Now that the Olympics are over and the GOP slate-making is done, it seems like the presidential campaign is fully underway. The upcoming party conventions, beginning with the 'pubs in Tampa and then the Dems in Charlotte, will be full-blown media shows highlighting their candidates, platforms and visions for the future. . . BECAUSE THE CANDIDATES are identified and the party positions pretty clear, the "officialness" of the events will take on a bit of a rubber stamp feel. I noticed this last weekend as the GOP amen-choir locked in behind their new (and, in my judgment, flawed) VP candidate the same day the Democratic platform committee met in Detroit to bless a document without the usual (for Democrats) hooting, hollering and grousing. - - - AS FOR PAUL RYAN as the Republican choice for VP, it certainly has energized the party base and has excited the party's big donors. And why not? Those millionaires and billionaires will benefit most from the policies articulated so clearly by young Mr. Ryan. . . . In making this choice, Mr. Romney caved to the right wing money interests, effectively outsourcing "what he believes" to somebody else - in this case the author of the controversial budget plan the US Catholic bishops say fails the moral test, and observers say ends our cherished tradition of a social contract between the generations. . . .The Paul Ryan Budget represents Robin Hood in reverse - cutting the upper tax rates and raising taxes on 18 million low income families...it pushes the families of 2 million children into poverty... It takes food stamps from 8 million of "the least of these"...and on and on. - - - THIS IS NOT THE AMERICA most of us want. This is not the society that appeals to our higher angels. This is selfish! . . . And when it comes to how the GOP views seniors (who had been polling at 60% for Romney) - this is another area well worth our thoughtful criticism... Do we want to privatize Social Security, effectively killing it? Do we want to phase out Medicare? Do we want to return to the days before Obamacare with insurance companies dropping those with pre-existing conditions and children living with their parents? - - - Let's have the national conversation, but I think, in the end, the American people will say NO to ending Social Security, NO to ending Medicare, NO to rolling back health care reform, NO to the Paul Ryan budget and NO to the GOP ticket. .. Let the debate begin!