What We’re Watching: May 25, 2018 - Good morning and happy Friday. Here’s what we have our eyes on today. Stories We’re Following President Trump gives a...
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It was tempting to dismiss Mitt Romney's hard-right turn during the GOP primaries as calculated pandering. In the general election – as one of his top advisers famously suggested – Romney would simply shake the old Etch A Sketch and recast himself as the centrist who governed Massachusetts. But with the selection of vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, the shape-shifting Romney has locked into focus – cementing himself as the frontman for the far-right partisans responsible for Washington's gridlock.
There is no longer any ambiguity about the path that Romney would pursue as president, because it's the same trajectory charted by Ryan, the architect of the House GOP's reactionary agenda since the party's takeover in 2010. "Picking Ryan as vice president outlines the future of the next four or eight years of a Romney administration," GOP power broker Grover Norquist exulted in August. "Ryan has outlined a plan that has support in the Republican House and Senate. You have a real sense of where Romney's going." In fact, Norquist told party activists back in February, the true direction of the GOP is being mapped out by congressional hardliners. All the Republicans need to realize their vision, he said, is a president "with enough working digits to handle a pen."
The GOP legislation awaiting Romney's signature isn't simply a return to the era of George W. Bush. From abortion rights and gun laws to tax giveaways and energy policy, it's far worse. Measures that have already sailed through the Republican House would roll back clean-air protections, gut both Medicare and Medicaid, lavish trillions in tax cuts on billionaires while raising taxes on the poor, and slash everything from college aid to veteran benefits. In fact, the tenets of Ryan Republicanism are so extreme that they even offend the pioneers of trickle-down economics. "Ryan takes out the ax and goes after programs for the poor – which is the last thing you ought to cut," says David Stockman, who served as Ronald Reagan's budget director. "It's ideology run amok."
And Romney has now adopted every letter of the Ryan agenda. Take it from Ed Gillespie, senior adviser to the campaign: "If the Ryan budget had come to his desk as president," Gillespie said of Romney, "he would have signed it, of course."
Republicans in Congress have repeatedly put ideology before creating jobs. For more than a year, they've refused to put President Obama's jobs bill up for a vote, even though projections show it would create nearly 2 million jobs without adding a penny to the deficit. The reason? The $447 billion bill would be entirely paid for through a surtax on millionaires.
In addition, the Republicans' signature initiative last year – the debt-ceiling standoff – was a jobs-killer, applying the brakes to the economic recovery. From February through April 2011, the economy had been adding 200,000 jobs a month. But during the uncertainty created by the congressional impasse, job creation was cut in half for every month the standoff continued. And according to the Economic Policy Institute, the immediate spending cuts required by the debt-ceiling compromise are likely to shrink the economy by $43 billion this year, killing nearly 323,000 jobs.
What Ryan markets as his "Path to Prosperity" would make things even worse: The draconian cuts in his latest budget, according to the EPI, would put an additional drag on the economy, destroying another 4.1 million jobs by 2014.
The last time a Republican presidential candidate touted an agenda to cut spending, lower taxes, boost defense and balance the budget was Ronald Reagan in 1980. Like Romney and Ryan, Reagan didn't have an actual plan for his spending cuts – they were an accounting fantasy, openly joked about as the "magic asterisk." In the end, as promised, Reagan's tax cuts went through, and the Pentagon's budget soared. But the spending cuts never materialized – so Reagan wound up tripling the debt.
If it didn't work for Reagan, says his former budget director, it would be foolish to assume Romney and Ryan can do better. "The Republican record on spending control is so abysmally bad," Stockman says, "that at this point they don't have a leg to stand on." Indeed, the last GOP administration turned $5 trillion in projected surplus into $5 trillion of new debt.
No one doubts Ryan's determination to slash the social safety net: Of the $5.3 trillion in cuts he has proposed, nearly two-thirds come from programs for the poor. But when it comes time to eviscerate the rest of the federal budget, Stockman says – funding for things like drug enforcement and public schools – Congress will "never cut those programs that deeply." In short, the rich will get their tax cuts. The poor will be left destitute. But America will be driven even deeper into debt.
That, at heart, is the twisted beauty of the plan being championed by Ryan and Romney: The higher Republicans manage to drive up the debt, the more ammunition they have in their fight to slash federal spending for the needy. And the more time they waste trumpeting their "fiscal discipline," the more the nation's infrastructure will continue to crumble around them. Squandering two full workweeks of the congressional calendar on votes to repeal Obamacare has cost taxpayers $48 million. That's nearly the same amount of money now needed to repair cracks in the Capitol itself – spending the House GOP has refused to authorize, out of anti-governmental spite.
|Willam Mageborn, with Iona, his faithful housecarl|
|Whiterun at night|
|Our summer vacation :)|
“TOO BUSY FOR ISRAEL / PRESIDENT FINDS TIME FOR PIRATE, LETTERMAN,” Fox and Friends’ screen read Thursday. “This pirate got a sit-down in the Oval Office yesterday,” Fox and Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said on-air. “So much for the Middle East peace. The White House doesn’t even have time to meet with Israel, but the president got a private sit-down with a pirate yesterday in the Oval Office. Sorry, Bibi,” Steve Doocy added.
One small problem: the photo was taken in May 2009 for use as a joke during the White House Correspondents’ dinner.
The Fox and Drudge headlines allude to Obama reportedly denying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to meet during the United Nations General Assembly. The White House, according to the New York Times, cited scheduling conflicts as the reason the two could not meet. Instead, Obama and Netanyahu recently spoke by phone for about an hour.
"It doth not appear, from all you have said, how any one virtue is required towards the procurement of any one station among you; much less that men are ennobled on account of their virtue, that priests are advanced for their piety or learning, soldiers for their conduct or valour, judges for their integrity, senators for the love of their country, or counsellors for their wisdom. ... I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the Earth." - Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels
One thing about it, however, everyone knew. On it would be enacted a moving religious drama: the ultimate triumph of humanity over the Monsters. For this, the central character had to fulfill two requirements: he had to be an intelligent creature as the Monsters were, so that he could be made to suffer as some day Mankind meant the Monsters to suffer; and he had to be nonhuman as the Monsters were, so that every drop of fear, resentment, and hatred distilled by the enormous swaggering aliens could be poured out upon his flesh without any inhibition of compunction or fellow-feeling.
For this purpose, outlaws were absolutely ideal since all agreed that such disgusting creatures had resigned their membership in the human race. ...
Everyone had their chance. All, from the chief himself to the youngest child capable of reciting the catechism of Ancestral Science, all climbed in their turn upon the Stage - or Theater - or Scaffold - that the women had erected. All were thrilled to vent a portion of Mankind's vengeance upon the creature who had been declared alien, as an earnest of what they would some day do collectively to the Monsters who had stolen their world.
David Twede, 47, a scientist, novelist, and fifth-generation Mormon, is managing editor of MormonThink.com, an online magazine produced largely by members of the Mormon Church that welcomes scholarly debate about the religion’s history from both critics and true believers.
A Mormon in good standing, Twede has never been disciplined by Latter Day Saints leadership. But it now appears his days as a Mormon may be numbered because of a series of articles he wrote this past week that were critical of Mitt Romney.
On Sunday, Twede says his bishop, stake president, and two church executives brought him into Florida Mormon church offices in Orlando and interrogated him for nearly an hour about his writings, telling him, "Cease and desist, Brother Twede."
Mormon leaders have scheduled an excommunication "for apostasy" on Sept. 30.
“I told them I hide my name precisely because of things like this,” he says. “I said, ‘Look how fast you got to me.’ I know a lot of members don’t want their life disturbed. In the Mormon church, if you’re not part of the uniform group, you are ostracized.” ...
“When they interrogated me, they denied that they were on a witch hunt, but they kept asking me, ‘Who are the other individuals you work with on MormonThink?’” he says. “They continued demanding that I tell them. But I didn’t.”
Twede started contributing to MormonThink about four years ago and says he was recently asked to be managing editor when the former editor resigned after also being “confronted and pressured” by the Church leaders, according to Twede.
“Rather than go through the excommunication, he resigned for family reasons,” explains Twede, who notes that after the former editor resigned, LDS leaders kept it quiet. “They didn’t want anyone to know about MormonThink. They wanted him to take the site down.”
|Willam Mageborn, Skyrim hero :)|
|Another Skyrim screenshot|
So no matter how much I may revile the conservative broadcaster, I think I should take this moment to express our condolences to Rush, lest we be the happy men who neither see nor hear others in their time of illness and misfortune…
"I think it's feminism. If it's tied to the last 50 years — the average size of [a male's] member is 10 percent smaller than 50 years [ago] — it has to be the feminazis, the chickification and everything else. Give them time and they'll blame Bush. But air pollution versus feminazis? Ha!"
Limbaugh was referring to an Italian study which purported to show a 10% decline in penis size over a 50 year period and laid the blame on weight gain around the waist, alcohol consumption, smoking, stress and environmental pollutants. None of which are problems for Limbaugh, of course. In his case, it was definitely the Teeny Weenie committee of the National Organization for Women that's causing shrinkage.
But no matter who or what is ultimately responsible, let's keep Rush in our thoughts as he goes through this difficult time.