Bronco Billy And The Convention Circus

I guess Donald Trump wasn’t available.

But they got the next best thing.

I don’t know who the Republican genius was that thought it would be a good idea to have Clint Eastwood address the convention in prime time, but, as a Democrat, I’d like to personally thank him or her.

Unfortunately, by now the Republicans have offered their thanks to the genius by giving him or her a much less dignified, but certainly much more challenging, job: getting the chili sauce stains out of Newt Gingrich’s shirt, after that disappointed Romney surrogate got a little sloppy last night while pulling an all-you-can-eat all-nighter at the Golden Corral in Tampa.

That’s how Newt drowns his sorrows, and Republicans had reason to be especially sorrowful, after they quickly figured out that this year’s Republican National Convention will now be remembered, fittingly, as the night Clint Eastwood gave his greatest performance, at least in terms of representing today’s GOP.

His utter disrespect for President Obama, though cringe-inducing for most normal folks, was quite enjoyable for those lucky enough to be in the house for such buffoonery. The only thing that could have topped it would have been a Cheech and Chong routine performed by Donald Trump and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, with that zany Republican duo smoking dope, talking trash about Obama’s phony birth certificate, and doing an updated Obama-version of  “Basketball Jones.”

Our own Ozark Billy Long was in attendance and said this about Eastwood’s performance:

The crowd ate it up. They loved Clint Eastwood and loved his speech and my tip off was when all the liberals, including David Axelrod, was one of the first to chime in on Twitter, and, uh, some of the media folks down here started tweetin’ about how terrible it was, how egregious it was, and I thought, well, if we’ve ticked those people off, he probably did what he was suppose to do out there…talkin’ to the president, who wasn’t there, I thought that that was pretty entertaining…

And thus I leave you with that wonderful assessment from my congressman, our representative from Missouri’s 7th District. I am damned proud to be from such a place that would put such a man in Washington, D.C.

Aren’t you?

The Ryan Speech

Should not the multitude of words be answered? And should a man full of talk be justified? Should thy lies make men hold their peace? And when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed? For thou has said, “My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in Thine eyes.”

But, oh, that God would speak and open His lips against thee…

—The Book of Job

aul Ryan claims he is a good Catholic boy. And now we know that good Catholic boys make incredibly good liars.

Lying in politics mostly comes in the art form of spinning the facts to one’s advantage. Every politician does that and it is part of the profession. But sometimes there comes along a practitioner of the political arts who goes beyond spin, beyond the normal bounds of the business.

Paul Ryan essentially began his journey toward a new national political career and conservative stardom by denying his philosophical mentor, Ayn Rand, three times before the Romney-cock crowed with the news that he wanted Ryan to be his partner in a new limited liability company, Romney-Ryan.

And once he shamelessly denied his undeniable teacher, once Ryan said, “I reject her philosophy,” it was easy for this good Catholic boy to become part of a campaign that is brazenly attempting to elect Romney-Ryan, LLC, on a platform of secrecy, subterfuge, and slander.

Wednesday night’s convention speech was Ryan’s introduction to low-information voters, those folks who don’t much follow the news or pay attention to politics until it is forced upon them by the networks.

Thus, the temptation to tell the most audacious lies possible to that audience was irresistible, because first impressions are important, especially when a campaign has enough Koch and other billionaire money to keep impressing, to keep the lies going, fact-checkers be damned.

Ryan has lied about a GM plant closing in his hometown of Janesville, saying on August 16 of this year:

I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he’ll keep that plant open. One more broken promise.

During his convention speech last night, he lawyered up that claim and put it this way:

A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That’s what he said in 2008.

Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.

You see the serpent’s subtlety here? The sophist’s sophistication? In this version of things, Ryan is not now claiming Obama broke his promise to keep the plant open—because he never made such a promise—but he is connecting Obama with the plant’s closing in a way that makes it appear Mr. Obama was responsible for it.

The problem is the plant closed just before Christmas in 2008, a month before the newly-elected president took office.

Ryan also lied during his speech about the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, co-chaired by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson:

He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.

Notice the “they” in that sentence construction. “They came back with an urgent report.” But Mr. Ryan was part of that debt commission, part of that “they.” And he voted to kill the effectiveness of that “urgent report.” He did that. He voted to kill that report, which fell three votes short of being adopted and sent to Congress for an up or down vote.

And then Ryan claimed that Obama did “exactly nothing.” Hardly. As CNN pointed out:

Obama never fully embraced the Bowles-Simpson recommendations. But he incorporated some of the recommendations the co-chairs made in a plan he sent to Congress the following April, one that called for a mix of spending reductions and tax hikes.

All that and more is bad enough. But the most brazen of lies Ryan told on Wednesday, the one that should have literally brought the building down upon him if God were paying attention, was this one:

…the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly.

Now, not only is that a lie, it is one of those lies that the liar knows is a lie, as opposed to a simple friendly spin of the facts. Because there are no facts here to spin. This is an utter lie and it has time and again been exposed as one by fact checkers. But Romney-Ryan, LLC, are not in the fact business. That’s not their trade, not their expertise.

What they are good at is taking an admittedly effective lie and simply repeating it, again and again and again, against the wind of truth, as if the wind blows right through them—no, as if there is no wind.

Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly,” he said. He actually said that. He stood there in front of millions of people, his Catholic Christian credentials on his sleeve, and told older Americans that Mr. Obama, using “the biggest, coldest power play of all,” was using them—folks on Medicare, for God’s sake— for his scheme of “government-controlled health care.”

How does such wicked hubris get born?  Where does such dark audacity come from?  From the same place this comes from:

So our opponents can consider themselves on notice. In this election, on this issue, the usual posturing on the Left isn’t going to work. Mitt Romney and I know the difference between protecting a program, and raiding it.

Never mind that Mr. Ryan’s famous budget, which Mitt Romney enthusiastically embraced, included the same smart reductions in spending—not a penny of which “came at the expense of the elderly“; and never mind that Obamacare makes Medicare more solvent and offers older folks free preventive services and closes the prescription drug donut hole; and never mind that when Romney-Ryan, LLC, get finished with Medicare, “raiding it” may be impossible because there may not be an it to raid.

I know some Democrats today are a little nervous. Ryan’s speech, replete as it was with falsehoods, was a powerful one. Lies can be quite seductive. And I know some on the left are worried that successfully combating such a blatant and well-funded disregard for the truth may be impossible.

But of course it is not impossible. There is plenty of time. We will have our turn in the spotlight. We have our message. But part of that message must include a new offensive against the devilish disdain for facts that characterizes the brand of Republican politics that Romney-Ryan, LLC, are trying to sell to that razor-thin slice of the electorate who remain open to persuasion.

Democrats must, they simply must, begin today to call both Mr. Ryan, a former altar boy, and Mr. Romney, a fiercely loyal Mormon, what they are: liars of a rare breed who simply continue to lie despite being shouted down by the facts.

A rare breed of liars with a treasure chest of riches that can buy enough 30-second ads to shout down those shouting facts and smother the fact checkers. A breed so rare that we may never—must never—see their likes again.

And if Democrats fail to push back and win against such brazenness, if the dark partnership of Romney-Ryan is successful with its strategy of deceit, if they walk into the White’s House on a red carpet of fiction and fraud, then that rare breed of liars will no longer be so rare. They will beget a legion of imitators.

And our politics, our democracy, will never be the same.


Blinded By The White As I Watched The Convention

“I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

—Rick Santorum, January 1, 2012

kay, it took about a twelve pack, but I made it through the night watching the evening speeches at the Republican National Convention.

Hopefully, you all had better things to do than spend an evening gazing at a sea of white conservatives, listening to sometimes angry white speakers tell us that the Scary Negro in the White’s House is robbing all the nice, hard-working whites and giving the booty to other lazy, scary Negroes.

That, my friends, was the one coherent theme of the night, once you cleared away the fog.

I will offer up a few observations on what I saw, after John Boehner declared that President Obama should be tossed out of the White’s House Bar and Grill for, uh, offering health insurance to those who don’t have it, or something like that. It was that kind of night.

Chris Christie‘s delivery of the keynote speech was, I think a fair-minded observer would say, at best angry and at worst pissed off. As was noted by many a commentator, he spoke mostly about himself, which is probably why he was in such a foul mood.

He said, less than lovingly,

We are demanding that our leaders stop tearing each other down…

He said that just before he started tearing down Democrats.

Christie also said,

Our seniors are not selfish.

He better hope they are if he wants Republicans to win in November, since his party is selling its Medicare overhaul to them by assuring the geezers they won’t have to suffer its effects but their children and grandchildren will.

Ann Romney, God love her, did her best to tell us why Mittens was fit to be president and why he will work harder than any human being in the history of the planet to ensure that, well, that, uh, uh….I’ll have to go check the transcript on that one. I’m not exactly sure why she thinks Mittens ought to be president.

The various governors who spoke spent most of their time noting their personal economic achievements, which is funny since those achievements came under a president they claim is asphyxiating economic achievement. More tortuous Republican logic I suppose.

Rick Santorum‘s speech was very special. It was special in this sense: If an atheist wanted to advance incontrovertible evidence that there was no God, it might be the fact that Santorum managed to tell that fact-checked lie about Obama gutting welfare reform without being struck by a rather large and deadly bolt of heavenly lightning straight from the hand of the being who reportedly said,

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

But—I am now speculating—that since Santorum was not fried by divine outrage, there must have been some Talmudic technicality employed here, like, say, that Barack Obama, not being born in America, is not really a “neighbor.” God, as we all know, is a stickler for technicalities like that.

In any case, my favorite, and I assert most representative speaker of the night, was someone named Janine Turner, an actress and “talk show host” I confess I had never heard of. Her presentation pretty much set the tone for this night at the convention, and it nicely sums up what most Republicans actually think about government and the president who leads it.

She began my evening of beer-enhanced entertainment with what can only be described as a call to arms, delivered in a very creepy manner. When a Republican begins an address with, “Hello my fellow patriots!” then you know Democrats are about to be assaulted with both barrels.

Ms. Turner commenced her attack on Democrats with a lie, the substance of which was repeated in some form or another by nearly every subsequent speaker and a lie that deserves some space to refute. First the lie:

Our Constitution guarantees us a republican form of government in Article 4, Section 4, but our liberal brethren, they don’t feel constrained by our Constitution—that’s convenient for them—by ignoring constitutional limits they do what ever they like, don’t they? Yes! Like grow the government to unbelievable and unsustainable heights and accumulate historic and catastrophic debt.

Now, I’m not exactly sure how high liberals would like to see government grow. It is entirely conceivable that they would like to see it grow to “unbelievable and unsustainable heights,” although Republicans have set a standard that Democrats will have a hard time surpassing.

But the problem for Ms. Turner’s thesis that liberals have accumulated “historic and catastrophic debt” and that they want a very tall and unsustainable government is that it so happens the very right-wing Washington Times, which I am sure is part of Janine Turner’s bathroom reading regimen, began a story in October of 2008 with this wonderful paragraph:

George W. Bush rode into Washington almost eight years ago astride the horse of smaller government. He will leave it this winter having overseen the biggest federal budget expansion since Franklin Delano Roosevelt seven decades ago.


The story goes on to note,

Mr. Bush already is the first president in history to implement budgets that crossed the $2 trillion a year and $3 trillion a year marks. His final budget, which comes to an end Sept. 30, conceivably could near $4 trillion, depending on the final tab for the financial rescue.

The Washington Times article also included this:

…federal budget numbers show spending under the Bush administration rose from 18.4 percent of GDP to 22.5 percent – a 4.1-point increase – and could end up even higher.

The only presidents to approach that level of growth were President Carter, who grew spending as a percentage of GDP by 1.5 points, and President Ford, who grew it by 1 point. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan and Clinton all decreased spending relative to the overall economy.

Measured in dollars, “Federal spending has grown twice as fast under President Bush as under President Clinton,” said Mr. Riedl of the Heritage Foundation.

Hmm. But there’s more:

As a result of all this spending, the country has gone from a $128 billion budget surplus when Mr. Bush took office to a deficit of at least $732 billion in fiscal 2009, according to OMB. The final 2009 deficit likely will be even higher.

Of course the deficit was higher—much higher—and it is that trillion-dollar-plus deficit that Mr. Obama inherited and with which we still live today, thanks largely to Republicans, who cut taxes and went on a spending binge.

So, that’s that.

But Ms. Turner’s real point—and the subtextual theme for the night—was yet to come:

Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Yes. But today Obama enabled an entitlement society that says, “Give me liberty and gimme gimme.” Why? Because Democrats depend on dependence. America was not born with a gimme-gimme mentality and American liberty cannot survive with a gimme-gimme mentality. America was built with her hands at work, not with her hands out…

Free enterprise has paved the way for Americans to earn their own success and it has created an America that has yielded an unprecedented level of progress. This progress has lifted up humanity to greater heights of living and a greater level of dignity. Mitt Romney will preserve this exceptional American legacy.

Barack Obama? Barack Obama will destroy it. Obama is stifling the American Dream primarily because it isn’t his dream. His dream is not of an independent people. His dream is of a dependent people based on the failed principles of antiquated government.

You see? Obama, the “food stamp president,” doesn’t dream the same kind of dream those white folks in that Tampa convention center dream. In fact, he not only doesn’t dream their dream—the American Dream—he is actively seeking to “destroy” their dream, to take what they have worked so hard for and give it to those lazy folks with their “gimme, gimme” hands out, their greedy, undeserving—and pigmented—hands.

A Window

A window is a transparent or translucent opening in a wall or door that allows the passage of light…

—from Wikipedia

s that festival of falsehoods, that carnival of calumny, that pageant of prevarication known as the Republican National Convention is about to begin, I want to note all the attempts over the weekend to alchemize Mitt Romney, to shake that famous Etch-A-Sketch and draw him anew.

All three cable channels, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox “News,” presented some form of “get to know the Romneys better” piece, with CNN and Fox, of course, doing the most to turn the Romney we have come to know—as Fox’s Chris Wallace reminded us in his fluffy “Costco” piece, Mittens has been running for president eight years—into something more palatable, more marketable to that thin slice of the electorate who is still open to persuasion.

And by the way, one has to wonder, at this point, why there are any folks left—among those who will bother to vote—who haven’t made up their minds. Obviously, some haven’t been paying close attention, since politics for them is, like the recent Olympics, an every-four-year event.

Others, let’s face it, aren’t really willing or capable of making a rational choice, particularly one that might actually help serve their own economic interests. This micro niche of people will, almost literally, wait until the last minute and essentially hang their vote on some scrap of information—true or false—that will give them peace with their “choice.”

That having been said, all the attempts to refurbish Romney don’t really matter. It’s not important for people, who are still evaluating him, to conclude that Romney is a bad man or a good man or to figure out “who he is, what makes him tick,” as a Republican spokesman said this morning.

Because ultimately what should matter to everyone is exactly what President Obama told the Associated Press:

I can’t speak to Gov. Romney’s motivations. What I can say is that he has signed up for positions, extreme positions, that are very consistent with positions that a number of House Republicans have taken. And whether he actually believes in those or not, I have no doubt that he would carry forward some of the things that he’s talked about.

That is what matters. What will a President Romney actually do? Has he embraced all those “extreme positions” just for show, just to appease the extremists who hold them? In order to believe that one would have to believe Mitt Romney is an abject liar and then vote for that abject liar. Or one can believe that Romney means what he says and he will govern, as much as Democrats permit him, with those extreme positions as his guide.

Listen to RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who when he wasn’t dodging rhetorical bullets from Chris Matthews on Morning Joe this morning, uttered this syntactically challenged but revealing sentence:

What more specific can he get than picking Paul Ryan as his Vice President?

That statement, fresh from the lips of the GOP chairman, is ten-months pregnant with the truth about Mitt Romney. He chose Paul Ryan—who undoubtedly is a hero to extremist conservatives everywhere—precisely because it best demonstrates how he will govern. Ryan has spent his entire adult life—all of it!—in Washington, D.C., and if anyone knows how the place works, he does. And if anyone can lead Romney to that Randian promised land, he can.

Priebus told us this morning that Ryan and his House GOP budget are “a window into the types of things we need to do…

A window,” he said. If people will only open their eyes and see.

An Inspired Idea For Putting “A Human Face” On Mittens

A regular commenter, John McNight, recently offered Republicans a brilliant idea:

The upcoming Republican National Convention plans to reintroduce Mitt Romney to America; an effort will be made to put a human face on the nominee. I hope this staged endeavor features Mitt, Hank Williams Jr. and Donald Trump lounging around a cracker barrel, cracking ‘birther’ jokes with Sheriff Arpaio. After the laughter has died down they can then display genuine sadness that America has an illegal alien in the Oval Office. Even though drinking whiskey is against Mitt’s religious beliefs — as are releasing income tax documents — maybe he’ll send the Tennessee delegation into a flag waving frenzy when accepting Hank’s offer to take a pull. It’s too bad Sarah Palin won’t be in attendance. Having her jump over the old country store stage set on a red, white and blue motorcycle would undoubtedly set off a thunderous chorus of USA! USA!

My response:


Now that I think about it, what better way to “put a human face” on Mittens than, “A Relaxing Evening With Three Rednecks,” featuring a conspiracy-drunk fake billionaire from New York City, a washed-up country singer from Nashville nicknamed after a ventriloquist dummy, and a fascistic xenophobe-with-a-badge from Phoenix? That undoubtedly classy presentation of a real cross-section of Republican America would be one that Democratic convention planners could only hope to top.

As for Sarah Palin, there is a good reason she won’t be part of the act in Tampa and thus will not be jumping over “the old country store stage set” on a patriotically dressed hog, her Arctic-warming cleavage presented with all the on-air tastefulness of a Fox “News” “info-babe.”

The resulting erotic commotion among the Viagra-needy “sock monkey-waving social conservatives” (nice phrase you came up with, by the way; have you ever thought of blogging?) in attendance would be too much for local security to contain, what with SKIN Tampa—the city’s “only upscale Full Nude Ultra Lounge” and “home of the $10 lap dance“—a mere five minutes from the convention center. A thunderous herd of hopped-up, manly Palinistas seeking less wholesome titillating entertainment is not part of the contingency plans of Tampa’s finest, I’m sure.

And speaking of SKIN Tampa, the laissez-faire entrepreneurial spirit, so much celebrated by the Republican Party, is alive and well in Florida. Not letting an obvious profit opportunity pass it by, SKIN Tampa has an unassailable bidness strategy. It is offering:

FREE transportation and complimentary VIP for RNC Attendees and Press

How many times, do you suppose, that Bible-totin’, social conservative good ol’ boys get a chance to play VIP for a night, uh, for a night or three, in the presence of butt-nekkid small bidness gals as they freely advertise their best God-given assets?

From SKIN Tampa‘s website, you can see how much thought went into attracting patriotic teavangelicals:

My guess is that the jacked-up SUV in the picture above will spend a lot of time shuttling male folks hanging around the Elect Peter Kinder tent, or, when it is up and running, “curious” guys trolling near Dick Morris’ Free Pedicure booth.


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