Open thread for night owls. Alterman: pundits fawning over Paul Ryan as GOP savior don’t make it so

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan didn’t conquer the Freedom Caucus. He capitulated to it.

At The Nation, Eric Alterman kicks some ass that dearly needed kicking in Meet Paul Ryan, Media Darling. He’s Sensible, Serious, and Totally Made-Up:

The beatification of right-wing Republican Paul Ryan has become an almost annual ritual among the punditocracy. This bizarre tradition began when Ryan released his first budget as chair of the House Budget Committee in 2011, and repeated itself a year later when he rereleased it. It occurred a third time when Mitt Romney—under powerful punditocracy pressure—picked Ryan as his running mate for the 2012 presidential campaign. Now we are in the midst of yet another episode in this sorry franchise, as Republicans and their apologists and propagandists beg Ryan to use his superhero powers to save them from the lunatics who have taken over their party. It’s a measure of how deeply the

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have dived into know-nothing, do-nothing nihilism—and, no less significantly, how deeply our most prestigious pundits remain in denial about this fundamental fact—that Ryan has been able to continue the charade, despite having been repeatedly exposed as a math-challenged Ayn Rand acolyte. […]


This “Ryan to the rescue” fairy tale is merely the latest manifestation of a corrupt bargain made by many members of the mainstream media. Unable to escape the intellectual straitjacket that requires them to cover the Republican Party as if its ideas are serious, they accept a false equivalence between Republican crazy-talk and normative reality. Clearly, no honest analysis can support such coverage of a party whose leading candidates—including Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Ted Cruz—routinely say such nutty things that they make far-right extremists like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio sound relatively reasonable. As the respected (and centrist) political scientist Theodore Mann of the Brookings Institution recently put it, “Republicans have become more an insurgency than a major political party capable of governing.” This “reality of asymmetric polarization, which the mainstream media and most good government groups have avoided discussing,” Mann notes, has come “at great costs to the country.” Quite obviously, it should also have cost its enablers their reputations for honesty, perspicacity, and prudence. But the pontification business in America is apparently a perpetual-motion machine that can run indefinitely on ideological hot air.   

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2002Consumer confidence at 9-year low:

Here’s the article many of you are discussing in the comments: The Consumer Confidence Index has fallen for the 5th straight month, and is now at a 9-year low.
Stocks sank in early morning trade on Tuesday after a report showed consumer confidence in October fell to its lowest level in nine years, fanning fears over the fate of the economic recovery.

“It spooks the market, because it suggests confidence is actually weaker than we thought and that’s it’s getting harder and harder to make the case consumer spending will hold together,” said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany Corp. “This is not a good number.”

Consumer spending has single-handedly propped up this economy. In previous recessions, consumer spending led the economy back to health. This time around, consumer spending has remained high (thanks to historically low interest rates), making recovery a much more difficult proposition. If consumer spending slows, it would be catastrophic to the economy.

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Already tired of Republican debates? Well, there are 11 more to go – 4 this February. And, they are certain to not be any more substantive or enlightening than this one. So, what can you do? Listen to David Waldman, Greg Dworkin and Armando on today’s Kagro in the Morning. Today’s show is everything the debates were not: insightful, meaningful, factual, truthful and entertaining. After listening, drop by, because by then you should have a good idea of how much you’d like to donate. Jeb! has a lot of really cool things he could be doing right now. Good news! His debate performance is quickly making this possible. Carson up, but his personality will catch up with him – Trump’s has already, although his numbers probably have always been inflated. The debaters don’t like the media, but may dislike the facts even more.  Rubio and Cruz may end standing by laying low now. Paul Ryan did get elected Speaker of the House, with 9 voting against him. Here’s a handy reference guide, previewing the fights he will have in store. David and Armando discuss the US Constitution’s Origination Clause, which factors into court challenges to Obamacare.  David dissects an article on the false promise of judicial restraint. This article was written by George Will, so unless you are a trained professional like David, do not attempt this alone.

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