From Ann Romney’s heartfelt appeal to women to Chris Christie’s keynote speech that made us think he was the candidate accepting the nomination or perhaps we’d all been transported 4 years into the future to 2016, from fact checking a cheeky Paul Ryan to scrutinizing the vision for the future laid out by Romney himself, oh and let’s not forget the surprise guest in Clint Eastwood and his strange monologue to a chair, it was a republican national convention worthy of what we have come to expect from the grand old party; their crazy and their kooky their altogether ooky and we all wish it was just the Adam’s family. However it wasn’t the me, myself, and I focus of Chris Christie’s speech, he was later much criticized for, that was such an off color moment; it was the ominous feeling of what is to come from the republican ticket should they win this time around or in the future. The problem wasn’t that Paul Ryan is the ideological opposite to our sitting president, that he has different ideas about what will prosper this country; it’s that in a time when republicans, establishment and tea party alike, are preaching truth, the speakers at the convention spent most of their time distorting it, the fundamental fact that the policies they want to employ will make America unrecognizable and not in a good way. Neither is it that presidential candidate Romney doesn’t have a plan to handle the foremost issues on people’s mind; it’s the details of said plan that send unpleasant ripples up spines.
One of Chris Christie’s attention grabbing lines was choosing respect over love, talking at length about needing leaders, politicians willing to make the hard choices rather than paying attention to polls. The question for him then is where was his party’s respect for this country when they were willing to play chicken with the debt ceiling to “change the way Washington operates;” where was his party’s respect when house speaker John Boehner walked out of grand bargain talks that would have given us a 10 year debt solution. Where was his party’s respect when Michele Bachmann stood at a press conference broadcast on C-span talking about the essential portions of the governments bills that must be paid in the event of a shutdown instead of working toward achieving a deal? Where is the republican, tea party respect for the people’s issues when the president tried to give women access to reproductive care and politicians attempted to frame it as an attack on religious rights, while a conservative shock jock called the woman asked to testify before a congressional panel a slut for bringing out case after case of women taking birth control due to diagnosed medical conditions, not for the prevention of pregnancy? Where was his party’s respect for the people’s issues with literally dozens of republicans across several states began authoring personhood bills not only eliminating abortions but removing certain types of birth control from the market forcing women to undergo invasive procedures before having an abortion? There is clearly no respect for the people’s issues when their number one concern is the economy and they cut the teeth out of financial reform, decry bills requiring mortgage documents be in plain, readable English or that credit card companies can’t arbitrarily raise rates, cut credit limits, bash healthcare reform giving it to all people. There is absolutely no respect when millions are out of work and the first thing to get cut is job training, retraining, education vs. making wealthy and super wealthy persons pay their fair share. Where was his party’s respect for the office of the president, if not the person sitting in that chair, when they ignored sound policy, things previously supported now off the table because they don’t like the person occupying the Whitehouse i.e. the Dream Act, things the president has had to do by executive order to do what is best for the country? Then aforementioned party members have the nerve to call it an end run around congress. Someone should tell Governor Christie respect is earned; though most aren’t surprised he doesn’t know this considering he called a known gay congressman numb nuts and was suddenly surprised by the backlash. That is the kind of high school behavior he wants to bring into a Whitehouse already marred by dysfunction?
The next portion of Christie’s keynote speech could easily be dubbed why New Jersey’s way of doing things can’t become our nation’s way of doing things. Yes he touted cutting taxes, balancing budgets, but it’s the how he did it that was left out. He achieved it by putting off payments to pension funds for people in the system now, people working jobs most likely needing said funds, cut spending by erasing lower and middle class tax credits, which amounts to a creative way to raise taxes not lower them. He used his everything on the table approach to cut public education while telling parents it’s no business of theirs where he sends his kids to (private) school, he like Illinois and Ohio sought to strip the rights of unions, over pensions what else, even raising bus fares, slashing police forces, firefighters all in the name of the hard choices, sacrifice that must be made. Returning to the speech, after expounding on the good new policies and excellent leadership have done for his state he subsequently launched into a rant on the truth saying he was told you can’t tell the truth to the teachers union; wrong you can. Yet teachers unions aren’t the biggest obstacle to quality teachers in classrooms, training and teacher pay is; teachers unions, tenure aren’t standing in the way of accountability nor are they responsible for this myth you can’t fire bad teachers. However holding teachers accountable for getting results with no money, administrative or parent support is wrong, saying they are doing a bad job when they have little or nothing to work with is wrong. Often bad teachers are kept in their positions not by union rights but because the district determined they did nothing wrong, partly because they need a warm body occupying a room full of children. The truth is much of the scaring and dividing he described has been caused his own party; the debt problems are continually magnified by republican unwillingness to come to a compromise; Paul Ryan and his plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program set fear into seniors not the president, democrats willing to effectively outlaw abortion provided exceptions are made for rape, incest and a mother’s life, not good enough for extremist republicans. Fear mongering division that’s what the tea party seems to live for.
Speaking of Paul Ryan perhaps he needs to fire his fact checkers and start again, because he seems to have forgotten that anyone would or could check the validity of his statements; Mr. Ryan could easily be called king of the punch line, king of the things that sound good in speeches, make it appear as if you’ve given your opponent a verbal dressing down, but it was also a case of you knew he was lying because his lips were moving. It began with Obama lines about change, the places change still has yet to come and a GM plant that closed rather than being saved; however, the president’s speech was in 2008, mere months later the closing was announced. Another fact, the auto bailout saved the auto industry while Ryan’s running mate, the person many hope will be the next president, said let Detroit go bankrupt. Later in his speech Ryan would draw contrasts between the beginning and end of Obama’s first term saying it began with a housing crisis and ended with a crisis he failed to correct; well at least there were a number of government programs that tried vs. future president Romney who said let it hit rock bottom. Next he attacked the stimulus bill painting it as the USS good money after bad when Obama got “everything he wanted under one party rule,” yet Ryan’s hate of it did not keep him from petitioning for stimulus money in his district. Oh and the town housing that auto plant, the recovery that did come to it via other businesses, was helped by federal money; to say nothing of president Obama didn’t get everything he wanted. The stimulus he wanted was much bigger and arguably would have achieved more of his goals, improved things for people, but it was less in the interest of the cooperation, compromise all republicans claim the Whitehouse won’t do. Don’t think he stopped there, our future vice presidential hopeful’s third major topic was to name call the president’s healthcare bill saying it was 2,000 pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fines and fees that had no place in a free country; 2,000 pages of things like not dropping people from their insurance the moment they get sick, not being denied coverage because of a preexisting condition, all types of healthcare for all women without the moral compunctions of your employer interfering with the coverage you can get under the premium you pay for, provisions allowing kids to stay on their parents insurance until 26, giving some of the most vulnerable a chance to start their own life while coping with chronic disease, and finally helping employers provide health insurance to all employees, meaning everyone has coverage. Who thought those would ever be bad things? As his 37 minute speech went on he was on a role; not missing a beat he parlayed his views on Obama healthcare to leveling the accusation our current administration robbed billions from Medicare on top of aforementioned taxes, fines and fees to pay for their healthcare plan; wrong what they did was cap provider payments not necessary to provide services, cut down on fraud then use the savings to close the doughnut hole in the Medicare prescription drug program, conveniently adding 8 years to the Medicare trust fund. Incidentally a fund that would go broke, not in 2023 at the start of the Ryan plan, but in 2016, just in time for the American people to realize they’ve been duped and the Romney Ryan team to slink out of office leaving the mess for the next commander and chief. There is a resounding threat to Medicare; its name believe it or not isn’t Obama care. Instead the overwhelming threat to Medicare’s name is Paul Ryan.
In an attempt to no doubt appeal to young voters this first gen Xer to be nominated for such a high office spent a fair amount of time talking about opportunity and college starting with a statistic that over half of college graduates can’t find work in their field of study, assuming they can find work at all, and ended with another one liner proclaiming college graduates shouldn’t have to live out their 20’s in their childhood bedrooms staring at fading Obama posters waiting for their life to start. You know it could easily be his only true statement of the night; the question still remains what are he and his running mate going to do about it when that running mate’s response to current administration’s attempts to aid students in dealing with their student loans was to condemn it and advice to those students at one campaign stop was to shop around for their education, try to find the cheapest institution offering your choice of degree and to realize they were going to have to pay borrowed money back? What do they plan to do about it when fellow members of their own party said of occupy Wall Street get a job right after you take a bath, when what they were protesting was the lack of jobs, while financial sectors, corporate sectors continued to improve; what do they plan to do about it when someone goes on Fox News, better known as republican news central, talking about students majoring Peruvian bongo drums then complaining they can’t find work, in essence turning the plight of those other than the 1% into a punch line? On the other side you have the president putting together a plan help students manage their student loans, provide help, because the primary reason 20 something’s today are living in their childhood bedrooms is not only an inability to find work, but a need to live somewhere expense reduced, expense free to pour most of their income into loan repayments. You have a president putting colleges on notice to keep their tuition hikes no higher than inflation vs. Mr. Ryan who would cut Pell grants in the name of balancing budgets and cutting spending in many cases eliminating the opportunity to go to college at all.
Of course no republican gathering would be complete without the obligatory mudslinging centered around the debt on top of blasting the stimulus, railing against clean energy spending due to Solyndra’s supposed make believe marketing, going back to the contrasts between the beginning and now the closing of Obama’s first term, he said we began with a US triple A credit rating and ended with a downgraded America, left out was the pure fact America’s credit rating was downgraded because of his and his party’s blatant refusal to raise the debt ceiling, even knowing it was a possibility. Post speech he spoke to ABC news mentioning the debt clock ticking behind him, but the reason we have a debt clock hanging over our heads, the reason we have to fear the coming cuts of the bipartisan debt commission should a plan not be reached, is because the house speaker, again a member of his own party, walked out on the grand bargain talks; Ryan himself was a part of said commission then voted against their recommendations. Too much republican talk has been about long term debt and not understanding short term spending to ensure we have a recovery, hints the 5 billion dollar increase in spending republicans can’t stop squawking about; further we see via Europe the result of austerity programs, outside instability, violence they don’t work only serve to cause double dip recessions. But let’s use them all anyway; that is the republican path to prosperity. The other path to “prosperity” a fairytale budget making government spending 20% of GDP which even independent analysts say is impossible in the first place and would require sweeping cuts in the second, cuts to food stamps welfare, daycare subsidies, WIC, Medicaid, while he sincerely promises to respect elderly, help needy, give people the means to create their own opportunity not be stuck in some predetermined, limited destiny, calling it the America we want. What we really want to know is did he have his fingers crossed behind his back when he said all this?
Right on cue enter Mitt Romney who oddly enough spent the first 2 minutes sounding like he was a stump speaker for Paul Ryan accepting his nomination not the other way around and who spent the next 2 minutes extolling the virtues of immigrants, yet he represents a party who condemned the Dream Act, said during the primary debates let illegal immigrants return home to get in line like everyone else. After that it was a cross between irony and a comedy or errors which would have been quite funny except for the seriousness of the American situation today. He pontificated rather poignantly on what the last 4 years were supposed to be for average Americans, small business owners, young people and government, declaring it was the hope and change we voted for, we deserve. All true but what happened, the financial crisis brought on by Bush era deregulations, pre Great Depression Wall Street tactics al-a John D. Rockefeller and Jay Gould; what followed, the housing crisis brought on by similar problems in that industry. The republican response, to stymie financial reform saying it will cripple small businesses and thus hiring, the republican response to housing woes causing millions to lose their home, their piece of the American dream, limit dollar amounts on programs meant to keep families in their home, create requirements meaning many don’t qualify, do nothing to legally require banks to negotiate, prove there really is cause to foreclose. Our president’s response, do his best to pass financial reform in the face of a spiteful congress, attempting to make sure this never happens again, pass laws saying mortgage documents must be readable, lenders must operate on full disclosure detailing the risk of all loan types. And whatever you think of initiatives to help homeowners, it’s got to be better than the Romney plan of let it hit rock bottom. During the personal story telling portion of his speech he talked about his father’s lack of a college education instead working as a lath and plaster carpenter, then working at an auto dealership, going on to become governor of Massachusetts, spoken almost wistfully, projecting the idea college should be for everyone ironic since his running mate, his fellow republicans are willing to cut Pell grants to cut spending and he told students to be aware they would have to pay loan money back. To say nothing of Romney senior was able to take his auto dealership to heights of millions in wealth which presidential candidate Romney was able to parlay into the same, without really working a day in his life.
Next he spoke of his mother, her run for senate, the progress of women’s rights, her rallying cry: why should women have any less say than men about the great decisions facing our nation, continuing by naming the women holding government office speaking at the convention that night, rattling off the positions to which he appointed women as governor of his state, ending with his wife and knowing how hard motherhood was for her with 5 sons, knowing how important her job was over his. So, just a mini recap, we can elect a woman to any public office, let them take part in decisions effecting the nation, but we can’t let them make decisions about their own bodies particularly when those bodies have been violated by rape and sexual assault already; we can’t let them make decisions about when they, their spouse should start a family because birth control is unnatural according to fellow republican Rick Santorum. Switching gears, it was Romney’s turn to expound on the baleful status of the economy beginning with a jab that if people were excited about him, Obama, on election day shouldn’t they be excited now that he’s president, absolutely laughable coming from a man sporting an abysmal likeability rating, worst of any candidate in recent years. We can also tell you people are excited about Obama vs. the sting comic relief candidates put forth by the GOP, and no president Obama’s whole reelection campaign is not based on attacking success vs. championing it. By the way Bane Capital, business restructuring, too often destruction isn’t success, no matter if you call it investment management or a cheeseburger; no our sitting president is not attacking success, he is attacking uber wealth gotten by shady means, condoning corporate shyster behavior, playing fast and loose with other people’s money. Average Americans would also be a lot more comfortable with the candidate’s success if he paid his fair share in taxes at the median 33% not the rich people’s 13, but remember this is from a guy who calls fairer tax reform trying to redistribute the prosperity of today instead of facilitating the prosperity of tomorrow. For someone who has little or no experience running a business our president seems to grasp what constitutes bad business practice and has no intention of enacting the business deregulation supported by republican trickle-nomics. The latter provides the simplest explanation for why the “Obama economy” is the worst since the great depression, why more Americans are in poverty; similarly it explains the accusation he believes creating jobs is all about government, he’s spent the last 4 years cleaning up the opposing party’s mess. Actually the answer to the accusation is a no but he does believe in aiding businesses hit by the financial crisis, battling disappearing credit lines stay afloat, people without jobs get a job.
Contrastingly it isn’t that we don’t know what Romney would cut, how he would achieve what he says he wants to; it’s that we know exactly some of what he wants to cut. In addition to his 5 step plan to better our economy, create jobs, energy independence, improve trade, grow small business, reduce deficits, as if fixing our economic woes could be whittled down to 5 steps, taking points when even Chris Christie called solutions complicated and complex, he told CBS news shortly before the convention he would cut subsidies to PBS and Amtrak. Likewise in the name of spending cuts gone would be the national endowment for the arts and the national endowment for the humanities; bad ideas all the way around not only because they are mere drops in a bucket in reducing a deficit that calls for larger cuts in dramatically different places, but at a time when our education performance statistics are some of the lowest in the world, yes let’s cut PBS to kids who likely don’t have access to preschool. At a time when he himself noted the highest gas prices, yes let’s cut train services and other forms of mass transportation; let’s shrink not increase our chances at energy independence. Of course this guy’s idea of that independence is to pilfer our natural resources until they dry up not putting nearly enough into alternative energies. Honestly what can we expect from a person still milking the myth about the 700 billion Obama robbed from Medicare or who vows not to hike taxes on small business when the “tax hike” actually has to do with the mandate all employers provide health insurance, something the Obama government plans to provide aid for them to do, or involves the payroll tax holiday fought over by republicans who instead want sweeping tax code reform and want it immediately. On one hand he speaks of creating jobs, calling out the president saying cuts to the military mean people out of work and endangering our national security; irony of said statement in light of republican comments regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the wish to try former president Bush for war crimes or the supposed sidestepping of congress Obama engaged in regarding Libya aside, aren’t his plans to drastically reduce the size of government the same thing, going to yield the same results? So it’s only detrimental when the opposition wants it, true to current republican mentality. Yes at a time when our country is seen as less and less cultured, we no longer can afford art, music, creativity in schools, let’s remove the last hope of inspiration from people who seek to study create great works of literature, feed the soul with wondrous pieces of art. In a time when the top 10 worst degrees listed in terms of job prospects include almost everything to do with art, theater art, studio art, fine art, graphic arts, photography/film and liberal arts, everything to do with the humanities sociology, anthropology exc., lets remove all chances to be able to write well and communicate well; in a time where human behavior seems more and more erratic, lets remove all chance to study, create new theories on why people do what they do, explain cultural dynamics to actually solve some of our social problems.
The question isn’t, are you better off than you were 4 years ago; it’s where would you be now if extremist republican policies had become public policy? In their every man, woman and child for themselves world would we again see the breadlines of the 1930’s or worse? The question isn’t are we better off than we were 4 years ago; the question is where will we be in 4 years if the republicans, tea party extremist win the Whitehouse, put into practice even half of what they want to? Yes we do deserve better; the question is that the Romney Ryan ticket? There is no question it’s time to turn the page, not on “the Obama years,” said like a string of curse words, but on radical, ridiculous philosophies, ideologies and mindsets that serve no moral purpose and represent not even a fraction of citizens with outlying viewpoints taking up residence in our government. True hope and change begins with kicking out the extremist tea party republicans letting a degree of sanity return to politics and government return to function. Paul Ryan spoke of reviving an America where individuals are on their own path, can think for themselves, decide happiness for themselves, vs. being victims of fate; while he was talking in terms of the economy, in terms of government programs he described as there to help people cope with their fate rather than define it, actually Mr. Ryan we can define it. We can think for ourselves, decide happiness and other things for ourselves except where yours and your running mate’s, your party’s policies prevent us from doing so, except where the legislation you pass, the issues you raise prevent us from doing so.