Lest We Forget Open Thread: Paul Ryan — Bad Man, “Good” German Republican

(Jim Morin via GoComics.com)

Paul Waldman, at the Washington Post, “A scam of a party says goodbye to its top fraud”:

The proximate cause of Ryan stepping down is that his party looks increasingly likely to suffer an electoral disaster in November’s midterm elections. He is facing an unusually strong challenge from Randy Bryce, the likely Democratic nominee in his Wisconsin district, so he probably calculated that there were two realistic outcomes for him. The worse one would be that he is defeated while his party loses the majority, as happened to then-speaker Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) in 1994. The better one would be that he holds on to his seat while Republicans lose the majority, which might not be better at all. Being speaker may have meant plenty of headaches for Ryan, but being House minority leader is a total drag; you still have to manage your unruly caucus, but you have no real power and can’t make any progress on your agenda…

For years, Ryan has presented himself as someone deeply concerned with fiscal discipline, committed to getting America’s books in order. As anyone with any sense realized, this was a scam: Like all Republicans, he used the deficit as a bludgeon against Democratic presidents, then forgot all about it while a Republican was in office.

At the same time, Ryan — a lifelong admirer of Ayn Rand, the philosopher of selfishness — dreamed of destroying the safety net, eviscerating Medicaid, privatizing Medicare, slashing food stamps, and generally making life in America more cruel and unpleasant for all those who aren’t wealthy.

But as Paul Krugman observed, Ryan failed at both his pretend goal and his real goal. He will leave office after setting the deficit on a path to exceed $1 trillion in 2020, and yet, he failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act and didn’t even bother to wage an assault on Medicare, almost certainly because he knew how disastrous it would be for his party.

So what does he mean when he says “I have accomplished much of what I came here to do”? He can only mean the tax cut Republicans passed last year. In other words, engineering a giant giveaway to corporations and the wealthy was enough for Ryan to say “My work here is done.”

Osita Nwanevu, at Slate, on “The Wolf in Wonk’s Clothing”:

[I]t’s worth revisiting now, as Ryan prepares his exit from politics, the thrust of the argument that the tale advanced—that, in general, the 20 million children in this country who receive free lunches have parents who clearly don’t care about them and that in providing food to those children, the government enables bad parenting. That sweeping judgment is impossible unless one considers poverty and economic hardship themselves personal failings. For about a decade now, Ryan has demonstrated that he believes precisely this—that those who have trouble making their way in the world are personally defective, that those immiserated by circumstance have willingly surrendered their lives to dysfunction, and that the best remedy society can offer to those who lack is to deprive them, in cuts to already meager social programs, of even more.

Shaping that dogmatism into pseudo-wonkery has taken years of wild and reckless obfuscation. Most of the analyses of where Trump “came from” have sought and found precedents for his open xenophobia, conspiracymongering, and boorishness in the rhetoric and behavior of Republican politicians in the recent past. But his mendacity and the constant consequence-free dissembling of his administration still baffle all those who’ve wondered aloud, over the past year and a half, how we so suddenly entered a new age of “post-truth” politics. We haven’t, really. Paul Ryan understood, like Trump, the extent to which the norms governing conventional political journalism have always been poorly equipped to handle naked and persistent dishonesty and disingenuousness. His speech to the 2012 Republican National Convention was littered with blatant lies…
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Farewell Ryan Open Thread: Requiem for A Heavyweight Fake

Nobody loves a quitter, but dayyum Paul Ryan has a lot of enemies! Of course, he’s taken credit for a budget bill that will explode the deficit while giving still more of our common wealth away to the least deserving plutocrats, while failing to rein in the worst impulses of the leaders of “his” party. And he’s abandoning ship just in time for an actual avowed white supremacist to take the lead in the GOP primary for his replacement, and guaranteeing that we’ll all get to watch at least two of the least appealing Repub congresscritters (Kevin McCarthy & Steve Scalise) fight like crazed weasels to take over his “throne”. Also, he’s the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver. But the Media Village Idiots always seemed to love him — yet the concensus of public comment right now seems to be GOOD RIDDANCE, at best. Of course the NYTimes is still slobbering over his “bravery”, and there may be television pundits still standing up for their Pauly Blue Eyes…

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Probably Not, But Isn’t It Sweet to Watch Him Squirm?

“The speaker is not resigning,” AshLee Strong, Ryan’s spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Amodei is not particularly close to the speaker, who has a small inner circle of advisers and who makes decisions about his political future with an even smaller round of confidants and family.

But Amodei publicly reopened the discussion that has been kept to private whispers within the House Republican Conference about whether Ryan will run to lead the House GOP next year. He went even further by stating, with nothing more than gossip from his colleagues, that Ryan would resign within 60 days and that his successor had already been chosen…

Ryan, who was on a congressional delegation trip to the Czech Republic, has tried to bat down speculation about whether he wants another term as House speaker if Republicans hold the majority in the November midterm elections. Winning approval of the tax-cut bill in December marked a career highlight that led some to believe he might leave office in the winter, on a high note before what is likely to be a rough midterm…

Republicans would be stunned if there was an outright resignation, in the middle of the term, without any political scandal, and many would suspect they had little chance to win the majority in November.

The traditional route for a House speaker looking toward the exits is to run for another term and announce immediately after the election that he or she is stepping down, particularly if the party loses the majority.

There are, of course, rude whispers that Ryan wants to jump ship before he gets blamed for any part of a massive GOP loss come November. Ryan has never been a guy to stand and take punishment for the good of anyone other than Paul Ryan…


And then there’s this… unpleasant spectacle:

As the Stomach Churns Open Thread: Budget Drama Update

Politics: the science of who eats… and who gets eaten.

Given what Paul Ryan and his fellow Trump enablers have been shoveling out to the rest of us, they’re all gonna spend their next million or so reincarnations as dung beetles…

[C]ongressional Republicans were jolted Wednesday morning by phone calls from White House officials, who confided that President Trump was unhappy with the party’s nearly finalized spending deal.

Trump had been up since dawn, keeping an eye on cable-television programs and venting to friends and aides as snow blanketed the executive residence…

Allies of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were alarmed, the people said, once again realizing that only Trump speaks for Trump.

They had been hammering out the details of the spending package with the White House’s legislative staff for weeks and were planning to give a brief update to the president in the afternoon, followed by final votes in both chambers later this week. The people familiar with the discussions were not authorized to speak publicly.

But as senior aides tried to sell Trump on the deal all week, he had hesitated to embrace it. In recent days, he has insisted to associates that congressional Republicans “owe” him more money for the wall since he has raised them millions for their reelection bids and signed the GOP-authored tax bill into law, according to one person close to Trump…

A White House official, meanwhile, said Trump loyalists who dislike Ryan and McConnell, such as Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), have only stoked Trump’s gut feeling that the spending deal is lacking. They also have told Trump that he will be criticized for such a large sum of spending…

Ryan arrived at the White House around lunchtime in his caravan of SUVs. Vice President Pence attended the meeting, as did senior aides to the attendees. McConnell joined by speakerphone.

Over the next 45 minutes, gathered together in the residence, they all made their pitch to Trump in support of the spending agreement, the people said. They argued that he was getting money for the border wall at a level the White House had been signaling was acceptable. They told him that he was also getting infrastructure funding — one of his priorities. They told him the significant tick up in funding for the military was included and politically popular. These were all arguments he had heard before, from his own senior aides…

Eventually, Trump sighed and said he’s fine with the bill — and the meeting soon ended, with Ryan ducking out into the snow. A reporter for NBC News snapped a blurry picture of the speaker being whisked off in the snow.

White House officials and congressional Republicans quickly moved to issue statements affirming Trump’s support, almost “wishing it into reality,” as one official said late Wednesday afternoon. In private conversations at the Capitol, aides shook their heads at another dramatic encounter with Trump, another time when he had nearly brought his party to the brink of a shutdown…

“Our” hero, the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver of Janesville. I’ve been working on this post for a good half-hour — has Donny Dollhands refudiated Pauly Blue Eyes yet?

Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Who Does the NRA Actually Represent?


Ever wonder if maybe the monsters are already here on Maple Street?


And speaking of politicians who are neither Democrats nor helpful when it comes to gun safety measures…
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Repub Venality Open Thread: Paul Ryan Is Not A Serious Person…

But he’s very much a serious threat to those of us not in the top 0.1%…

Oligarch Open Thread: Koch Bros, Still Monsters

The Boston Globe:

“We’ve made more progress in the past five years than I had in the last 50,” declared Charles Koch, the 82-year old billionaire, addressing a group of about 550 donors who gathered in Indian Wells for the Kochs’ winter policy and politics weekend seminar.

But this era of gains, which brought them a massive tax cut, a queue of conservative federal judges, and an administration full of friendly regulators, could all be gone if Democrats claw back control of the government.

So the vast network has pledged to devote around $400 million toward politics and policy in the midterms to hold the GOP majorities in both chambers. That’s 60 percent more than the network spent in 2014, when Republicans picked up nine seats in the Senate and 13 seats in the House of Representatives.

The sum includes $20 million that Koch and his brother David plan to put behind efforts to popularize the $1.5 trillion tax cut. The network spent $20 million last year pushing the legislation.

“We have a ways to go,” said Koch, teeing up his Big Ask to the well-coiffed group of donors who contribute at least $100,000 a year to Koch-aligned groups. “So my challenge to all of us is to increase the scale and effectiveness of this network by an order of magnitude. By another 10-fold on top of all the growth and progress we’ve already made. Because if we do that, I’m convinced we can change the trajectory of this country.”…

Voters have been skeptical of the tax law in part because much of the benefit is focused on businesses like those run by the Kochs and their allies. The tax cuts directly benefit Koch Industries by $1 billion to $1.4 billion a year, according to a recent analysis from Americans for Tax Fairness, a liberal advocacy group.
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