Monday, August 13, 2012

Paul Ryan: (Innumerate) Mystery Boy (And What Les Mitterables' Choice Means for the Rethuglicans)

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"Randian Poseur?"

Hmmm. I couldn't have said it better myself. But wait . . . I have been saying exactly this. Will wonders never . . . .

Paulie Ryan is a mystery, you know. The biggest mystery about him being who (in powerful positions) saw integrity or ethics concerns in his shallow demeanor, how did they market him so successfully, and for how long will this tragic infatuation ensue? And . . . as he obviously can't do simple arithmetic (ask anyone who can), where did that budget come from?

(Stolen outright in speechless awe from the brilliant Urantian Sojourn.)

Ironically, Ryan came to national attention trying to dismantle the very program that helped him go to the college of his choice, pushing an even more radical version of President Bush’s Social Security privatization plan, which failed.

He has since become the scourge of the welfare state, a man wholly supported by government who preaches against the evils of government support. He could be the poster boy for President Obama’s supposedly controversial oration about how we all owe our success to some combination of our own hard work, family backing and government support.

Let’s say it together: You didn’t build that career by yourself, Congressman Ryan.

Paul Ryan: Randian Poseur

Sunday, Aug 12, 2012

Mitt Romney couldn't have chosen a better example of the fakery at the heart of today's GOP.

Paul Ryan: Randian poseur

(Credit: AP/Charles Dharapak/Salon/Benjamin Wheelock)

 Paul Ryan was born into a well-to-do Janesville, Wisc. family, part of the so-called “Irish mafia” that’s run the city’s construction industry since the 19th century. When his lawyer father died young, sadly, the high-school aged Ryan received Social Security survivor benefits. But they didn’t go directly to supporting his family; by his own account, he banked them for college.

He went to Miami University of Ohio, paying twice as much tuition as an Ohio resident would have; the in-state University of Wisconsin system (which I attended) apparently wasn’t good enough for Ryan. After his government-subsidized out-of-state education, the pride of Janesville left college and went to work for government, where he’s spent his entire career, first serving Republican legislators and then in his own Congressional seat, with occasional stints at his family-owned construction business when he needed a job (reportedly he also drove an Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile for a while).

. . . Thus Paul Ryan represents the fakery at the heart of the Republican project today. It starts with the contradiction that Mr. Free Enterprise has spent his life in the bosom of government, enjoying the added protection of wingnut welfare benefactors like the Koch brothers. If Herman Cain is Charles and David Koch’s “brother from another mother,” as he famously joked, Ryan is the fourth Koch, swaddled in support from Americans for Prosperity and other Koch fronts. The man who wants to make the world safe for swashbuckling, risk-taking capitalists hasn’t spent a day at economic risk in his entire life.
And have I mentioned the almost sickening analogy with the lame-brained choice of Sarah Palin last election? Oh yeah, baby. They both make sense when you don't think about them too hard (or know much about either's preparation or past). And don't they both look terrific to marketing people?

Is Paul Ryan A Worse VP Pick Than Sarah Palin?

August 12, 2012

OK, to even ask this question is to already concede the answer. Palin came into the 2008 campaign as a complete unknown, and part of the fun of that campaign was uncovering the surprising and unexpected depths of her ignorance. But she persevered, and she remains admired by large swaths of the American public.

Admittedly, it’s for the wrong things entirely — her ignorance, her self-absorption, her self-proclaimed victimhood — but still, you can’t deny she’s got spunk. But she’s also clever in a certain carnal way — she’s figured out how to make some dough on the side. Why else leave that springboard to political power, the governorship of Alaska?

And her career has certainly been peripatetic — she’s worked in public service (well, yes, she has), but she’s also bounced around in the private sector. Not in a particularly distinguished way, to be sure, but still, she worked for media companies as a broadcaster and reporter, and helped run her husband’s fishing business. In the scheme of things, this might not be much, but it’s at least something. At the end of the day,
I bet Sarah Palin knows what you need to do to meet a payroll.

Paul Ryan, on the other hand, appears to have never worked a day in the private sector in his life, except for some summer jobs working as a salesman for Oscar Meyer. Like much of the younger contingent that seems to have taken over the Republican party, he’s got an idealized views of markets, and how they work, without ever having spent any meaningful time in an activity actually governed by markets. He left university and headed directly into a bunch of political jobs working for US congressmen and senators, eventually getting himself elected to Congress in 1998, where he has been ever since. I don’t think Ryan has a clue about what’s involved in meeting a payroll.

When I grew up, and up until the last two decades, the Republican party was dominated by businessmen. Whatever their faults, and these were legion, they at least understood how business worked, and what was actually involved in market behavior. Which is one reason why many of them became politicians in the first place — to try to influence and indeed control markets. These days, though, to make it in the Republican party, outright experience in dealing with markets seems to be a disadvantage. All you need is some mystical Randian belief in markets.

So aside from the obvious baggage that Ryan brings — the fact that he doesn’t know arithmetic, for example, or that budget, which will now, along with Mitt’s tax issue, become the centerpiece of the campaign if the Obama people know what they’re doing, which they seem to — there’s this fact that the guy who could be a heartbeat away has never done anything in his life except work for the federal government. If the Obama people can’t do anything with that, they deserve to lose.

There also is, of course, the loooooooong game chat (which could take up a lot of media time until November without providing any illumination at all).

Paul Ryan and the Right’s Long Game

Ryan is a somewhat unique V.P. pick because his resume, personality, life story and geographic base aren’t really what landed him on Romney’s ticket. His budget blueprint did, though, and the basic principles behind it – dramatic changes in social safety net programs, in the tax code, and in the government’s basic spending priorities – will now dominate the fall campaign.

Republicans hope this will imbue their ticket with a feeling of purpose and mission, that swing voters will be inspired to see Romney and Ryan as a pair of courageous truth-tellers intent on tackling a Serious Issue. Democrats  hope those same voters will be alarmed by, say, Ryan’s call to turn Medicare into a voucher program, or by the massive cuts that would be required to make his numbers add up. Either way, the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee figures to play a central role in the 2012 race’s outcome.

But the electoral implications of the Ryan pick will extend well beyond November, because today’s developments also say something about Ryan’s place in the Republican Party and its future.

And then, of course, there's always this. Talk about the apple of their eye . . . .

Meet Paul Ryan:  Climate Denier, Conspiracy Theorist, Koch Acolyte

12 August 2012

Brad Johnson

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) during a campaign event for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, March 30, 2012. (Photo: Eric Thayer / The New York Times) Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) during a campaign event for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, March 30, 2012. (Photo: Eric Thayer / The New York Times) Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick, is a virulent denier of climate science, with a voting record to match.

A favorite of the Koch brothers, Ryan has accused scientists of engaging in conspiracy to “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.” He has implied that snow invalidates global warming.

Ryan has voted to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting greenhouse pollution, to eliminate White House climate advisers, to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture from preparing for climate disasters like the drought devastating his home state, and to eliminate the Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E):

Paul Ryan Promoted Unfounded Conspiracy Theories About Climate Scientists.

In a December 2009 op-ed during international climate talks, Ryan made reference to the hacked University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit emails. He accused climatologists of a “perversion of the scientific method, where data were manipulated to support a predetermined conclusion,” in order to “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.” Because of spurious claims of conspiracy like these, several governmental and academic inquiries were launched, all of which found the accusations to be without merit. [Paul Ryan, 12/11/09]
Paul Ryan Argued Snow Invalidates Global Warming Policy.

In the same anti-science, anti-scientist December 2009 op-ed, Ryan argued, “Unilateral economic restraint in the name of fighting global warming has been a tough sell in our communities, where much of the state is buried under snow.” Ryan’s line is especially disingenuous because he hasn’t been trying to sell climate action, he’s been spreading disinformation. [Paul Ryan, 12/11/09]

Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate EPA Limits On Greenhouse Pollution.

Ryan voted in favor of H.R. 910, introduced in 2011 by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas pollution. [Roll Call 249, 4/7/11]

Paul Ryan Voted To Block the USDA From Preparing For Climate Change.

In 2011, Ryan voted in favor of the Scalise (R-LA) Amendment to the FY12 Agriculture Appropriations bill, to bar the U.S. Department of Agriculture from implementing its Climate Protection Plan. [Roll Call 448, 6/16/11]

Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate White House Climate Advisers.

Ryan voted in favor of Scalise (R-LA) Amendment 204 to the 2011 Continuing Resolution, to eliminate the assistant to the president for energy and climate change, the special envoy for climate change (Todd Stern), and the special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation. [Roll Call 87, 2/17/11]

Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate ARPA-E.

Ryan voted in favor of Biggert (R-IL) Amendment 192 to the 2011 Continuing Resolution, to eliminate the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E). [Roll Call 55, 2/17/11]

Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate Light Bulb Efficiency Standards.

In 2011, Ryan voted to roll back light-bulb efficiency standards that had reinvigorated the domestic lighting industry and that significantly reduce energy waste and carbon pollution. [Roll Call 563, 7/12/11]

Paul Ryan Voted For Keystone XL.

In 2011, Ryan voted to expedite the consideration and approval of the construction and operation of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. [Roll Call 650, 7/26/11]

Paul Ryan Budget Kept Big Oil Subsidies And Slashed Clean Energy Investment.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed FY 2013 budget resolution retained a decade’s worth of oil tax breaks worth $40 billion, while slashing funding for investments in clean energy research, development, deployment, and commercialization, along with other energy programs. The plan called for a $3 billion cut in energy programs in FY 2013 alone. [CAP, 3/20/12]

In short, Paul Ryan stands with Big Oil against scientific fact and the future of human civilization.

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