Koch brothers, whose lobbying arms fund and organize the tea party. So it’s no big surprise that the Romney Ryan plan increases middle class taxes in order to pay for more tax breaks for the super-rich and increases the debt.

Perfect. Democrats will love it.

At least Romney has made clear that he thinks giving more chances for the 1% to hide their money offshore and allowing more loopholes for the supercorporations to ship jobs and money overseas will somehow, despite history and logic, create the jobs that they haven’t created during all this time to date.

What does the Ryan pick mean for the campaigns?

Ezra Klein at the Washington Post captures this nicely…

This is an admission of fear from the Romney campaign.

Let the games begin.

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August 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Book Review: We Can All Do Better by Bill Bradley

Former Senator, New York Knick basketball player, and Olympic athlete Bill Bradley offers his substantial insights into the workings of government and how, by focusing on cooperation and the good of the country instead of party, we can all do better. And by “we” he means all of us – the politicians, the media, and the American people. We are all in this together and only by working together can we find resolutions to all of the challenges that face us here in America.

But accomplishing this won’t be easy. Bradley begins by reminding us that even though politicians all love this country, it is easy for the “members of the club” to become absorbed into the cynicism that dominates Washington DC today. The “duopoly” of the two parties cater to the extremes and the media play along because it is easier – and more profitable – to turn gossip into news than to report honest policy discussions. And the people – you and me – force politicians into playing the game at either end of the spectrum where compromise is seen as treachery, and then turn around and voice our perpetual dissatisfaction because politicians are dancing in the corners in which we have painted them.

Still, Bradley notes that “the sad irony is that many members of the club may be idealists underneath,” and like most Americans living their daily lives, continue to believe in the country’s fundamental health and promise for the future. In the chapter, “Breaking the Logjam,” Bradley offers some concrete proposals to encourage economic growth and job creation in the immediate, the proximate, and the long-term. He dispels some of the common myths (e.g., that the wealthy are “job creators”) and offers solutions that will improve the employment picture now while positioning us to lead the world in the future. His ideas are too numerous to list here, but well worth the time spent reading the book. One quote, though perhaps oversimplified, summarizes his philosophy:

“I cannot emphasize enough the requirement of balance: asking something from everyone. Democrats want the rich to bear the burden; Republicans want primarily the poor to sacrifice. Both political parties champion the middle class and neither asks anything significant of it in this crisis. A true solution cannot give the middle class a pass.”

In short, politicians need to put country ahead of re-election. They need to be honest with us as citizens. And we need to be honest with them – and with ourselves.

In “Celebrating Selflessness,” Bradley provides the most emotionally inspirational chapter of the book. In it he relates stories that contradict the assumption by both parties that human beings are basically selfish. Instead, he says, most people may actually prefer to be unselfish if given the chance by politicians and the media. In “Raising All Boats,” Bradley discusses the major source of disheartenment – that the system is rigged to give all the benefits to the very wealthy while the middle class bears the brunt of the burden. “The elevator is no longer working,” he quotes, meaning that the middle class and the working poor can no longer count on getting ahead by working hard and being honest. This dissatisfaction becomes fertile ground for demagoguery from both parties.

In the remaining chapters Bradley cites such disparate leaders as Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Wilson, FDR, and Eisenhower as recognizing the critical role of government and how “free markets” dominated during times of robber-barons, monopolies, and “too big to fail.” Further, he addresses our long-standing ambivalence about our role in foreign affairs and how our forthcoming challenges with China stem not from military prowess but from economic domination. In short, while America bickers amongst itself and accomplishes little, China moves its own future forward, which more and more intertwines with the future of the world.

Bradley argues that we need both “collective caring” and “personal responsibility” to move forward. In his final chapter, “The Path to Renewal,” he proposes that solutions should include taxing labor less and things more, adoption of a massive infrastructure program, investments in research, embracing talented immigrants while educating our own citizens for a lifetime in a world of constant change, reduction of our structural budget deficit, and leading the world “by example.”

There is so much more in this relatively short book and I strongly encourage anyone interested in the future of America to read it.

For a full discussion of the book please review the comments and links here.

August 4, 2012 Posted by | Barack Obama, Book review, Mitt Romney, Republican | , , , , | Leave a comment

Racist? Second country, second round of screwing up foreign policy for Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney is now in the second country of his foreign policy “coming out” tour. As previously noted, he started off in the UK by insulting the British three times in one day. Now he’s in Israel, where on the first day he managed to offer his support for going to war against Iran and then offered what has been interpreted as racist statements against the Palestinians.

Besides not seeming to understand the basic fact that Israeli occupation just might have a teensy bit of influence over the economy of the regions it occupies and controls, he also got all the numbers wrong. Not even close, as this Washington Post article explains in depth. A certain amount of leeway is given to “the new guy” who obviously doesn’t have access to all the Intel as the actual President, but come on, his buffoonish platitudes would suggest that I have more Intel than he does. One of his advisers is Dan Senor, the former spokesperson for the Coalition Authority in Iraq during the early days of the Bush war there, so it’s not like he doesn’t have someone there to tell him what to say (though perhaps Senor is acting more in his role of Fox News commentator instead of on actual factual knowledge).

At this pace he ought to have completely destroyed our foreign policy relationships with much of the world by the end of the week. With his next stop being Poland, everyone is praying he does the wise thing and not talk. At all.

July 30, 2012 Posted by | Mitt Romney, Tea Party | , , , , | 4 Comments

Clueless Mitt Romney Insults Brits Three Times in One Day

Mitt Romney, on tour in the wilds of the UK, seems intent on doing the opposite of what he had intended. The goal was to somehow look “Presidential” by attending the opening of the Olympic Games in London. The results so far have been nothing short of a reminder to the Brits of why they let us colonists go.

Within hours (or was it minutes) of his arrival Romney was asked about the reports of problems with the pre-games security hiring. A legitimate question given Romney could provide some “Presidential” insight from his work running the Salt Lake City Olympics a few years back. Mitt’s response was to insult the host country before he even got a chance to meet the Prime Minister.  Said PM made a point of noting that his country is sponsoring the games in a real city. PM Cameron elucidated:

“We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world,” Cameron noted. “Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere. Inevitably, you’re going to have challenges.”

Ouch.

Oh, and the Mayor of London was none to pleased either.

Next Mitt seemed to forget (or not know) the name of the Opposition leader, Ed Miliband, calling him “Mr. Leader.”

Mr. Leader? Well, okay then.

And to top off that already eventful day of political mayhem, if all that wasn’t enough, Romney decides to spill all the secret spy stuff beans all over the public square. Oops. That’s the part you’re supposed to be “Presidential” with Mitt. You know, the national security stuff that can get our guys (and the Brits’ guys) killed if you tell everyone.

And this is just day one of his coming out party. Can’t wait to see how he will insult the Israelis. And the the Poles.

July 26, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Tea Party and Michele Bachmann Embrace the Bigots Again

Tea Party BigotryThe news is all about how John McCain “blasts unjust attacks” by Michele Bachmann on Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton in the Department of State.  What the news should be about, however, is that once again the tea party has gone for the bigot vote.

It is despicable that the tea party represents bigotry. The tea party rallied around Donald Trump only after he made bigoted remarks. The tea party rallied around Herman Cain only after he made bigoted remarks. The tea party rallied around Rick Santorum only after he made bigoted remarks.

And now Michele Bachmann is trying to get the tea party (whose caucus she leads in the House) to rally around her – by offering egregiously dishonest and bigoted remarks!

Where is the rest of the Republican party? Why haven’t they stood up to Bachmann’s bigotry? Why? Because the Republican party has embraced the bigots in America. Their nominee, Mitt Romney, rather than speaking out against bigotry is cozying up to Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh while they spew bigotry. Without the bigots the Republicans cannot win. After all, the Republican party has waged war on immigrants, gays, women, Muslims, minorities, and pretty much anyone who isn’t a white male evangelical Christian. They figure that since they have disdained everyone else they have to encourage the bigots to come out and vote for them.

You can see the bigotry and dishonesty of the tea party in full neon here on Gather.

It’s disgusting. And it is NOT America.

July 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Without GOP, Unemployment would be Under 6%

Interesting article here. Especially this part:

President Obama proposed the American Jobs Act in his 2011 State of the Union address, and spent the next year promoting it at every opportunity…The CBO said the bill would not only have paid for itself within 10 years, but would have reduced the deficit by at least 6 billion dollars. According to an analysis by Moody’s it would have created about 1.9 million jobs.

The result of GOP obstruction with those two things cost us 2.3 million jobs and 1.9 million jobs respectively. US employment as of May 2011 is about 155 million jobs, which means those 4.2 million jobs that the GOP has prevented account for 2.7% of the unemployment rate.

To recap:

1) The previous Republican administration of George W. Bush, during most of which the Republicans also controlled both houses of Congress, passed a series of unfunded mandates (e.g., NCLB, Prescription Drugs), started two unending wars (one by deceit) and mismanaged them, eliminated budget surpluses within Bush’s first year in office, increased the debt by a huge margin, and then prior to leaving managed to plunge the USA and the entire world into an economic disaster that would have surpassed the Great Depression if it hadn’t been for the stimulus packages.

2) Starting before President Obama took office the Republican party agreed to vote against any efforts to stimulate the recovery, the Republican party has voted against the creation of millions of jobs through its dozens of votes against job programs, and the Republican party has increased the debt while holding 99% of Americans hostage solely to maintain and expand on tax breaks for the super-rich 1% and tax loopholes for the super-rich megacorporations.  Oh, and the Republican party also voted multiple times against programs that would have helped small businesses (the real job creators).

So after 1) killing the economy, and 2) holding back the recovery, the Republican party now argues that it is all Obama’s fault and the voters should put the very people who 1) killed the economy, and 2) held back the recovery back into office.

= definition of insane

July 11, 2012 Posted by | Barack Obama, Birthers, Jobs, Mitt Romney, Republican, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SCOTUS Ruling on Health Care Law Shows How Dishonest the Republican Party Has Become

ImageWell, the Supreme Court (lovingly known by all as SCOTUS), has announced its decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (lovingly known by all as Obamacare). In a surprise to most people, Chief Justice Roberts joined with the 5-4 majority to uphold the law and the individual mandate. But the case demonstrates just how dishonest the Republican party has become.

After all, the key argument used by the Republicans in their attempt to overturn the law was a little something called the “individual mandate.” And guess who forced the inclusion of the “individual mandate” in the law in the first place. You guessed it – the very same Republicans who used it as the whipping post during SCOTUS deliberations.

The Democrats, you all remember, favored a “public option.” The public option would have created a public option (catchy, isn’t it) for insuring those who couldn’t afford the skyrocketing prices of private insurance companies.  The Republicans, of course, wanted to ensure that the hugely profitable big corporate insurance companies kept their huge profits so the Republicans convinced the Democrats that they (the Republicans) would support the bill if they (the Democrats) compromised. So the Democrats dropped their public option idea and took on the Republican idea.

The Republican idea of the individual mandate that the Republicans then turned around and started claiming was un-Constitutional.

What’s more shocking than this abject dishonesty is that the media once again gave the Republican party a pass on it.  So much for the “liberal media.”

This follows a pattern with the Republican party.  Remember that “cap-and-trade” bill the Republicans railed against?  Yep, another Republican idea (Democrats preferred a carbon tax). Republicans originally proposed cap-and-trade as a market based mechanism for dealing with the unequivocal science of man-made climate change. But then when the intentionally ignorant tea party extremist wing got all hot and bothered about it the Republicans simply rewrote all of history, started calling their own signature cap-and-trade idea “cap-and-tax,” and lied left and right about it.

You can add in this political witch hunt, something the Republican party does all the time – lie, then repeat the lie over and over, then hold other people “accountable” as if your lie was somehow not a lie.  The truth about the Fast and Furious (non) scandal.

There are more examples, of course. It’s become a habit. Actually, it’s become a political strategy.  And this dishonesty is hurting America.

June 28, 2012 Posted by | Affordable Care, Republican, SCOTUS | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Republican Ricketts Plan Goes Straight for the Bigot Vote

ImageOnce again the extremist tea party wing of the Republican party is catering to bigot vote.  In a proposed plan dubbed “the Ricketts plan” after the super-rich Joe Ricketts, another of the stable of super-rich who are trying to get their man (super-rich Romney) into the White House. The plan is laced with code words for bigotry.  Even to the point of including President Obama’s middle name, a sure-fire way to rile up the bigots of the party.

The plan proposes to raise the specter of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose cherry-picked diatribes were employed by some for a similar purpose in 2008.  At that time, however, the Republican nominee John McCain refused to play the bigot card.  [In part due to his shock that some in his campaign event crowds were shouting not only bigotry by suggested acts of violence.]  Apparently the Republican party has devolved even more since then, as this proposal caters directly at those bigots who can’t stand to see an African-American man with a funny name in the Oval Office.

This line of attack shouldn’t surprise people.  The Karl Rove Super-PAC has already been out with lie-filled ads, and we can can expect even more from the super-rich funded super-PACs.  Keep in mind that only a few dozen super-rich men are financing the vast majority of these super-PAC organizations who don’t have to play by the same rules that us normal people have to play by.  These handful of super-rich have been giving millions to these uncontrolled groups, while you and I are limited to donating $2500 per election.  Guess who has more influence.

This direct play to get the bigot vote is both shameful and an example of how dishonest – and just downright mean – the Republican party has become.  It’s a sad thing to know that a party has stooped so low and attacked so many (anti-gay/anti-women/anti-Muslim/anti-minority/anti-Latino/anti-non evangelical/anti-science, etc.) that it must cater to the bigots of the world.

May 17, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Forward. This is what President Obama has accomplished for our country

This is what has been accomplished. I dare you to watch the entire video.

Despite Republican obstruction.  Despite the fake-tea party holding 99% of Americans hostage solely to give even more tax breaks to the super-rich 1% and the super-profitabable corporations.  Despite the tea party acting to increase the debt.  Despite the unprecedented use of the filibuster to block even the most simple bills.  Despite the decision by the Republican party before Obama was even in office to vote against everything that would help the country dig its way out of the massive hole the last administration left us in – even to the point of voting against the ideas that Republicans themselves offered and supported.

The achievements of the Obama administration have been extraordinary given where we started from and the Republican decision to throw away economic recovery for partisan expediency.

April 30, 2012 Posted by | 2012, Barack Obama | , , | Leave a comment

Hilary Rosen, Ann Romney and the Dishonesty of the Republican Party

By now everyone has heard of Hilary Rosen and her comments related to Mitt Romney’s touting of his wife Ann as his go-to person on women’s economic issues.  The Rosen comment is a perfect example of how the Republican party has devolved into abject dishonesty. After her comment the Republicans immediately extracted it from its context and created a completely new – and false – meaning for it, which they then have been browbeating to death. The goal is to distract from the original point.

So no, Rosen wasn’t saying anything against mothers, women, or any of the other straw men (or straw women) that the GOP has created out of whole cloth. She wasn’t even chastising Ann Romney for her choice to be a full time mom.  Her point was directly, clearly, and unambiguously about the hypocrisy of Mitt Romney’s touting of his wife as some sort of mentor on “women’s economic issues.”

That concept is, of course, ludicrous. Mrs. Romney has zero experience dealing with “women’s economic issues.” She has enjoyed an economic life of comfort, attending private schools when young and then being considerably wealthy for most of her adult life (can we say “dressage”). She chose to be a stay at home mom to their five children and has endured serious medical issues, and done so with aplomb. Everyone acknowledges both her contributions and her tribulations. That isn’t the point.

The point is that she has had the major advantage of not having to worry about money while facing these motherhood and medical issues. “Women’s economic issues” were never even relevant to her decision-making or her ability to successfully raise a family. The same cannot be said for the other 99.9% of women and families. For the “not fabulously wealthy” of us, being a stay at home mom is not always a choice; it may simply be that day care costs would exceed the income generated from working outside the home. For most people a two-income family is a necessity, not a choice (even Mitt has admitted this as he sought to restrict funding for young mothers). And as far as Mrs. Romney’s medical issues, most people would have had to worry about both the costs of insurance coverage and the very real possibility that they would be dumped by their carrier for having the audacity to actually make a claim. Mrs. Romney did not have this concern.

In fact, Mitt Romney wasn’t even being serious when he said that he turns to his wife for “women’s economic issues.”  He was merely trying to deflect an awkward question for which he knew he didn’t have an answer – why is the Republican party so arrogantly hostile to women? [The same can be said of the party being arrogantly hostile to gays, non-Christians, anyone not the super-rich, minorities, and a whole host of other groups that make up, well, the vast majority of Americans.]

It is this jokingly-offered ludicrous attempt at deflection to which Ms. Rosen was alluding when she made her comment.  Romney’s stumbling assertion that a rich woman with no real economic concerns would be his source of insight for “women’s economic issues.”

But not wanting to miss a political opportunity, the Republicans took advantage of Rosen’s statement to create their lie and saturate the media with it. Their goal was to use a dishonestly reinterpreted comment by one of the thousands of self-avowed “strategists” as a means of distracting from the Republican party’s constant attacks on women’s rights.

Remember that prior to this fake controversy arising it was the Republicans who were spending considerable time arguing against something as basic as a women’s right to contraception. It is the Republicans who have been trying to roll back the legal right of women to make their own reproductive choices. It is the Republicans who have gone so far as to pass a law saying that women are pregnant two weeks before they even have sex, and that they must undergo an invasive medical procedure and be forced to adhere to the wishes of politicians prior to making the already difficult choice to do something they have the legal right to do. And those are only the most recent examples. The Republican party has a long history of attacking the very issues that allow most women to participate in the American dream. The very “women’s economic issues” Mitt Romney ridiculously asserted his wife is his source of guidance.

It’s clear why the Republicans have jumped at Rosen’s statement and intentionally reinterpreted it in their usual dishonest way – they recognize that American women are tired of having their rights attacked by Republican politicians and extremist religious zealots.

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Mitt Romney, Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment