“Chair . . . you don’t know what you’re talking about.” ~ Stephen Colbert, “The Colbert Report”

Sorry, but Jon Stewart’s Friday night broadcast was pure gold. There is no way that I could possibly top it . . . unless I added Stephen Colbert’s interview with Clint Eastwood’s chair.

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“Fact checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.” ~ Neil Newhouse, Pollster for Mitt Romney Campaign

I mean, what kind of an irresponsible lunatic would vote for every one of these misguided fiscal time bombs?  I’ll give you a hint.  His name begins with Paul Ryan and ends with silence and this is his picture!!

                   

I really wanted to post a clip from last night’s Daily Show, but WordPress is making it hard to post those clips, so I’ll settle for some stills from an earlier show in which Stewart lambasts Ryan. For this post, I’m just going to go a more traditional route and expose VP Candidate (aka Mr. Dead Fish Eyes) Paul Ryan’s blatant mistruths as he presented them in his RNC speech.

In this case, anything that I might have to add, curmudgeonly or otherwise, is pretty much unnecessary. The media and the blogosphere are blowing up Ryan’s speech all over the place. Oh, and that fact checking thing that the Republicans don’t want to interfere with the campaign? Well, the sources for the facts below are included.

                   

From Brenda Witt, MoveOn member:

Here is a list of five lies that Paul Ryan told when he gave his speech at the Republican National Convention last night. Every single news outlet should report on these lies.

1. Lie: President Obama is the “greatest threat” to Medicare.

Truth: Obama didn’t make any cuts to Medicare benefits; he made cuts to provider reimbursements, to improve cost efficiency and extend the fiscal security of Medicare by eight years. According to the Medicare actuary, “[Obama’s] Affordable Care Act makes important changes to the Medicare program and substantially improves its financial outlook.”1

But Ryan actually does want to cut benefits. He proposed dismantling Medicare and replacing it with a voucher system, leaving millions of seniors to come up with more money to pay for care out of pocket.2,3

2. Lie: President Obama didn’t save a General Motors plant in Wisconsin.

Truth: First, Obama wasn’t even in office when the GM plant closed. Second, Obama never made a promise to save it.4

3. Lie: President Obama ignored recommendations of a bipartisan debt commission.

Truth: Paul Ryan actually sat on that commission. And he led Republicans in voting down the commission’s own recommendation. So the commission never gave a report to Obama, because Ryan himself voted to kill the report before it could.5

4. Lie: President Obama is responsible for the downgrading of the U.S. Credit Rating.

Truth: House Republicans, including Paul Ryan, held the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to try to ransom it for trillions of dollars in cuts to social programs without increasing taxes on the wealthy one dime. Standard & Poor’s said specifically, “We have changed our assumption on [revenue] because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues.” That’s why our nation’s credit rating was downgraded.6,7

5. Lie: Ryan wants to protect the “weak.”

Truth: Ryan’s biggest feat in his political career was proposing a budget with dramatic cuts to programs benefiting the poor. He’d cut Medicaid by one third, take away health care insurance from 30 million Americans, and cut Pell Grants for 1 million students. All so that he could give more tax breaks to the rich.8

                   

Sources:

1. “Fact check: Paul Ryan at the RNC,” USA Today, August 30, 2012
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=279602&id=50193-6367887-vRNrtFx&t=8

2. “Undoing Obama Medicare cuts may backfire on Romney,” The Boston Globe, August 18, 2012
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=279597&id=50193-6367887-vRNrtFx&t=9

3. “Romney-Ryan Medicare Plan Would Cost 29-Year-Olds $331,200: Report,” Huffington Post, August 27, 2012
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=279596&id=50193-6367887-vRNrtFx&t=10

4. “Paul Ryan Misleads With GM Plant Closure Tale,” Huffington Post, August 29, 2012
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=279598&id=50193-6367887-vRNrtFx&t=11

5. “Fact Check: Paul Ryan misleads on debt panel’s spending cut plan,” CNN, August 30, 2012
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=279608&id=50193-6367887-vRNrtFx&t=12

6. “Top 5 Fibs In Paul Ryan’s Convention Speech,” Talking Points Memo, August 30, 2012
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=279595&id=50193-6367887-vRNrtFx&t=13

7. “Paul Ryan Address: Convention Speech Built On Demonstrably Misleading Assertions,” Huffington Post, August 30, 2012
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=279604&id=50193-6367887-vRNrtFx&t=14

8. “4 Ways Paul Ryan’s Budget Would Devastate The Poor,” ThinkProgress, August 17, 2012
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=279605&id=50193-6367887-vRNrtFx&t=15

Yes. I do have to go there.

Okay. I’m on that horse again. You know the one, the one that goes straight to wonderland, where everything is rosy and pretty . . . no wait. Not that one. The dead one. That’s the one I’m on, the proverbial one in the front yard that I continue to beat whenever I come across some glaring instance of some person who is pretending to be for the people, while that same said someone is obviously not of the people.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ann Romney, spouse of the Mitt, and her take on what it means to be without.

And P.S. Dressage (aka dancing horses), even in the Olympics, is not the same thing as hippotherapy.

                    

Reprinted from the Huffington Post

Larry Womack: Ann Romney Addresses the Common People

Last night, Ann Romney took the stage at the Republican National Convention to tell us all that she (and, by extension, Mitt) understands the troubles of the average American. That she knew what it was like to be one of us.

The problem with that, obviously, is that she doesn’t.

I hope I’m not dating myself too terribly by recalling that old Pulp song, “Common People.” If you haven’t heard it, you can listen to it here. Or, if you would prefer a William Shatner cover set to suggestive clips from Star Trek: The Animated Series (and who wouldn’t?), you can check that out here instead. The song is about a sort of poverty tourist — a privileged woman who thinks it’s very novel and amusing to slum it for a bit. The narrator, of course, doesn’t find his own meager means nearly so amusing because, unlike his delighted companion, his poverty is real, not pretend. “If you called your dad,” he points out, “he could stop it all.” Still, she persists.

Last night, Ann Romney was that woman and we were the common people.

Romney opened with a long, agreeable “I feel your pain” routine that, at times, seemed to resonate. She, like most speakers last night, was especially interested in appealing to women. She then applied it to a personal narrative, portraying her upbringing as exceedingly modest. In fact, her father — admittedly a remarkable self-made man — was a manufacturing magnate and mayor of the affluent Bloomfield Hills by the time Ann was growing up. Finally, she went on to describe her early days with young Mitt in rather humble terms:

We were very young, both still in college. There were many reasons to delay marriage. And you know what? We just didn’t care. We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on saw horses, our dining room table was a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen. But those were the best days.

The image is adorable, you must admit. Two struggling students, madly in love, happily eating tuna off of an ironing board. Even doing their own housekeeping! No staff at all. These people actually had to wash their own dishes. Mitt Romney, we are told, started out with nothing.

Happily for them, the Romney idea of “nothing” is probably not yours, mine or even that of a lucid billionaire. Before they got married, Mitt Romney’s regular “allowance” from his parents was large enough to buy him regular flights back and forth from Stanford, where he was attending college, to Ann’s home in Michigan. When they did get married and move into that “basement apartment,” both were spared the inconvenience and indignity of actually having to get a job — Mitt just sold some of his stock to “get by.” And while they may have walked to class together, they probably didn’t need to; even they acknowledge that Mitt’s parents had given them a car. And when they moved to Boston — after Mitt Romney obtained his MBA and JD from Harvard — his parents “helped” the young couple buy a house.

Even slogging through that pile, Romney came across as sweet, good-natured and, to the best of her ability, genuinely empathetic. There were even moments that felt truly candid — a rare thing coming from a convention stage — as Romney spoke about her battle with MS and her no-doubt horrifying brush with breast cancer. After Rick Santorum’s long whisper through a fog of insanity and Nikki Haley’s jarringly oblivious implication that companies like Boeing don’t need the government to succeed, Ann Romney was one big, huggable breath of fresh air. But the financial narrative she presented contrasted so strikingly with reality that I actually found myself wondering if she really is crazy enough to believe that she has at any point in her life been genuinely poor.

The Romneys ate off of an ironing board. They seem to think that’s what poverty feels like. Well, I went camping once. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what homelessness feels like. Trying to pass this situation off as anything like the fear and heartbreak experienced every single day by millions of Americans living in genuine poverty is insulting, insensitive and, frankly, deranged.

The people living out of cars, in homeless shelters and on the streets didn’t have more stock to sell. They don’t have two rich daddies they could turn to if things got scary. Or two rich mommies. Or every rich person doing business in one entire state and two entire industries, who knew that helping out an influential person’s son or daughter might benefit them later.

Just to be perfectly clear: I do not mean to imply that Mitt Romney has been some sort of slouch. Whatever you or I might think of his methods, the man has obviously worked hard for his fortune. Not “digging ditches” hard or “nursing home orderly” hard, but hard. A lot of trust fund babies waste their lives partying and pretending that they’re important, instead of working hard and actually becoming important. It’s a sad thing to see, but you see it often. Young Mitt Romney took full advantage of every opportunity he was granted and is clearly a genuinely successful businessman. Anyone can—and should—applaud the young Romneys’ frugality, determination and dedication.

But that success must also be credited in large part to his unique level of privilege, which clearly shielded the young couple from the true nature of poverty. And real poverty, I am afraid to inform Mrs. Romney, is not merely a series of choices in décor. It is not some sort of a lark. It is not an act of youthful defiance. It is not living frugally simply because you want to prove a point. It is having nothing to fall back on. It is knowing that if you fail or run into even a tiny bit of bad luck, you and your family will not have food or shelter.

Real poverty is not knowing where your children’s next meal is coming from. It’s not being able to put shoes on their feet or take them to the doctor. It’s living in constant fear of losing your job or getting sick. It’s not having a car to take you to that job. It’s wondering if you’ll still have a home two months from now. It’s hunger. It’s cold. And, above all, it is fear. It’s a thousand other worries that millions upon millions of Americans have endured that Ann Romney never will. It is not a cute anecdote about how cheap your insanely privileged husband is. [emphasis mine]

I don’t say this to pick on the Romneys, or to suggest that anyone resent their circumstances. I say it because, unlike many others who have never really known these fears, either, they sometimes seem incapable of discerning the difference between their reality and everyone else’s. That is an enormous problem.

You see, a man with this mindset might understand what it takes for the very wealthy to succeed, but cannot possibly fathom what it takes to allow the rest of America to do the same. In Mitt Romney’s world, college kids can just borrow tens of thousands of dollars from their parents—if they can’t bring themselves to part with more stock. In the real America, there are over one million students who are currently homeless. Still, in Mitt Romney’s world, there’s nothing wrong with wasting billions in taxpayer money that could be used to pay down the national debt or lift these students out of poverty, so long as the nation can also move more money from those college kids to private lenders. In Mitt Romney’s world, unemployed with $200,000 million in the (known) bank is somehow comparable to unemployed with nothing. In Mitt Romney’s world, people say things like, ” I’m not concerned about the very poor,” and “corporations are people, my friend!”

His wife may have just given the common people another glimpse of it, but Mitt Romney’s world is nothing like the one in which we live and our nation cannot be effectively governed from it. Sounds like a nice place, though.

“If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.” ~ George Eliot, from Middlemarch

“Dark Crystal” (Vendee, France)
by Philippe Albanel, DeviantArt

                   

Two for Tuesday:

Two tunes, two poems, too tired for more.

Music by Gary Moore, “Still Got the Blues”

                   

sorrows

who would believe them winged
who would believe they could be

beautiful         who would believe
they could fall so in love with mortals

that they would attach themselves
as scars attach and ride the skin

sometimes we hear them in our dreams
rattling their skulls         clicking their bony fingers

envying our crackling hair
our spice filled flesh

they have heard me beseeching
as I whispered into my own

cupped hands       enough not me again
enough       but who can distinguish

one human voice
amid such choruses of desire

~ Lucille Clifton

                    

Music by Gary Moore, “The Loner”

Second Story

How strange to be sitting in this room,
to be noticing the windows—clearer than air—
how they let in everything, the leaves,
the bright-colored leaves, hanging like bits
of paper from the trees, and the thin woman
across the street sweeping her porch—
though she swept it yesterday and the day before
and will, most likely, sweep it tomorrow—
and how strange to be thinking of you, always
of you, as the room changes imperceptibly, easily
moving from moment to moment, like a lover
whose infidelities are purely imaginary,
imagined by you, just as you’re sure
the house might betray you, accommodating shadows
in your absence, sure that the room only
pretends to be your room, light climbing the stairs—
like an intruder or friend who left a long time ago—
pausing, changing its mind, going back down again,
as if the door were open and it could
come back anytime. Strange after so much time
to feel the same feelings, only stronger,
as the dust settles thickly on the tables,
and the afternoon shadows, unsure of themselves,
shrink into corners or lie on the floor,
and no letters arrive and the phone doesn’t ring,
and the woman sweeping her porch casts
a cold eye up at you—the face in the second story
window, the whorled face staring at the view—
goes into her house and shuts the door.

~ Elizabeth Spires

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. ” ~ The Buddha

This image appeared on my Tumblr dash, and it really moved me. Just pause for a moment and consider: 100,000 people sitting quietly, praying for peace and an ease of the world’s suffering. I am not always a curmudgeon, nor am I always, eternally cynical, just most of the time. Perhaps the weather from the storm brings to mind the accompanying quote and song. Who knows?

 

100,000 Thai Theravada Monks in meditation for peace and in prayer to ease the suffering of the world (Dhammakaya Temple, Bangkok Thailand).

“What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris?
What’s the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?”

~ The Buddha

Music by Lily Allison, “Birds and Ships”

Lyrics by Woody Guthrie:

The birds are singing in your eyes today.
Sweet flowers blossom in your smile.
The wind and sun are in the words you say.
Where can your lonesome lover be?

Birds may be singing in my eyes this day.
Sweet flowers may blossom when I smile.
But my soul is stormy and my heart blows wild
My sweetheart rides a ship on the sea.

Oh, my soul is stormy and my heart blows wild.
Where can my lonesome lover be?

“All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can’t be touched.” ~ Octavio Paz, from “Going and Coming”

                   

As one listens to the rain

Listen to me as one listens to the rain,
not attentive, not distracted,
light footsteps, thin drizzle,
water that is air, air that is time,
the day is still leaving,
the night has yet to arrive,
figurations of mist
at the turn of the corner,
figurations of time
at the bend in this pause,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
without listening, hear what I say
with eyes open inward, asleep
with all five senses awake,
it’s raining, light footsteps, a murmur of syllables,
air and water, words with no weight:
what we are and are,
the days and years, this moment,
weightless time and heavy sorrow,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
wet asphalt is shining,
steam rises and walks away,
night unfolds and looks at me,
you are you and your body of steam,
you and your face of night,
you and your hair, unhurried lightning,
you cross the street and enter my forehead,
footsteps of water across my eyes,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the asphalt’s shining, you cross the street,
it is the mist, wandering in the night,
it is the night, asleep in your bed,
it is the surge of waves in your breath,
your fingers of water dampen my forehead,
your fingers of flame burn my eyes,
your fingers of air open eyelids of time,
a spring of visions and resurrections,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the years go by, the moments return,
do you hear the footsteps in the next room?
not here, not there: you hear them
in another time that is now,
listen to the footsteps of time,
inventor of places with no weight, nowhere,
listen to the rain running over the terrace,
the night is now more night in the grove,
lightning has nestled among the leaves,
a restless garden adrift—go in,
your shadow covers this page.

~ Octavio Paz (trans. Eliot Weinberger)

                   

Music by Keith Urban, what else, “Raining on Sunday”

“The Kiss” (1907-8)
Gustav Klimt

                   

Happy Birthday, my love,
wherever you are.

                   

Music by Richard Marx, “Right Here Waiting for You”

                   

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

~ e e cummings