Friday, August 31, 2012

ANS -- FW: the biggest theft in history

Hi -- this was sent by one of our readers.  An interesting perspective on Social Security, our Earned Retirement Income. 


Have you noticed, your Social Security check is now referred to as a "Federal Benefit Payment"?
I'll be part of the one percent to forward this.  I am forwarding it  because it touches a nerve in me, and I hope it will in you.  Please  keep passing it on until everyone in
our country has read it.
The government is now referring to our Social Security checks as a “Federal Benefit Payment.”
This isn’t a benefit – its earned income!
Not only did we all contribute to Social Security but our employers did  too.  It totaled 15% of our income before taxes. If you averaged $30K  per year over your working life,
that's close to $180,000 invested in  Social Security.
If you calculate the future value of your monthly investment in social  security ($375/month, including both your and your employer’s  contributions) at a meager 1% interest rate
compounded monthly, after 40  years of working you'd have more than $1.3+ million dollars saved! This  is your personal investment.
Upon retirement, if you took out only 3% per year, you'd receive $39,318 per year, or $3,277 per month.
That’s almost three times more than today’s average Social Security benefit of $1,230 per month,
according to the Social Security Administration (Google it - it’s a fact).
And your retirement fund would last more than 33 years (until you're 98  if you retire at age 65)!   I can only imagine how much better most  average-income people could live in
retirement if  our government had  just invested our money in low-risk interest-earning accounts.
Instead, the folks in Washington pulled off a bigger Ponzi scheme than  Bernie Madoff ever did.  They took our money and used it elsewhere. They  “forgot” that it was OUR money
they were taking.  They didn’t have a  referendum to ask us if we wanted to lend the money to them.  And they  didn’t pay interest on the debt they assumed.  And recently, they’ve  told us that the money won’t support us for very much longer.  But is it  our
fault they misused our investments?
And now, to add insult to injury, they’re calling it a “benefit,” as if we never worked to earn every penny of it.
Just because they “borrowed” the money, doesn't mean that our investments were a  charity!
Let’s take a stand.  We have earned our right to Social Security and  Medicare.  Demand that our legislators bring some sense into our  government – Find a way to keep Social Security
and Medicare going, for  the sake of that 92% of our population who need it.
Here’s a novel idea: begin to pay back Social Security, and call it what it is: Our Earned Retirement Income.
99% of people won't forward this.
Will you?
David Hurlburt

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

ANS -- Fwd: Tariffs on Chinese modules

Hi -- Joyce sent me this.  It's about the tariffs that were put on solar panels to stop China from wrecking the American solar industry.  Of course, there were those who predicted that it would cause harm to the market here, but that doesn't seem to have happened.  Not surprising if you know anything about how economies actually work, as opposed to the fantasies of the voodoo economists. 

The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) has weighed in on a recent report from IMS Research that predicted U.S. solar demand this year would reach almost 4.3 GW. According to the CASM, the report proves that the U.S. Department of Commerce's (DOC) tariffs on Chinese modules (which were applied in response to the CASM's petition last fall) are not slowing down the solar market.

"The new report by IMS Research effectively debunks two of the arguments made by Chinese solar manufacturers and their allies regarding the potential impact of tariffs on the U.S. solar market," says Gordon Brinser, president of Oregon-based SolarWorld Industries America Inc. "First, preliminary tariffs did not slow growth of the U.S. solar market in the first half of 2012. Second, they have not had hurt downstream employment."

According to Brinser, a portion of the report stating that PV demand did "not show any significant slowdown resulting from the anti-dumping duties" proves that claims that dumped Chinese panels fueled the U.S. solar boom are false.

"At the same time, the 35 percent increase in installations of solar panels cited in the IMS study shows there has been no negative impact on solar employment in the United States," Brinser additionally claims. "This result undermines the opposition's prediction of tens of thousands of lost jobs if tariffs were imposed to counter the impact of illegally dumped and subsidized Chinese panels."

In March, the DOC announced preliminary countervailing duties of up to 4.73% against Chinese solar manufacturers in response to government subsidies. Preliminary antidumping subsidies of 31% to 249.96% followed in May.

The DOC will announce its final determination in both cases on Oct. 9. The International Trade Commission will announce its final ruling on the cases on Nov. 7.
Joyce Cooper
Director R&D
Access Institute of Research

ANS -- Global Warming “Irreversible”, Warns Scientific Body

Well, here it is.  It's irreversible.  Too late now.  shucks. 
Find it here:     and   

Global Warming �Irreversible�, Warns Scientific Body

Global Warming “Irreversible”, Warns Scientific Bod  

get causes updates

  • 1 of 2

Governments, corporations and individuals could cut greenhouse gas emissions today, and it would still be too late to stave off disaster. What is left to us now is mitigation and adaptation. That is the conclusion of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in an Information Statement published August 20, 2012.

Their conclusions are yet more confirmation that the dire predictions of the 1972 report, �Limits to Growth�, were accurate. The MIT researchers who prepared that publication had entered a variety of population and economic scenarios into a computer model. Most of the scenarios resulted in the same outcome: the collapse of the global economy in 2030.

The researchers did say there was a way to avoid the disaster: drastic measures to the protect the environment. Forty years later politicians are still arguing over whether or not climate change is real and human caused. Corporations are continuing to act as if resources were infinite. Consumers are still being seduced by the latest goods to hit the market.

AMS Ratchets Up the Alarm

In 2007 AMS issued a statement on climate change that concluded:

Despite the uncertainties noted above, there is adequate evidence from observations and interpretations of climate simulations to conclude that the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; that humans have significantly contributed to this change; and that further climate change will continue to have important impacts on human societies, on economies, on ecosystems, and on wildlife through the 21st century and beyond.

The note of uncertainty is gone in the 2012 statement:

There is unequivocal evidence that Earth�s lower atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; sea level is rising; and snow cover, mountain glaciers, and Arctic sea ice are shrinking. The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities. This scientific finding is based on a large and persuasive body of research. The observed warming will be irreversible for many years into the future, and even larger temperature increases will occur as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere. Avoiding this future warming will require a large and rapid reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions. The ongoing warming will increase risks and stresses to human societies, economies, ecosystems, and wildlife through the 21st century and beyond, making it imperative that society respond to a changing climate.

Next: Moving from Alarm to Action

Read more:
Page 2:

Global Warming �Irreversible�, Warns Scientific Body


For the Coming Generations

The world�s countries are still far from embracing integrated action on climate change. In the U.S. both presidential campaigns are irresponsibly quiet on an issue that should be front and center.

Sticking our heads in the proverbial sand is burning our tails. What can Care2 s concerned readers do to dip cool some of the fire? Here are five suggestions. Please weigh in with your own.
  • Learn. There are a lot of sites that compile the science on climate change. Two good places to start are Skeptical Science and the Climate Reality Project.
  • Act. Turning off some lights, reducing water usage and food waste, and stepping off the consumer treadmill may seem insignificant when a steamroller is headed your way. However, each act ripples outward. Tell friends what you are doing, and the ripples spread even farther.
  • Vote. Vote with your dollars. Vote in elections. Vote with your strongly expressed opinions. Speak up and speak out. Hold governments, corporations, media and organizations accountable for the impact of their inaction and silence.
  • Support. Join your voice with others who are working hard to educate, raise awareness, and push for action. There are many to choose from, including, David Suzuki Foundation, and For Our Grandchildren.
  • Celebrate. Many people are calling for a more equitable and earth-friendly economy. You can read about some of them on Care2 s Trailblazers. They are people like Joel Solomon and Carol Newell, Bill Drayton, Cheryl Dorsey and you, the over 20 million Care2 members.

Climate change is already creating havoc around the world. It is going to cause a lot more. Together we can work for the world we want to leave for all the generations that come after us.

Read more:

Monday, August 27, 2012

ANS -- 5 Countries Where You Don't Have to Work Yourself to Death to Make Ends Meet

You might want to pass this on to your friends and relatives:  for liberals to know where to go when the US collapses, for conservatives, to know that there are countries who do this stuff better than the US does.  I will say again: The Big Question that this generation has to answer is: "Which is more important, people or money?"  The conservative answer is "money" and the liberal answer is "people", but you will notice that the conservative CLAIM is that they are for people with their "family values", but then it's the money they keep putting first.  As a psychologist I know says, for the far right, "Hypocrisy is a core value."
Find it here:   

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer
comments_image   209 COMMENTS

5 Countries Where You Don't Have to Work Yourself to Death to Make Ends Meet

America is no worker's paradise.
August 23, 2012  |  


Earlier this summer we explored some things we could do as a nation to improve work-life balance, from the basic (paid sick leave, anyone?) to the truly innovative. This time, we're looking around the world: which countries fare better than ours in helping citizens survive without working themselves to death?

Of course, it's hard not to respond to this question: "hmmm anywhere without child labor and a two-day weekend!" After all, not only do we rank among the worst in terms of paid leave for parents or family sickness and have zero mandatory vacation hours, Americans often don't even take the vacation we've got!

Still, not ever other country with a decent economy is better than we are in every way. We have more women in the workforce than most, for instance. That's why it's instructive to compare ourselves to other nations and see who does what better, and what policies and attitudes we could emulate.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) makes a study of this sort of thing, ranking countries on quality of life -- the "Better Life Index" -- based on a number of factors, including work-life balance, safety, health, longevity, and more. So using that series of data as well as other information, the following are some countries that have better work-life balance--either overall, or in individual categories--than we do. And yes, though the Scandinavian countries basically kick everyone else's ass in this category, we didn't exclusively highlight them, since there are so many other countries that best us in this area we had the liberty to choose from among them.

1. Canada: Not perfect, but better than the US.

It's not light years ahead of us, but it's still ahead. One thing that puts our neighbors to the north over the top in the head-to-head race, besides the requisite jokes about ice hockey and maple syrup? The men do a lot of the household work--although there's still disparity between men and women:

Men in Canada spend 146 minutes per day cooking, cleaning or caring, higher than the OECD average of 131 minutes but considerably less than Canadian women who spend 248 minutes per day on average on domestic work .

But the primary thing that puts Canada ahead of the US? Only about 4% of its workforce works "very long hours" compared to 11% here in the States. Canadians also benefit from a mandated paid vacation policy in every province, although it varies from place to place.

2. Denmark: Overall champ.

This pesky little Scandinavian country comes out on top of nearly all these sorts of rankings, doesn't it? But it comes down to the numbers: Less than 2% of its workforce work those extra-long hours, and it is closest to gender parity of any country. Each day, Danes are able to spend about two-thirds of their hours sleeping, eating, taking care of themselves and chilling out--not bad at all. In fact, it's also number one in global happiness by some measures.

One British couple moved to Denmark to start a family, and found themselves astounded by the improved life they were leading:


Since moving from Finsbury Park in London to Copenhagen three years ago with my husband Duncan, our quality of life has skyrocketed and our once staunch London loyalism has been replaced by an almost embarrassing enthusiasm for everything "Dansk."

The greatest change has been the shift in work-life balance. Whereas previously we might snatch dinner once Duncan escaped from work at around nine, he now leaves his desk at five. Work later than 5:30 and the office is a morgue. Work at the weekend and the Danes think you are mad. The idea is that families have time to play and eat together at the end of the day, every day. And it works. Duncan bathes and puts our 14-month-old daughter Liv to bed most nights. They are best buddies as opposed to strangers who try to reacquaint at the weekend.

3. Brazil: Vacation heaven.

Brazil may not outrank the US overall because so many of its workers work long hours, but get a load of their vacation policy. The outward view of Brazilians is that they like to have a good time whether it's dancing or at the beach or just barbecuing with the fam, so it's no wonder that according to this CNBC piece, they have a "minimum of 30 days for vacation and 11 days for public holidays." How lovely does that sound?

4. Sweden: World leader in paternity leave.

Sharing the burden is the name of the game in Sweden, where visitors describe an army of stroller-pushing dads. The Wall Street Journal reported last month:

Sweden's paternity-leave benefits, enjoyed by citizens and foreign residents alike, are the most generous in the world­and a debate is under way nationwide over whether to extend them even further. Sweden should require men to take a minimum of three months' leave, instead of the current two months, some politicians argue.

Fathers currently can take off work for as long as 240 days with a government-backed paycheck. Even if a father decides to take a more modest leave than allowed, he must take at least two months before the child is 8 years old to receive the government benefits.

Actually, in Sweden there's a total of 13 months of leave that has to be split by two parents. Even the conservative party, which thinks the leave shouldn't be mandated by gender is in favor of expanding parental leave.

5. France: Lavishing love on moms. France's great parental policies belie the fact that gender equality is still not the norm here. But what they do have makes life a lot easier for new parents: subsidized daycare, easy-to-afford healthcare, and lengthy periods of paid and unpaid--but with job guaranteees--parental leave and home nurse visits. Back in 2008, NPR profiled American families who had babies in France:

There is a neighborhood health clinic, where she can show up with the baby anytime, with or without an appointment. She gets letters from a local health authority telling her what benefits are available and when she should come to a clinic with her daughter for her regular checkups.

When Ella got a stomach flu earlier this year, a doctor made a house call at 3 a.m. on a Sunday. It was paid for entirely by health insurance.

This is the kind of comprehensive coverage that gets France's health care rated the best in the world by the World Health Organization. It's also why France has some of the world's lowest infant mortality rates and some of the highest birth rates in Europe.

No other place is perfect, but as I learned through my research, each of these countries has something unique to offer its citizens. Here in America, this issue is on the radar in a way it hasn't been before, evidenced by the fact that companies continue to pioneer interesting vacation solutions to prevent burnout and their ideas are getting play in the national media ( check out this place, which tailors its schedule to the seasons).

Sarah Seltzer is an associate editor at AlterNet and a freelance writer based in New York City. Her work has been published at the Nation, the Christian Science Monitor, Jezebel and the Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahmseltzer and find her work at

Fwd: 1 liner

Here's a short email conversation I thought you might like to see. It came to me the usual upsidedown, but I am going to cut and paste for you so you can just read it from the top. It starts with a post from KM, a right-wing friend's, "one liner" posting, then BW's reply, then the original poster's reply to that, then, since BW sent it to me and a friend from Tulsa, it goes to our comments on the postings.


Best one-liner of the week.

"If we want to keep our nation's secrets a 'SECRET' then we should store them where President Obama stores his college transcripts and birth certificate."

Gov. Mike Huckabee


"While we are at it, we might want to check out where
 Mitt Romney "stores" his multi-millions of
dollars in off shore accounts to avoid paying taxes!"

He doesn't have any off shore accounts anymore. That was years ago that he had a Swiss bank account. He still had to pay taxes on that money before he put it in a foreign account. More class warfare from the left.
 If I had millions of dollars, I'd take full advantage of the legal loopholes there are in order not to pay high taxes. We should get rid of the loop holes and lower taxes across the board.
It is unfortunate that you can't get elected unless you have money. The Obamas included.
I'm glad Romney is successful in business and he shouldn't apologize for it. He knows how the economy works and he's the one that can get us back on track to prosperity.
Sorry, I sound like a political add. I just thought that was a funny quote from Mike Huckabee.
Winking smile
I won't send anymore. I wasn't sure if you were still an Obama supporter.


On 8/27/2012 6:46 AM, bw forwarded:

Why do people assume that someone who "is successful in business" understands "how the economy works"?  Isn't the idea of free markets that you don't need to understand anything about how the larger economy works, you just maximize your own profit, and , magically, the economy will be fine? (against all evidence, I might add.) The Republicans don't know how to help the economy as a whole, and don't care to anyway, they're fine with just sucking up all the money for themselves. 
However, Romney has never run a business that actually produced any good or service that actually had a positive effect in the general economy. 

From Tulsa, OK:

Kim raises an excellent point. A person's "success in business" is indicative only of how well they play the game. In the GOP Game of Life, the goal is to get all the money for yourself; along the way you con people into helping you get all the money and the more successful the con (people who are sick or poor really want to be that way, if I help you get your wheelchair over that curb I'm only teaching you to be dependent) the quicker the you get all the money and win. Today's GOP leaders do not appear to be interested in helping anyone other than themselves, or these multi-millionaires would be willing to pay their fair share of what it costs to maintain this country. Instead they hide their resources, lie about how much they have, and believe they are entitled to let someone else pave the roads, build the infrastructures, protect the natural resources, and fund the servicemen and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect the country they love to pillage.

It wasn't always this way,. the GOP used to be very different.

On a related note - I just read an article in today's paper that Paul Ryan is crowing about his "business experience". He was 27 when he worked for only one year in his family's construction business. I have to think that if he was any good, like any other business, they would have kept him around. Either that or actual work - the kind which produces measurable results - did not much appeal to him.  To tout that as "business experience" is a demonstration of just how out-of-touch these people really are.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

ANS -- Paul Ryan's Former Pastor on the Veep Pick's Budget Plan: 'He Shouldn't Wrap Himself in Catholic Teaching'

We thought there was something unChristian in Paul Ryan's budget, and here is a Catholic priest saying it forgets the poor. 
I'm glad to hear this man say it.  Though there was another saying the opposite. 
Find it here:  

  election 2012  
PR Watch / By Jonathan Rosenblum
comments_image   23 COMMENTS

Paul Ryan's Former Pastor on the Veep Pick's Budget Plan: 'He Shouldn't Wrap Himself in Catholic Teaching'

For Father Stephen Umhoefer, the test of the budget is a simple one: "The first question is: How does this affect the poor? And everything else follows from that."
August 16, 2012  |  

Nativity of St. Mary Church in Janesville, Wis., where Rep. Paul Ryan used to worship.
Photo Credit: PR Watch
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The entrance to St. Mary Elementary School in Janesville, Wisconsin has two identical archways with contrasting inscriptions. One entrance says, "For God." The other says, "For Country." That is where Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, first merged his studies of government and religion as a young student.

And the priest who presides over the archways and the towering steeple of the Nativity of Mary says that Ryan's interpretation of Catholic teaching in national budgetary matters and his prospective vice presidential role have him "worried." Father Stephen Umhoefer told the Center for Media and Democracy that he supports a role for religion in the public square, but that Ryan�s austerity budget and proposed steep cuts in social programs are inconsistent with the Catholic teachings that Ryan cites to justify the policies. "If he is following his conscience, he is doing the morally correct thing. But he shouldn't wrap himself in Catholic teaching because he is not using that [teaching] in what I would say is a balanced way," said Umhoefer.

Umhoefer, 72, has led the church since 2002 and was the Ryan family pastor until the family left for another Janesville parish a few years ago. Ryan�s current parish is led by a priest who teaches on the diocese faculty under the deeply conservative Madison Bishop Robert Morlino, who characterizes Ryan's judgment as "in accord with all the teachings of the Church."

Ryan's Defense of Austerity Budget Kicks Up Controversy

Ryan's leadership as chair of the House Budget Committee and author of the "Path to Prosperity" Republican budget blueprint and the FY 2013 House Budget Resolution has become a lightning rod for criticism by other Catholic bishops, ecumenical groups, and lay leaders.

In introducing Ryan to the nation as his running mate Saturday, Romney said that Ryan's beliefs "remain firmly rooted in Janesville, Wisconsin," and pointed to his life as a "faithful Catholic." If elected, Ryan would become the first Catholic Republican vice president in history. The Ryan budget, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 but died in the Senate, would slash taxes on the rich and on corporations, while implementing massive cuts in social safety net programs. It would repeal Obamacare, cut Medicaid, transform Medicare into a voucher system, cut student loans, and end the Earned Income Tax Credit program for the poor, while reversing Wall Street financial reforms.

Standing alone, the harsh austerity budget was controversial enough. But in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network in April 2012, Ryan defended his budget as in conformity with Catholic social doctrine. "[T]he preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenets of Catholic social teaching, means don't keep people poor, don't make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck in their station in life. Help people get out of poverty onto [a] life of independence," Ryan said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops took sharp exception, calling on Congress to resist "for moral and human reasons" cuts to food and nutrition programs to the poor. The Conference called instead for "shared sacrifice . . . including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly." Faculty at Georgetown University put it more bluntly in an open letter to Ryan: "Your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Father Umhoefer followed the controversy from Janesville. He said in an extended interview that he had a "very friendly pastor-parishioner relationship" with Ryan, but that the two "never sat down and talked politics." He noted that he has not read in full the dense, 60-plus page Republican budget, but that he has reviewed the budget through a range of Catholic and ecumenical materials and media reports, and he shared the concerns expressed by the bishops.

"The Primary Question Is, How Does This Affect the Poor?"

For Umhoefer, the test of the budget is a simple one: "The first question is: How does this affect the poor? And everything else follows from that. That doesn't mean it's a Republican or Democrat [question] -- you could argue that. But the primary question is how does this affect the poor?"

Umhoefer said that Ryan's lack of attention to the poor and the emphasis on individualism espoused by role models such as Ayn Rand concerned him. "Paul would say that the only way to save the country from a coming [fiscal] disaster is 'follow my plan.'" But according to Umhoefer, the problem is "you can't tell somebody that in ten years your economic situation is going to be just wonderful because meanwhile your kids may starve to death."

Umhoefer said that in Janesville, which lost some 5,000 jobs related to the auto industry after a GM plant closed in 2009, residents continue to seek emergency food and housing support and social service organizations have been running out of funds. A house across the street from the church sits with a red "condemned" sticker prominently on the door, and another house on the block has a sign that declares, "Price Reduced."

"The welfare check runs out and people are suffering now in ways that they haven't before," he said, noting that the church has hired two former auto workers with wages and benefits far below their former level.

Umhoefer said that wealthy church members have offered support for shared sacrifice Nativity of Mary Parish School, Janesville, WIand revenue raising proposals such as the Warren Buffet rule that asks millionaires to avoid loopholes and pay a tax rate of 30 percent. "I can't always invite my neighbor over to dinner, but I . . . need to pay a certain amount of taxes. And I need to vote to make sure taxes are used to help make sure that my neighbor isn�t starving," he said.

Umhoefer also laments what he calls an excess of individualism in America that is sometimes abetted by politicians. He prepared for CMD a section of the church catechism, which states that the church "has refused to accept, in the practice of 'capitalism,' individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor." Umhoefer said that he doesn't mean to accuse Ryan of choosing individualism as a creed over community, but that Ryan's promotion of Ayn Rand to his staff and others is "an alternative universe of which he is a member. . . . What I call an excessive attitude of individualism is doing a great deal of harm to us as a society because we are forgetting society values,� said Umhoefer.

Priest to Ryan: "You Can't Just Pack Your Own Heat"

Umhoefer said that Ryan has also selectively presented to his audiences a Catholic concept of empowerment known as "subsidiarity." Ryan explained subsidiarity to the Christian Broadcasting Network as "not having big government crowd out civic society, but by having enough space in our communities so that we can interact with each other, and take care of people who are down and out in our communities."

Umhoefer said that he agrees with the " Nuns on the Bus," a group of liberal nuns who recently undertook a bus tour and visited Ryan's Janesville office to underscore the absurdity of Ryan's approach. "Just on food stamps alone, Congressman Ryan is wrong that the church can take care of this issue. The cuts that have been proposed and passed by the [U.S.] House are going to require every church, every synagogue, every mosque, every house of worship in the United States, each year for ten years, to each raise $50,000. It's impossible," said Sister Simone Campbell during the Janesville stop. CMD covered the Nuns on the Bus Tour and sought the interview with Umhoefer after the nuns presented an alternative "moral budget" in Janesville.

Reading from the catechism, Umhoefer explained that government "should support [local communities] in case of need and help to coordinate its activities with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good." He said that when subsidiarity lacks resources and coordination, government can fail when it is most needed. But sometimes we need to be rescued: "You can�t just pack your own heat and protect your own building," he cautioned.

"What I wish for Paul -- he is so smart and so articulate and has made this whole budget, which he can defend on his own view . . . of how the economy and politics work. I wish he wouldn�t bring in the Catholic church. He doesn't need to if his economic and political argument are strong, and I'm sure he believes that they are."


PR Watch contributor Jonathan Rosenblum is an author, award-winning journalist, and practicing lawyer.

Friday, August 24, 2012

ANS -- The Fascinating Differences Between The Conservative and Liberal Personality

This article is written for psychologists and therapists, but it's interesting anyway.  It's about the mental differences between liberals and conservatives.  It's shallow, but it's short.
Find it here:    

Psychotherapy Networker / By Jared DeFife
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The Fascinating Differences Between The Conservative and Liberal Personality

Evidence suggests that differences between liberals and conservatives begin to emerge at an early age.
August 20, 2012  |  
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"There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin," laments Linus van Pelt in a 1961 Peanuts comic strip. Yet in today's hyperpartisan political climate, religion and politics are obsessively debated, while the "American people" that politicians and reporters constantly refer to seem hopelessly divided. Meanwhile, psychologists are increasingly exploring the political arena, examining not just the ideological differences, but also the numerous factors - temperamental, developmental, biological, and situational - that contribute to the formation and maintenance of partisan political beliefs.

Personality differences are a leading candidate in the race toward understanding the rift between political liberals and conservatives. Using data compiled from nearly 20,000 respondents, Columbia University researcher Dana Carney and colleagues found that two common personality traits reliably differentiated individuals with liberal or conservative identifications. Liberals reported greater openness, whereas conservatives reported higher conscientiousness. This means that liberals (at least in their own estimation) saw themselves as more creative, flexible, tolerant of ambiguity, and open to new ideas and experiences. Across the political personality divide, conservatives self-identified as more persistent, orderly, moralistic, and methodical. These personality differences were even reflected in the bedroom belongings and offices or workspaces of ideological undergrads, with liberal students collecting more CDs, books, movie tickets, and travel paraphernalia, as opposed to their conservative peers, who showed more sports décor, U.S. flags, cleaning supplies, calendars, and uncomfortable furniture. Lest you think that the partisan personality is a uniquely American phenomenon, similar findings on personality and political ideology have emerged in samples across the globe, from North America, Europe, and Australia.

Evidence suggests that these personality differences between liberals and conservatives begin to emerge at an early age. A 20-year longitudinal study by Jack and Jeanne Block showed that those who grew up to be liberals were originally assessed by their preschool teachers as more emotionally expressive, gregarious, and impulsive when compared to those who became conservatives, who were considered more inhibited, uncertain, and controlled. Liberals may show greater tolerance for diversity and creativity, but they may also be more impulsive, indecisive, and irresponsible. On the flip side, conservatives may be organized, stable, and thrifty, but also have stronger just-world beliefs (leading to a greater tolerance for inequality), and stronger fears of mortality and ambiguity. Even recent neuroscience work published in Current Biology from University College London identifies fundamental differences in the partisan brain. Brain scans revealed a larger amygdala in self-identified conservatives and a larger anterior cingulate cortex in liberals, leading the researchers to conclude that conservatives may be more acute at detecting threats around them, whereas liberals may be more adept at handling conflicting information and uncertainty.

Some evidence suggests, however, that we aren't always so divided. In situations that remind people of death and mortality (such as terrorist attacks or implicitly primed images of funeral hearses and chalk body outlines) conservatives and liberals alike gravitate toward more conservative leaders and beliefs. By contrast, greater acceptance of liberal values occurs during events in which people feel disillusioned by government authorities and the politically powerful (such as the Vietnam War or after the 2008 housing crisis).

Of course, the field of psychology isn't immune to political biases and partisanship. Liberal psychology professors vastly outnumber their conservative counterparts by as much as 10 to 1 (perhaps conservatives have some justification for a general distrust of science and academia). A similar imbalance was found by Dyer Bilgrave and Robert Deluty in their 2002 survey of more than 200 clinical and counseling psychologists, published in the journal Psychotherapy. They also found that cognitive-behavioral therapists tended to hold more conservative religious and political beliefs than their more liberally oriented psychodynamic and humanistic-oriented colleagues. Other findings implicative for psychotherapy suggest that liberals and conservatives conceptualize different values in their family narratives, and that individuals fail to empathize completely with the nonpolitical concerns and problems of others if they're perceived as belonging to an opposing political party.

No matter which side of the couch they sit on, therapists are inevitably bound to confront political and moral issues in treatment. In research, practice, and training, therapists are expected to achieve the kind of bipartisan collaboration that politicians seem to only talk about. According to Bilgrave and Deluty, "therapists should ask themselves regularly how their religious and political beliefs, values, and attitudes may be influencing their practice of therapy-how they see clients and their problems, how they help clients frame and understand their concerns, and how and in which direction they encourage clients to act." But if our partisan personalities are deeply rooted in our early development and wired in our brains, is honest and thoughtful consideration of our own biases and predeterminations enough, or even possible? And when even your furniture choices betray your political persuasions, then what does your office tell patients about you?

Partisan Personality:

American Psychologist, 61, no. 7: 651-70; Current Biology, 21, no. 8: 677-80; Psychotherapy, 39, no. 3: 245-60.


Monday, August 20, 2012

ANS -- Romney/Ryan will raise Medicare eligibility age for current seniors

This is scary.  Romney and Ryan (The Vulture and the Voucher) will raise eligibility for Medicare even for those of us almost old enough to get it now.  There's a video if you follow the link.
Find it here:  

Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:16 AM PDT

Romney/Ryan will raise Medicare eligibility age for current seniors

by Joan McCarter Follow
permalink 26 Comments

Are you over 55 and comforted by the fact that at least Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan won't screw you out of your Medicare? Don't be. They're going to make you wait to become eligible for the benefits they are supposedly saving.
WALLACE: But the problem is, those reforms don't kick in until 2023. It doesn't affect any seniors or anybody close to being a senior. But that doesn't solve the Medicare part A problem which kicks in in 2016. What are you going to do to keep solvent between 2016, after you have repealed Obamacare, and 2023?

GILLESPIE: Governor Romney supports increasing over time bringing Medicare eligibility in line with the Social Security retirement age … The Congressional Budget Office says assumptions about the Medicare trust fund being solvent through 2024 under the Obamacare proposal is unrealistic.

So, in order to keep Medicare from going insolvent in 2016, the eligibility age would have to be raised in the next four years and for all those people who will reach 65 by then. And it's still a bad idea.
CBPP medicare costs chart  
The most important chart in the Medicare eligibility age debate.

The $5.7 billion in savings would be obliterated by the $11.4 billion in additional health care costs not having older Americans covered would create. That includes increased costs to Medicare when those people­who would be sicker because they've deferred care­finally get there.

Proving yet again two things: Romney and Ryan are liars when they say the pain won't hit anyone older than 55; and their very serious policy solutions are not serious and not solutions, just snake oil.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

ANS -- Speech and Kirk Cameron

This is about free speech, and it is really well said.  Basically, you have freedom to say many things, and I have freedom to criticize you for it if I think it is wrong.  Free speech is the right to say it, not the right for it to be respected.  Oh, and the discussion there is extremely long but quite good.  I read it for hours. 
Find it here: 

You are here: Home / Uncategorized / Speech and Kirk Cameron

Speech and Kirk Cameron

March 7, 2012 By John Scalzi

Kirk Cameron, former child star and current subscriber to an apparently particularly uneducated brand of evangelical Christianity, is shocked and appalled that when he makes public statements on a nationally-televised talk show about homosexuality (and thus, the people who are homosexual) being "unnatural" and detrimental to civilization, there are a large number of people who will react to such a public statement by taking it upon themselves to mock him for it. He says:

I should be able to express moral views on social issues, especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years ­ without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach 'tolerance' that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I'm in the public square.

Well, Kirk Cameron, here's the thing. You are correct when you say you should be able to express your moral views on social issues, and as a staunch defender of the First Amendment, I will defend to the death your right to say whatever ridiculous, ignorant and bigoted thing that has been fermenting in that cracked clay pot you call a brain pan. But the First Amendment also means that when you say such things, other people have the a right to mock you and the silly, stupid words that have dribbled out of your skull through that word hole above your chin. If you call someone "unnatural," they might call you an "asshole." That's the deal.

To put it another way: The First Amendment guarantees a right to speech. It does not guarantee a right to respect. As I am fond of saying, if you want people to respect your ideas, get better ideas. Likewise, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence. If you're going to parade around on television engaging in hateful bastardry, then, strangely enough, people will often call you out on it. They may also call you out on the hypocrisy of maintaining that when you say that the way someone else lives is unnatural and detrimental to civilization, you mean it with love, but when they call your words bigoted trollspeak, they're crossing a line or engaging in slander ­ the legal concept of which, incidentally, you don't appear to understand very well, nor libel, which generally speaking is probably more applicable in this case, you crazy public figure, you.

(You're also wrong about homosexuality being unnatural ­ birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it! –  not to mention, of course, that the imputation that "unnatural" means "wrong" is one of those stupid things people say when they haven't thought through the implications of the assertion. I mean, you're aware television is "unnatural," right? So are pants. So are eyeglasses, cell phones, indoor plumbing, the Growing Pains complete second season on DVD, and just about any weapon more complicated than a rock. The rule I would like to apply moving forward is that anyone using "unnatural" as an intrinsic reason for something being bad or wrong must commit to a life of Rousseauean simplicity in a location untrammeled by the unnatural accoutrements of human civilization. I recommend the forests of Papua New Guinea or any place in Siberia, so long as it is above the Arctic Circle.)

Kirk Cameron, I fully support your right to speak your mind about moral views. I also fully support the rights of other people to criticize you and those views, and also their right to be mean to you while doing so, and not just because, in my opinion, it's mean and not in the least bit loving to suggest gays are detrimental and destructive, simply by existing and loving who they choose to love and refusing to accept your desire for them not to be who they are. You're entitled to your stupid, petty, awful, hateful bigoted opinion. Everyone else is entitled to call it exactly what it is.

Friday, August 17, 2012

ANS -- United Airlines Lost My Friend's 10 Year Old Daughter And Didn't Care

This is an appalling story.  Many of you have heard that United Airlines is "worker owned".  That's not really true: the "shock doctrine" folks got UA in lots of debt, and left the company nominally to "the workers" -- but they just left them the liability for the debt, and with no power to run the company.  It's obviously a disaster. 
Corporate culture comes down from the top, and this disaster is because of the fraud and abuse the workers at UA are working under.
Find it here:  

United Airlines Lost My Friend's 10 Year Old Daughter And Didn't Care

My colleague Huggy Rao and I have been reading and writing about something called "felt accountability" in our scaling book. We are arguing that a key difference between good and bad organizations is that, in the good ones, most everyone feels obligated and presses everyone else to do what is in their customer's and organization's best interests.  I feel it as a customer at my local Trader Joe's, on JetBlue and Virgin America, and In-N-Out Burger, to give a few diverse examples.

Unfortunately, one place I have not felt it for years -- and where it is has become even worse lately -- is United Airlines.  I will forgo some recent incidents my family has been subjected to that reflect the depth at which indifference, powerlessness, and incompetence pervades the system. An experience that two of my friends -- Annie and Perry Klebahn -- had in late June and early July with their 10 year-old daughter Phoebe sums it all-up.  I will just hit on some highlights here, but for full effect, please read the entire letter here  to the CEO of United, as it has all the details.

Here is the headline: United was flying Phoebe as an unaccompanied minor on June 30th, from San Francisco to Chicago, with a transfer to Grand Rapids.  No one showed-up in Chicago to help her transfer, so although her plane made it, she missed the connection. Most crucially, United employees consistently refused to take action to help assist or comfort Phoebe or to help her parents locate her despite their cries for help to numerous United employees.

A few key details.

1. After Phoebe landed in Chicago and no one from (the outsourced firm) that was supposed to take her to her next flight showed up. Numerous United employees declined to help her, even though she asked them over and over.  I quote from the complaint letter:

 The attendants where busy and could not help her she told us.  She told them she had a flight to catch to camp and they told her to wait.  She asked three times to use a phone to call us and they told her to wait.  When she missed the flight she asked if someone had called camp to make sure they knew and they told her "yes­we will take care of it".  No one did. She was sad and scared and no one helped.

2. Annie and Perry only discovered that something was wrong a few hours later when the camp called to say that Phoebe was not on the expected plane in Grand Rapids. At the point, both Annie and Perry got on the phone.  Annie got someone in India who wouldn't help beyond telling her:

'When I asked how she could have missed it given everything was 100% on time she said, "it does not matter" she is still in Chicago and "I am sure she is fine". '

Annie was then put on hold for 40 minutes when she asked to speak to the supervisor.

3. Meanwhile, Perry was also calling. He is a "Premier" member in the United caste system so he got to speak to a person in the U.S. who worked in Chicago at the airport:

"When he asked why she could not say but put him on hold.  When she came back she told him that in fact the unaccompanied minor service in Chicago simply "forgot to show up" to transfer her to the next flight.  He was dumbfounded as neither of us had been told in writing or in person that United outsourced the unaccompanied minor services to a third party vendor."

4. Now comes the most disturbing part, the part that reveals how sick the system is.  This United employee knew how upset the parents were and how badly United had screwed-up. Perry asked if the employee could go see if Phoebe was OK:

"When she came back she said should was going off her shift and could not help.  My husband then asked her if she was a mother herself and she said "yes"­he then asked her if she was missing her child for 45 minutes what would she do?  She kindly told him she understood and would do her best to help.  15 minutes later she found Phoebe in Chicago and found someone to let us talk to her and be sure she was okay."

This is the key moment in the story, note that in her role as a United employee, this woman would not help Perry and Annie. It was only when Perry asked her if she was a mother and how she would feel that she was able to shed her deeply ingrained United indifference -- the lack of felt accountability that pervades the system. Yes, there are design problems, there are operations problems, but the to me the core lesson is this is a system packed with people who don't feel responsible for doing the right thing.  We can argue over who is to blame and how much -- management is at the top of the list in my book, but I won't let any of individual employees off the hook.

5. There are other bad parts to the story you can see in the letter. Of course, they lost Phoebe's luggage and in that part you can see all sorts of evidence of incompetence and misleading statements, again lack of accountability.

6. When Anne and Perry tried to file a complaint, note the system is so bad that they wouldn't let them write it themselves and the United employee refused their request to have it read back to be fact-checked, plus there are other twists worth repeating:

We asked to have them read it back to us to verify the facts, we also asked to read it ourselves and both requests were denied.  We asked for them to focus on the fact that they "forgot" a 10-year old in the airport and never called camp or us to let us know.  We also asked that they focus on the fact that we were not informed in any way that United uses a third party service for this. They said they would "do their best" to file the complaint per our situation.  We asked if we would be credited the $99 unaccompanied minor fee (given she was clearly not accompanied).  They said they weren't sure.

We asked if the bags being lost for three days and camp having to make 5 trips to the airport vs. one was something we would be compensated for (given we pay camp $25 every time they go to the airport).  They said that we would have to follow up with that separately with United baggage as a separate complaint. They also said that process was the same­United files what they hear from you but you do not get to file the complaint yourselves.

7.  The story isn't over and the way it is currently unfolding makes United looks worse still in my eyes.  United had continued to be completely unresponsive, so Annie and Perry got their story to a local NBC TV reporter, a smart one who does investigations named Diane Dwyer.  Diane started making calls to United as she may do a story.  Well, United doesn't care about Phoebe, they don't care about Annie and Perry, but they do care about getting an ugly story on TV.  So some United executive called Annie and Perry at home yesterday to try to cool them out.

That story was what finally drove me to write this because, well, if bad PR is what it takes to get them to pretend to care, then it is a further reflection of how horrible they have become. I figured that regardless of whether Diane does the story or not, I wanted to make sure they got at least a little bad PR.

I know the airline industry is tough, I know there are employees at United who work their hearts out every day despite the horrible system they are in, and I also know how tough cultural change is when something is this broken. But perhaps United senior executives ought to at least take a look at what happens at JetBlue, Virgin America, and Southwest.  They make mistakes too, it happens, but when they do, I nearly always feel empathy for my situation and that the people are trying to make the situation right.

ANS -- White Right-Wing Christian Terrorist

Here's another from Doug Muder.  He makes a point about how we regard "the other" as far more threatening than one who is like us, and when we are confronted by a contradiction of that, we equivocate. 
Find it here:  

White Right-Wing Christian Terrorist

Tuesday, when CBS News did a segment on the man who killed seven at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, one word was conspicuously absent: terrorist. All the pieces to make that judgment were in place: Wade Michael Page had a long history in white supremacist groups. (The album covers of his white-supremacist bands are pictured at the bottom of this article, where you can easily avoid looking at them.) His victims were non-Christian and non-white, and they gathered at a non-Christian temple.

His massacre was violence against civilians, apparently for the political purpose of terrorizing the racial or religious groups they belong to. That's terrorism.

No white Christian terrorists. But the mainstream media doesn't often call white Christians terrorists, and even if they express their motives in Christian or white-supremacist terms, you seldom run across the phrase "white Christian terrorist". Almost by definition, terrorists are Muslims. And conversely, violent Muslims are terrorists.

When someone does tie a terrorist act to Christianity, you can count on seeing a lot of pushback ­ articles begging for nuance, emphasizing how out of the Christian mainstream the terrorist's views are, refusing to take seriously a childhood connection to Christianity, and instead demanding specific evidence of a religious motive (which hasn't shown up yet in Page's case). Again, these principles don't apply when the killer has brown skin and a Muslim name.

The white killer also gets portrayed with more sympathy. The CBS report includes pictures of Page as a cute boy, and shows his step-mother describing him as "kind and gentle and loving".

I'll bet Khalid Sheik Mohammed was a cute child once, but this is the picture of him I've seen over and over.


No right-wing terrorists. You also don't hear the term "right-wing terrorist" very often. In 2009, a report by the Department of Homeland Security called attention to the problem of right-wing violence, and identified "disgruntled military veterans" as targets for recruitment by right-wing hate groups. It quoted a civil rights organization:

large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the [U.S.] armed forces.

The potential recruits were "a small percentage" of veterans, but a small percentage of a large number can still be disturbingly large.

Page was precisely the kind of veteran the report was talking about. But it's too late for the report's author (Daryl Johnson) to get credit in DHS, because he's long gone. The report raised a furor in the right-wing media, which interpreted it as a slander against both veterans and the rising Tea Party movement.

Michelle Malkin wrote in the Washington Times:

It's no small coincidence that Ms. Napolitano's agency disseminated the assessment just a week before the nationwide April 15 Tax Day Tea Party protests.

Her column ended: "We are all right-wing extremists now. Welcome to the club." That message was echoed by Fox News and Republican leaders: Right-wing terrorism was something the Obama administration dreamed up to slander all conservatives.

DHS responded to the furor by dissolving Johnson's team, and Johnson himself left DHS a year after the report was published.

What I think is going on. There is an underlying narrative in mainstream culture that People Like You are threatened by People Like Them. If a story fits neatly into that frame, then OK, go with it.

But if the obvious interpretation of an event is that People Like You are the threat, that's a problem. Nobody wants to hear that. And so Juan Cole's Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others includes:

6. White terrorists are random events, like tornadoes. Other terrorists are long-running conspiracies.

  Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf puts it like this:

Watching Oak Creek, that subset of Americans was put in a position to realize that a day prior they'd have identified with the terrorist more than his victims. And so they quickly looked away.

Instead, we want to hear that the Threatening One is really not like us after all. He's not a member of a group; he's a loner. He's not acting on beliefs that we share; he's crazy. And his action is not a one-sided eruption of our hate onto their innocence; he's a tortured soul who once had the potential for goodness; the suffering he inflicts arises from his own suffering.

The same thing happens on smaller scales. A couple years ago, the director of my church's religious education program was describing the articles she'd been reading about bullying. They all discussed how to help your child deal with being bullied. "None of them," she told me, "addressed the possibility that your child might be the bully."

But the bully is always someone's child. And no one wants to hear that.


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By weeklysift, on August 13, 2012 at 11:31 am, under Articles. Tags: racism, religion, terrorism, violence. 6 Comments
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  • []  Dave On August 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm
  • Permalink | Reply After reading this, I was thinking about people I know who would react negatively to this analysis and come up with any number of rationalizations for their bias. I realized that your piece is an appeal to intellectual honesty, and that these people really don't care about intellectual honesty. Then I started asking myself why they don't care, and ended up posing this question on their behalf, "Why should I care about intellectual honesty? What's in it for me? How does it make my world better/safer?" and realized that they may actually need an answer to those questions. Maybe a subject for a post some day.
    • []  weeklysift On August 14, 2012 at 8:12 am
    • Permalink | Reply That is a good topic that deserves a longer answer, but one aphorism I throw around is: "Reality is an acquired taste." It's like spicy food or coffee; the first time you get a blast of reality it's like "Why does anybody like this?" But reality has an intricate beauty that no cartoon fantasy can match.
  • []  Jalal Michael On August 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm
  • Permalink | Reply The real terrorist is the one who blow himself up to kill innocent people,The savage ideology makes them that way .DO NOT compere apples to rocks.Colorado,,Wis. events were event were crimes have with terrorism.The Arab who killed 23 soldier in Virginia is a terrorist.
    • []  weeklysift On August 14, 2012 at 8:07 am
    • Permalink | Reply Actually, Major Hasan was not a terrorist. He attacked a military base. So he's a traitor, but not a terrorist.
  • []  Anonymous On August 14, 2012 at 12:20 pm
  • Permalink | Reply One interesting idea. I dont believe it is right to hold anyone indefinitely without trial for any reason, but suppose a terrorist act is committed by a White Christian. Why is there no effort to move him to Gitmo or some other holding facility and pursue "advance interrogation" or whatever the administration moniker is for torture at this point in time? Is trial by jury only good enough for Whites?

ANS -- I Read Everything About Paul Ryan So You Don’t Have To

this is from The Weekly Sift, and it's more "getting to know Romney and Ryan".   Read it. 
Find it here:   

I Read Everything About Paul Ryan So You Don't Have To


Much ink was spilled this weekend about Paul Ryan. Here are the ten best observations I found:

1. This was Plan B for Romney.

Steve Kornacki:

The most important thing to know about Mitt Romney's running-mate choice is this: It's not the move he would have made if the campaign was going the way he hoped it would.

Plan A was to frame the election as Barack Obama vs. Somebody Else, and Mitt all but changed his name to Somebody Else. Beyond a few believe-in-America platitudes, the Romney campaign has been the anti-Obama campaign.

That strategy led to what Ezra Klein called a "policy gap" ­ not a gap between Obama's policies and Romney's policies, but

Obama has proposed policies. Mitt Romney hasn't. … Romney's offerings are more like simulacra of policy proposals. They look, from far away, like policy proposals. They exist on his Web site, under the heading of "Issues," with subheads like "Tax" and "Health care." But read closely, they are not policy proposals.

Klein gives many examples, including:

On financial regulation, Romney would 'repeal Dodd-Frank and replace with streamlined, modern regulatory framework.' That is literally his entire plan. Three years after a homegrown financial crisis wrecked the global economy, the likely Republican nominee for president would repeal the new regulatory architecture and replace it with … something.

Romney's plan to "repeal and replace" ObamaCare is equally light on the "replace" part. The Romney website lists a lot of virtues his plan will have, but only hints at how it will achieve those virtues.

Until Saturday, everything about the Romney candidacy was fuzzy, even whether or not he supports RomneyCare. He bowed to all the conservative icons during the primary campaign, but his Massachusetts record pointed the other way, and Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom indicated that Romney's primary commitments might be null and void after the convention:

I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again.

In hindsight, the hole in that strategy is obvious: Not only did this looming betrayal make the base edgy, but Romney's refusal to define himself let Obama define him as the slash-and-burn financier who destroyed American industry and walked away with all the money.

All summer, Romney has been helpless against the assault. Does he want to make women bear their rapists' children? Does he want to raise taxes on the middle class? Did he pay any taxes himself? All possible responses would force Mitt to be Somebody, when he really wanted to be Somebody Else.

The results showed up immediately in Romney's unfavorable rating.

Romney's overall favorable/unfavorable score remains a net negative – a trait no other modern presumptive GOP presidential nominee (whether Bob Dole, George W. Bush or John McCain) has shared.

And eventually Obama started to pull away in the head-to-head polls.

Time for Plan B.

2. Ryan's voting record is very, very conservative.

[] Nate Silver notes that Ryan's Congressional voting record gives him a DW-Nominate rating "roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann". Ryan may not be as physically wild-eyed as Bachmann, but ideologically they're very similar. That makes him the most ideologically extreme VP candidate from Congress since at least 1900. (See chart below.)

Given Mitt's fuzziness and Ryan's high-contrast definition, Ryan's positions are now the Romney-Ryan positions. The Etch-a-Sketch option is gone.

Those Romney-Ryan policies include privatizing Social Security, turning Medicare into a voucher program, and drastically cutting Medicaid. (Ryan hopes that some magic wand at the state level will create efficiencies, but the Urban Institute estimates some 14 million poor people would lose coverage.)


3. Ryan is both a Catholic and a follower of atheist author Ayn Rand.

He's very anti-abortion but completely ignores the long series of socio-economic encyclicals that started with Pope Leo's Rerum Novarum in 1891.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote letters criticizing the Ryan budget, which Ryan falsely rejected as not representing "all the Catholic bishops".

Catholics have a real decision to make in this election. Are they single-issue anti-abortion voters? Or does the Sermon on the Mount still count for something?

4.The Ryan pick focuses the election on the deficit.

Matt Yglesias complains:

focusing attention on the big-picture disagreement between Democrats and Republicans about long-term fiscal policy means we won't be focusing attention on what ought to be the most pressing economic policy issue of our time­mass unemployment and the tragic waste of human and economic potential it represents.

This cuts both ways. On the one hand, it plays into the popular misconception that lowering the deficit would create jobs. (Both Econ 101 and the experience of Britain say that cutting the deficit will destroy jobs.) That favors Romney.

On the other hand, Obama's balanced plan for dealing with the long-term deficit is much more credible than the Ryan/Romney plan to cut rich people's taxes even more, increase defense spending, and make up the difference by closing unspecified loopholes and cutting unspecified spending.

Ezra Klein explains how steep those cuts would have to be:

Ryan says that under his budget, everything the federal government does that is not Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security will be cut to less than 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050. That means defense, infrastructure, education, food safety, energy research, national parks, civil service, the FBI ­ all of it. Right now, that category of spending is 12.5 percent of GDP.

Another way to put 3.75% in context: Romney has already promised to put "a floor of 4 percent of GDP" under the defense budget alone.

5. Ryan's reputation as a deficit hawk is undeserved.

Ezra Klein:

the real north star of Ryan's policy record isn't deficits or spending, though he often uses those concerns in service of his agenda. It's radically reforming the way the federal government provides public services, usually by privatizing or devolving those public services away from the federal government.

More bluntly: The deficit is just an excuse to shrink government. If the deficit went away, Ryan would rebuild it by cutting rich people's taxes and letting corporations skim a bigger profit out of public services.

Paul Krugman says Ryan's budget-sausage contains $4.6 trillion in "mystery meat": Like Romney, he claims his tax cuts for the rich will be balanced by closing loopholes, but he doesn't identify any of those loopholes.

We've heard this song before: Republicans always claim their tax cuts won't increase the deficit, but they always do. Reagan's did, Bush's did, and Romney's will too.

They will try to claim that Ryan's cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and every other non-defense program are necessary to save our children from the deficit. ( MoveOn points out the ways in which the cuts harm our children ­ like making it harder for them to get an education if their parents aren't rich.) The election probably hangs on making the public realize that those cuts have nothing to do with the deficit and will instead go straight into the pockets of the rich.

Early focus groups indicate that sale won't be hard for Obama to make.

6. He's not as smart as he thinks he is.

Ryan has benefitted from what President Bush (in another context) called "the soft bigotry of low expectations". The prevailing media prejudice is for "balance". But the reality of the last few years has been a reasonable administration facing an opposition that abandoned anything resembling facts or logic in favor of pure obstructionism and open hatred.

How to balance that? Paul Krugman explains:

What these people need is reasonable Republicans. And if such creatures don't exist, they have to invent them. Hence the elevation of Ryan ­ who is, in fact, a garden-variety GOP extremist, but with a mild-mannered style ­ to icon of fiscal responsibility and honest argument, despite the reality that his proposals are both fiscally irresponsible and quite dishonest.

I don't think Ryan understands this process, so I expect him to be totally floored when the media starts covering him more rigorously and asking reasonable questions.

The Republican rank-and-file also don't understand. They believe Ryan is really, really smart and expect him to wipe the floor with that doofus Joe Biden.

I think they'll be surprised.

7. Ryan is a creature of Washington.

Wisconsin reporter John Nichols describes him as "Dick Cheney with nice hair".

he is a guy who went to Washington as soon as he could, rooted himself in the establishment, got himself elected as soon as he could and became a major player

Joan Walsh offers him as an example of "the fakery at the heart of the Republican project today".

The man who wants to make the world safe for swashbuckling, risk-taking capitalists hasn't spent a day at economic risk in his entire life.

If you want to make an Ayn Rand character out of him, Wesley Mouch is a closer match than John Galt. Walsh continues:

guys like Ryan … somehow become the political face of the white working class when they never spent a day in that class in their life. Their only tether to it is their remarkable ability to tap into the economic anxiety of working class whites and steer it toward paranoia that their troubles are the fault of "other" people – the slackers and the moochers, Ayn Rand's famous "parasites."

8. He voted for all the budget-busting policies of the Bush administration.

According to the LA Times, Ryan voted for TARP, the unfunded Bush prescription drug benefit, the Iraq War, and (of course) all the Bush tax cuts.

Deficits only became a problem after Obama was elected.


9. Obama owns foreign policy now.

Romney and Ryan look good posing in front of a mothballed battleship, but that's the only qualification either brings to the job of Leader of the Free World. Meanwhile, Obama is the guy who finally got Bin Laden and ended the unpopular Iraq War.

Thomas Schaller observes that until now

at least one candidate on every GOP presidential ticket during the past half-century could boast at least some foreign policy, diplomatic or defense chops.

Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating comments:

Romney seems to be wagering that foreign policy will not be a major issue in the campaign.

10. Ryan would be the real power in a Romney administration. And if Romney loses, Ryan is already the front-runner for 2016.

When Romney introduced Ryan as "the next president of the United States" Steve Kornacki heard a Freudian slip:

while it will be the former Massachusetts governor who is sworn-in as the 45thpresident if the GOP ticket prevails this November, it will be Ryan who sets the new administration's policy direction.

The New Republic's Michael Kazin predicts Ryan would be more powerful than Dick Cheney.

Republicans have never before nominated someone for V.P. in hopes that he, and not the would-be President, would define the critical domestic policies of the entire federal government.

MSNBC's Alex Wagner agrees:

Republicans envision an administration in which Romney has relegated
himself to a kind of head of state role … with Ryan as the actual head of government

Why? Well, Ryan has a philosophy and a real constituency in the Party and in Congress. He also carries the standard of the Koch brothers. Romney has none of that.

Already on Saturday, Nate Silver tweeted:

If Obama wins, most likely 2016 match-up is: Paul Ryan vs. Hillary Clinton. That would be pretty epic.

Kornacki describes Ryan 2016 as "the Right's long game".

But even if Ryan's budget proves an albatross for Romney and the GOP ticket goes down, it's not hard to see conservatives rationalizing away the defeat: The problem was Romney couldn't sell the message – that's why the next time we need Ryan at the top of the ticket!

After all, right-wingers still haven't admitted that Palin was a liability to McCain. As Digby put it years ago: "Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed."

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