How’s Romney-Ryan Going To Play In The Heartland? August 13, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Economics, Politics.
Tags: ayn rand, choice, economy, middle class, mitt romney, paul ryan, VP
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It’s clearly red meat for the Tea Party, but almost anyone Romney picked was going to make them happy. Strict adherence to the no taxes/no abortion/no gay marriage/no compromise dogma is a requirement of the Republican Party circa 2012, and everyone from Chris Christie to Bobbie Jindal to Paul Ryan is singing that anthem down to the last note and coda. But Paul Ryan is the architect of the GOP economic policy and plan. He is the lyricist for this particular tune, and it’s got all the gray-haired gucci-booted patriarchs over on the right tapping their toes in time with the music. Romney’s pick of Ryan is a ringing endorsement of that economic plan and a declaration in no uncertain terms of what policy we can expect in a Romney/Ryan administration. There’s no doubt that the Tea Party adherents are drinking the Koolaid by the bucket, but how about the rest of the electorate?
I’m no expert on economic policy, but there are plenty of economists who have taken a long critical look at the Paul Ryan economic plan, and the future they paint under that plan is anything but cheery. Here’s an outstanding summary in one paragraph from Mike Lux:
The Ryan budget, which Romney has enthusiastically endorsed, is the ultimate fantasy of the far right and the extremist followers of Rand. It has virtually every cut and tax cut for millionaires ever proposed by right wing think tanks over the last 20 years in programs for the middle class and poor; it ends the guarantees of health and nursing home coverage for seniors and those with disabilities in Medicare and Medicaid; it completely deregulates Wall Street, health insurers, and oil and coal companies while keeping all their tax loopholes; it dramatically increases defense spending far beyond what even those in the Pentagon have been calling for, giving a massive benefit to defense contractors; it will, according to Brookings and every other analysis of the Ryan budget done, will force taxes on the middle class and the poor to rise in order to meet their deficit targets.
How in the world do the Republicans convince people to vote for that kind of future? How do you hypnotize the common man into voting against his own self-interest? I suppose you do it with fear, something the right has been very good at peddling for the last quarter-century. But even at that, don’t all these Teabaggers and dogmatic social conservatives realize that they too will be sick someday, that they too will be old some day, and that if their own fortunes someday faulter, there will be no one there to save them? All the Ayn Rand self-reliance libertarian bullshit is just fine until the day when all that’s left to rely upon is the kindness of others…and in Paul Ryan’s world, no such kindness exists.
What is the Ryan pick likely to do for Mitt Romney’s election choices? I’d say they haven’t changed by even one vote. Anyone who was already going to vote Romney is still going to vote Romney, and anyone who wasn’t going to vote Romney isn’t likely to change just because Paul Ryan is next in line. If he’d gone with Marco Rubio, maybe he’d have some chance at the hispanic vote, and maybe if he’d gone with a woman (Yeah, right…and which one would it be? Palin? Bachmann?), there’d be some hope of swinging some of that demographic, but otherwise, it’s pretty much a wash.
I like David Axelrod’s take on the VP choice. Mitt Romney says of the Ryan economic plan: “I’ve got my own plan.” Axelrod says that for the middle class that’s like a choice “between a punch in the nose and a knee to the groin”. Good luck with that.
The Inevitable Next Step: Anyone Not See This Coming? March 19, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Politics.
Tags: choice, contraception, john mccain, obama, porn, pornography, Santorum, women, women's vote
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Rick Santorum, who if he wins in Illinois tomorrow, says he will be the Republican nominee. He loaths abortion and says birth control goes against the natural order of things. I, for one, was just waiting for the other shoe to drop, and I didn’t have to wait long. On Friday, his campaign website posted a declaration of war on pornography if Santorum is elected president…which, if you give it a moment’s consideration, is pretty much a roundabout way of declaring a war on masturbation, which Santorum undoubtedly views as another mortal sin, life beginning at ejaculation and all that. Just in case anyone thought that they misread his position or intent, he doubled down on the Sunday morning talk shows, saying that Obama “favors pornographers over families and children”. This stuff just baffles me. Sure, there’s a segment of the population who think everything would be alright in America if we could just return to the moral rigidity of the early part of the twentieth century, but they’ve got to be a rather small minority. The rest of us would like to get our jobs back, get the economy rolling, and basically let people live their lives in privacy and peace.
Santorum, Gingrich, and Romney begin to make you long for the good old days of John McCain, who just might have pulled out that election in 2008 if he’d stuck to saying the things he’d said for forty years and ignored his handlers, who clearly made him toe the party line. With another election on the horizon, it looks as if he’s finally discovered where the GOP was holding his gonads hostage and is beginning to speak his mind again. He said on yesterday’s talk shows that the new Arizona anti-contraception law was wrong and should be vetoed:
“I think we have to fix that,” he said. “There’s a perception out there because of the way that this whole contraception issue played out … We need to get off of that issue. In my view, I think we ought to respect the right of women to make choices in their lives and make that clear and to get back onto what the American people really care about — jobs and the economy.”
Maybe the Republicans ought to think about giving McCain another shot. Even with a little incipient senility he’s got more sense than the current college of clowns put together.
Spina Bifida, Prenatal Testing, Abortion, And Hate Speech February 23, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Health Care, Politics.
Tags: abortion, choice, chromosomal abnormality, hate speech, rick santorum, spina bifida
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It’s pretty clear that I struck a nerve with my blog post “Sadly, There’s No Prenatal Test For Stupid“. I received a series of comments from individuals with spina bifida, all impassioned and articulate and intelligent, and all excoriating me for suggesting that their lives are somehow less worthy than lives of “normal” people. One writer went so far as to accuse me of “hate speech”. I appreciate those comments, and there is no doubt that they have a valid point. People with a whole range of disabilities have made great contributions to science and literature and the human condition. Many “differently abled” people lead reasonably full and happy lives and many parents of children with such issues feel that their own lives are enriched by the experience of raising these children.
But happy and full lives and enriched grateful parents are not by any means a constant or a guarantee. Prenatal testing does reveal primarily chromosomal abnormalities and neural tube defects. While mild spina bifida and Down’s Syndrome may fall in the gray zone on quality of life, there are other more severe neural tube defects and chromosomal syndromes that are far more debilitating, some with virtually no chance at full happy lives and others with virtually no chance at survival beyond weeks or months after birth. If demagogues like Rick Santorum get their way, all of these babies will have to be carried to term, and that is what I consider to be stupid and wrong. I do not suggest some sort of law or regulation or statute that all deformed fetuses be aborted. What I suggest is that the decision to carry the child or terminate the pregnancy be up to the mother, and that the physicians performing the tests be free to give their best advice based on the best available science.
I fully understand the debate here. The position of the anti-abortion advocates is that every life is worth living, no matter what. And the argument of the commenters on my prior piece is that their lives and the lives of others they know were certainly among those worth living, and I am happy for the success of those people and those lives. But what is true for them is not true for everyone. Some parents have neither the emotional nor the financial resources to raise a severely disabled child. It’s not even just about physical or mental disabilities. There are some mothers who know that their child will be born into poverty, deprivation, or abuse, and choose to abort their fetus rather than subject them to conditions they find unacceptable. I find that decision just as honorable and noble as the choice to bring a child into the world with known physical abnormalities. It is a choice, and never an easy one, but it’s what we need to protect and preserve: the right to choose.
Reversal Of Fortune: Homophobia In The Heartland January 27, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Politics, religion.
Tags: AIDS, choice, cynthia nixon, gay, gay marriage, GRID, HIV, homosexual, lesbian, Newt Gingrich, pope benedict
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For a long time, things seemed to be improving in this country. Beginning back in those hippy days of the 1960′s, it looked as if we were gradually easing into the Age of Aquarius. On issues like civil rights, human rights, gay rights, privacy, honest sexuality, freedom of and from religion, and public education, we seemed to be entering a new enlightenment, a time of tolerance, openness, and understanding. Now it’s all turned to shit. Really. I’ve gone from encouraged to frightened. Maybe it was 9/11 or maybe it was just some ingrained human opposition to change, but everywhere you turn right now, you find the darkness of ignorance and bigotry and mindless fear encroaching on any inroads of the light. This week’s examples:
Minnesota Parents Demand Schools Teach “Pray Away The Gay”: This one ought to warm the hearts of Michele Bachmann and her devout husband, who runs a clinic for washing away homosexuality with some combination of holy water and hypnosis. They also demand that the schools teach about GRID, Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, which is how the medical community stopped referring to HIV/AIDS about a month after the epidemic started. I imagine the term “GRID” would be fairly offensive to the millions of heterosexual individuals who have been afflicted with HIV/AIDS in the last thirty years. Ask Magic Johnson.
Cynthia Nixon: For Me, Being Gay Is A Choice: Well, maybe Cindy just got tired of penises in general, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that there’s an element of bisexuality in all humans, expressed to one degree or another depending on historic and social and environmental factors, but for several tens of millions of gays, they’ve no more made a choice about their sexuality than I made a choice about my eye color. This kind of statement from another bed-hopping celebrity just adds fuel to the fire of folks like the ones in Minnesota who’d like you to believe that homosexuality is not so much a choice as a disease, and one which is an affront to their god (who should also be your god or you should spend a trillion years in flames, but that’s another issue altogether…).
Newt Gingrich Equates Gay Marriage To “Rise In Paganism”: Yeah, right. All the gays are out in the forest running around campfires in the nude and chanting incantations. Newt should be statutorily prohibited from ever commenting on the sanctity of marriage. As an aside, this is also an insult to Wiccans, whose religion has every bit as much basis in fact as Christianity.
Pope Benedict XVI Says Gay Marriage Is “A Threat To The Future Of Humanity”: Whereas the Inquisition and witch burnings were positive developments to the march of civilization.
Tags: abortion, choice, notre dame, obama, pro-choice, protesters
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And Barrack Obama is running the risk that if he endeavors to please everyone, he’ll end up pleasing no one. Yesterday he finally made his long-awaited commencement speech at Notre Dame and he was greeted by protesters from both sides of the abortion issue. Obama, as ever, played the concilliator, the negotiator, the moderate. It can be argued that he handled the abortion issue brilliantly, noting, in a moment of celebrating the obvious, that deciding on abortion was always a gut-wrenching decision for the mother, something on which we can all agree, much like agreeing that war is always a tougher call than peace or that global warming ought to be avoided if at all possible…safe positions that are unlikely to offend potential voters. What’s disturbing is that the people who did vote for Obama might have liked to hear a little more. We’d like to hear that a woman’s right to decide the fate of her own body is immutable. We’d like to hear that abortion is a private matter to be decided privately, without government interference. We’d like to hear that those who oppose abortion have the right, like Sara Palin, to carry any pregnancy to term, but they have no right to decide the fate of anyone else’s pregnancy. We’d like to hear a little courage from the guy we elected president.
And The First Real Opportunity To Change History May 1, 2009Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Politics, World Events.
Tags: abortion, afghanistan, choice, ginsburg, iraq, moderate, nuclear weapons, obama, pakistan, progressive, souter, supreme court, taliban
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I said it repeatedly during the campaign. This was the main reason we needed a Democrat in the White House. Souter’s retirement is something of a surprise, but there will almost certainly be another opening on the court during Obama’s first term. Realistically, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who already survived a colon cancer in 1999, might succumb to her pancreatic cancer, or at the very least decide that her health and happiness would be best served by retiring. However many openings may occur, we can be assured that the new appointees will be moderates or progressives, and with a super-majority in the Senate, Obama’s nominees will be approved. That makes me rest a bit easier.
Now, as for the issue of Pakistan and the Taliban, there is no doubt that if Islamabad were to fall to Islamic radicals, none of us could sleep easy. Keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands out of the hands of ceritfiable nutcases is job one of any president. There was demonstratably no good reason to invade Iraq, and aside from revenge, I’m still unconvinced that we were justified in attacking Afghanistan. That being said, if push came to shove, there’s probably nothing we shouldn’t do to prevent the Taliban from gaining control of a hundred targetable functioning hydrogen bombs. With our military stretched as thin as it is, wasting time and resources in pointless entanglements like Iraq and Afghanistan, that’s going to make it a hell of a lot tougher to act in a place where intervention might really count, like Pakistan. Good luck, Mr. President.