Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan Is Not The Moderate The Far-Right Says He Is

Paul Ryan is the latest in a stream of Republicans to aim for the position of speaker of the House after John Boehner announced his plan to step down last month. The House Freedom Caucus, the far-right group of members with Tea Party ties, was at first reluctant to back Ryan, and is even now catching criticism from conservatives who believe Ryan is not conservative enough to represent far-right values as speaker.

The fact that Ryan is now seen as a “moderate” in the Republican party shows just how far to the right the party has moved.

Ryan has courted the far-right for years. He has spoken at the Values Voter Summit, an event sponsored by the radically anti-gay Family Research Council, the American Family Association, and others. At the 2012 summit, Ryan’s appearance was billed alongside a litany of ultraconservative leaders and even a self-proclaimed “former terrorist” Kamal Saleem, who told summit attendees that Hillary Clinton would ban churches before leaving the State Department. Ryan has also courted the Religious Right at Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference. Religious Right activists were ecstatic after Mitt Romney selected Ryan as his running mate, with Reed praising Ryan for his stellar anti-choice voting record.

Ryan also promotes a far-right policy agenda. He is vehemently anti-choice, going so far as to support forcing pregnant victims of rape to carry their pregnancies to term. Ryan even partnered with Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin to introduce a bill that would have given zygotes personhood, effectively criminalizing many forms of birth control.

Furthermore, Ryan has vowed to oppose marriage equality and is a climate change denier. This record has won Ryan the praise of Religious Right activists including Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, and the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who noted that Ryan’s voting record fit with “biblical understanding” of the environment.

Ryan has also tried to put a Christian face on Ayn Rand-inspired economics. In the budget plan he unveiled in 2012, much of the spending cuts came from programs for the poor, such as food stamps, housing assistance and employment services, in addition to slashes to Social Security. Ryan made his feelings toward low-income people known when he blamed poverty on the “culture” of “inner city men” and insinuated that kids who receive free lunches at school don’t have caring parents. While Ryan cited his faith for the creation of his budget, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged him to reconsider his policies and Jesuit scholars from Georgetown University wrote in a letter to Ryan that his budget plan “appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

While Tea Party members clamor that Ryan is too moderate, his anti-choice, anti-LGBT, anti-environmentalist, and draconian economic record shows just how extreme he is.

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Religious Right Will Cheer Tea Party Extremism at Values Voter Summit

Boehner threatens the global economy w/ default, the Tea Party shutdown continues & a new Supreme Court term could do harm to campaign finance, reproductive choice & church-state separation...perfect week for the Values Voter Summit!

Civil Rights Groups Urge GOP Leaders to Skip Values Voter Summit

This weekend, Religious Right leaders and GOP politicians will gather in Washington for the Values Voter Summit, an annual event that highlights the cozy relationship between Republican elected officials and extreme right-wing groups.

The event is hosted by the Family Research Council, a group with a long record of pushing false anti-gay propaganda. And one of the event’s major sponsors is the American Family Association, whose extreme right-wing views are expressed on a daily basis by its spokesman Bryan Fischer.

On Friday, People For the American Way joined with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Faithful America, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza to send a letter to every public official scheduled to speak at this year’s Values Voter Summit, urging them to withdraw from the event.

Among the scheduled speakers are Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Tim Scott and Reps. Paul Ryan, Randy Forbes, Michele Bachmann, Jim Bridenstine, Louie Gohmert, Jim Jordan, Steve King, Steve Scalise and Scott Turner.

The letter [pdf] reads in part:

We understand that you’ve been invited to speak at the upcoming Values Voter Summit being held in Washington, D.C., from Oct. 11-13. Given the demonizing lies about the LGBT community spread by the host, the Family Research Council (FRC), and another major sponsor of the event, the American Family Association (AFA), we urge you to not lend the prestige of your office to the summit.

The FRC has amassed an extensive record of vilifying gays and lesbians with falsehoods – portraying them as sick, evil, incestuous, violent, perverted, and a danger to the nation.  Perhaps its most insidious claim is that gay men molest children at a far higher rate than heterosexual men – a claim refuted by all credible scientific authorities, including the American Psychological Association. Yet the FRC has continued to smear gays and lesbians by claiming  that pedophilia, in the words of FRC President Tony Perkins, “is a homosexual problem.”

Perkins also says the “It Gets Better” campaign, an initiative designed to give LGBT students hope for a better tomorrow, is “disgusting” and part of a “concerted effort” to “recruit” children into the gay “lifestyle.” One senior FRC official has even argued that homosexuality should be illegal.

The AFA’s Bryan Fischer, who serves as the group’s spokesman and director of issue analysis, frequently blames homosexuality for the Holocaust and Nazi Party: “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews.” He also promotes the views of the American architect of the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda.

Demonizing the LGBT community has consequences. As FBI data demonstrate, it is one of the groups most likely to be victimized by violent hate crimes. Defaming them publicly day after day – as the FRC and the AFA do – only throws fuel on the fire.

The bigotry of the FRC and the AFA is not limited to gays and lesbians. Fischer, for example, has said that African Americans “rut like rabbits” and argued that women should be kicked out of politics and the military. He’s also stated that Hispanics are “socialists by nature”  and come here to “plunder” our country. The FRC’s executive vice president, Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, has said Jews must be converted to Christianity and has argued that “Islam is not a religion and does not deserve First Amendment protections” – a statement that is antithetical to American ideals.

In 2011, we urged Mitt Romney not to share a stage with the extremists, and particularly Fischer, at that year’s Values Voter Summit. Although Romney still attended, he also made a point of calling out Fischer’s “poisonous language." This year, Fischer was noticeably not listed as a speaker at the summit, although his employer remains a sponsor.

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  • Paul Ryan will be the keynote speaker at the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List Gala. 
  • Ryan was also among the 67 Republicans to oppose a bill providing $9.7 billion in Sandy relief, which the House passed after the GOP leadership withdrew a much more substantial aid package.
  • Apparently, conservatives are shocked and dismayed that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would dare to criticize House Republicans for pulling the plug on the Sandy aid bill. 
  • National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher has ended her column after seventeen years.

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Ryan's Real Values? Reed and Rand

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will hold a town hall teleconference with Ralph Reed, the disgraced former head of the Christian Coalition who is making a political comeback with a conservative voter turnout project called the Faith and Freedom Coalition. That group is sending voters flyers warning that reelecting Obama would allow the president to “complete America’s destruction.” They also compare Obama’s policies to the threat posed to America by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

For all Paul Ryan’s talk about values, it’s worth remembering who his pal Ralph Reed is: a self-enriching win-at-any-cost political operative whose own campaign for office was tanked by revelations of Reed’s involvement in a scandal with Jack Abramoff, the convicted corrupt lobbyist who helped Reed get business “humping in corporate accounts” after he left the Christian Coalition and started his own consulting firm.

As Kyle has noted:

There are few political operatives active today that are as ruthless and cynical as Ralph Reed.

Reed is, after all, the man who infamously declared that he specializes in "guerrilla warfare," and bragged "I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag." 

Reed also knowingly took hundreds of thousands of dollars from corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff to manipulate and mobilize his Religious Right allies to fight gambling expansions in order to protect Abramoff's client's gambling interests.  Reed even had some of the money laundered through third-parties in order to try and conceal its origins, yet continues to insist to this day that he is "proud" of the "outstanding" work he did on behalf of Abramoff and his clients.

Ryan cites his Catholic faith to distract attention from his devotion to Ayn Rand and her infamous hostility to charity toward the poor.  Reed himself preaches the Tea Party’s notion that federal government programs that serve the poor and elderly are unconstitutional. (And of course, for a big chunk of the Religious Right, the social safety net is not only unconstitutional, but unbiblical.)

The FFC held several events at the Republican National Convention featuring other notable “values” stalwarts such as Newt Gingrich, union-busting Scott Walker, anti-gay activist Jim Garlow and down-the-government-in-the-bathtub anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist.

Reed said earlier this year that American Christians must get down on their knees and beg God for forgiveness for “what we have allowed to happen” to the country – then God might have mercy on America (the implication being that God would help Romney defeat Obama).

 Back in 2008, John McCain was embarrassed by watchdog groups over his participation in a fundraiser organized by Reed; in the end Reed did not attend. Four years later, the values-promoting Paul Ryan seems to have no hesitation embracing Reed, who exemplifies the self-promoting values of Ryan inspiration Ayn Rand.

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Paul Ryan Promises Focus on the Family that He Will Fight Gay Equality

During an interview with Focus on the Family president Jim Daly, Paul Ryan reassured the anti-gay group that a Romney-Ryan administration will fiercely oppose gay rights. Focus on the Family and its founder James Dobson have a long history of promoting anti-gay policies and ex-gay therapy, and earned a shout-out from Romney earlier this week while campaigning in Colorado, where it is headquartered.

While Romney has moved in his career from backing gay rights to becoming a vocal foe, Ryan has a solidly anti-gay voting record in Congress. Ryan told Daly, whose political arm has been spending money on behalf of Romney and a number of other Republican candidates like Todd Akin, that the ticket is firmly against same-sex marriage and that he was a “big supporter” of a 2006 amendment which enshrined marriage discrimination into the Wisconsin state constitution. He also said the Obama administration’s decision not to defend the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act hurt the “rule of law” and “contradicts our system of government,” however, a number of presidents including George W. Bush have not defended statutes they deemed unconstitutional.

Daly: Focus on the Family has been behind the scenes working for years to defend marriage and to speak out for marriage and the importance of marriage. I think thirty-two out of thirty-two states where we have helped put a ballot initiative or some other mechanism in front of the people, we have won that thirty-two out of thirty-two times. It seems like when it’s in front of the people they vote for it, if it’s the state-level judges they will try to do it by fiat or if it is simply some other mechanism, the State House passes it without the vote of the people. For the Romney-Ryan ticket, when you look at marriage, what do we need to do in the culture to lift up and strengthen the very core building block of society and that’s family.

Ryan: It’s the foundation for society and for family for thousands of years. First of all, Mitt Romney and I — I’ll just say it, it’s worth repeating — we believe marriage is between one man and one woman, that’s number one. Number two, you know where I come from we had one of those amendments in Wisconsin, I was a big supporter of it and we passed it like you say, where it’s put on the ballot it passes. The second point is, President Obama gave up defending the Defense of Marriage Act in the courts, I mean, not only is this decision to abandon this law the wrong decision, it passed in a bipartisan manner, it is very troubling because it undermines not only traditional marriage but it contradicts our system of government. It’s not the president’s job to pick and choose which laws he likes. A Romney administration will protect traditional marriage and the rule of law and we will provide the Defense of Marriage Act the proper defense in the courts that it deserves.

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Sex, Lies, and Bloodlust: What the Values Voter Summit Tells us About the Religious Right and the Republican Party

During this past weekend’s Values Voter Summit, the annual family reunion of the far right, RWW posted many memorable video highlights. What does it all tell us about the Religious Right and today’s Republican Party? First are foremost, Republican leaders are unwilling to distance themselves from the far-right fringes of their base, especially in an election year in which conservative evangelical voters are not tremendously excited about Mitt Romney. Romney took a pass this year, and it’s not hard to understand why. Last year, organizers maliciously put him on stage right before the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who had ridiculed Romney’s Mormonism. A supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry denounced Mormonism as a cult, and the flap over Romney’s faith was the dominant story coming out of the gathering. It was much safer to let Paul Ryan represent the ticket this year, and to have other speakers like Rick Santorum and Rick Scarborough ensure evangelicals that voting for Romney was in fact a good thing. Romney did send a tepidly-received video, which seemed almost an afterthought. What is motivating these activists is not enthusiasm for Romney but their hostility toward the Obama administration.
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