THE ENCORE

One of the things I enjoy about social networking is that I rarely have to seek out news items of interest anymore. A quick scroll through the ol' Facebox gives me a selection of political reading material ranging from the mundane to the fascinating. My policy of not "friending" morons, high school classmates, or moron high school classmates pays off. A former student who is now several years into a successful career in journalism shared a rather dull news item about the House Republican budget proposal accompanied by a stock photo we've all seen before:

ryanbinder

Then I looked a little more closely and realized that the photo was not the same "Paul Ryan holding binder next to podium" shot to which we were treated in 2011 (during the debt ceiling BS) and most of 2012. This is a new Ryan-Binder shot. Like, a recent one. And he's no longer holding the Roadmap to Prosperity; that's the Path to Prosperity, thankyouverymuch. They're quite different. Unlike the Roadmap, the innovative Pathway proposes

I left that sentence unfinished on purpose. Is there anyone, even the most casual follower of American politics, who cannot finish it on his or her own? If so, it may shock you to learn that it proposes repealing "Obamacare", cutting taxes, reducing spending (Pentagon excluded, of course), and balancing the budget through miraculous, unprecedented economic growth that is sure to happen as soon as we pass more tax cuts.

I've seen Babe. I've been to funerals. I've paid to see Episode II: Attack of the Clones in a theater. Yet reading this news item is among the saddest things I've ever experienced. Can you wrap your mind around a group of people so sad, so bereft of the slightest intellectual spark, that they are resorting to the exact same tactic they've been using unsuccessfully for two solid years – standing Paul Ryan next to a podium holding up a binder full of the same ol' shit – because they literally cannot think of anything else to do? They frantically flipped through the playbook and realized that this is the only play; even if it doesn't work, they have no choice but to keep running it.

Paul Ryan is poison, which is why the Romney campaign basically kept him on Fund Raiser Only duty for the last two months of the election. Balancing the budget is an idea that is not only implausible, but which also has almost zero appeal to the voting public (Technically the concept is popular, but people find the things that would be necessary to accomplish it positively abhorrent). There is no grand public backlash against health care reform, despite the constant flogging of Fox News and the for-profit medical industry.

Nobody likes any of this stuff – Paul Ryan, 1990s Gingrich-esque balanced budget rhetoric, railing against Obamacare, promises of magic beans that grow from tax cuts. The Republicans know, or should know, that nobody likes any of it. They have evidence (I bet a handful of them are swayed by that sort of thing, no?) that nobody likes it and that this strategy does not work. They know it doesn't work because they just tried it. For two years. And here they are doing it all again anyway because they cannot think of anything better to do, or perhaps anything at all.

When we can look at a news item and sincerely question whether it is from March 2013 or October 2011 it might be time to retire that "Party of Ideas" slogan.

30 thoughts on “THE ENCORE”

  • "I've seen Babe. I've been to funerals. I've paid to see Episode II: Attack of the Clones in a theater. Yet reading this news item is among the saddest things I've ever experienced. Can you wrap your mind around a group of people so sad, so bereft of the slightest intellectual spark, that they are resorting to the exact same tactic they've been using unsuccessfully for two solid years – standing Paul Ryan next to a podium holding up a binder full of the same ol' shit – because they literally cannot think of anything else to do? They frantically flipped through the playbook and realized that this is the only play; even if it doesn't work, they have no choice but to keep running it."

    Au contraîre mon frère!!

    This time it's *completely* different. You will notice if you look closely, that flanking the man with the binder, are two women.

    They must've borrowed them from Mitt.

  • It doesn't matter to Republican voters. They only need to be fed the same old shit until they die, because they will accept nothing else.

  • I'm left to ask: Are "Republicans" simply a sports franchise at this point? Are "Democrats"? I mean, I think of Cubs fans, Yankees fans, Red Sox fans (I don't stray much out of baseball in my viewing habits)–and I think of people who do not actively care about what kind of people are on the team, so long as the team wins games. (I know, I know, it's slightly more nuanced than that, but not by much–we want certain people on our teams because certain people help us win. That certain people are also assholes is generally something we only find objectionable when they are not helping us win.)

    Is it this way with voters? And, indeed, with members of the parties? That is–are they political parties (that is, groups of people united by common beliefs and a general approach to putting those beliefs into practice), or are they simply franchises united by nothing more than a name and a rivalry? Does the GOP only care about 'winning'–or do they care about achieving some kind of goals in governance?

    Because–and oddly, I'm actually speaking in praise of the GOP's trotting out of Ryan–it seems to me that if the GOP isn't just a franchise–if they're people who want to govern a certain way, who believe that government should do certain things, and shouldn't do others–and if Paul Ryan believes those things, then isn't the GOP being, well, *honest* in putting him out there?

    That is, yeah, he may be unpopular, and awful, and poison, but there's a whiff of inevitability of Paul Ryan as the face of the GOP–he *is* the embodiment of what they believe and what they want. Period–most of America may find his ideas repulsive (I certainly do)–but should the GOP change to suit America, or should America simply look at the GOP and, as we're supposed to do in a democracy, say "No, thanks, I disagree," and go vote somewhere else.

    Say this about Paul Ryan–he means what he says, and means to do what he promises. What he says is stupid and what he promises is vile, but still, there's a consistency of word and action that is the lifeblood of democracy: the candidate makes a compact with the electorate: "If you vote for me, I will do thus-and-such." Let it be said of Paul Ryan, he is exactly what he claims to be, and if that costs the GOP votes (which, thank God, it will), well, I come back to the fact that that's how democracy is supposed to work. "Here's what I genuinely believe." "And here's what I genuinely believe. Now choose between us."

    So I'm not surprised that nothing's changed with Rep. Ryan. What I am surprised by, and delighted by, is the fact that he's doing nothing to hide or fudge the fact that nothing's changed, because as Ed rightly points out, that is choosing honesty (shitheaded honesty, but still) over weaselly pretense. So, carry on, Bug-Eyed Elephant Warrior of the Dairy State! We, your foes from the Land of Vegetable Consumption and Sanity salute you! Don't ever change. And don't ever pretend you have.

  • Technically, the Republicans are not even interested in balancing the budget (which would involve higher taxes in cases of higher spending, if that's what is agreed on); they are interested in destroying the part of the state that is even remotely beneficial to most of the population. They are interested in "balancing the budget" iff (that's if, and only if, in philosphise) it's on the back of the people who don't own most of the stocks and bonds (including, of course T bills) traded in this country.

  • @JD: and **that** is exactly what I fear about the GOP. That they finally do get the idea that saying legitimate rape won't get you elected. Then start proclaiming a moderate message. Lulling the voters into giving them the Senate and Presidency (the House already so gerrymandered for years to come).

    Then watch them push through *all* of their agenda. As long as they're in the open we're safe. Do not trust an R who starts sounding sane. I'm not even sure I like the idea of Crist as ours for that reason.

  • To piggyback on what tveb said:

    It all makes sense once you realize it's not about the deficit.
    It never was about the deficit.
    It never will be about the deficit.

    It's about getting rid of programs that Republicans don't like.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Republican: "The Party of IdeA."
    Cut taxes for the rich, and… and… PONIES! UNICORNS!! GOLDEN COINS TRICKLING DOWN!!!
    Republicans haven't had a new idea since "The Southern Strategy." A good one for them, politically – but disasterous for the country.

    One of the best political moves by a Democrat recently, was Joe Biden laughing at "Privatizing Ryan," and openly mocking him.
    He laughed at EVERY point Ryan tried to make, and then mocked him when in his reply.
    Biden make Lil' P-90X Paulie look like a self-important, sullen, whiney, and petulant teenager.
    And thus, was Lyin Ryan relegated by Romney campaign, to the GULag of preaching in Red States to the already converted, for more campaign contributions.

    Democrats need to do that whenever any Republican speaks.
    Laugh when they say something.
    Mock them, when they reply.

    Pelosi needs to mock Boehner, even when it makes 80 proof whiskey-tears roll down his cheeks.
    Reid needs to mock McConnell, and make him want to pull his turtle head back into his suit-shell.

    Until the MSM, which treats these Fascist, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and/or homophobic @$$holes with way too much respect, changes up, and decides to get in on the fun, the people in this country are treated to story after story about Republicans as the party of fiscal responsibility and national security.
    And, if the thought of Republicans as the party of fiscal responsibility and national security isn't laughable and mockable, then I don't know what the hell is.
    Just keep saying:
    "9/11!
    Botched wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq!
    Torture!
    Big Pharma give-away!
    Bush Recession!!!
    Each one can be a punch-line. A tragic one, but a punch-line, nonetheless.

    Democrats need to stop treating the Republicans with any respect, and maybe the cowardly, complicit, and compliant MSM will start to realize that they've been made fools of, for over 30 years.

    Because, the only thing Republicans think they need to do to win, is get a new, or better, messenger.

    Maybe a Hispanic one, to capture more of that growing Democratic voter base.
    And that if they do put a Hispanic someone like Marco Rubio at the top of the ticket, they can try to sell the same ol' Fascist, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and/or homophobic pig – but this time, with new "Rojo cereza" lipstick!!!

    And if they do run Rubio, I suspect that when they find out that Cubans are not exactly beloved by other Hispanic/Latino groups, what they 'll scream at the nation after they lose, won't be, "Ay Dios Mio!" – no, more like, something about maternal units, and incest.

  • There's no doubt that people are sick and tired of the Republican schtick. But notice the House of Representatives — roughly half the country prefers their sad spectacle to letting the Democrats run amok.

  • I would argue that it does work–in that the balanced budget bullshit somehow scares the Democrats into moving further and further right. Right now they've got the Democrats convinced that very popular programs need cutting–so they are cleverly getting the Democrats to do the dirty work.

    I'd say it works like a fuckin' charm.

  • "Say this about Paul Ryan–he means what he says, and means to do what he promises. What he says is stupid and what he promises is vile, but still, there's a consistency of word and action that is the lifeblood of democracy: the candidate makes a compact with the electorate: "If you vote for me, I will do thus-and-such." Let it be said of Paul Ryan, he is exactly what he claims to be, and if that costs the GOP votes (which, thank God, it will), well, I come back to the fact that that's how democracy is supposed to work. "Here's what I genuinely believe." "And here's what I genuinely believe. Now choose between us.""

    Nah, Krugman and (Ezra) Klein have repeatedly ripped his budgets apart, showing that (a) the assumptions he makes are BS and (b) even with them, they don't achieve what he says they will.

    Ryan is a fraud, pure and simple, from end to end.

  • Death Panel Truck says:

    The GOP is slavishly devoted to the interests of the super-rich, and absolutely no one else. The super-rich want their tax cuts and the elimination of anything that helps anyone who is not super-rich. The GOP has no choice but to run the same play over and over again, because the super-rich demand it.

  • Hey-o, Fascism, how ya doin?

    Hoisted from another blog, because I not write good:

    Klochtopus

    Over the past couple of years, pundits have wondered aloud who leads the Republican Party and it is clear that it is not Rush Limbaugh or Karl Rove; it is the Koch brothers. There is no question that every Republican policy, and every piece of legislation, comes directly from ALEC under supervision from the Kochs. Paul Ryan may not have meant to expose the Koch brothers’ goal of destroying the health care system for Americans, but now that he has, it is a simple exercise to compare Republican priorities with ALEC’s template legislation that follows the Koch’s frenzy for federalist policies giving power to states and neutering the federal government.

    They may not control both houses of Congress, but with 30 Republican governors, and ALEC churning out Koch-inspired legislation to abolish child labor laws, voting rights, minimum wage, public education, women’s rights, environmental regulations, and increasing calls for nullification, Americans are in jeopardy of seeing their country transformed into a plutocrats’ paradise. Now that Paul Ryan revealed their goal is destroying the healthcare system, and Florida threatens to abandon Medicaid, two Koch objectives, it is obvious that what many pundits have feared is true; the Koch brothers control the Republican Party and without an intervention, their bloodless coup d’état will give them control of America.

  • @ Barry: Oh, I have no illusions as to the fact that Ryan's budget will not work at all. But I also believe that Ryan thinks that it will. I think he truly believes that a savage program of Social Darwinism that punishes the poor and rewards the rich will, in fact, produce a balanced budget. Perhaps this makes him stupid. Perhaps this makes him delusional. Perhaps it's a little from column A and a little from column B. But I think it's too easy for us to conclude that all Republicans (and let's face it, the party as a whole agrees with Ryan's budgetary vision) actually know the truth and are lying about it. If the lie was a fresh one, maybe I'd buy that argument. But it's been going on for so long (let's face it, it went mainstream in the Reagan years, and it wasn't even terribly original then) that I think that it is, in fact, a sign of the kind of semi-religious mass delusion that America produces so well. You can't be a fraud if you think that the snake-oil actually works, and Ryan does. And he's not alone. Which is what we in the reality-based community need to be afraid of–that we're dealing with people for whom Ryan's imaginary numbers are not a sham, or wrong, or a lie–they're articles of faith, like the Virgin Birth or the infallibility of the Koran. That's much scarier…

  • I just realized that if you (inadvertently) use the phrase "let's face it" twice in the same post, you come across as a raging tool. My apologies. I renew my request for an 'edit' feature.

  • Actually it works like a charm, if your strategy is to continually drag the goalposts to the right. Republicans propose extremist, far-right coo coo bird nonsense, Democrats "compromise" by "meeting them halfway." They've been running THAT play for years, and it's working so well that you now have a democratic president and senate actually OFFERING, VOLUNTARILY, to impose draconian cuts on flagship liberal social programs, without any hard economic evidence that these cuts are even necessary.

    Laugh all you want, these people are fucking geniuses. Political jujitsu artists. Their going to get a ddemocratic president to slash the shit out of social security and medicare. Then they're going to run against him as the nasty negro who cut your medicare and SS benefits.

  • @Andy Brown, of voters who cast ballots for the House of Representatives in November 2012, more people voted for Democrats than Republicans. The Republicans have a majority because of gerrymandering. But if we put that aside for Just. One. Second. we can see here one consequence of Republicans running amok.

  • Paul Ryan has a fictitious budget that hand-waves for hundreds of billions of dollars and declares itself "balanced". Liberal Media: spends weeks covering it.

    Every year the Congressional Progressive Caucus releases their own budget, with progressive priorities. It does not hand-wave, is nearly balanced (for real), and would be a great step forward for the country. Not only have you never heard of the annual People's Budget release, you've never even heard of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which has roughly as many members as the Tea Party faction of the Republicans. You've never even heard of them.

  • Ryan is just the best spokesman for their base. and it works. the Republicans have Obama doing their dirty work,Obama is a Republican win win. fight him on the outside and keep pushing. it's fascinating how well the Republicans own the entire Congress and Supreme Court and the White House.

    my only hope is the Republicans take over the Senate and finish off the torture call America, and allow the Kochs to mop up after 40 years of Reagan's Scam.

    and to think they want to name a mountain in Nevada for Reagan. wonder if there is a mountainfor Hitler, i know there is one for Stalin and Putin, but Reagan was worse. the Republicans are much smarter than Hitler's Nazis were. the Nazis only lasted from 33 to 45. the Republicans took over in 80 and still own the cess pool led by Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito et al.

    Ryan is just learning how to sell, learning the art that Reagan mastered. waiting for the stupid White people to die off is not a good or plausible hope for the rest of us who have to live in America.

    being screwed over by Obama is perhaps the Republican's best plan. Focus on the "bad" guy while we screw you when you are hating the "other."

    after 40 years of the Republican "con," Ryan would finish us off. Ryan's only problem is his "presentation" mode, he is way too coarse, raises too many "obvious" lies out in the open. Give Ryan enough time, say next election,maybe, and Ryan will give Reagan a run. Who knows, maybe they will name a mountain after Ryan once he gets his "marketing/pitch" down pat. that is as long as the stupid White folks vote

    one people, one leader, one country.

  • This shit works at the state level too. Elect the completely incompetent teabag governor and you can watch while your moderately blue stat's economy gets driven into the ground. Watch while all of the states around you gain jobs and you lose them, being only one of two states to pull off this trick. You can also watch while the national economy slowly gains while your state gets ranked dead last, behind even the shithole southern states, in economic outlook. Gotta love federalism, when bullshit doesn't work on the national level we can take it to the rubes and have it not work there either.

  • The GOP is not a political party with a philosophy. It is a middlebrow-marketing scheme supporting a pyramid scam that is otherwise known as the American economy. All regulations and programs that allow lower and middle class persons to improve their wealth are fought unless they serve as apple-polishers of the oligarchy. PATRIOTISM!

  • As a proud member of the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin, I can proudly state that I am about to commit ritual seppuku.

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