Monthly Archives: August 2012

An American Die-Hard Conservative Vs. Canadian Healthcare

We’ve heard plenty about the horrors of the Canadian national healthcare system, but mostly from pundits with no actual experience with it. Now along comes an American woman, a self-described “die-hard conservative Republican,” who has lived in Canada since 2008 and has given birth there to three children. She writes about the ugly realities of healthcare in Canada, and what she has had to endure. Read it and cringe.

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Paul Ryan: My Hopes are Dashed Once Again

I really want to like Paul Ryan. He’s clearly a formidable candidate, extremely bright, a superb communicator, and at least moderately charismatic. I listened to his speech at the Republican National Convention last night. Sure, it was a biting, red-meat kind of speech, and I disagreed with his take on various things. But it seemed to me like a very good speech for the audience and the context–just what the Romney campaign needed.

But today, fact-checkers are having a heyday. It’s clear that Paul Ryan, at least in this speech, showed little regard for the truth. Many lies and distortions have been identified (ones I didn’t notice, as a typical viewer).

This disappoints me. Please don’t tell me that Obama and Biden are just as bad. I realize they tell lies, too, and I hope the fact-checkers are fully alert during their speeches at the Democratic convention.

But I’m always hopeful for a “different” kind of politician–the kind Obama presented himself to be in 2008, and which I believe he tried to be for at least the first year or two before giving it up in frustration. I hoped Ryan was different.

But, as has been shown in various outlets (even on FoxNews this morning), Ryan is just your normal lying politician. And that really does disappoint me. I was drawn somewhat to the Republican ticket. No more.

This Salon article gives a good rundown of the lies and distortions in Ryan’s speech. There are many good links off of that article, including this one about Ryan and the stimulus. Both the BBC and the Guardian in Britain highlighted the factual errors in Ryan’s speech. So did Slate. You would expected the Huffington Post to spotlight his lies, and maybe ABCNews, but even the Associated Press felt obligated to report on it. Then Glen Grunwald pumelled Ryan on the Swampland blog.

So, Congressman Ryan: congratulations on a speech that really rallied your base. And congratulations for turning me, once again, into a disillusioned and disappointed citizen, and for sacrificing your credibility in the process.

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Not What You Think It Means

We know what the soldier means by the thumbs-up. But do we really know what those Iraqi kids mean? Are they secretly laughing inside?

In many countries, the “thumbs up” gesture is akin to the middle finger in America. One of those countries is Iraq. So picture this.

American troops, in their tanks and Humvees, are driving through an Iraqi city. From the street and windows and rooftops, Iraqis can be seen giving American troops a thumbs-up. The American troops smile at what they perceive to be a welcoming gesture, and they return the thumbs-up.

When actually, all both sides are doing is flipping each other off.

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Well, It was Worth a Shot

In the movie “Independence Day,” Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith, using a laptop, insert a virus into the alien mothership, disabling their communications system and saving the earth.

Question: What if the aliens had installed Norton Utilities? Did Jeff Goldblum think of that?

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The Mind of Mitt

I recommend the cover article about Mitt Romney in the Sept 3 issue of Time magazine. I’m quite impressed by the business skills needed to run Bain Capital, and feel those skills would definitely be valuable in the White House. I’ve read a lot of this stuff before (in other “liberal” publications, so they obviously can’t be trusted), but hadn’t seen it put together quite so convincingly as in this issue of Time.

I was also fascinated that Romney, for ethical reasons, would not get involved with companies that dealt with tobacco, gambling…and guns. I applaude that. Attractive deals came along involving Colt and Winchester, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with gun companies.

Of course, Romney regularly entered into deals knowing full well he would be putting hundreds of people out of work, while personally reaping millions of dollars. But that’s just capitalism and has nothing to do with ethics…I guess.

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Adequate Punishment for a Simple Theft?

In Uganda, a man stole a cell phone from a patient in a hospital isolation ward. The patient had the Ebola virus, and later died.

The thief later returned to the hospital…suffering from Ebola.

Is it okay to be amused by that?

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Rick Warren Castigates the Candidates

Rick Warren with John McCain and Barack Obama in 2008.

I really enjoyed the forum Rick Warren conducted in 2008 with John McCain and Barack Obama. I found it to be very informative about both candidates. It was a laid-back conversation, rather than a format with reporters asking confrontational or gotcha questions.

Warren planned to hold another during this campaign season. Both candidates, according to Warren, wanted to do it. The networks wanted to do it, since the previous one brought high ratings.

But Warren has pulled the plug, and I salute him for his reasons. He explained:

“We created the civil forums to promote civility and personal respect between people with major differences. The forums are meant to be a place where people of goodwill can seriously disagree on significant issues without being disagreeable or resorting to personal attack and name-calling. But that is not the climate of today’s campaign. I’ve never seen more irresponsible personal attacks, mean-spirited slander, and flat-out dishonest attack ads, and I don’t expect that tone to change before the election.

“It would be hypocritical to pretend civility for one evening only to have the name-calling return the next day.”

It goes along with what Michael Scherer suggested in one of my posts last week: “In the end, there is only one thing that will force these candidates, their campaigns and supporters to hue a straighter line: Their own constituencies must object.”

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Chris Wallace with the Romneys

Chris Wallace (left) eating pancakes with the Romneys.

Chris Wallace did a good job interviewing the Romneys on Fox News Sunday on August 26. I liked the dynamics I saw between Mitt and Ann–she freely interrupting, not deferring to Mitt, good banter. Looked to me like a healthy marriage of equals.

I see the same with the Obamas. I didn’t with the McCains.

Wallace spent time with the Romneys at one of their homes. I think this one was in New Hampshire. Mitt and Ann made pancakes, and talked about their down-hominess. It was all very positive, and I came away liking them more.

Wallace did ask some pointed questions. It wasn’t “Meet the Press,” which Mitt Romney has refused to appear on. But first in an interview just with Mitt, and to a lesser extent in the interview with Mitt and Ann together, Wallace asked questions which went well beyond being mere softballs.

When a reporter asks a tough question of a Republican (like Katie Couric asking Sarah Palin what magazines she reads), the right-wing media tends to brand you a biased liberal. Chris better watch it.

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Go Ahead and Talk about Medicare. I’m not Listening.

This may seem intellectually lame, but I’ve decided to pretty much ignore everything being said about Medicare. Both sides are demagoguing the issue, and lying about it, and the fixes both sides propose don’t happen until far down the road. I’ve decided it’s impossible for an ordinary person, like me, to understand what’s really happening–and that what actually happens probably won’t resemble what the candidates propose.

So I’m just gonna ignore it all. When I reach Medicare age (which isn’t all that far away), my attitude is: whatever it is, it is. Both parties will probably use “Mediscare” tactics for the rest of my life. So, Mitt and Barack, talk about Medicare all you want. But I’m tuning you out.

Politifact has covered statements about Medicare rather extensively. Here’s a collection of statements made by both sides, and Politifact’s determination of their truthfulness (or lack thereof).

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American Taxes Vs. the World

Here’s an interesting graphic from the Foreign Affairs website (sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations). It puts America’s level of taxes in a world perspective. There are some “But it doesn’t take into account…” kinds of objections, but still.

A lengthy articles, titled “America the Undertaxed: U.S. Fiscal Policy in Perspective,” accompanied the graphic. A few tidbits from the article.

  • We’ve heard that the US has the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world. The article confirms that, at a 39% rate. But with all the tax breaks and credits and other bookkeeping tricks we allow, the effective rate is an average of 13%, the lowest among the G-7 countries.
  • The amount of total US income going to the top 1% of earners increased from 9% in 1970 to 23.5% in 2007. They earn 20% of all income, but hold over 30% of all wealth. The next highest is Germany, where the top 1% earn just 11% of the country’s total income. So the disparity is severe in the US, and prosperity which once went to the middle class now goes to the very rich.
  • The article deals at length with income inequality and the things we’ve built into the tax code to specifically benefit the rich. The article says we have the highest poverty rate among rich nations.
  • According to Paul Ryan’s budget plan, 62% of the spending reductions would affect low-income households (government programs being cut), and low-income households would also face higher federal taxes because of a reduction in the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Meanwhile, persons earning over $1 million would get a tax cut of $265,000, on top of the Bush tax cuts already in place. This from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
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