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Sunday, March 24, 2013

 Liberal Hypocrite Purchases Home 
It’s almost enough to make me think that conservative pundits have some kind of general problem grasping any middle ground between absolutist Randian defenses of inequality and socialism.

Friday, March 08, 2013

• • The Rand Paul Moment Has Arrived 
Paul’s sudden ascent represents the convergence of two broad currents of Republican thought. The first is the rise of Ayn Rand–ism, which has become the party’s main ideological response to the Obama years. Randism is an apocalyptic mind-set that conceives of politics as a struggle between makers and takers. Not just Paul himself, but such diverse figures as CNBC shouting head and tea-party father Rick Santelli, Paul Ryan, AEI President Arthur Brooks, and [Ted] Cruz — who quoted Ayn Rand while enthusiastically leaping to Paul’s defense — have all claimed the deep influence of Rand.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

• • Obama’s Progressive Second Inaugural Address 
Obama’s embrace of the progressive vision moved from the philosophical to the specific. He praised the role of income security programs (and assailed the Randian vision of the Republican Party), arguing that such programs “do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.” He pledged to address climate change, and he included gay rights firmly in the civil rights pantheon that has been woven into the national historic fabric.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

 Politico Accidentally Exposes Beltway Elite 
Politico editors Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen today have published what may be the most revealing piece I have ever read about the Washington power elite. [....] The subject of the piece is Allen and VandeHei’s report that broad agreement exists on the correct policy agenda, as revealed to them through “conversations we have had over the past three months with top lawmakers, officials, their senior aides and the CEOs who advise and lobby all of them.” The story proceeds to describe the obviously sensible agenda agreed upon by these sources: It is vital to reduce the deficit through tax reform and stingier entitlements, along with more free trade, resource extraction, and liberalized immigration. This is far from the Randian paranoia that has spread among so many millionaires in the Obama agenda. Indeed, I find most of it fairly sensible as policy.

Friday, November 16, 2012

• • • The GOP’s Libertarian Problem 
Atlas Shrugged  | Whatever the intellectual merits of Randian thought, it is a miserable blueprint for winning elections. Rand viewed vast swaths of the public with utter contempt. [....] Calling most Americans worthless parasites who owe everything they have to the genius of the handful of entrepreneurial geniuses is a fine worldview for building a cult, but an awful one for building a political majority. The whole Randian philosophy is built around a terror of the masses. Her vision may or may not be incompatible with democracy, but it's not well suited to win elections.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

• • Koch Brothers Reach Deal With Cato 
Capitalism  |John Allison  | The Koch brothers have been fighting to take control of the Cato Institute, against the wishes of its current leaders and staff, who they deem insufficiently devoted to the cause of plutocracy and the Republican Party. After a lengthy, public fight, the two sides reached a compromise, in which CEO Ed Crane will be pushed out and John Allison will take charge of the libertarian think tank. Allison is the former chairman of BB&T bank and best known for donating vast sums to universities and using his leverage to force them to assign their students to read Ayn Rand screeds. The running of a libertarian think tank seems like a more appropriate venue for Allison to act upon his devotion to Rand's nuttery than forcing it upon students who are trying to learn actual stuff.

Friday, December 30, 2011

• • Inequality and the Political Choice We Have 
Paul Ryan  | [Ross] Douthat snarks, “Chait considers Ryan a Randian fanatic in wonk’s clothing, so I’m sure he has a theory about the House Budget chairman’s secret plutocratic motives.” I should note that I’m not the one who considers Rand to be Ryan’s intellectual inspiration. That would be Paul Ryan who says so, repeatedly.

Monday, October 31, 2011

 Conservatives Ask, Is This All There Is? 
[Mitt] Romney is running a purely results-based campaign against President Obama. His message is simply that things are bad and Obama hasn’t made them better. (Slogan: “Obama isn’t working.”) Romney’s theme elides why things are bad and says very little about what he intends to do to make them better, other than the fact that he, Mitt Romney, is the man to do it. He soft-peddles the hard-core anti-Keynesianism, Randian ideas that have animated the right.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

• • The Ideological Fantasies of Inequality Deniers 
Capitalism  |Paul Ryan  |Personal life  | The way to understand [Paul] Ryan is that he’s deeply influenced by the theories of Ayn Rand, who believed that the root of all evil lay in attempts to alter the wealth distribution created by the free marketplace. Rand may have been a deranged cult leader, but she did live at a time when the fear of the poor devouring the rich had an actual real-world basis. She escaped communist Russia for the United States, Franklin Roosevelt — while not a reprise of the communists, as she mistakenly believed — really did denounce the rich and impose confiscatory tax rates. The world of Rand’s imagination bore a slight resemblance to the world she inhabited, but it bears no resemblance to the contemporary United States. Ryan cannot process the realities of this world because they are so at odds with the imagined world of his ideology.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

• • The Right’s ‘53 Percent’ Solution to Occupy Wall Street 
The “47 percent pay no income taxes” statistic, which has gained sudden ubiquity on the right, is an attempt to create a different kind of class consciousness — a reflection of the right’s Ayn Rand–inspired conviction that politics pits virtuous producers in a struggle against venal looters and moochers.

Monday, August 08, 2011

• • We’re Being Downgraded For The Wrong Reasons 
No other advanced country has a major political party influenced by supply-side economics and the moral teachings of Ayn Rand, and therefore, no other major political party can match the GOP’s theological opposition to revenue.

Friday, July 22, 2011

 Paul Ryan Exposes Himself 
Paul Ryan  | Ryan has carefully nurtured his deficit hawk image by expressing his Randian ideology in the high-minded language of the establishment.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

 Michelle Bachmann’s Worldview 
Capitalism  | Bachmann is a cutting edge religious right conservative, espousing an apocalyptic free market fundamentalism that’s become virtually indistinguishable from the apocalyptic Randian worldview of the party’s libertarian wing.

Monday, June 06, 2011

• • • Is Ayn Rand A Political Liability? 
Paul Ryan  |Video  | Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve taken a, er, healthy interest between Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand, who Ryan has credited as his inspiration for getting into politics, and whom he continues to tout. I think Rand explains a great deal about Ryan’s worldview, of course. But I’m also fascinated with the politics of it. Rand was a crackpot, a hateful and ignorant cult leader. You don’t see leading members of Congress openly touting the genius of Lyndon LaRouche. How can a Rand devotee attain such political influence?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

 Right-Wing Fervor Drives Republicans into Suicide Pact 
Atlas Shrugged  | Politico reports that Senate Republicans believe they must “make the case that their proposals would ‘save’ Medicare — while Democrats are content with leaving the program on the brink of collapse.” That sounds like a brilliant idea, except Republicans in upstate New York repeatedly used that line against Kathy Hochul. [....] Perhaps young Republicans can drop out of college for a couple of years to knock on doors, clutching copies of Atlas Shrugged and spreading the Good News.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

• • Ayn Rand’s Pseudo-Philosophy 
Image  | One of the many hilarious things about Rand is her philosophical crankery. I didn’t get into this issue in my review about Randism, because the point of the piece was to focus primarily on her political impact, but her fraudulence in this realm is pretty striking. She was a true amateur who insisted on seeing herself as the greatest human being who ever lived because she was almost completely unfamiliar with the entire philosophical canon. A pulp screenwriter who had read a tiny bit of philosophy -- about as much as an average undergrad at a liberal arts college -- she developed wild delusions about her place in intellectual history, delusions that managed to seduce the members of her cult.

Friday, April 22, 2011

 Why do Paul Krugman and David Brooks hate each other? 
Capitalism  |Paul Ryan  | The assumption that a nice lunch would bride the gap between Obama’s technocratic meliorism and [Paul] Ryan’s Randian determination to liberate hero-capitalists from social obligation can be bridged over some nice corned beef sums up everything I find endearing and frustrating about [David] Brooks.

Friday, April 15, 2011

 The WSJ edit page uses predator satiation 
It’s like the [Wall Street]Journal, which is itself my favorite target, held a convention of my favorite targets. [....] You have Donald Luskin, last seen calling me a “lying scumbag,” defending Ayn Rand against her unnamed critics.

 The House GOP vs. the deficit grand bargain 
Paul Ryan  | As I argued in a Newsweek column, when [Paul] Ryan invokes the need to avert a fiscal crisis, he is not talking about the numerical gap between revenue and outlays. He is invoking his Randian belief that collectivism is doomed to lead to societal collapse.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

• • • War on the weak 
Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  |Inaccurate  | Ayn Rand [...] was a kind of politicized L. Ron Hubbard—a novelist-philosopher who inspired a cult of acolytes who deem her the greatest human being who ever lived. The enduring heart of Rand’s totalistic philosophy was Marxism flipped upside down. Rand viewed the capitalists, not the workers, as the producers of all wealth, and the workers, not the capitalists, as useless parasites.