Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama

This endorsement is a big deal. Also, see what Powell says about Mitt Romney and how he’s all over the place on foreign policy. That confirms everything President Obama has been saying about Romney and his constant flip flops.

Do you have a case of Romnesia?

This new riff from President Obama is hilarious, hitting Mitt Romney over his “severely conservative” positions that he’s desperately trying to hide now.

The Obama campaign has focused more on Romney’s extreme right wing positions over his flip-flopping, but the Romnesia line nicely encapsulates both arguments.

Expect to hear much more of this argument for the rest of the campaign, highlighting Romney’s disingenuous attempts to hide hos own record.

Have the culture wars flipped?

For years, Republicans used the culture wars to bludgeon Democrats as issues like abortion and gay marriage were used to rally their base.

Now we’re seeing Democrats get much more energized about these issues as Republicans have gone so far to the right on issues like abortion and contraception.

This election will provide an interesting test as to whether this strategy will work. Take a look at the Obama ad above calling out Mitt Romney for some of his more extreme statements he made on the subject of abortion.

Republicans vs reality

The Todd Akin fiasco is just another example of how many Republicans, and far right conservatives in general, seem to have a problem with science, facts, math and reality in general. This is what happens when your ideology becomes so entrenched that you start believing your own bullshit. You get elected officials saying that raped women can’t get pregnant, that Obama’s birth certificate is forged or that humans once lived side by side with dinosaurs.

As usual, Bill Maher has no trouble calling out this BS, arguing that the symbol for the Republican Party “shouldn’t be an elephant — it should be a unicorn.” Here’s more from Maher, as he calls out the absurd Ryan budget, which has nothing to do with balancing the budget but everything to do with worshiping conservative dogma:

Paul Ryan is their tough guy on spending but he doesn’t want to touch defense — that’s right, a budget hawk who doesn’t think there’s anything bloated about the Defense Department’s budget. It’s like being a health inspector and finding nothing wrong with the Asian place that has the chicken hanging in the window. This is how low we’ve put the bar for political courage — that you can just write, “I want a pony” in a binder and call it the “Plan For Restoring Vision For the Future of America’s Greatness” or some shit, and then everyone has to refer to you as the serious one in Congress. It reminds me of health care. Republicans are for all the popular things, like covering people with pre-existing conditions, but they’re not for the part where you pay for it, like the mandate. Just like they were for our recent wars, but not for paying for them. For the prescription drug bill, but not for paying for it.

The GOP has courted their lunatic fringe for years, and now Americans are getting a close look of exactly what some of these nuts think.

Paul Ryan the ideologue

It’s pretty obvious why the far right is thrilled over the Paul Ryan pick. He’s the poster-child of right wing extremism wrapped in a choir boy package. He’s a well-groomed and fit guy with a big smile and a polite demeanor.

But liberals are equally excited, and also terrified in case he wins. With Paul Ryan, the nation can now have a real discussion of some of the policies that Ryan, Mitt Romney and the Tea Party want to inflict upon America.

We’ll hear a lot about Medicare. It’s a complicated subject and both parties will hammer the other, but the charge that Ryan put forward a plan to “end Medicare as we know it” is essentially true. Taking away the Medicare entitlement and replacing it with a voucher system is extreme, and most Americans will not support it. The question is whether the Romney/Ryan campaign can blur the issue by hammering the President on his own Medicare cuts, which target providers as opposed to beneficiaries.

The Ryan Medicare cuts are even more stark when you consider the incredible tax cuts included in the Ryan budget. Ryan would basically eliminate taxes for capital gains, dividends and estates. Forget Mitt Romney’s absurd 14% tax rate. Under Ryan’s plan, Romney would have paid around a 1% tax rate in 2011!! It’s absurd.

Ryan is not a budget hawk. He’s an ideologue that worships Ayn Rand and is obsessed with cutting taxes and cutting entitlements. Ryan’s budget is a joke when it comes to tackling the budget or our long term debt.

But Ryan’s extremism isn’t limited to economic issues. This country is certainly divided on the abortion issue, but nobody is more extreme than Paul Ryan on this issue. He introduced the personhood amendment in the House, which would make a fertilized egg a person under the constitution, criminalizing all abortions, in vetro fertilization and many forms of birth control. This notion is so extreme that it couldn’t pass a referendum in Mississippi. He’s against abortion even in cases of rape and incest. He also sponsored the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act.

Ryan is also a hypocrite. Like many Republicans, he’s a self-proclaimed deficit hawk when a Democrat is in office, but he’s happy to spend like a drunken sailor in the name of party loyalty. Ryan rubber-stamped all of the ridiculous spending in the Bush years, including a new Medicare drug entitlement that wasn’t paid for.

Finally, he’s a neocon who supported Bush’s wars, and he’s unwilling to cut the defense budget as part of his budget.

Already, the Mitt Romney team is putting the clamps on Ryan, trying to turn him into a Mitt clone who says nothing. At least Ryan was willing to discuss budget numbers in the past, but now he hides behind Mitt’s vague plans.

As for Ryan’s character, he seems like a good family man etc. But his answers on Ayn Rand display a level of dishonesty that seems absurd. He idolized Ayn Rand and her philosophy, but when Catholic organizations criticized him for it, he suddenly disavowed her for her atheism, as if he never knew that after trumpeting her philosophy for years. At some point he’ll face an interviewing outside of Fox News who will hammer him on this (assuming the Romney campaign doesn’t hide him from the press like the McCain team did with Sarah Palin).

Maureen Dowd can be hilarious, and her take on Ryan is memorable.

No one likes a liar

Mitt Romney. UPI/Santa Fabio

This is Mitt Romney’s biggest problem.

Projecting moderation while professing extremism is quite a trick, and Romney may perhaps grasp the brass ring. But he makes everyone uneasy. Moderate Republican voters, of whom there may be more than meet the eye, may worry that President Romney will be captive to a GOP Congress beholden to the base. Tea Party types may worry that he’ll shake the Etch-A-Sketch again when dancing to a different piper, the general electorate and/or a divided Congress. No one, in any case, likes a liar, and people across the political spectrum know that Romney lies from sunup to sundown. Democrats know that nothing he says about Obama is true; conservatives know that nothing he says about his past positions and actions is true; and moderates know, or should know, that he’s betrayed them to the base.

Every politician plays the game, but Romney is just shameless.

Bring on the social issues

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks to supporters during a campaign appearance in Fallon, Nevada February 2, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

You can practically hear the champagne corks popping in the White House as the Republicans in Congress and the presidential candidates start talking about social issues. Rick Santorum wants to go back to 1949, and suddenly the angry right is talking more about contraception that jobs.

While most GOP strategists are horrified by this development, James Taranto tries to argue that this is a good thing for the GOP. Really.

If you’re a Republican in New York or another big city, you may be anxious or even terrified at the prospect that Rick Santorum, the supposedly unelectable social conservative, may win the GOP presidential nomination. Jeffrey Bell would like to set your mind at ease.

Social conservatism, Mr. Bell argues in his forthcoming book, “The Case for Polarized Politics,” has a winning track record for the GOP. “Social issues were nonexistent in the period 1932 to 1964,” he observes. “The Republican Party won two presidential elections out of nine, and they had the Congress for all of four years in that entire period. . . . When social issues came into the mix—I would date it from the 1968 election . . . the Republican Party won seven out of 11 presidential elections.”

Read the whole thing. It’s a staggering example of selectively picking facts to suit your argument. Listening to this argument, you would think that the Cold War, the economy and the Iranian hostage crisis had nothing to do with Reagan’s win in 1980 (let alone Ted Kennedy’s challenge to Carter in the primaries).

This simplistic view might placate some Republicans, and hopefully enough of them will jump on this bandwagon. Perhaps we’ll see a fall campaign with Rick Santorum railing against contraception and online gambling.

Romney’s Super PAC goes after Rick Santorum

Not surprisingly, Mitt Romney’s Super PAC is now going after Rick Santorum. Romney’s team has no choice, as Romney’s support is plummeting, yet all the negativity surrounding Romney’s attack ads is taking its toll on Romney as well. He’s a lame candidate, and his only strategy seems to be tearing apart even lamer candidates. His support among independents is tanking, and his “severely conservative” speech is making him a laughing stock with conservatives.

As for Santorum, he’s vulnerable to attack for many reasons. In a general election he’ll have to answer for his extreme positions on social issues, but he’s also the poster child for Republican mistakes during the Bush years when they spent like crazy trying to keep their majority.

Yet even with all these vulnerabilities, the Romney ad comes across as a series of cheap shots. Sure, Santorum voted to increase the debt limit, but everyone was voting that way, including practically all Republicans when Bush was president.

I still have no idea how this is going to play out, but whoever emerges from this savage primary season will be very damaged heading into a general election.

Mitt Romney gave $100 million to his kids without paying gift taxes

Ann Romney introduces her husband, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, at a campaign rally in Las Vegas February 1, 2012. The Nevada caucuses take place on February 4. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

It’s all perfectly legal, but now we have another reason why Mitt Romney fought like crazy to avoid disclosing his tax returns.

Read the article from Reuters for all the gory details. All of this is tied to the “carried interest” exemption that is basically a gift to private equity managers on Wall Street.

Romney will get hammered for this and his overall tax rate in the campaign, and it’s a legitimate issue as Romney is arguing that taxes for the wealthy should be even lower.

Oh, and this is the same guy who just said he’s “not concerned about the very poor.” And yes, his tax plan calls for increasing taxes on the working poor.

I was planning a post on how the GOP deserved Newt Gingrich, as his nomination would be the culmination of a generation of Republican politicians who practiced the worst form of divisive politics. An Obama landslide over Newt would be the perfect ending to that story.

But Romney might be even better. He’s the poster child for the ridiculous conservative argument that all our problems will be solved by lowering taxes on rich people. Romney, in his attempt to hide his liberal past, has embraced right-wing dogma on practically every issue, including taxes. Now, the public will see exactly what today’s conservatives stand for, and they’ll have a walking and talking embodiment of the type of people who benefit from these policies.

I don’t suspect they’ll like what they see. This election will likely be very difficult for Obama if Romney is the nominee, but the more I see of him, the more he looks like a Mike Dukakis in terms of political skills. Romney has real vulnerabilities in states like Ohio where he supported the anti-union law that got repealed by over 60% in a referendum. If Romney loses Ohio it’s likely he can’t win.

Romney as Flipper

This is one of the funnier Mitt Romney flip-flop videos.

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