Forget Fake Girlfriends, Republicans Have an Imaginary President

One of our major political parties has become infected with the Notre Dame virus.

By Donald Kaul

Donald Kaul

The bizarre story of Manti Te’o, the Notre Dame football player, and his dying girlfriend gives new meaning to the term “fantasy football.”

Te’o very nearly rode the heart-rending story of his tragic online romance into a Heisman Trophy (college football’s highest individual honor) and a national championship.

There was hardly a dry eye in the press box as Te’o told of the death from leukemia of his online love and how he would soldier on because that’s what she would have wanted him to do.

It was a great story with but a single flaw — he had no girlfriend, she didn’t die or, in fact, ever exist. She was Te’o’s imaginary playmate.

Notre Dame has said that the young man was a victim of a “cruel hoax” and he himself says he was the unsuspecting dupe of an online prankster but the more you learn about the mess the less faith you have in anything the school or player have to say about the matter.

Whatever the genesis of the tale, it’s now quite clear that Notre Dame and Te’o both knew it was phony days before the National Championship game and decided to say nothing about it.

The school’s athletic director said he kept mum out of concern for the player’s safety, the privacy of students and — this one will kill you — the integrity of the national championship game.

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Thank God the integrity of the national championship game remains intact.

Jon Chait, New York Magazine‘s excellent political writer, has delivered the most telling comment on the matter. He wrote:

“Fake, schmaltzy inspirational tales are the essence of the culture of the [Notre Dame football] program. The…story of Knute Rockne and his dying player, George Gipp, became a famous movie that helped enshrine Notre Dame football…In reality, Rockne was an ethically dubious sports gambler, Gipp a pool hustler, and the main events of the story — Gipp’s dying wish to ‘win one for the Gipper,’ Rockne’s inspirational halftime speech — never happened.

“Likewise, Rudy is the inspirational story of a walk-on who overcame the odds to play football at Notre Dame, but the story is also filled with falsehoods. Rudy, by the way, turned out to be a stock scammer.”

In other words, Notre Dame football, through the years, has majored in imaginary playmates.

Which should not be a big problem — it’s football, right? — except for the fact that one of our major political parties has become infected with the Notre Dame virus.

Schooled by its spiritual leader, Ronald Reagan (who played Gipp in his most famous movie role), the party just makes things up as it goes along and pretends they’re true.

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The Republicans’ chief imaginary playmate is a Barack Obama that none of us has ever seen. Their Obama is a hard-core ideologue, a borderline socialist who, on international affairs, favors weakness as a strategy. This is a vague figure of murky background, perhaps even an enemy alien, who stole the 2012 election from its rightful owner, Mitt Romney.

Which is a sharp contrast to the real Obama — a mildly liberal centrist who would love to find a Republican Party he could split the difference with. And as for weakness in foreign affairs, there are a lot of dead villains who would argue otherwise if they weren’t…you know…dead.

Obama, it’s said, does not reach out to Republicans. He doesn’t have them over for drinks and dinner like Lyndon Johnson used to. That’s the problem.

Which ignores the fact that Republicans, both ideologically crazed and sane, live in fear that someone will take a picture of them standing next to Obama while looking friendly. They know it will be used against them in the next Republican primary.

He could offer to come to their homes and tuck them in at night and they still wouldn’t cooperate.

Any real reform of our political system must await the destruction of the Republican Party at the ballot box. Perhaps that would lead to the rebirth of a reality-based party.

 


OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org).

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Think About It!

by Xiomara Rodriguez

On Saturday, October 20, 2012, in Nevada we start early voting, and trust me, I truly encourage early voting.

But before you go out to vote, I have some very short stories that I want to share with all of you, Democrats, Republicans and Independents.  And I really hope you take your time to read them before you go out to vote and then go out and vote.

The first story is about a middle class family with two children, both parents work, and 2008 elections were there.  But just before the election the market dropped, the husband lost his job and life got really bad for this family.  They thought that because the wife had a job they could weather the storm.  In reality the wife was getting 75 cents for every dollar her husband made.  And these extra 25 cents an hour would have meant so much for this family.  But the pay was not there and gradually they lost everything. She tried getting a raise, but she was told that the raise had to go to her male counterpart because he had a family to support.  The question was what about her family. Wasn’t her family just as important.  After Obama was elected and the economy started to move forward, the husband found a good job, and gradually the family started back on the road to recovery.  Think about it.

My second story is a look into the future if the wrong person wins this election.  It is about a young couple that wanted a child so bad they did everything they could to get pregnant.  Then one day the husband was at work and the young wife had taken the day off because there was a carpet installer coming to their house to give them an estimate for new carpets.

When the young husband comes home, he finds his wife bleeding in the middle of the living room floor; she had been raped by the carpet man.  The husband takes her to the hospital, but because the country elected a man who was against Roe vs. Wade, because that law was repealed, and because Obamacare has finally been defeated, there is no day-after pill available to give to the young wife.

A month after the rape, the young husband is faced with the fact that his young wife is pregnant, pregnant by a man who is not him.  All the work and energy and money that went into working toward their pregnancy is gone. All the dreams about having a child of their own are gone.  What is there left for them to do.  Think about it.

She was 18, a virgin, full of ideas for her future; she wanted to be an attorney in international law.  That had been her whole life dream.  It was early in the morning and her first class in college was at 7:30 in the morning.  She suddenly feels someone behind her.  The next thing she remembers is waking all mangled.

She had been raped and never saw her assailant.  She is taken to the hospital.  In one moment, all her dreams were shattered.  Her ability to be able to lose her virginity to a man she loved was taken away from her.  This action affected her negatively—for the rest of her life.  Just think about it.

She was raised here in the USA and spoke English fluently with no accent.  Oh—but her  Spanish, that was another thing.  She went to school here.  She worked very hard to get the best grades.  Believe it because a 4.0 average is not easy to maintain from Kindergarten all the way to High School.  She wanted to be the first in her family to graduate from high school and go to college.  But then, reality struck.  When it came time to apply for college, she could not because, that’s when she finally found out she was undocumented.  Her family had brought her to this country when she was just six months old.  This is the only place she calls home and now there is no home for her, no college, nothing other than being afraid to be deported.  She can’t work and she can’t study.  She is in limbo.

But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel when the President signed the Deferred Act giving her hope to at least go to college and stay in her “COUNTRY” for two more years.  Think about it.

Equal pay for equal work is something that affects many families today, not only single mothers, but wives, mothers, single women; everyone.

Rape is something that affects husbands, fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters and the victim; it changes all their lives forever.

Immigration not only affects the Latino community, it affects every immigrant in this country.

When you go out to vote on Saturday, October 20, 2012, or anytime during the early election period, or on Election Day, think about it:  How would you react in any of the above circumstances?

Think about it!

At Last Night’s Debate: Romney Told 27 Myths In 38 Minutes

— By Igor Volsky at ThinkProgress

Pundits from both sides of the aisle have lauded Mitt Romney’s strong debate performance, praising his preparedness and ability to challenge President Obama’s policies and accomplishments. But Romney only accomplished this goal by repeatedly misleading viewers. He spoke for 38 minutes of the 90 minute debate and told at least 27 myths:

1) “[G]et us energy independent, North American energy independent. That creates about 4 million jobs”. Romney’s plan for “energy independence” actually relies heavily on a study that assumes the U.S. continues with fuel efficiency standards set by the Obama administration. For instance, he uses Citigroup research based off the assumption that “‘the United States will continue with strict fuel economy standards that will lower its oil demand.” Since he promises to undo the Obama administration’s new fuel efficiency standards, he would cut oil consumption savings of 2 million barrels per day by 2025.

2) “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale that you’re talking about.” A Tax Policy Center analysis of Romney’s proposal for a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut in all federal income tax rates, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, eliminating the estate tax and other tax reductions, would reduce federal revenue $480 billion in 2015. This amount to $5 trillion over the decade.

3) “My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people.” If Romney hopes to provide tax relief to the middle class, then his $5 trillion tax cut would add to the deficit. There are not enough deductions in the tax code that primarily benefit rich people to make his math work.

4) “My — my number-one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that: no tax cut that adds to the deficit.” As the Tax Policy Center concluded, Romney’s plan can’t both exempt middle class families from tax cuts and remain revenue neutral. “He’s promised all these things and he can’t do them all. In order for him to cover the cost of his tax cut without adding to the deficit, he’d have to find a way to raise taxes on middle income people or people making less than $200,000 a year,” the Center found.

5) “I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle-income families. I will lower taxes on middle-income families. Now, you cite a study. There are six other studies that looked at the study you describe and say it’s completely wrong.” The studies Romney cites actuallyfurther prove that Romney would, in fact, have to raise taxes on the middle class if he were to keep his promise not to lose revenue with his tax rate reduction.

6) “I saw a study that came out today that said you’re going to raise taxes by $3,000 to $4,000 on middle-income families.” Romney is pointing to this study from the American Enterprise Institute. It actually found that rather than raise taxes to pay down the debt, the Obama administration’s policies — those contained directly in his budget — would reduce the share of taxes that go toward servicing the debt by $1,289.89 per taxpayer in the $100,000 to $200,000 range.

7) “And the reason is because small business pays that individual rate; 54 percent of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed not at the corporate tax rate, but at the individual tax rate….97 percent of the businesses are not — not taxed at the 35 percent tax rate, they’re taxed at a lower rate. But those businesses that are in the last 3 percent of businesses happen to employ half — half of all the people who work in small business.” Far less than half of the people affected by the expiration of the upper income tax cuts get any of their income at all from a small businesses. And those people could very well be receiving speaking fees or book royalties, which qualify as “small business income” but don’t have a direct impact on job creation. It’s actually hard to find a small business who think that they will be hurt if the marginal tax rate on income earned above $250,000 per year is increased.

8) “Mr. President, all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land. On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half.” Oil production from federal lands is higher, not lower: Production from federal lands is up slightly in 2011 when compared to 2007. And the oil and gas industry is sitting on 7,000 approved permits to drill, that it hasn’t begun exploring or developing.

9) “The president’s put it in place as much public debt — almost as much debt held by the public as all prior presidents combined.” This is not even close to being true. When Obama took office, the national debt stood at $10.626 trillion. Now the national debt is over $16 trillion. That $5.374 trillion increase is nowhere near as much debt as all the other presidents combined.

10) “That’s why the National Federation of Independent Businesses said your plan will kill 700,000 jobs. I don’t want to kill jobs in this environment.” That study, produced by a right-wing advocacy organizationdoesn’t analyze what Obama has actually proposed.

11) “What we do have right now is a setting where I’d like to bring money from overseas back to this country.” Romney’s plan to shift the country to a territorial tax system would allow corporations to do business and make profits overseas without ever being taxed on it in the United States. This encourages American companies to invest abroad and could cost the country up to 800,000 jobs.

12) “I would like to take the Medicaid dollars that go to states and say to a state, you’re going to get what you got last year, plus inflation, plus 1 percent, and then you’re going to manage your care for your poor in the way you think best.” Sending federal Medicaid funding to the states in the form of a block grant woud significantly reduce federal spending for Medicaid because the grant would not keep up with projected health care costs. A CBO estimate of a very similar proposal from Paul Ryan found that federal spending would be “35 percent lower in 2022 and 49 percent lower in 2030 than current projected federal spending” and as a result “states would face significant challenges in achieving sufficient cost savings through efficiencies to mitigate the loss of federal funding.” “To maintain current service levels in the Medicaid program, states would probably need to consider additional changes, such as reducing their spending on other programs or raising additional revenues,” the CBO found.

13) “I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare…. But the idea of cutting $716 billion from Medicare to be able to balance the additional cost of Obamacare is, in my opinion, a mistake. There’s that number again. Romney is claiming that Obamacare siphons off $716 billion from Medicare, to the detriment of beneficiaries. In actuality, that money is saved primarily through reducing over-payments to insurance companies under Medicare Advantage, not payments to beneficiaries. Paul Ryan’s budget plan keeps those same cuts, but directs them toward tax cuts for the rich and deficit reduction.

14) “What I support is no change for current retirees and near-retirees to Medicare.” Here is how Romney’s Medicare plan will affect current seniors: 1) by repealing Obamacare, the 16 million seniors receiving preventive benefits without deductibles or co-pays and are saving $3.9 billion on prescription drugs will see a cost increase, 2) “premium support” will increase premiums for existing beneficiaries as private insurers lure healthier seniors out of the traditional Medicare program, 3) Romney/Ryan would also lower Medicaid spending significantly beginning next year, shifting federal spending to states and beneficiaries, and increasing costs for the 9 million Medicare recipients who are dependent on Medicaid.

15) “Number two is for people coming along that are young, what I do to make sure that we can keep Medicare in place for them is to allow them either to choose the current Medicare program or a private plan. Their choice. They get to choose — and they’ll have at least two plans that will be entirely at no cost to them.” The Medicare program changes for everyone, even people who choose to remain in the traditional fee-for-service. Rather than relying on a guaranteed benefit, all beneficiaries will receive a premium support credit of $7,500 on average in 2023 to purchase coverage in traditional Medicare or private insurance. But that amount will only grow at a rate of GDP plus 1.5 percentage points and will not keep up with health care costs. So while the federal government will spend less on the program, seniors will pay more in premiums.

16) “And, by the way the idea came not even from Paul Ryan or — or Senator Wyden, who’s the co-author of the bill with — with Paul Ryan in the Senate, but also it came from Bill — Bill Clinton’s chief of staff.” Romney has rejected the Ryan/Wyden approach — which does not cap the growth of the “premium support” subsidy. Bill Clinton and his commission also voted down these changes to the Medicare program.

17) “Well, I would repeal and replace it. We’re not going to get rid of all regulation. You have to have regulation. And there are some parts of Dodd-Frank that make all the sense in the world.”Romney has previously called for full repeal of Dodd-Frank, a law whose specific purpose is to regulate banks. MF Global’s use of customer funds to pay for its own trading losses is just one bit of proof that the financial industry isn’t responsible enough to protect consumers without regulation.

18) “But I wouldn’t designate five banks as too big to fail and give them a blank check. That’s one of the unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank… We need to get rid of that provision because it’s killing regional and small banks. They’re getting hurt.” The law merely says that the biggest, systemically risky banks need to abide by more stringent regulations. If those banks fail, they will be unwound by a new process in the Dodd-Frank law that protects taxpayers from having to pony up for a bailout.

19) “And, unfortunately, when — when — when you look at Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office has said it will cost $2,500 a year more than traditional insurance. So it’s adding to cost.” Obamacare will actually provide millions of families with tax credits to make health care more affordable.

20) “[I]t puts in place an unelected board that’s going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have. I don’t like that idea.” The Board, or IPAB is tasked with making binding recommendations to Congress for lowering health care spending, should Medicare costs exceed a target growth rate. Congress can accept the savings proposal or implement its own ideas through a super majority. The panel’s plan will modify payments to providers but it cannot “include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums…increase Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and co- payments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria” (Section 3403 of the ACA). Relying on health care experts rather than politicians to control health care costs has previously attracted bipartisan support and even Ryan himself proposed two IPAB-like structures in a 2009 health plan.

21) “Right now, the CBO says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year. And likewise, a study by McKinsey and Company of American businesses said 30 percent of them are anticipating dropping people from coverage.” The Affordable Care Act would actually expand health care coverage to 30 million Americans, despite Romney fear mongering. According to CBO director Douglas Elmendorf, 3 million or less people would leave employer-sponsored health insurance coverage as a result of the law.

22) “I like the way we did it [health care] in Massachusetts…What were some differences? We didn’t raise taxes.” Romney raised fees, but he can claim that he didn’t increase taxes because the federal government funded almost half of his reforms.

23) “It’s why Republicans said, do not do this, and the Republicans had — had the plan. They put a plan out. They put out a plan, a bipartisan plan. It was swept aside.” The Affordable Care Act incorporates many Republican ideas including the individual mandate, state-based health care exchanges, high-risk insurance pools, and modified provisions that allow insurers to sell policies in multiple states. Republicans never offered a united bipartisan alternative.

24) “Preexisting conditions are covered under my plan.” Only people who are continuously insured would not be discriminated against because they suffer from pre-existing conditions. This protection would not be extended to people who are currently uninsured.

25) “In one year, you provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world. Now, I like green energy as well, but that’s about 50 years’ worth of what oil and gas receives.” The $90 billion was given out over several years and included loans, loan guarantees and grants through the American Recovery Act. $23 billion of the $90 billion “went toward “clean coal,” energy-efficiency upgrades, updating the electricity grid and environmental clean-up, largely for old nuclear weapons sites.”

26) “I think about half of [the green firms Obama invested in], of the ones have been invested in have gone out of business. A number of them happened to be owned by people who were contributors to your campaigns.” As of late last year, only “three out of the 26 recipients of 1705 loan guarantees have filed for bankruptcy, with losses estimated at just over $600 million.”

27) “If the president’s reelected you’ll see dramatic cuts to our military.” Romney is referring to the sequester, which his running mate Paul Ryan supported. Obama opposes the military cuts and has asked Congress to formulate a balanced approach that would avoid the trigger.

UPDATE

— Romney has now admitted that number 26 was not true.


This material [article] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

What’s Romney’s Plan?

Romney says he’s going to do a lot of things, but so far, he’s failed to provide us with ANY details.  And, in fact, he’s said he’ll tell us that after he’s been elected.  What?  I don’t think so.  Would you commit to buy a house or a car sight unseen?  Why would any reasonable person commit to elect a “President” not knowing exactly what it is he intends to do?

Luckily — that’s not the case with President Obama.  We need to get out there in force and support his re-election for 4 more years so we can finish cleaning up the mess the last Administration created.