James Delingpole is not only sound on Anthropogenic Global Warming pseudo-scientific fraud, he is able to articulate the fundamental moral problem with drug prohibition quite succinctly.
VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul decried the “war on drugs” Thursday night, telling supporters in Washington state that people should be able to make their own decisions on such matters.
Voters in Washington are likely to decide this year whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana
“If we are allowed to deal with our eternity and all that we believe in spiritually, and if we’re allowed to read any book that we want under freedom of speech, why is it we can’t put into our body whatever we want?” Paul told more than 1,000 people at a rally in Vancouver, a suburb of Portland, Ore.
Yep. Go on… friends. Tell me: why not???
In a follow-up post, Peter Robinson quotes Milton Friedman in support of Delingpole.
The Suicide Vest theory: let the GOP blow itself to smithereens with a Santorum nomination, then libertarians can come pick up the pieces.
Here’s my libertarian case for Rick Santorum’s nomination (though not his election). Since the early 1990s, Christian conservatives have formed an ever larger portion of the GOP. In Santorum, they would have what they have long sought: a candidate embodying their commitments to a politics of faith. Neoconservatives would also have a candidate committed to transforming the world through foreign policy and military action. The Obama-Santorum race would be more than just a struggle for power between two men. It would be a referendum on ideas and policies that have dominated the GOP for more than decade.
One recent poll has the former senator running even with Obama, but most polls have shown a decided gap of about eight points between the incumbent and Santorum. Right now the latter is not well-known to most voters. As Santorum becomes better known, he might close the gap with Obama. More likely, I think he would drive more secular and independent voters away from the GOP ticket. A ten-point Republican loss in a year when economic weakness suggested a close race would be a political disaster not just for the candidate and his party but also for the ideas they embody. Rick Santorum could be the George McGovern of his party.
Such a disaster might open the door for a different kind of GOP along lines indicated earlier, a party of free markets, moral pluralism, and realism in foreign affairs. Ron Paul has taken some steps this year toward creating such a party. He has attracted votes and inspired activism. His son or another candidate might take up the cause in 2016 and build on Paul’s achievements. Fanciful thinking? Perhaps, but it may take an electoral disaster to free the GOP from the ideas and forces that Rick Santorum represents.
Peter Thiel is the billionaire co-founder of Paypal, a venture capitalist who placed a large bet on Facebook, and a hedge fund manager, who previously studied Analytic Philosophy at Stanford and founded that university’s conservative/libertarian paper, The Stanford Review.
Details describes Thiel’s latest bet: some start-up funding for a micro-state political alternative beginning as an office-park flotilla located directly off the coast of the socialist state of California.
Derisive laughter can be heard emanating from the Bay Area left, but Peter Thiel has an awfully good record of successful investment, and California’s taxes and regulatory policies have already driven a lot of businesses farther away in an in-land direction to Nevada and Arizona. If an off-shore domiciliary alternative could be created that was safe, convenient, and cutting-edge fashionable, it could very possibly be irresistible to many of the same kinds of people attracted to California in the first place.
Despite the innovations of the past quarter century, some of which have made him very, very wealthy, Thiel is unimpressed by how far we’ve come—technologically, politically, socially, financially, the works. The last successful American car company, he likes to note, was Jeep, founded in 1941. “And our cars aren’t moving any faster,” he says. The space-age future, as giddily envisioned in the fifties and sixties, has yet to arrive. ...
Thiel is the primary backer for an idea that takes big, audacious, and outlandish to a whole other level. Two hundred miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge, past that hazy-blue horizon where the Pacific meets the sky, is where Thiel foresees his boldest venture of all. Forget start-up companies. The next frontier is start-up countries. ...
Patri Friedman, a former Google engineer, the grandson of the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman… wants to establish new sovereign nations built on oil-rig-type platforms anchored in international waters—free from the regulation, laws, and moral suasion of any landlocked country. They’d be small city-states at first, although the aim is to have tens of millions of seasteading residents by 2050. Architectural plans for a prototype involve a movable, diesel-powered, 12,000-ton structure with room for 270 residents, with the idea that dozens—perhaps even hundreds—of these could be linked together. Friedman hopes to launch a flotilla of offices off the San Francisco coast next year; full-time settlement, he predicts, will follow in about seven years; and full diplomatic recognition by the United Nations, well, that’ll take some lawyers and time.
“The ultimate goal,” Friedman says, “is to open a frontier for experimenting with new ideas for government.” This translates into the founding of ideologically oriented micro-states on the high seas, a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.
It’s a vivid, wild-eyed dream—think Burning Man as reimagined by Ayn Rand’s John Galt and steered out to sea by Captain Nemo—but Friedman and Thiel, aware of the long and tragicomic history of failed libertarian utopias, believe that entrepreneurial zeal sets this scheme apart. One potential model is something Friedman calls Appletopia: A corporation, such as Apple, “starts a country as a business. The more desirable the country, the more valuable the real estate,” Friedman says. When I ask if this wouldn’t amount to a shareholder dictatorship, he doesn’t flinch. “The way most dictatorships work now, they’re enforced on people who aren’t allowed to leave.” Appletopia, or any seasteading colony, would entail a more benevolent variety of dictatorship, similar to your cell-phone contract: You don’t like it, you leave. Citizenship as free agency, you might say. Or as Ken Howery, one of Thiel’s partners at the Founders Fund, puts it, “It’s almost like there’s a cartel of governments, and this is a way to force governments to compete in a free-market way.”
Some experts have scoffed at the legal and logistical practicalities of seasteading. Margaret Crawford, an expert on urban planning and a professor of architecture at Berkeley, calls it “a silly idea without any urban-planning implications whatsoever.” Other observers have mocked it outright, such as Slate’s Jacob Weisberg, who deemed it perhaps “the most elaborate effort ever devised by a group of computer nerds to get invited to an orgy.” Despite the naysayers, Thiel appears firmly committed to the idea; he has so far funneled $1.25 million to the Seasteading Institute. ...
If the seasteading movement goes forward as planned, Thiel won’t be one of its early citizens. For one thing, he’s not overly fond of boats… Thiel characterizes his interest as “theoretical.” But whether Thiel himself heads offshore or not, there’s a whole lot of passion underlying that theoretical interest. Thiel put forth his views on the subject in a 2009 essay for the Cato Institute, in which he flatly declared, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” He went on: “The great task for libertarians is to find an escape from politics in all its forms,” with the critical question being “how to escape not via politics but beyond it. Because there are no truly free places left in our world, I suspect that the mode for escape must involve some sort of new and hitherto untried process that leads us to some undiscovered country.
Think of any customer experience that has made you wince or kick the cat. What jumps to mind? Waiting in multiple lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Observing the bureaucratic sloth and lowest-common-denominator performance of public schools, especially in big cities. Getting ritually humiliated going through airport security. Trying desperately to understand your doctor bills. Navigating the permitting process at your local city hall. Wasting a day at home while the gas man fails to show up. Whatever you come up with, chances are good that the culprit is either a direct government monopoly (as in the providers of K-12 education) or a heavily regulated industry or utility where the government is the largest player (as in health care).”
Will thinks these authors are really on to something.
A generation that has grown up with the Internet “has essentially been raised libertarian,” swimming in markets, which are choices among competing alternatives.
And the left weeps. Preaching what has been called nostalgianomics, liberals mourn the passing of the days when there was one phone company, three car companies, three television networks, and an airline cartel, and big labor and big business were cozy with big government.
The America of one universally known list of Top 40 records is as gone as records. When the Census offered people the choice of checking the “multiracial” category, Maxine Waters, then chairing the Congressional Black Caucus, was indignant: “Letting individuals opt out of the current categories just blurs everything.” This is the voice of reactionary liberalism: No blurring, no changes, no escape from old categories, spin the world back to the 1950s.
“Declaration of Independents” is suitable reading for this summer of debt-ceiling debate, which has been a proxy for a bigger debate, which is about nothing less than this: What should be the nature of the American regime? America is moving in the libertarians’ direction not because they have won an argument but because government and the sectors it dominates have made themselves ludicrous. This has, however, opened minds to the libertarians’ argument.
The essence of which is the common-sensical principle that before government interferes with the freedom of the individual and of individuals making consensual transactions in markets, it ought to have a defensible reason for doing so. It usually does not.
Ron Paul says he would not have authorized the mission that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, and that President Barack Obama should have worked with the Pakistani government instead of authorizing a raid. ...
Asked by WHO Radio’s Simon Conway whether he would have given the go-ahead to kill bin Laden if it meant entering another country, Paul shot back that it “absolutely was not necessary.”
“I don’t think it was necessary, no. It absolutely was not necessary,” Paul said during his Tuesday comments. “I think respect for the rule of law and world law and international law. What if he’d been in a hotel in London? We wanted to keep it secret, so would we have sent the airplane, you know the helicopters into London, because they were afraid the information would get out?”
The name for all this is Rothbardism.
The influential libertarian thinker Murray Rothbard responded to the siren-song of the late 1960s Counter-Culture and the associated Anti-War Movement by trying to form a common anarchist front with the New Left. Rothbardian libertarianism essentially combined fashionable pot-smoking antinomian social libertarianism with old-style anti-New Deal isolationist opposition to foreign intervention.
The Libertarian Party of today is Rothbardian and so is Ron Paul. That kind of libertarian always seems to me to talk as if he resides in Northern California. Those libertarians’ priorities usually start with opposition to US foreign policy and fellow-travelling with the radical left in applying hypertrophied standards of moralism to actions and operations of the United States and her allies and no standards of any kind to the crimes and outrages perpetrated by foreign enemies of America and the West.
Rothbardian libertarians are commonly readily surrendering “realists” on domestic socialism and coercive leftwing egalitarianism, but they tend to be hyper-idealist pacifists and enthusiastic supporters of the left’s latest definition of “International Law.”
Ron Paul has obviously been associated with the Libertarian Party for years, and we are now seeing demonstrated how preposterously Rothbardite his foreign policy views actually are. His positions are obviously incompatible with the responsibilities of the presidency. Most of us care a lot more about seeing the country defended against Islamic terrorism, and even having 9/11 avenged, than we do about legalizing drugs. So I feel reluctantly obliged to confess that Ron Paul must be considered to fail Glenn Reynolds’s “syphilitic camel” test. A rational person couldn’t vote for him, even to get rid of Barack Obama.
Propelled by the release last Friday of the new film version, Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, in three different editions, is today occupying positions 1, 2, and 3 on Amazon’s Bestseller List of Classic Literature & Fiction.
Over the course of more than three years of research, Jerome Corsi assembles the evidence that Barack Obama is constitutionally ineligible for the office of the presidency. As a New York Times bestselling author, Harvard graduate, and investigative journalist, Corsi exposes in detail key issues with Obama’s eligibility, including the fact the President has spent millions of dollars in legal fees to avoid providing the American people with something as simple as a long-form birth certificate.
Noomi Rapace played Salander in Män som hatar kvinnor (2009)
Israeli critic Benjamin Kerstein, at PJM, relishes the delicious political ironies of the internationally-bestselling Stieg Larsson Millenium trilogy.
One of the strangest publishing phenomena in recent memory is the extraordinary international success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. A semi-famous left-wing Swedish journalist who died young and relatively uncelebrated, the three mystery novels Larsson wrote before his death, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, have sold millions of copies worldwide, gained a dedicated cult of adoring fans, spawned a hugely popular Swedish film series, and set in motion a Hollywood remake directed by celebrated filmmaker David Fincher.
There is really only one reason for the massive success of Larsson’s trilogy: a fascinating, unique, and entirely fictional young woman named Lisbeth Salander. While the books’ Swedish setting, their overtones of political and social criticism, and their main character, the plodding journalist and obvious Larsson alter ego Michael Blomquist, are interesting variations on the conventional mystery, it is Salander who elevates the proceedings into something entirely new in crime fiction.
Larsson’s personal political views are not in doubt. He was a longtime member of the Swedish radical left, and his magazine Expo was famous for exposing the dark underbelly of the Swedish right wing. In an early and now invalidated will, he went so far as to leave all his assets to the local communist party. At first glance, the novels seem to follow Larsson’s ideology fairly closely. Blomquist, Larsson’s alter ego, is an aging libertine who carries on a longtime affair with another man’s wife — with her husband’s knowledge — and spends his time bedding numerous women while congratulating himself for not bowing to conventional social expectations. The Expo-like magazine he runs is all but identical to Larsson’s own. The books themselves deal with subjects like rampant violence against women, trafficking in prostitutes, and the crimes, conspiracies, and cover-ups engineered by the collusion between government and big business. Indeed, there are moments when the books seem to stop dead in their tracks so that one of Larsson’s characters can deliver an NPR-style bromide on a subject dear to the liberal heart.
In the midst of all of this, Lisbeth Salander explodes like a grenade tossed into an ammunition dump. Ferociously individualist, incorruptible, disdainful, and suspicious of all forms of social organization, and dedicated to her own personal moral code, Salander often seems to have stepped into Larsson’s world from out of an Ayn Rand novel. She despises all institutions, whether they are business corporations, government agencies, or the Stockholm police. Rejecting all forms of ideology, she is dedicated only to her own individual sense of justice. Relentlessly cerebral, she trusts only what she can ascertain with her own mind and her own formidable talents. She considers Blomquist a naïve fool because of his belief that social conditions cause people to commit the horrible crimes he investigates. At one point, as Blomquist ponders the motivations of a brutal serial killer, Salander erupts, “He’s just a pig who hates women!” Salander believes there are no excuses, everyone is responsible for their own actions, including herself, and must answer for them accordingly.
In short, Salander is as close to an avenging angel libertarianism is ever likely to get, and her presence in the novels throws the books’ politics into a bizarre contradiction. Far from the left-wing bromide in favor of democratic socialism it appears to be, the Millennium trilogy, as Ian MacDougall has pointed out in the leftist journal n+1, often appears on second glance like a calculated and relentless evisceration of the Swedish welfare state. Indeed, not only is Salander a walking rebuke to the myths of Scandinavian socialism, but she is usually portrayed by Larsson as being absolutely correct in her attitude toward it. “In this Sweden,” MacDougall writes:
The country’s well-polished façade belies a broken apparatus of government whose rusty flywheels are little more than the playthings of crooks. The doctors are crooked. The bureaucrats are crooked. The newspapermen are crooked. The industrialists and businessmen, laid bare by merciless transparency laws, are nevertheless crooked. The police and the prosecutors are crooked.
In Larsson’s world, it is only the individual — usually Salander — with their own personal sense of right and wrong and the courage to act on it, who can save the day.
The KOCH brothers must be stopped. They gave $40K to Scott Walker, the MAX allowed by state law. That’s small potatoes compared to the $100+ million they give to other organizations. These organizations will terrify you. If the anti-union thing weren’t enough, here are bigger and better reasons to stop the evil Kochs. They are trying to:
1. decriminalize drugs,
2. legalize gay marriage,
3. repeal the Patriot Act,
4. end the police state,
5. cut defense spending.
Who hates the police? Only the criminals using drugs, amirite? We need the Patriot Act to allow government to go through our emails and tap our phones to catch people who smoke marijuana and put them in prison. Oh, it’s also good for terrorists.
Wikipedia shows Koch Family Foundations supporting causes like:
1. CATO Institute
2. Reason Foundation
3. cancer research ($150 million to M.I.T. – STOP THEM! KEEP CANCER ALIVE!)
4. ballet (because seriously: FUCK. THAT. SHIT.)
The Kochs basically give a TON of money (millions of dollars) to the CATO Institute. Scott Walker, $40K? HAH! These CATO people are the REAL problem. They want to end the War on Drugs. Insane, right? We know that the War on Drugs keeps us SAFE from Mexicans and keeps all that violence on their side of the fence. More than 30,000 Mexicans killed as of December! Thank God Mexican lives don’t count as human lives. Our government is doing a good, no, a great job protecting us and seriously, who cares about brown people or should I say non-people? HAHAHA! Public unions are good, government is good, and government protects us from drugs and brown people. The Kochs want to end all that. Look, as far back as 1989 CATO has been trying to decriminalize drugs. Don’t worry, nobody listens to them because they are INSANE.
CATO also rejects the Patriot Act. How can you hate the Patriot Act? Are you not American? They made it easy for you to understand by putting the word “Patriot” in the legislation. That means you should vote YES. Giving up our civil liberties is not a big deal. We need our government. Whether it’s Obama or Bush, we can all agree that the TSA is really good at what they do. God, those patdowns feel SOOOO good.
The Kochs also support Reason Foundation. You don’t know about that? Let me tell you. Basically, REASON Foundation is a bunch of cop haters. Last month, they did a “news” (as if we wanna know!) story on three cops that beat up an unarmed black kid. In the aftermath, the cops were suspended, sat around doing nothing and got paid (like that’s a bad thing!). I don’t know about you, but that puts a smile on my face for four reasons:
1. I hate black people,
2. I love the police,
3. I love it when police beat up black people for no reason,
4. I love that it comes out of taxpayers’ money, because it’s not like it’s really my money.
The Kochs are trying to end this. The Kochs must be stopped.
Gay marriage. YUCK. That’s just obvious. If the KOCH Brothers have their way, there will be homos getting married left and right. Here’s another scary thought: gays raising children. ...
If there’s one thing I know about billionaires, it’s that they only care about money. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and George Soros. They aren’t fooling me. Bill Gates isn’t fooling me with his vaccination campaign in Africa. He’s just trying to make African children live longer so they will buy more copies of Windows. Wow. Not even trying to hide it.
Now, I don’t know why the KOCH brothers want gay people to have the right to marry. Everybody knows marriage is for a man and a woman. Even Obama believes that. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve amirite? I haven’t figured out the angle, yet. Maybe it’s like this:
1. legalize drugs
2. legalize gay marriage
3. sell drugs, oil and Koch napkins to gays at their weddings
I don’t know exactly how it would work, but we can all agree that they’re evil. Think about it. CATO and REASON are the only institutions OPENLY advocating these positions. Who would do such a thing? Have they no shame? Minority opinions MUST BE SILENCED.
David Ross was recently moved to re-read Atlas Shrugged.
In an experience shared by many, he found the novel much better, and far more worthy of respect as a work of literature, than he had remembered.
The Obama era was, for me as for so many others, an open invitation to reread Rand, so thoroughly does she seem to diagnose the psychology of our present slide into statism (Obama’s constant rhetoric about sibling-keeping might as well be plucked from the mouth of Wesley Mouch). News that Atlas Shrugged is finally being filmed also helped inch the book to the top of my pile. ...
I was trepidacious, however, not sure to what extent I might have outgrown Rand. I was not concerned about the palatability of her philosophy, to which I have never specifically subscribed, but about her prose and her craftsmanship, which self-congratulatory journalist types constantly deride as second-rate, the kind of thing that only a teenager or cultist could fail to smirk at. This passing reference in a December article in the Weekly Standard is typical:
Atlas Shrugged, while a perennial bestseller and an important artifact of 20th-century culture, is not exactly great literature (stilted dialogue and cardboard characters have ranked among the defects pointed out by critics).
I have now reread the first half of Atlas Shrugged, and I can offer my very educated opinion that it is great literature, not necessarily at the sentence level, but in the unstoppable propulsion of its narrative (has a philosophical novel ever been so engrossing?), in the massive, dauntless sweep of its ideas, and in its enormous imaginative feat of creating a myth of our entire world (Dante and Milton are Rand’s compeers in this limited, formal respect).
Even more, Atlas Shrugged is a great work of literature in its comprehensive taxonomy of modern men, in its comprehension of all their hidden springs and insecurities and frustrations and ambitions. Rand fancied herself a political theorist and metaphysician, but she misunderstood herself; she was a psychologist foremost, and Atlas Shrugged is a formidable system of psychology to contraindicate that of Freud. Eschewing the usual bedroom and bathroom preoccupations, Rand grasps that behavior is driven by what she calls ideals, conscious or unconscious structures of value that provide the context for everything we do and everything we are. Freud tends to reduce these structures to underlying psychosexual dynamics, but Rand insists on their primacy and irreducibility, and she illustrates their role as the ceaseless motive forces of life. She is also a particularly shrewd diagnostician of a certain kind of resentment and leveling instinct – James Taggart is the obvious embodiment – and she is nearly alone in realizing that this mindset is no trivial phenomenon but the rotting core of our world, explaining everything from the Soviet world-blight to our failing schools and lousy art.
Rand’s characters are ‘cardboard’ in the sense that they speak for philosophical positions and represent certain types, but each character embodies something slightly different; there is no overlap or redundancy. In the aggregate, they form a spectrum of humanity – a human comedy – that is convincing and powerfully explanatory. Rand is accused of engaging in moral black and white, but this is not entirely fair; while her scheme is moral in logic and purpose, many of her characters – Dr. Stadler for example – represent subtle, equivocal positions. They are not gray, but an intricate admixture of black and white.
Rand sketches her characters in only a few clean strokes, but these strokes are rendered so deeply and forcefully as to be ineffaceable. Who can forget Hank Reardon or Dagny Taggart? Who can forget their triumphant inauguration of the John Galt Line? Who can forget their strange, violent lovemaking? What character drafted by Henry James, by contrast, does anything but deliquesce and drift imperceptibly from consciousness, becoming a vague haze of inflection and velleity?
Atlas Shrugged is a great novel, finally, in its astonishing originality. It has no precedent in terms of style, tone, mood, or philosophy, as far as I know. Victor Hugo may account for its sweep and social engagement, and someone like Zamyatin may have influenced its anti-totalitarianiasm and latent dystopianism, but nothing accounts for its strangeness, for everything powerfully eccentric and not infrequently repellent that Rand herself brings to it, everything rooted in the passionate kinks and quirks of her personality. In the end, it belongs in the category of the sui generis along with modern masterpieces like Ulysses, The Castle, and Pale Fire.
I suppose I would say that Atlas Shrugged needs to be viewed as a fantasy mystery story operating as an extended exercise in political argument and moral instruction, different from, but fundamentally akin to such non-realistic, and intrinsically polemical, works of literature as the Divine Comedy, Pilgrim’s Progress, Utopia, Hudibras, or Gulliver’s Travels.
Rand’s characters are not so much one-dimensional cardboard figures as they are what Erich Auerbach in Mimesis refers to as figura, characters serving as rhetorical illustrations of the operation of virtues, vices, and political ideas in social, business, and civic interaction. The wonder is not that Rand’s characters do not completely plausibly resemble ordinary real world human beings, but that her walking, talking illustrations of virtues, character flaws, rationality, and corrupting delusion are as successfully animated as they are.
Rand’s really conspicuous failures, far more than in characterization, lay in her Bohemian intellectual’s lack of understanding of the normal attitudes and perspectives of businessmen and her glaringly atrocious apprehension of the state and direction of technology. Ayn Rand living in the American 1950s sees the Count of Monte Cristo commuting to the office instead of the Organization Man. George Babbitt, in her mind, becomes transformed into Zarathustra. Rand is also disastrous as a prophet of the direction of business opportunities. One pictures her taking those whopping royalty checks and purchasing bundles of stock certificates in such cutting edge industries of the future as railroads, coal mines, and steel mills. Rand was oblivious to a post-industrial reality which was just around the corner. There are no data processing engineers, chip designers, or programmers in her cast of technologists. Hank Reardon has a lighter new metal alloy. John Galt is monkeying around with cosmic rays. Nobody is building personal computers, cell phones, or the Internet.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports on the latest manifestation of the influence of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel on contemporary American politics.
U.S. Senate candidates Ron Johnson and U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold clashed sharply Monday night on Ayn Rand’s famous novel “Atlas Shrugged,” about an economy crumbling under the weight of government intrusion and regulations. ...
While the two went back and forth on issues such as the economy, Social Security, the health care law and the war in Afghanistan, the most spirited discussion came from a book that was written in 1957 and remains popular among some conservatives and people who espouse limited government.
Rand’s book describes a dystopian America where the leading innovators leave society out of frustration with rules and regulations. It is a book that Johnson says he admires and has been a driving force in his political philosophy.
Asked by a panelist about the book, Johnson said “Atlas” represents the producers of the world, while “Shrugged” represents how overburdened the producers are with rules, regulations and taxes.
“It’s a warning of what could happen to America,” Johnson said. “When you hear people talk about a tipping point, that’s what we’re concerned about. . . . We have more people who are net beneficiaries of government than are actually paying into the system. That’s a very serious thing to think about.”
“I believe in the community,” Feingold responded. “I believe in the community of Wisconsin. . . . You believe the producers are a very special group of people. I guess they’re better than the rest of us. When things aren’t going their way, you take the position that people shouldn’t have unemployment compensation because you have the view they don’t want to work.”
Johnson said he wasn’t against the minimum wage and the extension of unemployment benefits. He said the fact that Feingold was talking about that showed that the stimulus bill was a failure.
“The last thing we should be doing is increase taxes on anybody in this recovery,” Johnson said.
After the debate, Feingold said Johnson “had a very narrow view of who actually does the work in society. I think everybody is working hard.”
It sounds a lot like Hank Reardon debating Wesley Mouch.
Former New Republic intern Ellsworth Noah Kristula-Green, writing at Frum Forum (where else?), observes the prominent role that the writings of Ayn Rand are playing in providing intellectual fuel for opposition to the Age of Obama with harrumphing indignation.
Rand’s popularity tells us two things about the state of modern conservatism.
First, it suggests that Rand’s atheism and permissive social views are no longer deal-breakers among conservative thought leaders. Jennifer Burns, the author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, has explored Rand’s influence through the years. She told FrumForum that while religion had been a crucial issue for William F. Buckley and the conservatives of the 1970s, “someone like Glenn Beck isn’t going to argue about the existence of God or the need for religion. Beck and Limbaugh can use the parts of Rand they want to use and not engage the rest.”
Second and more troubling, the conservative rediscovery of Rand signals an increasing conservative divergence from mainstream America. Conservatives falsely assume that because more copies of Rand’s books are being sold, that everyone who reads them agrees with her. Conservatives are buying into Rand’s extreme views without understanding why many people—and not only liberals—revile her.
Contra Kristula-Green, Rand’s strong readership over many decades and the ability of her ideas to make their way and expand their influence in the face of entrenched establishment opposition, and despite an embarrassing personal cult, constitutes good evidence that Rand’s values and political perspective were very much in tune with the American mainstream (if not with its cultural elite), a nation whose soul, in D. H. Lawrence’s critical view was always “hard, isolate, stoic and… unmelted.”