Monday, October 8, 2012

Biden Can Handle The Pressure

Joe Biden it is all on you, no pressure. That is the sentiment that exists a few days before the one and only Vice Presidential Debate of the 2012 campaign season, and the stakes couldn’t be any higher.

I am on record and therefore have taken a lot of heat from fellow Progressives for saying that President Obama came up relatively short in the first Presidential Debate. The amount of times Mitt Romney stuck out his chin and told the President to hit him with all of his lies and distortions wasn’t as baffling as the President’s unwillingness to do it, or to at least do it aggressively.

Nevertheless last week is now in the history books and the Democratic Ticket is in desperate need of a good showing. Mr. Vice President you are now on.

To use a sports analogy Biden is being asked to be the ace of a Baseball’s Team pitching staff, go out and shutdown the other team and take away the momentum that they have. No one the left side of the political ledger should think this is going to be an easy task at the same time no one should doubt old Joe.

Biden’s years spent as a Senator in Washington D.C. should serve as the perfect guide on how to destroy Paul Ryan, he has seen it all and done it all, as Jonathan Martin of Politico puts it “when Joe Biden was going through the debate process for the Presidency in 1987 and 1988 Paul Ryan was still in High School.”

Speaking of the so-called deficit hawk Ryan, he is the perfect opponent for Biden. Biden who has been playing attack dog for the campaign since the start of the year will have no problem attacking the Congressman of his lack of substance, specifics, and consistency.

It was Ryan who a couple of weeks ago was taken the carpet by Fox News’ Chris Wallace for his lack of specifics on his and Governor Romney’s proposed budget, clearly frustrated he even at one point offered up an “I don’t have time to go into the specifics” I can so see Biden saying “Congressman I will gladly give you my time to explain.”

The fact is Paul Ryan must look like a juicy piece of steak to the Vice President and the Obama campaign.  Biden will not be burden by having to pull punches the way that he was in 2008 when debating Sarah Palin. The possibility of coming off as a bully against Palin was very much a real possibility. Given the penchant that both Romney and Ryan have for lying holding back will not be a problem for the Vice President or the American People.

Biden for the last few years has been unfairly characterized as a gaffe machine, particularly by the right. It would be awfully fitting for the Vice President to now be seen as the guy who saved the Obama campaign’s re-election effort. So much for gaffes.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Good Guys Win On Pa. Voter ID

Score one for the good guys, Score one for people who believe in hard won rights and freedoms, Score one for everyone on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama on “Bloody Sunday”.

On Tuesday a Pennsylvania Judge blocked the implementation of a photo identification law that had the potential to disenfranchise almost 800,000 voters in the state.

The law, which is the brainchild of the state's Republican Governor Tom Corbett, and the Republican controlled State Legislature unsurprisingly targeted a huge portion of the Democratic Party's voting base, including African-Americans, Latinos, the elderly, and students.

Back in June, State House Republican Leader Mike Turzai played the role of wide receiver who taunts his opponent after he just scored a touchdown by saying Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

What Turzai and the Pennsylvania GOP were not expecting was that there would be a flag thrown on the play.

Judge Robert Simpson said in making his decision that “the proposed changes are to occur about five weeks before the general election, and I question whether sufficient time now remains to attain the goal of liberal access” to ID cards.

Kudos to Judge Simpson for pointing out what those of us who have been following this story already knew, there was absolutely no way that over 700,000 people without a state issued voter I.D. card would have one in time for the November 6 general election for a whole host of reasons.

Over the past year and a half the Republican Party has been plotting these draconian laws to combat the overwhelming support from voters that Barack Obama received in 2008 and would possibly get again this year. Mitt Romney's 47% comments once again drove home the point that the GOP does not have the candidates or policies that will swing these voters into their direction so their attitude is just to disenfranchise them.

This past summer Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the NAACP's annual conference and said “Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them, “We call those poll taxes.”

The AG couldn't have been more right. Republicans have literally tried to turn back the clock to 1964. With these laws people of all races and backgrounds who fought the Civil Rights battles back in the early 60's have found themselves back in combat gear.

The party also doesn't seem to understand the damage that it has done with all of these constituency groups. The GOP's base of rich, middle aged, white men is shrinking by the hour and yet they can't help but continue to insult and denigrate women, Blacks, Hispanics, Gays, and given the fact Paul Ryan will still have a future in the party after he and Romney lose this election, the elderly.

The state of Texas which has also put forth a new set of voter laws may be a swing state by the time the 2016 Presidential election rolls around due in large part to the booming Hispanic population growth within the state. The R's however continue to double down with language of self deportation and rejection of “The Dream Act”. Mitt Romney at a Univision event a couple of weeks ago used the slur “Illegals”. Not exactly the way to win over a skeptical crowd.

In fairness the GOP played a huge role in the signing of the 64' Civil Rights Act and the 65' Voting Rights Act, but that was a long time ago and the party, forty years later has been hijacked by nut jobs and partisan hacks.

The one silver lining that those of us who are sane have is that we can still show up to the ballot box and say “No” to these clowns.

We should never stop fighting for that right no matter how many Tom Corbett's and Mike Turzai's we have to take on.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ann Romney Hurts More Than Helps

You know how sometimes in life you try to avoid going down certain paths only to realize that it may be unavoidable. I find myself at one of those places and Ann Romney should really place her hands over her ears and begin to yell very loudly.

Queen Ann”, as some have dubbed her acted upon that nickname once again this week when she publicly chastised members of the right-wing media for criticizing her husband Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring,” she said. “This is hard and, you know, it’s an important thing that we’re doing right now and it’s an important election and it is time for all Americans to realize how significant this election is and how lucky we are to have someone with Mitt’s qualifications and experience and know-how to be able to have the opportunity to run this country.”

The friendly fire that has come from conservative stalwarts like Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, and Bill O'Reilly hasn't exactly been undeserved, Romney just came off of one the most brutal weeks a candidate has ever had including a botched presser that unfairly criticized President Obama for the tragic killings of 4 U.S. diplomats at the nation's embassy in Cairo, Egypt by Islamic protesters, to a secretly recorded video of Romney at a fundraiser last May saying “his job is not to worry about the 47% of the people who won't vote for him”.

Republican pundits are just being honest about the Romney campaign up until this point, and if they wanted to continue with the truth telling portion of the program they would also come out and say that the Mitt's better half is not helping.

Ann Romney was once thought to be her husband's strongest surrogate yet in the matter of a couple of months that notion has become less and less true.

People, the American people in particular don't like whiners and yet that sounds exactly like what Mrs. Romney is doing when she offers up her “Stop It” defense of her husband. Yes Ann, running for President is hard and the criticism is sometimes unbearable, you know what else is hard and may sometimes seem unbearable, being President.

Mrs. Romney has also been on record as saying that her husband has been “demonized” by critics as “being heartless”. First of all Mitt has given us plenty of examples this election season as to why one would come to that conclusion “I like being able to fire people” and “If you're looking to go to college borrow money from your parents” and my favorite “ If you want free stuff vote for the other guy”. Secondly, ask The First Lady about dealing with a spouse who is demonized on a daily basis by idiot birthers and Tea Party zealots who see a black socialist occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (see Dinesh D'Souza ridiculous, train wreck of a movie for proof).

At the Republican National Convention Ann was charged with the task of humanizing her husband and making him more likeable, particular with female voters. Now granted that was a Herculean type effort for any one given Mitt's stiffness as a campaigner and the miles wide gap between he and the President with female voters.

However Ann, once again didn't help matters by offering up a lot of generalities and not a lot of specifics when it came to her husband and his prospective female policies. At one point Mrs. Romney gave us all an “Oprah” type yell of “I love you women” which almost matched Mitt's equally awkward “The trees are the right height”.

Look I understand that campaigning is difficult and the toll that it can take on family members can be stressful, Ann Romney said as much after going through the meat grinder back in 2008, also the idea that a candidate's family should be free from criticism is one that should be generally followed.

As I said earlier though sometimes paths in life are unavoidable. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Romney Just Doesn't Get It

Has there ever been a worse Presidential candidate than Mitt Romney? Has there ever been a more out of touch, unsympathetic plutocrat?

Romney's comments to wealthy donors of his at a Boca Raton fundraiser last May once again reinforced the narrative that Montgomery Burns is a living and breathing human being.

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what...
Our message of low taxes doesn’t my job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the five to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful....”

Romney, who has never experienced a minute of struggle from the time that he entered into the world has put his inability to relate to us common folk on full display time and time again. There was the incident where he insulted a supporters home baked cookies, he challenged Rick Perry to a $10,000 bet (like it's chump change), and he reminded us that his wife drives a couple of cadillacs.

The comments in Florida four months ago aren't surprising, as a matter of fact it's sort of Romney taking it to the next level. The guy pretty much says word for word that he isn't worried about 47% of the nation.

Romney like most in his party really believes that we have become a country of “makers” and “takers”, that there is no such thing as people falling on hard times through no fault of their own and that a life on public assistance is somehow a goal that is to be desired.

While professional politicians in the GOP are backing away from Mitt as fast as they can because they need swing voters, (a huge chunk of which belongs to the 47% that Romney slammed to keep their jobs,) the talking imbeciles in the base are cheering Romney on.

The Holy Triumvirate of conservative clowns Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and Donald Trump have all said in their own way that Romney should not back down from the comments, and that this is a discussion that the country needs to have. If you are unemployed and struggling to put food on your family's table, there can't be anything more galling than having three filthy rich windbags advising another windbag to continue to disparage you.

It makes me ponder what would happen if Mitt Romney were to somehow pull of the miraculous and get himself elected in November, what would the outcome be like for the truly less fortunate?

Would poor children go without nutrition because of Romney and his tag team partner Paul Ryan and their lustful desire to do away with food stamps? These are children who barely get a decent school lunch already again thanks to budget cuts mostly championed by the GOP.

Would the unemployed, people who have desperately been looking for work but have been stymied, not because of failed economic policies of President Obama, but by petulant obstruction on the part of John Boehner and Eric Cantor, be told no more unemployment checks? You now must feed your family through the kindness of strangers.

Remember the days of George W. Bush touting compassionate conservatism, that now seems like a million years ago.

Romney because of his insulated life spent in the lap of luxury doesn't get why the peasants sometimes needs assistance. That alone is a good enough reason to be disqualified from being leader of the free world.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Desperation For Mitt Romney

Shameless thy name is Willard Mitt Romney. Look, I understand the desire of the former Massachusetts Governor to be the 44th President of the United States, but there are lines that a Presidential candidate simply should not cross.

On Tuesday night Romney and his campaign made a desperate, disrespectful and dangerous move by criticizing President Obama and his administration over the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that killed the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stephens and three of his staff members.

"I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi," Romney said in the statement. "It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."

Romney, who is still feeling the effects of not receiving a bounce in the polls from his party's convention in Tampa and the criticism he has received from all corners for not mentioning the war in Afghanistan in his acceptance speech is trying to use this incident to score cheap political points. The problem with calling this play just like with most of Romney's gameplan is that this criticism is based on factual inaccuracies.

The response from the Obama Administration that Romney referenced did not even come from the Obama Administration, but from the United States embassy in Cairo, that statement also came a full 6 hours before any demonstrations or the tragic killings of the four U.S. Diplomats.

The statement put out by the Embassy was in response to a despicable anti-Islam movie that has surfaced on the web made by a group of filmmakers in Southern California. The Embassy could clearly see the writing on the wall in terms of what was coming, from protests to possible violence and tried to get out in front of it for their own lives and safety. The tone deafness shown by Romney and his team in not understanding this is as mind numbing as it can get.

What does it also say that Romney couldn't even stick to the agreement made by both candidates that they would not campaign or issue any statements on the September 11th anniversary. The press got wind of Romney's thoughts on the subject at 10:25 p.m. Eastern time. Why let what you perceive to be an political opportunity loose it freshness?

President Obama said Wednesday night that Governor Romney “has a tendency to shoot first and aim later”, that's what happens when you find yourself losing an election that some pundits say you should be winning and when you find yourself fighting on terrain you have no business fighting on.

Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have no personal military experience and no foreign policy experience as career politicians. Zero, zilch, nada, something that until 2012 was sacrilegious for the Grand Old Party, but with the lack of a legitimate candidate being willing to run coupled with their burning desire to defeat Obama the right was willing to forgive such a grievance.

What they have found is a party standard bearer who is all over the map when it comes to our standing with the world and the countries we have to work with.

In the span of a couple of months Mitt Romney has insulted the English on their handling of the Summer Olympics, insulted the Palestinians over their economy, talks tough to China despite that nation being owed two billion dollars by the United States and still calls Russia our number one geopolitical foe.

Whether Barack Obama can calm the waters in the Middle East and bring about the peace that a lot of us hoped for with the Arab Spring, he stands a better chance in doing that with Mitt Romney waiting a day, a week, or possibly even a month when all of the facts are in to begin backseat driving.

The American People would benefit from it as well.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The GOP Are Foolish For Medicare Battle

For the last week we have heard Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and his newly minted Vice Presidential running mate, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, try to go on the offensive when it comes to one of the nations most valued programs, Medicare.

America's comeback team, as they have dubbed themselves seems to be stealing a page from the Karl Rove playbook which is to turn one of your opponents strengths into a weakness (by the way, calling yourself America's comeback team is devalued when you using strategy from a guy who's administration is the cause for the problems we are in).

Romney, Ryan, and Republicans in general have been chanting this mantra that President Obama took $716 billion out of the Medicare program and placed that money into the Affordable Care Act. You have to admire the discipline of Republicans with their messaging even when that message is a bold face lie.

Now it is true that the ACA does cut that amount of money, but it cuts from hospital and private insurance reimbursements, another huge part of the cuts comes from private Medicare Advantage plans. The most important thing for America's seniors to know is that none, absolutely none of these cuts touch Medicare benefits.

Here is how Sarah Kliff of The Washington Post's Wonk Blog put it in a column last week.
The Affordable Care Act rolls back payment rates for hospitals and insurers. It does not, however, change the basket of benefits that patients have access to.”

So to sum this whole thing up the benefits that seniors get from Medicare will not be touched whatsoever by the Affordable Care Act. It's funny how that can get lost in GOP translation.

The other thing that Team Romney neglects to tell you is that Paul Ryan's now famous budget plan “The Path to Prosperity” cuts that same $716 billion out of Medicare that however is not the smart political move, especially when you have Republican congressional candidates running away from the budget as fast as they can.

Ryan himself has been out on the campaign trail touting the Medicare discussion. “We want this debate, We need this debate, and We will win this debate.” To me this begs the question does he have selective amnesia or does he really believe Republicans can turn around 70 years of conventional wisdom.

Make no mistake it has been the GOP who for years has led the charge to do away with Medicare and Social Security. George W. Bush made it the central theme of his second term as President to privatize the programs, which could have been as much of an influence on Ryan's budget as Ayn Rand was to his personal views on government.

The notion that Republicans would want to have this fight when the President is vulnerable on the economy and unemployment still sits over 8 % is like Muhammad Ali saying he can outrace Wayne Gretzky on a pair of ice skates---never go away from your best asset.

David Axelrod and David Plouffe have forgotten more than I will ever know about campaign strategy and where is the best place to go to get their guy re-elected, but if I were them I would have both the President and Vice President Joe Biden memorize the Ryan budget between now and the debates in October.

Imagine a worse case scenario for the GOP than having Ryan's own words and ideas spit back at him. Imagine Vice President Biden saying “Rep Ryan your plan may grandfather in people who are already 55, but what about future generations who don't want to take part in a voucher system”, or “Rep Ryan if your budget is what is needed for fiscal responsibility in the Medicare program why have fellow Republicans labeled it “right-wing social engineering” and why have you and Governor Romney backtracked from it.

If Dems take that approach, America's comeback team would be jumping at the chance to talk about other issues in the campaign, at least until the Bain and taxes portion of the questioning comes up.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pennsylvania Voter ID Is A Problem For Obama

Congrats Pennsylvania Republicans, you have for the time being undone everything that the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Right's Movement, and the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson worked for.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about the decision by a Pennsylvania judge (a Republican, surprise surprise) to uphold the ridiculous voter identification law that was signed into law earlier this year by Republican Governor Tom Corbett.

The law could disenfranchise over 750,000 people including minorities and the elderly. The law also has a disproportionate effect on the city of Philadelphia and it's surrounding areas, a huge voting block that basically delivered the state to Barack Obama in 2008.

Knowing the information I just sighted Judge Robert Simpson still refused to grant an injunction to stop the law from being enforced, clearly indicating how much of a partisan decision this was.

The Republican party after winning landslide majorities in Governorships and state legislatures in 2010 have set out to take away the vote from thousands who tend to lean left, rather than make a pitch to those same voters with their ideas. If you can't beat em' cheat em'

State Rep. Mike Turzai admitted as much when during a speech to the Republican State Committee in their summer meeting said “Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania , is done”. This is the equivalent of a guy knocking over a convenient store and then smiling for the security camera. Usually in those cases the judge throws the book at the guy.

As we have seen with Citizens United, and the Republican House of Representatives the GOP is committed to the defeat of Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats across the country, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's now famous quip about “denying the President a 2nd term” is proof. The sad thing is they are willing to sink to all time lows to do so.

Voter ID, Republicans say will cut down on the amount of voter fraud that has allegedly taken place in elections over the years, yet many sources have described voter fraud as being “non existent.” Between 2002 and 2005 the George W. Bush administration made prosecuting voter fraud a priority, yet in those three years the DOJ found only 38 cases, yes folks 38 cases out of the hundreds of millions of votes that were cast.

The GOP remedy to this supposed problem is to take out a sledgehammer and kill a mosquito. They are willing to disenfranchise most in order to prosecute the tiny few.

I mentioned earlier that Republicans have a hard time selling their ideas, thus they trot out scams like Voter ID. That is absolutely true and 2008 was the eye opener. The GOP was horrified by what the saw in terms of the numbers that showed up to support then candidate Obama.

The demographics then as now are not on their side. Minorities, young people, and single woman all turned out in droves to vote Democrat in 08'. With Newt Gingrich persistently calling Barack Obama “the best food stamp President in history”, Mitt Romney telling college students they should “shop around for the best price” rather than looking to the government for help via Pell Grants and Paul Ryan being just as draconian on women's reproductive rights as Rick Santorum ever was, the GOP can't win unless they take out half of the supporters on the other side.

The question now is what do, not just Democrats, but people who believe in the fundamental right to vote do. With only two and a half months left before the election can groups get people the info they need and ultimately the ID's to have them vote in time.

The bigger question however may be can the President get himself re-elected without the state of Pennsylvania, let's hope we don't have to find out.