Saturday, August 11, 2012

On The Eve of our Great National Debate ™ Over Ayn Rand -- UPDATE

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It is helpful to remember that Paul Ryan is every bit as big a flip-flopper as Mittens. 

As Lawrence O'Donnell's video shows, Congressman Ryan has spent most of his adult life as a proud and fervent acolyte of Ayn Rand. 

The atheist, pro-abortion-on-demand-through-the-ninth-month Ayn Rand. 

The Ayn Rand who wove her deep contempt for religion and for people of faith into everything she ever wrote. 

That Ayn Rand. 

Then as his public profile began to grow with the fundamentalist, anti-science, anti-Planned Parenthood teahadist base, he did what any good Fox News Teapublican would do:

Verily I Say Unto Thee 

That this night

Before the kooks crow

Over at "The New Yorker", Jane Mayer homes in on this enormous breach in Paul Ryan's political armor. First, there are the protestations of eternal love and fidelity:

Posted by Jane Mayer

With the choice of Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney adds more to the Republican ticket than youth, vigor, and the possibility of carrying Wisconsin—he also adds the ghostly presence of the controversial Russian émigré philosopher and writer Ayn Rand.

Although she died thirty years ago, Rand’s influence appears on the rise on the right. As my colleague Ryan Lizza noted in his terrific biographical Profile of Ryan, Rand’s works were an early and important influence on him, shaping his thinking as far back as high school. Later, as a Congressman, Ryan not only tried to get all of the interns in his congressional office to read Rand’s writing, he also gave copies of her novel “Atlas Shrugged” to his staff as Christmas presents, as he told the Weekly Standard in 2003.

Two years later, in 2005, Ryan paid fealty to Rand in a speech he gave to the Atlas Society, the Washington-based think tank devoted to keeping Rand’s “objectivist” philosophy alive. He credited her with inspiring his interest in public service...

Later, when happy-fun-time is over and dragging her around in public becomes a liability with the people he is trying to impress, comes the breakup.

First, he stops returning her phone calls. Then he avoids her at the annual Galt's Gulch Anti-Christmas, Religion-is-for-Mentally-Ill-Parasites Party

Then, this:
More recently, however, Ryan distanced himself from Rand, whose atheism is something of a philosophical wedge issue on the right, dividing religious conservatives from free-market libertarians. This year, with his political profile rising, Ryan stressed not only that he had differences with Rand’s atheism—a point he had made as far back as 2003—but went so far as to denounce her whole system of beliefs, describing his early attraction to her writing as little more than a youthful dalliance. He admitted that he had “enjoyed her novels,” but, as Mak notes, he stressed that, “I reject her philosophy. It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas
The craven Mr. Ryan has downgraded Ayn Rand -- once the love of Mr. Ryan's ideological life  -- to nothing more than a clingy weirdo with whom he once had a little strange on the side; a political embarrassment to be heaved under the bus the minute she became an inconvenience.

In Republican-speak this is known as "Pulling a Gingrich".  


To the "driftglass is bashing atheists!" persons in the comment section, point to me please where in this post I bash atheists.  

I have correctly described the opinions and beliefs of Ayn Rand as she opined and believed them.

I have pointed out that Ayn Rand's stated beliefs and opinions are diametrically opposed to the beliefs and opinions of the fundamentalist Republican Base which Mr. Ryan is now trying to court.

Have at it, and if you find my voice bashing atheists in this post I will happily issue a public apology.

OTOH, if it turns out that this is a product of your imagination, I reserve the right to hang you out as a pinata and to add the phrase "those thin-skinned, chimera-chasing atheists" to my public vocabulary :-)

Yours in Christ,



Cirze said...

Actually, Ryan has only several passages of Ayn Rand memorized.

And these just appeal to his avarice (and his sponsors' desires).

When quizzed on Rand's works a few years ago, he came across on that program as rather ignorant of her oeuvre.

And that defines most of them, doesn't it?

Love you guys!


D. said...

Suzan: I suspect your third sentence doesn't really need those last three words included to be true.

I wish it made a difference.

Unsalted Sinner said...

But he's so Serious! He has charts and everything!

Anonymous said...

Am I the only person who thinks dude looks amazingly like Marty ["Abby Normal"] Feldman?

Not that I would EVER want to see anything Photoshopped up to that effect.... (cough cough)

Anonymous said...

Ayn Rand inspired him to go into public service?!? It's bad enough to read her stuff (and hard to believe someone could like it as a novel) but Ryan apparently didn't even get it.

Unknown said...

It's Eddie Munster!

Anonymous said...

Rmoney decided to sneak in an "on sides kick" with Eddie Munster, (sorry for the gratuidous football analogy), and it failed to go the required 10 yards. So the dems are awarded the ball at the the "R's 40 yard line first and ten.

marindenver said...

Terrific post as always. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

well trevor i shouldnt give it out but i think this is there web address
and details , there there most competitive in the game , mention l binafordgift him out

Unknown said...

"nothing more than a clingy weirdo with whom he once had a little strange on the side" - Bravo, driftglass, I love your gift of metaphor and I always strive in my various comments and postings to emulate you...thank you for your inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Liberal hopes that Christian conservatives are going to be put off by Ayn Rand's atheism are ill founded and ignore recent history.

Conservatives reconcile Rand with Christ by saying "OK, she wasn't right about everything, but we don't have become orthodox Objectivists in order to take most of her philosophy and run with it."

When pressed, the standard Rand Christian position is "Jesus said to take care of the poor, but who said anything about Big Government?".

Anonymous said...

heh heh heh...I see a Ryan/Rand "Fatal Attraction" photoshop in the not-so-distant future!

Jonathan said...

Not to mention heaping another pebble onto the mountain of 'all atheists are heartless soulless bastards'. Boy am I already tired of that shit. Folks like Rand who used atheism as an excuse to be treacherous libertarian pieces of shit are no better than a Pat Robertson using Jesus as a club against gays and negroes and stuff, and just as bad for the group of people they're pretending to be a legitimate part of.

Ormond Otvos said...

Well now Drifty, you stepped over the line while taking the easy path by running down atheism.

Rand's and Ryan's governing philosophy isn't based on atheism, and you know it.

It's based on personal greed, which is based on a misunderstanding: the trickle-down theory.

Don't go bashing atheism, which is a righty thang to do, and stupid besides. We're trying to think here, and you're better than that.

If you are unfortunate enough to believe in sky gods, work on it in front of a mirror. How about a column on reality bashing by the partially aware?

Frank Stone said...

heh heh heh...I see a Ryan/Rand "Fatal Attraction" photoshop in the not-so-distant future!

Beat'cha to it. ;)

Jack said...

Don't be stupid, Ormond. Drifty isn't running down atheism. He's strongly suggested that he's an atheist -- or at least an agnostic -- many times. You should listen to his podcast; you could hear it with your own ears.

I realize some people think there's a massive and important difference between atheism and agnosticism, while others think the terms are essentially synonymous. Not really sure where, exactly, on this spectrum Driftglass lies, but if you knew him and his attitudes, you'd know he wasn't bashing atheists.

What was he doing, then? He was highlighting the fact that the GOP, a party overrun by Bible-thumping wingnuts, now has a standard bearer who was deeply influenced by a zealot who openly despised religion and religious people.


Driftglass: A little free, unsolicited, and hopefully not annoying feedback on the use of underlining, from a web designer who spends too much time thinking about these things: Don't use underline for emphasis on the web. Every time you underline something on your blog, there are thousands of people moving their mouse over the underlined words to see where the link goes. Because underline means "link" on the web. Needless to say, trying to click an inactive "link" will significantly distract readers from what you are trying to say.

Other than that, cheers and regards and thanks for the blog and the podcast.

Ormond Otvos said...

So string me up, Drifty!

What I objected to was the whole atheists versus the Christians wedge issue being mouthed again.

“I reject her philosophy. It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. "

Yes, it was Ryan speaking, not you. Nonetheless, it chaps my hide to hear that crap quoted and not refuted on the spot.

It's your blog, so what's your take on atheism? I think I should have heard it then.

Anonymous said...

Rather ironic that the O'Donnell opinion piece is preceded by a commercial for Romney.

Keep patronizing the 'free market', drifty.... I'm looking forward to the day every internet liberal opinion will be preceded by mandatory GOP spam.

Jasper said...

FWIW, thick-skinned atheist here.

To Ormond Otvos:

>> "Yes, it was Ryan speaking, not you."

Chimera identified and noted.

>> "…it chaps my hide to hear that crap quoted and not refuted on the spot."

Each negative mention of atheism needs to be qualified with a sidebar in which Driftglass defends atheism?

If that is the case then Driftglass may proceed with his "thin-skinned, chimera-chasing atheists" sobriquet after all.

In short: lighten up, Francis.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has been following the blog and listening to the podcast for years, I've never heard DG or his wife make a negative comment about atheists or agnostics.

On a purely personal level, I'm a person of (non-Judeo-Christian) faith, but I would be quite happy to see a large block of atheists and agnostics in Congress. Because the white, English-speaking Christians of the USA have been so culturally isolated for so long, they have no reality check or any perception of another world view. They think that all things come down to faith, and so politics, science, history, and fact are all subject to the rules of faith. This is why they were courted by the Republican party after the racists. Their world view has been cultivated, so that now the ignorant (Tea Party) base has the same faith-based foundation as the crazies (fundamentalists and birchers). The ignorant base really believes that if you can get enough cranky old white people together in a Tea Party rally to all simultaneously say, "Science if fake! The Founding Fathers based the Constitution on the Bible! The Real Problem is brown people!", then it suddenly becomes true.

Now, as other people stated, Driftglass, as for the premise that Ayn Rand's loathing of religion being a wedge for the fundamentalist wing... I think you underestimate how delusional they can be. As I've said, the main difference between the baggers and the fundies is that the fundies have long term goals, plans, and mythology, while the baggers can turn on a dime overnight. However, the fundies can change their perceived reality when they must protect The Narrative. Name me *one* *single* *person* in the religious right echo chamber who has looked at the number of prominent people in the anti-gay movement who have snorted drugs off a hustler's ass who then said, "You know, all these anti-gay people we pay a lot of money seem to like The Dick. Perhaps we should take a second look at this?"

Religion is gentility, and therefore "polite company". One of the rules of polite company is that you DO NOT DISCUSS certain indelicate things, like the fact that your minister snorted meth of a hustler's ass or told his congregation to read a book by someone who said Christians are worse than nine Hitlers with an Obamacare Socialism Death Panel on top. It is a societal norm like what you call the etch-a-sketch. They are simply not discussed in polite Christian company, and that makes the problem simply go away.


jim said...

I've enquired elsewhere as to when America will wise up & start calling Ryan's fiscal plan "The Ayn Rand Budget" ... there will be no knuckles bitten nor baited breath while I'm waiting to learn the answer.

Ormond Otvos said...

Yep. I'd like to see, as I said, a refutation of anti-atheist thought every time it comes up. Not necessarily a paragraph, or even a sentence.

I see no chimera. I have no opinion on Drifty's take on the skygods, but I do have an opinion on whether it's time to lay down for the canard.

marindenver said...

Ormond, I like how you moved the bar from "don't bash atheists" to "you must refute every anti-atheist sentiment that you quote". Not buying it, me or anyone else.

Interrobang said...

Ayn Rand also spent her twilight years living on Social Security. Also, she plagiarised Yevgeny Zamyatin.

Anonymous said...

Isn't plagiarism the most sincere form of flattery?


Anonymous said...

Ayn Ryan spreads his legs to the highest bidder -- in this case Willard Mittens Romney and the Christian whacks so he had to throw his atheist auntie under the bus. Now the aging school boy got schooled BIG TIME. It would be best for him and serve him to spend more time in the gym working on his skinny thighs so that when he spreads his boy legs for the reactionary right and the self-serving Romnians he'll look more attractive and not like such a weenie.

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