Monday, October 12, 2015

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Has Ruined The First Debate Already-- They Should Fire Her Before She Ruins The Rest


Thank God-- a debate without Trump! Finally! Watching every word from every candidate being geared to pleasing or provoking Trump-- based on each one of these nothings' strategies for dealing with him plurality of primary voters-- has been sickening and demeaning of the democratic process. (Not that he hasn't stuck his nose into the Democrats' debate. He took a hand in setting silly expectations for Hillary to choke on and was widely quoted in the media saying "a lot of people will turn off after a little while." After all, without the Trumpish freak show, why would 23 or 24 million people-- many probably not even voters-- bother watching?

Remember how CNN hired Rachel Maddow to host the Republican debate? No, you missed that one? Me too. But CNN did hire Fox-Republican shill Brian Kilmeade to make sure the GOP perspective was well represented in the first Democratic primary debate. Blame DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. More on that idiot below.
Kilmeade asked Trump if he would be nervous in Hillary Clinton's shoes.

"Well I think she's nervous about her whole future. She's got a lot of problems, you know, beyond the debate. I think she's got a lot of problems," he said, before adding that, "I think that she will, you know, probably do fine."

Clinton "hasn’t been a great debater in the past, but I think she just has to hold," he remarked, adding, "I can’t imagine Bernie Sanders will beat her."

"I can’t imagine she’s going to be allowed to run based on the email scandal, but she probably will because the Democrats are going to take care of her," he went on to say.
Aside from being able to keep GOP propagandists from asking the questions at the DNC's debate, Wasserman Schultz has made herself the object of scorn and even hatred in many other ways as well. lIke by disinviting Hawaii Congresswoman and DNC vice-chair Tulsi Gabbard from the debate altogether because she dared to disagree with the disastrous way Wasserman Schultz has gone about setting up the debates. Now, I'm no fan of the psychotically homophobic Gabbard family and Tulsi is way too conservative for my tastes-- not to mention that she was actually dating Mafia figure Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm before the corrupt NY Republican became Federal Inmate No. 83479-053, but this isn't about Gabbard's bad taste in boyfriends-- besides, she's married now-- or even her bad taste in politics. It's about Wasserman Schultz stepping all over her. Keep in mind that Wasserman Schultz is a Hillary backer and that Hillary made it clear she wanted fewer debates, not more debates. Washerman Schultz promulgated moronic rules to hold down viewership and to prevent Bernie from debating Republican candidates outside the official debates at the risk of being kicked off the DNC debates. Oh, would the Wicked Witch of Weston dare do that? She did it to Congresswoman Gabbard.
Gabbard confirmed on Sunday that her chief of staff received a message last Tuesday from the chief of staff to Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the national committee, about her attendance at the debate. A day earlier, Ms. Gabbard had appeared on MSNBC and said there should be an increase beyond the current six sanctioned debates.

A person close to the committee who asked for anonymity to discuss internal discussions insisted, however, that Ms. Gabbard had not been disinvited. Instead, the person said, an aide to Ms. Wasserman Schultz expressed a desire to keep the focus on the candidates as the debate approached, rather than on a “distraction” that could divide the party, and suggested that if Ms. Gabbard could not do that, she should reconsider going.

Ms. Gabbard insisted otherwise.

“When I first came to Washington, one of the things that I was disappointed about was there’s a lot of immaturity and petty gamesmanship that goes on, and it kind of reminds me of how high school teenagers act,” Ms. Gabbard said in a telephone interview on Sunday night. She said she would watch the debate in her district in Hawaii, which elected her to her second term last year.

“It’s very dangerous when we have people in positions of leadership who use their power to try to quiet those who disagree with them,” she added. “When I signed up to be vice chair of the D.N.C., no one told me I would be relinquishing my freedom of speech and checking it at the door.”

...Gabbard and R.T. Rybak, a committee vice chairman and a former mayor of Minneapolis, have for weeks publicly called for more debates.

“More and more people on the ground from states all across the country are calling for more debates, are wanting to have this transparency and greater engagement in our democratic process at a critical time, as they make the decision of who should be the next person to lead our country,” Ms. Gabbard said in her MSNBC appearance.

The next day, two people briefed on the conversations said, the chief of staff to Ms. Wasserman Schultz reached out to her counterpart in Ms. Gabbard’s office about attending the debate. Weeks earlier, Ms. Gabbard had said she would like tickets for herself and a guest to the Nevada debate, the one closest to Hawaii.

The person close to the committee insisted: “She was not uninvited. The D.N.C. team wanted this first debate to have all the focus on the candidates. Gabbard’s people were told that if they couldn’t commit to that, since Tulsi was trying to publicly divide the D.N.C. leadership last week, then they should consider not coming.”

The person added, “The fact that she is still making this about her and not our great candidates by talking to the New York Times says something unfortunate.”

Ms. Gabbard said the only issue raised had been “the fact that I had publicly disagreed” with Ms. Wasserman Schultz.

“This isn’t about any one person,” Ms. Gabbard said. “It’s about how the Democratic Party should be representing democratic values, allowing for free speech and open debate within our party, and for more transparency and debates for our presidential candidates.”

“All of our candidates agree with my position,” she added.

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, who has been struggling to gain traction in the Democratic primary contest, has been calling for more debates and has accused Ms. Wasserman Schultz of trying to benefit the leader in the polls, Hillary Rodham Clinton, by limiting debates. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has also called for more debates, although he has not been as adamant as Mr. O’Malley has.

People who disagree with Mr. O’Malley have pointed out that he infrequently debated his challenger for governor in Maryland. And they note the number of sanctioned debates is the same as in the 2008 race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But there were more than a dozen unsanctioned debates and forums back then. This time, the candidates could be excluded from the sanctioned debates if they take part in ones that are not approved by the national committee.
Bernie's campaign manager offered to give Gabbard a couple of tickets and invited her to watch the debate at their table. One Member of Congress, speaking on the condition of anonymity, who has known Wasserman Schultz even before she was elected to Congress, told us she is so thoroughly loathed by her colleagues because, among other things, "she has a way of always making everything about her... She was a terrible choice to head the DNC and they should have eased her out long ago once it became apparent to everybody that she's all about Debbie and nothing else."

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Chuck Schumer's Florida Mess: Patrick Murphy, Trumpist


Chuck Schumer recruited the worst possible Florida candidate to run for the open Marco Rubio Senate seat. Schumer likes him because he's an empty-headed conservative who will do whatever he's told (by Schumer) and because he has wealthy (Republican) parents who will spend massively. But he has to win a Democratic primary first and his Republican voting record in the House-- like 7 votes for the Keystone XL Pipeline and his interest in "compromising" away Social Security and Medicare benefits for the elderly, not to mention his vote to establish the Benghazi anti-Hillary witch hunt committee-- doesn't go down well among many Florida Democrats. In fact, many are more than aware that Murphy isn't a Democrat at all and some even remember this 2 year old article from the Shark Tank on that topic:
The contentious 2012 Congressional race between former Congressman Allen West and Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy turned out to be the most expensive races in the country, and one of the bloodiest.

...According to a source very close to the Republican Congressional leadership, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner granted Patrick Murphy’s request to a private meeting to discuss Murphy’s possible defecting to the Republican Party.

GOP leadership passed on Murphy’s offer, according to the source.

Murphy’s congressional seat is seen as the most vulnerable seats in the 2014 mid term elections, and considering that he barely beat West in the 2012 general election that was shrouded with scandal and possible voter intimidation and fraud-- not to mention that the district leans Republican-Murphy’s attempt to defect could be perceived by many politicos and talking heads as a smart move.
Alan Grayson, on the other hand, is an issues-and-policy-driven lifelong progressive Democrat. The video below explains the difference between the kind of Democrat he is and the kind of faux-Democrat Murphy is. Hopefully he can stop both Patrick Murphy and Chuck Schumer. Meanwhile though, it's important to remember that when Patrick was the "VP" of his daddy's construction company-- the sleazy, often-sued Coastal Construction Group-- they were working for Trump, making a fortune by using sub-standard materials building several condominiums in South Florida (Hollywood and Sunny Isles Beach). Eventually, Trump and the Murphys blamed each other--and sued each other-- for the shoddy buildings.
A construction defect suit by the condominium association at the swanky Trump Hollywood tower has left the developer TRG Holiday Ltd. and subcontractors pointing fingers at each other to avoid liability.

The plaintiff, 2711 Hollywood Beach Condominium Association Inc., filed suit in November 2013 against TRG Holiday and its glass and glazing subcontractor, R.C. Aluminum Industries Inc.

Condo owners complained of multiple defects, including a faulty post-tension cable system and incompatible steel and plastic PVC pipes in the fire sprinkler system throughout the high-rise at 2711 S. Ocean Drive in Hollywood.

They sued for breach of contract and of statutory implied warranties, claiming a chemical casing used for antibacterial insulation in the steel pipes caused cracks and leaks in the PVC.

But TRG said it wasn't to blame and filed a cross claim against RC Aluminum and contractor Coastal Construction of South Florida Inc. In court documents, it argued it paid Coastal just under $150 million to build Trump Hollywood, and expected a top-quality product for the project completed in July 2009.

"I have all the respect in the world for Coastal, but if what the association is alleging is true with regards to the fire sprinkler system, then Coastal has a lot of explaining to do," said TRG attorney Scott Kravetz, partner at Duane Morris in Miami.

But it looks like Coastal won't be the only one explaining, as the suit has since ballooned to add just about everyone involved in the development-- from the insurer to the architect, landscape designer, mechanical and structural engineers and four sprinkler system suppliers.

For TRG, the crux of its defense lies in setting a bull's-eye firmly on Coastal.

Its cross claim charges Coastal with facing a similar issue at Neo Vertika, a Miami skyscraper plagued by allegations of poor construction and a faulty fire sprinkler system.

TRG claims that before Coastal started work on Trump Hollywood, the contractor filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade detailing knowledge of the pipes' incompatibility and seeking relief for damages arising from the mismatched infrastructure.

"Incredibly, despite having said superior knowledge, Coastal willfully and purposefully concealed" information from the developer, and "stood silent and constructed and installed the Trump fire sprinkler system using Allied ABF piping with the CPVC piping," TRG said in court filings.

"We believe that coastal had prior superior knowledge of the incompatibility of the Allied pipe and plastic pipe and failed to bring it to anyone's attention," said Kravetz, who's teamed with Duane Morris attorneys Michael Shuman and Richard Shane for the ongoing litigation.

Coastal's attorney is Ian Gillan, partner with Koeller Nebeker Carlson & Haluck in Orlando. He did not respond to requests for comment by deadline. The condo association's attorney, Nicholas Siegfried of Siegfried Rivera Hyman Lerner De La Torre Mars & Sobel, declined comment.
Dealing with Trump, shoddy building materials, questionable ethics, wanting to jump back into the Republican Party... this is all part of who and what Patrick Murphy is, but it's his voting record-- one of the worst of any "Democrat" in the House, that really gets me and that inspires me to ask for contributions to Alan Grayson's election campaign.

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The Republicans Have Something To Offer Even Worse Than Boehner-Cantor-McCarthy-Ryan


Paul Ryan Dodging the Liberty Caucus Whack-A-Mole Mallet 

I could be wrong but I'm guessing Rachel Maddow never met Kevin McCarthy in person. But it only took her 15 minutes to figure out that he was a dope incapable of even filling John Boehner's tiny slippers let alone shoes of legendary Speakers like Henry Clay, Sam Rayburn, Tip O'Neill, or Nancy Pelosi. Maddow was the first to point out, at least in the national media, what an unaccomplished cloddish doofus McCarthy is. Even before McCarthy's speakership was sabotaged by the extremists in the Liberty Caucus and before one of his colleagues-- probably Tim Huelskamp (R-KS)-- blew the whistle on his affair with Renee Ellmers, and even before McCarthy's accidental revelations that the Benghazi Committee was just a partisan witch hunt to harm Hillary Clinton's chances to win the presidency blew up into an avalanche of national outrage, Maddow had helped make McCarthy into a national laughing stock. She introduced the country to... Hungria.

McCarthy was the personification of the Peter Principle, likely chosen by Boehner as his number two primarily because it was inconceivable he could ever be a threat. Paul Ryan isn't a dummy and he didn't find out that McCarthy is by watching Maddow's show on MSNBC. He knew and he knew the Speakership was his for the taking. That taking looks like its coming faster than he expected or wanted. Even Liberty Caucus chair, Jim Jordan, called off his snarling dogs on Sunday by saying the 40 extremists who forced Boehner's and McCarthy's political deaths would look on Ryan favorably. Maybe:

The demands on Ryan to run are coming from all quarters, most intensely from the top of the congressional wing of the Republican Party. According to sources familiar with the efforts to get Ryan to move from an extremely reluctant “maybe” to a grudging “yes,” he has been in extensive contact with Boehner, McCarthy, and Oregon Congressman Greg Walden.

...Boehner... has been making the case to Ryan that as speaker he could continue to work on the policy issues, such as tax and entitlement reform, that have been his passion on Ways and Means. Boehner and other Ryan proponents eager to get him to "yes" are telling him his role as speaker could be largely confined to crafting a long-term vision for the party, shaping a policy agenda, and delivering a public message through television appearances.‎

Echoing Boehner and McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader McConnell has reportedly told Ryan that he sees no other alternative for the speaker job, and has painted a somewhat apocalyptic short-term future if Ryan won’t accede. A failure to efficiently deal with the debt ceiling in November, or pass a resolution to fund the government in December could have serious repercussions for the party, McConnell argues, that could imperil the GOP's hold on the Senate. It could also have an adverse impact on the party’s chances to win the White House, according to McConnell and other leading Republicans, who have talked to Ryan.

All the GOP leaders who are pressing Ryan say they see no alternative and worry that a weak or interim speaker would be a disaster, leaving the GOP balkanized with power devolving to committee chairs, whose rise would only highlight the absence of a clear message or strategy to navigate the party’s complexities in a presidential year.

...All of Ryan’s associates agree that he definitively does not want to be speaker, although they are split on what the outcome will be. Some believe the conservatives are not going to unite in joining the draft movement, and that alone will be enough to keep Ryan from taking the job. Others say the absence of any other alternative will prey on Ryan’s sense of obligation to the party, forcing him to accept a job he’s never wanted.
This morning Krugman examined what he termed the chaos of the crazies with an eye towards how the mess they created can get resolved. The answer isn't Paul Ryan, who Krugman recognizes as a con man, even if the Beltway media foolishly still has him on a pedestal. Ryan's "success in hoodwinking the news media and self-proclaimed centrists in general," wrote Krugman, "is the basis of his stature within his party. Unfortunately, at least from his point of view, it would be hard to sustain the con game from the speaker’s chair. To understand Mr. Ryan’s role in our political-media ecosystem, you need to know two things. First, the modern Republican Party is a post-policy enterprise, which doesn’t do real solutions to real problems. Second, pundits and the news media really, really don’t want to face up to that awkward reality... [M]ost of the news media, and most pundits, still worship at the church of 'balance.' They are committed to portraying the two big parties as equally reasonable. This creates a powerful demand for serious, honest Republicans who can be held up as proof that the party does too include reasonable people making useful proposals. As Slate’s William Saletan, who enthusiastically touted Mr. Ryan but eventually became disillusioned, wrote: 'I was looking for Mr. Right-- a fact-based, sensible fiscal conservative.' And Paul Ryan played and in many ways still plays that role, but only on TV, not in real life. The truth is that his budget proposals have always been a ludicrous mess of magic asterisks: assertions that trillions will be saved through spending cuts to be specified later, that trillions more will be raised by closing unnamed tax loopholes. Or as the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center put it, they’re full of 'mystery meat.'"
Which brings us back to the awkward fact that Mr. Ryan isn’t actually a pillar of fiscal rectitude, or anything like the budget expert he pretends to be. And the perception that he is these things is fragile, not likely to survive long if he were to move into the center of political rough and tumble. Indeed, his halo was visibly fraying during the few months of 2012 that he was Mitt Romney’s running mate. A few months as speaker would probably complete the process, and end up being a career-killer.

Predictions aside, however, the Ryan phenomenon tells us a lot about what’s really happening in American politics. In brief, crazies have taken over the Republican Party, but the media don’t want to recognize this reality. The combination of these two facts has created an opportunity, indeed a need, for political con men. And Mr. Ryan has risen to the challenge.
Frank Bruni termed this The Republicans' Ugly Revolt and he seems fascinated that the GOP has something far worse in store for America than Paul Ryan's ascension to the Speakership. He's one of the few political writers who realizes the probably Republican presidential nominee is going to be the reincarnation of Joe McCarthy: Ted Cruz. The party establishment has nothing to say about it anymore and the base will not be denied this time. It's the twilight of the Republican elite. He points to the he ascendance of Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina as proof that the establishment has lost its grip, "a season of rebellion, as the chaos in the House of Representatives vividly illustrates. A consequential share of the Republican majority there have made it clear that they will not bow to precedent, not follow any conventional script, not have anyone foisted on them. No, they’ll do the foisting themselves." But how does this lead to the Texas fascist?
This isn’t a mere replay of four years ago, when Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum had their moments. They were middle fingers raised one at a time, in succession (even if Santorum was really more a pinkie). Trump, Carson and Fiorina are parallel, simultaneous phenomena, constituting a gesture of more profound rebuke.

I still don’t believe that any of them will be the nominee. Each has too many peculiarities and too big a potential to crash and burn. Carson seems to be on the verge of doing that right now.

But then who? If the electorate really is more defiant than ever, Bush is done. Scott Walker and Rick Perry are already gone. Voters, it appears, prefer someone brattier.

Someone like Ted Cruz.

“He’s perfectly positioned himself to own that space when Trump and Carson disappear,” said a Republican operative who is among the smartest analysts I know. “He’ll be a force to be reckoned with. I think that he has a very clear path to the nomination, as much as that horrifies me.”

This is a strange season, in which old rules and truths seem to be going up in flames. It’s a bonfire of the verities.

...Cruz is more like Trump, outrageous and unyielding, than like the governors. And in a radio interview on Thursday, he predicted that he’d inherit Trump’s supporters because he’d “stood up to Washington” and “taken on leaders” of his own party.

A day earlier in National Review, Eliana Johnson called Cruz “the most under-covered serious candidate in the race-- and the most underestimated.” Johnson noted that he’s a good fit for voters in primaries in the South, where he’s been diligently organizing and spending time.

In Politico, the conservative soothsayer Rich Lowry recently observed that Cruz, who is not yet halfway through his first Senate term, just needs “voters to become slightly, and only slightly, more desirous of political experience” and he’s “sitting pretty,” as the headline on Lowry’s column read.

Ted Cruz sitting pretty?

This could get even uglier than I’d feared.
Hard to imagine Tailgunner Ted in the White House? Who's going to stop him, Hillary Clinton? There is only one way: we, the people, a real mass movement.

Meanwhile... OMEN: the next generation of Paul Ryans is being produced right now:

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Slave Trafficking, TPP & the 2016 Presidential Contest


This could be someone you know and love (source). How aggressively should your presidential candidate work to prevent it?

by Gaius Publius

As many readers know, I'm a fan of what the game of Go calls a "strong move" — very aggressive play when the position is favorable. The position against TPP, the argument against, is beyond favorable, and the position against Malaysia, one of the world's worst participants in the traffic in slaves, is unassailable. In addition, for the 2016 race, progressives have three candidates who have announced their opposition.

In this presidential season, I think progressives have been handed a wonderful opportunity to make a "strong move" against both TPP and slave trafficking — but only if they're willing to take it.

In this piece, I want to look at the slave trade and Malaysia, then at TPP, both pre-vote and post-vote, and last at what a truly committed Democratic candidate might say in one of the coming debates. (To jump to that speech, scroll to the bottom or click here.)

"Human Trafficking" Means the Slave Trade in All Its Forms

The term "human trafficking" is accurate, but almost a white-wash in that it washes off the ears with little penetration of its meaning. Human trafficking is best called "slave trading." What are slaves? Humans used as animals, as things for any purpose, including, but not only:
That list is just a subset. Any Jack Reacher–villain method by which a human, including a child, can be kept powerless for the purpose of abuse is encompassed by the term slave trading. From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on the ban against exploitation of humans:
Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal, manipulation or implantation of organs;
The "trader" makes his or her money capturing or selling slaves, the way Nestlé, say, makes money "capturing" water from the people of the Pacific Northwest, then selling it back to the people who own it in the first place. Water is a product to profit from. Slaves are a product to profit from. How can we improve the bottom line by improving the "throughput," these profiteers ask?

Imagine your child treated this way, as a profit center and "throughput." Now imagine your anger against it. Now hold that thought as you consider Malaysia and TPP. Malaysia is a nation in which slave trading is a major industry.

In 2014, the State Department Gave Malaysia an "F" for its Extensive Human Trafficking

Back in 2014, before Fast Track and TPP were part of the national discussion, the nation of Malaysia received an "F" from the U.S. State Department (technically, they assigned Malaysia "Tier 3" status) for its extremely lax enforcement of laws against trading in slaves.

The Guardian (my emphasis):
US penalises Malaysia for shameful human trafficking record

Continued failure to curb traffickers prompts US to downgrade Malaysia in its annual Trafficking in Persons report

The US has downgraded Malaysia to the lowest ranking in its annual human trafficking report, relegating the southeast Asian nation to the same category as Zimbabwe, North Korea and Saudi Arabia. The move could result in economic sanctions and loss of development aid.

Malaysia's relegation to tier 3 in the US state department's Trafficking in Persons (TiP) report – published on Friday – indicates that the country has categorically failed to comply with the most basic international requirements to prevent trafficking and protect victims within its borders.

Human rights activists in Malaysia and abroad welcomed the downgrade as proof of the government's lax law enforcement, and lack of political will, in the face of continued NGO and media reports on trafficking and slavery.

"Malaysia is not serious about curbing human trafficking at all," said Aegile Fernandez, director of Tenaganita, a local charity that works directly with trafficking victims.

"The order of the day is profits and corruption. Malaysia protects businesses, employers and agents [not victims] – it is easier to arrest, detain, charge and deport the migrant workers so that you protect employers and businesses."

According to this year's TiP report – which ranks 188 nations according to their willingness and efforts to combat trafficking, and is considered the benchmark index for global anti-trafficking commitments – trafficking victims are thought to comprise the vast majority of Malaysia's estimated 2 million illegal migrant labourers, who are sent to work in the agriculture, construction, sex, textile or domestic labour industries.
Just read the bolded parts again. The government of Malaysia, our TPP partner, is a major participant in the market for slaves. According to our own State Department.

But that was then, before the push to "fast track" trade deals that the most corrupt members of both political parties wanted to give to their richest benefactors. Here's what's happened since.

"Senior Political Staff" in the State Department Recertified Malaysia as Fit for TPP

The State Department issued the above report in 2014. In 2015 Obama and the wealth-serving members of both political parties wanted to pass Fast Track, a law that would make it much more difficult for Congress to reject any "trade" deal, or any deal labeled a trade deal for the next three to six years. One obstacle to passing Fast Track was congressional opposition to the slave trade in Malaysia, one of our TPP "partners."

The pro-TPP forces in and out of government desperately wanted to keep Malaysia in the deal, for a variety of reasons. So "senior political staff" in the State Department conveniently amended the department's 2014 decision.

Reuters (my emphasis):
Special Report: State Department watered down human trafficking report

In the weeks leading up to a critical annual U.S. report on human trafficking that publicly shames the world’s worst offenders, human rights experts at the State Department concluded that trafficking conditions hadn’t improved in Malaysia and Cuba. And in China, they found, things had grown worse.

The State Department’s senior political staff saw it differently — and they prevailed.

A Reuters examination, based on interviews with more than a dozen sources in Washington and foreign capitals, shows that the government office set up to independently grade global efforts to fight human trafficking was repeatedly overruled by senior American diplomats and pressured into inflating assessments of 14 strategically important countries in this year’s Trafficking in Persons report.

In all, analysts in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons - or J/TIP, as it’s known within the U.S. government — disagreed with U.S. diplomatic bureaus on ratings for 17 countries, the sources said.

The analysts, who are specialists in assessing efforts to combat modern slavery - such as the illegal trade in humans for forced labor or prostitution - won only three of those disputes, the worst ratio in the 15-year history of the unit, according to the sources.

As a result, not only Malaysia, Cuba and China, but countries such as India, Uzbekistan and Mexico, wound up with better grades than the State Department’s human-rights experts wanted to give them, the sources said. (Graphic looking at some of the key decisions here:
Note that the experts in the State Dept. didn't re-evaluate the data. The political forces at State overruled those experts, for reasons you can easily guess. In the case of Malaysia, Reuters says this:
The Malaysian upgrade, which was highly criticized by human rights groups, could smooth the way for an ambitious proposed U.S.-led free-trade deal [TPP] with the Southeast Asian nation and 11 other countries.
Reuters certainly knows how to put two and two together. Will our Democratic political candidates do the same?

Which Presidential Candidate Will Stand Strongest Against TPP & Human Trafficking in Malaysia?

Which brings us to TPP and this political season. One of the big issues for progressives is to elect the most progressive president we can find. Another is to defeat TPP in Congress. A third — have you thought of this? — is to neuter TPP even if it passes Congress and Obama signs it.

After all, TPP is just an "executive agreement." It's not a "treaty" as the Constitution understand the term. It's not ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, but simply signed by the president, often with a concurring vote of Congress. (A Status of Forces Agreement, for example, is "[t]ypically established by executive agreement.") Even our actual treaties, such as the Geneva Convention's prohibition against torture, are often simply ignored. Do we stop fighting a bad deal simply because it was signed? Or do we keep fighting? And what do we expect in that regard from our best candidates?

These three problems — how to elect the most progressive president, how to stop TPP from being passed by Congress, how to prevent TPP from taking effect if it is approved by Congress — come conveniently together in this presidential season, and in particular, in the upcoming. presidential debates.

This is another of my imagined progressive-candidate speeches, laid out as talking points in the candidate's voice. Imagine the horror that millions of human slaves in Malaysia go through every day. Imagine your child as one of them. Then imagine your reaction to a presidential candidate who says this, out loud, in front of millions of TV viewers:
The moderator has asked each of us our views on TPP. Here's what I say to the American people:
  • I know that most Americans, including 87% of Republicans, opposed giving Fast Track authority to the president. I know that almost every labor leader in the country is opposed to TPP, knowing that it would do to jobs what NAFTA did to jobs ... and do a whole lot worse besides, such as putting life-saving cancer drug prices out of reach of most people who need them.
  • Therefore, if TPP passes and I'm elected president, I will:

        1. Explore every avenue for "unsigning" — or at the very least, renegotiating — this agreement. Remember, by design this is not a "treaty," but an "executive agreement". Executive agreements, such as agreements to maintain troops in foreign countries, have been changed unilaterally in the past.

        2. Make sure that every side agreement that offers protections to labor and the environment is aggressively enforced against all signing countries. I repeat ... aggressively enforced. Every single one of them. If a signing country is forced out of TPP because they violate these side agreements, so be it.

        These assurances regarding labor and the environment may have been meant cosmetically in the past, but not under my administration. I repeat, if a nation is forced out of TPP because of labor or environmental violations, they will be gone and I will be glad to see them go. The less force TPP has, the better, in my view and in the view of the American people.

        3. Finally — and I take this most seriously — there is strong evidence that the country of Malaysia is a major and deliberate participant in the horrifying practice of human trafficking. I mean horrifying in its most literal sense. Our own State Department, in 2014, certified Malaysia as a participant in the global market for slaves — sexual slaves, workforce slaves, humans who are imprisoned so their organs can be harvested. Men, women, and children.

        One source says, about this report, and I'm quoting here: "trafficking victims are thought to comprise the vast majority of Malaysia's estimated 2 million illegal migrant labourers, who are sent to work in the agriculture, construction, sex, textile or domestic labour industries." This is beyond immoral. It is monstrous. And it must be stopped.

        The U.S. State Department said as much in a report on human trafficking in June of 2014. Yet in late July of 2015, the State Department reversed itself and removed Malaysia from the list of "Tier 3" human traffickers, the worst offenders.

        This allowed Malaysia to remain in the negotiations for TPP. If I am your president, on day one I will order the State Department to immediately review that decision, with an eye to immediately reversing that decision and driving Malaysia from the TPP until it genuinely ... not cosmetically, but genuinely ... changes its laws and cracks down on this most monstrous of practices ... the trafficking in slaves, humans treated like animals, as things to be used.
  • Further, I challenge every candidate on this stage, most of whom oppose the TPP, to take these same aggressive stands. If we are strongly opposed to TPP and what it will do to jobs and the American economy — and especially if we are opposed to the slave trade in Malaysia — we must opposed it, not just before it passes, but after it passes, if indeed it does pass.
Consider again our three goals:
  • Elect the most progressive president we can find.
  • Defeat TPP in Congress.
  • Prevent it from taking effect if Congress does pass it.
Now imagine someone you love as a victim of human trafficking in Malaysia.

If you are on board with all three goals — and share the revulsion any human would feel toward a business model that treats humans as things — how would you feel about the presidential candidate who gave the speech above?

But there's more to this "strong move." How would our current trading "partners" feel about TPP if they heard this speech given, ahead of the congressional vote?


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Real Campaign Finance Overhaul Is The Only Way We're Going To Salvage Democracy From The Clutches Of The Plutocrats


Apparently there will be no cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients next year. Worse yet, there are people with the power to do it who are talking about increasing Medicare deductibles, perhaps by 50%, and increasing the Part B premiums. At a time when out-of-pocket health care costs are already the number one expense for seniors and people with disabilities why isn't Congress acting to prevent an outrageous spike in Medicare costs. The video above paints a picture of what a progressive agenda looks like-- rebuilding the middle class by investing in infrastructure, green energy, and education to create new jobs, protecting and expanding Medicare and Social Security, ending corporate welfare and eliminating tax loopholes for the wealthy, increasing wages and strengthening working families, and taming the power of Wall Street. Yeah, I know, it sounds a lot like Bernie's agenda.

There was a lot of fuss over the weekend about Exxon knowing all about climate change since the 1970s and covering it up. A significant part of that coverup has been a long standing policy of bribing Members of Congress. Last year, for example-- just one year-- they gave their Republican puppets in Congress $1,538,040 and their Democratic puppets $237,770. These Members then carried their agenda and worked with them to hide the facts about Climate Change from the public. In the House, the 15 most corrupt Exxon shills, all Climate Change deniers, are listed below. And, remember, this is just one company for one year:
Bill Cassidy (R-LA- $15,850)
Jeb Hensarling (R-TX- $15,100)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA- $15,000)
Cory Gardner (R-CO)- $14,100)
John Boehner (R-OH)- $12,600)
Bradley Byrne (R-AL)- $12,500)
Bill Johnson (R-OH)- $12,500)
Tom Reed (R-NY)- $12,500)
Ann Wagner (R-MO)- $12,500)
Pete Olson (R-TX)- $12,400)
Darrell Issa (R-CA- $10,500)
Renee Ellmers (R-NC- $10,250)
Paul Ryan (R-WI- $10,200)
John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA- $10,000)
Fred Upton (R-MI- $10,000)
To be fair, we should meantion that Barrow and Upton were tied at $10,000 each with 36 other recipients (all Republicans with the exception of crooked Democratic Party whip Steny Hoyer), including GOP Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), GOP Majority Whip Steve Scalise (LA), NRCC head Greg Walden (OR), and Republican House Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers WA). Probably the most talked about NY Times story over the weekend was Nick Confessore's Buying Power, about how just 158 wealthy families are undermining American democracy by buying the presidential elections. And thanks to plutocratic-oriented judges confirmed to be members of the Supreme Court, that is perfectly illegal. Most of them are decidedly Republican-- all of the judges, but most of the bribers as well.
They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns. And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy.

Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.

These donors’ fortunes reflect the shifting composition of the country’s economic elite. Relatively few work in the traditional ranks of corporate America, or hail from dynasties of inherited wealth. Most built their own businesses, parlaying talent and an appetite for risk into huge wealth: They founded hedge funds in New York, bought up undervalued oil leases in Texas, made blockbusters in Hollywood. More than a dozen of the elite donors were born outside the United States, immigrating from countries like Cuba, the old Soviet Union, Pakistan, India and Israel.

But regardless of industry, the families investing the most in presidential politics overwhelmingly lean right, contributing tens of millions of dollars to support Republican candidates who have pledged to pare regulations; cut taxes on income, capital gains and inheritances; and shrink entitlement programs. While such measures would help protect their own wealth, the donors describe their embrace of them more broadly, as the surest means of promoting economic growth and preserving a system that would allow others to prosper, too.

...In marshaling their financial resources chiefly behind Republican candidates, the donors are also serving as a kind of financial check on demographic forces that have been nudging the electorate toward support for the Democratic Party and its economic policies. Two-thirds of Americans support higher taxes on those earning $1 million or more a year, according to a June New York Times/CBS News poll, while six in 10 favor more government intervention to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly seven in 10 favor preserving Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are.

Republican candidates have struggled to improve their standing with Hispanic voters, women and African-Americans. But as the campaign unfolds, Republicans are far outpacing Democrats in exploiting the world of “super PACs,” which, unlike candidates’ own campaigns, can raise unlimited sums from any donor, and which have so far amassed the bulk of the money in the election.

The 158 families each contributed $250,000 or more in the campaign through June 30, according to the most recent available Federal Election Commission filings and other data, while an additional 200 families gave more than $100,000. Together, the two groups contributed well over half the money in the presidential election-- the vast majority of it supporting Republicans.

“The campaign finance system is now a countervailing force to the way the actual voters of the country are evolving and the policies they want,” said Ruy Teixeira, a political and demographic expert at the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

...Most of the families are clustered around just nine cities. Many are neighbors, living near one another in neighborhoods like Bel Air and Brentwood in Los Angeles; River Oaks, a Houston community popular with energy executives; or Indian Creek Village, a private island near Miami that has a private security force and just 35 homes lining an 18-hole golf course.

Sometimes, across party lines, they are patrons of the same symphonies, art museums or at-risk youth programs. They are business partners, in-laws and, on occasion, even poker buddies.

More than 50 members of these families have made the Forbes 400 list of the country’s top billionaires, marking a scale of wealth against which even a million-dollar political contribution can seem relatively small. The Chicago hedge fund billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin, for example, earns about $68.5 million a month after taxes, according to court filings made by his wife in their divorce. He has given a total of $300,000 to groups backing Republican presidential candidates. That is a huge sum on its face, yet is the equivalent of only $21.17 for a typical American household, according to Congressional Budget Office data on after-tax income.

...The three families who have provided the largest donations in the campaign to date-- the Wilks family of Texas, which made billions providing trucks and equipment in the shale fields; the Mercers of New York, headed by the hedge fund investor Robert Mercer; and Toby Neugebauer, a Texas-born private equity investor-- have backed Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a socially conservative Tea Party firebrand [an out-right fascist] disdained by Republican leaders.

...The Obama administration, Democrats in Congress and even Mr. Bush have argued for tax and regulatory shifts that could subject many venture capital and private equity firms to higher levels of corporate or investment taxation. Hedge funds, which historically were lightly regulated, are bound by new rules with the Dodd-Frank regulations, which several Republican candidates have pledged to roll back and which Mrs. Clinton has pledged to defend.
I'm surprised Confessore forgot to mention Bernie Sanders, the candidate most likely to ruin every hedge fund managers day life if he were to be elected. As David Dayen pointed out at the New Republic last week, Hillary Clinton's Wall Street reform plan in to the right of Bernie Sanders'. Bernie's populist agenda has forced her further left than she-- or her financial backers-- would like to see. But her plan is meant to look and sound good on a superficial level for Democratic voters without really disturbing the status quo enough to get too many plutocrats worked up. For example, "there’s no proposal to reconstitute the firewall between investment and commercial banking" (Glass-Steagall). Across the board, she's not the real thing-- better than the Republicans, probably better than Biden, but nowhere even close to Bernie, who has dedicated his entire life to developing this progressive agenda. If you want to help make sure Bernie is elected... here's a page for that.

UPDATE From Nobel Prize Winner, Angus Deaton

Krugman introduced his readers to Angus today:
[T]here is a danger that the rapid growth of top incomes can become self-reinforcing through the political access that money can bring. Rules are set not in the public interest but in the interest of the rich, who use those rules to become yet richer and more influential.

…To worry about these consequences of extreme inequality has nothing to do with being envious of the rich and everything to do with the fear that rapidly growing top incomes are a threat to the wellbeing of everyone else.
Making the case for a Bernie Sanders presidency.

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Aerosmith Tells Trump To Stop Using Their Music Without Paying


When Aerosmith attorney Dina LaPolt explained why Steven Tyler had asked her firm to send Trump's campaign a "cease-and-desist" letter in regard to one of the band's biggest hits, "Dream On," she said it had nothing to do with politics and that Tyler has no "personal issues with Mr. Trump." Tyler just doesn't want his song-- he wrote it and Trump has been playing the original performances of it without paying-- used in violation of copyright law. Copyright law entitles Tyler to compensation if the song is used publicly.

Tyler-- and the rest of the band-- were Trump's guests at the first Republican debate in Cleveland. Joe Perry admits he's a Republican but Tyler had always played it cagey about his politics, although he was identified as a "registered Republican" in the press reports about the cease-and-desist letter.

Tyler wrote the song in 1973 and it was the big single from their debut album-- and the first of Aerosmith's mainstream hit when it was re-released in 1976. (They released the song on 11 different albums and box-sets.) Tyler has made a fortune from the song, including when it was sampled by Eminem for "Sing For the Moment," covered by other artists like Kelly Sweet, Blessthefall, Alex Skolnick Trio and ex-Weather Girl Martha Wash, and played in video games, and movies and on TV shows. Adobe used the song for a TV spot for the 25th anniversary of Photoshop. Letting Donald Trump or anyone else use the song without paying could potentially jeopardize the substantial income stream Tyler makes from the song.

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A Dilbert stalemate: "Not our finest moment"


DILBERT     by Scott Adams

[Click to enlarge.]


GOP Extremists About To Be Hoist On Their Own Petard?


Mainstream conservatives in Congress are begging Boehner to make a deal with Nancy Pelosi to pass some of the urgent items on the national agenda, particularly lifting the debt ceiling. Their attitude is "screw the assholes in the Liberty Caucus; they brought this on themselves." Long Island Republican Peter King said Boehner can make these kinds of bold moves now because only a caretaker Speaker now and "doesn't have to worry about losing votes." And notice that of the 3 sponsors of this letter to Boehner asking him to do something about runaway gun violence, 2 of them are Republicans!
Dear Speaker Boehner,

Gun violence affects every District and every community in America. We were all shocked and saddened by the senseless deaths of the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy and have vowed that we would not let this happen again. Sadly, since then, America has been witness to at least 53 mass shootings. Every day in this country, more than thirty people die as a result of gun violence. This does not even address the individual victims of domestic violence or other vicious crimes that destroy families and communities.

Our children should be safe in schools. People should be allowed to worship without threat of violence. Walking the neighborhoods of our cities should not be a high risk activity. It is a long time past that Congress addresses this national epidemic. We must ensure that guns do not make it into the hands of criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill. We can do this without infringing on Constitutionally guaranteed rights.

We call on you to bring to the Floor legislation that can protect innocent lives while safeguarding the rights of law abiding gun owners. No legislation will stop every tragedy, but passing commonsense gun laws will at least stop some. It is the least we can do to honor the memory of those we've lost to gun violence and prevent that list from growing.
There's a sense of irony that the extremists who pushed Boehner out are now making it easier for him to ignore them, cast partisan considerations to the wind and just do what's good for the American public. Jason Chaffetz, orginally elected as a teabagger by ousting a long-time, mainstream conservative, Chris Cannon, headed up the Republican-dominated Committee charged with investigating the far-right's fake Planned Parenthood "scandal." The far right wasn't happy with what the investigation turned up and now they want another committee to give them the outcome they're demanding. Does Boehner have any incentive to play these games with these crazy people any longer?

For Republicans reality always stings

Amid speculation that these extremists ended Boehner's career because he didn't hate Obama enough, or wasn't willing to sacrifice the country on the right-wing's alter of Obama hatred, mainstream conservatives are starting to deal with the reality of turning to Pelosi to make up for the defections from their own political fringe. Charlie Dent (R-PA) is even threatening the extremists with the possibility of going to the Democrats to help them elect a Speaker. "In order to pass any bill around this place, everybody knows we need to assemble a bipartisan coalition. I suspect at some point, if we can't get 218 Republicans to vote for a speaker candidate, we'll have to assemble a bipartisan coalition to elect a speaker."

So now that the extremists, nihilists and Confederates have pushed mainstream conservatives Boehner and McCarthy out and are even working to destroy GOP leaders as far right as Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, they've created a situation that may make them wish they had never heard of Ted Cruz. Boehner can't leave until they elect a new Speaker, which seems more and more impossible by the day. What leverage do these radicals have left? Steve Stivers, an Ohio conservative but not an anarchist: "Sometimes the dog catches the car and doesn't know what to do."

"While we go through this process, we've got to continue to address the people's priorities. This institution cannot grind to a halt," Boehner told Republicans Friday morning in a closed-door session. "It is my hope-- and indeed it is my plan-- for this House to elect a new speaker before the end of October. But at the end of the day, that's really up to the people in this room."

Excerpts of Boehner's remarks came from an official who was in the room. Not authorized to disclose them publicly, the official requested anonymity.

Facing a fall of fiscal fights with the Obama administration, Boehner has said he doesn't want to leave a "dirty barn" for his successor. The toughest item, by far, is legislation that must pass by early November or so to increase the government's borrowing cap so it won't default on its bills. Last year, Boehner orchestrated a debt ceiling increase by relying on just 28 Republicans and 193 Democrats-- the exact opposite of the way the House is usually run.

Then there are ongoing talks about easing spending curbs that have frozen the budgets of both the Pentagon and domestic agencies.

"John is going to try to clean the barn up as best he can," said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa. "He's not going to clean the whole thing, but we can probably dispose of the debt ceiling. I hope we can reach a budget agreement."

Boehner's penchant for relying on Democrats to make up for tea party defections on legislation like a 2013 tax increase and last month's temporary government funding bill got him in trouble with the right. There's little they can do if he follows the same strategy on the debt limit and a budget deal.

"It is ironic how smart John Boehner's looking," said Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. "Frankly, all this talk of a fresh new face sounds very sweet on the surface, but we're not electing a student council president. His stock rises with the prospects of an alternative and the steadiness of his hand, the clarity of his positions-- whether you like them or not-- and the fact he's not prone to panic. It's all looking really good right about now."

Conservatives suffered a setback on Friday when emboldened GOP moderates orchestrated a rarely successful petition drive to force legislation reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank onto the floor agenda later this month. The roster of more than three dozen GOP signatories included many Boehner loyalists.

The 13-term lawmaker not only supports reviving the bank, which helps overseas sales of U.S. goods, he called an additional minutes-long House session on Monday that, under the arcane rules governing such petition efforts, sped up the House vote on the measure to the end of October rather than into November.

His office says that wasn't the motivation for the unexpected pro forma session.

A Boehner aide noted that the speaker has said he won't change his way of approaching this fall's treacherous set of issues. For instance, Boehner marched ahead last month with legislation to temporarily fund the government and rejected tea party calls to "defund" Planned Parenthood at the risk of a government shutdown.

Typically on tough votes it often looks like many GOP lawmakers cast "no" votes-- to insulate themselves against criticism from conservative talk radio and Washington-based outside groups-- while secretly rooting for the legislation to pass.

The crowd that votes "no" but roots for bills to pass, however, appreciates it when Boehner turns to Democrats to extricate them from a tough spot.

"That's what we're dealing with: Hope yes, vote no," said Dent. "Same thing will happen on the debt ceiling, same thing will happen on a budget agreement."

Boehner's political maturity is a commodity that's sometimes in short supply in the House, making some Republicans wistful.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said the speaker's election should be postponed until next year, with Boehner remaining as speaker in the meantime.

"I hope he can stay-- if he's willing to forgo some of his golf games and time with his grandbaby," she said, adding that she thinks Boehner would agree to serve into next year.
Certainly not what the Liberty Caucus misfits or their allies at Hate Talk Radio wanted or expected. But absolutely what they deserve.

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Sunday Classics snapshots: Meet the composer, Richard Strauss-style


The first part of the Prologue to Ariadne auf Naxos, with Paul Schoeffler as the Music Master and Sena Jurinac as the Composer, staged by Günter Rennert and conducted by Karl Böhm, filmed at Salzburg in 1965 -- the remaining four parts are also on YouTube.

by Ken

It was along, arduous path from conception to ultimate creation, the strange entertainment concocted by Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, his librettist on two previous, wildly different operas, Elektra and Der Rosenkavalier, in collaboration with the great stage director Max Reinhardt, who had collaborated with them on Rosenkavalier.

The original idea was to provide a half-hour musical entertainment to be inserted in an adaptation (by Hofmannsthal) for Reinhardt of Molière's Le bourgeois gentilhomme, with incidental music by Strauss. Not surprisingly, the half-hour entertainment grew and grew, until it was a weird one-act opera that -- despite being scored for chamber orchestra -- would tax the vocal resources of the greatest opera houses. And it combined two seemingly uncombinable art forms: a deeply serious opera seria that is observed, commented on, and eventually intruded on by a troupe of commedia dell'arte musical comedians. And of course it was imprisoned inside the play, and constitued too much opera for playgoers and too much play for operagoers.

Long story short: Eventually Hofmannsthal and Strauss liberated Ariadne by creating a Prologue, set backstage in the room of the home of the richest man in Vienna where the evening's entertainment is shortly to be performed. And they created the character of the Composer, the creator of a deeply serious opera seria. The new Prologue not only explains how these two wildly different entertainments came to be scheduled for the same evening's entertainment (and, eventually, how they come to be combined) but creates for us the world of a theatrical backstage. (The always-practical Strauss arranged an orchestral suite from the incidental music he had written for the play, in its German guise as Der Bürger als Edelmann.)

We've already heard the very opening of the Prologue -- still scored for chamber orchestra, as the original opera-intermezzo was.

R. STRAUSS: Ariadne auf Naxos: Prologue: Orchestral introduction

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Karl Böhm, cond. Live performance, Mar. 28, 1970


Read more »

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The GOP Far Right Agrees With Krugman-- Paul Ryan Is The Wrong Guy To Be Speaker


Former Republican congressman/MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough was a guest on Al Sharpton's show this morning, talking about how the House needs a strong new Speaker and he pointed out that Boehner wasn't one and that McCarthy wouldn't have been one. He came up with the one person already proven: Nancy Pelosi. He didn't mention, at least not while I was watching, Paul Ryan. Paul Krugman got a bead on Ryan early on and has been warning American voters about his dangerous extremism for many years. Krugman figured out that Ryan is a con artist, something those on the extreme right have started to understand as well. Yesterday Krugman was warning Paul Ryan-- for his own sake-- to run as far as he can from the speakership being offered him this week. "The hard right," he wrote, "is already attacking him, essentially accusing him of not being sufficiently crazy, and they’re right. On policy substance he’s totally an Ayn Rand-loving, reward-the-rich and punish-the-poor guy, but so are lots of other Republicans; what they want is someone willing to go along with kamikaze tactics, and he isn’t. His fall from grace would be swift." Ryan, he continues "has put himself forward as the serious, honest conservative of centrists’ dreams, someone they can cite approvingly as a way of showing their centrism and open-mindedness."
And it has been a stunningly successful act. In his heyday, Ryan was the object of an immense, indeed embarrassing, media crush-- the word “love” came up a lot.

But Ryan didn’t step into that role by actually being a serious, honest conservative; he just played one on TV. If you knew anything at all about budgeting, you soon realized that his supposedly responsible fiscal proposals were stuffed full of mystery meat. He knew how to game the system, creating the impression that CBO had vetted his plans when it had done no such thing (and in fact hinted broadly that the whole thing was a crock). But there’s never been any indication that he actually knows how to produce a budget-- and in any case, giant tax cuts for the rich and fiscal responsibility are fundamentally incompatible.

So Ryan’s current stature is really quite curious, and I’d argue quite fragile. He has been a highly successful con artist, pretending to be the reasonable conservative centrists desperately want to see; he has become a power within his party because of that external achievement. But he’s not a true hero of the crazy right; he’s valued mainly because of his successful con job on the center. So he doesn’t have a reserve of goodwill from the crazies that would let him be, well, not crazy. On the other hand, if he were to be the kind of speaker the crazies want, he would undermine that all-important centrist approbation. Being off to the side, pretending to be dealing thoughtfully with important policy issues, was where he needed to be; moving to the speaker’s chair would be a lose-lose proposition.
Some Republican congressmembers on the fringes are bringing up some very valid points about Ryan's record that should give them-- and everyone else-- a reason to pause and reflect. He was a MAJOR backer of the Bush Wall Street bailout, popular with the corrupt Establishment of both parties, but hated by many on the far right (as well as by progressives). Louie Gohmert, for example, has already said he won't vote for Ryan to be Speaker. "Back in 2008 there were a number of us that committed that we simply could not ever support a speaker who fought so hard to pass the Wall Street bailout." Kentucky libertarian-leaning Congressman Tom Massie was on the same page: "Some of my conservative colleagues remember Paul Ryan's passionate please for the TARP, the Wall Street bailout-- he was asking them to vote for it several years ago. I don't have a problem with his ideology. I would want to talk to Paul Ryan about why he kicked conservatives off the budget committee, when he was chairman of the Budget Committee. So I am still supporting Daniel Webster." These tweets are from Chad Pergram who (expertly) covers Capitol Hill for Fox News:

As for the fringe-right media, Conservative Review rates him an F.
This process is set to unfold in the Speaker’s election with multiple choices and the opportunity to force each candidate to address issues and processes important to conservatives. That is why the media and the establishment are working overtime to clear the field for Paul Ryan. That is why Mitt Romney, the very armpit of the system conservatives seek to dismantle, is begging him to run.

Paul Ryan represents one of the absolute worst outcomes for conservatives. There is nobody in modern politics whose record and true priorities are more divorced from their rhetoric and public perception. Unlike McCarthy or some of the other choices, Ryan’s ascendancy to the speakership would be hailed as fresh change. In fact, it would serve nothing more than putting the prettiest face on the ugliest policies. Just take a look at his Liberty Score for a rundown of some of the worst policies Ryan has supported.

While conservatives understand they won’t get everything they want in a Speaker, the worst thing is to perpetuate the current failed leadership structure. In 2010, three House members authored a book titled “Young Guns,” promoting a new “nuanced” conservative agenda: Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, and Paul Ryan. Eric Cantor was defeated, McCarthy was blocked…now they are pulling out all the stops for Ryan.  There are many choices from which to choose, but shouldn’t we rule out the TARP coalition?

Ryan has used his leverage and respect to sabotage conservatives on every last budget fight of our time. He forged the Ryan-Murray budget deal, which actually countermanded the few budget victories we’ve had over the past few years. He was a wet blanket over the effort to defund Planned Parenthood. There is nobody in the conference who feels stronger about the need to preemptively announce we will not “default” or “shut down the government” than Ryan.

Despite being widely acclaimed as a social conservative and a devout catholic, Ryan was one of only 35 House Republicans to vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). This bill infringed upon religious liberties and promoted liberal values, including the sexual identity agenda.

But no issue is more foundational to our survival than the issue of borders and immigration. Yet, there is nobody around in the party who is more fanatically dedicated to the cause of open borders than Paul Ryan.  Whereas most others could be talked off the ledge on this issue, Ryan is a true believer.  When asked to comment on Obama’s executive amnesty-- the single biggest act of imperialism from a modern president-- Ryan said “call my office.”

At a time when we need the next GOP leader to fight another year of Obama’s lawlessness on criminal aliens and dangerous refugee policies, Ryan will give Obama tail winds and could possibly use his respect within the conference to promote these issues.

Nothing threatens the foundation of our Republic than the growing assault on our sovereignty. That is the number one issue of our time.  Almost nobody has the ability and desire to score points for the Democrats on this grave issue than Paul Ryan.

It’s time to let the Young Guns go the way of the Whigs. 
Erick Erickson, who admits he wants to burn Washington to the ground-- "metaphorically speaking"-- is also concerned about Ryan's cult of personality. "His cult of personality will make it problematic for conservatives should he be Speaker because everyone calls Paul Ryan a conservative and you are a loon if you think otherwise. In other words, House conservatives who might take issue with Ryan in the future will immediately be labeled as fascist totalitarians more willing to set everything on fire than work hard."
Ryan collaborated with Senate Democrat Patty Murray to raise taxes. Republicans then ran to every media outlet to declare it was not a tax increase. It is just a “user fee” because only productive citizens who have to travel for work and families on vacation will pay it.

Likewise, Paul Ryan has been the brains behind most of the fiscal deals John Boehner has cut with Barack Obama. Then there are his votes.

While in Congress, he voted for No Child Left Behind, the Prescription Drug Benefit, TARP, caps on CEO pay, the AIG bill, the GM bailout, the debt ceiling, and now the fiscal cliff. In fact, Paul Ryan is one of less than a dozen Republican congressmen to have voted for every bailout to come before Congress.

Paul Ryan is a creature of Washington. He worked on Capitol Hill, worked in a think tank, then went back as a congressman. He speaks Washingtonese with the best of them.
Imagine what even a vaguely competent DCCC could make out of this Republican Civil War. The House would be easily won back and a new era of progressive legislation would ensue-- exactly what corrupt corporate faux-Democrats like Steve Israel, Joe Crowley and Steny Hoyer do not want!

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