Like the ending to The Wizard of Oz, minus the fun factor, one of the curtains pulled back during the 2012 presidential campaign was that Paul Ryan’s(R-WI) economic credentials were about as honest as the guy who filed Al Capone’s tax returns. Back in August of 2012 some economists noted that Ryan’s numbers didn’t add up. The only thing Ryan was master of was the use of PowerPoint. You can fool some of the people all the time? In the case of House Republicans, 98% of them found a way for 2+2 to equal five with the shear force of belief. They voted for the for the Ryan magical math. Even thought his plan contained less deficit reduction than the Obama plan Republicans said they hated because there were not enough spending cuts. Ryan’s economic vision was based on one thing – lowering taxes by any means necessary for wealthy Americans and cop orations. Despite what so-called moderates like the NYT’s Ross Douthat said, Ryan was not flexible. He was not willing to juggle some revenue increases for spending cuts, and real deficit reduction. 2012 was the year Ryan was stripped of his twin masks of being a genuine economics wonk and a reasonable voice within the conservative movement. So Ryan loses the election, the curtain has exposed him as another voodoo economics pretender. He’s a human being and most of us have had issues in which we have made large ideological and emotional investments. It is difficult for even the most mature and wise to admit that we were wrong and make a change even when the evidence is so overwhelmingly against us. Though a mark of a mature adult and someone who is entrusted with acting in the best interests of their constituents and the country should have the courage and wisdom to acknowledge that maybe a change of course is appropriate at this point. Ryan is not one of those people, Paul Ryan Breaks Down Under Wonkterrogation
Paul Ryan’s great genius has not merely been that he has united conservative Republicans around a single vision – several Republicans have done this before – but that he has simultaneously persuaded moderates that he shares their beliefs as well. That is how Ryan has pitched himself to America not as a rightwing ideologue but as a thoughtful numbers guy.
[ ]…The conversation is worth close examination, because Ryan simply hurls up nonsensical rationales one after another, and finally offers his actual reason when he has run out of gibberish. Ryan begins by pledging his abiding fear of a “debt crisis,” but insists he won’t accept higher revenue, even in return for spending cuts. Ryan replies:
“They already got their revenues,” Ryan said. “So what, we’ll roll over and they get more revenues? That’s not how it works. In the spirit of bipartisan compromise, they’ve gotten revenue increases already. We’ve yet to get anything as a result of it. It used to be 3-1. Isn’t that what Erskine says? $3 of spending cuts to every dollar of tax increase. The president in his own budget last year claimed 2.5 to 1. We’d argue with whether they actually achieved that, but where’s the 3? Where’s the two-and-a-half? Where’s the $1.8 trillion in cuts?”
It is true – there was a $620 billion tax increase at the beginning of the year. On the other hand, there were $2.2 trillion in spending cuts in 2011. So you could just as easily say Republicans already got their spending cuts and there should be no more, right? Ryan replies:
“That was last session,” Ryan said. “We’re going forward now.”
In fact the $620 billion was also last session. In any case, notice how fast Ryan has flipped his logic. First he asserts that there can’t be more revenue because we already increased some revenue. When reminded that we cut spending even more, he says it’s “last session,” and irrelevant.
I have a friend with similar word crutches. If I said you got your spending cuts in that last round of negotiations, more than the cuts you ( and Ryan proposed) so how can you say you did not get your spending cuts, they’ll inevitably say.. well that’s irrelevant. It somehow becomes irrelevant, not because they did not get what they wanted, but because they got what they wanted and now they want more and do want want to consider those very recent concessions part of their new round of demands. In Ryan world every spending cut is agreed to only as a prelude to more spending cuts. When will the federal budget reach the heights of Ryan perfection? When Social Security is privatized and manged by the same hooligans that crashed the economy. We’ll only reach true Ryanism when Medicare is gutted and seniors and the disabled are selling pencils on street corners. We’ll all see the rainbow of Ryanland when they shut down all public prisons, public schools, publicly funded medical research, the EPA is defunded and let the Koch brothers dump their toxic waste in your backyard and the internet is controlled by corporations that can choke off connections to sites they don’t profit from. While at one point during the presidential campaign Ryan (R-WI) said that he had long given up his social-Darwinist beleifs re Ayn Rand, that was also a lie about his ideology. He is still a social-darwinist, still knows more about PowerPoint than economics and still could care less economic policies that maintain a thriving middle-class.
So Ryan having been confronted with facts. Shown that his argument does not make sense, especially if he is arguing that he is a compromiser and having lost his bid for the vice presidency, he is more entrenched than ever in false beliefs. This is typical of most conservatives. Liberals become frustrated because they think that since they have the facts on their side they win. On the contrary. Those people that lean conservatives will look at the truth and claim, well I sill believe the moon is made of blue-cheese anyway. And the more you argue with them, sometimes the more tenaciously they will cling to their beliefs, Why Do People Believe Stupid Stuff, Even When They’re Confronted With the Truth?
What should be evident from the studies on the backfire effect is you can never win an argument online. When you start to pull out facts and figures, hyperlinks and quotes, you are actually making the opponent feel as though they are even more sure of their position than before you started the debate. As they match your fervor, the same thing happens in your skull. The backfire effect pushes both of you deeper into your original beliefs.
Have you ever noticed the peculiar tendency you have to let praise pass through you, but feel crushed by criticism? A thousand positive remarks can slip by unnoticed, but one “you suck” can linger in your head for days. One hypothesis as to why this and the backfire effect happens is that you spend much more time considering information you disagree with than you do information you accept. Information which lines up with what you already believe passes through the mind like a vapor, but when you come across something which threatens your beliefs, something which conflicts with your preconceived notions of how the world works, you seize up and take notice. Some psychologists speculate there is an evolutionary explanation. Your ancestors paid more attention and spent more time thinking about negative stimuli than positive because bad things required a response. Those who failed to address negative stimuli failed to keep breathing.
In a column published around the new Year, conservative columnist Ross Douthat wrote that to start off the New Year everyone should start reading the other side’s magazines, pundits and web sites. It struck me as funny because I visit conservative web sites, I probably read The National Review as much as Ross. I grew up on far Right ideology. In other words I give the other side more equal time than most conservatives give us. Read the comments at Free Republic, The Gateway Pundit, Hot Air and the Breitbart sites. These people live and breath in their echo chamber. They still believe that Hillary had something to do with Vince Foster’s death, they belive that annie may crashed the economy in 2007, they believe that president Obama went on some kind of apolgy tour, they have woven an intricate insane tale of events at Benghazi, they believe that if billionaires had their taxes cut down to nothing the economy would thrive. Not that you can’t find Democrats with some wacky beliefs, it is that this deeply held dogma, this massive playbook of wackiness is what drives conservatism. Take away the pixie-dust economics of Paul Ryan and you have an empty suit who got a decent start in life with the help of Social Security death benefits. Take away the morally repugnant correlations that conservatives draw between cause and events, and you just have some bizarro world caricatures, not statesmen and thinkers.
Georgia residents have begun canceling their donations to Georgia Public Broadcasting after a recent report revealed that a former Republican state senator — who believes the United Nations is planning to turn the U.S. into a communist dictatorship using mind control — is receiving a salary of $150,000 to run part of the network.
Not every member of the NRA, but that organization’s official position is that guns equal freedom. Does that mean they’ll be gathering up their militias and stopping Republicans from rigging the 2014 and 2016 elections. How Republicans Plan to Rig the Electoral College and Steal the White House
This Republican Plan would reallocate electoral votes so that a maximum of two electoral votes would go to the overall winner of several key blue states. The lion’s share of the state’s electors would then be allocated one by one to the presidential candidate who won each individual congressional district. (see Figure 1) Thus, in a blue state such as Michigan—which President Obama won by nearly 10 points in 2012—Gov. Romney would have received 9 of the state’s 16 electoral votes because he received more votes than the president did in nine of the state’s congressional districts. In other words, the Republican candidate would receive more than half of the state’s electoral votes despite being overwhelmingly defeated in the state as a whole.
Cashing in on gerrymandering
The Republican Plan does not just apply one set of rules in red states and another set of rules in blue states—it also takes advantage of profoundly gerrymandered congressional maps in order to stack the deck even more for Republican presidential candidates. In 2012 Democratic House candidates received nearly 1.4 million more votes than their Republican counterparts. Yet Republican candidates currently hold a 33-seat majority in the House, due in large part to the fact that Republican state legislatures controlled the redistricting process in several key states. Indeed, Republicans were so successful in their efforts to lock in their control of the House of Representatives through gerrymandering that Democratic House candidates would have needed to win the national popular vote by more than 7 percentage points in order to receive the barest majority in the House. Republicans aren’t particularly shy about touting the success of their gerrymanders either: The Republican State Leadership Committee released an extensive memo boasting about how they used gerrymanders to lock down GOP majorities in the House.
Guns do not preserve freedom and you do not need guns to take it away. The biggest threat to freedom is money, corruption and a morally bankrupt agenda.
This is probably the best report on the subject, but easy to get lost in the minutiae, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell Reach Filibuster Reform Deal [UPDATE]
The deal will address the filibuster on the motion to proceed by changing the amount of debate time that would follow a cloture vote from 30 hours to four, speeding up Senate business and allowing more legislation to reach the floor. But the deal still requires Democrats to muster 60 votes to invoke cloture on that motion, despite Reid’s earlier suggestion that he would bar a filibuster on that motion entirely.
Or This TP report condenses it all down – Three Winners And Three Losers In Today’s Filibuster Deal
Circuit Judges, Supreme Court Justices & Cabinet Officials: The senior most Senate-confirmed jobs — justices, court of appeals judges and the most powerful executive branch officials — are still subject to 30 hours of delay.
The Tea Party: The package reduces the number of opportunities to obstruct a bill that is supported by the Minority Leader and at least 7 Republicans, meaning that senators like Rand Paul (R-KY) or Mike Lee (R-UT) will have fewer chances to block progress on matters that everyone but a few Tea Party extremists support.
The Future: The most significant changes in this package — the reduced hours for nominees and the two free amendments for the minority — sunset in two years and thus will cease to exist in the 114th Congress unless reinstated.
These are really the only two wins,
District Judges: Currently, Senate rules allow the minority to force up to 30 hours of wasted time before a single nominee can be confirmed. Because Senate floor time is limited, this leads to many confirmations being delayed for months or killed entirely simply because the Majority Leader cannot afford to budget the time to move the nomination forward. The proposal reduces the amount of time that can be wasted while confirming a federal trial judge to 2 hours, significantly reducing the time cost of such confirmations.
Sub-Cabinet Officials: Meanwhile, the 30 hours of wasted time on sub-cabinet officials’ confirmation votes is reduced to 8 hours.
The 60 vote super majority is still in effect. Why 55 or 56 is not a super majority is a mystery. And the very worse part of what modern political watchers have come to think of as a filibuster is still with us – the silent filibuster. If you’re into old movies Mr. Smith Goes to Washington(1939) is a classic tribute to the everyman, a great and unabashedly liberal movie. In that movie Smith has to perform an actual filibuster, He has to stay on the floor and talk. Talk until your opponent literally gives up or you pass out from exhaustion. Now we have the silent filibuster. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) doesn’t like a bill or appointee to the federal appeals court, he sends word to Harry Reid (D-NV) to consider that bill or candidate filibustered. The bill is dead or the appointee is dead. This new deal does not include silent filibusters of federal appellate court of major cabinet appointments. That is also a terrible interpretation of the Senate’s constitutional role as a body that advises and consents.