Archives For August 2012

Like for the first two days of the GOP convention I was trying to find a fact check article that had some substance but was pretty much unsuccessful.  It seems that Clint Eastwood’s rambling rants to an empty chair was the highlight of the night.

Of course, Mr. Romney pulled out the “Obama Medicare $716 billion cut which has been already thoroughly discounted.  The other big announcement was that he plans to create 12 million new jobs. The only jobs a president can actually create is in the federal government  and I don’t think that is what he has in mind. Here is what one expert said about that

If Mitt Romney were elected president in November, he is likely to oversee an economy that gains 12 million new jobs in the next four years. But, as Mark Hopkins, a senior analyst at Moody’s told the Washington Post, “the baseline forecast is for payroll employment to increase by 12 million jobs from the start of 2013 to the end of 2016.”

So I guess what he is saying is that he will take credit for the jobs if they actually occur :) It would be interesting to compare what Mr. Romney said last night to what Mr. Obama said four years ago. As I remember they have a lot of similarities. A bunch of promises and little substance to go along with them. But that just seems to be the way of politics now.

To me the crowning words of the night were these from Mr. Romney:

“I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division,” Romney said. “This isn’t something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we can do something. With your help we will do something.”

If only those words were actually true. If Mr. Romney really wanted President Obama to succeed he would have urged his fellow Republican to come together with the Democrats in doing what they can agree is good for America and not filibuster everything that could have actually accomplished something. It is a fact that the last two congresses have been the least productive in the last one hundred years.  But then again since the new radical base of the GOP just doesn’t trust Romney they likely would not have listened to him anyway.

If President Obama had succeeded it would be very unlikely that Mr. Romney would be elected. So five years and millions of dollars of his personal payments would be for naught. I kind of doubt the sincerity of his words above. In order to get to where he is today Mr. Romney had to basically deny almost all of his life’s crowning achievements to appease the now radical base of his party. He had to say that all the work he did to get almost universal healthcare for his State was a big mistake! This alone make me doubt that he has any foundational beliefs that he is not willing to deny in order to gain the Presidency.

The final observation that I want to make before personally putting politics back on the shelf for a while is that the last three nights have firmed up my belief that without some very substantial change the GOP is bound for oblivion. The reason I say that is that when you look at the convention crowd all you see is primarily white faces and old white faces at that.  Our country is become a more diverse nation as the years go by. If the GOP can’t find some way to stop alienating those who are not WASPs they are doomed.

But what do I know….

Source:  Catholic Leaders to Rep. Paul Ryan: Stop Distorting Church Teaching to Justify Immoral Budget | Faith in Public Life.

“If Rep. Ryan thinks a budget that takes food and healthcare away from millions of vulnerable people upholds Catholic values, then he also probably believes Jesus was a Tea Partier who lectured the poor to stop being so lazy and work harder,” said John Gehring, Catholic Outreach Coordinator at Faith in Public Life. “This budget turns centuries of Catholic social teaching on its head. These Catholic leaders and many Catholics in the pews are tired of faith being misused to bless an immoral agenda.”

The leaders wrote: “Simply put, this budget is morally indefensible and betrays Catholic principles of solidarity, just taxation and a commitment to the common good. A budget that turns its back on the hungry, the elderly and the sick while giving more tax breaks to the wealthiest few can’t be justified in Christian terms.”

This post is part of my ongoing search into just who Paul Ryan is. I want to understand why a very good clergy friend of mine endorses him so highly.

When I listen to his speeches his fervor reminds me of the Mr. Obama in 2008.  He seems passionate about what he believes. But that seems to be the rub; just what does he believe. This post will be primarily about his proposed budget for 2012. It seems to say more about the man than his words relay. He has stated several time that his budget reflects Catholic principles but the quotes here say something much to the contrary.

In a letter to the House of Representatives last month, Catholic bishops wrote that “a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons; it requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.” Bishops also called for repealing “cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” and asked Congress to consider the “human and moral dimensions” of budget choices. Rep. Ryan has ignored this vision. Instead, he proposes to dismantle Medicare as we know it, slash food assistance for struggling families and turn Medicaid into inadequate state block grants at a time when most states are struggling to pay their bills. The dramatic growth in military spending is untouched. Addressing our national debt is essential, but balancing budgets on the backs of the poor and working families is flawed public policy and morally bankrupt.

Mr. Ryan claims he is very spiritual but then goes against almost all of Catholic beliefs about taking care of the poor. I know that many, including myself, believe that taking care of “the least of these” is the church’s job but when it fails its duty the other people’s representatives, meaning our government, must take over that task. To simply allow those of us who have fallen on dire times to perish is not an option.

ON Monday I will wrap up this study of the GOP vice presidential candidate….

Source: FACT CHECK: Ryan Takes Factual Shortcuts in Speech – ABC News.

Laying out the first plans for his party’s presidential ticket, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took some factual shortcuts Wednesday night when he attacked President Barack Obama’s policies on Medicare, the economic stimulus and the budget deficit.

I must admit that Mr. Ryan really knows how to give a speech. He got the crowd worked up to a fever pitch last night. He is almost as good at it as Mr. Obama in that regard. I must also admit that the media sure does have creative ways for evaluating political rhetoric. I am just a simple guy but to me “factual shortcuts” sure do sound like just telling lies.  I am a wordsmith by nature. I look for just the right word to add to many of my posts but I try not to call things “untruths” or “factual shortcuts” when there is actually a more appropriate word readily available.  Here are some of the fact check discussions from this article.

RYAN: “And the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly. … So they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.”

THE FACTS: Ryan’s claim ignores the fact that Ryan himself incorporated the same cuts into budgets he steered through the House in the past two years as chairman of its Budget Committee, using the money for deficit reduction. And the cuts do not affect Medicare recipients directly, but rather reduce payments to hospitals, health insurance plans and other service providers.

In addition, Ryan’s own plan to remake Medicare would squeeze the program’s spending even more than the changes Obama made, shifting future retirees into a system in which they would get a fixed payment to shop for coverage among private insurance plans. Critics charge that would expose the elderly to more out-of-pocket costs.

So here is the VP candidate railing against what he is actually for with even more cuts! Being a wordsmith I look for just the right words to describe this and to me it is being two-faced which of course means deceitful or hypocritical. Pick whichever one you like; they  both apply here. If you can tolerate more go to the source article and see the other gross fabrications of the truth by Mr. Ryan.  The differences between reality and his speech are totally amazing to me.  I’m sure Mr. Ryan thinks he is only playing a game here by grossly distorting the facts but some of us think it is much more than that. It puts your integrity on the line.  I really hope he is a better and more truthful person than the rhetoric from his speech shows him to be….

But what do I know….

The Hawks….

August 30, 2012

Source: Paul Ryan weighs in on Middle East policy – First Read.

He continued: “In the past day, Iran’s president called our ally Israel, quote, a cancerous tumor that must be excised. Let me be really clear. Under President Romney, our adversaries will think twice about challenging America and our allies because we believe in peace through strength. There will be no daylight between America and our friends around the world. Strong national defense, peace through strength, strong relationship with our allies.” 

This post is part of my ongoing search into just who Paul Ryan is. I want to understand why a very good clergy friend of mine endorses him so highly.

The only thing that kept me from being very upset by this article is that I know that campaign rhetoric very very rarely becomes action upon holding an office. My hero Will Rogers had much to say about campaign rhetoric but I will save that for a future post.  Let’s face it the old adage that politicians will say absolutely anything to get elected is as true today as it ever was. I pray Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney maintain that pattern. I certainly don’t want to hear their rhetoric turned into actions if they by some remote chance were to get elected :)

The words above sound like the mad military general from the movie Dr. Who just aching to get into a battle with anyone he could find. I hope there is some “daylight between America and it friends” when it comes to putting our children into a war zone. I know we consider Afghanistan our current friends and our sons and daughters continue to die there on a daily basis. When we were on the rampage against Iran after the hostage crisis we considered Hussein our friend and ally. Do we really want to use our overwhelming military might, and because we spend so much on it it is overwhelming, when any of our current allies feel dissed?

Mr. Obama has proved to be much more hawkish than I ever dreamed but to put Ryan/Romney there would make President Obama’s actions timid indeed.

But what do I know…

Source:  Fact check: Christie’s keynote address – USATODAY.com.

Christie: Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the debacle of putting the world’s greatest health care system in the hands of federal bureaucrats and putting those bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor.

Fact Check comment:  As we just said in our first item on the convention, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t create a government-run system, like that of Britain or Canada, nor does it regulate the work of doctors. Republicans often call the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which would recommend ways to slow the growth of Medicare spending, “bureaucrats” that would ration care. But the IPAB, made up of health care professionals, economists and others, wouldn’t have the power to do that, according to the law.

I just came across this fact-check article about Mr. Christy’s keynote speech last night. As usual it was filled with mostly half-truths or half-lies, whichever you prefer.  I guess that makes him a good lawyer. But as the quote above indicates there were also some outright lies.

I don’t expect much better than this from the politicians especially during their conventions/infomercials but I hope others are like me and can see through this kind of rhetoric for what it is. Don’t base your vote by what they say. Base it on their actions or at the very least what their solutions to the problems are. Talk is cheap and ranting without solutions is even worse…..

Source: Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them | Alternet.


Ayn Rand was not only a schlock novelist, she was also the progenitor of a sweeping “moral philosophy” that justifies the privilege of the wealthy and demonizes not only the slothful, undeserving poor but the lackluster middle-classes as well.

Her books provided wide-ranging parables of “parasites,” “looters” and “moochers” using the levers of government to steal the fruits of her heroes’ labor. In the real world, however, Rand herself received Social Security payments and Medicare benefits under the name of Ann O’Connor (her husband was Frank O’Connor).

As Michael Ford of Xavier University’s Center for the Study of the American Dream wrote, “In the end, Miss Rand was a hypocrite but she could never be faulted for failing to act in her own self-interest.”

This is an ongoing study of the new vice presidential candidate in the Republican party. It is well-known that Mr. Ryan, like several others in his party, is a huge fan of Ayn Rand. He says when his loses his focus he picks up her books to rejuvenate his path in life.  So, I wanted to learn a little more about his hero. I knew from hearing about her in college in the 60’s that she was a radical and an enthusiastic McCarthy supporter. But what I have learned about her since is even more telling.

One of her most famous quotes is:

Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. – Ayn Rand

I don’t know if, being an avowed atheist, she was mocking Christ who basically said the opposite or just what were the circumstances of this quote but I just can’t put a benevolent spin on it in any circumstance .

A final quote I want to present of Ms. Rand is her beliefs about altruism. For those of you who might not know what an altruist is the definition is  person unselfishly concerned for or devoted to the welfare of others. Here is the quote:

If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.

I know Ayn Rand is also a hero of an elder in the Lutheran church where I was a member a few years ago.  He prided himself in his beliefs that he got from her that there are two types of people in this world  “makers” and “takers”. The makers produce things and the takers are just a drain our society. He included everyone in government service as a “taker”. His philosophy, which seemed to be agreed upon by several others there, was one of the reasons I decided to not challenge my expulsion from that congregation due to theological differences (I think the earth is more than six thousand years old and  the Bible contains stories that are not always literal and without error).

Ayn Rand seems to almost be the anti-thesis of Jesus Christ who she loathed so much. It seems totally ironic to now see Ms. Rand as a hero of the political party who deems themselves to be so Christian. How can this be?

So, here I am looking for reasons why a very good clergy friend of mine from the past has such a high regard to Mr. Ryan. Could my friend be one of those one-issue voters? Paul Ryan is very consistent in his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape and incest. Could that be the sole reason for my friend’s endorsement?  I hope not….

Putting a Face On It…..

August 28, 2012

Source: Michael J. Fox’s new TV comedy is headed to NBC – The Clicker.


NBC has ordered 22 episodes of the untitled single-camera comedy that will star Fox as a husband and father of three from New York City dealing with family, career and challenges — including Parkinson’s disease. Filming will begin this year for a fall 2013 premiere.

I really enjoyed the Michael J. Fox comedy Family Ties when it was on during the 1980s. Some of the things that Alex P. Keaton said on the show were so funny and outrageous. Young Republicans back then, as now, were in a minority. But Alex was a very likable guy who you couldn’t help but love. I have also enjoyed him in his many recent guest appearances on shows that I watch. He has not lost his touch. So when, via the source above, I see that he is going to get another comedy it makes me smile. I have always enjoyed comedies more than any other type TV and we need an occasional laugh now more than ever.

Maybe even more importantly is that the show will put Mr. Fox’s physical condition which is Parkinson’s disease front and center. I have this theory about life in that until you put a face on something it is just too easy to ignore it. Faceless conditions and circumstance just don’t get our attention any more. But when you put a face on something it is hard to forget it. I know that one of my favorite shows which is Little People, Big World put a face on dwarfism. For those of us who watch them Matt, Amy, and their son Zach are people first and dwarfs second. I’m sure that show has done a lot to help other dwarfs in their daily challenges.

One of my life goals is to do my part in putting a face on poverty and homelessness. This condition, like so many others is simply ignored by many especially it seems the leadership in the Republican party. These guys, and I do mean guys, seem to say daily if you are poor or homeless it is your own fault. They can’t seem to see that many are destined to being poor and no, not everyone is capable of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. They can’t seem to understand that for the vast majority poverty is not a self-inflicted condition. The fastest rising demographic group in the U.S. are those in poverty.  We need to put a face on poverty to really understand its devastating results. Most people who are in this group are not freeloaders but just normal people trying their best just to live. I see their faces daily at the soup kitchen where I volunteer. If only other could see the true face of poverty.

Another group that I hope someone comes along and puts a face on are those with hearing impairments and deafness. This group, who I am a member need a face. Unfortunately the term “deaf and dumb” still lingers among the general population. I struggle with that misnomer on what seems to be a daily basis. People can’t seem to understand that those with hearing impairments are for the most part just like them but without the ability to hear. I wish someone would put a face on deafness. It would certainly help me in my daily life in the hearing world.

Source: Paul Ryan’s Peculiar Definition of Bipartisanship – Businessweek.

…Instead of getting rid of the fee-for-service model—Medicare as we know it, in which the government pays providers directly—and opening everything to the free market, Medicare would compete directly with private plans regulated by government exchanges. And rather than pegging the growth rate of Medicare to the Consumer Price Index, as Ryan had proposed, Ryan appeased Rivlin with a more generous cost cap.

Yet when Ryan released his first budget as chairman of the House Budget Committee that April, the outlines of the deal he and Rivlin worked out had been changed…..But in Ryan’s budget, the option for seniors to stick with traditional fee-for-service Medicare had disappeared.

I have been casually looking at the man who Mr. Romney chose as is running mate. I will be spending a few posts in the next week or so to try and understand what drives this new vice presidential candidate.

Mr. Ryan seems like a pretty nice guy. He like Mr. Obama has a certain way with words that wants me to trust him. He frequently uses words like hope, trust, potential that invoke a positive attitude.  But again, he is a leader of the party that I see as wanting to strip the safety net from society in order for the rich to keep a little more of their money. He is also the so-called “darling of the tea party”; that scares me the most. Then I came across this article that looks more into Mr. Ryan the politician.

To a certain degree I was duped by looking at the man when I should have been looking more at the potential politician in 2008. I am still convinced that our current president is a good and compassionate person; he is just not the strong leader I hoped he would be. We must all keep in mind that when we go to the polls this November we are not voting for our best buddy but instead the person who will do the best job in leading our country into the future. To me that must be someone who has integrity and compassion and the abilities to get things done.

Unlike Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney, Mr. Ryan has a history of being a politician since he is currently one of the primary leaders in the Republican party. Two significant things came out of the source article above that added to my perception of this vice presidential candidate. The first is that I forgot that Mr. Ryan was  one of the select members on the failed super committee that could not agree on how to reduce the deficit. So much for his bipartisan leadership. He couldn’t come up with a compromise that this small group could agree on. I know agreement seems to be an impossible thing to accomplish now but that is more the reason to search for a person who can get that job done.

The second thing this article tells you something about his integrity. When he agrees with something in the opposing party and then takes it out before introduction but continues to espouse that it is bipartisan that seems to be very two-faced.  It is one thing to take out what caused the person to agree with the bill but it is quite another to continue to say what you put out is bipartisan. Would Mr. Ryan do this if he were president? Since he is “a heartbeat away from the Oval Office” I have to consider that possibility.

Now before some of you start saying that this article is just more of the liberal media spin you need to look and see that it is from Business Week magazine. They like the Rupert Murdock’s Wall Street Journal are anything but liberal.

Whose Responsibility???

August 26, 2012

I got into a discussion on FaceBook recently about Church/State responsibilities.  This one started out on a good friend of mine’s page where he stated:

As a pastor I try to steer clear of citing personal preferences when it comes to politics. …. Having said that, I am certainly happy that a man of great integrity and moral character, Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, is a part of the conversation.

Of course this brought on some other friends who stated it is absolutely necessary for pastors to point out God’s standards in guiding his flock in making the proper choices among the candidates.  At that point I commented that I don’t think it is God’s standard to take billions away from aid to the poor and give it to millionaires as tax breaks? Of course as an expected response I heard that it is not government’s job to take care of the poor; that is the church’s role. I think I surprised them when I agreed with them entirely.

Here are my further comments on the subject.

I couldn’t agree with you more that it is our job as Christians to take care of the poor. So why is it that we seem to only be able to do about 3% of the job? What do you propose the other 97% of the need do if we take the government safety net away from them. It is nice to sit back and talk about this in abstract but for the last nine years I have spent at least two days a week volunteering at a local homeless shelter and soup kitchen. Every time another piece of the safety net is torn away we get a few more people who rely on us for their nourishment.

So, lets quit spending 90% of what we collect in our churches on ourselves and do like the early Christians did and spend almost all of it on those who are doing without. They called this giving “hospitality” and it was central to their early beliefs. When that happens I will march along side you and I’m sure government will gladly get out of the way. But given how we are doing right now that will take centuries to accomplish. Lets all get out of our pews and into the community where Jesus intended us to be…

 I am struck by the arrogance of us Christians when all we do is talk about it not being government’s job and then go back to our usual ways. Every statistic shows that Christians are pretty much like everyone else when it comes to charity, divorce, riches, and other worldly things. I think Jesus is very disappointed in us in that regard. I hope you don’t respond that we are all sinners and somehow that allows us to shirk our responsibilities. Yes, the poor will always be with us especially when we Christians talk in platitudes instead of actually doing things.

One of my favorite quotes that isn’t heard much in Christian churches is 1John 3:16. It is interesting that it is so close to the other one. 
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. “

I am happy that the Lord gave me the proper words in response. I never heard anything more but I hope I at least put a tiny thought into these Evangelical’s hearts.

Oysters…..

August 25, 2012

I am going to shake off my vanity and put a picture of me for this Saturday’s photo. When we lived in New Jersey I developed a definite taste for oysters on the half shell. But I don’t usually get them unless I am close to the source. This picture was taken this Spring in  Baltimore Maryland which is close to the source :)  They were tasty indeed and the local beer was great in washing them down (as if they really need washing down).