Archive | September 2012

Vote now(?)

So as the following points out, as much as 35% of the votes cast in the presidential election this year will be cast BEFORE Election Day.  Why is this a good trend?  What’s the downside?   Do you think that the large number of voters casting their ballot early will have an impact on the outcome of the election?

Romney explains himself

Governor Romney appeared this afternoon on Fox News to address the kerfuffle that arose as a result of his comments to potential donors on the video (released yesterday) that we discussed in class.  As you know, Romney was criticized by both Democrats and some Republicans for saying the 47% Americans believe they are “victims who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they’re entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it.”   Governor Romney went on to say, “my job is not to worry about those people.  I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for for their lives.”

So in the following selection from his television interview this afternoon, Governor Romney attempts to explain his remarks on the video and his overall position on the role of government in the US.  Do you believe that Romney has sufficiently addressed this topic and that it will no longer be an issue in the campaign?




No More Big Sodas in New York

So today the Board of Health in New York approved Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to ban sodas in excess of 16 ounces sold in city-regulated eating establishments.  The ban is likely to take effect within 6 months.  The following video from the New York Times explains the ban, and offers some commentary.  Do you think that banning large sodas to promote better health is a proper use of government?



Are tax increases inevitable? Are tax decreases possible?

We have spent a lot of time this week discussing the role of government — what services the government provides, and which services it should provide.  But we haven’t yet discussed taxation, which of course  is intertwined with the debate over the role of government, since taxes fund whatever services the government provides.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, is the leader of the anti-tax increase movement in the US, and in this capacity he has led many members of Congress (as well as Governor Romney and Rep. Ryan)  to sign a pledge not to increase taxes — ever.  He has been criticized by some, even from within his own Republican party, for being unwilling to compromise on the tax issue.  The following profile of Norquist, which was aired on 60 Minutes two weeks ago, provides you with some background on Norquist and his views on taxation.  Then, I’ve added an interview of Norquist by the Wall Street Journal conducted on August 28th.  Are higher taxes inevitable? Are lower taxes possible?

Romney’s strategy: effective or not?

So Jon Stewart’s somewhat predictable take on Romney’s speech follows — very entertaining, even if you don’t agree with him.  The real question, though, is how effective this strategy (assuming you accept Stewart’s interpretation) can be.  See the poll at the end of the clip.

Ryan’s speech — good or bad for the Republicans?

Those of you who watched the convention speech given by Paul Ryan, the VP nominee of the Republican Party, no doubt are aware of the good amount of controversy he stirred up by being less than entirely truthful in several of his points.  The following piece on the Fox News website (which of course is significant in and of itself) speaks to the mixed reaction to Ryan’s speech.  Read the following and offer your opinion in the survey at the end:

Paul Ryan’s speech in 3 words


Published August 30, 2012


1. Dazzling

At least a quarter of Americans still don’t know who Paul Ryan is, and only about half who know and have an opinion of him view him favorably.

So, Ryan’s primary job tonight was to introduce himself and make himself seem likeable, and he did that well. The personal parts of the speech were very personally delivered, especially the touching parts where Ryan talked about his father and mother and their roles in his life. And at the end of the speech, when Ryan cheered the crowd to its feet, he showed an energy and enthusiasm that’s what voters want in leaders and what Republicans have been desperately lacking in this campaign.

To anyone watching Ryan’s speech who hasn’t been paying much attention to the ins and outs and accusations of the campaign, I suspect Ryan came across as a smart, passionate and all-around nice guy — the sort of guy you can imagine having a friendly chat with while watching your kids play soccer together. And for a lot of voters, what matters isn’t what candidates have done or what they promise to do —it’s personality. On this measure, Mitt Romney has been catastrophically struggling and with his speech, Ryan humanized himself and presumably by extension, the top of the ticket.

2. Deceiving

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.

The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth. Said fact checkers have already condemned certain arguments that Ryan still irresponsibly repeated.

Fact: While Ryan tried to pin the downgrade of the United States’ credit rating on spending under President Obama, the credit rating was actually downgraded because Republicans threatened not to raise the debt ceiling.

Fact: While Ryan blamed President Obama for the shut down of a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, the plant was actually closed under President George W. Bush. Ryan actually asked for federal spending to save the plant, while Romney has criticized the auto industry bailout that President Obama ultimately enacted to prevent other plants from closing.

Fact: Though Ryan insisted that President Obama wants to give all the credit for private sector success to government, that isn’t what the president said. Period.

Fact: Though Paul Ryan accused President Obama of taking $716 billion out of Medicare, the fact is that that amount was savings in Medicare reimbursement rates (which, incidentally, save Medicare recipients out-of-pocket costs, too) and Ryan himself embraced these savings in his budget plan.

Elections should be about competing based on your record in the past and your vision for the future, not competing to see who can get away with the most lies and distortions without voters noticing or bother to care. Both parties should hold themselves to that standard. Republicans should be ashamed that there was even one misrepresentation in Ryan’s speech but sadly, there were many.

3. Distracting

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.

These aspects of Ryan’s resume and ideology are sticky to say the least. He would have been wise to tackle them head on and try and explain them away in his first real introduction to voters. But instead of Ryan airing his own dirty laundry, Democrats will get the chance.

At the end of his speech, Ryan quoted his dad, who used to say to him, “”Son. You have a choice: You can be part of the problem, or you can be part of the solution.”

Ryan may have helped solve some of the likeability problems facing Romney, but ultimately by trying to deceive voters about basic facts and trying to distract voters from his own record, Ryan’s speech caused a much larger problem for himself and his running mate.