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Media critic Howard Kurtz wrote in the Daily Beast today that News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch gave vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan "a strong nudge" onto the Republican ticket.
Kurtz explained that Murdoch "used a combination of private persuasion, newspaper crusading, and Twitter talk to urge Mitt Romney's campaign to shake things up. And soon after Romney unveiled his running mate on Saturday morning, Murdoch posted a 140-character message of approval."
From Kurtz's Daily Beast piece headlined "Rupert Murdoch Gets His Man As Mitt Romney Picks Paul Ryan":
It would be too much to say that Rupert Murdoch pushed Paul Ryan onto the Republican presidential ticket. But he certainly gave the conservative congressman a strong nudge.
The media mogul used a combination of private persuasion, newspaper crusading, and Twitter talk to urge Mitt Romney's campaign to shake things up. And soon after Romney unveiled his running mate on Saturday morning, Murdoch posted a 140-character message of approval:
"Thank God! Now we might have a real election on the great issues of the day. Paul Ryan almost perfect choice."
The enthusiastic tone was a marked contrast from last month, when Murdoch huddled privately with the GOP nominee and seemed to come away distinctly unimpressed.
"Met Romney last week," he tweeted. "Tough O Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from his team and hires some real pros. Doubtful."
Romney declined to fire anyone, and Murdoch's Wall Street Journal continued to ding him in editorials. On Thursday, the editorial page dropped the subtlety and practically demanded: Why not Paul Ryan?
Fox's Paul Gigot today claimed that Mitt Romney's tax plan was not overly friendly to the wealthy because it would eliminate deductions on the rich. But Gigot's claim is pure speculation, since Romney has said that he will not release specifics as to what deductions would be eliminated under his tax plan before the election.
On ABC's This Week, Fox News host and Wall Street Journal editor Paul Gigot claimed Romney's tax plan was not regressive because it it will "eliminate deductions" on "the well-to-do" and attacked the Tax Policy Center's analysis, which found that his plan would reduce the tax burden on the wealthy and increase it on middle-income taxpayers, as "made on false assumptions."
The Tax Policy Center and FactCheck.org have both found it impossible to concoct a revenue-neutral tax plan based on Romney's desire to dramatically reduce marginal income tax rates without increasing the tax burden on middle-income taxpayers. They have been hindered in their efforts because, as FactCheck.org noted, while Romney has said he will pay for his tax cuts by reducing tax deductions and credits, "he has steadfastly refused to say which tax preferences would be cut or reduced."
Face the Nation guest host Nancy Cordes falsely suggested that President Obama does not have a plan to cut the deficit. Cordes compared Obama to Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who Cordes claimed has released a plan that makes "tough choices." In fact, Obama has a detailed plan to reduce the deficit.
Cordes said to Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter:
What about this argument by Republicans who point to Paul Ryan's plan and say, "hey, it may not all be popular, but at least he's making the tough choices"? We've got a $15 trillion debt, we've got entitlements that are exploding, and at least he's willing to put his plan out on the table while the president, at least initially, did not embrace his plan, the Bowles-Simpson plan.
Cutter responded that Obama has a plan, which is available on the White House website. She added that Obama's plan "does make those tough choices," but is "not an ideological document like Paul Ryan's plan."
Later, Cordes claimed that Obama may have a plan on his website, but on the campaign trail, Obama mostly talks about "raising taxes on the two percent. Where are the other bold plans that require sacrifice from the rest of the country?" Cutter pointed Cordes again to the White House website and noted that Obama has not only talked about his budget cutting plans, he has given an address to a joint session of Congress about it.
Cutter proceeded to provide details of Obama's plan to reduce the deficit.
?When you put the two men side by side, the fact that they are white, Catholic, working-class guys just jumps off the page immediately,? said Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine who has written extensively about class and cultural divisions in U.S. politics. Both Biden and Ryan exhibit an ease in personal encounters with voters that is lacking in Obama and Romney, neither of whom is likely to be mistaken for a natural backslapper and flesh-presser. – In Ryan pick, echoes of Obama?s selection of Vice President Biden
VOTERS DON’T VOTE on the vice presidential pick, even if conservatives are slathering their primary wounds over his choice, which Mitt Romney knows. The choice of Paul Ryan isn’t simply about the base either, because Mitt Romney is betting they’ll do just about anything to keep Pres. Obama from winning in November. It’s also not a gift to Democrats, who are convinced Ryan augments Romney’s rich man, kill entitlements as we know them, it will be a high time for the wealthy platform. And Paul Ryan will not cost Mitt Romney the election in November, which he is very capable of losing on his own, as he’s proven so far this year.
We can talk about Paul Ryan wanting to suck the life out of Planned Parenthood, supporting offensive “personhood” bills, and that his entitlement schemes are a disaster that impact women especially, which I’ve written about before, with the list longer than this on women’s freedoms, but this won’t be an election about that, nor will it be an election about gay rights, on which the Republican Party has an abysmal record. That Mitt Romney basically believes the same things as Mr. Ryan on these issues is a litmus test for every Republican in power today.
In fact, everything Paul Ryan stands for is what the Republican base squealed about during the primaries as one candidate after another rose to the top only to fall away, because they were show horses that couldn’t make the pitch sing. Ron Paul got part of the way there, but the pure monetary conservatism that lives in his politics is poison to today’s right, whose military fetish is tied to Middle East interventionism.
Mitt Romney is an executive first, last and only. His presidential campaign has gone from bad to ugly and sometimes down right dismal and has been in trouble all year long. He’s been thrashed by Newt Gingrich, a philandering womanizer, Rick Santorum, who was trounced in the last election he was in, Herman Cain, a nobody, and just about everyone else, in a year where the Democratic incumbent is liked, but vulnerable, because he hasn’t had an economic message for four years. But Romney’s campaign messaging, delivery and execution has failed so thoroughly that in a race he should be leading he’s losing.
Reading all the Romney reviews has been amusing and just about every one of them misses the most important point.
When Pres. Obama was elected in 2008 he came in with a Democratic majority, the press and the world at his feet and everyone believing that conservatism was dead. Remember the headlines? Try Andrew Sullivan, an Obama loyalist, on for size, circa February 2009, not long after Pres. Obama was inaugurated (bold added):
I do not agree with the headline on Sam’s piece “Conservatism Is Dead.” I do agree that the current conservative movement deserves to die; and that the Republican party deserved the massive defeats it just received. But I do not believe the conservative temperament in politics can ever truly die. it is part of human nature, nurtured to a degree of sophistication in Britain and America that is too useful to lose. I see more of it in the Obama administration right now than I do either party in Congress. This is a conservatism of no party or clique. But it is conservatism.
The Sam to which Sullivan refers is Sam Tannenhaus. Jon Meacham, when he was still at Newsweek, interviewed Tannenhaus, who said this about conservatism back in 2009:
The Republicans, so intent on thwarting Obama, have vacated the field, and left it up to the sun party to accept the full burden of legislating us into the future. If the Democrats succeed, Republicans will be tagged as the party that declined even to help repair a broken system and extend fundamental protections?logical extensions of Social Security and Medicare?to some 46 million people who now don’t have them. This could marginalize the right for a generation, if not longer. Rush Limbaugh’s stated hope that Obama will fail seems to have become GOP doctrine. This is the attitude not of conservatives, but of radicals, who deplore the very possibility of a virtuous government.
Tannenhaus wrote an essay for The New Republic that is no longer available, but which RightwingNuthouse excerpted, so I can provide a short snippet below:
But, if it?s clear what the right is against, what exactly has it been for? This question has haunted the movement from its inception in the 1950s, when its principal objective was to undo the New Deal and reinstate the laissez-faire Republicanism of the 1920s.
Ah, that part in bold. That is what William F. Buckley told Charlie Rose was the main thrust of conservatism, what it stands against. What conservatism is against was the heart of the movement, according to Buckley. It’s never been articulated what conservatism is for until the last few years, when the Tea Party started to rise.
Paul Ryan is their emissary. He is smart, articulate, and yes, extreme, at least to Democrats, especially when you look at his social views, which aren’t going to be the driving force behind the majority of people’s vote in November. Paul Ryan also represents the fulcrum of what the United States faces today, because our economy, beginning with the banks, is ruined. Yes, ruined, because another calamity is coming, so say people a lot smarter than I am on economics, starting with Neil Barofsky.
This by no means is indicative that Mitt Romney can win, because his political gifts are marginal. But he was smart enough to know that today’s right, which runs the Republican Party, is embodied in Paul Ryan who is the first person to explain modern conservatism and what it stands for, aka right wing extremism, in body, mind and spirit. You could say he’s the right’s 21st century version of Ronald Reagan, who couldn’t be elected today, because the Republican Party now is much further right than Reagan ever was.
This is the reason conservatives believe in Ryan, because they’ve never heard anything articulated like he’s done it. The American Enterprise Institute and other right wing think tanks might have written the manifesto, but no one could sell it before.
Paul Ryan has not only taken AEI’s playbook and run with it, he’s sold it to Republicans, conservatives, the Tea Party and some independents, with Mitt Romney smart enough to understand, as any good spokesperson does, see Ronald Reagan, that he needs the zealots engaged to ascend to the presidency.
David Frum thinks the pick of Ryan is all coercion and makes Romney’s job harder, Russ Douthat agrees. Nate Silver thinks it was because he was losing. William Saletan will vote for Obama, but sees the future in Ryan, because our economy is killing us and that will resound beyond this election. Major Garrett is a reporter and writes that Team Obama thinks Ryan will help drive their narrative home (see the video at the top). Michael Tomasky compares the new ticket to “Thelma and Louise,” no hyperbole there at all. Ezra Klein and Noam Scheiber come to similar conclusions, somewhere from Ryan helping to diffuse the blame if Romney bombs and being Mitt’s shot at history, both “selfish and selfless.”
Then Jonathan Chait says it’s Ryan’s party now, which means Romney’s freudian slip in introducing him as “the next president of the United States” was actually telling the truth.
Finally, we’re getting there.
Mitt Romney didn’t get to be a man on his way to billionaire status by being stupid. With no political compass, except to chart a course required to win with whatever talking points that will get him there, much like Barack Obama, Mr. Romney understands fully that as chief executive he doesn’t need to believe, but the people responsible for getting him to the top do. Because he’s seen their power and almost was taken down by it in the primary season. Seeing your own political death flash before your eyes has a crystallizing effect. Mitt Romney heard from the base what they’re against and sometimes it was him, with Paul Ryan reminding all conservatives what they are for today.
Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan because the Republican base earned it, demanded it and threatened to bolt at every step of Mitt Romney’s presidential journey toward the 2012 nomination. At every moment the Republican conservative base, while called every name in the book, demanded Mitt Romney’s fealty to the new conservative principles as set forth by Paul Ryan.
People can call it extreme. I’m a liberal and that’s exactly what I’d call it.
But it’s not just a list of what Romney-Ryan are against. It’s a litany of what they are for and what they would do.
There’s nothing in the platform or their economics on which I agree, but from the conservative catacombs of 2008 has come a movement so powerful that it has given a purpose to conservatism that it’s not had in decades. It’s an actual plan and it was carved step by step by conservatives as they put their candidates through the ideological cauldron until the salesmen that represent the ideals of the people got the pitch right.
Mitt Romney was having so much trouble that he picked the author of conservatism’s rebirth to help. It’s not the worst choice he could make. It was the only choice he had.
Pres. Obama can win this election. However, what a second term means for him and what it means for Democrats and especially progressives is not anything close to what the Republican base has accomplished by remaking the party in their image. Conservatives have driven their establishment, while the Democratic base has been ignored and vilified by Obama.
THE 2012 REPUBLICAN never too white or too male 2012 team theme team is official. What’s the theme? Austerity or bust, baby. Because it’s worked so well over the pond.
But what optics. With the USS Wisconsin as the stage, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Mitt Romney, who jogged down to the platform set up to introduce conservative darling Paul Ryan.
What it says about Mitt Romney is significant.
Regardless of the optics, very white and all male, a demographic voting challenge for Republicans in poll after poll, Romney has made an audacious move to wrap his arms around the Ryan budget that will make the conservative base ecstatic and send a solid message about his presidency for the first time. No one will be able to say, at the end of this race, that Romney-Ryan didn’t offer a clear choice.
This race will not be a referendum on Pres. Obama. And Romney will not not go out with any cards left on the table. There’s no other pick that could have turned the page more sharply back to economics.
Here’s the official press release that dropped into my inbox this morning:
MITT ROMNEY & PAUL RYAN: AMERICA?S COMEBACK TEAM
Boston, MA ? Mitt Romney today announced Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential running mate. Below is Congressman Ryan?s biography:
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan is in his seventh term in Congress representing Wisconsin?s First Congressional District. He is Chairman of the House Budget Committee, where he has worked tirelessly leading the effort to reign in federal spending and increase accountability to taxpayers. He also serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, where he has focused on simplifying the tax code and making health care more affordable and accessible.
In January 2010, Ryan gained attention nationwide after unveiling his ?Roadmap for America?s Future,? a proposal to eliminate the federal deficit, reform the tax code, and preserve entitlements for future generations.
Representative Ryan was born in Janesville, Wisconsin on January 29, 1970. A fifth-generation Wisconsin native, Ryan was the youngest of four children born to Paul Ryan Sr., who worked as an attorney, and Betty, a stay-at-home mom.
In April 2000, Ryan proposed to Janna Little, a native Oklahoman, at one of his favorite fishing spots, Big St. Germain Lake in Wisconsin. Later that year, the two were married in Oklahoma City.
The Ryans reside in Janesville with their three children, Liza, Charlie and Sam. The family are parishioners at St. John Vianney Catholic Church.
Upon entering Congress in January of 1999, Ryan was the youngest member of the freshmen class at the age of 28. Prior to running for Congress, Ryan served as an aide to Republican Senators Robert Kasten Jr. and Sam Brownback, former U.S. Rep. and Vice Presidential Candidate Jack Kemp, and as a speechwriter for Education Secretary William Bennett.
Ryan is a graduate of Joseph A. Craig High School in Janesville and earned degrees in economics and political science from Miami University in Ohio. He is an avid outdoorsman and is a member is of his local archery association, the Janesville Bowmen.
From Mike Allen, whose heading reads: GOP asks on Ryan, brilliant or political malpractice?
RACE RESET: In making Paul Ryan his running mate, Mitt Romney is discarding one of the most basic assumptions that has driven his campaign until now: Make the race about President Obama, and he will lose. Don?t worry about being accused of being vapid and elliptical, went the Romney theory of the case: The more specific you are, the more chance voters will be distracted from a simple referendum on the Obama economy. Run out the clock, look credible and plausible, don?t lunge for shiny objects that take you off your economic message, and you?ll win.
This is too cynical and too thin of analysis.
Mitt Romney’s recent slide in the polls, but also his foreign policy Romney in shambles tour, could have likely tilted it finally in Ryan’s direction. But maybe not, because Romney always wanted to run on economics, because he thinks that’s the driving worry in voters’ minds. He also has to know that he can’t touch Obama on commander in chief territory or foreign policy, which was proven recently. Romney runs on his biz cred or nothing at all.
In life, whenever you make big decisions, the only way you weather the outcome no matter what it might be is to follow your own compass. Whatever you say about Mitt Romney, he’s done that here. Paul Ryan resonates with Romney’s surety that this election is about economics. Because it’s Mitt Romney’s only strong suit, he’s running with it all the way.
This pick will give indigestion to the Mark McKinnon moderate Republicans, but at the end of this race it will either lift the right to power or put it down for decades.
However, now it?s actually possible for the presidential race to be about something. In fact, to be about something important: Do voters want a conservative corporate Democrat or a conservative Wall Street Republican?
This column has been updated.
Yes, I'm aware that one extremely rich white guy made the oh-so-brave and surprising choice of selecting as his special best friend the one guy most dedicated to rewarding extremely rich white guys. Shocking. And yet, there are things that are far more important. Such as...
Christopher Schwalm, Christopher Williams, and Kevin Schaefer have a message about the extreme weather and severe drought that has gripped much of the nation since the start of the year. That message? Get used to it.
Until recently, many scientists spoke of climate change mainly as a ?threat,? sometime in the future. But it is increasingly clear that we already live in the era of human-induced climate change, with a growing frequency of weather and climate extremes like heat waves, droughts, floods and fires.At this point, everything we do while failing to address climate change is no more than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, and politicians who contribute to this failure are directly responsible for the loss of homes, farms, fortunes, and lives.
Future precipitation trends, based on climate model projections... indicate that droughts of this length and severity will be commonplace through the end of the century unless human-induced carbon emissions are significantly reduced. Indeed, assuming business as usual, each of the next 80 years in the American West is expected to see less rainfall than the average of the five years of the drought that hit the region from 2000 to 2004.
So... okay. Now back to that other stuff.
David Firestone looks at Romney's tax plan and finds that it mainly taxes credulity.
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, claims his far deeper tax cuts [than those under George W. Bush] would have a price tag of exactly zero dollars. He has no intention of submitting his tax plan to the committee or anywhere else that might conduct a serious analysis, since he seems intent on running a campaign far more opaque than any candidate has in years. ... Mr. Romney wants to keep all the Bush tax cuts, then cut taxes much further, particularly for the rich, but he says the plan won?t grow the deficit by a dime. He won?t say how he will accomplish this ? there are no real numbers in his plan beyond a vague pledge to eliminate some loopholes.Wait did I say that Paul Ryan was Romney's new best pal? Scratch that. Romney is still clearly planning to stay loyal to his BFF -- his enormous stack of cash.
Following Mr. Romney?s plan would mean ending popular deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions, which would wind up raising taxes on the middle class, while the rich would still enjoy the benefits of an income-tax cut larger than the deductions they would lose.
And when it comes to Ryan...
The New York Times says that adopting Ryan clarifies the mysteries of Romney-nomics.
Mitt Romney?s safe and squishy campaign just took on a much harder edge. A candidate of no details ? I?ll cut the budget but no need to explain just how ? has named a vice-presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, whose vision is filled with endless columns of minus signs. Voters will now be able to see with painful clarity just what the Republican Party has in store for them. ... At a time when state and local government layoffs are the principal factor in unemployment, the Ryan budget would cut aid to desperate governments by at least 20 percent, far below historical levels, on top of other cuts to mass transit and highway spending.Drinkable water, breathable air, and safe streets are luxuries we can't afford under the Ryan plan. Republicans have somehow become convinced that the best way to feed a first world economy, is by giving it a third world government.
Those are the kinds of reductions voters of all income levels would actually feel.
Ross Douthat says that Ryan has cute kids and has proved his political chops by actually voting for all the things that he claims to be against. So he could, maybe, be of some help to Romney. And then he dithers for a couple of paragraphs. And then he stops, which is the best part.
Kathleen Parker rushes to the aid of benighted caucasian males, who are clearly never given a fair shot at political office in this country. But buried deep in the middle of wishing that Romney and Ryan were something that they're not (i.e. competent and clear), you can see Parker actually calling on Republicans to consider raising taxes. You have to squint, but it's there.
Dana Milbank provides a break from the Ryan-centric coverage. Instead, he focuses on how Romney has already abandoned all pretense of running a campaign of ideas and sounded a giant dog whistle.
he released an ad that abandoned the high ground, falsely claiming that Obama had ?quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform.? It went on: ?Under Obama?s plan, you wouldn?t have to work and wouldn?t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.? I covered welfare reform in 1995 and 1996 as a congressional reporter for the Wall Street Journal, so I have followed the issue closely. And Romney?s assertion is, as has been widely documented, nonsense. ... Why Romney is doing this is fairly plain. Romney polls best among white, working-class men, and he needs them to turn out in large numbers.Millbank also slides to the "Post-Partisan" chair to give his opinion on that other millionaire life-long politician on the Republican ticket and discovers that Paul Ryan not only has cute kids, he also works out a lot. But he's still an ass.
Hey, I've been away a long time. Maybe I should consider breaking my ban on George Will imposed for the simple reason that George Will has a singular gift for taking the dead events of history and making them deader. Just taking a quick peek...ban reinstated.
Not all NASA craft had a good week.
NASA's Morpheus planetary lander was lovingly prepared at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida for its first untethered test flight on 9 August - and then it crashed and burned. ... After blasting off using its methane and liquid oxygen-fuelled engines, the lander experienced a "hardware component failure" that prevented it from maintaining stable flight, said NASA.In any case, it's much better for NASA to have these failures here rather than at the the other end of a 300 million mile trip.
If you're looking at this in the overnight, go outside. Tonight it the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. Get out there. As in now.
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(Cartoon above was found on the blog Under The Mountain Bunker.)
For a while now the president has been trying to define Willard Mitt Romney (aka Wall Street Willie) as an unethical businessman who would happily toss his fellow Americans under a bus to earn a few more dollars -- a vulture capitalist who cared for no one but his rich friends. And it's working. The American people are beginning to see the truth.
A new CNN/ORC International Poll shows that 48% of the public now have a negative opinion of Romney (and that jumps to 52% among Independents). Also, 64% of all Americans (and 68% of Independents) believe Romney favors the rich over the middle class. He's also losing his battle to keep his tax returns hidden, with 63% of the public (and 67% of Independents) wanting more of his tax returns released.
That poll nows has President Obama leading Romney by 7 points now (52% to 45%), and that margin is 11 points among Independents (53% to 42%). It seems that not only is Romney not gaining on the president, he is losing ground. His campaign is in trouble, and he did need to do something to shake things up.
He decided to do that by choosing Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) as his running mate. Now this has made the ultra-right-wing very happy, because Ryan is the king of teabagger politicians -- and there is no doubt that will help Romney to solidify his Republican base (something he has had trouble doing with his numerous flip-flops). These people may not fully trust Romney, but they do love Ryan.
But will this get him any votes outside the Republican Party. I doubt it. The people who love Ryan were never going to vote for President Obama under any circumstance. By picking Ryan, Romney has made it clear to all Americans that he is casting his lot with the far right -- and abandoning any attempt to move to the center for the Fall election. Romney has made it even clearer that he wants to give huge tax cuts to the rich, and pay for it by cutting the programs that help hurting Americans and raising taxes on the middle class.
He has made it clearer that he wants to abolish Medicare (and Medicaid) and throw the elderly and poor at the mercy of private insurance companies (corporations that show no mercy). He has made it clearer that he wants to continue the outsourcing of American jobs and continue to give enormous subsidies to corporations making record profits. And he has made it clear that he doesn't care for average Americans, who are struggling in this jobless economy. Evidently he has forgotten just how unpopular the Ryan budget plan was with the American public, because he has now signed on to it.
This should make the Democrats very happy. By picking Ryan, Romney has shown Americans that everything the Democrats were accusing him of is really true. The Democrats can now hang the Ryan budget plan around Romney's neck and let it drag him further down -- and beat that drum all the way to November.
I think my fellow blogger Jack Cluth (over at What Would Jack Do?) may have put it best. Here is what he had to say:
Mitt Romney?s selection of Ryan as his Vice-Presidential candidate should remove any lingering doubt of the complete and utter lack of humanity in today?s GOP. The idea that we?re all in this together- what many of us on the Left like to refer to as the Social Contract- is something today?s Republican Party disdains with a level of opprobrium normally reserved for pedophiles and sex offenders. Romney and Ryan would preside over the dismantling of social programs in favor of a ?dog eat dog? economic model designed to weed out the weak. The idea that Americans have a collective responsibility to look out and care for one another is anathema to the slash-and-burn Tea Party Conservatives who, though a small minority, rule today?s GOP with an iron fist. Compassion is viewed as a sign of weakness, and concern for the sick, the poor, and the elderly is seen as a waste of public resources. Health care should be available in proportion to the size of your bank account, and government is to be dismantled in favor of allowing the free market to reign unchecked. In short, what the GOP seeks to create is government of, by, and for the 1%.
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Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at caglecartoons.com.
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