Democracy Soup

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Archive for September 2012

Paul Ryan is not a good sample of potential Gen X political leadership

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If I had $100 for every time I’ve heard that Paul Ryan is the first Gen X person on a major presidential ticket, I could pay off the deficit. The only problem is that he’s not the first.

The sitting president, Barack Obama (1961), is Gen X. So is former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (1964). Ryan (1970)  is only the third.

Baby Boomers, who are the ones making this error, erroneously count those born between 1961 and 1964 as Baby Boomers when they belong to Gen X. Yes, we’ve been taught that Baby Boomers go from 1946 to 1964, even though Gen X is defined as 1961-1981.

Baby Boomers have been a generation that has constantly needed its ego stroked. These people lived it up when they were young, then cracked down on young people when they themselves got old. They tried to save the world, but when they sold out, they could convince themselves otherwise.

Previous coverage:

Obama health care summit good TV but bad policy
Obama vs. McCain = Generation X vs. Traditionalists: Which direction do we take?

We keep hearing that future generations are going to be more tolerant of social issues such as gay marriage. The problem is getting some of those younger people into higher office.

Paul Ryan might indeed become vice president in 2013, but assuming that he won’t, the future of Gen X in this process isn’t much of a short-term future.

Barack Obama will be 56 years old in 2017, and if he wins in 2012, Obama will join that ex-presidents section forever since he won’t be able to run again.

The top Democratic names are definitely Baby Boomers: Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. No one knows if either of them will run, but they will have distinct advantages should they choose to enter the race. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (1963) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) (1954) are possible contenders, though Warner is definitely a Baby Boomer.

Keynote speakers usually scream “future” and both parties submitted Gen X nominees: Julian Castro (1974) for the Dems and Chris Christie (1962) for the GOP.

For the GOP, assuming Romney loses, Rick Santorum (1958) and Michele Bachmann (1956) are Baby Boomers. True, Paul Ryan could run as could Sarah Palin. However, their record for mendacity might render them powerless beyond the primary campaign.

Bill Clinton was the first Baby Boomer to be elected president in 1992. Al Gore was the second Baby Boomer vice president after Dan Quayle. Between Al Gore and George W. Bush, the choice was between fellow Baby Boomers. John Kerry was born (1943) just before the Baby Boomers kicked in.

Ryan and Palin were picked in part because of the potential for the youth vote. Though they were young, and clearly younger than their running mates, their appeal — based on policy — didn’t appeal to those young people. Young people, who already feel ostracized thanks to screwed up economic policies kicked in under Baby Boomer leadership, certainly aren’t going to vote to cut off their economic future under the Ryan budget.

2016 may not be the continuation of the Gen X trend under President Obama, but at some point, Baby Boomers are going to have to trust a younger generation to do better by them than they did to us.


Mitt Romney doesn’t get that people use food help only when necessary

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“There are 47 percent … who are dependent upon government … who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.” — Mitt Romney

“Entitled to food” is a rough concept to accuse an individual for doing, much less a larger paint brush of 47% of the country. People don’t gleefully say they are receiving food assistance. Nobody holds up their heads with pride or whistles in line at a food pantry. You are there because you feel like you have no other choice.

As much as people who paid $50,000 for a plate of food to hear Romney speak at that Florida fundraiser in May would like to view the world, no amount of private outlets can satisfy the need for food assistance even in pretty good times.

Government has the resources to step in and help people, especially since the Recessive Depression of 2008. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to sharply cut that alleged “gravy train.”

For more coverage, check out this column from our sister blog,

In Mitt Romney’s 47%, Tea Party people lack personal responsibility

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If you consider yourself a part of the 47%, you definitely are in the 99%. And who said Americans were afraid of math?

The punditry thinks of the American landscape in a 47-47-6 mentality going back to the 2000 race. That stale take should have disappeared after the 2008 race. Barack Obama’s convincing victory took care of that “divided” mentality.

The equally divided approach fit in well with the MSM philosophy of equating false comparisons.

After all, Mitt Romney said something really bad at a fundraiser. So did Barack Obama. Well, not really. But equal is equal, according to the MSM mentality.

Barack Obama got in trouble in 2008 for saying something that was awkwardly put, but absolutely true. As for what Obama said in 1998, well, every tax policy is redistribution. The election can come down to whether really rich people should get more money, or people making up to $250,000.

Forgetting the condescension of what Romney said, it also wasn’t true. The 47% percentage. The fact that they pay other taxes. The idea that they don’t care or take personal responsibility.

Have we forgotten the poor women who were pepper sprayed for no reason last fall? Have we already lost in our memory of the Occupy movement? This is proof that people cared and took personal responsibility.

Doing Occupy wasn’t easy. Being a teabagger was really easy. Still waiting for the first story of a teabagger to be pepper sprayed.

The Occupy people were standing up for the people who didn’t benefit from the bounce back of the economy. The people sitting in that Florida fundraiser: they bounced back really quickly from the recovery. The rest of the people — the 99% of the 47% — are still waiting.

Romney also missed the point that some of those 47% are teabaggers. Whatever we might think of them, rich is not what comes to mind when you describe teabaggers. The difference is that they don’t understand that Obama isn’t a socialist. The other difference is that the teabaggers voted in people to Congress — House and Senate — who are interested in helping teabaggers to get jobs.

Now Romney wants the teabaggers vote even though he doesn’t want to get them jobs. Sure there will be 12 million jobs because Romney says so, but there is still no plan for how that will happen. If the GOP keeps the House and Romney gets elected, they won’t work to get America more jobs. And they’ll still blame this on non-existent welfare cheats and whatever other racially coated statements they make.

The teabaggers don’t care and don’t take personal responsibility but can’t see themselves in Romney’s rant. Their latest escapade is to put pressure on swing states to rid voters rolls of supposedly dead people to get fewer potential Dems to vote in the election. The real Tea Party people of the late 1700s would never stoop to prevent people — well, white land owners — from participating in elections.

The teabaggers have the legitimacy that the Occupy people desire; the Occupy people have the care and personal responsibility that the teabaggers will seemingly never have. If only the teabaggers would use their power for true representative democracy.

The best way to get the ball rolling is to convince the teabaggers that Romney thinks of them as being in the 47%. But as long as racially coded messages work on the teabaggers, they won’t get the true message.

Mitt Romney’s intro to foreign policy was just a misplaced mendacious talking point

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As an American, I wanted Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to issue statements that would reflect well on the United States after the attacks in Libya and Egypt. They’re not even close to being ready for leadership on foreign policy.

I posted this on Facebook in a way to show a true non-partisan stand, one that presidents and presidential candidates should weigh before launching potentially troubling statements. People, sadly, expect a bit of this bravado on domestic issues where nothing is particularly at stake. Somehow, for international incidents, especially one as disturbing as the attacks in Northern Africa, we have a different standard.

Liberals on Facebook gave me a “like” for my statement, but didn’t submit comments on the statement. Conservatives weighed in disturbed that Obama had “apologized” as Romney noted, and why should we have a commander-in-chief who apologizes for American stands. One of them has a son who will join the Marines, so her concern is a bit more personal.

I had started this exercise in a way to show non-partisanship in a time of international crisis. I don’t mind my Facebook friends who criticize Obama. The funny part is that liberals don’t like to criticize the president, even when he needs to hear that.

I can understand some of their fear. After all, the criticism of Obama from the right gets daily airings, whether they are fact-based or not.

Whatever you might think of me or my politics, I can sincerely handle criticism of the current president. And I truly meant what I said about Romney and Ryan about their statements. Short of a Hail Mary x 100, either Obama or Romney is going to be president. And I’d like to have a president who can handle the dangers that still lurk outside our borders.

Romney dropped the ball by going too early, by adapting a political point to a situation where it didn’t even apply, and criticizing the president for something he or anyone else did not do in the middle of an ongoing situation.

I wasn’t crazy about John McCain’s foreign policy but had a reasonable assumption that he knew what he was talking about. Okay, so he still thought Czechoslovakia was still a country in 2008, and he was a little obsessed about war. So maybe McCain isn’t a good example.

Mitt Romney had kept his domestic policy as vague as possible, but he does have somehow somewhere a domestic policy. His foreign policy has been hidden better than his undisclosed tax returns. To make the debut of thinking about foreign policy on the early morning of September 12 in the middle of an ongoing situation where American diplomatic people were killed — irresponsible is only the beginning of where to start.

Getting back to my conservative friends on Facebook, I asked them in the most pleasant tones I could muster in print to please show me proof that Obama or anyone else had done what Romney had accused them of doing. After all, if what Romney said was true, that would be the easiest thing to find on the Internet. Still waiting for that proof.

Of course, in reading this, you could supply this proof in the comments section. I will go even further and if someone submits a moment where Obama or any embassy did what Romney is describing, I will go on Facebook and disclose this.

The talking point that was pounded into our head during the Republican National Convention was that Obama was an apologist. There isn’t any basis in reality, just like the accusations of Obama being a socialist. We would have a better society if we had the same standards for lying on domestic issues as we do for international problems.

The fact that Romney’s initial statement and his double-down follow-up matched the talking point is discouraging and depressing. The lie didn’t even fit the scenario, and Romney didn’t wait until all the facts were in to start the lie.

Romney said “it’s never too early … .” If Romney gets to be president, he will find that being too early will get this country in trouble overseas. If he really wants to be president, Romney needs to learn that lesson between now and November 6.

DNC 2012: Barack Obama trying to get supporters to love him again

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If the teabaggers had actually listened to the words in Barack Obama’s DNC convention speech, they would have heard a man who wants to work with the other side of the aisle, no matter what mean or nasty things they have said about the president. Then again, Obama had been that same person all along, even with liberals thought he was the second coming.

There is virtually no chance that the teabaggers actually paid attention to anything Obama says, rather they only want to hear what they think he is saying behind his actual words. For a group that has much in common with evangelicals, who wear their “literal translation” of the Bible on their sleeves, they certainly don’t believe in literal translation of Barack Obama.

The teabaggers, who threw their support completely behind the Republicans (despite their independent stance), have been rewarded with 0 job bills passed by the GOP-led House. While the unemployment numbers aren’t good, you can assume they are much worse for teabaggers.

Obama was criticized because of the lack of hope and change in his speech. Maybe absorbing hope and change is easier in a football stadium than a basketball arena. If you were looking for a symbol of Obama 2008 and Obama 2012, look no further than the difference between 80,000 and 15,000.

Of course, the House members voted in by the teabaggers have no interest in helping teabaggers and other people with those desperately needed jobs. The jobs numbers that came out after the convention speech weren’t great, but once again, the MSM gave all the blame to Obama and no blame to the GOP-led House that won’t pass even a bad jobs bill.

When Obama went through his “you did that” part of his speech, you almost wanted him to say, “When we as Dems worked hard to pass jobs bill and get things done in Washington, you kicked them out and put it do-nothings who were more concerned about getting rid of women’s reproductive rights than a jobs bill, you did that. When we needed momentum in 2010 to keep the House in the Dems’ hand and you weren’t as ‘excited’ as you were in 2008 and you stayed home, you did that. And now, when the Republicans are trying to take back the White House, you aren’t sure if you are as excited as you were in 2008 and you might stay home on Election Day, you did that.”

Most of the new young voters, those that have turned 18 since November 2008, weren’t born when Bill Clinton first took office. Their memories have little to do with “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” and more about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Jay Leno telling really old Monica jokes, signing the end of the Glass-Stegall Act, and his exuberance in defending his wife in the 2008 election.

For those of us who remember the early 1990s, Clinton’s speech was a reminder of why he was a president that was cool. The first unofficial black president was “cool on the outside and burns for America on the inside.” For him to say that about Obama was a long way to healing the wounds of the 2008 campaign.

Clinton was the one who stepped up and pointed out the difference between Republican presidents (24 million jobs) and Democratic presidents (42 million jobs) since 1961.

“What works in the real world is cooperation,” said Clinton. Cooperation back in the 1990s was Clinton bending to the Republicans, including the horrible “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the welfare reform now being falsely attacked by the Mitt Romney people.

Obama, like Clinton, also has bowed down to the Republicans but without the little success Clinton enjoyed. Unlike in the 1990s, Republicans are paying big prices for even a little cooperation with Obama. Clinton pointed out that the Tea Party threw out 2 sitting GOP senators and a GOP House member for working with the Dems.

If Obama gets re-elected, expect something as bad or worse than the impeachment from the Republicans. As politically opportune as the impeachment was in the late 1990s, the GOP got what it wanted: a worn-down Democratic president who couldn’t get much done. It’s no coincidence that the GOP got the end of Glass-Stegall after the impeachment.

Michelle Obama stepped up in her own way to help out her husband. At one of the few slight digs to the other side, Mrs. Obama noted that “For Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” She showcased how her and Barack’s values were in sync based on how they were raised and how that has translated in the presidency.

“He believes that when you work hard and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. No, you reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”

You really felt like if Barack Obama was white and a Republican, the GOP would love his story.

The part about “he believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care” is not something Republicans like.

Bill Clinton, Julian Castro, Michelle Obama, Sandra Fluke, Elizabeth Warren, even Jennifer Granholm did a better job at telling Americans what the Obama Administration has done and will do than Barack Obama. Some anti-Obama people were worried we would get a bunch of speeches instead of policy. Well, we got policy in the first two years and not a whole lot of speeches in almost four years.

The Republicans needed 3 days of cheerleading to remind people to hate Barack Obama. The Dems needed 3 days of cheerleading to remind people why they should love/like/deal with Barack Obama.

Obama told us that this was “time to do some nation building right here at home.” Interestingly, Obama left out of the speech and talks in general of all the rebuilding that had been going on. Infrastructure was a way to unite red states and blue states (see 2004 keynote speech). Unlike the busy work of the 1930s, the United States has real infrastructure issues and we should have spent more on those problems. Obama can be upset that we don’t appreciate what was done, but Americans need reminding every Monday night in the fall that they might be ready for some football.

Every four years, we are reminded that women usually decide the election. The fact that Obama used “her” in the speech instead of “him/her” is a subtle reminder that Obama understands women far better than Romney. Having your wife, mother-in-law and two daughters in the front row on television helped drive that point home. The president is likely to get re-elected but while that is up to us, Obama and his team need to do better on reminding us what he has done. And if he is elected, he needs to do that much more often.

One compelling footnote to Michelle Obama’s life story. Her father suffered from MS just like Ann Romney. The GOP has mentioned very little about that chapter of Ann’s story, but it would seem that the two spouses might get along better than their husbands.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro handled the keynote speech rather nicely. Though Castro certainly took his shots at the opposition, his pleasant personality was a distinct contrast with the rude approach of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Castro played on the theme of “invest in opportunity today for prosperity tomorrow.” He noted that you “can’t be pro-business unless you’re pro-education.”

Most people who start businesses, a theme from the Romney camp, need to have a strong education and benefiting from investment. When Romney was asked about what to do in staring a business, the presidential candidate said to ask your parents for money to start the small business. “Why didn’t I think of that?” asked Castro. Romney/Ryan seem concerned about business, but have little concern for education.

Though people were panicking, turns out moving Sandra Fluke’s speech into the key 10 pm Eastern hour was a shrewd move for the Dems. With short attention spans, many average Americans had forgotten about what Rush Limbaugh and his fellow Republicans did to Fluke just for speaking up for women and birth control when women weren’t allowed to speak before the GOP-led Congressional committee.

Fluke reminded us that Obama “thinks of his daughters, not his delegates or donors.” The Dems really want voters to think of Sandra Fluke when they go the polls in November.

Elizabeth Warren needed the national spotlight in her uphill fight against Scott Brown for what was Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. Why Warren is behind is a bit befuddling, and if the Dems can’t win in 2012, this seat may be in GOP hands for some years to come, and this is a heavily blue state.

Warren is not a professional politician and she has proven that so far. Not that she needs to be very polished as we get closer to November, but for her own sake, she needs to be a bit smoother.

Referring to “bankers who strut around Congress asking for favors” definitely helps. Talking about a world where “no one can steal your pursue on Main Street or your pension on Wall Street” also helps out the cause.

If the national Dems have to spend money to win this seat, other races will suffer as a result.

One outside name some are talking about for the Dems in 2016 and beyond is Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. The governor deserves praise for his honesty in going on “Face the Nation” and saying “no” to the overhyped “are you better off than where you were 4 years ago” question.

O’Malley said this wasn’t the question, and he was right. True, he got blasted for not sticking to the script, and he later changed his tune. His honesty was nice while it lasted. Maybe voters can’t handle the truth, but when a politicians tries it occasionally, we do enjoy the show.

RNC 2012: Speeches of love, respect, lies, and still no jobs plan

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For Sarah Palin in 2008, the VP nomination acceptance speech was the high point of her run. If Paul Ryan’s speech turns out to be his high point, the GOP is in more serious trouble than we ever would have considered.

Ryan’s speech was filled with lies, distortions, criticism of Obama for the same thing he proposed (cuts in Medicare). We can’t wrap this up in a cute little “bridge to nowhere” synopsis, but delusion was the theme of both speeches.

Both speeches were eaten up by the base, but will likely prove to be an overall negative by everyone else.

Ryan was sold as being the intellectual part of the GOP. This is a party that does not believe in climate change and thinks women can protect themselves from rape sperm. His budget plan is spend on defense and very little else. This plan isn’t so much intellectual but a version of what Republicans want that sounds smart.

Few outside political circles know of Ryan, and in their eyes, starting out with lies hurt the VP candidate in 2008 and won’t help the VP candidate in 2012.

“Mitt Romney and I know the difference between protecting a program and raiding it (Medicare),” said Ryan in a truthful note. The problem is that Ryan thinks he’s protecting Medicare and the rest of us know he is raiding it.

Heck, Paul Ryan was more than a hour off when he said he ran a marathon under 3 hours. If you can easily lie about something that has nothing to do with politics and is easily verifiable, this feels like Sarah Palin, part deux.

Ann Romney gave us a speech about love. Chris Christie told us this was about respect, not love (thanks to the Colbert Report for noticing that theme). The speeches ran back to back in the same night. If we were to judge a party based on the convention was run, the GOP would lose in a landslide.

When the networks came into the 10 pm Eastern time slot, Clint Eastwood was on stage with an empty chair. The Mitt Romney video had already aired. Given that about 22% fewer people saw Romney’s speech than John McCain in 2008, Romney lost a huge opportunity to show who he is now.

The fact that more people were talking about Eastwood than Romney on Friday morning is either an embarassment or genius, if you wanted to hide how well Romney gave his speech.

Romney violated the cardinal rule of giving a speech on TV; the people in the audience aren’t your target, the people at home need your attention. And Romney fell short of that way too often.

Chris Christie was running for president in his keynote speech. His speech had a nasty tone, one that wouldn’t seem presidential but more egotistical. Christie hit on the GOP theme that Romney started about being “scaring and dividing.” Has Christie met Karl Rove or heard of Lee Atwater.

In one of the few times Christie mentioned someone other than himself, he said Mitt Romney will “end the debacle of putting the world’s greatest healthcare system in the hands of federal bureaucrats and putting those bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor.” As we’ve learned in the last two years, Republicans think that’s the government’s job. Forced invasive transvaginal ultrasounds. Christie ought to meet Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Watching Ryan bash Obamacare as something that “has no place in a free country,” the Republicans don’t seem to get that they are bashing something created by their presidential nominee. Even if Republicans outside of Andrea Saul aren’t allowed to mention that Romneycare was the inspiration for Obamacare.

Mitt Romney pointed out that after 2008, “Americans always come together after an election.” The Republicans didn’t. As Jon Stewart noted, “Bull-F*cking-Sh*t.”

Ryan noted that with the stimulus “he (Obama) got everything he wanted under one-party rule.” Except for the tax cuts in the first stimulus, or how the country needed a second stimulus.

The Daily Show, which did another outstanding job in Tampa, coined its coverage of the Road to Jeb Bush 2016. Still can’t quite seeing that happen, but if Romney loses, the GOP has a lot of directions to go in to find a contender. The formula of a moderate turned conservative picking a much younger, lying running mate isn’t a winning formula for the GOP.

“Unlike the president, I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs.” — Mitt Romney’s speech

Finally, Romney will tell you how he plans to create these jobs, this magical plan that he hasn’t felt like disclosing until now.

1) by 2020, North America will be energy-independent (including nuclear)
2) “the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow” by vouchers for private or charter schools
3) new trade agreements “when nations cheat, there will be unmistakable consequences”
4) job creators investments — “cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget”
5) champion small businesses — reducing taxes, simplifying modernizing regulations that hurt small business the most, reign in health care costs by repealing Obamacare.

1) Doesn’t Obama have a similar plan? Obama’s job plan calls for alternative energy jobs, including solar and wind. Romney seems to think that the Keystone XL pipeline will account for several million jobs. Canada will lose jobs in the deal, but even the plus effect still isn’t much. And Obama will support the pipeline once TransCanada comes up with a better plan for Nebraska.

2) Vouchers for charter schools or private schools has nothing to do with skills or job gains.

3) Obama has chartered new trade agreements, but these agreements haven’t helped job growth in the United States going back to the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement in 1989. More agreements won’t help.

4) Cutting the deficit and debt would help job growth. Starving everything but defense won’t help job growth.

5) Obama has reduced taxes, and simplified regulations. Republicans forget that responsible capitalism helped job growth from post World War II until Ronald Reagan took over. Besides, we tried this under George W. Bush and the job growth in that time was horrible.

If you are a Republican or you like Romney, you might like his 5-step program. But don’t think this would lead to any job growth much less 12 million jobs. Realize that to get to 12 million jobs, you have to average 250,000 jobs per month every month. Those are Clintonesque numbers. That won’t happen in 2013 regardless of who is in office. Even if Romney got all his rich corporation friends that are sitting on their money to use that dough to hire people, you still won’t get close to 12 million.