If Jesus ran for the Republican nomination

This from Bill Maher is fabulous.  Somehow, I never saw it till a friend posted to FB today:

Even more Ryan

Nice post from Jon Cohn.  Another nice visual display of just what Ryan proposes for our government:

Cohn also points out, that what Romney has already said (lacking specifics, of course) is actually more radical:

And how would these cuts compare to the ones in Ryan’s budget? The Center addressed that, too:

Governor Romney’s cuts would be substantially deeper than those required under the austere House-passed budget plan authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). Over the 2014-2022 period, Romney would require cuts in programs other than Social Security and defense of $7 trillion to $10 trillion, compared with a little over $5 trillion under the Ryan budget. By 2022, Romney’s cuts would shrink non-defense discretionary spending — which, over the past 50 years, has averaged 3.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and has not fallen below 3.2 percent — to between 1.1 percent and 1.6 percent of GDP.

In that sense, I suppose, Romney is telling the truth. He hasn’t endorsed Ryan’s budget. He’s endorsed something even more severe.

Meanwhile, James Surowiecki also has a nice post on the reality versus the “bold, truth-teller” media version that is the Ryan budget:

That may sound a bit strange, since so many stories about Ryan emphasize how serious and wonky he is, and insist that, unlike most politicians, he’s actually willing to talk in detail about the policies he’s advocating. Yet the reality of Ryan’s approach is actually very different. His tax plan, for instance, calls for trillions of dollars in tax cuts (heavily weighted, of course, toward high-income earners), but also claims to be revenue-neutral, since Ryan says that the tax cuts will be offset by eliminating loopholes and tax subsidies. But when it comes to detailing exactly what loopholes and subsidies he wants to get rid of, Ryan clams up—just as Romney has done with his tax plan. This is politically astute, since eliminating the tax benefits that have a substantive budget impact would mean eliminating things voters love, like the mortgage-tax deduction. But it’s a far cry from being honest and tough-minded.

Similarly, while Ryan has been reasonably upfront about his plans for Social Security (which he wants to privatize) and Medicare (which he wants to turn into a defined-contribution, rather than a defined-benefit, plan), he has been both substantively and rhetorically obfuscatory when it comes to the way his budget cuts would, over time, radically shrink the federal government, and effectively make it impossible for the government to do most of what it does today.

On a different note, anybody paying attention knows that Ryan has long claimed the nutty and objectionable ideas of Ayn Rand to be his political lodestar.  Now apparently he’s claiming she just wrote some novels he likes.  Riiiiight.

Okay, while I’m at it, might as well make this post Ryan-palooza 2.0.  Really nice post by Tomasky on how Democrats are going to have to work against the built in media “objectivity” that benefits Ryan’s radicalism:

These conventions work in this case on two levels. The first explicitly involves the journalistic definition of the word “bold.” Proposals are routinely labeled “bold” in journalism in a completely morally neutral way. It wouldn’t surprise me if we went back to American and British newspapers of 1938 and found a headline or two about “Herr Hitler’s Bold Sudetenland Gambit.” “Bold,” in journalism, can mean anything from genuinely courageous to utterly reckless to morally outrageous.

So by this definition, Ryan’s radical and draconian budget is definitely “bold.” This means he was a “bold” pick. This in turn means that Mitt Romney, lately just barely keeping his nose above the water line of “milquetoast,” is now suddenly “bold” himself! Works like a charm.

The second benefit to Ryan has to do with the way the media employ cliches based on long-held perceptions about the two parties and their leading figures. The Republicans are the party that cares about deficits historically. Actually, they’re not in fact remotely that. But that, however preposterously, is their perception and reputation. Ryan from time to time inveighs against deficits, and so he is unveiled to the American people, as The New York Times did over the weekend, as “intent on erasing deficits.”

He also links a fabulous Matt Miller column putting the lie to the idea that Ryan is actually a fiscal conservative in any meaningful sense.

Photo of the day

Back 10 years ago or so, my son David loved his stuffed sandhill crane toy that he got when we joined the Nature Conservancy.  We lost it and actually had to get a new one.  So, I’ve long had a soft spot for this bird.  Great photo in a recent National Geographic Photo of the Day:

Photo: A sandhill crane in flight over a lake in Michigan

Sandhill Crane, Michigan

Photograph by Jim Ridley, My Shot

Chart of the day

Ezra brings us a chart of the Ryan budget:

The truth is that the Ryan budget’s largest long-term savings don’t come from Medicaid or Medicare or Social Security, or even Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security put together. They come from everything else. Ryan says that under his budget, everything the federal government does that is not Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security will be cut to less than 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050. That means defense, infrastructure, education, food safety, energy research, national parks, civil service, the FBI — all of it. Right now, that category of spending is 12.5 percent of GDP.  [emphasis mine]

Just stop and think about that for a minute.  Ezra also points out that defense along has never been less than 3%.  This is a fabulously dishonest proposal. And secondly, somebody should ask Ryan (and Romney) just what essential government services that he basically plans on zeroing out.  Heck, this may not be a proposal to take us back to 19th century America, but 18th century America.  For everybody but old people, of course.    Nuts!!

Careful “liking” this post

If you have a wordpress.com account, you can “like” this post (and, thanks– I do appreciate all the likes I get), just like you can “like” a FB post.   Fascinating story in the Post looking at whether such “liking” is a matter of free speech:


Daniel Ray Carter Jr. logged on to Facebook and did what millions do each day: He “liked” a page by clicking the site’s thumbs up icon. The problem was that the page was for a candidate who was challenging his boss, the sheriff of Hampton, Va.

That simple mouse click, Carter says, caused the sheriff to fire him from his job as a deputy and put him at the center of an emerging First Amendment debate over the ubiquitous digital seal of approval: Is liking something on Facebook protected free speech?

Carter filed a lawsuit claiming that his First Amendment rights had been violated, and his case has reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. This week,Facebook and the ACLU filed briefssupporting what they say is Carter’s constitutional right to express his opinion, signaling the case’s potentially precedent-setting nature.

The interest was sparked by a lower court’s ruling that “liking” a page does not warrant protection because it does not involve “actual statements.” If the ruling is upheld, the ACLU and others worry, a host of Web-based, mouse-click actions, such as re-tweeting (hitting a button to post someone else’s tweet on your Twitter account), won’t be protected as free speech.

“We think it’s important as new technologies emerge . . . that the First Amendment is interpreted to protect those new ways of communicating,” said Rebecca K. Glenberg, legal director of the ACLU of Virginia. “Pressing a ‘like’ button is analogous to other forms of speech, such as putting a button on your shirt with a candidate’s name on it.”

I’ve got to think that the district court judge blew it and that this case will be overturned.  I think the ACLU’s arguments are spot-on here.  Sure, the like button can be ambiguous, but in “liking” the page of a political candidate?  That surely has to be as protected as sporting a button or t-shirt for that candidate.  Will be very interesting to see how this case and broader issue develops.

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