By now, you surely know, if you didn’t already, that Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick, wants to privatize Social Security and turn Medicare into a voucher system. You might have read that, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, his economic plan “calls for radical policy changes that would result in a massive transfer of resources from the broad majority of Americans to the nation’s wealthiest individuals.”
Less attention has been paid, though, to Ryan’s hard-right positions on social issues. Indeed, on abortion and women’s health care, there isn’t much daylight between Ryan and, say, Michele Bachmann. Any Republican vice-presidential candidate is going to be broadly anti-abortion, but Ryan goes much further. He believes ending a pregnancy should be illegal even when it results from rape or incest, or endangers a woman’s health. He was a cosponsor of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, a federal bill defining fertilized eggs as human beings, which, if passed, would criminalize some forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization. The National Right to Life Committee has scored his voting record 100 percent every year since he entered the House in 1999. “I’m as pro-life as a person gets,” he told The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack in 2010. “You’re not going to have a truce.”
Indeed, Ryan exemplifies a strange sort of ideological hybrid that now dominates the GOP. On economic issues, he’s a hardcore libertarian who once said, “[T]he reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker…it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.” Yet when it comes to women’s control of their bodies, he quickly turns into a statist. “In the state of nature—the ‘law of the jungle’—the determination of who ‘qualifies’ as a human being is left to private individuals or chosen groups,” he wrote in a 2010 essay titled “The Cause of Life Can’t Be Severed From the Cause of Freedom.” “In a justly organized community, however, government exists to secure the right to life and the other human rights that follow from that primary right.”
For anyone who wants to know how Ryan thinks, that essay is worth reading. It’s about 1,500 words long, but the word “woman” doesn’t appear in it once. Nor does the word “mother.” To him, a woman’s claim to bodily autonomy or self-determination doesn’t merit even cursory consideration. Here’s his analogy: “The car which I exercised my freedom of choice to purchase…does not ‘qualify’ for protection of human rights. I can drive it, lend it, kick it, sell it, or junk it, at will. On the other hand, the widow who lives next door does ‘qualify’ as a person, and the government must secure her human rights, which cannot be abandoned to anyone’s arbitrary will.”
This disregard for the exigencies of women’s lives—the dismissal of their choices as amoral exercises of “arbitrary will”—was thrown into high relief during his 1998 run for congress against Democrat Lydia Spottswood. Both candidates backed a ban on so-called partial-birth abortion, but Spottswood believed there should be exceptions in cases where a woman’s life or health is endangered. “Ryan said he opposes abortion, period,” reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He said any exceptions to a ‘partial-birth’ abortion ban would make that ban meaningless.”
During that campaign, Ryan also expressed his willingness to let states criminally prosecute women who have abortions. According to another Journal Sentinel article, he “would let states decide what criminal penalties would be attached to abortions. Ryan said he has never specifically advocated jailing women who have abortions or doctors who perform them, but added, ‘If it’s illegal, it’s illegal.’”
Mitt Romney chooses Paul Ryan as running mate
Mitt Romney has chosen Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan to be his vice presidential running mate.
Sourced reports of the news emerged late last night, and Romney’s “Mitt’s VP” mobile app confirmed the choice this morning. Romney is holding an event in Norfolk, Virginia, at 9 a.m. EDT today to make the formal announcement. More updates on BreakingNews.com.
Photo: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 10, 2012. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)
Of course they would leapfrog the official announcement with the app. Of course.
Boom! Our take? Michael Tomasky on Romney’s Stunning, Terrible VP Choice
Frontpage: Thursday, April 5th
- Romney Surges in Pennsylvania: Things aren’t looking good for Rick Santorum. Mitt Romney’s campaign moved to Pennsylvania on Wednesday, and a poll already shows him leading Santorum in his home state by five percentage points.
- Greek Suicide Prompts Protest: Reports of a 77-year-old Greek pensioner killing himself in Athens’s Syntagma Square have galvanized austerity protesters. Greek media identified the man as Dimitris Christoulas, a retired pharmacist, who allegedly shot himself after leaving a note protesting austerity measures. “I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life, so I don’t find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance,” the note read. People marched in the square and left flowers and notes at the site of Christoulas’s death, but by evening the demonstrations had devolved into violent clashes with riot police.
- Sky News Admits Hacking Email: A senior executive from Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News admitted on Thursday that he had authorized a journalist to hack into email on two separate occasions, and justified the hacking by saying it was “in the public interest.”
- Paul Ryan in Campaign Spotlight: Representative Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney have been saying such flattering things about each other over the last few days and it’s prompted speculation of a vice presidential nomination.
- Syria Attacks Damascus Suburb: Syrian forces launched what activists called one of its most violent assaults yet on a Damascus suburb Thursday, shelling residential areas with tanks. According to Mohammed Saeed, an activist based in the suburb, they used troops as human shields as they marched into the area’s main square.
Frontpage: Friday, Mar 30th
- Paul Ryan Backs Romney: Is Paul Ryan riding high from his budget victory? The conservative Wisconsin Republican congressman endorsed Mitt Romney for president on Fox and Friends Friday morning.
- Funeral Director Contradicts Zimmerman: The funeral director who prepared Trayvon Martin’s body said Friday there was “no physical signs like there had been a scuffle” on the teenager—a key part of George Zimmerman’s claim that he shot and killed Trayvon in self-defense. “The hands—I didn’t see any knuckles, bruises or what have you,” said Richard Kurtz. Isn’t this what police are supposed to determine?
- Wife: Bin Laden Fathered Four Kids: What a “martyr.” Osama bin Laden apparently didn’t have such a bad experience on the run, since he had time to father four children, and owned five houses that he moved among, according to The New York Times, which cited a testimony given by bin Laden’s youngest wife to Pakistani investigators.
- Arrest Made in Pasadena Shooting: Pasadena police officers are being questioned over the shooting death of an unarmed 19-year-old college student on Saturday night in Pasadena, California. Kendrec McDade was killed on a dark, narrow street, and reports say no light was turned on to see what was happening.
- France Arrests 19 Radical Suspects: French police on Friday arrested 19 people described as radical Islamists as part of an operation targeting suspected jihadist networks in a number of cities. President Nicolas Sarkozy said in an interview with Europe1 radio that he was mounting a crackdown after self-proclaimed al Qaeda member Mohamed Merah killed seven people in the Toulouse area before being shot dead last week.
Photo: So, Katniss, aka Jennifer Lawrence, witnessed this Blake Griffin dunk.
Frontpage: Tuesday, Mar 20th
- Grand Jury to Hear Trayvon Martin Case: A grand jury will hear the Trayvon Martin case on April 10, the Florida Attorney General announced on Tuesday. Norm Wolfinger said that the state will use the grand jury “investigative resources” to figure out if criminal charges should be filed in the death of the 17-year-old.
- Syrian Opposition Accused of Abuse: Human Rights Watch on Tuesday said the Syrian opposition has taken part in abuses that include kidnapping, detention, and torture of Syrian security-force members. Sarah Leah Wilson, the New York–based group’s Middle Eastern director, said the Syrian government’s “brutal tactics” do not justify the alleged abuses by the opposition groups.
- Romney Faces ‘Must-Win’ in Illinois: It might not be Super Tuesday, but this Tuesday could be crucial to Mitt Romney. The Republican candidates face off in Illinois on Tuesday, with 54 delegates at stake—a victory Romney desperately needs after being pounded last week in Alabama and Mississippi.
- House GOP to Release Debt Plan: House Republicans will release their $261 billion deficit-reduction plan on Tuesday, with a focus on tax cuts. The plan, written by Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, would simplify the tax code by collapsing the current system of six tax brackets down to two marginal rates, Republican aides said Monday.
- At least 39 Killed in Iraq Blasts: At least 39 people were killed and 188 injured in a series of car bombings throughout Iraq on Tuesday, hospital sources told MSNBC. The deadliest attack occurred in the Shiite Muslim holy city of Kerbala, where a health-department spokesman said 13 were killed and 48 people were injured in two explosions.
Photo: Brazilian Olympics team member Cesar Castro trains for the upcoming games in London. (SERGIO MORAES)
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, one of the Republican Party’s leading deficit hawks, will deliver the GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union address next week. Ryan has earned respect among Republicans for his plan to return the federal government to solvency with controversial measures like privatizing Social Security.