Paul Ryan, Hypergamist

The LATImes has an excellent article dissecting Ryan’s “humble small-town working-class guy” bullshit:

… “I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, when I was flipping burgers at McDonald’s, when I was standing in front of that big Hobart machine washing dishes, or waiting tables, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life,” Ryan recently told a crowd at a high school in suburban Denver. “I thought to myself, I’m the American dream on the path or journey so that I can find happiness however I define it myself.”…

And yet Ryan, 42, was born into one of the most prominent families in Janesville, Wis., the son of a successful attorney and the grandson of the top federal prosecutor for the western region of the state. Ryan grew up in a big Colonial house on a wooded lot, and his extended clan includes investment managers, corporate executives and owners of major construction companies.

The seeming contradiction appears to have its roots in a family crisis in 1986, when at the age of 16, Ryan discovered his father dead of a heart attack.

The death of Paul Murray Ryan forced the family to make adjustments. Ryan’s mother went back to work. And Ryan took up jobs, as well….

But there was also more to it than work. Ryan’s rise to political power and financial stability was boosted by family connections and wealth. The larger Ryan family has repeatedly helped the candidate along in his career, giving him a job when he needed one and piling up tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions…

By the time Ryan had entered Congress in 1999 at the age of 28 and filed his first disclosure statement, he reported assets between $167,000 and $1.3 million, owned a home and had three rental units.

The next year, Ryan married Janna Little, a tax attorney, and his income skyrocketed. (Ryan reported gross income of $323,416 in 2011.)

Of the Ryans’ maximum estimated assets of $7.6 million, Janna’s holdings account for about $6.5 million. She is the daughter of Dan and Prudence Little, two lawyers in Madill, Okla., who over the years have overseen a vast network of land and oil and gas mineral rights in the Red River area straddling southern Oklahoma and northern Texas…

There’s a long tradition of American presidents “marrying up”, starting with another widow’s son, a big good-looking hustler who settled for a rich widow with important connections after years of failing to impress the local aristocracy of Virginia’s “First Families” with his suitability for their daughters. Ryan is the offspring of modern small-town aristocracy, whose success with the daughter of state-wide aristocracy (albeit from a low-profile, underpopulated flyover state) has given him a shot at national power and attention. It’s only in comparison to quarter-billionaire Willard Romney, son of a former almost-president, that Ryan can pretend to be a Jacksonian exemplar of hard-working virtue overcoming terrible odds to reach his current spot in the limelight.

36 replies
  1. 1
    Yutsano says:

    And nary a mention of the fact that he received Social Security after his father passed on. But then again it was good enough for Saint Ayn…

  2. 2
  3. 3
    Yutsano says:

    @Comrade Javamanphil: He’s just so DREAMY!! Oh those blue eyes! And have you seen what’s under his shirt? SQUEE!! I’m gonna put that in my diary tonight!

  4. 4
    magurakurin says:

    Anyone who is fooled by Paul fucking Ryan is a goddamned rube. He is a snake oil salesman from the word go and no one should need an LA Times article or any other to know he is full of shit. If I saw him coming down the street, I’d cross to the other side. If I saw him at a used car lot, I’d just keep on driving. Because one look in his eyes and you know this cat is gonna fuck you for all he can.

    The American voting public is in sore need of bullshit detectors.

  5. 5
    Linda says:

    @Yutsano: I know you’re being sarcastic, but I really wonder what hold this guy has on people. In the Washington Post, Peter Orszag did a takedown on the Ryan budget proposals, and his first sentence talked about Ryan being “an honest man.” Thereupon, he describes what a bowl of bullshit the proposals are.

    Really? Do honest people lie like that? Common sense says they cannot. I mean, does this guy put roofies in the drinks of EVERYBODY he encounters, man, woman and child? How else can you explain the fact that people who know he’s lying like a rug find him “honest” and likeable?

  6. 6
    hitchhiker says:

    I think they’re just so relieved not to be writing about Newt Gingrich or Herman Cain or Michelle Bachmann or Rick Perry . . . they have a candidate who isn’t embarrassing, which is what they’ve come to expect. So they’re nice to him.

    Okay, that’s stupid. But I think it might be true.

  7. 7
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    At least George Washington,didn’t brag about voting to send other to war. He manned the f— up and went to war himself.

  8. 8
    Yutsano says:

    @Linda: Orszag is playing the civility game. He’s trying to avoid getting labeled as a partisan liberal. It unfortunately involves some prevarication.

  9. 9
    El Cid says:

    The important thing is that he is a serious, serious policy analyst of the threat of federal budget deficits, which I know is true because he tells me so, and also he looks really, really serious whenever he talks about this or that number and something something deficit.

  10. 10
    Doggie D says:

    Paul Ryan has well-proportioned physical features, is smart, and appears to be honest. He also stared down President Obama for like five minutes during which the whole time President Obama was trying to cast an evil spell upon Paul Ryan with his eyes. This demonstrates bravery.

    Click if you doubt the evil Obama spell.

    Paul Ryan is a pretty good guy and appears to possess strong magical powers.

  11. 11
    Hill Dweller says:

    I saw a picture of a woman in the front row of a Ryan/Romney klan rally wearing a T-shirt with one of those Shepard Fairey HOPE knockoffs on the front. This one was a picture of Ryan, with the word ‘MATH’ underneath.

    After initially thinking it was the kind of thing that would lead Krugman to hang himself, I became pissed.

    How did Paul Ryan, who is a proven fraud, come to be seen as a wonk by so many people? Veteran news anchors, who have access to competent people that can point out the absurdity of his plans, think Ryan is a wonk. It has become a given in articles.

    How did we end up here? Up is down; black is white.

  12. 12
    Ash Can says:


    no one should need an LA Times article or any other to know he is full of shit.

    I agree, but it’s still nice to see that there’s someone at a major publication who’s paying attention.

  13. 13
    dww44 says:

    @hitchhiker: I think its true as well. And certainly Ryan has the ability to connect with people, unlike Romney. That counts for a lot with both the elites and the base.

  14. 14
    El Cid says:

    @Hill Dweller: You don’t have to actually passionately care about ‘the numbers’ in order to be perceived as passionately caring about ‘the numbers’. You just have to be the sort of person who seems like he passionately cares about ‘the numbers,’ because big time pundits can’t be bothered with boring things like ‘the numbers’, and anyway, as long as you’re trying to blame ordinary folks for being parasites and destroying the future, you must be doing something right.

  15. 15
    kideni says:

    I think most of Ryan’s success has its roots in the behaviors that earned him the Biggest Brown-Noser award from his high school classmates. He knows who to kiss up to among the DC conservative opinionaters and policymakers, and he knows how to flatter them, and he’s been doing it for years. And it just spreads out from there to people who aren’t smart enough to question what’s being sold, and before long it’s just accepted that he’s a smart person.

  16. 16
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Is ryan the expensive wine guy? or was that cantor?

  17. 17
    txvoodoo says:

    I’d like to send this to my family mailing list. And then the GOP members will say “Why do Democrats hate rich people?”

    They don’t get that he isn’t self-made. He didn’t “build that.” It’s easy to accrue wealth when your path (despite the tragic early death of a parent) is made soft and easy, without roadblocks and detours.

    He had rental income when he started? How’d he get the seed money for that? Everyone I know who is in that business started with help from *someone*.

  18. 18
    cmorenc says:

    It’s entirely possible that Ryan IS an honest man in the same constricted sense that Ron Paul is an honest man who is such an ardent true believer in his respective brand of glibertarian economic and social ideology that they honestly believe they cannot possibly be wrong, the details will work out correctly in the end if they can succeed in getting their visions of limited government implemented correctly. If the projected numbers according to their visions are muddy, inconsistent or seemingly incorrect (even wildly so), well…that’s because in their mind, the those doing the figuring are using an incorrect non-glibertarian framework built on faulty assumptions. And glibertarian assumptions cannot fail, they can only be failed. Never mind that attempting to figure using their framework requires indulging several glib-normous assumptions that have never, ever yet been proven to work out, despite glibertarian claims citing dubious alleged historical examples that are eye-rollers to experts who haven’t drunk the libertarian kool-aid.

    Now, IMHO Ryan is an honest true believer in his vision, but is dishonest in that he’s perfectly willing to indulge some deception along the way as the necessary price of winning himself a position to implement his vision. Nevertheless, he really DOES honestly believe in a huge portion of his own bullshit, to the point where he has trouble distinguishing his tactical deceptions from his honestly believed bullshit.

  19. 19
    El Cid says:

    @cmorenc: This is really, really reaching.

    A 7th grader knows whether or not he or she did the homework. Including whether or not they did the work of getting the “numbers” they’re supposed to put in their homework budget.

    They might be able to smooth their way out of a bad grade, but they haven’t become trapped in some deep spiral where they believe they did it.

  20. 20
    John Revolta says:

    No, I think cmorenc may be right.

    Anybody who believes that Ayn Rand is some really hot shit, an inspired thinker and all, and passes her around to his associates to study, is honestly capable of believing just about anything.

    I’m not, for once, kidding.

  21. 21


    Perhaps Ryan is an honest man. Perhaps he is an honest but stupid man,

  22. 22
    Anne Laurie says:


    I’d like to send this to my family mailing list.

    You have the link! You can do that!

    (Of course, some of them may stop speaking to you — at least until after the election — but would that be a bad thing?

  23. 23
    Dexter's new approach says:

    That Ryan tube really pisses me off. When he talks about taking the decisions from govt and to the people he displays an incredible ignorance of the real world. For a guy that thinks most Americans are moochers, he displays a great deal of confidence that they develop the knowledge of both doctors and insurance companies.

    It’s impossible for nearly anyone to acquire the level knowledge to make informed decisions on most costly healthcare issues. Shit happens and you’re in it and it’s a fucking mess and you rely on doctors and hope somehow the finances will work out.

    In the last month I have my girlfriend’s father diagnosed with terminal (aggressive) cancer and a dear friend’s mother potentially on her death bed (maybe just paralysis) with WNV. Both are suddenly caretakers – super smart accomplished people – and they have no fucking idea what to do day to day. Neither patient is lucid; no one ever talks about costs, the outlook changes day to day. I’m a healthcare “expert” to the extent that I could recall data for the likely chemotherapy, but I can offer little advice other than say make friends with the nurses.

    Healthcare is in no way like a planned purchase of car or TV. There is no such thing as an informed consumer in healthcare. The whole idea of the free market-fixing healthcare is bullshit.

  24. 24
    Shalimar says:

    @Hill Dweller: Someone in the Republican party has to be a wonk for balance sake, and Ryan is the only one who can do basic math.

  25. 25
    Palli says:

    I’m a Worker and I demand to see Ryan’s pay stubs from McDonalds!

  26. 26
    WereBear says:

    This is so typical.

    They think a summer spent mowing lawns (it was hot! I had to drink Costco lemonade!) when their parents bought them the lawn mower and called up their friends to “teach the boy about business” so he can get enough money to pay for the first month’s insurance on that ‘Vette he’s picked out.

    This is not the rich, but this is the “well off.” They are just “helping the lad along” with the SAT classes and the tuition to the good school and the acres of contacts along the way. And the child did suffer; it was hot and the lemonade got gritty by the end of the day.

    But they didn’t have to do it. It was really no more than a game. Both sides know that.

    That’s not the same as being poor. At all.

  27. 27

    Wait… Ryan is a widow’s son? As in, “Oh Lord, my God, is there no hope for a widow’s son?”

    Shit. We ARE screwed. If the Illuminati are backing Romney/Ryan we might as well just pack it in.

  28. 28
    arguingwithsignposts says:


    They think a summer spent mowing lawns (it was hot! I had to drink Costco lemonade!) when their parents bought them the lawn mower and called up their friends to “teach the boy about business”

    Not to mention the fact that their parents’ friends have lawns.

  29. 29
    Nancy Irving says:

    R-Money + R-Ayn. (Picked that up on Youtube of all places.)

  30. 30
    Suffern Ace says:

    @WereBear: I once delayed gratification when I was a teenager. It was not easy. I am still bitter about it so it must have been formative.

  31. 31
    Zach says:

    Ryan and his wife have an investment fund headquartered in Florida to avoid income taxes and another fund in Wisconsin (probably for tax avoidance on his inheritance). This is in the disclosures that people were mistakenly flipping out about thinking he was insider-trading last week. It’s amazing to see Ryan parroting what Romney’s campaign wants him to say here… I don’t think Ryan’s ever pretended he was some self-made exemplar of the American dream in the past, but Romney desperately needs him to fill that niche.

  32. 32
    scav says:

    Prolems with the auto-correct. Should be universally: Paul Ryan is an, Honorable, man.

  33. 33
    WereBear says:

    @Zach: It has always struck me odd that retirees get all worked up about moving to a place with no state income tax, like Florida and New Hampshire and South Carolina.

    Just when they are really going to need community services; stuff like public transportation, ambulances, senior centers, and the like, they are determined to move somewhere that has fewer and lesser of these very things.

    Just another form of denial, I suppose.

  34. 34
    ericblair says:


    It has always struck me odd that retirees get all worked up about moving to a place with no state income tax, like Florida and New Hampshire and South Carolina. Just when they are really going to need community services; stuff like public transportation, ambulances, senior centers, and the like, they are determined to move somewhere that has fewer and lesser of these very things.

    Not to mention that in all likelihood their taxable income just went way down, and guess what, the state has to get income from somewhere like higher property and/or sales taxes, so these retirees just screwed themselves. Goes hand-in-hand with fifty-something conservatives who want to move to a consumption tax instead of an income tax just when their own income goes way down.

    Just the sort of people you look to for good judgment about taxation policy and financial management.

  35. 35
    hep kitty says:

    The next year, Ryan married Janna Little, a tax attorney, and his income skyrocketed.

    Yup. That’s how they do.

    Wondering though, if the Ryan family were that well-heeled, why did mom have to go back to work?

  36. 36
    hep kitty says:

    @WereBear: Just to clarify, SC has state income tax but the last part is certainly true.

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