Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s new vice-presidential pick, is best known as the author of and lead cheerleader for a budget plan that would decimate the social contract and require the middle class to pay for massive tax breaks for the wealthy. But it would be a mistake to focus just on his horrible economic ideas. Paul Ryan is not just a one-trick pony.
For instance, while Ryan preaches Ayn Rand’s gospel of economic greed and personal freedoms, he isn’t so fond of individual freedom when it comes to gay people or women. In fact, when it comes to reproductive choice, Ryan is nostalgic for the 1950s. He co-sponsored a so-called “Personhood bill,” which would classify abortion as first-degree murder and outlaw some of the most common types of birth control. A similar bill in Mississippi was rejected last year by 55 percent of voters. That’s right: on reproductive freedom and birth control, Paul Ryan is to the right of Mississippi.
That’s not even to mention Ryan’s support for last year’s “Let Women Die” bill, which would have allowed hospitals to refuse abortions to women, even if their lives were at risk. He also voted, along with most of his Republican House colleagues, to completely eliminate Title X, the program that provides family-planning services, including affordable contraception, to low-income women.
In a rambling essay in 2010, Ryan asserted that Roe v. Wade was a Supreme Court error “virtually identical” to the Dred Scott decision, in which the court ruled that African Americans had no rights as citizens. If Romney’s pick of Robert Bork to head his judicial advisory committee wasn’t clue enough, we now know exactly what would happen to reproductive rights under a Romney-Ryan administration.
Ryan had one brush with support for gay rights back in 2007, when he voted for an early version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a few minutes after voting to kill the bill. But since then, he’s fallen in line with the Right, opposing future versions of ENDA, hate crimes protections, adoption by gay couples, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military and of course anything resembling marriage equality. Now he feigns indifference to the whole issue, saying, “I don’t know why we are spending all this time talking about this.” He should ask a few LGBT people why we’re spending time “talking about this”: they might be able to explain why the issue of equal rights is more than a distraction from his plan to gut Medicare.
And then there are the other issues where the Corporate Right and the Religious Right have conveniently found themselves in agreement. Ryan is in the distressingly large “if it’s snowing out, global warming can’t be real” camp, or what the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer calls a “biblical view of the environment.” He speaks the language of the Religious Right’s pick-and-choose approach to the Constitution, saying in his nomination acceptance speech, “Our rights come from nature and God, not government. We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes” — code for a Christianist government and the destruction of the social safety net, the twin goals of today’s unified Corporate and Christian Right.
Ryan not only speaks the language of the Religious Right, he is one of them. Ryan is a confirmed speaker at the upcoming Values Voter Summit, a yearly confab hosted by the anti-gay, anti-choice Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel and American Family Association. There, he’ll join right-wing luminaries including anti-Muslim activist and conspiracy theorist Jerry Boykin, anti-Planned Parenthood prankster Lila Rose, and Kamal Saleem, who bills himself as a reformed ex-terrorist… and who is widely considered to be a fraud. The event is a must-attend for candidates who want to appeal to the farthest extremes of the Religious Right, which clearly Romney and Ryan are more than happy to do.
Paul Ryan has a friendly demeanor and an earnest desire to make his case about his terrible economic policy. But we shouldn’t let his focus on turning Medicare into a coupon distract us from the fact that he also wants to bring women’s rights and gay rights back decades and cater to those who think the government should be run exclusively by and for evangelical Christians.
Paul Ryan is the whole package: massive tax cuts for billionaires on the backs of the middle class, plus the Religious Right’s wish list of regressive social policies. In his choice of Paul Ryan, Massachusetts Mitt has sent a rare unambiguous signal about where he wants to take this country. And it’s nowhere we should want to go.
By: Michael B. Keegan, The Huffington Post, August 14, 2012
“Mitt Romney’s Terrible Laugh”: He Knows What He’s Saying Is Utter Baloney And He Knows That We Know
Some public figures get defined by a single image, or a single statement (“Ask not what your country can do for you”; “I am not a crook”). Others have a characteristic linguistic tic or hand gesture that through repetition come to embody them; think of Ronald Reagan’s head shake, George W. Bush’s shoulder-shimmy, or that closed-fist-with-thumb-on-top thing Bill Clinton used to do.
For Mitt Romney, it’s the laugh. I’m sure that at times Romney laughs with genuine mirth, but you know the laugh I’m talking about. It’s the one he delivers when he gets asked a question he doesn’t want to answer, or is confronted with a demand to explain a flip-flop or a lie. It’s the phoniest laugh in the world, the one New York Times reporter Ashley Parker wrote “sounds like someone stating the sounds of laughter, a staccato ‘Ha. Ha. Ha.’” Everything Mitt Romney is as a candidate is distilled within that laugh—his insincerity, his ambition, his awkwardness, and above all his fear. When Mitt laughs that way, he is not amused. He is terrified. Because he knows that what he’s saying is utter baloney, and he knows that we know it.
So he pretends to find it hilarious that an interviewer wants him to explain why, say, Romneycare was great for Massachusetts but the nearly identical Obamacare is a Stalinist horror for America. Perhaps it is the pain of enacting this facsimile of delight so many times that has hardened Mitt’s heart and allowed him to run what has become a campaign of truly singular dishonesty. But whatever moral calculation underlies the decisions he makes, this is the place we have arrived: There may have never been a more dishonest presidential candidate than Mitt Romney.
I say “may,” because measuring dishonesty with any precision is an extraordinarily difficult challenge, perhaps an impossible one. But by almost any standard of mendacity we could devise—the sheer quantity of lies, the shamelessness with which they are offered, the centrality of those lies to the candidate’s case to the voters—Romney has made enormous strides to outdo his predecessors.
It started before he even began his campaign, when Romney wrote an entire book premised on a lie about Barack Obama. Romney’s pre-campaign book, called No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, was built on the idea that Barack Obama makes a habit of apologizing for America, and Mitt Romney would do no such thing. “Never before in American history,” Romney wrote, “has its president gone before so many foreign audiences to apologize for so many American misdeeds, both real and imagined.” The actual number of times Barack Obama has gone before a foreign audience to apologize for American misdeeds is zero, as has been extensively documented. Undaunted, Romney began his campaign by repeating the lie of the Obama “apology tour” hundreds of times, before audiences all across the land.
And that was just the beginning. If you have the better portion of a day, you could wade through the lengthy catalogue of deceptions blogger Steve Benen has assembled under the heading “Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity.” Periodically, Benen puts together 20 or so Romney falsehoods for a post; his latest installment is the 29th in the series.
They come in all shapes and sizes. Some of things Romney says are clearly, factually false and seem to come out of no place other than the “this is the kind of thing a socialist like Obama would do” corner of Romney’s imagination, as when he claimed that Obama raised corporate tax rates (nope), or alleged that “President Obama is shrinking our military and hollowing out our national defense” (the military budget has increased every year Obama has been in office). Others are bizarrely false, as when he has said multiple times that the Obama administration hasn’t signed any new trade agreements (since Obama took office we have new trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Columbia). Others sound like they just popped into his head and felt true, even though they’re utterly wrong (“We are the only people on the earth that put our hand over our heart during the playing of the national anthem”). Some things he says are technically matters of interpretation, but are so absurd that no honest person could say them, as when he claims that under Obama, “we’re only inches away from no longer being a free economy.” Others are seductively specific, yet completely made up (“Obamacare also means that for up to 20 million Americans, they will lose the insurance they currently have, the insurance that they like and they want to keep”).
But what is truly notable is how often Romney has put a lie at the center of his campaign. It’s one thing to say something false in passing, perhaps when speaking extemporaneously. It’s something else to tell a lie, then repeat it again and again on the stump, then put it in a television ad broadcast across the country, then send your surrogates out to repeat it to every camera they can find.
As you’ve no doubt seen, few of Romney’s lies concern himself. He may gild a lily here and there about his record and his past, but the overwhelming portion of his deceptions are about Barack Obama—what he has said, what he has done, and what he believes (whenever you hear Romney say, “Barack Obama believes …” you can be certain he is about to say something ridiculously untrue). The new Romney attack on welfare—falsely claiming that the Obama is eliminating work requirements in the program—is only the latest, but it’s hardly the first. Before that it was “you didn’t build that,” which set a new standard in deceptive use of an out-of-context quote. Before that were a hundred smaller lies about taxes, health care, the economy, foreign policy, and nearly every other subject that could possibly come up. One wonders if at some level Romney thinks he hasn’t compromised his integrity if he only makes things up about his opponent.
This is Mitt Romney’s own sin, of course, but it’s also a failure of journalism. If reporters were really doing their jobs, they would be able to provide enough of a disincentive for lying that no candidate would feel free to mislead so brazenly and so often. They wouldn’t mince words or fall back on false balance, but would forthrightly say that Romney is lying when the facts make clear he is. And so they might provide some punishment that would actually make Romney think twice before the next time he approves an ad script that says things that aren’t true.
I doubt it’ll happen. But if reporters decide that they really need to be more direct about Romney’s mendacity, they may start confronting him about it, in some of the rare non-Fox interviews to which he consents. Should that time come, Romney will no doubt laugh. “Ha,” he’ll say. “Ha. Ha. Ha.”
By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, August 14, 2012
Honestly, grown men who swear by Ayn Rand might be locked up inside the house—and not the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan. I mean back home in Janesville, Wis., where your new stature as presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate has raised a hullabaloo all the way up to Baraboo. The venerable Alan Greenspan should be put under honorary house arrest, too, for his lifelong disciple-like embrace of Rand’s ideas, which has cost the country more dearly than we shall ever know.
As chairman of the Federal Reserve during four presidencies, Greenspan displayed a laissez-faire ferocious faith in the free marketplace. This caused him to completely ignore signs of the economy going soft and awry on his watch. Remember when the dot com bubble burst?
The late Rand’s entrance into this presidential election, thanks to Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, is more serious than it seems. Sweet reason has a hard time with Rand glorifying selfishness as political doctrine. Now that “selfishness ethic” happens all the time, accompanied by vicious attacks on the federal government and people who work for it, in the Republican-run House. It’s not all the author’s fault, but Ryan’s devotion to Rand is yet another Republican insult and injury to classic American ideas of fairness, squareness, and civic-mindedness.
In fact, the Ryan-authored House Republican budget document, which cuts the heart out of our body politic, ripping social services and Medicare to shreds, is a pledge to the Rand coat of arms, standing against people who need a little help from other people. And in turn, Rand gives him a rationale for the intellectual poverty of his ideas.
I don’t know grown women mean enough to believe in Rand’s lunar-like worldview. Her “objectivism” is portrayed in glittering novels, including We The Living, Atlas Shrugged, and The Fountainhead. Then again, she was not much interested in reaching women. Let’s be real: In life and work, this woman cared about having men in her thrall. She succeeded beyond what you might expect of a nice girl from St. Petersburg, born in 1905.
Trouble was, she got stuck in the Russian Revolution upheaval at an impressionable age. Scarred by communist collective ideals and the violence of change, she created the uber-capitalist myth of the strong man standing alone years after emigrating to the United States as a young woman. She also worked as a screenwriter.
Some would say Rand actually devolved from Social Darwinism. As despicable as her influence is, Greenspan can say he was caught up in a vanguard of his younger days, when the Soviet Union set off waves of alarrm and opposition to Communism as practiced by the ruthlesss Joseph Stalin.
But Ryan, 42, has lived his life on the right side of the tracks in the serene peace of Janesville, so why is he so sharp-edged with our social contract? So far, his mark on the 2012 race is allowing Rand to skip down two generations, from the octogenarian Greenspan to himself. Rand died in 1982, but hey, she lives on in a real way to this day.
By: Jamie Stiehm, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, August 14, 2012