Archive for the ‘Paul Ryan’ Category



June 23, 2016

Dear Speaker Ryan, and my dearest GOP Senators,

It’s 1:30 a.m. here in Nashville, 2:30 in the morning in Washington DC. The House has just been called back into session at this absurd hour. Whoever is presiding over the House while you, Speaker Ryan, preserve your viability by keeping out of the fray, has just disregarded the Democrats’ request for equal time, and moved on to a vote on the Military Construction bill – completely ignoring the past 16 hours of House Democrats sitting in on the House floor, demanding a vote on gun control issues. After this vote, the House will surely vote to break until after the 4th of July, and, as Republican Congressmen are apparently willing to show up at 3 a.m. to vote for vacation time (but never to vote on gun control) that, you think, will be the end of that.

You are counting on us, your constituents, to be asleep. To not care. To be so despondent and despairing over our government EVER functioning that we don’t see this. Two weeks will pass, fireworks will fill the air, we’ll all love America, and you’ll come back pretending nothing has changed. Pretending that the Democrats elected to the House of Representatives had not had to resort to civil disobedience in the halls of the government THEY SERVE in order to be heard. Ignoring the fact that Republican Senators, after 16 hours of filibuster by Democrats, were still too spineless to actually VOTE on sensible gun control measures, and instead, hid behind cloture votes, secure in their belief that Americans are too stupid to realize they still hadn’t addressed the issue.

But in those twelve days – assuming you come back on July 5th – 1,068 families will have been torn apart by gun violence. ONE THOUSAND AND SIXTY-EIGHT. Mothers and fathers weeping for their children. Children sent to live with distant relatives because Mommy’s been shot. Families vacationing together, children playing in public parks. Maybe another movie theater full of excited patrons, waiting to be transported by a summer blockbuster. Maybe another club full of beautiful 22 –year-olds out dancing. Maybe another church full of devout souls. But even without another national headline, the toll will still be met. 89 gun deaths a day. 1,068 of the people YOU have sworn to protect, the people who voted for you, trusted you, who put you in the room where it happens – they will be gone, forever, by the time you come back from vacation.

You’ve ignored the problem for years, and Democrats tried normal channels, came up empty, and let it be. But now they have called you out. Now they – now WE – are not putting up with this inaction any longer. You still control the House and Senate, so you can still stop every effort to save these lives, but from here on out? We’re holding you accountable. This is on you. Every murder committed with an assault rifle is on YOU. Every person suspected of terrorism who purchases a weapon – that’s on you, too, because you’re too cowardly to vote to stop them. Every single purchase of a weapon at a gun show, or online, or otherwise without a background check? Hang that around your necks, along with all the bodies that those weapons put in the ground, all the sorrow of the families ripped apart, all the fear of kids who are not let out to play this summer because their mothers love them too much to bear risking them. Every time someone convicted of domestic violence doesn’t have to surrender all of their guns – that’s on you, too, because surely you know that domestic violence is the single strongest indicator of later violent acts (that one WOULD have stopped Omar Mateen). Speaking of things you surely know, I assume you’ve seen the viral photo of the adorable 3-year-old standing on a toilet, practicing for an “active shooter” situation? Yeah. Her fear, the fear of millions of children growing up with this reality, and the ways that will warp them all of their lives, THAT’S ON YOU, TOO.

(Photo by Stacey Feeley, via

I know that’s a heavy burden to bear. I know that NRA money doesn’t completely soften the blow. So as you grapple with the enormity of what your inaction has wrought, start small. Start with one single death, and that family’s loss and pain, the light gone out forever from that community. Carry that, know that you caused that. Then feel that 88 more times, for 88 other unique individuals mowed down, every day. Soon you’ll be able to feel all of the one thousand sixty-eight American lives you are willing to sacrifice by not voting before your precious vacation. And know that we are watching you. We are not asleep. Those 1,068 are just the start. Until you enact sensible gun control measures, that toll keeps growing.  We won’t forget in November. And we won’t forget in two years, or four years, when you, my Senators, are up for reelection.

You have an amazing and rare privilege. You can make this country better, and safer, for all its people. But if you choose not to do that, you are accepting the consequences of your inaction. 89 deaths a day. 623 souls gone every week. Over 82,000 families devastated every year. That’s on you.


In Which I <3 Joe Biden

October 16, 2012

Again under the wire, and again my two cents are that everything you’ve heard about the most recent debate is missing the point. In this case, ever since the Veep debate ended, the dueling narratives have been Joe Biden Spanked Paul Ryan Like a Red-Headed Stepchild versus Joe Biden was Incredibly Rude, Disrespectful, and Possibly Insane. The first is much closer to the truth, but it’s not an analysis so much as it’s a gut reaction. Did I cheer Biden during the debate? YES. Did I do goofy fist-pumps when Biden explained that Afghan troops would be defending the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan? INDUBITABLY. Did I clap like Brendan Fraser at the Golden Globes when Biden looked straight in the camera to address senior citizens about Medicare?


But that was my initial reaction, as a Democrat and a Biden fangirl – and it probably wasn’t the way undecided voters saw things. No, what’s been missing from the analysis is analysis. No one is talking about what was actually said, and that’s a damn shame. The Vice President is well-regarded for his ability to speak the language of the middle class, of the average American – but what he says in that language shows that his brain is anything but average.

Joe Biden has been in politics almost my entire life, but it’s only been in the past few years that I recognized what an amazing gift he is to this country. Way back in December 2007, when I was already heavily involved in the Obama campaign despite being weeks away from the Iowa caucuses, I gathered with the other Obama faithful to watch one of the endless pre-season debates. One question asked about toxic paint found on children’s toys manufactured in China. One by one, the candidates – including my candidate – spoke powerfully about the need to amend our trade policy and our laws to ensure that this Never Happened Again. But when it was Biden’s turn, he exasperatedly pointed out that those provisions were already part of our trade agreements with China, and had been for decades. The laws were on the books; we just weren’t willing to fully fund the agencies that would inspect those goods and enforce those laws. I fell a little in love with him. Question after question, he knew everything about everything. He knew exactly what the applicable laws were. He knew exactly where the problems lay. He understood every foreign conflict they threw his way. And he was passionate and articulate and profoundly knowledgeable in precisely that way that doesn’t necessarily give the soundbites our news and our brains expect. I could easily imagine a news story about that debate which would frame his answer on the Chinese toys question as simply, “Obama, Clinton advocate tougher sanctions for Chinese Poison Toys; Biden says current laws are enough.” And you know what? Biden would still answer exactly the same.

I was thrilled when Obama chose him as his running mate, because what better counter to Obama’s cool detachment than Biden’s infectious warmth? And what better counterweight to Obama’s then-slim resume, than the man who knows everything about everything?

And yet, the man who knows everything about everything is strangely pilloried for gaffes, as if he were too dumb to know better. Biden’s “gaffes” are almost always full of unvarnished truth, profound understanding of the realities on the ground, and a whole, emotional engagement with the fate of this country. They  reflect just how passionate he is about making this country a better place. We aren’t used to our politicians emoting quite that much, because we aren’t used to our politicians genuinely caring that much. Earlier in the president’s term, Biden famously congratulated Obama on signing the Affordable Care Act by saying, “This is a big fucking deal!” You know what? IT WAS A BIG FUCKING DEAL. In a town of phonies and hyper-cautious calculators, Biden stands out simply because he still has human reactions.

Joe Biden was apparently rude and “disrespectful” to Eddie Haskell Paul Ryan because he actually, y’know, reacted to the words coming out of Ryan’s mouth. He smiled. He did double-takes. He shook his head. And he laughed when he heard the ridiculous lies that fall so easily from Ryan’s lips. Apparently, THIS look, this frozen smirk that shows the wearer has completely checked out mentally, is the “polite” way to listen in Washington:

But Biden can’t do that. Won’t do that. Shouldn’t do that. It’s a stupid thing to do, first of all, this “I know I’m on tv so I will betray no emotion other than polite (dis)interest.” But beyond that, what’s wrong with laughing at laughable lies?

We’re so bad at history in this country that no one seems to remember that Biden ran for President decades ago, and had a very good chance of winning the nomination. In 1987, he was raising money hand-over-fist. His speeches were fiery and well-received. And then, at the Iowa State Fair, he gave a speech, parts of which were modeled on a speech by an Irish leader. He’d given the speech many times, always citing Kinnock as his inspiration – but in the Iowa State Fair speech, he forgot to give Kinnock credit… and his campaign was effectively over. He had plaguerized, they said, he could not be trusted. It seems quaint, now, the idea that not citing your sources might besmirch your reputation for honesty, that this might be enough to make you unelectable. The GOP ticket has been running a post-truth campaign for months, lying again and again about the President’s record, about Obamacare and Medicare, and even about their own positions. And yet they are within reach of the White House. No one is suggesting Paul Ryan is unfit to serve because he lies, or that Romney, once caught in a falsehood, should’ve left the race. It hardly seems fair that Biden was once forced out of a race for a simple mistake that undermined his credibility, while Romney/Ryan may coast to the White House on wave of bullshit and the audacity of hype. Of course Biden laughed. This is ridiculous.

The Veep came out blazing on Thursday. His beautiful, nuanced answers put Paul Ryan’s facile platitudes to shame. Biden was asked why we don’t intervene in Syria’s revolution as we did in Libya’s. We don’t, he said, because they are very different countries – and then Biden told us exactly how they differ, and how that impacts our course. Ryan only spoke vaguely of not appearing “weak,” and tossed in the word “Iran” a couple of times. On Afghanistan, Ryan tried to argue that we were pulling troops out of the most dangerous regions – and Biden pounded home the reality that those troops are being replaced by Afghan troops, and point-blank demanded to know whether Ryan was saying we should place American troops in greater danger than their Afghan replacements. He explained and championed the Democratic policies on Medicare and Social Security, and held Ryan’s feet to the fire on the way his budget would effect the middle class and the poor. Every answer Biden gave was nuanced and detailed, while Ryan’s were nothing but empty platitudes. And that’s what analysts should have been talking about this week… but they weren’t.

Since the debate, Fox and the right have been going hard after Biden for his lack of “respect.” Fox News even showcased an “expert” to suggest that Biden’s behavior – which was exactly like all of Biden’s public behavior for the past 40 years – indicates that he either suffers from dementia or was drunk. It’s not just the guests, either – Mike Huckabee and Sean Hannity also claimed that Biden was an “obnoxious drunk” during the debate. Because of a family history with alcoholism, Joe Biden is a well-known teetotaler, but that is how sick these people are. They will defame a good man, a faithful public servant, and a brilliant mind, just to deflect attention from the truth of what he said. He beat them, and so they are trying to destroy his reputation. It shouldn’t be surprising – these are the same asshats who have slandered the President as an illegitimate, communist, socialist, fascist dictator out to destroy America, a radical Muslim extremist collaborating with our most violent enemies to destroy our country. If they can pin all of that on the POTUS, surely they can comfortably smear the elected Vice President of the United States as a demented old drunk.

But it does beg the question: how can they keep a straight face as they suggest that Biden’s the one who’s being “disrespectful”?