Thursday, August 30, 2012

They built that!

I'm still amazed by the fact that Republicans are constructing their entire campaign out of lies - and blatant lies, too, starting with that ridiculous "you didn't build that" lie.

But even given all that, the lies by vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan in his speech at the GOP convention were absolutely astonishing. Oh, plenty of people have been lying at the convention, but Ryan set a new record for mendacity.

And maybe, just maybe, it's starting to get noticed. I posted Paul Krugman's comments yesterday, but now, Daily Kos has a whole list of links to articles about Ryan's lies.

For example, here's Joan Walsh at
Paul Ryan gave a feisty anti-Obama speech that will have fact-checkers working for days. His most brazen lie accused President Obama of “raiding” Medicare by taking the exact same $716 billion that Ryan and the House GOP notoriously voted to slash. It was stunning.

But that’s not all. He attacked Obama for failing to keep open a Janesville GM plant that closed under Bush in 2008. He hit him for a credit-rating downgrade that S&P essentially blamed on GOP intransigence. He claimed that all taxpayers got from the 2009 stimulus was “more debt,” when most got a tax cut (and the stimulus is known to have saved between 1.4 and 3.3 million jobs). He derided the president for walking away from the Simpson Bowles commission deficit-cutting recommendations when Ryan himself, a commission member, voted against those recommendations.

He blamed Obama for a deficit mostly created by programs he himself voted for – from two wars, tax cuts, new Medicare benefits and TARP.

And of course, he riffed on the tired central lie of the GOP convention: that the president said “government gets the credit” for small businesses, not the business owners themselves.

There are plenty of details in other articles. Here's Jonathan Bernstein on that deficit commission lie:
It was, by any reasonable standards, a staggering, staggering lie. Here’s Paul Ryan about Barack Obama:
He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.

“They.” “Them.” “Them.” Those words are lies. Because Paul Ryan was on that commission. “Came back with an urgent report.” That is a lie. The commission never made any recommendations for Barack Obama to support or oppose. Why not? Because the commission voted down its own recommendations. Why? Because Paul Ryan, a member of the commission, voted it down and successfully convinced the other House Republicans on the commission to vote it down.

Incredible, isn't it? And as Ryan Grim points out, "it comes just days after Romney pollster Neil Newhouse warned, defending the campaign's demonstrably false ads claiming Obama removed work requirements from welfare, 'We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.'"

In other words, Republicans have gone with lying as a deliberate campaign tactic. No, that's not quite right. It's not a deliberate campaign tactic, but the deliberate campaign tactic. This is it! This is their bold new strategy to take power again - lying, over and over again, with a perfectly straight face.

And not even trying to hide it, because they know that most voters are ignorant about these things - and gullible enough to believe almost anything.

Unfortunately, it looks like Paul Ryan is very, very good at lying.
Analysis of the fact that Ryan can lie the way he does requires the skills of a psychologist. All I can say is that we’re in new territory—a Republican trying to own a Democratic issue, and doing so on the basis of a couple of lies so blatant that he’s practically saying to the Democrats and the media: “Fuck you, come and get me. You can’t touch me.”

Ryan is glib and smooth and has a certain charm. He delivers one-liners very well. He really knows how to package, and where to go and where not to go. He talked a lot about spending, but he didn’t talk much about taxes, because he knows that he can’t really defend his position on taxes, which is slash them for the rich, so don’t even open that door. Open only the doors that lead to free shots at Obama. Many of those too are lies. He’s done far more to add to the debt than Obama has—voting for Bush’s tax cuts and wars and Medicare expansion as a congressman. This is true. But he can make it sound as if no sane person could possibly believe it.

Yes, Paul Ryan - in the most incredible display of hypocrisy I could imagine - even shed crocodile tears for the poor!
We have responsibilities, one to another – we do not each face the world alone. And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak. The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves. … We can make the safety net safe again.

The rhetoric is stirring—and positively galling. Analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that 62 percent of the cuts in Ryan budget would come from programs that serve low-income people. And that’s assuming he keeps the Obamacare Medicare cuts. If he’s serious about putting that money back into Medicare, the cuts to these programs would have to be even bigger.

Among the cuts Ryan specified was a massive reduction in Medicaid spending. According to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Urban Institute, between 14 and 27 million people would lose health insurance from these cuts. That’s above and beyond the 15 million or so who are supposed to get Medicaid coverage from the Affordable Care Act but wouldn’t because Romney and Ryan have pledged to repeal the law.

Think about a man who can lie like that, who can deliver those lines about helping the weak and maintaining a social safety net while doing his very best to do exactly the opposite. What kind of man is Paul Ryan?

Here's another example. Remember that debt ceiling debacle, when House Republicans held our country hostage? That led to losing our top credit rating, for the first time in America's history. Guess who Paul Ryan tried to blame for that?

Here's Jason Easley:
Ryan Blames Obama for The Nation’s Downgraded Credit Rating.

What Ryan Said, ”It began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.”

The Truth: S&P blamed the downgrade on the political dysfunction caused by the Ryan led House on the debt ceiling, “We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process.”

In short, Ryan is blaming President Obama for a crisis that he helped manufacture.

And here's Jonathan Cohn:
About the deficit.

Ryan said “President Obama has added more debt than any other president before him” and proclaimed “We need to stop spending money we don’t have.” In fact, this decade’s big deficits are primarily a product of Bush-era tax cuts and wars. (See graph.) And you know who voted for them? Paul Ryan.

How bad was it? Even a columnist at Fox News noticed!
On the other hand, to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold. ...

And then there’s what Ryan didn’t talk about.

Ryan didn’t mention his extremist stance on banning all abortions with no exception for rape or incest, a stance that is out of touch with 75% of American voters.

Ryan didn’t mention his previous plan to hand over Social Security to Wall Street.

Ryan didn’t mention his numerous votes to raise spending and balloon the deficit when George W. Bush was president.

Ryan didn’t mention how his budget would eviscerate programs that help the poor and raise taxes on 95% of Americans in order to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires even further and increase — yes, increasethe deficit.

Frankly, it's hard to know where to stop. His speech was just one lie after another.

That GM plant closing?
Let’s start with the chronologically impossible. Ryan spoke about the GM plant in his hometown of Janesville:
A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That’s what he said in 2008.

Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.

Set aside the fact that Paul Ryan, in a fit of anti-Randianism, asked for government funds to save the plant. Set aside that he voted for the big-government auto bailout. Ryan also conveniently forgot to mention that GM announced the closure of the plant in early June 2008. In fact, Ryan and then-Wisconsin Sens. Russ Feingold (D) and Herb Kohl (D) sent a letter that month to GM CEO Rick Wagoner asking him to reconsider. This was not just before Barack Obama was inaugurated or even elected; it was the same day he won his own party’s nomination. There was no way Obama could have saved that auto plant without also discovering time travel.

The stimulus?
— a line from his attack on Obama’s stimulus:
The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst.
As Time’s Michael Grunwald, who has just published a new book about the stimulus, points out, “Experts had warned that 5 percent of the stimulus could be lost to fraud, but investigators have documented less than $10 million in losses — about 0.001 percent.” Solyndra has been the exception, not the rule.

More on the stimulus:
Ryan keeps attacking Prsident Obama’s stimulus program now. But in 2002 when then President George W. Bush proposed stimulus spending, Ryan supported it. “What we’re trying to accomplish today with the passage of this third stimulus package is to create jobs and help the unemployed,” Ryan told MSNBC in 2002. Ryan says that the stimulus had not positive effects, while economists say it saved or created millions of jobs and pulled the US out of a near-Depression.

... Even more embarrassing, in 2010, Ryan asked for $20 million in stimulus money from Obama for companies in his district, then repeatedly denied requesting stimulus funds. He finally admitted he had done so, but continues to slam the stimulus program as a failure (even though the economy pulled out of a Depression as a result of it).

Ryan depicted Obamacare as virtually a turn to Soviet-style totalitarianism, as incompatible with liberal freedoms for the individual. But the logical conclusion is that Ryan’s running mate, Mitt Romney, turned Massachusetts into a Gulag.

Ryan’s sly nod to the right wing talking point that Obama is some sort of secret socialist hides the fact that this president is the biggest taxcutter in American history. This is a president whose biggest policy achievement is a healthcare reform that will give private sector health insurance companies millions of new customers.

But will any of this matter? Most people seem to think his speech will go over very well with the ignorant. After all, who's going to believe the "lamestream media"?

And Paul Ryan is such a nice, clean-cut young man. Who's going to believe that he's a pathological liar? After all, the entire Republican Party has done very, very well by lying. (And what they can't lie about - as with Mitt Romney's tax returns or their big-money donors - they keep secret.)

Steve Benen sums it up:
Paul Ryan, the man the media and Republicans celebrate as a bold truth-teller, told one lie after another, demonstrating a near-pathological disdain for honesty. His speech presented no substantive ideas, no policy solutions, and no bold positions on any key issue, but it included enough falsehoods to choke a fact-checker -- all because he assumes you're a fool and journalists are too incompetent to separate fact from fiction.

Is he right?

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