Monday, August 13, 2012

Romneys, Ryans and Bears, Oh My!

     Conventional wisdom has always dictated that a presidential candidate strives to bring a certain balance (either geographic or ideological) to the ticket in selecting a running mate. Striking an ideological balance in Mitt Romney’s case would be next to impossible, given his numerous flip flops and somersaults on virtually every major issue. How do you propose to balance anything when Mitt’s in perpetual mid-flight? Geographically, it’s a stretch to say that Wisconsin offers balance to Massachusetts—though there are certainly plenty of folks on the right who’d maintain that anything provides balance to Massachusetts.
     So, that leaves one possible explanation for Mr. Romney’s selection of Mr. Ryan: pandering to the far right. Mitt has never recovered from the trauma of arguably being the most moderate of all the Republican presidential candidates (again, it’s actually hard to tell but that seemed to be the consensus). Mitt cannot abide being unpopular, and the Tea Partiers and other lost souls of the far right said some harsh things about him. Even some of his fellow candidates for the nomination offered some tough criticism. Of course neither Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry or Ron Paul will have any significant role at the Republican National Convention later this month, and one can safely assume Rick Santorum will be speaking in anything but prime time. Summus ultio,eh Mitt?
     It’s possible Romney may have succeeded in finally solidifying his conservative base, but where does the selection of Ryan leave him with the moderates and independents who will likely decide the election’s outcome? One close look at Mr. Ryan’s track record and recent proposals and you’d have to assume these folks will be breaking for President Obama, whether they really want to or not.
     Like his new boss, Ryan will only release two years worth of his tax records. He is an ardent opponent of Romneycare, er… Obamacare. He has previously advocated for the privatization of social security and favors morphing medicare into a voucher system.  He is fiercely anti-union (pro Scott Walker), anti-choice, and pro guns. It’s his budget proposals that engender the most fear amongst the thinking public, however. In addition to extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, Ryan favors further massive tax breaks for billionaires and millionaires, which he theoretically intends to pay for (though in fact he won’t even come close) by increasing taxes on the middle class and implementing massive cuts to education, health care, energy and medical & scientific research. In his wildest Romneyhood dreams Mitt can’t even begin to come close to redistributing the wealth to the wealthy like this guy proposes to do. Paul Ryan may well be the answer to Donald Trump’s prayers, but he does nothing for America.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Poisonous Brotherhood of the Nugent Wackos

You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried!
You can reliably count on politicians of both major parties (and their supporters) to make ludicrous comments with disturbing regularity during an election cycle, and 2012 has proved to be no exception.

Perhaps one the most disturbing statements thus far has come from Texas Republican Representative Louis Gohmert, and it had little to do with any political campaign but rather he sought to offer an explanation for the recent tragic shootings at the “Batman Dark Knight Rises” premiere in Aurora, Colorado.

According to Gohmert, the shootings were “the result of ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs”. In other words, secularism was to blame. Usually these types of off-the-wall pronouncements originate with someone like the Rev. Pat Robertson, but lately he’s been pre-occupied with sanctioning divorce in instances where one partner in a marriage is afflicted with Alzheimers. This time it’s Gohmert who’s donning the mantle of God’s spokesperson. Uh-huh.
In a similarly crazy vein (though in this case directly tied into partisan politics), Tennessee state Representative Kelly Keisling (Republican) emailed his constituents to inform them that President Obama is planning to stage a fake assassination attempt in order to stop the 2012 election from happening. Apparently this rumor has been widely circulated through conservative and conspiracy sites/blogs. Surprisingly, Keisling actually apologized saying “the message was inappropriate for distribution”. Really.

Luckily he pledges to “be more cautious regarding the information distributed from my office in the future.” Anyone laying odds?
Caution has never been a hallmark of crazy person Ted Nugent. In his most recent diatribe Nugent informs us that President Obama “represents everything bad about humanity.” Earlier this year he had referred to the President as “vile”, “evil” and “America-hating”. He added “if Barack Obama becomes the President in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” Nugent’s outbursts resulted in a U.S. Secret Service investigation. One might have hoped the experience would result in a more sober and thoughtful Ted Nugent. Not.

Perhaps the best we can do is pray for re-election and the chance that there may have been a prophetic element to his prediction!

Finally, where would any blog post on "crazy" be without the latest ramblings by everyone's favorite egomaniac Donald Trump?
Apparently the reality television personality and sometime businessperson will not be addressing the GOP delegates in Tampa, but promises an even bigger "surprise".  Perhaps it will have something to do with President Obama's birth certificate (since Trumps' pretty much a one trick pony).  Perhaps not.  In either event, wake me up when he's done... and not a minute sooner.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Time for Chris Christie to Shut Up & Listen

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, the soon-to-be keynote speaker at the Republican convention in Tampa, recently made one of his typically insensitive and downright absurd statements; this time referring to Rep. Carolyn McCarthy and a handful of others who have been brave enough to propose that online sales of ammunition be curtailed following the revelation that the Aurora Colorado gunman had purchased 6000 bullets on the internet for use in his Batman movie premiere massacre. Specifically, Rep. McCarthy’s bill would ban online and mail-order sales of ammunition by mandating that buyers present photo identification. The bill would also require ammunition dealers to alert appropriate authorities when someone purchases more than 1000 rounds.

Governor Christie apparently felt this was not “the appropriate time to be grandstanding about gun laws”. Ironically, this master of pomp has no similar thoughts regarding a fundraising letter mailed out by the NRA just three days after the shooting!

Governor Christie seems oblivious to the fact that he’s making reference to a woman whose husband Dennis was killed, and whose son Kevin was critically injured some twenty years ago when a man opened fire and randomly took 6 lives and wounded 19 others on a Long Island Railroad commuter train. Rep. McCarthy is all too familiar with gun violence.

In light of the Colorado tragedy, and the equally tragic shootings at the Sikh temple outside Milwaukee on August 5th, perhaps it’s time to re-visit Rep. McCarthy’s proposals. Contrary to Governor Christie’s twisted perception, this appears to be the ideal time. In fact, it’s long overdue. The waiting period for a new and sober discussion about gun control, and the NRA’s undue influence and outrageous ownership of the majority of our political representatives has expired.

I admit that Rep. McCarthy is one of my heroes. I admire her consistent and reasonable stance on gun control issues, and her proposals certainly don’t present a threat to anyone’s legitimate second amendment rights—contrary to the NRA’s carefully calculated hysterical “they’re coming for your guns” message.

Following the 1997 Empire State Building shooting, she introduced legislation to ban the sale of guns to tourists visiting the U.S. Also in 1997, Rep. McCarthy opposed a Treasury bill provision that would have allowed importation of weapons that were banned for sale in the U.S. Following the Columbine High School massacre, she proposed legislation that would make it more difficult for young adults to purchase guns, and would regulate gun shows. Once the Federal Weapons Assault Ban expired in 2004, Rep. McCarthy introduced the Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Act of 2007 that would ban 65 models of firearms, specifically any semiautomatic rifle, shotgun or handgun that was “originally designed for military or law enforcement use, or a firearm based on the design of such a firearm, that is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes, as determined by the Attorney General”. When it was revealed that the 2007 Virginia Tech murderer had been able to legally purchase a weapon despite documented mental health issues (a fact that slipped through the cracks due to inconsistent sharing of records between federal and state authorities), she introduced HR 2640, the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, to remedy the situation.

Rep. McCarthy’s proposals have been consistently thoughtful and constitutionally non-intrusive. It’s simply time for demagogues like Chris Christie to shut up and listen.