Anchors Aweigh, my friends! Is association with the Ryan budget enough baggage to sink Romney?In selecting Paul Ryan, the Mittbot has taken a very Romney-esque position of embracing the man, but trying to distance himself from the man's actual ideas and plans.
Now, I imagine the way this will work out, is Romney will express support for the general principles of the Ryan plan, as he has many times in the past, so the Tea Party base will see starbursts. But he'll say there are problems, things he'd fix, so he can conveniently have an out?a line-item veto if you will?when challenged on anything that's unpopular, draconian, Dickensian or downright horrific.
And of course, we'll have to play 50 questions with the Romney camp to find out exactly which parts of the Ryan plan Romney does not think are "marvelous!" That's ok, we have 80 some days, the more we talk about the Ryan Pathway to Poverty, the better.
Of course, the way things are going it's doubtful Romney will answer 50 questions before the election. So, let's start with Ryan's plan for the veteran's spending, shall we?
Suddenly relevant again is a piece that Jon Stoltz, co-founder of Vote Vets posted to Huffington Post in March in response to the Ryan Plan.
GOP Budget Doesn't Even Say the Word "Veteran"The Veterans Administration has historically been underfunded, as anyone paying attention can tell you. Now that the neo-cons have managed to play rock-em-sock-em on a global scale, recklessly waging war here, there and everywhere, are they really going to just walk away from our men and women in uniform as they are now returning? Now that they need the support to rebuild their bodies, their minds, their lives?
Do Republicans care about keeping our promise to veterans?
Looking at the recently released GOP budget, written by Rep. Paul Ryan, it's hard to see how they do. In fact, looking at the nearly 100 page document, the word "veteran" doesn't appear once. Not once.
But, without saying the word "veteran," the budget tells us a lot about what they think about veterans. The budget calls for across the board spending freezes and cuts. If enacted, the Ryan GOP budget would cut $11 billion from veterans spending, or 13 percent from what President Obama proposes in his own plan.
It's unconscionable that they'd do this at a time when so many Iraq veterans have just come home and rely on veterans care. Over 45,000 US troops were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more will come who will rely on VA services, on top of veterans of other wars and eras who depend on the VA. But, this shortsightedness isn't new.
I wish I could say I'd be surprised, but Republican's support for our troops has always been a mile wide and and inch deep. The backdrop of a Navy battleship serving to obfuscate that neither Romney nor Ryan ever actually served in the military is the perfect metaphor for much of the GOP's relationship with troops. Yeah, they're there to wave the flag, when the election's 80 days away. How about when you need a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder to collect benefits. Are they around then?
More from Stoltz:
Yet, here we are. A budget from the GOP that short changes veterans, horribly. And where does that money go? Not to reducing the debt. The debt as a share of GDP would actually increase under the Ryan plan. The money doesn't go towards anything, really. But it does go towards some people. As in $3 trillion in tax giveaways to the richest Americans and corporations. People like Mitt Romney, who already pays a tax rate lower than most of our troops.In the absence of a detailed plan coming out of the Romney campaign, we're forced to assume Ryan's addition to the ticket signals Romney's agreement with Ryan's spending priorities.
That's the choice the Ryan plan presents to America -- do we want to fund the wealthiest Americans and corporations, or keep our promise to our veterans? Ryan and the GOP say the former. I can't believe that most Americans wouldn't say the latter.
I'd very much like to know if Paul Ryan's plan for the veterans spending was the part Romney found "marvelous."
Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein sits down with RT America to discuss the current state of the nation and the systemic forces that work against all efforts for real progressive reform. The video proceeds the following transcript highlights:[...]
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Seriously? Again?Mitt Romney's campaign, Saturday:
Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget, and as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance.Apparently the same forces that bullied Romney into picking Ryan as his running mate have let Romney know that they meant it. Mitt Romney's surrogates, today:
TOP ROMNEY ADVISER ED GILLESPIE: Well, as Governor Romney has made clear, if the Romney, sorry, if the Ryan budget had come to his desk as a budget, he would have signed it, of course, and one of the reasons that he chose Congressman Ryan is his willingness to put forward innovative solutions in the budget.
RNC CHAIRMAN REINCE PREIBUS: First of all, he did embrace the Ryan budget. He embraced it.
Either all of those people who were leaning on him to pick Ryan lit up the phone to set him straight, or he found out that his tax rate under the Ryan budget would be 0.82 percent. Now that, Romney can embrace.
For the "Grill Masters" series, the
Chopped band hit the Arizona desert.
I'm not as big a fan of Food Network's Chopped as Howie is, but I can watch it, which is useful because when I flip the TV on with nothing in particular to watch, the odds are that the Food Network will be showing either Chopped or Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dumps, and as I say, I can watch Chopped. (I don't hate Guy Fieri. I think he's basically a decent person and knows a lot about food. I just can't bear much more of that overblown fake charm. It strikes me as sort of like radiation -- it just keeps piling up in the system, and the body has only a certain amount of tolerance for it.)
As it happens I arrived home pretty exhausted from a pair of walking tours that had me on my feet for probably a combined 5½ hours. They were terrific tours, mind you:
* First, the Municipal Art Society's Matt Postal walking us around the enormous Hudson Yards site in Manhattan's far West 30s (which includes the now-in-planning third section of the High Line Park), now shaping up as the scene of several cities' worth of mainly office-building development; then down thorugh the new West Chelsea Historic District, an unabashed tribute to the city's industrial history; and west on 27th Street (a favorite block of Matt's for its solid old construction that so far is free of urban prettifying) and to the lovely Chelsea Cove section of Hudson River Park -- an eye-popping assortment of intriguing urban environments, the sort(s) of thing Matt is terrifc with.
* Then, with an hour or so in between, it was on to an Uncle Sam's New York tour of the World Trade Center area, including the 9/11 Memorial (which I first visited last October), with (luck of the draw!) the incredible Debbie as tour guide, doing a fabulous job of introducing the site and its history to out-of-towners while also providing me with just the update I was looking for on things I've mostly seen and heard before but not recently.
Add on another hour for the trip home (starting from the very same Rector Street station of the no. 1 train I use most workdays for coming home), and I was pretty pooped when I staggered into my apartment, having stopped across the street for a takeout dinner. (I knew I wasn't going to have much energy to start cooking a meal.) So I flipped on the TV, and with no better ideas switched to Food Network, and sure enough, there was Chopped -- an installment in the current "Grill Masters" series they're doing, none of which I've seen. Okay, it was easier to watch it than to do anything else, including writing a post on FX's Louie and HBO's Girls I had suddenly conceived. That, however, would have required thought, and thought wasn't likely to be easily come by just this evening.
So instead I got to thinking about an idea I've had for a while about how the Chopped producers could improve the show.
Now we all know that it would be almost impossible to get more than 12 people to watch a show about the cooking of interesting, good-tasting food. That's why God invented gimmick cooking shows. Like Chopped. And the thing about gimmick cooking shows is that they're never thought to have enough gimmicks. They always seem to be in search of just one more, like an extra thrill-packed playoff round between, well, not the top two contestants, but more likely the bottom two. And I think I've found a way to parlay one of my ongoing peeves with the show into just such a bonus thriller.
I've expressed this peeve before. It's all that idiotic prattle contestants almost always engage in about desperately important it is to them to win. "I didn't come here to lose," they'll say, making clear that they don't consider losing even an option! No doubt the producers encourage this nonsense, insulting as it is to viewers and to the food they cook. It's amazing how many of these lunks all but say that if they don't win, life will lose all meaning, and will effectively be over.
One might try to point out to them that in fact winning means nothing more than on that given day under those given circumstances they cooked a tad better than three other people. Okay, there's the cash prize for the winner -- which calls to mind the contestants who come on the show having already spent the money, making clear that if they don't win, there goes their last hope on earth for financial salvation.
It makes you wonder if they've ever actually watched the show, or given it even a microsecond's thought. I mean, on the episode I watched this evening, there was a bozo who didn't like one of the basket ingredients, eggplant, and had what he considered the ingenious idea of "burying" (his word) the eggplant in little chunks in a sort of succotash. I mean really, is it possible for someone to go on the show without understanding that above all else what the judges are looking to see what you do with each of the basket ingredients. "Burying" one of them isn't really the sort of thing they're looking for. Ironically, hiding the eggplant that way also led to its being not properly cooked, so it wound up standing out anyway, only not int a good way.
Similarly, even the most minimal familiarity with the show -- you don't even have to have watched it to grasp this -- is that on any given episode, by the end three of the four contestants will be eliminated.Do these "winning is the only thing" new contenders seriously imagine that those 75 percent of previous contenders came on the show with the intention of losing? That losing was any more of an option for those losers than it is for their peerless selves?
Early on, watching these losers' idiotic antics, I found myself wanting to see them make good on their promised level of desperation at any outcome other than winning. My first thought was that, instead of those ritually preposterous walking-off-the-set sequences in which the just-eliminated contestant is allowed to voice his/her desolation (the really untalented ones usually slither out of the studio seething over the injustice of the biased judges' decision), it might be fun to see the newly anointed loser walk through a gauntlet of taunting, abuse, and ridicule.
Now I think that wouldn't be enough, and wouldn't add the kind of drama the producers are probably on the lookout for. No, I'm going back to my idea of inviting the contestants whose attitude toward their appearance on Chopped is essentially a life-or-death matter to make good on that commitment. Let's see the sucker do a "goodby, cruel world" Final Exit! Are you going to tell me this wouldn't be dramatic?
I can see one problem. I guess the Ultimate Loser I'm imagining would be the last person elimintated, after the head-to-head dessert round. But that person is really the "second-best" contestant on that show, having after all survived the appetizer and entrée rounds. Isn't it kind of unfair to ask that person to make the ultimate sacrifice while the two Bigger Losers walk off scot-free?
I haven't entirely solved this problem, I admit, but it has led me to the kind of creative idea the producers are bound to appreciate. How about some kind of final playoff, or maybe cookoff, in which two or three of the vile losers have, say, five minutes to do something with yet another ingredient basket, contending for the opportunity to see another day dawn, with the Ultimate Loser chosen for literal elimination.
It might be thought a wee bit ghoulish to show the actual final offing, but maybe in the playoff round each of the "final" contenders could be asked how he/she plans to end it all in the event that it should come to that. Then perhaps at the very end we could be offered a discreet still photo of some aspect of the actual event. Maybe with a 10-second clip of the late contender's nearest-and-dearest telling us how much the loser is being missed.
Contestants on Chopped always seem to be saying that if they don't win, their lives might as well be over. Isn't it time to stop letting them get away with talking the talk and asking them instead to walk the walk?
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A couple of interesting things in today's This Week roundtable: I agree with Cokie Roberts - and disagree with Howard Dean. The big story, of course, is the Ryan plan to turn Medicare into a 50% off coupon:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let's talk about that a little bit more, but it's not only today that the Obama campaign has come out with an ad. President Obama has been going after Paul Ryan and his budget for the better part of two years.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And a year ago, Democrats putting this ad up when trying to shape the congressional debate.
Not subtle, Paul Gigot.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But this is...
ROBERTS: And they won a congressional district that is a Republican district traditionally with this whole line of attack.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And partly because they can go to it, Paul, because there are so many specifics embedded in that Ryan budget that are out there for everyone...
GIGOT: Actually, I don't think that ad did work, and I don't think this campaign has worked so far, if you think about the congressional race. If they tried to change the congressional polling, it didn't work. Republicans are still even in the polls, despite this -- they've been hitting Medicare and the Ryan budget for a year-and-a-half. I think they -- the Republicans have to be prepared for the Medicare assault, and I hope the Republican -- Romney, if they want to win this, they're going to have to have -- they should have an ad in the can already defending against these attacks.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is the argument that President Obama cut $700 billion in Obamacare out of Medicare good enough?
GIGOT: It's not by itself good enough, but it's certainly a very good point, and it's also -- he wants to cut more, and he wants to cut -- because he said himself Medicare is unsustainable. But he said the way he's going to do it is with an unelected panel of 15 people, where their -- whose decisions will make the choice about what to cut...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you go straight back at health care.
GIGOT: And they're going to do it without judicial review, without legislative review.
ROBERTS: It's also intellectually dishonest, because the truth is, as you know, they say they're taking it away from providers. And every year, Congress votes to do what's called the doc fix, to give the providers back the money that has been cut. So, you know, that $700 billion, I won't look for it to be gone anytime soon.
OMG, Cokie the Villager told the truth! Not only that, she said the argument was "dishonest." Wow, Cokie, I didn't know you had it in you.
DEAN: Well, here's the problem with talking about $700 billion that got cut out of Medicare, which was then transferred to Obamacare, which takes care of the same people, so it's -- the problem is that nobody believes it. You can't convince people that a Democrat's going to cut Medicare. They don't believe that.
Here's where I disagree with Dr. Dean. In 2010, a barrage of Republican ads in swing states hammered the Democrats for that very thing. And you know what? People believed them, the ads work. Why did they work? I assume because the Democrats never answered with ads of their own. Voters assumed there must be something to the accusation, because they never heard otherwise. So walk carefully, Dr. Dean. Don't assume too much.
It's the same problem Mitt Romney has with all his Swiss bank accounts and his Cayman Islands. People just don't think Mitt Romney cares about ordinary people. They just don't believe he does. And I don't think the addition of Paul Ryan is going to help that any. That's the problem. That's the core problem. People vote on whether you care -- this candidate cares about people like me, and I don't think this is going to change that very much in the Republican side.
Israeli decision to strike Iran is almost final . . . Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have "almost finally" decided on an Israeli strike at Iran's nuclear facilities this fall, and a final decision will be taken[...]
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Guitar-strumming mental health outpatient Ted Nugent is all "Hello South Bloomington Swap Meet & Craft Festival Sunday shoppers! Are you ready to rock? Aaaa-oo! Aaaa-ooo! Wang dang sweet poontang!" because Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan to be his[...]
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Sneak peek at the first joint Romney-Ryan interview about to air on 60 Minutes.More here.[...]
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Lisa Epstein, the foreclosure fighter who gained national recognition for her research and discovery, attempts to pull off an upset on Tuesday in the race for Clerk of Court in Palm Beach County. This is the equivalent of a register of deeds, the[...]
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The man who selected himself to be former President George W. Bush's running mate says that he "can't think of a better choice" than Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to share the Republican ticket with Mitt Romney.
"I'm a big fan of Paul's," former Vice President Dick Cheney told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Saturday. "I can't think of a better choice. I really just think that it is a vital one and I want to give Gov. Romney very high marks for making it."
"I think that what he has done here is take, and put front and center in his campaign, somebody who has been spending time and energy addressing the most serious problem we face as a nation."
The former vice president added: "I'm delighted with the Paul Ryan choice. I think he'd make a great vice president."