Why are Republicans Wrong about Everything?


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Social climber
Falls Church, VA
Apr 28, 2014 - 10:43am PT
what liberalism hath wrought:


when everyone is a victim, EVERYONE is a victim
Dr. F.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 28, 2014 - 11:10pm PT

10 Things I Learned About the World from Ayn Rand's Insane "Atlas Shrugged'

AlterNet / By Adam Lee

April 23, 2014 |

If Rand were still alive she would probably say, "Thank you for smoking."
Credit: Dr. F.

Over the past year, I've been reading and reviewing Ayn Rand's massive paean to capitalism, Atlas Shrugged. If you're not familiar with the novel, it depicts a world where corporate CEOs and one-percenters are the selfless heroes upon which our society depends, and basically everyone else — journalists, legislators, government employees, the poor — are the villains trying to drag the rich down out of spite, when we should be kissing their rings in gratitude that they allow us to exist.

Rand's protagonists are Dagny Taggart, heir to a transcontinental railroad empire, and Hank Rearden, the head of a steel company who's invented a revolutionary new alloy which he's modestly named Rearden Metal. Together, they battle against evil government bureaucrats and parasitic socialists to hold civilization together, while all the while powerful industrialists are mysteriously disappearing, leaving behind only the cryptic phrase "Who is John Galt?"

Atlas Shrugged is a work of fiction, but as far as many prominent conservatives are concerned, it's sacred scripture. Alan Greenspan was a member of Rand's inner circle, and opposed regulation of financial markets because he believed her dictum that the greed of businessmen was always the public's best protection. Paul Ryan said that he required his campaign staffers to read the book, while Glenn Beck has announced grandiose plans to build his own real-life "Galt's Gulch," the hidden refuge where the book's capitalist heroes go to watch civilization collapse without them.

Reading Atlas Shrugged is like entering into a strange mirror universe where everything we thought we knew about economics and morality is turned upside down. I've already learned some valuable lessons from it.

1. All evil people are unattractive; all good and trustworthy people are handsome.

The first and most important we learn from Atlas Shrugged is that you can tell good and bad people apart at a glance. All the villains — the "looters," in Rand's terminology — are rotund, fleshy and sweaty, with receding hairlines, sagging jowls and floppy limbs, while her millionaire industrialist heroes are portraits of steely determination, with sharp chins and angular features like people in a Cubist painting. Nearly all of them are conspicuously Aryan. Here's a typical example, the steel magnate Hank Rearden:

The glare cut a moment's wedge across his eyes, which had the color and quality of pale blue ice — then across the black web of the metal column and the ash-blond strands of his hair — then across the belt of his trenchcoat and the pockets where he held his hands. His body was tall and gaunt; he had always been too tall for those around him. His face was cut by prominent cheekbones and by a few sharp lines; they were not the lines of age, he had always had them; this had made him look old at twenty, and young now, at forty-five.

2. The mark of a great businessman is that he sneers at the idea of public safety.

When we meet Dagny Taggart, Rand's heroic railroad baron, she's traveling on a cross-country train which gets stuck at a stoplight that may or may not be broken. When the crew frets that they should wait until they're sure it's safe, Dagny pulls rank and orders them to drive through the red light. This, in Rand's world, is the mark of a heroic and decisive capitalist, rather than the kind of person who in the real world would soon be the subject of headlines like "22 Dead in Train Collision Caused by Executive Who Didn't Want to Be Late For Meeting."

Dagny makes the decision to rebuild a critical line of the railroad using a new alloy, the aforementioned Rearden Metal, which has never been used in a major industrial project. You might think that before committing to build hundreds of miles of track through mountainous terrain, you'd want to have, say, pilot projects, or feasibility studies. But Dagny brushes those concerns aside; she just knows Rearden Metal is good because she feels it in her gut: "When I see things," she explains, "I see them."

And once that line is rebuilt, Dagny's plan for its maiden voyage involves driving the train at dangerously high speed through towns and populated areas:

"The first train will... run non-stop to Wyatt Junction, Colorado, traveling at an average speed of one hundred miles per hour." ...

"But shouldn't you cut the speed below normal rather than ... Miss Taggart, don't you have any consideration whatever for public opinion?"

"But I do. If it weren't for public opinion, an average speed of sixty-five miles per hour would have been quite sufficient."

The book points out that mayors and safety regulators have to be bribed or threatened to allow this, which is perfectly OK in Rand's morality. When a reporter asks Dagny what protection people will have if the line is no good, she snaps: "Don't ride on it." (Ask the people of Lac-Megantic how much good that did them.)

3. Bad guys get their way through democracy; good guys get their way through violence.

The way the villains of Atlas Shrugged accomplish their evil plan is ... voting for it. One of the major plot elements of part I is a law called the Equalization of Opportunity Bill, which forces large companies to break themselves up, similarly to the way AT&T was split into the Baby Bells. It's passed by a majority of Congress, and Rand never implies that there's anything improper in the vote or that any dirty tricks were pulled. But because it forces her wealthy capitalist heroes to spin off some of their businesses, it's self-evident that this is the worst thing in the world and could only have been conceived of by evil socialists who hate success.

Compare this to another of Rand's protagonists, Dagny Taggart's heroic ancestor Nathaniel Taggart. We're told that he built a transcontinental railroad system almost single-handedly, which is why Dagny all but venerates him. We're also told that he murdered a state legislator who was going to pass a law that would have stopped him from completing his track, and threw a government official down three flights of stairs for offering him a loan. In the world of Atlas Shrugged, these are noble and heroic acts.

Then there's another of Rand's heroes, the oil baron Ellis Wyatt. When the government passes new regulations on rail shipping that will harm his business, Wyatt retaliates by spitefully blowing up his oil fields, much like Saddam Hussein's retreating army did to Kuwait in the first Gulf War. In real life, that act of sabotage smothered much of the Middle East beneath clouds of choking, toxic black smoke for months, poisoning the air and water. But as far as Rand sees it, no vengeance is too harsh for people who commit the terrible crime of interfering with the right of the rich to make more money.

4. The government has never invented anything or done any good for anyone.

In Rand's world, all good things come from private industry. Everyone who works for the government or takes government money is either a bumbling incompetent or a leech who steals credit for the work of others. At one point, the villainous bureaucrats of the "State Science Institute" try to sabotage Rand's hero Hank Rearden by spreading malicious rumors about his new alloy:

"If you consider that for thirteen years this Institute has had a department of metallurgical research, which has cost over twenty million dollars and has produced nothing but a new silver polish and a new anti-corrosive preparation, which, I believe, is not so good as the old ones — you can imagine what the public reaction will be if some private individual comes out with a product that revolutionizes the entire science of metallurgy and proves to be sensationally successful!"

Of course, in the real world, only minor trifles, like radar, space flight, nuclear power, GPS, computers, and the Internet were brought about by government research.

5. Violent jealousy and degradation are signs of true love.

Dagny's first lover, the mining heir Francisco d'Anconia, treats her like a possession: he drags her around by an arm, and once, when she makes a joke he doesn't like, he slaps her so hard it bloodies her lip. The first time they have sex, he doesn't ask for consent, but throws her down and does what he wants: "She knew that fear was useless, that he would do what he wished, that the decision was his."

Later on, Dagny has an affair with Hank Rearden (who's married to someone else at the time, but this is the sort of minor consideration that doesn't hold back Randian supermen). The first time they sleep together, it leaves Dagny bruised and bloody, and the morning after, Hank rants at her that he holds her in contempt and thinks of her as no better than a whore. Almost as soon as their relationship begins, he demands to know how many other men she's slept with and who they were. When she won't answer, he seizes her and twists her arm, trying to hurt her enough to force her to tell him.

Believe it or not, none of this is meant to make us judge these characters negatively, because in Rand's world, violent jealousy is romantic and abuse is sexy. She believed that women were meant to be subservient to men — in fact, she says that "the most feminine of all aspects" is "the look of being chained" — and that a woman being the dominant partner in a relationship was "metaphysically inappropriate" and would warp and destroy her fragile lady-mind.

6. All natural resources are limitless.

If you pay close attention to Atlas Shrugged, you'll learn that there will always be more land to homestead, more trees to cut, more coal to mine, more fossil fuels to drill. There's never a need for conservation, recycling, or that dreaded word, "sustainability." All environmental laws, just like all safety regulations, are invented by government bureaucrats explicitly for the purpose of punishing and destroying successful businessmen.

One of the heroes of part I is the tycoon Ellis Wyatt, who's invented an unspecified new technology that allows him to reopen oil wells thought to be tapped out, unlocking what Rand calls an "unlimited supply" of oil. Obviously, accepting that natural resources are finite would force Rand's followers to confront hard questions about equitable distribution, which is why she waves the problem away with a sweep of her hand.

This trend reaches its climax near the end of part I, when Dagny and Hank find, in the ruins of an abandoned factory, the prototype of a new kind of motor that runs on "atmospheric static electricity" and can produce limitless energy for free. Rand sees nothing implausible about this, because in her philosophy, human ingenuity can overcome any problem, up to and including the laws of thermodynamics, if only the government would get out of the way and let them do it.

7. Pollution and advertisements are beautiful; pristine wilderness is ugly and useless.

Rand is enamored of fossil fuels, and at one point, she describes New York City as cradled in "sacred fires" from the smokestacks and heavy industrial plants that surround it. It never seems to occur to her that soot and smog cause anything other than pretty sunsets, and no one in Atlas Shrugged gets asthma, much less lung cancer.

By contrast, Rand informs us that pristine natural habitat is worthless unless it's plastered with ads, as we see in a scene where Hank and Dagny go on a road trip together:

Uncoiling from among the curves of Wisconsin's hills, the highway was the only evidence of human labor, a precarious bridge stretched across a sea of brush, weeds and trees. The sea rolled softly, in sprays of yellow and orange, with a few red jets shooting up on the hillsides, with pools of remnant green in the hollows, under a pure blue sky.

... "What I'd like to see," said Rearden, "is a billboard."

8. Crime doesn't exist, even in areas of extreme poverty.

In the world of Atlas Shrugged, the only kind of violence that anyone ever worries about is government thugs stealing the wealth of the heroic capitalists at gunpoint to redistribute it to the undeserving masses. There's no burglary, no muggings, no bread riots, no street crime of any kind. This is true even though the world is spiraling down a vortex of poverty and economic depression. And even though the wealthy, productive elite are mysteriously disappearing one by one, none of Rand's protagonists ever worry about their personal safety.

Apparently, in Rand's view, poor people will peacefully sit and starve when they lose their jobs. And that's a good thing for her, because accepting that crime exists might lead to dangerous, heretical ideas — like that maybe the government should pay for education and job training, because this might be cheaper and more beneficial in the long run than spending ever more money on police and prisons.

9. The only thing that matters in life is how good you are at making money.

In a scene from part I, the copper baron Francisco d'Anconia explains to Dagny why rich people are more valuable than poor people:

"Dagny, there's nothing of any importance in life — except how well you do your work. Nothing. Only that. Whatever else you are, will come from that. It's the only measure of human value. All the codes of ethics they'll try to ram down your throat are just so much paper money put out by swindlers to fleece people of their virtues. The code of competence is the only system of morality that's on a gold standard."

You'll note that this speech makes no exceptions for work whose product is actively harmful to others. If you burn coal that chokes neighboring cities in toxic smog, if you sell unhealthful food that increases obesity and diabetes, if you sell guns and fight every attempt to pass laws that would restrict who could buy them, if you paint houses with lead and insulate pipes in asbestos — relax, you're off the hook! None of this matters in the slightest in Rand's eyes. Are you good at your job? Do you make money from it? That's the only thing anyone should ever care about.

10. Smoking is good for you.

Almost all of Rand's heroes smoke, and not just for pleasure. In one minor scene, a cigarette vendor tells Dagny that smoking is heroic, even rationally obligatory:

"I like cigarettes, Miss Taggart. I like to think of fire held in a man's hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips ... When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind — and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression."

It's no coincidence that Atlas Shrugged expresses these views. Ayn Rand herself was a heavy smoker, and she often asserted that she was the most rational person alive; therefore, she believed, her preferences were the correct preferences which everyone else should emulate. Beginning from this premise, she worked backward to explain why everything she did was an inevitable consequence of her philosophy. As part of this, she decided that she smoked tobacco not because she'd become addicted to it, but because it's right for rational people to smoke while they think.

In case you were wondering, Rand did indeed contract lung cancer later in life, and had an operation to remove one lung. But even though she eventually came to accept the danger of smoking, she never communicated this to her followers or recanted her earlier support of it. As in other things, her attitude was that people deserve whatever they get.

Credit: Dr. F.


Trad climber
Can't get here from there
Apr 29, 2014 - 12:07am PT

"I own a gun. I have no problems with the Second Amendment. But they do not belong in a parking lot where we have children everywhere. If you want to make a statement, go to the Capitol," said Rabb.

Funny how that works.
Guns are outlawed at the capitol in Georgia under the new "guns everywhere" law just enacted.

Trad climber
Apr 29, 2014 - 12:27am PT

Those Tea Party donations? Funny story...

Tea party PACs reap money for midterms, but spend little on candidates

When the Tea Party Patriots threw its support last month behind Matt Bevin, the underdog conservative challenger trying to unseat top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, President Jenny Beth Martin vowed the group would be “putting our money where our mouth is.”

So far, its super PAC has mustered just $56,000 worth of mailers in Kentucky on Bevin’s behalf — less than half the amount it has paid Martin in consulting fees since July.

The Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, which blew through nearly $2 million on expenses such as fundraising, polling and consultants in the first three months of this year, is not alone in its meager spending on candidates.

A Washington Post analysis found that some of the top national tea party groups engaged in this year’s midterm elections have put just a tiny fraction of their money directly into boosting the candidates they’ve endorsed.

The practice is not unusual in the freewheeling world of big-money political groups, but it runs counter to the ethos of the tea party movement, which sprouted five years ago amid anger on the right over wasteful government spending. And it contrasts with the urgent appeals tea party groups have made to their base of small donors, many of whom repeatedly contribute after being promised that their money will help elect conservative politicians.

Out of the $37.5 million spent so far by the PACs of six major tea party organizations, less than $7 million has been devoted to directly helping candidates, according to the analysis, which was based on campaign finance data provided by the Sunlight Foundation.

And people think government is inefficient.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
Apr 29, 2014 - 12:41am PT
And some people think government is corrupt!

Social climber
Falls Church, VA
Apr 29, 2014 - 07:06am PT
and so it begins:


any definition of marriage that does not allow ANY definition of marriage is bigoted, hateful, everythingphobic

Apr 29, 2014 - 08:29am PT
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
Apr 29, 2014 - 09:23am PT
Hookworm! There you are. Your presence is required on the thread that you started and nurtured like a fetus in a womb for so long. Do not abort so quickly. We have strayed off topic and MB needs a well versed debater.

Social climber
So Cal
Apr 29, 2014 - 11:22am PT

1. People Seek Ever-Increasing Government Largesse

This occurs over a period of decades. It begins with politicians seeking to either gain or retain office, advising the public that they should have a "right" to receive largesse from their government. Over time, the public, liking the idea of receiving something that they have not earned, warm to it and come to believe in its validity. Increasingly, the government takes money from the pockets of one group of citizens and "redistributes" it to others to whom it has made the promises.

2. Government Runs Out of Money

As elections occur every four or five years in most countries, the frequency of elections means a regular ramping-up in the level of promises to the electorate. Over time, the source group (those whose earnings are being appropriated) becomes tapped–out. (As British PM Maggie Thatcher said, "The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money."

At this point, the government can no longer deliver on its promises of largesse. But, the recipients have come to believe that they truly are entitled to the largesse, that it is their money and either the government or the greedy rich are withholding their money.

3. Citizens Become Increasingly Desperate

The citizens, who have become less productive and more dependant as a result of the largesse, now find themselves unable to afford even basic needs. Some begin to do desperate things in order to survive. Crime increases. Whilst police may address such crimes after the fact, they cannot anticipate them.

4. Vigilantism Arises

As crime increases unabated, citizens, in their frustration, come to blame not only the criminals, but also the police. At some point, acts of violence against criminals begin to occur, as citizens begin to take matters into their own hands. This trend expands, sometimes to the point that vigilante groups form.

5. Government Attempts to Maintain Order at All Costs

Governments at this point tend not to remain cool and crack down more on criminals. Instead, they tend to make the mistake of lashing out at those who defend themselves against the criminals. (In the example above, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner made a statement to the public that, "Some people want us to return to barbarism; some people want us to react violently." She urged officials and the public to be "rational and civilized," and affirmed "education and social inclusion are the ultimate ways of solving these problems.")

6. Government Becomes the Enemy

Once such a pronouncement is made by a political leader, the social tipping point has been reached. The public, having first been angered by the criminals, turn their anger toward the police and, finally, toward their political leader. When the public realise that the formerly seemingly benevolent leader holds their welfare in no more regard than she holds the criminals who prey on them, she becomes a pariah.

The plot line of Atlas Shrugged has been repeated ad nauseaum through out human history.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Apr 29, 2014 - 11:25am PT

Egypt court sentences hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death

in the news today, with me thinking Bluering must surely approve and would be happy the U.S. is now backing the correct regime in Cairo.

Suck it.


Social climber
So Cal
Apr 29, 2014 - 11:29am PT
Don't know how far you got into the details of the story, but the majority of those "convicted" are fugitives.

A more a more accurate interpretation/translation would be "indicted".

The Egyptian court system seems to be a strange blend of Napoleonic code with a local flavoring.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Apr 29, 2014 - 11:32am PT
Read the whole story, plus read about the other death sentences recently.

I think you got my point.


Social climber
Falls Church, VA
Apr 29, 2014 - 12:00pm PT
to be filed under the horse's mouth...according to the usps, the citizens are NOT customers; the usps, instead, servers "400 bulk mailers"

and the libs' solution: more government



Trad climber
Apr 29, 2014 - 01:43pm PT
Even the FBI is trying to answer the OP's question:


By Steve Benen
The list of current and former Republican governors facing some serious investigations is surprisingly long.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), for example, is at the center of a series of scandals, while former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is facing corruption charges. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has faced some uncomfortable questions recently; Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has found himself at the center of an investigation into his handling of a district attorney’s drunken driving arrest; and subpoenas have already been issued in an investigation involving North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s (R) administration.

And it looks like we can now add Kansas to the list (thanks to my colleague Tricia McKinney for the heads-up).
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is exploring whether confidantes of Gov. Sam Brownback operated influence-peddling operations in Kansas pivoting on personal access to the Republican governor and top administration officials.

The Topeka Capital-Journal learned the months-long inquiry involves Parallel Strategies, a rapidly expanding Topeka consulting and lobbying firm created in 2013 by a trio of veteran Brownback employees who left government service to work in an environment where coziness with former colleagues could pay dividends.
As influence-peddling controversies go, this one’s pretty straightforward.

Parallel Strategies has quickly become a powerful firm in Kansas, led by a former Brownback chief of staff, a former Brownback adviser, and a former Brownback senior staffer. Their operation has quickly put together a formidable client list that includes, among others, Brownback.

With this in mind, when Kansas’ far-right governor decided to privatize the state’s Medicaid program, it created an opportunity for Parallel Strategies – which then turned into a controversy that’s drawn the FBI’s interest.

According to the report in the Topeka Capital-Journal, Parallel Strategies allegedly helped secure “behind-the-scenes financial arrangements” that “handed to three for-profit insurance companies exclusive contracts to provide Medicaid services to 380,000 of Kansas’ disabled and poor.”

The scope of the inquiry is raising eyebrows.
Questions center on whether Brownback representatives pressed companies or organizations to hire specific lobbying firms or whether entities that showed inadequate deference were targeted for political or financial punishment. […]

The FBI also has looked into activities of individual legislators and lobbyists unaffiliated with Parallel Strategies.
It’s worth noting, of course, that FBI inquiries don’t always lead to charges. It’s quite possible that the investigation won’t turn up anything and that the suspicions won’t pan out.

But over the last four years, Brownback and his team have been accused repeatedly – by locals in both parties – of running a ruthless, hardball political operation, so it’s certainly of great interest that the FBI wants to know whether the governor’s team directed businesses to hire former members of the governor, who in turn made “behind-the-scenes financial arrangements” on the companies’ behalf.

It’s worth keeping an eye on this one.


Trad climber
Apr 29, 2014 - 06:19pm PT

Someone is either trolling the sh#t out of Santorum or he's hilariously delusional.

"Look, I thought I could have won last time," he said. "I'm convinced. You know I asked one of the Obama minions who were running the campaign 'Hey, why didn't you guys help me? I was up there battling Romney and all these folks at MSNBC were saying wouldn't this be great if Santorum were the nominee, why didn't you help me? Why didn't you go out and bang me a little a bit, hit me you know, as being too conservative?'"

"And the consensus was, 'We didn't want you, because of this,'" Santorum added, holding up his book.

Trad climber
Bay Area
Apr 29, 2014 - 06:31pm PT
Santorum's hilariously delusional.
What was your first clue?
Palin, Sanctum Sanitorium, Bachmann, Palin, Gingricherthantherest, Buddy Roemer, RIck Perry, Trump, Alan West, Hermann Cain, Pawlenty, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio......the list of palace idiots reads like a who's who at the asylum.

Huntsman was the best of the lot.....ergo didn't have a chance.
Ron Paul made both the most sense and the most nonsense.
Romulus? After Huntsman was routed, marginally the best of a very bad lot.

and now Sanctum Sanitorium thinks he's got another chance?
It will be amusing to watch the Republican party self destruct....again.

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Apr 30, 2014 - 01:59am PT
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Dave Kos

Social climber
Apr 30, 2014 - 09:50am PT
Ron Paul made both the most sense and the most nonsense.

That's a brilliant summary of Ron Paul!

Social climber
"Sh#t shack across from the city dump"
Apr 30, 2014 - 09:58am PT


Separated at birth???...


Credit: locker


Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Apr 30, 2014 - 10:03am PT
So much for breakfast.
Clean up in aisle hell.

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