As the Republican Roof Caves In, Paul Ryan Hits the Road

Saturday, April 14, 2018By William Rivers PittTruthout | Op-Ed

U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) leaves his weekly press conference April 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. Ryan answered a range of questions related primarily to his announcement yesterday that he will not run for office again in the 2018 midterm election. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) leaves his weekly press conference April 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. Ryan answered a range of questions related primarily to his announcement yesterday that he will not run for office again in the 2018 midterm election. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms …

— TS Eliot, “The Hollow Men”

It began back in 2015 with a low rumble, like something buried deep in the Earth had rolled over in its sleep: GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine, representing Oklahoma’s first district, was retiring at the end of his term. Hardly anything about the announcement was newsworthy outside of Tulsa and Wagoner; maybe one person in ten thousand could pick Jim Bridenstine out of a line-up. As it turns out, he was the leading indicator of an explosive trend. Bridenstine was the first, but will certainly not be the last.

Two years after Bridenstine’s announcement and 15 months into the presidency of Donald Trump, the floodgates have opened: The Republican House members who are either leaving the House after the 2018 midterms or have already left in disgrace include Sam Johnson, Lynn Jenkins, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, John J. Duncan Jr., Dave Reichert, Charlie Dent, Dave Trott, Jeb Hensarling, Lamar Smith, Frank LoBiondo, Ted Poe, Bob Goodlatte, Joe Barton, Bill Shuster, Gregg Harper, Ed Royce, Darrell Issa, Pat Meehan, Rodney Frelinghuysen, Trey Gowdy, Tom Rooney, Ryan Costello, Dennis Ross, Jason Chaffetz, Tim Murphy, Pat Tiberi, Trent Franks, Blake Farenthold, Kristi Noem, James Renacci, Raul Labrador, Steve Pearce, Diane Black, Evan Jenkins, Luke Messer, Todd Rokita, Lou Barletta, Marsha Blackburn, Ron DeSantis, Martha McSally and Kevin Cramer.

Leading the charge toward the exits is none other than Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who confirmed on Wednesday that he is stepping down and leaving office after 2018.

That is 43 departures, compared to the Democrats’ 19, and the roof has not finished caving in quite yet. As Republican dysfunction and Trumpian mayhem continue to command the day, more departures are certain. Democrats need to pick up 24 seats in order to wrest back control of the House. The Cook Political Report scores 86 seats as being competitive, with 66 of those currently held by Republicans.

For remaining Republicans who still have to row their way to safety in an increasingly perilous election season, Ryan’s sudden departure was a knife thrust under the fifth rib. “It’s just another illustration of the harbinger of things to come,” Terry Sullivan, former campaign strategist for Marco Rubio, told The Hill. “There’s no Republican who’s optimistic about the November elections. If the leader of Republicans in Congress doesn’t want to be there, what is the reason they should be?”

What began two Novembers ago as an all-encompassing Republican victory, a takeover of two branches with a stranglehold on the third, has devolved into a chaotic stampede to avoid the looming and seemingly insurmountable “Blue Wave” to come. “This is the Watergate pattern writ large,” writes Rick Wilson for The Daily Beast. “In 1973, Republicans were screaming that the investigation was nothing but a Fake News Witch Hunt. They lost 49 House seats and eight Senate seats in 1974, two months after Nixon resigned.”

Take a bow, soon-to-be-former-Speaker Ryan. The representatives who believed you to be the party’s economics whiz kid, who elevated you to the Speakership after Boehner bolted, who even went so far as to nominate you to be vice president in 2012, have finally come face to face with the real man behind that aw-shucks smile. The view is not pleasant. Rather than act as the leader of an equal branch of government, Paul Ryan played the part of amiable doormat to the most ridiculous president since Andrew Johnson, and the whole caucus is about to pay a gruesome price for it.

Yes, Ryan helped see the recent massive tax cut into fruition, but this was not some herculean endeavor. Getting Republicans and Democrats in Congress to agree that rich people deserve more money is about as difficult as squeezing toothpaste out of a tube. Ryan’s lifetime quest to shatter the social safety net he once depended upon may not have been fully realized yet, but he helped put enough of a beating on Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security that millions will feel the pain of it for many years to come.

That was always the truly insidious part of this man with the boyish face and a pocketful of debunked economic theories. If you asked him, Ryan’s seeming goodwill would pour out of his doe eyes as he explained that all he wanted was to help people. Trouble is, he never made clear which people those were until the largest transfer of wealth in modern history was completed. Then he left. Mission accomplished.

The GOP is Trump’s party now. Mitch McConnell still rules the Senate, but with an ill electoral wind blowing even in that august chamber, he has little choice but to staple himself to a wildly oscillating wrecker who is so twisted that his own lawyernow exists only as a stack of captured boxes deep inside FBI headquarters. Every GOP election campaign is going to come down to a bunch of petrified Republicans trying to out-Trump each other with the base while hoping Fearless Leader isn’t caught building a dacha on the Volga River.

If you think I exaggerate the circumstances for congressional Republicans, consider this: The current GOP front-runner for Ryan’s seat is an avowed white supremacist named Paul Nehlan. After a peaceful counter-demonstration in Charlottesville was attacked by fascists and Nazis, resulting in the murder of one protester, Nehlan tweeted, “Incredible moment for white people who’ve had it up to here & aren’t going to take it anymore.” This, along with a barrage of racist and anti-Semitic garbage, got Nehlan bounced from Twitter, but despite cries of outrage from the Wisconsin Republican Party, he’s at the top of the list to replace Ryan. Also, Donald Trump likes him. In Republican-world these days, that’s all that seems to count.

One could call this the end of an era, except that Paul Ryan has only been Speaker for about as long as it takes to boil an egg. His years in office stand as a towering example of how far one can go in Republican politics if you cling relentlessly to the trickle-down theory while gnawing at the base of Medicare like a beaver felling an oak. A part of me will always wonder if things could have been different for Ryan had Joe Biden not laughed in his face on national television way back in 2012.

The fact that Paul Ryan is fleeing the very disaster he helped manufacture is just and fitting, an appropriate demonstration of the modern Republican ethos. He made rich people richer and served as a turnstile for the most dangerous president in living memory. History will remember him as yet another hollow man whose passage was marked only by the sound of the wind moaning through his empty spaces. Paul Ryan will not be missed.


Nope!

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Tigers’ Travis Wood almost lost his finger in a hunting accident

https://www.blessyouboys.com/2018/2/14/17011876/detroit-tigers-travis-wood-hunting-accident-spring-training-finger-splint

Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

When Travis Wood arrived at spring training camp Tuesday with a splint on his finger, it caused a few eyebrows to rise. The lefty pitcher was signed to a minor league deal by the Tigers in late January and is a non-roster invitee to the spring camp. A pitcher showing up with his hand in a splint is usually a pretty bad sign.

Turns out the story Wood had to go along with the splint is even more incredible. About a month prior to spring training, Wood was preparing to go bow hunting, when a mishap with the crossbow he was using nearly caused the index finger on his non-pitching hand to be cut off.

Wood, who knew spring training was fast approaching and was hoping to fight for a spot on the Tigers Opening Day roster, had the most insane and badass response to the injury.

Tigers non-roster invite Travis Wood has a pin in right index finger after a bow hunting accident. He said he asked doctor if chopping finger would get him back to pitching sooner. Fortunately, he’s left-handed. He’s throwing in camp but not catching yet.

Yes. He actually asked his doctor if amputation would be a faster route back to pitching. Sure, that’s crazy, but talk about being devoted to the sport.

Since the injury is to his right hand, and Wood is a lefty, he will still be participating in spring training workouts and will, presumably, continue to pitch through spring. His dedication may pay off with a place on the 40-man roster if he has a good camp.

New Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire had a sense of humor about the injury.

“He’s got a split-finger now,” Ron Gardenhire said of Travis Wood.

Dog killed by bow hunter inspires new bill to restrict hunting

http://newjersey.news12.com/story/36623273/dog-killed-by-bow-hunter-inspires-new-bill-to-restrict-hunting

TRENTON –A New Jersey lawmaker is set to propose a new bill Wednesday aimed at restricting hunting near residential property.

It’s called Tonka’s Law and is named for a dog killed by a bow hunter in September in Readington Township. The bow hunter was about 50 feet from the property line of the dog’s owners.

Officials said the hunter, Romeo Antonuccio, of Kenilworth, was charged with careless discharge and damage of property after he told police that while trying to shoot deer from a tree stand, he thought the dog was a coyote.

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak plans to announce the new bill Wednesday night on Facebook Live.

A crossbow hunter thought he shot a coyote. It was a family dog named Tonka

 September 23 at 2:46 PM

Tonka, a 1-year-old Alaskan shepherd, sleeps next to James Mongno, 9, and Lauren Mongno, 3. Tonka died Sept. 20 after a hunter mistook him for a coyote and shot him. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Mongno)

Elizabeth Mongno was walking Tonka around her wooded property in rural New Jersey when the 1-year-old dog spotted a deer and decided to chase it.

Tonka liked to roam free on the 3-to-4-acre parcel of land divided among a handful of homeowners, and he usually came back within seconds. But when he dashed into the woods Wednesday evening, he didn’t return. She screamed for Tonka to come back, and about 30 seconds after her dog took off, she heard a yelp. She knew Tonka was hurt, and thought he had been bitten by another animal.

About 10 minutes later, her husband found Tonka on the ground about 50 feet from their property line. He’d been shot directly in the heart with an arrow. Tonka tried to walk home, Mongno said, but he didn’t make it.

“It didn’t occur to me that there’s a hunter in the woods,” Mongno told The Washington Post. “I started screaming.”

Police said Tonka was killed by a crossbow hunter who mistook the 95-pound Alaskan shepherd with white and gray fur for a coyote chasing a deer. The hunter, Romeo Antonucci, was licensed to hunt and was within the proper distance from houses when he fired, police said. But Antonucci has been charged with careless discharge of a weapon and damage to property. (In this case, Tonka is considered property, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection told NJ.com.)

Antonucci, of Kenilworth, N.J., did not respond to requests for comment.

Bowhunters in New Jersey are allowed to hunt deer as long as they are 150 feet from residences. The state legislature passed a bill in 2010 to shorten the minimum distance requirement from 450 feet to 150 feet, in an effort to curb the deer population.

Tonka sits on the couch with James Mongno. (Elizabeth Mongno)

State law also allows hunters to shoot coyotes. Only bows are allowed during the fall hunting season, which began this month. Firearms and bows are permitted from November to March.

Mongno said Antonucci is a relative of one of her neighbors, who gave him permission to hunt on their property, which is not far from Mongno’s. She said she and the other neighbors should’ve been made aware that somebody was hunting on the property, which is dotted with five houses, so that they knew to be more careful.

“We didn’t know that there was anybody hunting. . . . Children played in those woods,” Mongno said. “It didn’t even occur to us that anybody would even hunt there because it’s a small piece of property.”

Mongno said she is not against hunting. Though she doesn’t hunt, her husband is an avid hunter.

“If the rule is 150 feet, and that is what it is, that’s fine,” she said. “But we have the right to know if somebody is hunting in the property adjacent to us. . . . It never occurred to us that we needed to have hunting laws for our back yard.”

Tonka, an Alaskan shepherd, with  Lauren Mongno. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Mongno)

She also criticized Antonucci for mistaking her dog for a coyote.

“If he couldn’t tell the difference between a dog and a coyote, he should not have a weapon. . . . You need to know your target,” she said.

Mongno’s family got Tonka last year, when he was still a puppy. The beloved dog had become Mongno’s third child and her little boy’s best friend.

“I will never forgive myself for letting him get away from me. My poor kids couldn’t be more broken, especially my 9-year-old.  . . .  Tonka put so many smiles on so many faces. His lovable, goofy personality made everyone around him happy,” Mongno wrote on Facebook.

Mongno’s Facebook profile has many pictures of Tonka with her children.

One photo showed Tonka sleeping in the car with Mongno’s son James, 9, and daughter Lauren, 3. James was resting his head on Tonka, who was curled up in the middle seat between him and his little sister. Another photo showed a younger and smaller Tonka sitting on the couch with his tongue sticking out as James lay next to him with a big smile on his face.

“My son cried himself to sleep every night,” Mongo said.

James skipped school last Friday because he knew his friends and classmates would ask about what happened to his dog, Mongno said, but he didn’t want to talk about Tonka.

Read more:

Family dog found dead in plane’s cargo hold after a two-hour flight delay

Game wardens killed a deer — in front of the family that kept it as a pet

This Alabama hunter shot and killed an 820-pound hog — after it wandered into his front yard

Paul Ryan, a Mirage Candidate, Wages a Parallel Campaign

ryanwax

By JENNIFER STEINHAUER15 hrs ago
 
WASHINGTON — As the Republican candidates for the White House battled in Wisconsin last week, Speaker Paul D. Ryan was conspicuously absent from his home state — but he was very much on the political stage.

He visited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, where he also met with local reporters and made several statements affirming the United States’ commitment there, before heading to other Middle Eastern nations and Germany to discuss security and intelligence issues.

Back in Washington, his staff churned out its latest flattering video of Mr. Ryan, deploring identity politics and promoting a battle of ideas — set to campaign-style music. And his office continued to beat back the not-exactly-library-voice whisper campaign favoring a coup at the Republican convention in July that would elevate Mr. Ryan to the top of the ticket.6-4Hansens-trophy-goat(Pictured here, Paul Ryan’s fellow bowhunter, Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen.

 

Is Ted Nugent considering a run for the White House?

[In Case You Haven’t Heard Yet…]

The “outdoorsman,” and Michigan native, is known for his guitar licks and long locks, but a recent photo posted to his wife Shemane Nugent’s Instagram account shows The Nuge with a short, conservative haircut. and no ponytail.

In a Washington Post interview, The Motor City Madman hinted at presidential ambitions.

Hi, I’m Ted Nugent. I have nine children from seven women, and I’m running for president.” Nugent takes a sip of water, having delivered his potential slogan. “Yeah, I’m thinking about it.”

The Detroit rocker is known for his political statements and during the 2012 presidential campaign, Nugent got into hot water for ominous comments related to the eventual re-election of president Obama.

The 64-year old Nugent still maintains a part-time residence in Jackson County. He considered running for governor of Michigan in 2006 and 2010.

Would you vote for Ted Nugent for president?

Yes No O Fuck No O Never in a Million Years O Not if Sarah Palin’s life depended on it

http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2013/10/14/ted-nugent-cut-his-hair/

30973_4756818474045_484772904_n

The People Have Spoken: Global Warming, Real—Magic Underpants, Not

Well, the votes are in and counted; a decision has been made. The people have spoken: global warming is real—magic underpants are not. And bowhunters are not fit to hold higher office, much to the disappointment of Paul Ryan and his role model, Ted Nugent. By shunning the diehard deer hunter, the voters have made it clear that the animals of the Earth are not mere playthings for the rich and famous, the powerful and perverse.

Perhaps now that the election is over we can forget about magic underpants and begin to focus our attention on the real issue that affects all our lives—namely, how human actions are changing the planet’s climate.

According to Kevin Knobloch, with the Union of Concerned Scientists, “President Obama has won another four years in office. In the wake of destruction left by Hurricane Sandy, the country may have experienced its first election disrupted by global warming. What makes this even more troubling is that the urgent crisis of climate change was never meaningfully discussed in the debates or on the campaign trail. After a year of punishing droughts in our nation’s breadbasket, extreme heat across most of the country, and wildfires that devastated our forests and property, it is now time to turn up the heat on our political leaders. Even with the continued polarization in Washington D.C., there is much President Obama can do to adopt science-based solutions that permanently drive down our carbon emissions and more effectively prepare for the climate-related disasters that will continue to threaten our lives and livelihoods.”

The trick will be making sure our lives and livelihoods don’t compound the problems of global warming. For example, shipping freighter-loads of coal across the ocean to be burned in Chinese power plants might provide a few jobs here for some, but is it worth the trade-off of carbon emissions produced?  Is the hedonism of the Western diet worth the continued suffering of billions of animals and the methane they produce? “Real change” will take real commitment and real innovation, rather than business as usual.

Cartoon © Rob Tornoe, 2012. All Rights Reserved

Still Undecided? Vote against the Bow Hunter

If you’re one of those hold-out voters we keep hearing about who hasn’t yet decided who to elect for President, here’s an idea for you: cast your vote against the guy that boasts a bow hunter as his Vice-presidential partner in crime—the Robin to his Batman. (That would be the Republican, Mitt Romney—in case you’ve been lucky enough to miss his outspoken VP sidekick and hunting addict, Paul Ryan, yammer on and on about his favorite hobby of launching aluminum shafts tipped with razor-sharp arrowheads into the bodies of innocuous, peace-loving deer.)

I can understand and relate to the disillusionment anyone might feel about our current President. Some of the things he’s pulled—joking about eating dogs, removing their canine cousins, the wolves, from the federal Endangered Species list thereby casting their fates into the eager hands of hostile states, or relegating  horses and burros to the slaughterhouse—are unforgivable. We can’t let him get away with that sort of thing in the future.

But, there’s no doubt that the other candidate would commit equally atrocious crimes against animals, in addition to mocking global warming with his stated goals of approving the Keystone pipeline and opening up fragile federally protected lands to oil drilling. Adding insult to injury, Romney had to go and tap not just a hunter, but a goddamned bowhunter—the most sadistic strain of killer out there—for a running mate.

Unfortunately for dedicated animal advocates, we’re forced to have to choose between the lesser of two evils yet again. In this case, the bowhunter is clearly the greater evil on the ballot.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Ryan Choses Vegan as Speechwriter

Fair warning to voters: If you start hearing Paul Ryan waxing poetic about mercy and compassion, those aren’t his words but rather the words written for him by animal welfare author, vegan and former George W. Bush speechwriter, Mathew Scully.

According to an article in the Daily Caller, “Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan has tapped renowned speechwriter Matthew Scully to assist with campaign communications in the lead up to the GOP convention in Tampa, Florida. …

“He’s a Catholic vegan: Scully, who investigated meat-processing plants and factory farms during his stint in journalism, wrote a book arguing for the better treatment of animals called Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and The Call to Mercy. A Catholic like Ryan, Scully believes that the Bible’s injunction for man to “have dominion” over other species requires us to treat all living things with respect — and extends that philosophy to personally abstain from eating meat.”

Of course, diehard bowhunter, Paul Ryan is light years from abstaining from meat and must think men, including rapists, have “dominion” over women too (but not the respectful, merciful kind of dominion Scully suggests for animals). Ryan was also in the news today for having co-sponsored a legislation with the now infamous Todd Aiken aimed at redefining rape and forcing women to turn an unwanted pregnancy into an unwanted and possibly unloved child.

Paul Ryan is shown here indicating just how much compassion and mercy bowhunters like him really have for animals…

Obama: “Ryan is a Decent Man”

In his first remarks on Paul Ryan, President Barack Obama said, “I know him. I welcome him to the race. Congressman Ryan is a decent man,” but has “wrong vision for America” (especially for our wildlife, I would add).

When I read that Obama gave Ryan the dubious distinction of being “a decent man,” I had to wonder if our Commander in Chief has been reading my blog—in particular, a post I made back in early June, entitled…

He Was a “Decent” Man

Posted on June 9, 2012

Nobody is all good or all bad all of the time. Like the universe, people are multi-dimensional. Some of the most “decent” people I know are hunters. [well, not including bowhunters].These folks, who are inarguably unkind to animals during hunting season, are often as friendly and neighborly as you please to their fellow people. I have to assume there was some major peer pressure involved in their decision to start hunting as kids. And they must be doing some heavy compartmentalizing to keep it up as adults.

One of the most memorable and symbolic scenes in the movie, The Silence of the Lambs, is when Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster’s character) tells Hannibal Lecter of a traumatic experience she had while staying at a relative’s sheep ranch in Montana. She was awakened before dawn by the screaming of the lambs her uncle was slaughtering. When Lecter questioned the rancher’s morality, she quickly replied, “He was a very decent man.” No doubt the sheep would not agree. Somehow people who are capable of extreme cruelty can also have a convincingly “decent” side.

Ordinarily well-thought-of people can turn ugly and unkind when taking part in unnaturally cruel activities, where cruelty is the norm rather than the exception. One of the known coping mechanisms for workers in slaughterhouses is to objectify and demean animals as unworthy of consideration. Not only can people in these situations become indifferent towards “lowly” animals, they frequently turn sadistic. They can come to be obsessed with cruelty, taking pleasure in causing animals increased suffering.

Ten years before Jack the Ripper, nineteenth century French serial killer, Eusebius Pieydagnelle, developed such an obsession while growing up across the street from a butcher shop. He told police, “The smell of fresh blood, and appetizing meat, the bloody lumps–all this fascinated me and I began to envy the butcher’s assistant, because he could work at the block, with his sleeves rolled-up and bloody hands.” [Interestingly, Paul Ryan boasted, “I butcher my own deer, grind the meat, stuff it in casings and then smoke it”—not to get high of course, that rush must come from the killing.]

In spite of his respectable parents’ opposition, young Eusebius became an apprentice at the butcher shop where he wounded cattle and drank their blood. But the greatest excitement for him came when he was allowed to kill an animal himself: “…the sweetest sensation is when you feel the animal trembling under your knife. The animal’s departing life creeps along the blade right up to your hand. The mighty blow that felled the bullocks sounded like sweet music to my ears.” Shocking words from someone who was always thought of as a “decent man.” …

The media depicts Paul Ryan’s chosen hobby, bowhunting, as “quaint,” “folksey” or “outdoorsy,” but if the animals—whose bodies his arrows tear in to—had anything to say about it, they’d ask him: “Where’s your sense of decency?”

Wildlife Photograhy Copyright Jim Robertson