Friday, April 13, 2018

The Paul Ryan Story: From Flimflam to Fascism

Retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan has always pretended to be a good, devout Catholic, true to the Church's teachings, yet throughout his years in Congress he has pursued an agenda that has sought to shred the Church's social gospel and which has unrelentingly sought to harm the poor, the hungry, the sick and the homeless which seeking to shower huge tax cuts and benefits on the very wealthy.  To say that Ryan is a complete hypocrite is beyond an understatement. Of course, he has been in good company with a majority of Republicans who not only ignored the Christian values they claimed to champion but also sold their souls to Donald Trump, perhaps one of the most immoral individuals in America. They were aided in this trashing of morality by evangelical Christians who deserve to be viewed by history as a pestilence on America.  Lastly, they were all aided and abetted by a large portion of the pundit class who always pretended that there was a false equivalency between the ugly agenda of the right and the compassionate agenda of the left.  A column in the New York Times looks at the realty of Paul Ryan.  Here are highlights:

Why did Paul Ryan choose not to run for re-election? What will be the consequences? Your guess is as good as mine . . . On the other hand, I do have some insight into how Ryan — who has always been an obvious con man, to anyone willing to see — came to become speaker of the House. And that’s a story that reflects badly not just on Ryan himself, not just on his party, but also on self-proclaimed centrists and the news media, who boosted his career through their malfeasance.
Incredibly, I’m seeing some news reports about his exit that portray him as a serious policy wonk and fiscal hawk who, sadly, found himself unable to fulfill his mission in the Trump era. Unbelievable.
Look, the single animating principle of everything Ryan did and proposed was to comfort the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted. Can anyone name a single instance in which his supposed concern about the deficit made him willing to impose any burden on the wealthy, in which his supposed compassion made him willing to improve the lives of the poor?
[H]is “deficit reduction” proposals were always frauds. The revenue loss from tax cuts always exceeded any explicit spending cuts, so the pretense of fiscal responsibility came entirely from “magic asterisks”: extra revenue from closing unspecified loopholes, reduced spending from cutting unspecified programs. I called him a flimflam man back in 2010, and nothing he has done since has called that judgment into question.
So how did such an obvious con artist get a reputation for seriousness and fiscal probity? Basically, he was the beneficiary of ideological affirmative action.
Even now, in this age of Trump, there are a substantial number of opinion leaders . . . whose professional brands, rest on the notion that they stand above the political fray. For such people, asserting that both sides have a point, that there are serious, honest people on both left and right, practically defines their identity.
Centrists who couldn’t find real examples of serious, honest conservatives lavished praise on politicians who played that role on TV. Paul Ryan wasn’t actually very good at faking it; true fiscal experts ridiculed his “mystery meat” budgets. But never mind: The narrative required that the character Ryan played exist, so everyone pretended that he was the genuine article.
[T]he same bothsidesism that turned Ryan into a fiscal hero played a crucial role in the election of Donald Trump. How did the most corrupt presidential candidate in American history eke out an Electoral College victory? . . . it wouldn’t have been close if much of the news media hadn’t engaged in an orgy of false equivalence.
[Commentators] also seem shocked at the apparent indifference of Ryan and his colleagues to Trump’s corruption and contempt for the rule of law. What happened to their principles?
The answer, of course, is that the principles they claimed to have never had anything to do with their actual goals. In particular, Republicans haven’t abandoned their concerns about budget deficits, because they never cared about deficits; they only faked concern as an excuse to cut social programs.
[I]f you look at Ryan’s actions, not the character he played to gullible audiences, he has never shown himself willing to sacrifice anything he wants — not one dime — on behalf of his professed principles. Why on earth would you expect him to stick his neck out to defend the rule of law?
So now Ryan is leaving. Good riddance. But hold the celebrations: If he was no better than the rest of his party, he was also no worse. It’s possible that his successor as speaker will show more backbone than he has — but only if that successor is, well, a Democrat.

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