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The significance for America of Romney’s choice of Ryan as VP

11 August 2012

Summary: Let’s consider the significance of VP Paul Ryan.  My conclusion: it makes little difference.  In our system the key decisions were made during the primaries, especially during the earliest months — when few paid attention.

This is America in the 21st century, irony ascendant.  Ryan is chairman of the House Budget Committee — the House being the senior chamber on money bills — with his primary distinction being his inability to craft a plan that adds up. Or remotely matches GOP priorities, or any rational sense of national priorities.

In this respect Ryan matches his running mate, whose economic proposals are ruining the reputations of the experts who signed them.

The saddest aspect of this pair of charlatans is that they’ll be treated as serious statesman — obsequiously so — by the legion of journalist-stenographers who will dog their footsteps until November.

No, that’s wrong.  The saddest aspect of this is that it marks the second time the GOP has nominated a team woefully unqualified for the Presidency. The elderly crank and his Alaskan fruitcake VP.  And now the innumeracy twins. All living proof that our political system broke years ago, and we didn’t notice.

But half of America will love them, applauding their every word. Just as the Democrats will applaud Mr. Hope And Change, despite that he broke most of his 2008 campaign pledges — and their hearts. It’s all about tribes today.  Who we are (or pretend to be), rather than policies.

Now for the good news:

.

It might not matter much difference who wins. Our candidates are much like our beers, indistinguishable in blind taste tests.

Obama’s economic and foreign policy largely continued those of Bush Jr. If elected, Romney probably will continue most of Obama’s policies.  Both are servants of the ruling elites in America, running America while we doze before our TVs.  That gives the system continuity and stability unappreciated by its critics.

The much discussed bitter polarization exists in rhetoric only, disguising the lack of substantive policy differences. Since they plan to do similar thing, their marketing pros turn up the volume. My candidate is an reforming angel of God; your’s is Hitler-Satan.

Now you can skip the rest of the campaign, except as entertainment (it’s primary function).

Updates

Transcript of presidential candidate Mitt Romney announcing his selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, as released by the Romney campaign.

For more information

The posts from the 2008 election could have the names changed and be run again.

About Romney

About Ryan

About Obama

For all posts see the FM Reference Page about Obama, his administration and policies.

  1. Obama’s national security team: I hope you didn’t really believe in change?, 26 November 2008
  2. Obama supporters mugged by reality (and learn not to believe in change!), 9 December 2008
  3. Change you should not have believed in, 10 February 2009
  4. Obama knows how to lead America by exploiting our fears, 5 June 2009 — A key skill for 21st C Presidents
  5. Stratfor looks at Obama’s foreign policy, sees Bush’s foreign policy, 30 August 2009
  6. Motto for the Obama administration: “The more things change, …”, 5 September 2009
  7. Change, the promise and the reality, 11 October 2009

About elections (in general)

  1. Lilliput or America – who has a better way to choose its leaders?, 19 November 2008
  2. About campaigns for high office in America – we always expect a better result from the same process, 17 June 2009
  3. Why do awesome people – like us – have such inadequate leaders?, 2 April 2012 — Because we vote.

The important posts about our political system

  1. How long will all American Presidents be War Presidents?, 21 March 2008 — The 7th year since 9/11, with the only debate about the Long War being what nations America should fight. We see this even the speeches of the most “liberal” candidate, Senator Obama
  2. These days all American Presidents are War Presidents (part 2), 13 September 2008
  3. These days all US Presidents are War Presidents (part 3), 23 November 2008
  4. About Obama’s coronation – wisdom from Fred, 23 January 2009
  5. Our leaders have made a discovery of the sort that changes the destiny of nations, 1 September 2010
  6. We have the leaders we deserve. Visit McDonald’s to learn why., 30 October 2010
  7. The good news:  America’s politics are neither polarized nor dysfunctional.  That’s also the bad news., 16 November 2011
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38 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 August 2012 11:03 am

    Re: “The significance for America of Romney’s choice of Ryan as VP”

    As usual progressives are immediately attacking Romney’s decision, as the writer of this article is bright and early on Aug 11th. That’s to be expected of progressives who follow Obama’s Marxist guidance religiously thinking they will get something for free and live happily ever after. Like always socialism in any cloak is not realistic and can not be sustained, it will collapse in on itself, it’s just a matter of time. Anyone is better than Obama, his czars and Marxist ideological tyrants. If Romney and Ryan will be such a bad Administration why did this write hold his fire until Ryan was announced? It’s the progressive, liberal Democrat, way…

    Like

    • Joe permalink
      11 August 2012 11:57 am

      Did you actually read the entry and previous posts?

      Like

    • 11 August 2012 2:47 pm

      Official announcement from the management team of the FM website

      We did not pay albarrsrrs, nor provide any incentives to post that comment. Although it looks like central casting sent alvarrsrrs as an illustration of the indoctrination we’ve written so much about, in fact he’s the real thing.

      “Obama’s Marxist guidance religiously thinking … socialism in any cloak”

      This is a wonderful example of what propaganda can accomplish under favorable circumstances. Skilled technicians can get people to believe almost anything, no matter how outlandish.

      Like

    • Breton permalink
      11 August 2012 5:00 pm

      Oh goodness. Another example of the less than 60% of college educated Americans who can rarely engage in abstract thinking.
      I know many of these types and they are fun but after awhile way too predictable for anything more than ad hominens as the synapses simply are not well-developed.

      Discussion with such is not productive. The receiver is out of range, I guess or maybe the cell towers are too far apart?

      Breton

      Like

  2. 11 August 2012 2:04 pm

    We the people are owed an adult discussion on the dire straits facing too many families with one or both parents out of work. It’s entertaining to see Obama boast of “new solutions” but what about the problems he has created with his solutions? I look forward to the people hearing the facts, and not just the confusing babbling of Biden and teleprompter failures of Obama.

    Like

    • 11 August 2012 3:05 pm

      Hoboduke,

      That’s a fascinating comment. I agree with you on one level, but these things are complex. Let’s look deeper.

      “We the people are owed”

      We are owned nothing, by nobody. Full stop! This belief sends us off the road of self-government onto paths leading to dependency or despair. Franklin wondered “If we can keep it (the Republic)”, speculating about our strength and willpower — not the charity of others.

      “an adult discussion on the dire straits”

      I wonder if we want one. The key to successful marketing is giving people what they want. Perhaps this campaign gives us what we want. Entertainment, dark soundbites, jousting about superficials, etc.

      “It’s entertaining to see Obama boast of “new solutions” ”

      Agreed! Esp with the Dem’s cheering and GOP jeering — when almost everything he’s done are either continuations of Bush Jr policies or older GOP advocacy.

      “confusing babbling of Biden”

      My guess is that Biden just speaks his mind, like any sensible guy talking to an audience of dogs. Why bother with deep thought before speaking.

      “teleprompter failures of Obama.”

      His speeches are not failures, since so many love them. I only read the transcripts, and they resemble long sermons based on text from Hallmark Greeting cards.

      Like

    • 11 August 2012 7:30 pm

      Fidel Castro marathon speeches were quite similar to Obama, plus Fidel had his basketball flunkies to let him win just like our fearless leader.

      Anyway, I know Biden is speaking his mind, which lacks logic or clarity of thought so I agree. I have an audience of 3 dogs, and I don’t talk like BIden to them.

      However, your supercilous tone and rapier acerbic barbs prove you need some beer. Going off teleprompter is disastrous for Obama as he works himself into a lather “You didn’t build that!” I can say that with the current state of affairs, Obama did build that. You are welcome to the hobo jungle anytime.

      Like

    • 11 August 2012 8:24 pm

      Lots of interesting content in hoboduke’s comment! By the numbers, as usual…

      (1) “Fidel Castro marathon speeches were quite similar to Obama”

      You must be kidding us. Have you read (listened to) many of Castro’s and Obama’s speeches? Here’s an archive at U Texas. Obama’s are boring, but not in Castro’s league. I hope his audiences were stoned, otherwise they risked death by boredom.

      (2) “just like our fearless leader.”

      This illustrates an interesting point: the Right-wing in America has never mastered political humor, while the Left has raised it to an art form (on the other hand, the Left is politically impotent compared to the Right, IMO). “Fearless leader” doesn’t seem an effective label for Obama, as it doesn’t relate to any actual characteristics (good or bad) that he has or claims to have. Nice Rocky and Bullwinkle riff, however.

      Fearless Leader

      Does this remind you of Obama?

      .

      (3) “I have an audience of 3 dogs, and I don’t talk like Biden to them.”

      We are glad to hear that! But that’s not the point. Imagine that you had to give a political speech to your dogs, perhaps paid by a mad rich dog-lover. How much would you prepare? Would you take care not to offend them, or challenge their worldview? Would you polish for logic and style?

      (4) “your supercilous tone and rapier acerbic barbs”

      Ouch! Schoolyard taunts! Call an ambulance, stat!

      (5) “Going off teleprompter is disastrous for Obama as he works himself into a lather”

      I wonder if Obama is in fact more dependent on teleprompters than other politicians. We are so easily manipulated that President’s images often have little match with reality. Kennedy was athletic while Ford was awkward; in fact Ford was in good shape for his age while JFK almost a basket case.

      For the real story we turn to the Onion News Network: “Obama’s Home Teleprompter Malfunctions During Family Dinner“:

      .

      (6) “You didn’t build that!”

      Are you unaware that this is GOP agitprop, not reflecting what Obama actually said? See “‘You Didn’t Build That,’ Uncut and Unedited” by FactCheck for an explanation.

      (7) “I can say that with the current state of affairs, Obama did build that. You are welcome to the hobo jungle anytime.”

      The financial downturn has affected all the developed nations. Most are doing worse (or far worse) than the US. So your remarks don’t seem reasonable, especially as Obama’s economic policy has continued the themes of Bush jr’s.

      Like

    • 11 August 2012 9:04 pm

      No comment on beer? Pabst Blue Ribbon is a good Wisconsin brew. Don’t make it a point of reading any speeches from Castro, Obama, or the architect of Obama’s community organizing Saul Alinsky. Do like the comics like POGO. You’re right I must be kidding, if you have a sense of humor.

      Like

    • 11 August 2012 9:36 pm
      • Don’t drink beer anymore.
      • Didn’t think the Castro line was funny; just another schoolyard taunt.
      • Laughted at the Fearless Leader ref (albeit unintentionally funny).
      • And The Onion video was, as usual, fantastic.

      As for Pogo — one of our greatest philosophers! Walt Kelly wrote this for the first Earth Day in 1970, but IMO it applies far more broadly than to just pollution. It’s the very essence of our political challenge:
      .
      Pogo

      Like

  3. 11 August 2012 5:03 pm

    headline shouting, gospel preaching, false hope promising, power grubbing, entertainment driven, sorry excuses for……I should stop……Does anyone ever notice how each candidate, when making their SPECIFIC statements throughout their speeches, that their ultimate goal seems to be to get the audience to clap and cheer in unison?

    It is truly heartwrenching to watch. After all, I love America; it’s my home!

    Like

    • 11 August 2012 5:36 pm

      “that their ultimate goal seems to be to get the audience to clap and cheer in unison? ”

      Agreed. Is that a bad thing? Building enthusiasm = first step in any project. And should we see building social cohesion as a bad thing?

      But the details matter. How it’s done, for what goals. At some level of abstraction some of the methods of Sam Adams and Hitler look similar, but at that point we clearly need a more granular view.

      Both left and right have, IMO, adopted similar methods (although not to the same degree) for a very good reason: they target the same population. Us. The US people. As described in this post: Our leaders have made a discovery of the sort that changes the destiny of nations, 15 September 2010.

      We can make no progress until we start with the man in the mirror.

      Like

    • 11 August 2012 8:31 pm

      Yes, I absolutely agree………great song too. A lot of his songs had good meaning to them; if anyone really noticed the lyrics.

      Like

    • 12 August 2012 6:41 pm

      and so, in essence, they are “us?”

      Like

  4. Sam Nomad permalink
    11 August 2012 6:15 pm

    I do not think Ryan was any big surprise. I do not foresee any risk taking in VP selection by the Republicans for at least a generation after the back-fire with Gov. Palin.

    In the article; “…indistinguishable in blind taste tests.” is too true. We digest our sound-bites and wisely nod our heads along with our fellow tribe members while four more years of Obamney slides on by.

    Leadership, service and dare I say; even true patriotism are not evident in our current choices. We are destined for four more years of grid-lock, punctuated by either a slight shift towards the entitlement crowd, or a slight shift towards the military-industrial complex crowd. No true improvement in sight.

    Unfortunately, I hold closely to the belief that it will take some truly horrible shock to pull us away from our contented life in the matrix. I say; ” unfortunately” as by that time most of our civil rights, treasure, and self respect will be long gone. I hope that I am wrong.

    Perhaps one day, we will all wake up and realize that WE are the government, and only true change (the successful kind) will come from our personal involvement, fiscal awareness, true patriotism, and sacrifice.

    Like

    • 11 August 2012 6:24 pm

      “I hold closely to the belief that it will take some truly horrible shock to pull us away from our contented life in the matrix.”

      I was once hopeful about our ability to regenerate, to recover what we once were. That becomes more difficult every day.

      “Perhaps one day, we will all wake up and realize that WE are the government, and only true change (the successful kind) will come from our personal involvement, fiscal awareness, true patriotism, and sacrifice.”

      I have said that often, but not so well as you.

      Like

    • James Catfish permalink
      11 August 2012 8:54 pm

      FM and Sam Nomad, the above remarks and article are right on the mark. I could not have said it better, so I will stop here.

      Like

    • 11 August 2012 9:38 pm

      I agree. Sam Nomad’s comment is right on target!

      Like

  5. Thomas More permalink
    12 August 2012 4:05 am

    To amplify on hoboduke’s comment:

    The crowning irony of this election is that self-styled “progressives” ferociously denounce the offshoring job-destroyer Mitt Romney and his social-security-and-medicare-slashing running mate Paul Ryan…yet these self-same “progressives” applaud Barack Obama for his policy of free trade, which makes possible the very offshoring job destruction that made Mitt Romney’s fortune. The selfsame “progressive” cheer Barack Obama for his alleged “realism” — a code phrase for setting up the catfood commission which vomited out the exact same kinds of crazy socail-program-cutting proposals Paul Ryan has produced.

    It’s truly bizarre. Here we’ve got Democrats screaming with outrage at behavior which their own candidates for the last 20 years have systematically endorsed and encouraged and worked hard to enable and facilitate with new laws like NAFTA.

    It’s as if Democrats were to fulminate with violent rage at drug dealers while applauding and re-electing the drug importers who provide those drugs. After all..Mitt Romney couldn’t offshore any jobs if Bill Clinton and Barack Obama hadn’t worked hard to vote laws and advocate legislation and pass regulations that made it possible.

    The whole spectacle is hallucinogenic.

    Like

    • 12 August 2012 4:19 am

      More, Brilliant and nicely said! This is IMO the core reality of our current political system: both parties have fundamentally similar policies, because both have been captured by our ruling elites.

      As a result both parties condemn policies which they support once in office. Democrats and free trade is a wonderful example. Similarly the GOP rails against fiscal deficits when out of office, then sends them skyrocketing when in office.

      For more about our trade policies: Globalization and free trade – wonders of a past era, now enemies of America, 16 March 2009.

      Like

  6. Dave permalink
    12 August 2012 8:22 am

    Oh geez, I love how FM totally confirms every bias with all the comments that agree with him, sometime obviously so.

    Clarify: “In this respect Ryan matches his running mate, whose economic proposals are ruining the reputations of the experts who signed them. The saddest aspect of this pair of charlatans is that they’ll be treated as serious statesman — obsequiously so — by the legion of journalist-stenographers who will dog their footsteps until November.”

    Ryan served for 14 years – his budget was scored by the CBO correct? So the CBO is incorrect? Or just Romney? You’re a fact-based guy right? Show it. Or just YOU don’t accept them? Because you are an anonymous dude we’ll never know will we?

    Finally, where is Obama’s party’s budget in this tirade where you can’t admit that these are our only choices (unless you are promoting revolution)?

    Like the question that is always asked of critics: WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENT. YOU SEEM TO WRITE A LOT ABOUT THE PROBLEMS. JUST F-ING SAY WHAT SHOULD BE DONE.

    And now, if FM even admits anything, he will link to random, non-solutions that he/she wrote years ago saying he’s already pointed out solutions. Here, I’ll write them:

    • UH, I already said Obama was wrong.
    • UH, I already said Bush was wrong
    • Uh, I already said Bush was Obama was Romney
    • So, I’m always right, everyone else is wrong, and here’s the link: About the politics of the FM website to prove that I’m always right.

    Jeez – it’s like the guy doesn’t understand the confirmation biases that he is so quick to dismiss.

    Also, he will quickly dismiss anything that disturbs his worldview, because he’s always right. He’s never read anyone like Hume and he’s completely obsessed with the OODA loop which explains everything – always and forever.

    I respect your writing and your point of view, but good lord you are insufferable.

    Like

    • 12 August 2012 9:26 am

      From what I have seen, CBO rated P. Ryan’s budget (more or less) incomplete, since he “claims” to have $700,000,000,000 in loopholes to eliminate but has not name A SINGLE ONE OF THEM! Meanwhile, I’ll give you a start on the right track: Congress is supposed to regulate interstate commerce so…

      First off, we are talking only about corporations that are publicly owned and operate in more than one state (or operate internationally). Such corporations are supposed to be regulated by the federal government due to interstate commerce clause in the constitution. The reason it should only apply to publicly owned corporations is that if someone privately owns a corporation, he is entitled to its profits as a matter of fairness.

      1. No one is allowed to have a salary (including bonuses—see exceptions below) more than 10 times (or 20) that of the lowest paid person working for the corporation. This includes those who are ‘contracted’ to do work for the company and spend the majority of their time (or the most time of any place they work in similar contract) for that company (think contracted cleaning crew, etc)
      2. Exceptions to the above include those who cause the corporation to immediately realize the fruits of the their labor. Examples would include artists (singers, etc), professional athletes and sales people who sell items that allow the corporation to get the money immediately (not some promise of money in the future). Since these people cause the corporation to get the money immediately, they should be allowed to get their commision (or whatever) immediately.
      3. Employees may be given stock options that are set at the price when the options are issued or the price of the stock when the employee got his job—whichever is HIGHER! For those who don’t know how stock options work: you get the right to purchase stock at a guaranteed price, regardless of what the price at the market is. This would allow top management to earn those bloated salaries—but only if they get the corporation’s stock to rise in price!
      4. The stock options offered above can not be used until three years after they have been awarded. This will make it that management will not make short-sighted, potentially dangerous or risky decisions since much of their compensation will depend on the long-term viability of the corporation.

      Problems solved include: short-term thinking. This could get the average person to start thinking long-term, thus looking at what current policies will do five and ten years away. This can only be helpful in our electorate.

      Corporate pay will likely be very, very scaled back, thus working to eliminate the entrenched, economically powerful minority that currently control our thinking and government. In addition, it may also help to raise the salaries of the lower 98%.

      Once the above are realized, it will take only a little ‘shove’ to get people to start insisting that the mega-corporations that are ruling much of the world start acting in socially useful ways.

      Other good things may follow from this. Things that are negative from it can be adjusted as needed.

      Like

    • ConcernedCitizen permalink
      12 August 2012 2:39 pm

      FM, I’d very much like to hear your rebuttal to Dave. I have no love for Romney/Ryan, but the debt is indeed a serious issue. While Ryan’s plan favors the rich, isn’t it (unfortunately) our only viable option? Do you really think Obama would tackle the issue in his potential second-term?

      Like

    • 12 August 2012 6:11 pm

      Dave asks many provocative questions. But there are some important errors underlying them. #5 asks Dave an important question; perhaps we’ll gain much from his answer!

      (1) The first paragraphs form the foundation for his opening criticism. The Romney economic proposal is largely unrelated to the Ryan budget. The first is, probably by design, unscorable. Attempts to score it by non-partisan groups by making favorable assumptions show it to be shoddy to a degree without precedent for proposals by major party Presidential candidates.

      The Ryan proposal is quite different. my post about it cited a wide range of expert analysis, including the CBO’s. My guess (guess) is that you don’t know what the Ryan proposal would do, how it differs from current projections, or its effects. You obviously will not value anything I say, so please read the experts analysis in that post — starting with the CBO report.

      (2) “where is Obama’s party’s budget in this tirade where you can’t admit that these are our only choices (unless you are promoting revolution)?”

      I don’t believe that view is correct, or even said by experts. The CBO forecasts — and almost all other non-partisan experts — show that our fiscal problems are quite minor, and almost totally self-inflicted.

      • Eliminate the Bush tax cuts, moving tax rates closer (but still below the post-WWII average, esp those 1950-1980 when we were growing faster.
      • Minor fixes to social security (eg, means-testing benefits).
      • More reforms to health care (although the massive forecasted spending might already be slowing, per this article in the NEJM).
      • Reduce our foreign wars, and reduce DoD spending to levels closer to those of our friends and rivals.

      (3) “he’s completely obsessed with the OODA loop which explains everything – always and forever.”

      You have that backwards. Rather than “always” useful, I think it’s rarely useful. Most social challenges are, I believe, matters of values — hence the OODA loop is not relevant. Our’s is different, perhaps radically so, because it centers IMO on our ability to see our past and present. Hence the OODA loop becomes a useful analytical tool, and sheds a light upon our situation.

      How and why this is so remains unclear to me, hence so many posts attempting to understand.

      (3) “WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENT. YOU SEEM TO WRITE A LOT ABOUT THE PROBLEMS. JUST F-ING SAY WHAT SHOULD BE DONE”

      (a) There are quite a few posts describing solutions in almost every field discussed here. The ones about our wars, climate science and the financial crisis are very specific, as those are largely technical problems. As for the politics, I written quite a few about solutions. I think most will wind up in the Smackdowns pile. I’m not happy about that, but such is life. All we can do is try.

      (b) I spend more time on description and diagnosis because I believe we’re more likely to find agreement there. Until we do, discussing solutions is probably a waste of time.

      (4) “He’s never read anyone like Hume”

      Correct, I’ve not read David Hume (1711-1765) — or any other 18th century philosophers. Guessing, not too many Americans have.

      I know the Philosophy 101 version. “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions” and so forth. On that superficial level, I tend to side with him against rationalists (eg, Descartes) — when it comes to setting personal and social goals — but prefer to rely on the latter when it comes to accomplishing those goals.

      (5) Now a question for Dave. Let’s see who you are comparing the FM website to. They must be wonderful!

      • Please point to their Smackdowns pages, listing their mistaken descriptions and wrong forecasts for all to see.
      • Also, they must have wonderful comments sections, where the authors take the time to write detailed responses to your criticism! Like the Instapundit (oops, no comments). Lawfare (oops, no comments).

      Like

  7. 12 August 2012 5:17 pm

    Lets get our candidates to stipulate each and every policy they have planned for their term during their public speeches. Not only shouting the headlines for these policies, but explaining the details of each and every policy and its’ long-term goals. Of course this would also necessitate a well informed, intellectual citizenry to filter out the nonsense.

    Like

    • 12 August 2012 6:59 pm

      “Lets get our candidates to stipulate each and every policy they have planned for their term during their public speeches … this would also necessitate a well informed, intellectual citizenry to filter out the nonsense.”

      Ryan,

      I like the idea. But more interesting is why we don’t see that happen today. Candidates lie to us because we accept lies. It appears to me that we prefer lies. Look at the presidential primaries. Plain-speaking, experience, competent candidates were quickly eliminated by both parties.

      For details see Our leaders have made a discovery of the sort that changes the destiny of nations, 1 September 2010.

      Like

    • 13 August 2012 4:26 am

      Thats all very true. It seem to me that the only answer could be that lies make us feel comfortable. A quick lapse of elation maybe? that should tone us down.

      Like

  8. 12 August 2012 9:55 pm

    The most accurate, the most penetrating analysis I’ve seen about Romney’s VP choice

    The Right’s brittle heroes“, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 12 August 2012 — “The contrast between Paul Ryan’s iconic image and his personal reality is typical of America’s partisan leader”. Excerpt:

    The contrast between (a) how Paul Ryan is depicted by worshipful Republicans and media figures alike — as a principled fiscal conservative and advocate of Randian self-sufficiency – and the reality of what he’s done in his life is as stark as it is typical. The American Right has an amazing ability to lionize leaders whose lives are the precise antithesis of the political values that define their image.

    For the last decade, conservatives transformed George Bush and Dick Cheney into the embodiments of warrior courage, even though they both scampered away from combat, letting others fight and die for them in a war they both supported.

    The same is true of almost every leading right-wing super-patriot tough-guy: John Bolton, Bill Kristol, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh – and Mitt Romney. Somehow, when the authoritarians on the Right search for icons of manly warrior power to venerate, they find only those who like to melodramatically play-act as such, but who ran away when it came time to actually perform. Indeed, such figures dress themselves up with extra-flamboyant trappings of faux Toughness for the same reason female impersonators have long favored over-the-top feminine costumes and gaudy make-up: the more one lacks an attribute which one wishes to project, the more extreme one must be in pretending.

    Thus do we have Paul Ryan — Randian Super-Hero of Individual Self-Reliance and Working Class Warrior against government debt, waste, and intrusiveness — whose actual life is a testament to the precise opposite values. As Charles Pierce and Joan Walsh document, not only was Ryan raised in a rich family and not only has he spent his entire adult life on the public payroll, but he has relied, and continues to rely, on various forms of government help in climbing every rung on his educational and careerist ladder. His claim to fiscal conservatism is even more laughable, as he voted FOR virtually every program that has piled up debt over the past decade, including the Iraq War (not just its commencement but its limitless continuation), the Wall Street bailout, Medicare Part D, Endless War in Afghanistan, and — in the midst of all of that — Bush tax cuts.

    Perhaps most ludicrous of all is the notion that he’s some sort of advocate for restrained federal government power. As Antiwar.com’s John Glaser documented today, Ryan has continuously voted in favor of measures to expand all sorts of intrusive federal power, including making the PATRIOT Act permanent, enacting the Military Commissions Act to provide indefinite detention with no habeas corpus rights, implementing the Protect America Act to massively expand the U.S. Government’s power to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants, supporting a federal Constitutional amendment to deny same-sex couples the right to marry along with a law banning the ability of gay couples in D.C. to adopt children and the continuation of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, a Constitutional amendment to criminalize flag burning, and almost every proposed measure to restrict abortion rights.

    The ACLU — which has been continuously scathing in its criticisms of President Obama’s civil liberties record — issued a report on the potential Vice Presidential nominees (including Joe Biden) entitled “A Heartbeat Away from the Presidency, Light Years from Civil Liberties,” and said yesterday that Ryan has “uniformly harmful views on five key civil liberties issues including a humane immigration policy, LGBT equality, reproductive rights, torture and indefinite detention and fair voting access” (he did, however, vote against the NDAA’s indefinite detention provisions, signed into law by President Obama at the end of 2011, as well as for a bill to include “sexual orientation” in the list of factors that cannot be legally used in job hiring). Whatever one wants to say about Ryan’s record, it is the very opposite of constraining the power of the federal government to intrude into the lives of individuals; indeed, it’s a testament to massive expansion of intrusive federal government power in almost every realm.

    This dynamic — in which the defining image of partisan icons is the antithesis of their personal reality — is, of course, also prevalent among Democrats: a point I note not to fulfill a both-sides-are-guilty obligation, but because it’s indisputably true. Obama supporters pretended that his 2008 campaign was some sort of populist uprising even as Wall Street overwhelmingly supported his candidacy. Now, especially with the selection of Ryan, they’re going to act as though his re-election is all about shielding Medicare from cuts even though, as Matt Stoller documents today (citing this), Obama already tried to cut not only Medicare but also Medicaid and Social Security, and clearly intends more of the same with a second term (along with his ongoing empowerment of America’s most extreme corporatists). And, of course, the “chickenhawk” insult that was so popular among Democrats during the Bush years has completely disappeared, as they now celebrate the so-called Toughness of two political leaders — Obama and Biden — in their continuous willingness to use military force in other countries even though neither ever served in the military.

    But the American Right seems to have a particular need to inflate their leaders into beacons of courage, self-sufficiency and virtue, even when their lives are completely devoid of those traits. Paul Ryan is a perfect symbol of America’s political class. He is directly responsible for the large deficits and debt which America has compiled, and now seeks to exploit what he himself helped create in order to deny to others the very benefits that were responsible for almost every opportunity and success he has had in his life, with the burden falling most harshly on those who need those benefits the most to have any remnant of fair opportunity. That’s the crux of the American elite: making massive mistakes and engaging in destructive behavior and then demanding that everyone — except them — bear the brunt of the consequences.

     

    Like

    • 13 August 2012 4:36 am

      wow, that hit deep. How does a person allow himself (or herself) to get this way?

      Like

  9. Aesop permalink
    13 August 2012 6:38 am

    It is sad to see two problem solvers so maligned by self proclaimed moral puritans. When ever the question arises on how to fix this problem FM faithfully proclaims I have no clue…

    Is it not possible that Romney, be it his outsider religion or inability at self deprecation, is an incorruptible entrepreneur? I have yet to see evidence he is a part of the Club for Growth or Bilderbergs. So far his naive pride in country is so vulnerable that it would be easy to accept its sincerity.

    As far as the slacker response (factchecklink/semantics) above to the POTUS’s “context” goes, this site shows its lack of courage in making the common sense observation of influence on our leader. The context of Obama is the same in VA as it is in “The Life of Julia” or Government Structured Bankruptcy of GM. How can you not see?

    OBAMA:

    “There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.”

    MARX:

    “To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal, but a social status in production. Capital is a collective product, and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion.”

    OBAMA:

    “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

    WARREN:

    “But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.”

    Why do leftists run away from their own governing philosophies? Obama was endorsed and declared member of the New Party with Chomsky, does that not matter? Is that out of context?

    We have a chance now to do the right things. Being a fatalist does not help.

    Like

    • 13 August 2012 1:09 pm

      Rather than wade through the entire thing, I’ll respond to Aesop’s first two paragraphs. They give snapshot of reasoning powers blinkered by what is apparently intense partisan (ie, tribal) loyalty. It’s the sort that makes modern Americans so tame, credulous, and so easily governed.

      (1) “It is sad to see two problem solvers so maligned by self proclaimed moral puritans.”

      Does anybody know what Aesop refers to here? I don’t see anyone in this post or in comments proclaiming themselves “puritans”.

      (2) “When ever the question arises on how to fix this problem FM faithfully proclaims I have no clue.”

      Reading FAIL. On this same page I said the exact opposite (ie, what I always say when this comes up):

      There are quite a few posts describing solutions in almost every field discussed here. The ones about our wars, climate science and the financial crisis are very specific, as those are largely technical problems. As for the politics, I written quite a few about solutions. I think most will wind up in the Smackdowns pile. I’m not happy about that, but such is life. All we can do is try.

      (3) “Is it not possible that Romney, be it his outsider religion or inability at self deprecation, is an incorruptible entrepreneur? I have yet to see evidence he is a part of the Club for Growth or Bilderbergs. So far his naive pride in country is so vulnerable that it would be easy to accept its sincerity.”

      “Incorruptable”: Every major candidate from 1976 on has released several years tax returns. Only Romney has refused. We know of several oddities: the $100 million IRA, accounts in tax-evader-friendly nations. We can deduce that there is something(s) very ugly in those returns. Probable FAIL on “incorruptable”.

      “Entrepreneur”: He’s a businessman. Tax-advantaged strip-mining the balance sheets of American companies — a profitable business in the New America. But Romney flunks one part of the definition. The word usually applies to one who accepts full responsibility for the outcome of a business. Romney — Bain Capital’s owner and CEO — has refused to accept responsibility for its actions (interestingly, at the same time he used his role to claim Massachusetts citizenship). FAIL on entrepreneur.

      “part of the Club for Growth or Bilderberg” – Are those bad things? (Wikipedia on Bilderberg group)

      “So far his naive pride in country is so vulnerable that it would be easy to accept its sincerity” — A candidate is in free fall when his supporters are reduced to saying “He’s a patriot”.

      Like

    • 14 August 2012 3:56 am

      “So far his naive pride in country is so vulnerable that it would be easy to accept its sincerity.”

      Is Paul Ryan in one respect a right-wing version of Bill Clinton: an emo, winning hearts by showing his vulnerability and deep feelings? See this excerpt from “Paul Ryan Helps Romney Reclaim His Political Virginity” by Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine, 13 July 2012:

      One underrated aspect of the new GOP veep nominee’s political arsenal is a recurring persona of his that you might call Sad Paul Ryan. Sad Paul Ryan is less an ideological crusader and more like a wide-eyed boy who has come to Washington full of hope only to have his youthful dreams crushed by nastiness and name-calling. How Ryan’s high-minded belief in the purity of political debate managed to survive his rise to power as a Washington staffer, I cannot say.

      So emotionally vulnerable is Sad Paul Ryan that even a statistical recitation of the effects of his plan will nearly reduce him to tears. He is capable of complaining that Obama will “affix views to your opponent that they do not have so you can demonize them” — two sentences after accusing Obama of advocating “socialized medicine.”

      Yet Sad Paul Ryan appears so genuinely sad when he says such things — quite likely because he lacks the self-awareness that might complicate his earnest dejection — that he melts the cynicism of hardened observers.

      Like

  10. Thomas More permalink
    14 August 2012 1:19 am

    FM has consistently and systematically pointed out solution for most of the problems confronting America. His solutions (broadly speaking) include:

    (1) increased voter involvement in grass-roots politics,

    (2) bypassing the media delusion machine to hammer away at the actual realities facing us as opposed to the fantasies proffered by both left and right.

    • left fantasy casts Obama as a liberal savior who will return America to a New Deal golden age of high union wages and middle class prosperity,
    • right fantasy casts Obama as a satanic Maoist Manchurian candidate born in Kenya and plotting to turn America into a fascist Marxist caliphate

    by means which include the activity FM is engaged in right now on this website;

    (3) FM has also suggested extensive financial regulatory reform, reform of the broken senate parliamentary system including drastic curbing of the badly-abused filibuster and elimination of the current practice of allowing anonymous senators to put any bill on “hold” indefinitely;

    (4) FM has proposed an end to the War on Drugs and legalizations of harmless susbtances like cannabis, or at the very least turning possession of small amounts of same into an infraction on the level of a traffic ticket;

    (5) FM has proposed massive reform of America’s broken criminal justice, reducing the currently absurd number of felonies and curtailing or eliminating currently outlandish “pseudo-crimes” like the criminalization of copyright “infringement” (which was not even infringement a few years ago, before copyrights were bizarrely and artificially lengthened from 56 years to the current creator’s lifetime + 70 years), reinstating the Bill of Rights by banning such legalized robberies as asset forfeiture, strip searches of minors in K-12 schools for suspicion of drug possession, and so on.

    A list of FM’s practical suggestions for solving America’s current problems would be very very long. Of course what FM is saying is just common sense and has been echoed by commenters from Noam Chomsky and Glenn Greenwald and Naomi Wolf (on the left) to Conor Fredersdorf and David Frum on the right.

    It therefore stands to reason that the horizon will darken with commenters bleating “FM identifies all the problems, but offers no solutions!” Standard stuff, well explained by billmon’s classic post Spock With A Beard: the Sequel.

    Like

    • 14 August 2012 3:45 am

      Wow. I couldn’t have said that so clearly.

      Note that everything depends on #1 and #2, probably in the sequence #2 (clear vision) helping drive #1 (increased and more effective political involvement).

      Like

    • Dave permalink
      25 August 2012 10:07 am

      I’m “Dave” from above. To answer your questions (sorry for the delay, I have a newborn, small business owner, been busy) a) I don’t read instapundit, not in about 2 years (he’s insufferably partisan now) and he could not possibly moderate thousands of comments per post. b) I realize you put your opinions on the line (anonymously) and allow comments but you did shut them down for a while. At least admit that and that you get 1/100th of his traffic. You would spend entire days moderating comments with a modicum of his traffic.

      To clarify:

      FM, simply make a “page” in your wordpress Admin area showing your solutions – continuously updated with links to your articles. I use wordpress, you use wordpress. You can make a “page” where you put all of your solutions together, in a nice orderly fashion, then link to it in every post. It seems you’re more interested in your “smackdowns” page then actually putting yourself on the line with solutions. If you had a “page” then all of us anonymous/coward commenters could link to it and say “hey, here’s a guy/gal with some actual solutions”. DO THIS. DO THIS NOW OR THE REPUBLIC WILL SLOWLY DIE. I know it’s not THAT simple but one page would be better than combing through years of random posts.

      I admit I’m a simpleton in these matters, but after reading your great articles, I find myself thinking: “so I write to my congressman, I vote, I own a business, I’m raising a family with (what I think) are good values, I keep up on current events.” What the HELL is the individual person supposed to do? It sounds ludicrous, but on some levels, what Jared Loughner (sp?) did in Tuscon was in my mind CRAZY but it was SOMETHING that was against a person in the current regime. Is that what needs to be done or do we just need to “get out the vote”? Dummies like me might interpret what we need to do to “reignite the spirit of a nation grown cold” differently. Right?

      Like

    • 25 August 2012 3:31 pm

      Thanks, Dave, that’s a good idea. Let’s open it to the readers!

      Would you look at a new Reference Page added to the masthead (the menu bar at the top of the page) containing links to “solutions”?

      The masthead pages now are About the website; About the authors, Politics of the FM Website, Past Predictions, Smackdowns, and Contact Us. None get high usage. About the authors gets the most, 252 hits in the past 30 days.

      Like

    • 25 August 2012 3:34 pm

      ” I write to my congressman, I vote, I own a business, I’m raising a family with (what I think) are good values, I keep up on current events. What the HELL is the individual person supposed to do?”

      That’s just the intro level, the basic requirements of citizenship. No large-scale change results from involvement at that level, ever — anywhere.

      Pick a political organization. A campaign, a party, an interest group. Contribute your time and, if you can, money. That’s putting the rubber on the road.

      Like

    • 25 August 2012 3:39 pm

      About Dave’s comment regard Comments

      “and he (Instapundit) could not possibly moderate thousands of comments per post.”

      There are very active websites that have comment sections. For example, those of Paul Krugman and Glenn Greenwald. Also, Instapundit could easily recruit people to volunteer as moderators; as done at Watts Up with That.

      Like

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