Paul Ryan, Serial Torturer

During Paul Ryan’s train-wreck interview with Chris Wallace (not to be confused with his train-wreck interview with Norah O’Donnell or his train wreck acceptance speech at the RNC), he dismissed the (as-yet unrefuted) Tax Policy Center study of the Romney proposal by saying:

It just goes to show that if you torture statistics enough, they will confess to whatever you want them to confess to.

This is an odd attack for someone whose platform endorses waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques.”  Isn’t it an admission that torture doesn’t work?

I’m sure that Ryan hasn’t thought this through.  It’s just a good applause line for him.  His entire career is a series of sound bites and talking points.  In that, he very much resembles his fellow midwesterner, Jay Gatsby, for whom personality was simply a “series of successful gestures” and who fell in love with Daisy Buchanan because her voice “sounded like money.”

Gatsby was also a serial liar.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

17 thoughts on “Paul Ryan, Serial Torturer”

  1. Just to quibble for a mo … Gatsby shouldn’t be on the hook for falling in love with someone unworthy. Only behavior should be judged, I think. Most of the time. Has anyone ever fallen in love for a good reason? Seriously. I’d love to hear stories. Does this happen?

    But ditto on the rest of the post.

    1. I’d love to hear stories…

      Not a love story…
      But a grand story nevertheless.
      It begins like this:

      One day a Ayn Rand-reading, marathon-running, up-from-nothing, self-made wingnut stepped out of the rightwing echo chamber and into the national spotlight….

        1. That dog won’t hunt, koreyel. You got two things in there that are actually true: Ryan does (did?), in fact, read Rand’s economic pornography and did run a marathon.

          1. well, you need a credible start to build your story on. The narrative can go off the rails once the listener knows the ones it’s supposed to be on.

  2. But is Tom Buchanan more like Bush II…

    “Back out,” he suggested after a moment. “Put her in reverse.”

    “But the wheel’s off!”

    He hesitated.

    “No harm in trying,” he said.

    …or Romney?

    smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness

  3. Oh, don’t worry, if the subject turns to torturing brown people, I’m sure he has another zinger memorized for that subject.

    The fact that the two would be contradictory is not really important. The important thing is: zinger.

  4. Ambiguity alert!

    In Gatsby was also a serial liar, does also refer to Gatsby’s other attributes (“for whom personality…”, “who fell in love … “) or does it refer to Paul Ryan?

  5. This is just part and parcel of the overriding characteristic of Republican ideology, incoherence. It is a basic premise of logic that the combined statement (A and not A) must be false, yet this is basic to Republican arguments on economics, and indeed all other matters. Consider the feature speaker at the Republican convention, Clint Eastwood. Here, I’m not interested in his odd argument with a chair, but rather the fact that in this election season, he would be the featured speaker. Clint Eastwood is a wealthy, successful man, but that wealth is pretty much a result of Federal Copyright legislation. I mean we have 5000 years of history of actors and their relative wealth and the profession is not mentioned except in connection to such adjectives as penniless, starving and impoverished. It is not a coincidence that actors became wealthy exactly in conjunction with the rise of copyright. This is an example of the two fundamental principals of conservative economics, Government services such as copyright are essential to the content industry and are worth billions AND Government does nothing to help business it just takes and gets in the way. Progressives would do well to simply highlight these contradictions, such as Jonathan does here, as often as possible.

    1. Completely agree—copyright and patent are just excuses for sucking out economic rents.

      But there’s an even better example—landownership in the absence of land value taxes.

    2. Republicans would argue[*] that about the only legitimate role for government is enforcing property rights. Interestingly, Republicans never find themselves simultaneously sick and impoverished — mainly because they spontaneously turn into Democrats at that point. It’s kind of like when particles approach the speed of light they become energy.

      [*] They argue this but they don’t actually believe it — as judged by their actions.

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