Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan Repeatedly Declines To Detail GOP Plan For O-care Subsidies (VIDEO)

Wallace then asked specifically whether the GOP plan would make sure that all Americans with subsidies could keep them.

Ryan said he would not go into details because congressional Republicans want to see the “nature of the ruling.”

He then refused to answer whether Republicans would include in their fix a provision to eliminate the individual mandate.

Wallace later reminded Ryan that the GOP has yet to propose an alternative to the Affordable Care Act.

“For all the complaints, Congressman, we’re five years into Obamacare and Republicans have still not come up with a coherent plan that will ensure that all of those millions of uninsured people get coverage,” Wallace said.

Watch the video via Mediaite:

CAITLIN MACNEAL

Jeb Bush’s Favorite Author Rejects Democracy, Says The Hyper-Rich Should Seize Power

Colonial British monarchs would find a lot to like in Charles Murray's new book against democracy

Pre-Revolutionary kings would find a lot to like in Charles Murray’s new book against democracy | CREDIT: PUBLIC DOMAIN VIA WIKIPEDIA

THINK PROGRESS

At the height of 2011’s debt ceiling crisis, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered a candid explanation of why his party was willing to threaten permanent harm to the U.S. economy unless Congress agreed to change our founding document. “The Constitution must be amended to keep the government in check,” McConnell alleged. “We’ve tried persuasion. We’ve tried negotiations. We’ve tried elections. Nothing has worked.”

The amendment McConnell and his fellow Republicans sought was misleadingly named the “Balanced Budget Amendment” — a name that was misleading not because it was inaccurate, but because it was incomplete. The amendment wouldn’t have simply forced a balanced budget at the federal level, it would have forced spending cuts that were so severe that they would have cost 15 million people their jobs and caused “the economy to shrink by about 17 percent instead of growing by an expected 2 percent,” according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. It was, in essence, an effort to permanently impose Tea Party economics on the nation, and to use a manufactured crisis to do so.

Few politicians are willing to admit what McConnell admitted when he confessed that elections have not “worked” to bring about the policy Republicans tried to impose on the nation in 2011. Elected officials, after all, only hold their jobs at the sufferance of the voters, and a politician who openly admits that they only believe in democracy insofar as it achieves their desired ends gives the middle finger to those voters and to the very process that allows those voters to have a say in how they are governed.

Charles Murray, an author who GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush recently named first when he was asked which books have had a big impact upon him, is not an elected official, so he is free to rail against democracy to his heart’s content. And that is exactly what he does in his new book, By The People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission.

Pay no attention to the title. Government “by the people” is the last thing Murray cares to see. Murray admits that the kind of government he seeks, a libertarian fantasy where much of our nation’s regulatory and welfare state has been dismantled, is “beyond the reach of the electoral process and the legislative process.” He also thinks it beyond the branch of government that is appointed by elected officials. The Supreme Court, Murray claims, “destroyed” constitutional “limits on the federal government’s spending authority” when it upheld Social Security in 1937. Since then, the federal government has violated a “tacit compact” establishing that it would not “unilaterally impose a position on the moral disputes that divided America” (Murray traces the voiding of this compact to 1964, the year that Congress banned whites-only lunch counters).

King George’s Revenge

Murray is probably best known for co-authoring 1994’s The Bell Curve, a quasi-eugenic tract which argued that black people are genetically disposed to be less intelligent that white people. Yet, while The Bell Curvepractically spawned an entire field of scholarship devoted to debunking it,” Murray remains one of the most influential conservative thinkers in America today.

Dr. Murray’s pre-Bell Curve work shaped the welfare reforms enacted in the 1990s. Former Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan cited Murray in 2014 to claim that there is a culture of laziness “in our inner cities in particular.” Last April, when Jeb Bush was asked what he liked to read, he replied “I like Charles Murray books to be honest with you, which means I’m a total nerd I guess.”

So when Murray speaks, powerful and influential men (and his acolytes are, almost invariably, men) listen, including men who shape our nation’s fiscal policy and men who could be president someday.

By The People, however, rejects outright the idea that Murray’s vision for a less generous and well-regulated society can be achieved through appeals to elected officials — or even through appeals to unelected judges. The government Murray seeks is “not going to happen by winning presidential elections and getting the right people appointed to the Supreme Court.” Rather, By The People, is a call for people sympathetic to Murray’s goals — and most importantly, for fantastically rich people sympathetic to those goals — to subvert the legitimate constitutional process entirely.

“The emergence of many billion-dollar-plus private fortunes over the last three decades,” Murray writes, “has enabled the private sector to take on ambitious national or even international tasks that formerly could be done only by nation-states.” Murray’s most ambitious proposal is a legal defense fund, which “could get started if just one wealthy American cared enough to contribute, say, a few hundred million dollars,” that would essentially give that wealthy American veto power over much of U.S. law.

Murray, in other words, would rather transfer much of our sovereign nation’s power to govern itself to a single privileged individual than continue to live under the government America’s voters have chosen. It’s possible that no American has done more to advance the cause of monarchy since Benedict Arnold.

Madison’s Ghost

One of the heroes of By The People is James Madison, or, at least, a somewhat ahistoric depiction of Madison favored by Murray. Madison, as Murray correctly notes, favored an interpretation of the Constitution that would have made much of the modern regulatory and welfare state impossible (other members of the founding generation, including George Washington, interpreted the Constitution much more expansively than Madison). Thus, Murray states in his introduction, “[i]f we could restore limited government as Madison understood it, all of our agendas would be largely fulfilled.” Murray even names his proposal for a billionaire-funded organization intended to thwart governance the “Madison Fund.”

In Murray’s narrative, Madison becomes a Lovecraftian deity — dead, but not entirely dead, and still capable of working ill in American society. In his house at Montpelier, dead James Madison waits dreaming.

The real James Madison would be shocked by this suggestion that his dead-but-dreaming tentacle could reach into the future and re-instigate long-settled battles over the Constitution. Needless to say, the view Murray attributes to Madison — the view that, among other things, would lead to Social Security being declared unconstitutional — did not prevail in American history. And Madison, unlike Murray, was reluctant to displace well-settled constitutional law. As a congressman, Madison opposed the creation of the First Bank of the United States on constitutional grounds. Yet, as president, Madison signed the law creating a Second Bank. He explained that the nation had accepted the First Bank, and he viewed this acceptance as “a construction put on the Constitution by the nation, which, having made it, had the supreme right to declare its meaning.”

Madison, it should also be noted, admitted late in life that his reading of the Constitution was not consistent with the document’s text. Nevertheless, he argued that “[t]o take [the Constitution’s words] in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

To his credit, Murray acknowledges that undoing the entire post-New Deal state is not a realistic goal. The Supreme Court, he laments, “never overturns a decision like Helvering,” the 1937 case upholding Social Security, “because such a ruling would not be obeyed and the Court’s legitimacy would be shattered.” Yet the limits Murray would impose on the federal government are simply breathtaking. All employment law, according to Murray, must be subject to the strictest level of constitutional scrutiny. So must all land use regulation, and all laws that fall into vague categories Murray describes as regulations that “prescribe best practice in a craft or profession” or that “prevent people from taking voluntary risks.”

If these limits were actually imposed on the federal government, the minimum wage, overtime laws, most environmental protections and financial reforms, many worker safety laws and even, potentially, anti-discrimination laws would all fall by the wayside.

The Koch Veto

To impose these limits on society, Murray claims that his Madison Fund can essentially harass the government into compliance. The federal government, Murray claims, cannot enforce the entirety of federal law “without voluntary public compliance.” Federal resources are limited, and only a small fraction of these limited resources have been directed towards enforcement. Thus, Murray argues, by simply refusing to comply with the law and contesting every enforcement action in court, regulated entities can effectively drain the government’s resources and prevent it from engaging in meaningful enforcement.

The Madison Fund would spearhead this campaign of harassment, defending “people who are technically guilty of violating regulations that should not exist, drawing out that litigation as long as possible, making enforcement of the regulations more expensive to the regulatory agency than they’re worth, and reimbursing fines that are levied.”

There are, of course, a number of practical obstacles to this plan. One, as Murray acknowledges, is the need to find enough people with “billion-dollar-plus private fortune[s]” who are willing to contribute to such a campaign. Another is the need to find lawyers willing to risk their law licenses in order to become pawns in Murray’s game. Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires attorneys to certify that they are not filing court documents “for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation.” The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Model Rules of Processional Conduct provide that a “lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous.” Admittedly, lawyers have more leeway in criminal cases, but the legal profession generally frowns upon attorneys who engage in the kind of legally meritless harassment Murray proposes.

Nevertheless, Murray’s proposal cannot be dismissed out of hand simply because it is built upon a foundation of frivolous litigation. The first Supreme Court case attacking Obamacare was widely derided as meritless — an ABA poll of legal experts found that 85 percent believed that the law would be upheld. And yet the justices came within a hair of repealing the entire law. The lawyers behind a more recent attack on the Affordable Care Act, King v. Burwell, make demonstrably false claims about the history of the law, and they rely upon a completely unworkable method of interpreting statutes. But that hasn’t stopped at least some members of the Supreme Court from taking this lawsuit seriously. Conservatives simply have more leeway to assert meritless legal arguments than they once did.

Continue reading here…

Paul Ryan Went On Fox News To Defend Amtrak Safety Funding. It Didn’t Go Well.

Paul Ryan on Fox News Channel

Paul Ryan on Fox News Channel | CREDIT: FOX NEWS

THINK PROGRESS

At least seven people died and 200 were injured in Tuesday’s Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia — even though technology exists that could have prevented the tragedy. A day after his Republican colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines to cut about one-fifth of Amtrak’s budget, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) incorrectly claimed that Congress had already funded implementing the safety system it mandated in 2008.

Positive Train Control (PTC) would allow railroads to use GPS to stop or slow trains in cases of driver emergencies, switches left in the wrong position, hijacking, natural disasters, or other human error. Seven years ago, Congress enacted the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which required the nation’s busiest railroad operators to have these technologies fully in place by December 2015. Though Amtrak’s president has called PTC “the most important rail safety advancement of our time,” the chronicallycash-strapped Amtrak has struggled to put in place its Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES) PTC technology system on the timetable it planned and the section of track where Tuesday’s accident occurred lacks it. The train was reportedly traveling at more than 100 miles per hour in a 50 MPH zone. Robert Sumwalt, the National Transportation Safety Board official leading the investigation into Tuesday’s crash, made clear on Wednesday, “Based on what we know right now, we feel that had such a system been installed on this section of track, this accident would not have occurred.”

Paul Ryan, who has made budget cuts a top priority, warned in a Fox News interview on Thursday that Congress cannot “rush to judgment and try doubling the size of government programs” in response to what he believes was “human error.”

Ryan noted that Congress had already “authorized and mandated the sort of speed control systems to be put in place,” though he noted “it wasn’t put in place here at this time.” Asked by Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade whether Congress had actually funded those systems, Ryan claimed that they had.

“Yes!” Ryan responded, “Yeah, we already passed an Amtrak funding, an authorization bill earlier this year. And the appropriations process is working its way through right now.”

Ryan did not note that this appropriation would be well below Amtrak’s request which had included millions for PTC — and below even the past several years’ funding levels. And if Congress had provided the necessary funds to install PTC across the country, there would be no need for a Senate bill filed just weeks ago to delay the implementation deadline from December 2015 to 2020.

Watch the video:

Ryan said he hoped “cooler heads can prevail” and “people won’t seize on political opportunities out of tragedies like this” to spend more money. Asked whether he thought rebuilding America’s infrastructure should be a priority, Ryan noted that the Highway Trust Fund goes bankrupt later this month but that he would not back tax increases for infrastructure improvement as “we can do better by saving more money [and] being more efficient.”

Ayn Rand’s philosophy of selfishness has a deep influence on the mindset of the right

A postage stamp showing an image of Ayn Rand, circa 1999 (catwalker / Shutterstock.com)

A postage stamp showing an image of Ayn Rand, circa 1999 (catwalker / Shutterstock.com)

The Raw Story

Ayn Rand (1904-82) has arisen from the dead. Over the last decade the pop philosopher and propaganda fictionist extraordinaire has moved steadily from the cultish margins to the mainstream of US conservatism.

Her ghost may even haunt the current presidential race with the candidacy of Republican Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian darling who received a set of Ayn Rand books for his 17th birthday.

In her bestselling books and essays, Rand frankly celebrated selfishness and greed – and the underside of this celebration is a scorn toward and demonization of any simple caring about other human beings. Such a stance has become a hidden, yet driving force behind such loaded catchphrases as “spending cuts” and, more grandiosely, “limited government.”

In a larger sense, though, Rand had never died. Sales of her books remained steadily in the six figures in the years following her demise, their underground influence an unacknowledged-if-discomforting fact of American life. A couple of reader surveys carried out in the 1990s by Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of Congress, and by the Modern Library imprint, showed Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead near the top of the polling results, according to author Brian Doherty. And, in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, sales of her works tripled.

Randianism, what she called Objectivism, now exists as a mass phenomenon, a grass-roots presence, a kind of folklore. “Who Is John Galt?”, her recurring slogan from Atlas Shrugged, can be seen on placards at Tea Party rallies, on leaflets casually affixed to telephone poles or on the shopping bags of Lululemon Athletics, the Canadian sports apparel company. The firm’s CEO, Chip Wilson, is an avowed Rand fan. So are the current corporate chiefs at Exxon, Sears, the BB & T Bank in North Carolina and the funky Whole Foods chain.

And of course, there’s Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, who started out in the 1950s as Rand’s star disciple and never in the course of his career was to abjure the special relationship.

Rand and the mindset of the right

Randthought, which I discuss in my book, On Nabokov, Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Mind, serves as a major doctrinal component within the mindset of the libertarian, the latter being the most significant American ideological development of the last 35 years.

The title of a 1971 book by Jerome Tuccille (a libertarian journalist and Libertarian Party candidate for governor of New York State in 1974) says all: It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand. Rand’s fan base has since grown to include Paul Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice-presidential nominee, who in 2005 openly credited Rand with his having entered government service and who reportedly has had his staffers read the market guru’s books.

Rand did not invent libertarianism. The thinking, sans the name, had been around since at least the 1920s. And her contemporaries, economists such as Milton Friedman and the so-called Austrian School, gave the set of ideas academic standing and respectability. In Rand’s truculent fiction, however, an abstract theory effectively took on flesh via dashing heroes and unabashed hero worship, vivid myths and technological magic, page-turning suspense and torrid, violent sex. For every studious reader of economist Friedrich von Hayek, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of eager devourers of Rand.

Curiously, an aging Rand loathed libertarians, attacked them as “scum,” “hippies of the right” and “a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people.” She hated them in great measure because, in her view, they had adopted her economic principles yet ignored her total “philosophy.” (Rand also disliked any situation over which she couldn’t exercise personal control.)

Her heirs and successors in the so-called Objectivist camp have since waged a kind of sectarian cold war with libertarians. One thinks of the split between Stalinists and Trotskyists or between Social Democrats and Communists.

Meanwhile the libertarians themselves have gone their merry way with their political party (the nation’s third largest) and Tea Parties, and with their myriad think tanks and media organs.

The GOP’s fraught affair with Rand

In the interim, starting with Ronald Reagan, the GOP has absorbed selected aspects of the rhetoric and larger aims of the libertarian purists (much as the New Deal did once pick and choose rhetoric and programs from the socialist left). At the same time, official party conservatism took to cultivating the evangelical Christian sectors, marshaling issues such as abortion and evolution in an aggressive bid to gain favor with fundamentalist voters.

In addition, picking up from the “Southern Strategy” of Republicans in the 1970s who wooed Southern Democrats by catering to racial tensions, candidates and publicists now play on continuing resentment over the Civil War defeat and the Civil Rights struggles. They deflect blame onto “Big Government” for any and all ills, much as libertarians and Randians are wont to do. The result is a marriage of convenience, an uneasy alliance between a pro-market, secular Right and the older, faith-based forces who make common cause against a perceived common enemy.

Rand, ironically, was an outspoken atheist, a fact that eventually led VP candidate Paul Ryan to publicly repudiate her “atheist philosophy,” claiming disingenuously that his once-touted Randianism was merely an “urban legend,” and that, as a Catholic, his thought came rather from St Thomas Aquinas.

Still, whatever these doctrinal differences, Rand’s vision will continue to provide inspiration and intellectual ammunition for the foot soldiers of US conservatism, libertarian or otherwise.

In many respects, America is becoming — in echo of the title of a book by journalist Gary Weiss — an “Ayn Rand Nation.”

The ConversationBy Gene H. Bell-Villada, Williams College

Paul Ryan’s stunning hypocrisy: The little-noticed way the GOP proved it’s full of it

Paul Ryan's stunning hypocrisy: The little-noticed way the GOP proved it's full of it

Paul Ryan | Credit: AP/John Minchillo

SALON ~ 

GOP’s still banging the “Grubergate” drum — but an under-the-radar push from Ryan shows they don’t mean a word

As a general rule, I try not to write about hypocrisy in politics. It’s such a constant, such a fact of life, that it can feel a bit like complaining about traffic or the weather.

But just as there’s a difference between waiting an extra 20 minutes during rush hour and being stranded in your car for five days — or between a typical snowstorm and what’s happening currently in Buffalo — there’s a difference between the routine hypocrisy of politics and the kind we saw this week from Republicans in the House. One kind is an annoyance to be quickly forgotten; the other leaves a mark.

Before getting into why they’re so egregious, however, let’s pause to recap the Congressional GOP’s recent machinations.

Aware no doubt of how President Obama’s announcement this week on immigration reform would dominate both the media and the public’s attention, Republicans in the House, led by Rep. Paul Ryan, have been working to make sure the next head of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) — which acts as Congress’s honest broker when it comes to scoring fiscal policy — is not a nonpartisan technocrat, as has usually been the case, but rather a loyal member of the conservative movement. And, as former CBO chief Peter Orszag recently explained, because the CBO has no institutional protections from partisan hackery, and maintains its integrity mostly through tradition, there’s precious little anyone can do to stop them.

While there are no doubt many changes ideologues like Ryan would like to see the CBO make, reports indicate that the main reason GOPers want to install a right-wing hack as its chief is in order to make the agency integrate “dynamic scoring” more fully into its estimations. “Dynamic scoring,” for those who don’t know, is a phrase conservatives like to use to give a tenet of their anti-tax religion — lower taxes lead to more revenue! — an intellectual gloss. More importantly, dynamic scoring is generally the special sauce right-wing “wonks” put into their projections in order to claim that massively cutting taxes on the rich won’t lead to fiscal ruin. Remember the absurd claim that Bush’s tax cuts wouldn’t explode deficits? Thank dynamic scoring for that.

So that’s what’s happening under the radar with the CBO. And if that were the whole story, it’d probably fall under into the “routine traffic and weather” category of hypocrisy I mentioned earlier. What makes this more of a Buffalo snowstorm-level problem is the context — specifically, the fact that Republicans are destroying yet another norm of American politics, the nonpartisan CBO, at the very same time that they’re waging a relentless and disingenuous campaign to persuade the media (and thus the American people) that the way the Affordable Care Act was written was a breach of democratic norms without precedent.

Yes, this is where “Grubergate,” the most recent of the GOP’s seemingly endless supply of manufactured outrages, comes in. If you’re not familiar with this tempest in a teapot, I recommend you catch up by reading my colleague Joan Walsh. But for our purposes here, all you need to know is that Republicans have been devoting a ton of energy toward making MIT’s Jonathan Gruber’s admission, that the White House designed Obamacare with the likely political ramifications of the CBO score in mind, equivalent to the 18-minute gap in the Nixon tapes. Because the president knew that calling something in the bill a “penalty” instead of a “tax” would make it harder for conservatives to scream that Obamacare was the tax hike to end all tax hikes — as they did (and are still doing) with Hillarycare — that means, conservatives argue, that the bill itself was only able to pass through the most dastardly lies.

As BuzzFeed’s Adam Serwer noted, the Grubergate politicking is most likely an attempt to lay the groundwork for defending a possible future Supreme Court gutting of the ACA. (Although Gruber’s confirming the right’s suspicions of liberal technocrat elitism and piggishness, by calling voters stupid, is operational, too.) But when you see it through the lens of Ryan’s dynamic scoring push, you’re confronted with a level of bullshit that is flabbergasting — even in the context of partisan politics. According to Paul Ryan and other Republicans, it is absolutely not OK for a president to design a bill in a way that makes it harder for its opponents to demagogue. It is not OK to write a bill and think of the CBO at all. What is OK, apparently, is corrupting it from within.

Jeb Bush Tells Poor People To Stop Mooching and Get Married

Jeb Bush, Rudolph Guiliani and NY donors/AP Photo/John Minchillo

PoliticusUSA

Yahoo ran with “Bush, Ryan focus on poverty while courting donors,” but even they were dubious.

It’s getting tough for conservatives to keep selling the people the lies that tax cuts for the rich will trickle down one happy fine day. So Monday night, as Former Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush played Mix and Mingle with the GOP New York elites and Wall Street’s big donors, he put on his best Compassionate Con salesman act.

Buried under Bush’s sweet talk about immigration reform and the importance of education (oh, a reasonable Republican, the country will squeal with delight and relief!), was this, according to Politico:

He (Bush) praised Ryan, who was the evening’s first speaker, saying, “When it comes to the American family, Paul Ryan has it right.”

“A loving family taking care of their children in a traditional marriage will create the chance to break out of poverty far better, far better than any of the government programs that we can create,” Bush said.

This is hardly the first time in history the elites have preyed upon the religious “values” they instill in the masses in order to keep them under control. Somehow Republicans always have a divine right to speak for God, and lucky for them, God wants the rich to get all of the government resources.

Thus, same sex marriage is bad and you single moms and your kids must suffer because you are morally not entitled to government subsidies like the oil companies are. If only GOP God loved people like he does money. Jesus loved the money changers, y’all!

I hope you lazy people get it. Marry a person of the opposite sex and your poverty will go away. Also, no divorce ladies, even after that forced birth, post being raped. Traditional marriage solves everything in fairy land. Bottom line message: “So sorry about your poverty, but not! LOL, Love, GOP.”

What did Ryan get “right” about the American family? Yahoo reported:

Having toured the country in recent months focusing on the nation’s poor, Ryan declared that “the best way to turn from a vicious cycle of despair and learned hopelessness to a virtuous cycle of hope and flourishing is by embracing the attributes of friendship, accountability and love.”

“That’s how you fight poverty,” Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 vice presidential nominee, told a crowd of roughly 750 dressed in tuxedos and gowns.

Oh, yes. Friendship has long cured poverty, y’all. That and marrying someone of the opposite sex.

No one ever said you had to be smart to get rich, or that the black ties imparted some sort of wisdom or character that would enable those wearing them to overcome their own egos and ravenous greed. These attributes are exactly why Republicans can’t get it right. They are too far removed from the people, too far gone, and selling outdated, moldy spam deliberately mislabeled as caviar.

And then there was this bit, which makes me weep for all of the lovely caring of the black tie crowd – if only Bush hadn’t ruined it all by explaining that the best way to elevate people out of poverty is through being nice to them and having them marry the right sex; not with opportunity or emergency help or say, food.

Both Bush and Ryan emphasized messages before the black-tie crowd at Cipriani in Midtown of elevating people out of poverty. But even though Ryan is still believed to be considering running for president, he got relatively little attention compared with Bush.

Translation: Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan emphasized how they would con the people into supporting policies that would put the poor into further jeopardy. Bush and Ryan helped the elite explain why it’s okay to let your neighbor’s kids starve; you’re just being kind, after all, poverty is best helped with moral judgment and condemnation made by mere mortals who claim divine authority (just like our founders intended).

Former Mayor Rudy Guiliani, who used to love disgraced bully Chris Christie (R-NJ), was breathless with hope. Jeb would make a “heck of a leader”, he sighed to Politico, saying he hoped we’d find out. Yes, the country is so ready for another Bush. By 2016 we may have just pulled ourselves out of the bottomless pit partially brought on by the very policies Jeb Bush is championing for the rich.

Republicans are always in search of pretty, charismatic, Big Daddy or a kind face willing to sell their message of trickle down economics. Bush won the fight for most favored con artist last night, since Ryan was busted by those nuns for his austerity budget in a most public manner as he ran for Vice President in 2012.

Jeb Bush’s comments weren’t supposed to sound Romeny-esque and out of touch, after all, Jeb Bush is the latest Great White Hope To Sell the Con, and that is why Republicans are rediscovering him in spite of his last name.

Republicans can believe anything. Even, it seems, that poverty is best addressed with traditional marriage instead of government programs…

… So long as that message is accompanied with tax cuts and government subsidies for their fellow black ties.

Diagnosing Paul Ryan’s psychopathy: Arrogant, manipulative, deceitful, remorseless

Diagnosing Paul Ryan's psychopathy: Arrogant, manipulative, deceitful, remorseless

Paul Ryan (Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

Salon

Paul Krugman revealed Ryan’s big con years ago. It’s gotten worse. Why does anyone take him seriously on policy?

If the GOP as a whole has pretty much given up on the whole “rebranding” thing, their 2012 vice presidential nominee, Congressman Paul Ryan, most definitely has not. In fact, rebranding is pretty much his thing, regardless of how credible — or incredible, actually — his efforts may be.

For years, Ryan touted himself as an avid Ayn Rand disciple, until he didn’t in early 2012, even calling it “an urban legend” that he had anything serious to do with Rand at all. He then tried to present the latest iteration of his draconian soak-the-poor/shower the rich budget proposal as grounded in Catholic social teaching, rather than Rand’s fiercely anti-Christian philosophy, a claim that the conservative U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops soundly rejected, writing that his proposed budget failed to meet certain “moral criteria” by disproportionately cutting programs that “serve poor and vulnerable people.”

Now, seeking to put all memory of the “47 percent” campaign behind him, Ryan’s trying to take that reinvention to a whole new level. He’s still touting a budget that dramatically slashes spending on programs that benefit Americans of limited means — 69 percent of all cuts — including $137 billion from food stamps, 24 percent or $732 billion from Medicaid, and $125 billion from Pell Grants, among others — while giving millionaires an average tax cut of at least $200,000. Yet, at the same time, Ryan is trying to reinvent himself as someone who’s serious about fighting poverty, only from a conservative perspective.



Setting the massive contradictions aside for the moment, it’s not an absurd idea in theory. The modern European welfare state was actually invented by conservatives, beginning in Germany, under the first post-unification chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. But this happened in the face of a powerful socialist movement, amidst tremendous dislocations, as well as international pressures that gave German elites powerful reasons to want to make life in Germany much more tolerable for the German people as a whole. In short, when the real-world political incentives are there, history shows that conservatives really can find effective ways to help fight poverty. The only problem is, the solutions they come up are the very thing that cause conservatives today, like Ryan and his Tea Party brethren, to foam at the mouth, and call “socialism!”

And so he came up with his 204-page report, The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later, a con job, as Paul Krugman called it, but that was hardly a surprise. Con jobs are a Ryan’s specialty, More on that later.

What was a surprise, at least to some, was the utter clumsiness of how Ryan’s new focus on poverty got him into trouble on race. He went onto Bill Bennett’s radio show and channelled Newt Gingrich from the 2012 primaries:

We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.

Ryan also cited Charles Murray, white nationalist author of “The Bell Curve.” While many people took him to be speaking in racial code, it was arguably even worse if he was not, as Brian Beutler pointed out:

But if Ryan genuinely stumbled heedless into a racial tinderbox then it suggests he, and most likely many other conservatives, has fully internalized a framing of social politics that wasdeliberately crafted to appeal to white racists without regressing to the uncouth language of explicit racism, and written its origins out of the history.

Of course, something like this has actually happened repeatedly throughout the history of white supremacy in America: True origins are constantly being erased, nefarious intentions hidden, unspeakable injustices naturalized. But what I find fascinating about Ryan is how self-assuredly he switches from all-knowing to naif, without for a moment even thinking this might tarnish his moral authority in any way. He later said his comments had “nothing to do” with race, and the next day issued a statement saying, “After reading the transcript of yesterday morning’s interview, it is clear that I was inarticulate about the point I was trying to make.” There was no sense of moral responsibility at all, no sense that he owed anyone an apology. (This is all quite typical of a psychopathic personality — as will be touched on below.) But he did have to do something, from a political point of view.

And so he met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus this Wednesday, in order to try to pretend to have a dialogue on poverty. It was not very much of a success. “We didn’t get a whole lot accomplished,” CBC chair Marcia Fudge said to the press afterward, but Ryan found it easy to pretend otherwise. “What is good out of this is that we need to talk about better ideas on getting at the root cause of poverty, to try and break the cycle of poverty.” Ryan also spoke about the need to “improve the tone” in the conversation about poverty — something that he himself might have thought about earlier, no?

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Paul Ryan’s race flap even worse than it looks

Paul Ryan's race flap even worse than it looks

Paul Ryan (Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

Salon

The notion that Ryan was dog-whistling to racists is actually the best-case scenario. Here’s the scary alternative

I spent a depressing amount of time this weekend trying to think up a scenario in which someone might say the following without being motivated, to at least some degree, by malign intent.

“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

What I came up with was strained and unlikely, but troubling if true.

In case you slept through last week, the person who said this was congressman and one-time GOP vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. It ignited a fairly heated debate over whether he was intentionally trafficking in racial code words to pander to white conservatives. Ryan claims he spoke inarticulately and was thus misunderstood. For proponents of the dog-whistle theory, the fact that Ryan cited Charles Murray, author of “The Bell Curve,” was the smoking gun.

For my part, I don’t think they need a smoking gun, because Occam’s razor does all the dirty work. You can take Murray completely out of the equation and the likelihood that Ryan wasn’t at least subconsciously playing to the prejudices of resentful or racist whites is pretty low.

But let’s assume Ryan’s playing it straight, and his defenders, like Slate’s Dave Weigel, are correct when they argue that this is just how Ryan and other conservatives “think about welfare’s effects on social norms.” If that’s true, it’s actually a bigger problem for the right. If Ryan was even a little bit aware of how people would interpret his remarks, or understood the reaction to them when it exploded online, we could just say that some conservatives want to play the Southern Strategy at least one more round, and leave it at that. Close the book on this controversy, without drawing any larger conclusions about the state of conservative self-deception.

But if Ryan genuinely stumbled heedless into a racial tinderbox then it suggests he, and most likely many other conservatives, has fully internalized a framing of social politics that wasdeliberately crafted to appeal to white racists without regressing to the uncouth language of explicit racism, and written its origins out of the history. If that’s the case it augurs poorly for those in the movement who are trying to broaden the Republican Party’s appeal, because it’s easier to convince people to abandon a poor tactic than to unlearn rotten ideology.



In his 1984 book “The Two Party South,” political scientist Alexander Lamis quoted a conservative operative later revealed to be Ronald Reagan confidant Lee Atwater, who traced the evolution.

”You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘N—-r, n—-r, n—-r,’” Atwater explained. “By 1968 you can’t say ‘n—-r’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘N—-r, n—-r.”’

Treating intergenerational laziness of inner-city men as established truth, and bemoaning the ways social spending programs supposedly nurture that “culture,” blends seamlessly into Atwater’s framework.

Weigel interprets the fact that Charles Murray has lately softened his claims as exculpation for Ryan and other conservatives who cite him. But Murray’s just following a social Darwinist’s rendition of the trajectory Atwater traced. I suspect both men are wiser to their intentions than their apologists give them credit for. There are ways to promote conservative social policies that aren’t remotely racialized — they just don’t ignite the passions of resentful white people in a politically meaningful way. If I’m wrong, though, conservatives better hope the party doesn’t nominate Ryan or any like-minded thinkers in 2016.

A quick point of trivia: I first learned about Atwater’s comments years ago, in this New York Times column by Bob Herbert questioning why anybody was surprised to hear GOP education secretary-cum-talk radio host Bill Bennett say, “I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose — you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.”

Guess whose program Ryan was a guest on when he stepped in it last week?

If Paul Ryan Is A ‘Moderate,’ I’m The Easter Bunny

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AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta

Ha…

TPM Cafe – Opinion

It is a sign of how far right the Republican Party has moved that New York Timescolumnist Ross Douthat describes Rep. Paul Ryan as a “moderate.”

In his column on Sunday, “Four Factions, No Favorite,” Douthat looked at the likely candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Drawing on an article by Henry Olsen in the conservative journal National Interest, Douthat divides the GOP core voters into four groups: centrist (“think John McCain’s 2000 supporters, or Jon Huntsman’s rather smaller 2012 support”), moderately conservative (“think the typical Mitt Romney or Bob Dole voter”), socially conservative (“think Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum backers”), and very conservative but more secular (“think Gingrich voters last time, or Steve Forbes voters much further back”).

Reviewing the stellar cast of likely GOP wannabes for 2016 (Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Ryan), Douthat sorts them into the four categories and guesses which of them might have enough crossover appeal to more than one subgroup to be viable candidates.

By labeling Ryan a “moderate conservative,” Douthat provides lots of wiggle room for defining just what that means. But in any rational look at the spectrum of American political views, it is hard to imagine attaching the word “moderate” to Ryan on any issue, except perhaps his clothing preferences and his haircut.

You can look on a variety of websites — including The Daily BeastOn the Issues,Project Vote Smart, and The Political Guide — to see Ryan’s voting record and statements on issues.

What you’ll find is a politician whose remains an acolyte of novelist Ayn Rand, the philosopher of you’re-on-your-own selfishness, whose books have been required reading for Ryan’s congressional staffers.

On taxes, business regulation, abortion, gun control, gay rights, campaign finance, financial reform, anti-poverty programs, immigration, workers’ rights, energy and the environment, deficit spending, privatizing Social Security, public transportation, unemployment insurance, health care, property rights, and other issues, Ryan is hardly a “moderate.” He’s not even a “moderate conservative.” He’s an extremist and a reactionary, allergic to compromise, in lockstep with the tea party, the NRA, and the conservative wing of the business establishment, represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which views any government regulation to protect consumers, workers and the environment as a “job killer.”

These groups now dominate the GOP. But in earlier times, the GOP was a much larger tent, with room for a variety of viewpoints. For most of the 20th century, most of the conservative business class were Republicans (think Calvin Coolidge and Robert Taft), but there were also very progressive Republicans like Theodore Roosevelt, Robert La Follette, and Fiorello La Guardia who challenged the power of big business and promoted consumer and worker rights. (Until the 1960s, most of the racial reactionaries were Southern Democrats, but the GOP had its share of racists too.)

Up through the 1970s, there was still a species called “liberal Republican,” in the mold of Senators Jacob Javits, Clifford Case, George Aiken, Prescott Bush, Mark Hatfield, and Charles Percy; Gov. Nelson Rockefeller; and even Gov. George Romney.

Today “liberal Republican” is an extinct species, as the party has moved further and further to the right. Political scientists Keith Poole of the University of Georgia and Howard Rosenthal of New York University have charted this shift in terms of voting trends in Congress.

As a result, Republicans have moved further and further away from mainstream public opinion. The party’s rightward trajectory is primarily the result of the combined influence of big business, the influence of well-organized right-wing funders (like the Koch Brothers), think tanks and foundations, the rise of the Tea Party, the ascendancy of right-wing media like Fox News and talk shows, and the gerrymandering of congressional districts to promote “safe” GOP seats where even conservative-but-not-wacko candidates, fearing primary challenges from the tea party (funded by the Kochs and their ilk), move ever further to the right

Paul Ryan reflects these shifts within the Republican Party. As I’ve written before, the mainstream media failed to carefully scrutinize Ryan’s views when he was Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012. They continued to wear blinders last week when Ryan unveiled his 502-page report on anti-poverty programs, filled with lies and misinformation, which was intended to justify his proposed cuts to food stamps, housing and child care subsidies, college aide, and other programs. Yes, Ryan is chair of the House Budget Committee. That simply shows that he’s an ambitious politician, not a serious thinker or policy wonk.

As Ryan gears up for a presidential run, he may seek to reposition himself on various issues. Let’s hope that the mainstream media will remind voters of his consistently ultraconservative views and voting record.

And hopefully they will expose Ryan’s blatant hypocrisy too. Despite Ryan’s attacks on government spending, his family’s construction business has been anchored inbuilding roads on government contracts. Despite his worship of private-sector entrepreneurs, he’s spent his entire career as a government employee. Despite being a crusader against anti-poverty programs, Ryan is a millionaire who made his money the old-fashioned way: by marrying a woman who inherited a fortune.

If Paul Ryan is a “moderate,” I’m the Easter Bunny.

MUST SEE: Krystal Ball brutally eviscerates the GOP & trashes corporate Dems in one amazing segment

Daily Kos

If you watch only one thing today, watch this.

Short version: The GOP is a staggering corpse that is fading into irrelevance and the real future is in the fight between pro-corporate Democrats and pro-worker Democrats.

But you definitely want to see it for yourself . . .

Transcript:

Krystal Ball:     “Who will win the battle for the soul of the GOP? Will it be the establishment or the tea party, the libertarians or the social conservatives? Well after watching all sides battle it out at CPAC I have come to a definitive conclusion. Are you ready? Here is the answer; it doesn’t matter.
That’s right, who wins and who loses in the fight for control of the Republican party is totally irrelevant.
Sure, it is a fun parlor game to look at whose up and whose down in the Ted Cruz/Rand Paul showdown. Wait. No. It’s not. It’s  a terrible parlor game. What is a parlor game?
Anyway, if you care about the future of this country the Republican party machinations are of now consequence. There’s a few reasons. First, look at this graph.

There is an unprecedented gap between the voting preferences of young voters and everyone else. Millennials may not be crazy about self-identifying as Democrats but whatever they call themselves they’re liberal. They are much more likely to vote Democratic than older generations.
So Republicans, do you know why in five of the last six Presidential elections you’ve lost the popular vote? It’s because every year the electorate is becoming browner and more influenced by the millennials who are more liberal than any other modern generation, and sorry GOP, they’re staying that way. To paraphrase Sally Field at her Oscar win, they don’t like you, they really don’t like you.

And who can blame them? The second reason the GOP is irrelevant is because your economic ideology is toast, debunked, discredited. Your intellectual heavy is Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan! You’ve been flailing around in a house that Reagan built for three decades and still haven’t realized it’s just an empty frame with no foundation. Come back to me when you have some actual evidence for your economic ideology, and no, Ayn Rand novels don’t count.

Nope. Republicans and their deck-chair shifting civil war don’t matter. If you are interested in where the country goes from here the action is all on the Democratic side, and while our own internal divide is less noisy than the Republican one it is just as real and waaaay more important.

This divide, the one that counts, is between the pro-corporate democrats and the pro-worker democrats. It’s pretty easy to tell which are which. In their best incarnation the pro-corporate dems do Wall Street and corporate America’s bidding while doing the best they can to shore up the safety net so that when working folks are inevitably abused by big banks and big business at least there is something of a net to catch them.
Pro-worker dems want to stop the abuse in the first place and keep and expand the safety net just in case those protections fail.

When pro-corporate dems get their way, as they have in democratic politics for, oh, the past twenty-two years, inequality rises. And when inequality rises the power of the plutocracy rises. And when plutocrats call the shots like they do now the safety net gets it.

Plutocrats, it turns out, don’t much care for supporting the workers on whose backs they earn their riches. So even though corporate democrats may be well intentioned their policies lead to a toxic brew of money, plutocracy and power that shreds the safety net, strips workers of their right and hollows out the middle class. The plutocracies wish is their command.

Now to be clear, either type of democrat is a million times better than the folks the GOP has to offer, but that is a pretty low bar. Time to expect more. To demand more. Do we want a society that governs for the needs of the many, or the desires of the few? I know which side I’m on, do you?”