Saturday, October 27, 2012

New Washington Post Poll: Obama 51% and Romney 47%

While polls on where Virginia voters fall are all over the place many believe that Virginia's electoral votes will be decided by Northern Virginia ("NORVA") which has a disproportionate number of of, one of my brother-in-laws  government employees.  Indeed one over paid. of my brothers-in-law is such an employee and here's what many government employees are hearing from the Romney/Ryan campaign: (a) there are too may federal government employees and (b) that they are overpaid.  In contrast, Obama has been supportive of government employees even as he has admitted that smart, cost effective spending cuts need to be made.  Guess who these voters will for for.  Hint, it's not Mitt Romney.    Here a re highlights on a piece in the Washington Post that suggest that Barack Obama is again expanding his lead in Virginia:
President Obama is clinging to a slender four-point lead over Republican Mitt Romney in Virginia as both sides ramp up already aggressive campaigns in the crucial battleground state, according to a new Washington Post poll.

Obama outpolled Romney, 51 to 47 percent, among likely Virginia voters, although he lost the clearer 52-to-44 percent advantage he held in mid-September.
Unlike in the Washington Post-ABC News national tracking poll, Obama still has an edge when Virginia voters are asked who better understands people’s financial problems, and he has not fallen behind a surging Romney on the question of who would better handle the national economy. Nor has Obama lost significant ground among self-identified independents in Virginia, as he has nationally.

Virginia, like Ohio and Florida, is particularly critical for Romney, whose path to the White House would be difficult without the state’s electoral votes.  Both candidates see a route to victory in Virginia. Obama is counting heavily on his advantages among African American, Latino and female voters as well as on his support in Washington’s inner suburbs and the urban centers of Richmond and Hampton Roads.

[I]n Virginia, unlike in national polls, Romney does not have a clear lead on the economy, and he continues to trail on other issues. Romney trails by 10 points on the question of who would better manage the future of Medicare; by 13 points on who better understands Americans’ economic problems; and by 12 points on who is better equipped to manage international affairs.

Romney has taken a 13-point lead on the issue in Washington’s outer suburbs, including Loudoun, Fauquier and Prince William counties. In the inner suburbs, Obama continues to hold a wide lead.

In Virginia, contrary to the most recent national numbers, Obama has an edge on enthusiasm: Among his backers, 70 percent are “very enthusiastic” about his candidacy, compared with 56 percent of those who back Romney. But Obama’s supporters appear to need more of a nudge than Romney’s do. Ninety percent of Democrats contacted by Obama said they are “absolutely certain” they’ll vote, compared with 82 percent who had not been contacted; among Republicans, more than nine in 10 said they are certain to vote regardless of whether they had been contacted.

I hope this polling is accurate for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it would confirm that Virginians as a whole are not as stupid and gullible as Roimney believes them to be.

Gallup: Gay Vote Could Swing Election

Imagine if the LGBT vote ends up deciding the presidential election - the Christofascists would go berserk.  Yet Gallup special report suggest that such could be the case.  As has been the case with virtually every other minority group in the country, the Christofascist/Tea Party base has done all in its power to make voting Republican anathema to any self-respecting LGBT American who doesn't suffer from self-loathing or place more value on a nebulous chance of lower taxes than their own self respect and civil rights.  Here are highlights from Gallup:

A new Gallup Report finds that 71% of LGBT Americans who are registered voters support President Obama for reelection, while 22% support Governor Mitt Romney. From June to September, non-LGBT registered voters preferred Romney to Obama by one percentage point, 47% to 46%. However, when LGBT voters are added to electorate, Obama moves slightly ahead of Romney (47% to 45%). These findings suggest that the highly Democratic vote of the LGBT population could be enough to swing a very close election toward Obama.

The overall demographic patterns that are associated with the general population's preferences for Obama and Romney are also apparent within the LGBT population. LGBT Americans who support Romney tend to be older, white, more religious, and more likely to be married.  More specifically:
  • Romney's LGBT supporters are nearly twice as likely as Obama's LGBT supporters to be seniors aged 65 or older (19% vs. 10%, respectively).
  • Nearly nine in 10 LGBT Romney supporters (87%) are white, compared with two-thirds of LGBT Obama supporters (66%).
  • Nearly two-thirds of LGBT Romney supporters (63%) say that religion is important to them, and more than 45% say that they attend a church, synagogue, or mosque at least once a month. Among LGBT Obama supporters, 43% say religion is important to them, and 31% go to church at least once a month.
  • Nearly half of LGBT Romney supporters (49%) are married or living with a partner, compared with 39% of Obama LGBT supporters.
LGBT Individuals Tend to Approve of Obama:  Sixty-eight percent of LGBT Americans approved of the way Obama was doing his job as president during the June-September survey period, compared with 45% of non-LGBT Americans. Twenty-eight percent of LGBT Americans disapproved of the way Obama was doing his job, compared with 51% of non-LGBT individuals.
[T]he fact that roughly seven in 10 LGBT voters can be expected to vote for Obama on Nov. 6 shows that these voters could be an important factor in helping him win re-election in a close race.

Yes, it would be a delicious irony if the members of the GOP who have shamelessly prostituted themselves to the Christofascists for perceived political advantage ended up being the cause of Romney's loss  should he lose on November 6th.  I would love it! :)

Saturday Male Beauty

Kathleen Parker Has Romnesia

Often columnist Kathleen Parker is a voice of reason in a Republican Party that has become a de facto sectarian party that seeks to force its religious beliefs on all Americans and gut the First Amendment promise of freedom of religion for all citizens.  Indeed, I have noted and commented when Parker has written columns decrying the GOP's "death wish" and describing with horror the ultra-reactionary GOP party platform adopted in Tampa earlier in August.  She has even described Mitt Romney as a cyborg.  She's even complained about the GOP's "god problem" and attacks against her by Christofascists who label her as a fascist (search her name on this blog for more examples). Despite all of this, Parker must have either (i) developed a severe case of "Romnesia," (ii) suffered serious head trauma, (iii) guzzled down gallons of Christianist Kool-Aid, or (iv) bene kidnapped and subjected to a Stepford Wives like transformation.  How else can one explain her column in today's Washington Post in which she accuses Barack Obama of relaunching the so-called culture wars and claims that no one in the GOP will take away the right to abortion.  Here are samples from her severe, debilitating Romnesia induced delusion column:

We shouldn’t be talking about this silliness — Big Bird, “bull­s----er” or a girl’s “first time.”  We should be talking about The Issues, we keep telling ourselves. But in the waning days of the presidential campaign, these are the issues — binders full of cultural issues that continue to divide us and by which Barack Obama hopes to win reelection.

It is no accident that the war of competing economic theories has devolved into the same old culture war, beginning with the debate about the contraception mandate under the Affordable Care Act. Ever since, the Obama campaign has strategically tried to push the Republican Party and Mitt Romney into a corner by advancing the war-on-women narrative.

That Obama has had ample help from certain outspoken players (Missouri and Indiana Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, respectively, to name the most notorious) has only made Romney’s challenges greater. But the war against women has always been a red herring.

The contraception issue never would have come up but for Obama’s decision to force the hand of the Catholic Church. By placing religious institutions in the position of having to provide health insurance to pay for contraception as well as sterilization, which, agree or not, are against church teaching, Obama created the conversation.

The same ol’ culture wars. But, of course, women have had access to birth control for decades, and no one is trying to take it away. Anyone who suggests otherwise may have been spending too much time with Big Bird. 

One can only hope that Parker seeks immediate medical treatment for this shocking disconnect from reality and her many past columns that underscore the source of the culture wars within today's insane GOP and the party's own platform.

Cuccinelli Bars Media from Northern Virginia Anti-Gay Hatefest

It's pretty telling when an elected official bars the media from supposedly open events.  Could it be because they plan on saying hate filled things that play well with extremists that they want to hide from the larger public?  That seems to be the case of Virginia Attorney General Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli who appeared and spoke at what was advertised as a "Virginia Defense of Marriage Summit."  One can be sure that some of Virginia's best known knuckle dragging hate merchants were in attendance.  Obviously, if you are afraid to have the media hear what you are saying or see with whom you are surrounding yourself , perhaps you should not be in attendance in the first place.  Especially if you are the top legal official for the Commonwealth of Virginia.  One can only assume that Kookinelli planned on saying things akin to Mitt Romney during his comments on the 47% while gathered with a group of millionaire cronies/donors.   The Washington Blade reports on this disturbing circumstance.  Here are highlights:

A local church on Friday denied a Washington Blade staff writer access to an anti-gay marriage gathering at which Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli spoke.

A woman who was standing near the entrance of Reconciliation Community Church in Manassas in front of two men wearing dark suits who appeared to be security personnel asked this reporter for identification and proof of media affiliation after he identified himself as a Blade staff writer. He proceeded to show her his drivers’ license and business card. . . . . She then pointedly told him to turn his car around in an adjacent driveway and leave the church’s property.

Pastor John Peyton of the Reconciliation Community Church acknowledged he was asked to host the gathering at which Cuccinelli spoke — the attorney general said on his Twitter account earlier on Friday he was “looking forward to speaking at the Virginia Defense of Marriage Summit tonight!” Peyton told the Blade in an e-mail he “did not bargain for any protesters to come.”

In addition to Cuccinelli; Jackson, Bishop Eugene Reeves of New Life Ministries in Woodbridge, Va., and Phillip Goudeaux of the Calvary Christian Center in Sacramento, Calif., were among those scheduled to speak at Reconciliation Community Church. The Manassas event took place less than a week after Goudeaux described gay men as “predators” who seek to indoctrinate children during an anti-gay marriage gathering at a Baltimore church that Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Maryland Marriage Alliance Chair Derek McCoy, Jackson, Reeves and roughly 100 others attended.

Shelley Abrams, co-founder of Cooch Watch, told the Blade roughly a dozen members of her group who traveled to Manassas to protest Cuccinelli were also denied access to the church. One Cooch Watch member who arrived at Reconciliation Community Church around 4:45 p.m. told Abrams a woman said “there’s no rally here.”  .  .  .  .  Abrams further stressed churches typically allow Cooch Watch members to attend forums, meetings and other events they host.

“To be denied entry into what’s considered God’s house is appalling,” she said. “Not only that, this is a public official. We are Virginians and we want to hear what he has to say about same-sex marriage. And we were not given that opportunity. There is fear among the ultra-right wing of being exposed and they know that Cooch Watch is here to expose them.”

Equality Virginia spokesperson Kevin Clay also criticized the church’s decision to deny access to the gathering.   . . . . .  Behind closed doors, we suspect he rehashed the same overreaching rhetoric. At Equality Virginia, we expect our elected officials to represent all of the commonwealth’s citizens.”

As I have note before, I've received unconfirmed reports that Kookinelli - like so many virulently anti-gay zealots - may have played/play for our team.  If anyone can confirm this with convincing evidence, nothing would give me more joy than to expose this nasty extremist as a hypocrite.  

Bush Advisers Predominate in Romneyworld

With most Americans regarding the George Bush/Dick Cheney era as a nightmare, one would think voters would be paying more attention to who Mitt Romney has surrounded himself in terms of top advisers.  Indeed, a Romney administration would be best described as a third term for Bush/Cheney based on who will be advising Romney on both economic and foreign policy.   Yes, many want "change" but do we really want a change back to the policies that created the nation's near depression?  Not surprisingly Romney and the GOP are trying to keep a curtain pulled across who is surrounding Romney as he blathers vague and continually changing "policies." - policies that change almost hourly depending on what audience Romney and Ryan are addressing.  A piece in Politico looks at this frightening reality.  Here are highlights:

Mitt Romney's running as far as he can from George W. Bush.  In all three presidential debates, Romney's raced from the last Republican president's policies — claiming he's got new ideas for foreign policy, the deficit and energy

But for all of Romney's efforts to divorce himself from Bush, behind the scenes there's one critical way he's given the era a full embrace: its people.

Romney's brought on a cadre of Bush officials to serve as his senior policy advisers, lead his presidential transition effort and help him raise millions to fuel his run — the pillars of his campaign and a potential administration.

On foreign policy,  .  .  .  .   17 of Romney's 24 special advisers and the vast majority of his issue co-chairs worked in the Bush administration. Some of them are big names, like former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and State Department vet Paula Dobriansky.

His transition team, which would staff up a potential administration, is run by Bush alum Michael Leavitt, former Health and Human Services secretary; Josh Bolton, Bush's chief of staff; Robert Zoellick, former World Bank president; and Emil Henry, who worked in Bush's Treasury Department, have also been in on the planning.

Democrats believe linking Romney with Bush can be effective on the campaign trail.  "There is still a holdover that George Bush unnecessarily got us into war and then prolonged it, and that foreign policy combined with a really weak domestic policy sort of created the hole that we're in," said Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen.

Further, Rosen said that branding Romney with Bush is effective because he has "projected an old-fashioned view of the Soviet Union, of women, of education, of energy, and I think that continuing to tie him to sort of what are icons of the past helps Obama on his being a leader for the future."

Other key Romney advisers on domestic and international economic policies and other policy areas include some of the most influential members of Bush's team — though they haven't always advocated the policies Romney is now pushing on the campaign trail

The head of Romney’s national security transition team — Robert Zoellick — was also one of the main architects of George W. Bush’s international economic policies. Zoellick served as U.S. Trade Representative from 2001 to 2005, when he negotiated a series of free trade deals, and then as deputy secretary of State from 2005 to 2006.

It is totally unreasonable to expect a new approach from a Romney administration when he has surrounded himself with the same architects that brought us a disastrous economy and disastrous, unnecessary wars.  Another piece in the New York Times continues this theme of looking at who Romney seeks as advisers and spokesmen especially on issues of race.  It clearly underscores the increasingly blatant racism of today's GOP.  Here are excerpts from this column:

The saying goes: A man is known by the company he keeps.  If that is true, what does the company Mitt Romney keeps say about him?

This week Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama again, as he did in 2008. That apparently set John Sununu, a co-chairman of the Romney campaign, on edge.  .  .  .  .  In Sununu’s world of racial reductionism, Powell’s endorsement had a more base explanation: it was a black thing. 

Sununu is the same man who said that the president performed poorly in the first debate because “he’s lazy and disengaged.” He is also the same man who said of the president in July, “I wish this president would learn how to be an American.” 

Could Sununu be unaware that many would register such comments as coded racism? Or was that the intent?   Sununu has apologized, somewhat, for his racial attack on Powell’s motives. But what should we make of all this? 

We have a very racially divided electorate. As The Washington Post reported Thursday, “Obama has a deficit of 23 percentage points, trailing Republican Mitt Romney 60 percent to 37 percent among whites, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News national tracking poll.” 

The report pointed out that nearly 80 percent of nonwhites support Obama, while 91 percent of Romney’s supporters are white. I worry that Sununu’s statements intentionally go beyond recognizing racial disparities and seek to exploit them. 

What does that say about Romney, and what does it say about his campaign’s tactics?  Remember: A man is known by the company he keeps.  To understand Sununu, it is important to understand his political history.

Friday, October 26, 2012

More Friday Male Beauty

The Vatican And Church Hierarchy Refuse to Accept Responsibility for Collpase of Catholicism in Advanced World

Simple Google search agents yield multitudes of news articles that address the issue of the world wide Catholic Church  sex abuse scandal as well as countless stories of educated Catholics walking away for the Church's 12th century "natural law" theories that underlie much of the Church's "flat earth"  mindset and deliberate rejection of medical and scientific knowledge.   Yet a synod of Catholic cardinals meeting in Rome still refused to acknowledge their own culpability in the Church's collapse in the western world and now even in South America, a former bastion of Catholicism.  With no thorough house cleaning of the Hierarchy of those who enabled and protected sexual predators and no acceptance of modern knowledge, especially in respect to sexual orientation, it is reasonable to expect the collapse of the Church - a net positive in my view - to continue.  A piece by Rueters looks at the phenomenon.  Here are excerpts:

The alarm was sounded in the final message of a synod of bishops from around the world who met at the Vatican on the theme of the "New Evagelisation", or the need to stop the hemorrhaging of the faithful, particularly in developed countries.

The Church is suffering desertions from its practicing flock in former strongholds in Europe, North America and Latin America due to sex abuse scandals, increasing secularism, rival faiths and open dissent against Church teachings on homosexuality and its ban on a female priesthood.

The message, a synthesis of the topics discussed in three weeks by more than 260 bishops, said that. . . . the Church needed to find new ways of putting it "into practice in today's circumstances".

During the synod, some bishops said it had become more difficult to ask lapsed and lukewarm Catholics to return to the Church after the sexual abuse scandals that hit the worldwide institution in the past decade.

What the synod totally failed to address, in my view, is the growing scientific evidence that shows that Adam and Eve never actually existed, that the story of "the "Fall" through Adam and Eve is untrue and that the whole story of the redemption through Christ the Messiah is unraveling.   I suspect that no matter what the Church does in the advanced nations of the world, it's membership will continue to hemorrhage.  In the context of gay rights, the irony is that in the longer term, the Church may be digging its own grave through its opposition to gay rights and gay marriage.  The hypocrisy of the Vatican and the rest of the Church hierarchy remains staggering.


Did Climate Change Help Create ‘Frankenstorm’ Sandy?

While the knuckle dragging Neanderthals and reality denying members of the Republican Party base continue to refuse to accept that global warming is real, some of the less reality untethered are questioning the correlation between man made impacts on climate and nature in general and aberrant climate events such as the looming Hurricane Sandy "Frankenstorm."  After enduring the hottest summer on record and having witnessed unprecedented climate events perhaps reality is catching up with  freckles mankind.    A piece in Think Progress looks at this issue.  Here are highlights:

As the East Coast braces for a possible direct hit from Hurricane Sandy, meteorologists are closely watching the storm’s “freak” formation. They’re calling it “unprecedented and bizarre,” a “perfect storm,” and a “frankenstorm” that could cause historic storm surges, last for multiple days, and cause over a billion dollars in damage.

After hitting Jamaica and heading toward the Bahamas, experts say it’s likely that Sandy could swing into the Northeast and hit the coast somewhere between Washington, DC and Boston, impacting people all along the Atlantic seaboard. Projections for Sandy’s path are still uncertain, but models show that the threat is increasing.

A confluence of factors are coming together to make the storm unprecedented. As Sandy moves through the Atlantic, it is expected to combine with an early winter storm from the continental U.S., causing pressure to drop — potentially reaching pressure levels of a category 3 or 4 hurricane with winds over 115 miles per hour.

Brian Norcross of the Weather Channel described the storm this way on his facebook page: “This is a beyond-strange situation. It’s unprecedented and bizarre.

Another factor under consideration is climate change. Like a baseball player on steroids, our climate system is breaking records at an unnatural pace. And like a baseball player on steroids, it’s the wrong question to ask whether a given home run is “caused” by steroids.

As Kevin Trenberth, former head of the Climate Analysis Section at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, has written, all superstorms “are affected by climate change”:
The air is on average warmer and moister than it was prior to about 1970 and in turn has likely led to a 5–10 % effect on precipitation and storms that is greatly amplified in extremes. The warm moist air is readily advected onto land and caught up in weather systems as part of the hydrological cycle, where it contributes to more intense precipitation events that are widely observed to be occurring.

The climate change link may be more than just more precipitation. A 2010 study found “Global warming is the main cause of a significant intensification in the North Atlantic Subtropical High.”

Coastal areas may be hit with storm surges of up to 6 feet, potentially reaching the highest levels ever recorded. The storm could last as long as 4-6 days, bleeding into the election.

The storm comes at a unique time politically. In August, the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida was disrupted by strong rain and flooding caused by Hurricane Isaac. Two days later in his acceptance speech, Mitt Romney mocked President Obama’s pledge to deal with climate change and “slow the rise of the oceans” — causing uproarious laughter among delegates.

“The climate has shifted to a new state capable of delivering rare and unprecedented weather events,” explained meteorologist Jeff Masters earlier this year.

Navy Orders Most Norfolk Based Ships to Sea in Advance of Sandy

It is never a comforting signal when the U. S. Navy orders the vessels of the Atlantic Fleet home ported in Norfolk to sea in advance of an approaching hurricane.  It's a clear signal that the Navy believe the area may get hit fairly significantly.  The Virginian Pilot reports that this afternoon the order to sail has been issued by the Naval command in Norfolk:
The Navy ordered Friday nearly all its warships in Hampton Roads to head out to sea to ride out Hurricane Sandy, which is making its way up the East Coast.

Adm. Bill Gortney, head of the Navy's Fleet Forces Command, gave the order Friday afternoon for at least 26 ships, according to a Navy news release. Weather conditions at sea should be calmer than along the coast.

“Based on the current track of the storm, we made the decision to begin to sortie the fleet,” Gortney said in the release. “The current timeline allows them enough time to transit safely out of the path of the storm."

Under the order, at least 21 vessels currently docked at Norfolk Naval Station and two at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Virginia Beach will head to sea by Saturday morning. Included in the order are three supply ships operated by Military Sealift Command.

Gay Actor Max von Essen's Blisteringly Truthful Facebook Letter to Friends Supporting Mitt Romney

I've written before about my thoughts in respect to supposed friends and neighbors who are actively supporting and/or will vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan even thought their vote will be in support of the denigration and equality of every LGBT American.  Like Judas, the pieces of silver they think they will receive in the form of lower taxes is more important than the equality of their LGBT friends and neighbors - and access to health care for millions of Americans.    Gay actor Max von Essen (pictured at left), who plays Magaldi in the Broadway production of Evita, has written an open letter on Facebook to those supporting Mitt Romney.  I'm in 100% agreement with him.  Here's the letter:

Hey, Listen, I know you didn’t mean any harm commenting on this post and I like you, we had some great times growing up. But Romney and Ryan believe that I am less than you. They believe I am a second class citizen and don’t deserve the same rights that you had the privilege of being born into simply by being straight. They want to add a constitutional amendment that will ban gay marriage forever. It will set us back decades and ensure that I never legally have the opportunity to have a family or a partner in my lifetime.
They also believe that being at your partner’s side when he/she is dying is a benefit, not a civil right. They could keep me from my partner dying in a hospital. Could you even imagine something like that in your own life? Being separated from your wife on her death bed? Could you imagine your marriage never being recognized and being told that your family is not a family and you do not deserve any federal rights that comes with marriage. Over 1100 rights.  Did you know that? 1100.  

Ryan doesn’t believe in the hate crimes act fought unwaveringly for by Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, murdered for being gay in Wyoming. Murdered for being gay. Could you imagine if I was murdered for being gay? Could you really look my mom in the eye and say ‘oh well, we can not prosecute this crime as a hate crime’?
I know there are important issues involved in this campaign. I know people are suffering and the economy has not improved at a rate we all wish it would. Yes, people are suffering but the gay and lesbian community has been suffering for hundreds of years and I am so tired of it. So tired of feeling that I am less than. So tired of knowing I have friends on here who will vote for someone who will keep me a second class citizen for my entire lifetime. I have already spent half a lifetime hiding, half a lifetime conforming. It is exhausting, demeaning and I am worn out. I want to love myself full out.  I want a president who can look me in the eye and say ‘You are equal!’ ‘You are equal to everyone else in this country and I will fight for your rights. The time is now and it is long overdue.’ Romney and Ryan could not look me in the eye and say that and I feel sorry for every gay and questioning child who might have to listen to a president who believes that he/she is not equal. Children will take their lives. It is the WORST form of trickle down bullying and it absolutely splits my heart in half. When the president says you are less than, it gives permission to every authority figure, every politician, every teacher, every bully on the playground to push you around and bully you and treat you less than. It is dangerous and lives will be lost.

If this is not important to you, please remove me from your friends list. I need people in my life who love me and consider me 100% equal.   
I shared Max's message on my own Facebook page and made the same request.  Those who put money ahead of the lives and rights of millions of people are not the type of people I want as friends.  Some will not like this message, but sometimes doing what's right and demonstrating moral courage carry a price. 

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Romney's Sham Plan for Prosperity

Let's be honest.  Over the last 18+ months, Mitt Romney has shown himself to be a constant flip flopper - or shape shifter as some have begun to describe him.   And his plan for the future of the country? Vague statements that seem to support all kinds of spending yet a tax plan that would have to create a new form of math to make the numbers remotely balance.  All of this will supposedly lead the nation to renewed "prosperity."  Perhaps for some, but not for most of us.  Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman has a column in today's New York Times that looks at the sham Romeny/Ryan economic plan.  Here are excerpts:

Mitt Romney has been barnstorming the country, telling voters that he has a five-point plan to restore prosperity. And some voters, alas, seem to believe what he’s saying. So President Obama has now responded with his own plan, a little blue booklet containing 27 policy proposals. How do these two plans stack up?

Well, as I’ve said before, Mr. Romney’s “plan” is a sham. It’s a list of things he claims will happen, with no description of the policies he would follow to make those things happen. “We will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget,” he declares, but he refuses to specify which tax loopholes he would close to offset his $5 trillion in tax cuts

Mr. Romney is faking it. His real plan seems to be to foster economic recovery through magic, inspiring business confidence through his personal awesomeness. But what about the man he wants to kick out of the White House? 

Well, Mr. Obama’s booklet comes a lot closer to being an actual plan. Where Mr. Romney says he’ll achieve energy independence, never mind how, Mr. Obama calls for concrete steps like raising fuel efficiency standards. Mr. Romney says, “We will give our fellow citizens the skills they need,” but says nothing about how he’ll make that happen, pivoting instead to a veiled endorsement of school vouchers; Mr. Obama calls for specific things like a program to recruit math and science teachers and partnerships between businesses and community colleges. 

It’s disappointing, to be sure. But a slow job is better than a snow job. Mr. Obama may not be as bold as we’d like, but he isn’t actively misleading voters the way Mr. Romney is. Furthermore, if we ask what Mr. Romney would probably do in practice, including sharp cuts in programs that aid the less well-off and the imposition of hard-money orthodoxy on the Federal Reserve, it looks like a program that might well derail the recovery and send us back into recession. 

And you should never forget the broader policy context. Mr. Obama may not have an exciting economic plan, but, if he is re-elected, he will get to implement a health reform that is the biggest improvement in America’s safety net since Medicare. Mr. Romney doesn’t have an economic plan at all, but he is determined not just to repeal Obamacare but to impose savage cuts in Medicaid. So never mind all those bullet points. Think instead about the 45 million Americans who either will or won’t receive essential health care, depending on who wins on Nov. 6.
The question remains ultimately whether or not a majority of voters are uninformed enough - or stupid enough - to believe Romney's deliberate lies.

Virginia Pilot Slams Cuccinelli - Why Not Scott Rigell Too?

Today the Virginian Pilot has an editorial that slams Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli's anti-abortion agenda and his efforts to manipulate and intimidate the Virginia Board of Health.  While what the editorial says is true, it's ironic that the Pilot has condemned Cuccinelli after endorsing congressional GOP candidate Scott Rigell who is every bit as extreme as Kookinelli when it comes to pushing an anti-abortion/anti-woman agenda and seeking to inject Christian extremist religious beliefs into the civil laws.  Here are highlights from the column that focuses on Cuccinrlli's efforts to completely ban all abortion in Virginia:

Political power often tempts elected officials to overreach, but rarely does the abuse of authority cause the kind of injury Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's has inflicted on the state Board of Health.

The board is by law independent. It is authorized to draft regulations. Last month, however, it caved to Cuccinelli's demands to reverse a decision that would have exempted existing abortion clinics from a 2011 law that requires such facilities to meet hospital construction requirements.

The board's reversal will likely require most of the 20 clinics across the commonwealth to undertake expensive renovations to comply with new architectural standards or to be shut down. That is the real goal of Cuccinelli and the anti-abortion activists behind the law.

The 2011 standards aren't about patient safety; otherwise, clinics performing procedures more dangerous than abortion would have been required to meet them. Instead, the standards serve as a back-door strategy for shutting abortion clinics.

The board's reversal - which came after Cuccinelli's office suggested it wouldn't defend board members from lawsuits - inflicted lasting harm on the integrity of Virginia's regulatory system.

Last week, state Health Commissioner Karen Remley resigned in protest.  "That's the kind of collateral damage you get when you start fooling around with politics and not medicine," University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told The Pilot's Julian Walker and Amy Jeter last week.

Remley's departure is a devastating blow to the agency she has led since 2008. But it's also a blow to the people of Virginia. A pediatrician and former hospital administrator at Norfolk's Sentara Leigh, Remley has fulfilled her duties with distinction, pushing to reduce obesity and infant mortality rates, improve communication between public and private health interests and manage preparations for an array of other public health concerns.

Her mission - and her agency's - is designed to be purely nonpartisan. Cuccinelli's interference, however, made that impossible. The health of Virginia's body politic has suffered as a result.

As noted, Kookinelli's religious extremist agenda is shared by Scott Rigell.  Yet earlier in the week the Virginian Pilot endorsed Rigell in what can be best described as a fantasy fiction writing that ignored documented facts and sought to depict Rigell as a moderate.    One reader aptly laid out the truth about Rigell:

Rigell signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge two years ago when he was challenged by the Tea Party and then verbally renounced it when challenged by the moderate Hirschbiel. Both were politically expedient.

He “vowed to avoid blind devotion to partisan interests,” but has “a record of voting 92% of the time with his fellow Republicans,” including:

* For privatizing Medicare and replacing guaranteed benefits with a voucher.

* For repealing health reform, which will cut preventive care and prescription drug benefits for current retirees.

* For a bill that would have re-defined rape as “forcible rape” and restrict access to abortion for victims of statutory rape or incest.

* Against renewal of the Violence Against Women Act.
* Against the DREAM Act.

* For maintaining tax subsidies for oil corporations.

* Against environmental protection 83% of the time.

Does the Virginian-Pilot editorial board agree with Rep. Rigell on these issues? Or do issues not matter?
Oh, and let's not forget that Rigell - shown below laughing it up with a former GOP official who had to resign after circulating racist anti-black "jokes" - has been endorsed by two anti-gay hate groups.  Why the kid glove handling of Rigell?  Frank Batten, Jr., owner of the Virginian Pilot, is a far right Christian supporter who funds Christianist organizations.  Rigell has a history of being in bed with and/or funding such organizations.  Draw your own conclusions.


Condoleeza Rice Pours Cold Water On "Benghazi-Gate"

Mitt Romney and demagogues in the Republican Party have been working strenuously to turn the sad events in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th into some sort of scandal - a Benghazi Gate" if you will.  Imagine their angst when former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice threw cold water on the effort by stating that it was not as unusual for the White House and State Department to be lacking information as the GOP talking heads have tried to claim it to be.  Indeed, Rice flat out said that sometimes it is difficult to know what is really happening, especially with fast moving events.  Here are highlights from Think Progress where Rice pokes a hole in the GOP storyline:

Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice broke with the majority of her party last night on Fox News, as she tried to hit the brakes on the right wing’s politicization of the recent attack in Libya.

Host Greta Van Susteren asked Rice directly and repeatedly about a set of emails uncovered by Reuters. In what has been dubbed “Benghazi-Gate,” the conservative media has jumped on the emails as definitive proof that the Obama administration has been lying about what it knew and when in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attack on a diplomatic mission in Benghazi. Rice’s response was likely not what Van Susteren expected:
RICE: But when things are unfolding very, very quickly, it’s not always easy to know what is really going on on the ground. And to my mind, the really important questions here are about how information was collected. Did the various agencies really coordinate and share intelligence in the way that we had hoped, with the reforms that were made after 9/11?
So there’s a big picture to be examined here. But we don’t have all of the pieces, and I think it’s easy to try and jump to conclusions about what might have happened here. It’s probably better to let the relevant bodies do their work.
 Yes, Rice definitely peed in the Cheerios of many of the right wingers who always put ideology and hatred of Obama ahead of reality.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More Thursday Male Beauty

The Republican Stance on Rape

I remain dumb struck by women who say they plan on voting Republican in less than 2 weeks.  Have they been living under rocks, had their heads stuck in the sand or what?  The chart above(click on it to enlarge it)  reminds of the GOP view or rape -  something that many in the GOP apparently believe only happens to sluts who deserve it.  Here in Hampton Roads, 2nd District GOP candidate Scott Rigell backed the "forcible rape" bill that was in Congress.  Somehow that little tidbit doesn't show up in Rigell's ads or the Virginian Pilot endorsement of Rigell - an endorsement perhaps stemming from Frank Batten, Jr.s' long standing support for far right Christian groups and extremists like Rigell.

Obama Endorses Marriage Equality — Three Times

As a number of LGBT blogs and media outlets are reporting, today Barack Obama underscored that only one of the presidential contenders deserves the support of LGBT voters - or at least those among us who are subconsciously self-loathing and/or more worried about lower taxes than their own self-respect and dignity as equal citizens.   Today Obama endorse passage of marriage equality in the states of Washington State, Maine and Maryland where initiatives are on the ballot on November 6th.  In contrast, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and the GOP party platform make it abundantly clear that they  want LGBT Americans to have no equal rights with heterosexual citizens -indeed, they would have us relegated to one step above criminals (in fact, some in the GOP want to re-criminalize homosexuality).  Here are highlights from The Advocate on today's developments:

President Obama on Thursday officially endorsed all three state ballot measures with the potential to affirm marriage equality this November. In three separate yet similar statements, press secretaries for the commander in chief indicated the president's support for Washington's Referendum 74, Maine's Question 1, and Maryland's Question 6. 
At a campaign event in June, Obama personally endorsed marriage equality in the northeastern state [of Maryland].  "We're moving forward to a country where we treat everybody fairly and everybody equally, with dignity and respect," the president said in his speech, according to The Baltimore Sun. "And here in Maryland, thanks to the leadership of committed citizens and Governor O'Malley, you have a chance to reaffirm that principle in the voting booth in November. It's the right thing to do."

Back in April, Obama released a statement opposing the Minnesota marriage amendment, which would change the state's constitution to bar same-sex couples from legally marrying. Minnesota already has a state law banning same-sex marriage, but the proposed amendment would enshrine that discrimination in the state's constitution, making it more difficult to challenge in court.

That's leadership and political courage.  Meanwhile, Romney is ducking reporters who want to know his opinion on the refusal of would be Senator Mourdock to apologize for or withdraw his statement that pregnancies arising through rape are "God's plan" and should not be terminated by abortion.

Gays Need to Challenge Moderate Republican Hypocrisy

Personally, I find it difficult at times remaining pleasant to self-styled "moderate Republicans" who proclaim that they are not anti-gay and yet will happily cast their vote on November 6th for candidates of the Republican Party, a political party which seeks to undo years of progress in LGBT civil rights and that would keep LGBT citizens less than full citizens indefinitely.  You know who I am talking about: your neighbors who invite you over for cocktails, dinner or a party, greet you with a smile but then plan on voting for anti-gay candidates like Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and here in Virginia, George Allen.   Some of these "friends" and neighbors likely have Romney signs in their yard at this very moment as well sending a clear message as to what they really value.  Pulitzer and Tony winning playwright Doug Wright summed it all up well and laid bare what really matters to these people:

"I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they’re voting for Romney because of his economic policies (tenuous and ill-formed as they are), and that they disagree with him on gay rights. Fine. Then look me in the eye, speak with a level clear voice, and say, 'My taxes and take-home pay mean more than your fundamental civil rights, the sanctity of your marriage, your right to visit an ailing spouse in the hospital, your dignity as a citizen of this country, your healthcare, your right to inherit, the mental welfare and emotional well-being of your youth, and your very personhood.' It’s like voting for George Wallace during the Civil Rights movements, and apologizing for his racism. You’re still complicit. You’re still perpetuating anti-gay legislation and cultural homophobia. You don’t get to walk away clean, because you say you 'disagree' with your candidate on these issues." 

As I've said before, two of the pillars of today's GOP are greed - i.e., lower taxes - and hypocrisy.  Like it or not, these "moderate Republicans" put money in their pockets ahead of basic civil rights for their friends, neighbors and, in some cases, family members.

Note: The image above is of my blogger friend Jeremy Hooper marrying his husband Andrew.

Quote of the Day: Dionne on Romney's Swerve to the Center

As Mitt Romney seems to be frantically swerving to the center in recognition that far right positions will not get him elected, the real question becomes what, if anything, does Romney really believe and what would he do in office.  The answer is frankly that no one knows for sure since Romney seems only driven by opportunism and a willingness to say whatever he thinks most people want to hear.  In a column in the Washington Post, E. J. Dionne sums it up well.  Here ares some telling quotes from the column:

His [Romney's] strategy at the end is to try to sneak into the White House on a chorus of me-too’s.

The right is going along because its partisans know Romney has no other option. This, too, is an acknowledgment of defeat, a recognition that the grand ideological experiment heralded by the rise of the tea party has gained no traction. It also means that conservatives don’t believe that Romney really believes the moderate mush he’s putting forward now. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if the conservatives are forgiving Romney because they think he is lying, what should the rest of us think?

Almost all of the analysis of Romney’s highly public burning of the right’s catechism focuses on such tactical issues as whether his betrayal of principle will help him win over middle-of-the-road women and carry Ohio.

The total rout of the right’s ideology, particularly its neoconservative brand, was visible in Monday’s debate, in which Romney praised one Obama foreign policy initiative after another. He calmly abandoned much of what he had said during the previous 18 months.  

The biggest sign that tea party thinking is dead is Romney’s straight-out deception about his past position on the rescue of the auto industry. .  .  .  .  This would be the same Mitt Romney who tried to pretend on Monday that he never said what he said or thought what he thought. 

I do not trust Romney whatsoever.  He is perhaps the biggest liar we've seen in politics in many years - and that is frightening.  It's also frightening that some voters seem prepared to believe the lies.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Romney’s Dangerous Economic Model

The results of GOP economic policy
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan keep on whining that the economy has not improved as much as voters would have liked under Barack Obama.  Of course, they conveniently leave out the fact that the GOP controlled House of Representatives has continually blocked efforts by the Obama administration that would have made the economy better.  The GOP goal from day one has been to see Obama not re-elected and whatever economic mayhem that might be needed to do this - or the number of Americans harmed in the process - has never been an issue for the GOP.  They done all they can to destroy the economy and then complain about the outcome and say that it's Obama's fault rather than their own.  But there are additional reasons to fear the GOP and a Romney/Ryan administration: they want to do precisely what has failed to work in Europe.  It's another case of GOP arrogance - or should we say stupidity? - where they can never learn from the experience of others.  A column in the New York Times looks at the potential disaster of a Romney/Ryan administration.  Here are excerpts:

Mitt Romney’s best argument on the campaign trail has been simple: Under President Obama, the American economy has remained excruciatingly weak, far underperforming the White House’s own projections.

But Obama’s best response could be this: If you want to see how Romney’s economic policies would work out, take a look at Europe. And weep. 

In the last few years, Germany and Britain, in particular, have implemented precisely the policies that Romney favors, and they have been richly praised by Republicans here as a result. Yet these days those economies seem, to use a German technical term, kaput. 

Is Europe a fair comparison? Well, Republicans seem to think so, because they came up with it. In the last few years, they’ve repeatedly cited Republican-style austerity in places like Germany and Britain as a model for America. 

Let’s dial back the time machine and listen up: “Europe is already setting an example for the U.S.,” Representative Kenny Marchant, a Texas Republican, said in 2010. (You know things are bad when a Texas Republican is calling for Americans to study at the feet of those socialist Europeans.)

The same year, Karl Rove praised European austerity as a model for America and approvingly quoted the leader of the European Central Bank as saying: “The idea that austerity measures could trigger stagnation is incorrect.” 

O.K. Let’s see how that’s working out. New Jersey isn’t overseas, but since Sessions and many other Republicans have hailed it as a shining model of austerity, let’s start there. New Jersey ranked 47th in economic growth last year. When Gov. Chris Christie took office in 2010 and began to impose austerity measures, New Jersey ranked 35th in its unemployment rate; now it ranks 48th.

The International Monetary Fund this month downgraded its estimates for global economic growth, with only one major bright spot in the West. That would be the United States, expected to grow a bit more than 2 percent this year and next. 

In contrast, Europe’s economy is expected to shrink this year and have negligible growth next year. The I.M.F. projects that Germany will grow less than 1 percent this year and next, while Britain’s economy is contracting this year.

All this is exactly what economic textbooks predicted. Since Keynes, it’s been understood that, in a downturn, governments should go into deficit to stimulate demand; that’s how we got out of the Great Depression. And recent European data and I.M.F. analyses underscore that austerity in the middle of a downturn not only doesn’t help but leads to even higher ratios of debt to economic output

So, yes, Republicans have a legitimate point about the long-term need to curb deficits and entitlement growth. But, no, it isn’t reasonable for Republicans to advocate austerity in the middle of a downturn. On that, they’re empirically wrong.

The results are in. And, as Representative King suggested, the lessons “ought to hit all of us here in this country.”
Unhappy with the economy?  Vote GOP for change and watch the economy get worse, not better.  Oh, and remember, there will be less of a safety net for those who crash and burn financially thanks to GOP policies.

Hybrid of Hurricane Sandy/Winter Storm Threatens East Coast

Back in November, 2009, Hampton Roads was hit with what locals call the Nor'Ida storm - a situation where remnants of Hurricane Ida came up the east coast and collided with a northeaster coming down the coast.  The photo above shows what happened to our home in Hampton.  Noe, forecasters are predicting a similar event may occur as Hurricane Sandy moves up the east coast - the only good news for Hampton Roads is that the worse part of the scenario may hit further north hitting New York or New England.   Should Hampton Roads get hit again, the boyfriend and I have done all we can to prepare: a whole house generator and three industrial sump pumps to deal with potential rising water.  Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot:

Much of the U.S. East Coast has a good chance of getting blasted by gale-force winds, flooding, heavy rain and maybe even snow early next week by an unusual hybrid of hurricane and winter storm, federal and private forecasters say.

Though still projecting several days ahead of Halloween week, the computer models are spooking meteorologists. Government scientists said Wednesday the storm has a 70 percent chance of smacking the Northeast and mid-Atlantic.

Hurricane Sandy in the Caribbean, an early winter storm in the West, and a blast of arctic air from the North are predicted to collide, sloshing and parking over the country's most populous coastal corridor starting Sunday. The worst of it should peak early Tuesday, but it will stretch into midweek, forecasters say.

"It'll be a rough couple days from Hatteras up to Cape Cod," said forecaster Jim Cisco of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prediction center in College Park, Md. "We don't have many modern precedents for what the models are suggesting."

It is likely to hit during a full moon when tides are near their highest, increasing coastal flooding potential, NOAA forecasts warn. And with some trees still leafy and the potential for snow, power outages could last to Election Day, some meteorologists fear. They say it has all the earmarks of a billion-dollar storm.

Cisco said the chance of the storm smacking the East jumped from 60 percent to 70 percent on Wednesday. Masters was somewhat skeptical on Tuesday, giving the storm scenario just a 40 percent likelihood, but on Wednesday he also upped that to 70 percent. The remaining computer models that previously hadn't shown the merger and mega-storm formation now predict a similar scenario.

Needless to say, I hope the forecasters are wrong and that the storm stays far offshore.

Christianists Go Ballistic Over Romney Meeting With Gays

While it is too early to know for certain the precise details of the meeting involved, it does seem clear now that Mitt Romney did participate in a secret meeting with leaders of the leaders the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) a week ago at a remote Virginia farmhouse.  And apparently whatever Romney, a proven pathological liar said to the self-loathing members of LRC it was enough to dupe them into endorsing Romney.  I continue to believe that any gay who supports today's virulently anti-gay GOP is akin to a black citizen supporting the KKK.   But the fact that the meeting occurred has some of the Christofascists going totally ape shit.  America Blog looks at what is known and the Christianist reaction.  Here are some highlights:

It seems that yesterday’s bombshell from Nation reporter Ben Adler has now been confirmed.
The reason that gay Republican leaders are “confident” that Mitt Romney will support banning workplace discrimination against gay and trans people is because leaders of the lead gay Republican gay group, Log Cabin Republicans (LCR), met secretly with Romney a week ago at a remote Virginia farmhouse.

More from Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade:

A meeting that took place at a Virginia farmhouse between officials from Log Cabin Republicans and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney included a discussion about workplace non-discrimination, but attendees who spoke to the Washington Blade wouldn’t enumerate any commitments made by Romney.

R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin’s executive director, said workplace non-discrimination protections were the focus of the meeting, which took place Oct. 17 at Greenwood Farm in Leesburg, Va., which was a precursor the organization’s endorsement of the candidate announced on Tuesday.

“I can say with confidence that the Romney administration would work on desirable outcomes for workplace non-discrimination,” Cooper said. “I’m going to leave it broad like that because I think there’s room for administrative action as well as legislative. I also think it’s probably fair to say that legislation in a form of an ENDA or an ENDA-like legislation is certainly realistic.”

Is Romney believable on his "promise"?  Not if he changes his mind as he does on everything else.  Perhaps the meeting was just more of Romney's "lying for the lord" to try to get himself elected.  What is known is that the Christofascists are none too happy with Romney.  America Blog continues with this:

Here’s the American Family Association’s response to yesterday’s news. Note that they demanded that Romney himself address this issue. Now that we have news that Romney himself secretly met with gay Republicans, he won’t have a choice but to personally try to assuage the religious right that this story isn’t true.

But if he does that, it has to happen publicly, or the religious right minions across the country won’t know that Romney didn’t mean it when he promised the gays the moon. And if he does go public, Log Cabin will look like a fool for believing yet another Romney lie, and Romney risks the 25$%-30% of the gay vote that one might expect him to get, based on past gay GOP turnout.
My money is on the likelihood that Romney was lying and that the folks at LCR have been played for suckers.  If elected, Romney will pretend that the meeting never happened.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Mourdock Argues Insurance Companies Shouldn’t Cover Birth Control At All

Having already created a fire storm over his statement that pregnancies that result from rape are in accordance of God's will and that abortion in such situations should be barred,  GOP Indiana U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock has thrown more gasoline on the proverbial fire by arguing that insurance companies should not have to provide contraception coverage at all.  As noted previously in a post about Mourdock's statement on rape inducing pregnancies, Mourdock's views ARE THE MAINSTREAM in today's Republican Party and are consistent with the party platform adopted in Tampa back in August. In addition, Mitt Romney confirmed today that he stands behind his previous endorsement of Mourdock.   Personally, I believe that any woman who votes for any Republican candidate is either brain damaged or likes to have angry white men control her body.  Here are highlights from Think Progress:

Indiana Senate nominee Richard Mourdock (R) doesn’t just want to prevent women who have been raped from obtaining an abortion; he also doesn’t think they should be able to access affordable birth control through their health insurance that could prevent such a pregnancy.

Months before Mourdock commented last night that pregnancies resulting from rape are a “gift” that “God intended,” ThinkProgress spoke with him at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference about Rick Santorum’s belief that insurance plans shouldn’t cover birth control at all. When asked whether he agreed with Santorum on the matter, Mourdock replied: “I do, I do.”
KEYES: I know Rick Santorum in his speech was talking a lot about this. He even went so far as to say, “I don’t think insurance plans should be covering birth control in the first place.” Do you think he’s right about that?

MOURDOCK: I do, I do. I don’t think that’s the role of government. We have to start rolling back government. There are many issues out there beyond Obamacare, but really the issue overlying everything is, is this nation going to survive? And that ultimately becomes an issue of economics.
Earlier this week, Mitt Romney starred in an ad for Mourdock, asking voters to “join me in supporting Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate.” Romney has not cut an ad for any other Senate candidates in the general election.

Paul Ryan: Let's Reduce Poverty... By Slashing Poverty Programs

In one of his first policy speeches, Paul Ryan confirmed the reverse Robin Hood mindset that many have accused him of previously based on his GOP budget proposal.  Today Ryan said he and Mitt Romney would restore upward social mobility for the poor by dismantling anti-poverty programs.  They'd either pull themselves up by the bootstraps or perish.  Needless to say, the revenue savings resulting from leaving the poor and disadvantage to their own devices to either survive or die would likely go toward funding the large tax cuts for the wealthy that are so near and dear to Ryan's and Romney's ice cold hearts.  A piece in Huffington Post looks at Ryan's speech which ought to strike terror among those who are poor and disadvantaged and those who advocate on their behalf.   Here are some highlights:

In his first policy speech since becoming the Republican vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan said he and Mitt Romney will restore upward mobility and fight poverty in part by limiting the federal government's commitment to safety net programs.

"Upward mobility is the central promise of life in America," Ryan said. "But right now, America’s engines of upward mobility aren't working the way they should. Mitt Romney and I are running because we believe that Americans are better off in a dynamic, free-enterprise-based economy that fosters economic growth, opportunity and upward mobility instead of a stagnant, government-directed economy that stifles job creation and fosters government dependency."

Ryan noted that Americans born into poor families are more likely to stay poor as adults than Americans born into wealthy families.

A Romney administration, Ryan said, would help restore mobility by turning the open-ended commitments of federal anti-poverty programs into "block grants" -- fixed chunks of money the federal government sends to states each year regardless of the amount of need. States, in turn, get more leeway to design their own programs.

As a congressman, Ryan has authored several proposals to slash spending on programs for poor people by turning them into block grants. According to an analysis by the centrist Urban Institute, Ryan's proposal to repeal health care reform and block grant Medicaid, which provides health insurance to people below near-poverty income levels, would reduce federal spending by $1.7 trillion and Medicaid enrollment by 50 percent, resulting in a loss of insurance for 35.7 million Americans.

Ryan also proposed dramatic cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as food stamps, in place of looming cuts to defense spending

Ryan also said government spending discourages people from giving to charity. "Debt on this scale is destructive in so many ways, and one of them is that it crowds out civil society by drawing resources away from private giving."

Economists at the St. Louis Federal Reserve found in 2009 that increased government spending can have a limited negative effect on charitable donations, but also that growth in charitable giving had paralleled growth in government spending over the past 40 years (PDF).

About the only thing that Ryan hasn't proposed is bring back debtors ' prisons.  It is little wonder that even the generally morally bankrupt Catholic Bishops have condemned Ryan's proposals as the antithesis of the Church's social gospel teachings.   How anyone this cold and callous towards others can claim to be a devote Catholic or Christian is mind boggling.  But such is the sick status of today's GOP.

Romney's Wrong on the Strength of the U. S. Navy

Another major screw up on Mitt "I'm a Liar" Romney during the foreign policy debate was his attempt to depict U.S. Naval strength as greatly diminished and used the number of Navy vessels in 1916 as an apparent bench mark.   While the absolute number of ships is smaller now than in 1916, the power and capabilities of the ships the Navy has now are far superior to those of 1916.  Worse yet for Romney, the ranking of the U.S. Navy relative to other nations has increased enormously since 1916 when it ranked 3rd in the world with 11% of the world's naval power to now when it ranks 1st in the world with 50% of worldwide naval power.  Here are highlights from an analysis of 1916 versus now:

In the last debate, Governor Romney made the claim that the US Navy is the smallest it’s been since 1916 implying that the US Navy is regressing in terms of overall strength. How accurate is this claim? We recently compiled a new data set on naval capabilities and created a measure of state naval strength for all countries from 1865 to 2011. As such, we are in a position to address the claims of the Romney campaign.

In 1916, the US controlled roughly 11% of the world’s naval power. This is an impressive number that ranks the US third in naval strength behind the UK (34%) and Germany (19%), and just ahead of France (10%). What about the US navy in 2011? In 2011, the US controlled roughly 50% of the world’s naval power putting it in a comfortable lead in naval power ahead of Russia (11%).

The US Navy has decreased in absolute size as Governor Romney argues (although this decline has been ongoing since the end of Cold War). U.S. warships are more powerful now than in the past, as President Obama implied. However, neither the number of warships nor the power of our ships is what is most important for understanding military and political influence. It is relative military power that matters most. In this respect, the U.S. navy is far stronger now than in 1916.

Mitt Romney Flunks Basic Geography

For a man who wants to be U. S. commander-in-chief and who claims that he has a better plan for the Middle East, he sure doesn't know even the basic geography of the region.  During the debate on Monday night Romney made this statement:

 "Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea." 

Is the man an idiot or does he think all of the rest of us are?  As the map above mockingly indicates, Romney apparently is oblivious to the fact that (1) Iran and Syria share no common border and (2) Iran has a lengthy coastline on the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea.  It's pretty frightening and puts Romney in the same league as Sarah Palin who claimed she could see Russia from her house in Wasilla, Alaska (which is impossible).  If Romney doesn't know this basic geography, he's to stupid and far too uninformed to be president.