Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Posts Tagged ‘Ayn Rand’

Wingnut-Welfare Recipient And Ayn Rand Fan Craig Westover Lectures Us On Self-Reliance, Morals

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 8, 2012

In the course of his StarTribune missive seeking to enhance the right wing’s desire to demonize Saul Alinsky and any and all other lefties who have effectively fought against Westover and his fellow one-percenters, sings the praises of Ayn Rand, who of course taught that the one-percenters like Westover were so far above we mere mortals in the 99% class because they’re so much stronger and self-reliant and unhindered by things like morality and conscience and compassion.

Westover, in fact, is one of the Minnesota right wing’s leading recipients of wingnut welfare, having for many years drawn a paycheck at the Minnesota Free Market Institute (he’s still there in an unpaid capacity as a “Senior Fellow”), a notorious sheltered workshop for otherwise-unemployable conservatives, before going on to be the paid mouthpiece for the incompetent and crazy Pat Awada Anderson and was hired last year by disgraced former RPM Chair Tony Sutton to be the the Republican Party of Minnesota’s Communications Director.

As for whether Ayn Rand is more moral than Saul Alinsky, well — Guess who based the male heroes of several novels on a vicious punk of a serial killer named William Hickman? (Hint: Her name rhymes with “Mine Bland”, and she herself became what she scathingly called a “moocher” in later life, turning to Social Security benefits when her conservative buddies refused to significantly assist her and her ailing husband.)

I think I’ll take the guy who improved the lives of millions of Americans over the woman who spun turgid tales for the elites in order to provide comfy justifications for their own amorality and sociopathy.

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Ayn Rand: Why Wall Street And Capitol Hill Are Stuffed With Psychopaths

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 11, 2012

Recovering Republican activist Mike Lofgren wonders if America’s super-rich have in essence seceded from the rest of the country:

It was in 1993 during Congressional deliberation over the North American Free Trade Agreement. I was having lunch with a staffer for one of the rare Republican members of Congress who opposed the policy of so-called free trade. I distinctly remember something my colleague said: “The rich elites of this country have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris and Tokyo than with their own fellow American citizens.”

This is why they do things like this:

Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; if one owns a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension – and viable public transportation doesn’t even show up on the radar screen. With private doctors on call, who cares about Medicare?

To some degree, the rich have always secluded themselves from the gaze of the common herd; for example, their habit for centuries has been to send their offspring to private schools. But now this habit is exacerbated by the plutocracy’s palpable animosity toward public education and public educators, as Michael Bloomberg has demonstrated. To the extent public education “reform” is popular among billionaires and their tax-exempt foundations, one suspects it is as a lever to divert the more than one-half trillion dollars in federal, state and local education dollars into private hands, meaning themselves and their friends.(ii) A century ago, at least we got some attractive public libraries out of Andrew Carnegie. Noblesse oblige like Carnegie’s is presently lacking among our seceding plutocracy.

What could be responsible for this heightened sense of contempt the hyper-rich, the Wall Street crowd, and their Congressional go-fers feel for their victims — a contempt that some have tagged as sociopathic?

This parody post offers up a clue with a parody Ayn Rand discussing with L. Ron Hubbard how to set up the world’s worst prank:

“What’s the worst prank you could possibly pull?” he wanted to know. I can still see those piggy little eyes glinting while he said it. He was an ugly man. I have no idea how I ended up with him. But he asked the question a few times, and I didn’t really have much of a reply. Until one day, the answer just came to me.

“The worst thing you could do would be to somehow take the most terrible people in the world, and make them even greater douches than they already are. Find a way to zero in on all of their ugliest faults and vices, and just… just amp them up beyond belief. That would be something.”

Which is a pretty accurate description of Objectivism.

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A response to laissez faire Randianism

Posted by Charles II on November 15, 2011

An exchange occurred on the Tyler Cowan thread that I would like to memorialize by promoting it to a full post. I suspect it is based on the wrongheaded idea that Mercury Rising is somehow anticapitalist, which is simply ridiculous. I think I speak for all of us in saying that Mercury Rising represents the best of the Founding Fathers ideals for the country: to establish a place where people could achieve their greatest potential without at the same time limiting or harming others (and, yes, I am aware that they failed at that task by not extending their conception of what constitutes a human being to slaves and the indigenous population). Capitalism can certainly be a part of that– no alternative system for the exchange of goods and services has been demonstrated to work in complex societies– but capitalism is not God.

So, here, unedited, is the initial comment, and what it inspired:

fairelaissez said November 15, 2011 at 12:09 am e

As painful as it is to make a logical comment on this ranting, here goes. Alan Greenspan betrayed Ayn Rand, her philosophy and himself. His opinion either way is irrelevant. Capitalism has never been tried, not fully. Not even halfway. We had a taste of it a hundred years ago. Little is left of it now. We have to start over.

Fairelaissez, that’s exactly what Marxists say about communism! Stalin and Mao betrayed it, it has never been tried, etc. etc. They will not concede the possibility that it contains a structural flaw.

But I think it’s more important that you’ve managed a fail at the most basic point, i.e., your implication that you are making a logical comment. Most prominent is the fact that the thread is about Rand, not about capitalism. Unless you believe that Rand represents the only flawless exponent of “real” capitalism, it does not follow that a failure to embrace Randianism represents a failure to embrace capitalism.

But the fail is far deeper than that. Logic implies well-defined terms, a limited set of reasonably defensible axioms, and a proposition which connects axioms into a theorem which itself is not falsifiable. On all accounts, your comment is a fail.

Since capitalism, according to you, has never actually existed, using it as a term is problematic. If I were to claim that we would all be happy if only we worshiped the Magic Duck, no one would take it seriously. But because there are a number of people with a lot of money who sincerely wish for a capitalism that doesn’t cause human suffering, the same unsubstantiated claims circulate decade after decade.

Well, let’s concede that in a real world we always deal with impure quantities. If we have experience with 99% pure gold, we probably have a pretty good idea of how 100% gold would behave. It’s always possible that there could be a discontinuity of behavior, but if the ideal is greater than what can be achieved, we cannot posit such a discontinuity. We have to argue our case through careful extrapolation.

The generally agreed upon definition of capitalism, let’s say Wikipedia’s (“elements of capitalism include private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit, competitive markets, and wage labor”), does not include Rand’s vision of (again, Wikipedia) “a market system with no interference by states.” So, you wish to use a definition that resembles a Magic Duck in that most people simply don’t accept it.

But, ok, let’s humor you. A market system with no interference by states it is. Such states do exist in the form of small villages. Unfortunately for your case, they tend to be socialistic. People may not be coerced by the state to share their bounty, but they do not engage in the sort of sociopathic behavior that Rand advocates, if only for a healthy fear of being shamed publicly. And, before you take “sociopathic” as some sort of insult, it is fully grounded in fact. She based one of her fictional heroes on William Edward Hickman, a man who kidnapped and dismembered a 12 year old girl. In this case, Wikipedia does not do justice to the man or Rand’s relationship to him, so I refer you to this and this. If you are unwilling to explore those links, then you do not know Rand.

But, of course, Rand’s little idiosyncrasies do not discredit the Magic D…er, pure capitalism.

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Posted in abuse of power, Ayn Rand, capitalism as cancer | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Ayn Rand Fan Tyler Cowen Doesn’t Like The Results Of Decades Of Randism On Conservatives

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 13, 2011

This just cracked me up.

Tyler Cowen, Ayn-Rand-worshiping product of and coddled hothouse flower in the conservative ideology factory and Koch Brothers plaything known as George Mason University, is all bummed out at how lazy and amoral conservatives and libertarian producers are letting themselves be outshone by liberal moochers in the intellectual and other departments:

The first problem is that higher status for the wealthy can easily lead to crony capitalism. In public discourse social status judgments are often crude. Critical differences are lost, like the distinction between earning money through production for consumers, as Apple has done, and earning money through the manipulation of government, which heavily subsidized agribusinesses have done. The relevant question, in my view, is not about how much you have earned but about how you have earned it. To further confuse matters, many right-wing Republican politicians supported corporate bailouts and corporate welfare far beyond what was necessary to stabilize the economy, in doing so further muddying the difference between productive and predatory capitalism.

The second problem is that many conservatives have become so attached to their cultural vision that they have ceded sound, technocratic reasoning to the left and center. For instance there is a common willingness among conservatives to defend the Bush tax cuts, even though the evidence does not show much of an economic payoff.


…today’s elites are so wedded to permissive values — in part for their own pleasure and convenience — that a new conservative cultural revolution may have little chance of succeeding.

Well, boo hoo hoo.

The spoiled-brat Cons Cowen rails about are precisely what you get when you rear three generations of conservatives on Ayn Rand’s mid-20th-century Social-Darwinist gloss on the Calvinistic idea that they are the Elect and everyone else is the Preterite.

Of course the modern Cons are lazy, stupid, greedy, and amoral — and it’s because they are Randians, even the self-alleged Christians among them like Mark Sanford.

They have been trained to think of themselves as the embodiment of her perfect elite, the studly producers and “makers” whose every action per Rand (including rape and murder) is self-justified, and to have nothing but contempt for the 99% — or as they call us, the “moochers”, “parasites” (a term adopted by rabid Randian Alan Greenspan (aka Mr. Andrea Mitchell) when he was a young man: “Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.”), “looters”, and “takers” (which math-challenged Rand worshiper Paul Ryan favors).

So when Cowen says that everyone needs to behave like “the hero from an Ayn Rand novel”, what he doesn’t mention is that the very conservatives and Republicans he’s allegedly complaining about are the ones who have taken Rand’s words most strongly to what passes for their self-interested, self-centered, other-ignoring, empathy-shunning hearts. Quelle surprise — not.

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League, libertoonians, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, rightwing moral cripples | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

GOP Shrugged: Republicans Love Ayn Rand

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 6, 2011

Not much to add to that, really.

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)
Charles says, 6/11/11, I found something to add: All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (thanks to HoneyBearKelly)

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Atlas Slugged AGAIN!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 25, 2011

The Ayn Rand parody that saves future generations from having to slog through her prose. Here’s a sample:

“Who is John Glatt?”

Dragnie Tagbord chuckled as the arms of the students before her shot with arrow-like directness and clean mechanical precision toward the ceiling. Among this group of third-graders, such a response–the lifting of hands and their display to the gaze of their instructor, each other, and to the distinguished woman visiting their school–was a proud and public announcement of knowledge. I know, proclaimed each raised hand. I know, with pure awareness in the consciousness of my mind, the answer to the question I have just been asked.

Their teacher, Miss
Pigg, was a short, squat woman in a shapeless, baggy garment the
color of desiccated oatmeal. Although constantly informed by
politicians and television personalities of her value to society, in
her outward, personal appearance she looked shabby and morose, as if
harboring in some unconscious recess of her intelligence the shameful
awareness of the fact that, like all those whose livelihoods involved
servicing the needs of children, she produced nothing. She pointed.
“Yes, Johnny Timmons? Do you know?”

I?” The
boy, a ten-year-old unafraid to proclaim his love of truth,
suppressed a smile tinged with amused mockery. “Yes, I know it.
John Glatt is the smartest, bravest, most rational man in society,”
he replied. “It was he who, ten years ago, recruited our nation’s
true producers—the entrepreneurs and businessmen whose vision,
courage, and energy wrests value from the mute, raw earth—and led
them into a strategic retreat from the forces of theft, cowardice,
and corruption that prevailed over men in that desperate time. It is

Dragnie whispered, “It
is to him we owe—”

“It is to him we owe
the Age of Production, which we enjoy—”

The rest of the class
joined in. “—TO THIS VERY DAY!”

A laugh escaped from
Dragnie’s lips. Exercising her free will, she re-captured it and
restricted it to solitary confinement. She had chosen to spend this
John Glatt Day touring one of the ten thousand
kindergarten-through-Grade Twelve institutions, all of them
independently owned and operated and all of them called The Glatt
School, that had replaced the hidebound and notoriously inefficient
public educational system. It would not do, she thought, to display
levity in this, or any, environment.

Wordlessly, Dragnie
turned and left the classroom. There was no need to thank the
pupils. There was no need to thank their teacher. There was no need
to wish them well. Her exit was itself a kind of lesson. Do not
ask for praise
, it said. Do not ask for acknowledgment or
good wishes or pampering. Do not ask for “please” or “thank
you” or “you’re welcome” or “Gezundheit” or any of the
other tokens of mental enslavement with which men have for centuries
sought to limit the sacred freedom of the individual ten-year-old and
draft him like a chump into the unconscious mob that men call
“society.” We have no time for nurturing. Our enemies are
massing. We need you to be strong—not only when you become adults,
but today. We need strong third-graders, and second-graders, and
first-graders. We need strong kindergarteners and nursery-schoolers
and pre-schoolers and Mom-and-Me toddlers and babies and infants. We
desperately need strong neonates, fetuses, and zygotes. For that
matter, we need strong housepets. We need strong dogs and cats. We
need strong hamsters. We need strong gerbils.


Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Sunday Morning News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 17, 2011

— Rather than make the rich pay their share of taxes, the state of Michigan is taking away democracy from yet another town so it can destroy what’s left of its middle class in the name of “fiscal responsibility”:

Now, Harris is black, and the other cities with EFMs aren’t as segregated (Pontiac is 39% white and 48% African American and Ecorse is 52% white and 40% African American, though Detroit is 12% white and 81% African American).

But it is rather telling that the first city in MI to have its democracy taken away under Rick Snyder’s EFM law is one that has long suffered under both globalization and racism. Rather than finding real solutions to those long-festering problems, we’re just going to shut it down.

— Wonder what life is like growing up with an Objectivist parent, a worshiper of welfare queen and moocher Ayn Rand, goddess of the Tea Party? Wonder no more, as Alyssa Bereznak describes the behavior of her Randroid father:

From what I understood of his favorite capitalist champion, any form of altruism was evil. But how could that kind of blanket self-interest extend to his own children, the people he was legally and morally bound to take care of? What was I supposed to do, fend for myself?

The answer to my question came on an autumn weekend during my sophomore year in high school. I was hosting a Harry Potter-themed float party in our driveway, a normal ritual to prepare decorations for my high school quad the week of homecoming. As I was painting a cardboard owl, my father asked me to come inside the house. He and his new wife sat me down at the dinner table with grave faces.

“We were wondering if you would petition to be emancipated,” he said in his lawyer voice.

“What does that mean?” I asked, picking at the mauve paint on my hands. I later discovered that for most kids, declaring emancipation is an extreme measure — something you do if your parents are crack addicts or deadbeats.

“You would need to become financially independent,” he said. “You could work for me at my law firm and pay rent to live here.”

— Hugh Grant may well have broke open the News of the World phone hack scandal case, by breaking through the various firewalls put up around Andy Coulson, Rebekah Wade Brooks, and other Murdoch employees (and Tory government employees, at least in Coulson’s case). His method? Giving the person who bugged him a taste of his own medicine. (The audio is here.) Here’s a portion of the transcript:

Me So, how’s the whistleblowing going?
Him I’m trying to get a book published. I sent it off to a publisher who immediately accepted it and then it got legal and they said, “This is never going to get published.”
Me Why? Because it accuses too many people of crime?
Him Yes, as I said to the parliamentary commission, Coulson knew all about it and regularly ordered it . . . He [Coulson] rose quickly to the top; he wanted to cover his tracks all the time. So he wouldn’t just write a story about a celeb who’d done something. He’d want to make sure they could never sue, so he wanted us to hear the celeb like you on tape saying, “Hello, darling, we had lovely sex last night.” So that’s on tape – OK, we’ve got that and so we can publish . . . Historically, the way it went was, in the early days of mobiles, we all had analogue mobiles and that was an absolute joy. You know, you just . . . sat outside Buckingham Palace with a £59 scanner you bought at Argos and get Prince Charles and everything he said.
Me Is that how the Squidgy tapes [of Diana’s phone conversations] came out? Which was put down to radio hams, but was in fact . . .
Him Paps in the back of a van, yes . . . I mean, politicians were dropping like flies in the Nineties because it was so easy to get stuff on them. And, obviously, less easy to justify is celebrities. But yes.

Turns out that it wasn’t just the News of the World doing it, but the Daily Mail and The Sun as well — and when Rebekah Wade (now Rebekah Brooks), the current chief executive of Murdoch’s News International, was editor of the Murdoch tabloid The Sun:

Me So everyone knew? I mean, would Rebekah Wade have known all this stuff was going on?
Him Good question. You’re not taping, are you?
Me [slightly shrill voice] No.
Him Well, yeah. Clearly she . . . took over the job of [a journalist] who had a scanner who was trying to sell it to members of his own department. But it wasn’t a big crime. [NB: Rebekah Brooks has always denied any knowledge of phone-hacking. The current police investigation is into events that took place after her editorship of the News of the World.]


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Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan: Social Security Recipients Against Social Security

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 27, 2011

This is hilarious (courtesy Blue Texan):

Critics of Social Security and Medicare frequently invoke the words and ideals of author and philosopher Ayn Rand, one of the fiercest critics of federal insurance programs. But a little-known fact is that Ayn Rand herself collected Social Security. She may also have received Medicare benefits.

An interview recently surfaced that was conducted in 1998 by the Ayn Rand Institute with a social worker who says she helped Rand and her husband, Frank O’Connor, sign up for Social Security and Medicare in 1974.

Federal records obtained through a Freedom of Information act request confirm the Social Security benefits.

As Blue Texan points out, what makes this extra-special is this: The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights has an article on its website right now titled, “Social Security is Immoral.”

But wait! There’s more! Ayn Rand’s most powerful representative in government, a teabagger doofus named Paul Ryan (R-WI), not only also collected Social Security after his father died, it’s what put him through college:

One day as a 16 year old, Ryan came upon the lifeless body of his father. Paul Ryan, Sr. had died of a heart attack at age 55, leaving the Janesville Craig High School 10th grader, his three older brothers and sisters and his mother alone. It was Paul who told the family of his father’s death.

With his father’s passing, young Paul collected Social Security benefits until age 18, which he put away for college. To make ends meet, Paul’s mother returned to school to study interior design. His siblings were off at college. Ryan remembers this difficult time bringing him and his mother closer.

Now Ryan, like his heroine Rand, wants to deny to others what he benefitted from himself. Typical.

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Ayn Rand Potemkin College

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 8, 2010

Yet another one for the “Things that Do Not Surprise Me One Bit” file (h/t Aaron Klemz):

Founders College, in rural South Boston, Va., was pitched as a sort of Great Books college for devotees of Ayn Rand. And while the for-profit college was never accredited, it operated with authorization from Virginia to issue degrees.

At the time the college was approved, it had no official faculty, no facilities, and, it turned out, shaky finances. “I’m stunned that the state would register a place like that,” says Ray Weiss, the onetime enrollment director. “What did we really have going for us when they registered us?”

Sounds like deception and lack of clarity was par for the course:

Founders certainly started with high aspirations. It was the inspiration of Gary L. Hull, a longtime visiting professor of sociology at Duke University and director of its Program on Values and Ethics in the Marketplace. Mr. Hull has long been a high-profile proponent of objectivism, the philosophy of Rand. And he had wanted to shake up the college market for years. Where most colleges saw degrees, he saw a hodgepodge of classes and incoherent goals. He hoped to create an objectivist college where all students would have the same academic foundation and be taught to think rationally.

However, not all of the students who would end up at Founders knew that. English Tong, who was home-schooled, found out about the college through a friend who had heard Mr. Hull promote Founders as ideal for home-schoolers. “Not until I arrived did I realize it was an objectivist school, so I was thrown into that without really agreeing with it,” Ms. Tong says. “It was kind of weird. They had advertised the college to everyone differently.”

Jade Fogg was sold on the college because she was told it would have an equestrian center. Josh Walsh was intrigued by its business focus and the opportunity to learn hospitality management firsthand at the inn on the property. Several students came because of Mr. Hull. Upon arriving, they were disappointed to learn that he had abruptly pulled out of Founders’ day-to-day operation.

And none of the students expected to find so few peers. There were supposed to be around 100 students, but the college came up 90 short. Those were the first of many surprises.

Finally, guess what this for-profit institution dedicated to Ayn Rand and self-sufficiency was hoping would save its bacon? Guess.

That’s right — government money! Namely, Federal financial aid for its students.

Posted in wrong way to go about it | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

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