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Pierce writes: "If Ayn Rand, that randy old crackpot, were still alive, she'd whack him over the head, stuff him in a sack, and drag him off to her apartment, where they would make hot Objectivist monkey-love until the rafters knocked and the angels wept."

Rep. Paul Ryan has become an annual favorite at the Conservative Political Action Conference. (photo: AP)
Rep. Paul Ryan has become an annual favorite at the Conservative Political Action Conference. (photo: AP)

Paul Ryan, CPAC's Public Intellectual

By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Magazine

11 February 12


ake no mistake. You can have your Bachmanns and your Cains. You can have your Coulters and your Malkins and - what the hell - your Breitbarts. You can certainly have your Marco Rubios, who gained 100 CPAC points for making the conference's first teleprompter joke, though there may be several more amongst the murmuring when Willard Romney takes the stage here this afternoon. You can even have your your Santorums and your Ron Pauls. But that zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan is the wonk every wingnut woman wants and every wingnut man wants to be. He thinks Serious Thoughts about The Big Issues Facing The Nation, and they truly dig him the most. If Ayn Rand, that randy old crackpot, were still alive, she'd whack him over the head, stuff him in a sack, and drag him off to her apartment, where they would make hot Objectivist monkey-love until the rafters knocked and the angels wept.

Paul Ryan is also a remarkably accomplished bullshit artist.

His speech on Thursday night was chock-full of the usual goodies: praise for the brave Republicans who voted for his "budget" last year, the one that would have eviscerated Medicare to the point where Newt Fking Gingrich called it "right-wing social engineering," and that was before Willard had driven Newt around the bend, and the budget that polled so dismally that other Republicans hid under their couches when Ryan walked down the corridor; a vision of Obamian dystopia while mourning the fact that Democrats had mean things to say about his zombie-eyed granny-starving, and a healthy dollop of a bright new world where the entrepreneurial ponies gambol through the fields, and "the only class warfare that threatens America comes from a class of bureaucrats and crony capitalists rising above society - calling the shots, rigging the rules, and securing their places of privilege at our expense."

And, of course, in Paul Ryan's world, government has no regulatory role in stopping this rigging of the rules and calling of the shots. At least that's what he tells the hedge-fund cowboys with whom he dines.

All of that is basically zombie-eyed granny-starving boilerplate, but there was one passage in the speech that was such an amazing outburst of incoherence that the only explanation for it is that it was badly translated from the original Klingon. Ryan got started on rights, and on the current ginned-up controversy about Catholic institutions and birth control. Pretty soon, the English language had him in a hammerlock and he needed very badly to tap out:

For an example of what this means in practice, look no further than the recent conflict between the President's health care law and our religious freedom. This, as the President likes to say, is a "teachable moment." This is what we get when the President applies his progressive philosophy that views "rights," not as inalienable gifts from our creator, but more like revocable privileges from our government. In this view, rights are not universal or timeless - they must change and evolve in the name of progress. And who defines "progress"? Well, whoever happens to be in power at the time. That's how we get to where we are today - a situation where the government can supposedly invent a new "right" that trumps our constitutional right to observe our faith in freedom. You see, if the government is no longer the protector of your natural rights, but the creator of new rights, then government wins and freedom loses whenever the two collide.

Would somebody care to explain to me what this stunning burst of bafflegab actually means, and what in the name of god is has to do with birth control? The Affordable Care Act bestows no "new rights" on anyone. (Ryan may have gotten his gay-marriage talking points mixed in with his contraception talking points here.) Can Ryan cite a single right that was universal at the time of the founding of the country? Is he seriously arguing that our rights should not "change and evolve?" (He should take that up with John Lewis the next time they cross paths in the House.) Can he cite the president saying anything as nonsensical as the words Ryan puts in his mouth? Can he please explain how asking the Church to obey the law and cover birth control for a Presbyterian cleaning lady in one of its hospitals is in any way the establishment of a "new right," or how it in any way trumps his constitutional right to observe his faith in freedom? The Presbyterian chairwoman swallows the Pill and Paul Ryan is in chains. I'm sorry but this is just bananas. If this guy is a public intellectual, I fear greatly for the public's intellect. your social media marketing partner


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+126 # marjb 2012-02-11 11:31
The Presbyterian cleaning lady is a "charwoman." But other than the typo, you've got it right!

The folks who are screaming about the contraception issue have it all backwards. They are actually advocating taking AWAY the right to practice your religion. It's that simple. If my boss says that I must follow the rules of HIS church and forgo birth control because HIS religion says it's wrong ... then my ability to practice MY religion and follow MY conscience has been compromised. Catholics, Mormons and fundamentalist Christians who insist that making contraception availanle to others violates their right to practice their religion have it exactly backwards. They aren't looking for freedom for themselves...ju st the right to take that freedom away from others.
+42 # jon 2012-02-11 11:54
Exactly !!
+21 # AMLLLLL 2012-02-11 18:54
Here's a story I bring up for recovering Catholic refreshment: There's a priest hearing confessions and while he's busy with one side, a drunk stumbles into the other side of the confessional. The priest finishes with the one side and waits for the other. Hearing nothing, he finally says, 'Can I help you, son?" The drunk says, "Yeah....... is there any paper on YOUR side?"

The right has conflated religious rights of the church with the laws that apply to the secular. Like 40 hour weeks, weekends,design ated lunch breaks, and uniform pay, which the Church must adhere to to run a business outside the pervue of religion.

It has nothing to do with freedom of religion. 28 states now function under this formula to the satisfaction of all concerned. Good luck righties. Paul Ryan is as deep as the GOP principles.
+20 # vertglnt 2012-02-11 19:45
I think this is exactly the case with the Massachusetts "pilgrims" around 1620.
They were not in search of religious freedom, but wanted the freedom to persecute those with whom they disagreed.
The foundations of our pre-constitutio nal government are fundamentally anti-democratic .
+7 # vertglnt 2012-02-12 19:27
This is a tradition which began with the so-called "pilgrims". They came from England via Holland, where they enjoyed religious freedom, except for the right to persecute others. They came here to pursue and exercize that right. They hanged some people and drove Roger Williams out to found Rhode Island.
Our heritiage is deeply rooted in Christian Sharia and Taliban tendencies.
It remains so today, especially since the Chritso-Judaic Taliban have taken over the Republican party.
+65 # CHFels 2012-02-11 12:01
Should I be scared that I understood Ryan's bafflegab? Translation: "Scary black man creates new Right to Free Birth Control, forces poor bishops to hand out contraceptives in church. Doesn't respect or believe in Natural Rights - be scared!"

And believe you me, the half-bright Tea Party crowd can parse Ryan's prose too (and Gingrich's, and Romney's); by October they will be gibbering, quivering masses of (patriotic) fear. They deserve it, but alas, we don't deserve them.
+41 # Klanders 2012-02-11 12:14
Sad, so sad. The Founding Fathers, when creating the United States had an innate sense of the dangers arising intermingling the practice of religion and governing. They, in their wisdom, sought to separate Church and State. They had it right. Now, in the rst Century we're consistently confronted by those persons who wish to drive our country towards more of a Theocracy, and not just any Theocracy but that of the myopic evangelical right. "My way" or the highway..seems to be the message. This is Dangerous to say the least. I pray for wisdom and insight to separate emotion and irrational reaction from choosing a path forward. There is a confrontation coming.
+42 # Cambridgemac 2012-02-11 12:54
Well, it helped that many of the Founding Fathers were not d the rest were soberly aware of Christianity's doleful legacy in Europe...
"The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion." - George Washington
+15 # AMLLLLL 2012-02-11 19:06
Henry VIII was the rogue who made the King (or Queen) the Head of the Church of England, and yes, our founding fathers understood the flaw there. Mexico also instituted separation of church and state (circa 1860 under Benito Juarez, a former seminary student).

The recent talk by the right about 'freedom of religion' is a gambit, since they speak of their religion and not others. Just ask them about Muslims; they pucker.
+14 # vertglnt 2012-02-11 19:49
The founding father did not have an "inate sense" of anything. They were born innocent. They educatted themselves in the philosphy of the enlightenment and carried thees values into their creation of this nation, not under god.
+5 # vertglnt 2012-02-12 19:32
Their sense wann't "inate", i.e. inborn.
It was the result of being extremely imbedded in the 18th century enlightenment.

+38 # BobbyD1 2012-02-11 12:15
"I fear greatly for the public's intellect." This is a news bulletin?

We are so overrun with Limited Information Voters (LIV's) your fear could be magnified to the Nnth power.
+42 # bluebluesdancer 2012-02-11 12:30
Making contraception available to everyone does not force anyone to use contraception. If a church thinks that contraception is wrong then they can preach that to their congregation who will (of course) comply. However, for those that do not see things as black & white, who may want contraception, it MUST be available for all to choose.
+30 # moby doug 2012-02-11 13:45
The irony is, despite all the squawking of the geriatric Catholic bishops (the patriarchal, molester-protec ting, bishops), the overwhelming majority of the Catholic laity DOES resort to officially prohibited contraception. It's a wonder more Catholics haven't dumped the church altogether..... or have they?
+50 # Helen Marshall 2012-02-11 12:44
None of this issue about contraception coverage, or coverage of unmarried partners, and all the other struggles related to one's sex life, would even exist if we followed the model that every other industrial democracy does, and provide health care in a national single-payer (aka Medicare) system!!! Why is your health care dependent upon your employment and your insurance company, if any? How did this come to be accepted in the US?
+32 # moby doug 2012-02-11 13:48
YES! The real enemy is medicine for profit, in the form of giant private insurance companies and Big Pharma.... They, and the politicians & laws they buy, are the biggest obstacle to universal and affordable health care for all Americans.
+4 # X Dane 2012-02-11 21:21
moby doug. In the sixties we didn't have for profit insurance companies. As far as I remember, most people, who had insurance, had it through their employer.

Not that I think, THAT is the right solution. Still it was affordable. The cost was managable. And I don't remember people going bankrupt, because they were ill.
I don't remember, when some greedy devil decided, that it was time to make money on all those sick people.

Just imagine: If I have stocks in the company you are insured by, it is to my advantage, that you are denied the operation that will save your life!! That is simply IMMORAL

Not that I think republicans will agree.
+4 # Bruce Gruber 2012-02-12 05:30
Agreeing with your memory, I hasten to add that the "affordable" and manageable character represented a medical 'profession' and health industry whose product was service to citizens with health related needs. We, the public, added the concept of "public health" governmental involvement to reduce the cost and risk factors for providers and address research and large event coordination to health resources.
Cost containment disappeared when Wall Street 'management' experts and bottom line profiteers hijacked the health system.
Today the 'product' of the Hospital/Pharma /Insurance industry is optimized profit, monopoly control of supply of medicines and services, and unregulated domination (see SCOTUS and 'Citizens United') of the regulatory process through lobbying and campaign contributions.
Your point about shareholder involvement and restriction or denial of service as a profit component takes on even greater irony when the patient is the shareholder. Would the Koch Brothers deny themselves a heart implant because it might affect their bottom line?
+5 # X Dane 2012-02-12 15:52
Do you remember WHEN Wall Street got into the picture Bruce? And yes it all is a complicated mess.

The T baggers were screaming, last year,
that the new health care law, would kill Grandma. ( why is it always grandma??)

At the present time, with the current system THEY, (the insurance comp.) kill, whomever they choose to deny treatment. The fox watchers/T baggers don't seem to understand that.

Just as they, tell the government to keep its paws of their medicare. Their stupidity would be comical if the health-care situation wasn't so deadly serious.
We have some seriously mentally challenged citizens.
+2 # Bruce Gruber 2012-02-13 09:11
Wall Street is just a PLACE where banking, insurance, health care, transportation and other 'development' interests play the game of luring citizens' 'investment' of disposable income into the stock market lottery. Philosophically , Wall Street has ALWAYS been in the picture. The East India Company, Hudson Bay Company, North West Company among others formed the basic concept of global corporatization that is now Wall Street

We gamble by picking stocks that will 'return' the most money from idle capital speculation. That is the 'draw'. Just as in a lottery or casino, the 'house' ALWAYS wins. Capitalism is just another description of the economic exchange of labor for value. Founded on the principle of a good, fair, participatory relationship between labor, management and the owners of an endeavor, capitalism offers stock ownership so that labor has a voice in the process, skin in the game, a piece of the action ... except for that 'Citizens United" thing about a loud voice drowning out the entire chorus if the loud voice also owns the microphone AND the speakers AND the amplifier.

Anti-regulatory "pro Capitalism" rhetoric (propaganda) (Heritage Foundation, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Scott Walker, Mitt Romney, Republican Party) funded by Koch Bros. and the Chamber of Commerce crowd are the 'educational" arm of Wall Street. We are simply the 99% that keeps them in cash and sweat, though China labor seems cheaper now, so ..
+30 # mike/ 2012-02-11 12:59
have i been wrong all these years believing that natural law does not base itself on religious doctrine or authority?

or that Thomas Paine's argument on rights:

"It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter gives rights. It operates by a contrary effect — that of taking rights away. Rights are inherently in all the inhabitants; but charters, by annulling those rights, in the majority, leave the right, by exclusion, in the hands of a few... They... consequently are instruments of injustice."

is not inherent in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen or Men's Rights?

and that "liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression" are the four universal rights that are identified in the substance of these documents?

of course, the Republicans really don't believe in democracy; they equate it with anarchy & that individual rights are really subversion;

maybe that's where my confusion comes in...
+28 # reiverpacific 2012-02-11 13:21
You know that expression (usually stated in other, more favorable contexts) "Only in America"?
Well ditto with knobs on in the case of what's now unfolding in the wanna-be ranks.
Can't think of any other so-called "First-World" nation where any of these bloviants could be given so much air, paper and cyber-time, Berlusconi notwithstanding !
+26 # giraffee2012 2012-02-11 14:02
We must go door to door to ask people to sign petition for an amendment (See Bernie Sanders) to overturn Citizen's United Motion the SUPREME COURT declared big$ has right to "buy" our government based on 1st Amendment right. Corporations are NOT people -- and to think they are JUST to BUY our elected officials is absurd. People wear clothes, eat, marry, have families = get my drift!

Never ever vote GOP/TP (Paul Ryan is supported by Koch Brother = and is your #1 TP. Sort of like #1 on "Wanted" criminals.

BUT do vote in 2012 while we still have the vote. Look at those states who have made it near impossible for some to VOTE!
+23 # tuandon 2012-02-11 14:03
Public's intellect? Ah, I get it, an oxymoron. Are you referring to that same public that re-elected King Ronald and The Chimp? Pardon me, but it was apparent both times that that public was not possessed of an intellect.
+17 # Helen Marshall 2012-02-11 14:28
Actually the public did not elect the Chimp, Al Gore got the majority vote...and I am very skeptical of the 2004 results, given the apparent massive fraud in Ohio. The largely unsecure electronic voting machines make it too easy to manipulate the if the unlimited spending by corporations and billionaires does not get the desired results, some tweaks of the machines will do it. I doubt we will ever have clean elections again.
+11 # Helen Marshall 2012-02-11 14:42
My first reply seems to have been lost..please note that the public did not elect the Chimp in 2000, Al Gore won the public's vote but the Supremes installed Shrub. As for 2004, the apparent fraud in Ohio, among other things, makes me very skeptical of the alleged outcome for Bush. The insecure electronic voting machines now used almost everywhere will be the fallback position if the massive spending by corporations and billionaires does not produce the desired result. Will we ever have clean elections again? Seems unlikely.
+11 # allie 2012-02-11 14:35
I'm waiting for one of the deranged right wingers to propose a new constitutional amendment that all Americans are required to be Christians. Think of all the problems it will solve with a republican running the country.
+2 # Bruce Gruber 2012-02-12 05:42
We now enjoy the comfort of a President's legislatively asserted power to define and punish 'terrorists' who are 'believed' to represent 'direct or indirect support' for our 'enemies' or a 'threat' to our 'peaceful prosperity'. Under this expression of moral and intellectual Congressional and Executive brilliance your observation could be : "Think of all the problems it COULD REMOVE with a STRICT CONSTRUCTION CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN LEADER running the country."
+11 # Caballero69 2012-02-11 15:09
The Constitution has no religious test for office; the First Amendment stipulates there shall be no established religion and extols the free exercise of religion.

Despite these clear stipulations that state power and religious authority be separate, sectarians persist in striving to hook their perspectives to the power of the state.

Patriots who know, understand, and cherish the principles and purposes of the Republic must stand up and speak out for government of, by, and for the people rather than theocracy or plutocracy.
+11 # RMDC 2012-02-11 18:06
Yes, right on the mark. Paul Ryan is an accomplished bullshit artist. I've seen him on a few TV talk shows and that's just what he is. But I'd have to say it is pretty easy. No one challenges him on the bullshit he lays down.

Unfortunately this achievement makes him a very likely republican candidate for president in 2016.
+7 # Windy126 2012-02-11 19:24
Educate, educate, educate! Let people know you do not buy what they are trying to sell you. Write to your local papers op-ed page, reply to comments in you local papers on line. Tell everyone you meet that you do not believe what is being spewed as gospel. Most of all Vote, and encourage everyone you know or meet on the street to vote.
+13 # Rick Levy 2012-02-11 19:29
Attention Religious organizations: If you don't want to play by the rules when operating businesses, then give up your tax breaks and get out of the public sphere.
+5 # bsmith 2012-02-11 21:38
The righties are using the best sales tactic, no matter what the good is. Injecting emotion/faith which appeals to the/their masses and completely impedes the process of governing efficiently and justly because to do so you must only use logic/facts.

It's like buying something because you get caught up in the moment and the salesperson plays to your emotions... "Man, your neighbors sure will be jealous when they see this parked in your driveway".

Unless you have someone there to ground you and present just the facts, you will find yourself having made a very bad decision the next day.

And those certain demographics are just eating it up, like a $7 bucket of KFC.
0 # ojkelly 2012-02-12 08:21
There is something to this because most do not realize that a consquence of not having a single payer is government forcing employers to provide medical insurance. What if 51% vote for pulling the plug on grannie, and all insurers must have "Euthnanasia coverage"? Do employers have to pay to let their employees murder?Its cheaper for sure, end of life costs are astonomical.
Do churches? Where is the line?So, I would not push this as a litmus proof that conservatives are stupid.
Look on the bright side of this nomination process. Who is in charge of the Black helicopters, the Illuminati- Trilateral-Rock efeller-world dominators with the masses in slavery -elite? A black man!
-2 # BruceMajors 2012-02-13 11:00
Ah the fragrant flatulence of brain dead leftovers. You breath always smells like an 80 year old Hungarian's pucker. I guess you are what you eat.

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