Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Pathology Of Paul Ryan Republicanism


The myth of shared sacrifice

Later today, after the bond and stock markets are closed, the nihilistic hostage takers will have their little victory. Republicans-- and a handful of cowardly Blue Dogs-- will vote to push the United States government into default, with the dual purpose of their stated goal of making President Obama fail and to realize their long-cherished dream of gutting Medicare and Medicaid and, eventually, Social Security. Theirs is an agenda that was laid out for them in the sociopathic novels of Ayn Rand, the crazed conservative Republican godhead. I posted this yesterday at The Paul Ryan Watch:

Hopefully you've already seen the videos of Paul Ryan talking about how dystopian novelist Ayn Rand's profoundly anti-Christian ideas are what inspired him to leave his career as a marketing shill and enter politics. Ryan admits he "requests" that anyone who works for him read Rand's sick and perverted novels. But what Ryan has never publicly discussed is the inspirational relationship between serial murderer William Edward Hickman and Ayn Rand's work. Rand describes her hero in terms that any sociopath might admire-- and makes it very clear how someone like Paul Ryan could come up with a budget-- what he calls his "cause"-- that would destroy the lives of so many millions of working families.
"Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should," she wrote, gushing that Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'"

In Rand's make believe world Hickman is Republican Party icon Howard Roark. In real life politics, he is Clarence Thomas, Alan Greenspan, Rush Limbaugh and... unbeknownst to naive, dangerous pundits, Paul Ryan.
[L]et's meet William Hickman, the "genuinely beautiful soul" and inspiration to Ayn Rand. What you will read below-- the real story, details included, of what made Hickman a "superman" in Ayn Rand's eyes-- is extremely gory and upsetting, even if you're well acquainted with true crime stories-- so prepare yourself. But it's necessary to read this to understand Rand, and to repeat this over and over until all of America understands what made her tick, because Rand's influence over the very people leading the fight to kill social programs, and her ideological influence on so many powerful bankers, regulators and businessmen who brought the financial markets crashing down, means her ideas are affecting all of our lives in the worst way imaginable.

Rand fell for William Edward Hickman in the late 1920s, as the shocking story of Hickman's crime started to grip the nation. He was the OJ Simpson of his day; his crime, trial and case were nonstop headline grabbers for months.

Hickman, who was only 19 when he was arrested for murder, was the son of a paranoid-schizophrenic mother and grandmother. His schoolmates said that as a kid Hickman liked to strangle cats and snap the necks of chickens for fun -- most of the kids thought he was a budding manic, though the adults gave him good marks for behavior, a typical sign of sociopathic cunning. He enrolled in college but quickly dropped out, and turned to violent crime largely driven by the thrill and arrogance typical of sociopaths: in a brief and wild crime spree that grew increasingly violent, Hickman knocked over dozens of gas stations and drug stores across the Midwest and west to California. Along the way it's believed he strangled a girl in Milwaukee and killed his crime partner's grandfather in Pasadena, tossing his body over a bridge after taking his money. Hickman's partner later told police that Hickman told him how much he'd like to kill and dismember a victim someday-- and that day did come for Hickman.

One afternoon, Hickman drove up to Mount Vernon Junior High school in Los Angeles, telling administrators he'd come to pick up "the Parker girl"-- her father, Perry Parker, was a prominent banker. Hickman didn't know the girl's first name, so when he was asked which of the two Parker twins, he answered, "the younger daughter." Then he corrected himself: "The smaller one."

No one suspected his motives. The school administrator fetched young Marion, and brought her out to Hickman. Marion obediently followed Hickman to his car as she was told, where he promptly kidnapped her. He wrote a ransom note to Marion's father, demanding $1,500 for her return, promising the girl would be left unharmed. Marion was terrified into passivity-- she even waited in the car for Hickman when he went to mail his letter to her father. Hickman's extreme narcissism comes through in his ransom letters, as he refers to himself as a "master mind [sic]" and "not a common crook." Hickman signed his letters "The Fox" because he admired his own cunning: "Fox is my name, very sly you know." And then he threatened: "Get this straight. Your daughter's life hangs by a thread."

Hickman and the girl's father exchanged letters over the next few days as they arranged the terms of the ransom, while Marion obediently followed her captor's demands. She never tried to escape the hotel where he kept her; Hickman even took her to a movie, and she never screamed for help. She remained quiet and still as told when Hickman tied her to the chair-- he didn't even bother gagging her because there was no need to, right up to the gruesome end.

Hickman's last ransom note to Marion's father is where this story reaches its disturbing end. Hickman fills the letter with hurt anger over her father's suggestion that Hickman might deceive him, and "ask you for your $1500 for a lifeless mass of flesh I am base and low but won't stoop to that depth." What Hickman didn't say was that as he wrote the letter, Marion had already been chopped up into several lifeless masses of flesh. Why taunt the father? Why feign outrage? This sort of bizarre taunting was all part of the serial killer's thrill, maximizing his sadistic pleasure. But this was nothing compared to the thrill Hickman got from murdering the helpless 12-year-old Marion Parker. Here is an old newspaper description of the murder, taken from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on December 27, 1927:

"It was while I was fixing the blindfold that the urge to murder came upon me," he continued, "and I just couldn't help myself. I got a towel and stepped up behind Marion. Then before she could move, I put it around her neck and twisted it tightly. I held on and she made no outcry except to gurgle. I held on for about two minutes, I guess, and then I let go. When I cut loose the fastenings, she fell to the floor. I knew she was dead. Well, after she was dead I carried her body into the bathroom and undressed her, all but the underwear, and cut a hole in her throat with a pocket knife to let the blood out."

Another newspaper account explained what Hickman did next:

Then he took a pocket knife and cut a hole in her throat. Then he cut off each arm to the elbow. Then he cut her legs off at the knees. He put the limbs in a cabinet. He cut up the body in his room at the Bellevue Arms Apartments. Then he removed the clothing and cut the body through at the waist. He put it on a shelf in the dressing room. He placed a towel in the body to drain the blood. He wrapped up the exposed ends of the arms and waist with paper. He combed back her hair, powdered her face and then with a needle fixed her eyelids. He did this because he realized that he would lose the reward if he did not have the body to produce to her father.

Hickman packed her body, limbs and entrails into a car, and drove to the drop-off point to pick up his ransom; along his way he tossed out wrapped-up limbs and innards scattering them around Los Angeles. When he arrived at the meeting point, Hickman pulled Miriam's [sic] head and torso out of a suitcase and propped her up, her torso wrapped tightly, to look like she was alive-- he sewed wires into her eyelids to keep them open, so that she'd appear to be awake and alive. When Miriam's father arrived, Hickman pointed a sawed-off shotgun at him, showed Miriam's head with the eyes sewn open (it would have been hard to see for certain that she was dead), and then took the ransom money and sped away. As he sped away, he threw Miriam's head and torso out of the car, and that's when the father ran up and saw his daughter-- and screamed.

This is the "amazing picture" Ayn Rand -- guru to the Republican/Tea Party right-wing-- admired when she wrote in her notebook that Hickman represented "the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should."

That's a classic definition of a sociopath-- even beyond no empathy... no people even exist for you. That's describes Ayn Rand and it describes the political agenda of Paul Ryan and the Republican Party. Yes-- they are that dangerous. As Mark Ames wrote in the Alternet post I've been quoting, "Too many critics of Ayn Rand-- until recently I was one of them-- would rather dismiss her books and ideas as laughable, childish, and hackneyed. But she can't be dismissed because Rand is the name that keeps bubbling up from the Tea Party crowd and the elite conservative circuit in Washington as the Big Inspiration. The only way to protect ourselves from this thinking is the way you protect yourself from serial killers: smoke the Rand followers out, make them answer for following the crazed ideology of a serial-killer-groupie, and run them the hell out of town and out of our hemisphere.

If you'd like to help Rob Zerban do just that in Janesville, Kenosha, Racine and throughout southeast Wisconsin, you can do it here. It matters, even if you can just contribute $5 or $10. And Rob is certainly not the only Democrat using Ryan as a foil. It may be harder with conservative, corporate-oriented Democrats like Hoyer and Biden stepping on the message, but most progressive candidates are making sure their constituents understand the difference between what Paul Ryan and the GOP want to do and what progressives in the Democratic Party want to do. Here's an OpEd from Monday by New Mexico state Senator, Eric Griego, the Blue America-endorsed candidate for the open House seat in Albuqerque:
It’s been a tough week for Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan and the Republicans in Congress. First there was the stinging defeat by Kathy Hochul in a Republican Congressional stronghold in New York. Then the next day the U.S. Senate rejected the budget plan crafted by Congressman Ryan. This was the plan that guts Medicare by converting it from a program that pays medical bills for seniors to a program that gives them inadequate vouchers to go out to buy their own health insurance.

The Republican House of Representatives passed this plan and then went home to a firestorm of criticism from constituents who like their Medicare. But this plan was terrible in lots of other ways besides undermining Medicare.

The plan featured drastic cuts of some $4 trillion over ten years. Besides ending Medicare as we know it, the plan would also deeply cut health care for poor children, the disabled and elderly; food stamps; housing programs; Pell grants for low-income students to attend college; and every other federal program you ever heard of, such as the FBI, national parks, homeland security, interstate highways-- you name it.

The House Republicans who passed this budget, said these severe cuts had to be made to save our children from future budget deficits. They said “we all need to sacrifice to reduce the national debt.”

Read the Fine Print

That all sounds very noble until you read the fine print. Because at the same time the House Republicans voted to cut $4 trillion out of programs that help ordinary people, they voted to give the same $4 trillion in tax cuts to the very rich.

First, the Ryan plan would have permanently extended all the Bush tax cuts, including those for taxpayers making over $250,000 per year. That alone would add about $1 trillion to the national debt by 2019.

Second, a huge new cut would reduce the top tax rate (paid only by the richest 2 percent of taxpayers) from the current 35 percent down to 25 percent-- and doing this for both individuals and corporations. This alone would cost the treasury almost $2 trillion.

Finally, other miscellaneous tax cuts-- all targeted for the rich-- make up the last $1 trillion.

If you cut middle-class programs on the one hand, but then also cut taxes on the rich at the same time, what impact do you make on future deficits? None-- they just cancel each other out. This is using fears about deficits to pull a fast one on the American people.

Congressman Ryan claims his proposal would make up $3 trillion of this lost revenue by closing tax loopholes and “broadening the tax base.” But he and other Republicans have declined to name a single loophole or specific change to broaden the base, which has to make you wonder how serious they really are about reducing the deficit because you would need new revenue to balance the budget after so many tax cuts.

Robin Hood in Reverse

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, there is only one way to balance out a revenue loss of $3 or $4 trillion-- raise taxes on the middle class. So in the guise of “putting the nation’s fiscal house in order,” the House Republicans are trying to sneak through a massive transfer of tax responsibility from the rich to the middle class. This is not serious deficit reduction, it’s Robin Hood in reverse.

President Obama’s proposal takes deficit reduction much more seriously. It goes after future deficits by finally allowing the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent to expire, and it also cuts almost $3 trillion in program spending over a 12-year period. Many of these cuts would be very painful, and personally I don’t agree with them all, but at least they would all go to reduce the deficit, and at least there would be no tax increases on the middle class.

The bottom line is that Congressional Republicans, including Congressman Pearce, have made a lot of noise about the dangers of future budget deficits. Unfortunately, that now looks like little more than a smoke-screen behind which they will transfer income from the middle and working class to some of the richest people on the planet.

You can find Eric Griego here on the Blue America ActBlue page. Please consider what it's worth to have members of Congress like Eric Griego instead of more Paul Ryans... and William Edward Hickmans. Here's your reward for thinking about a contribution:

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