Rage For the Machine

Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades. … Don’t mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta “rage” in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he’s not raging against is the privileged elite he’s groveling in front of for campaign contributions.

Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine

Before getting into what happened this week, I want to look ahead a week, to the Republican Convention. Unless the GOP completely screws up (which is possible; the 1992 “Culture War” convention didn’t do them much good), the Romney-Ryan ticket should get a bounce in the polls. The most likely outcome is that they’ll leave Tampa with a lead.

You shouldn’t lose sleep about that. McCain-Palin had a lead briefly, and we know how that turned out. For that matter, Dukakis came out of the 1988 Democratic Convention with a 17-point lead. This year’s Democratic Convention ends September 6, and maybe a week after that you can start taking polls at face value again. In the meantime, follow Nate Silver. Don’t get worried until Nate does.

This week everybody was still talking about Paul Ryan

Except for the people who are drawing and animating Paul Ryan:

I did almost 2000 words on Ryan last week, but the subject is vast. Most of last week’s article focused on Ryan’s (largely false) image as an anti-deficit guy. But if that’s all we talk about, we’ve fallen into the same Tea Party trap as 2010.

Remember? The Tea Party sold itself as a grass-roots, non-partisan movement narrowly focused on taxes, spending, and the deficit. Then they got power and started forcing ultrasound probes up women’s vaginas.

Paul Ryan is the same kind of guy, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. Hence this week’s article: Paul Ryan, Veteran of the War on Women.

Two other Ryan stories: So Ryan was totally against the Stimulus program in public, and said many times that it would not create jobs. But he wrote at least four letters requesting stimulus money for his district, including one that says the proposal would “stimulate the local and area economy by creating jobs” — exactly what he was saying in public that the Stimulus couldn’t do.

When asked about this apparent hypocrisy, Ryan has repeatedly claimed he never asked for stimulus funds. Now that the letters have come out, he’s blaming his staff.

The second story is more complicated: Ryan was accused of insider trading. Then the story was debunked. Then it wasn’t. Stay tuned.

… and Medicare

On the surface it seems absurd that any ticket with Paul Ryan on it could claim to be defending Medicare against the dastardly President Obama. But a lot of work has gone into preparing the ground for this kind of propaganda. I examine it in How Lies Work.

… and you might also find this stuff interesting

Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin isn’t concerned about a rape exception to abortion laws, because biology works differently in his world:

If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

After a considerable firestorm, Akin said he “misspoke“, which is hilarious. You can’t “misspeak” an entire pseudo-scientific explanation. Acceptable excuses might include “my abstinence-only sex-education class didn’t tell me how the female body works” or “I was off my meds during that interview”. But “I misspoke” doesn’t cut it.


Lots of airlines lose your luggage, United lost a 10-year-old — and then followed up about as badly as you could imagine. I know I repeat myself, but Corporations Are Sociopaths — they’re fundamentally self-centered and amoral.


When Mitt Romney tells us about his taxes and asks for our trust rather than providing evidence, you need to know that he’s done this before — and lied. When his Massachusetts residency was challenged before his 2002 run for governor, he refused to reveal his tax returns, but said they would show he had filed as a Massachusetts resident. In fact, he hadn’t.


Cracked imagines another scene in its “It Must Have Happened” series. Here, Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard discuss how to monkey-wrench American culture:


A mixed week on voting rights. A Pennsylvania judge refused to block that state’s voter-ID law, but a Florida judge did block a plan to curb early voting, and Ohio’s secretary of state backed off of a plan to allow extended hours for early voting in Republican counties only. The Pennsylvania decision has the most impact, so net advantage to voter suppression.

The Pennsylvania judge faced the same situation as the Supreme Court did in June when it allowed one part of Arizona’s papers-please law to stand: In order to strike down a law before it takes effect, a judge has to determine that it can’t be enforced in a constitutional way. No matter how likely it looks that somebody’s rights will be violated, the judge can’t assume bad faith enforcement. It’s a high bar.


In the wake of a shooting at the Family Research Council, 23 LGBT groups did the honorable thing and denounced it without conditions:

regardless of what emerges as the reason for this shooting, we utterly reject and condemn such violence.


A sidebar to my How Lies Work article: Journalists are actively discussing how to handle the “post-truth campaign” Romney is running. A post on WaPo’s “The Fix” blog seemed to admire the savviness of Romney’s distortions rather than criticize their lack of honesty. And, maybe for the first time, this was roundly condemned within the profession. Jay Rosen’s post is a good entry point to the discussion.

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