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.

  

Skirmish on the lunatic fringe

Grover Norquist is a right wing extremist when it comes to taxes and his “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” but in some circles on the far right he’s not to be trusted because he married a Palestinian Muslim. That’s right. The hero of many in the Tea Party has incurred the wrath of neoconservative nutjob Frank Gaffney, the high priest of conspiracy nuts on the right. You can read this article for a summary of the feud between these guys.

Gaffney is one of those neocons that helped sell the Iraq War and is now convinced that the Muslim Brotherhood is infiltrating the US government. To get some perspective on how nutty this guy is, watch the clip above where he tries to tie Saddam Hussein to the Oklahoma City Bombing!!! Even Pat Buchanan dismisses Gaffney as a nut.

Gaffney is the source behind the recent crusade by wingnuts Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert against Huma Abedin. But Gaffney doesn’t limit his conspiracy allegations to liberals as he’s proven with his allegations against Norquist. I guess it’s bi-partisan lunacy.

I don’t agree with Grover Norquist on anything, but this crusade against him is outrageous . . . and a little funny. It shows just how far off the deep end some on the right have gone, when even taxes and partisan politics won’t stop their wild conspiracy allegations.

  

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.

  

Newt Gingrich freaking out many on the right

You can’t really blame Ann Coulter and others on the right for their reactions to Newt’s victory in South Carolina. But the right deserves this. They’ve been built on hatred and contempt for the left and for Barack Obama, so this is what they get.

  

The Radicalism of Newt Gingrich

How crazy is this guy?

Newt Gingrich loves to accuse his political opponents of being “radical,” and yet he tosses around radical statements on a regular basis. His latest comments on judges even have conservatives howling.

Now he’s talking about using the capital police or U.S. Marshals to arrest judges that he deems to be out of line. Here’s a statement to FOX News from Michael Mukasey, a former U.S. Attorney General under George W. Bush, who said Gingrich’s comment were “dangerous, ridiculous, totally irresponsible, outrageous, off-the-wall and would reduce the entire judicial system to a spectacle.”

The man is a complete buffoon, and it’s easy to see why the conservative establishment is horrified at the thought of this clown becoming the nominee.

  

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