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Wednesday, December 05, 2012

• • Paul Ryan, Global Thinker? 
Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Paul Ryan  | After [Paul Ryan] was selected as Romney’s running mate, I took a closer look at how it was that the young Wisconsin congressman had developed a reputation as a big thinker, despite the fact that the numbers in his grand manifesto didn’t really add up and that his intellectual underpinnings seemed more Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged than Locke and Oakeshott.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

 How To Judge The Right’s Flight From Romney 
Paul Ryan  | Romney had given vent to a widely shared Republican worldview about the threat of growing dependency, a worldview with strong roots in conservative think thanks [...] and in rising star Republicans such as...Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan, who liked to warn of the coming “tipping point” in government dependency, who spoke in Randian terms of “makers and takers,” and who had not long ago even put his own numerical estimate on the proportion of Americans succumbing to cosseted sloth, 30 percent. The problem was that Romney had failed to give that harsh assessment the sheen that conservatives have for years been burnishing it with to make it presentable in public: the sheen of aspiration.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

 Three Things We Learned from the Secret Romney Video 

It’s official: Mitt Romney does not want the votes of 47 percent of the electorate. Or so the Republican presidential candidate says in a videotape shot at a fundraiser and obtained by Mother Jones. In the recording, Romney breaks down the election in Randian terms before an audience of affluent GOP donors.

Friday, August 31, 2012

• • • His Grief, And Ours 
Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Individualism  | Ryan’s concept of self-reliance, the gospel of John Galt (“you are your own highest value ... as man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul ...”), is devoid of all humility—it is the very vainglory against which the Bible, Ryan’s ultimate book, warned. My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth! Ryan may have disavowed Rand’s atheism, but he has not quite escaped her revolt against human finitude, her deification of the individual. This radical individualism is a delusion of impotence made over into a delusion of omnipotence.

Friday, August 17, 2012

• • • Ayn Rand’s Long Journey to the Heart of American Politics 
Alan Greenspan  |Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Nathaniel Branden  |Paul Ryan  |Personal life  |Image  | [T]he true public blossoming of Rand’s philosophy came with the arrival of the Tea Party in 2008 which transformed this subterranean undercurrent of conservative interest in Rand into a blaring declaration of love. Before the Tea Party, Paul Ryan had been one of the few conservatives willing to openly embrace Rand as a formative influence. Most conservative politicians preferred to cite thinkers like F.A. Hayek or Milton Friedman, who were both more high-brow than Rand and neutral on the topic of religion. But the very aspects of Rand that made journalists shudder in the 1960s—her angry division of the world into “producers” and “looters,” her cheesy novels—made her into a Tea Party favorite.

Monday, August 13, 2012

• • • Paul Ryan’s VP Nomination Kills Off Moderate Republicanism For Good 
Altruism  |Atheism  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Inaccurate  | It’s true that in the past few years, Ryan has distanced himself from Rand’s philosophy and particularly her atheism, which was [William F.] Buckley’s principal objection to Objectivism. But Buckley also criticized the materialism, elitism, and scorn for altruism that were essential components of Rand’s philosophy. Rand’s belief that self-interest is the paramount aspect of capitalism, according to Buckley, risked “giving capitalism that bad name its enemies have done so well in giving it.” Ryan, on the other hand, said as recently as 2009 that “Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism.”

Thursday, May 31, 2012

• • Happy Birthday To An American Icon We No Longer Deserve 
The Fountainhead  |The Fountainhead movie  | [Gary Cooper] was Ayn Rand’s architect-as-building in the film of The Fountainhead. Rand had wanted Humphrey Bogart at first to play Howard Roark, and she was used to getting her way. How can Coop do those big, grandiloquent speeches, people wondered? But he did it and he was persuasive as a willful genius who has himself been carved out of a Montana hillside.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

 What Would Be Creepier: President Santorum or President Paul? A TNR Survey. 

Capitalism  | Michael Kazin: In the creepy sweepstakes, I vote for Rick: Paul would let us all smoke dope, keep our shoes on when we go through airport security, and would not blow up the Mideast by starting a war with Iran. Santorum would outlaw birth control pills, if he could, and basically shares most of Paul’s Ayn Randian views on the economy. Of course, neither has any chance of winning the nomination.

Monday, October 24, 2011

• • Over-Rated Thinkers 

Atlas Shrugged  |Paul Ryan  | Ayn Rand has earned her presence on this list by the astonishing persistence of her theories, which seem to have attained particular volume as of late, receiving endorsement from everyone from American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks to Representative Paul Ryan (who supposedly requires his staffers to read Atlas Shrugged) to Wall Street Journal economics writer Stephen Moore (“‘Atlas Shrugged’: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years,” he wrote). Despite the fact that Rand’s worldview is a crackpot Manicheanism, in which the world is divided between virtuous, productive individuals and lazy parasites, Rand’s hold on American conservatism continues to grow, as if real thinking is ever compatible with a cult.

Friday, September 23, 2011

• • Republicans Used to at Least Talk About Poverty. What Changed? 
Whereas [Newt] Gingrich had GOPers read [Marvin] Olasky’s book, [Paul] Ryan suggests, according to New York magazine, that his staff members read Ayn Rand, who was not known (and proudly so) for her warm heart.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

• • A Paul Ryan Campaign? Are Republicans Out of Their Minds? 
Atlas Shrugged  |Paul Ryan  | Aside from the laurels he has won by putting together a budget proposal that reflects the long-frustrated conservative goal of demolishing the New Deal/Great Society safety net once and for all, Ryan is also beloved of neoconservatives struggling to rebuff resurgent neo-isolationism in the GOP, and he is a faithful ally of social conservatives as well. And what libertarian can’t help but feel good about a congressman who reportedly has made Atlas Shrugged required reading for his staff?

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.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

 The Good News in the Atlanta and DC School Cheating Scandals 
Ayn Rand Institute  |Capitalism  | Other than lunatic objectivists and Wall Street water-carriers, nobody reacted to Madoff, Enron, or WorldCom by calling for less enforcement and public reporting of information. Instead, they rightly called for more.

Monday, June 27, 2011

 Disorder in the Court 
By the early ’80s, with Reagan in the White House, conservatives were more interested in transforming the legal culture and the courts than in internecine squabbles. The founding proposal of the Federalist Society, created in 1982, suggests just how eager conservatives were to paper over their differences. As Steven M. Teles relates in The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement, the proposal stressed the importance of avoiding factionalism among “members who span a broad ideological spectrum which includes traditionalists, fusionist conservatives, libertarians, objectivists, classical liberals, and Straussians.” It even recommended that student chapters “not use the adjective ‘conservative’” because “there is no need to become involved in disputes among conservatives, libertarians and other factions about what they call themselves.”

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

 The Most Admirable Thing About the Current Mood in the Republican Party 
Inaccurate  | For a political party that seems to derive its ideology from Ayn Rand’s embrace of heedless ambition, the Republicans are going through an unexpected Ferdinand the Bull phase. Many of the GOP’s top presidential prospects prefer smelling the flowers—or taking a New Jersey state helicopter to a son’s baseball game—to becoming Teddy Roosevelt’s man in the arena, scrapping for every vote in the Iowa caucuses.

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.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

 The misguided liberal obsession with school integration 
Atlas Shrugged  | A perusal of [Siegfried] Engelmann’s Teaching Needy Kids in Our Backward System shows a callous dismissal of his findings by the Ford Foundation, National Institute of Education and Department of Health, Education and Welfare, on premises so shoddy they recall the endless submission of Rearden Metal to “further tests” in Atlas Shrugged.

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.