It really hasn’t been a great week for the state of Indiana, with the worst hit being the signing of ‘right’ to discriminate (against gays) legislation. But what’s lost in all of that is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has decided to follow the scientific evidence–only after it’s too late (boldface mine):
An outbreak of H.I.V. in southeastern Indiana prompted the governor on Thursday to declare a public health emergency as officials worked to stop the spread of the virus that causes AIDS.
Officials said that 71 cases of H.I.V. identified since mid-December have been traced to intravenous use of a prescription painkiller in Scott County north of Louisville, Ky. Nine more cases are still under investigation, and state health officials predicted that more would appear in coming weeks. The governor authorized a short-term exchange program that would provide drug users with access to sterile needles so that contaminated…
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I have to say, I do not usually read articles from Maureen Dowd but this one about ayn rand grabbed my attention … and still relevant imo
by Maureen Dowd
… Indeed, the most remarkable thing about Ayn Rand’s reach on the right is how unremarked-upon it most often is.
Ayn Rand — Russian empire, founder of the mid-century Objectivist movement, putative philosopher, writer of the novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and the inspiration for a small but intensely devoted band of acolytes — has been enjoying a resurgence of late on the American right. The cultural capstone to this resurgence arrived last week with the release of a filmed adaptation of the first third of Atlas Shrugged, independently financed by a wealthy devotee of Rand’s work and pitched explicitly at the Tea Party demographic. FreedomWorks, one of the central organizations in that movement, rolled out a massive campaign to encourage audience attendance and to push the film into as many theaters as possible. The 2011 CPAC conference held the world premiere of Atlas Shrugged’s trailer, and the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation hosted an advanced screening of the film. This marketing tactic is understandable. The opening line of Atlas Shrugged — “Who is John Galt?” — has appeared again and again on signs at Tea Party protests across the nation. The Tea Party builds the theme of “Going Galt” into its rhetoric — a reference to the strike of industry titans organized by the hero of the novel. Glenn Beck praises Atlas Shrugged regularly on his various shows, and even held a panel dedicated to asking if Rand’s fiction is finally becoming reality. The Economist reported several sharp spikes in sales of Atlas Shrugged since 2007. And according to the Ayn Rand Institute, sales of the novel hit an all-time annual record that year, then reached a new record in 2008, with possibly another peak in 2009. By all accounts, Ayn Rand is now one of the central intellectual and cultural inspirations for the base of the Republican Party.
RAND’S INFLUENCE ON GOP:
“For over half a century,” says Jennifer Burns, a recent biographer of the novelist, “Rand has been the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right.” And with good reason. Besides her prominence in the Tea Party’s intellectual and cultural lexicon, some of the Republican Party’s leading lights have cited Rand by name as an inspiration. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said she was the reason he entered public service. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) called Atlas Shrugged “his foundational book.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is an avowed fan and quotes extensively from Rand’s novels at Congressional hearings. His father Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) told listeners that readers ate up Rand’s Alas Shrugged because “it was telling the truth,” and even conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas references her work as influence in his autobiography — and apparently has his law clerks watch the film adaptation of The Fountainhead. The phenomenon holds amidst the right-wing media as well: Rush Limbaugh called her “brilliant,” Glenn Beck’s panel on Rand featured the president of the Ayn Rand Institute Yaroom Brook, and Andrew Napolitano enthusiastically recounted a story in which his college-age self introduces his mother to Rand’s The Virtue of Selfishness. John Stossel and Sean Hannity have name-dropped her as well. Going further back, Alan Greenspan — former chairman of the Federal Reserve and a fierce advocate of free-market ideology — is an acolyte of Rand’s thinking and knew her personally, and Rand was also dubbed the unofficial “novelist laureate” of the Reagan Administration by Maureen Dowd. Indeed, the most remarkable thing about Ayn Rand’s reach on the right is how unremarked-upon it most often is.
The philosophy, such as it was, which Rand laid out in her novels and essays was a frightful concoction of hyper-egotism, power-worship and anarcho-capitalism. She opposed all forms of welfare, unemployment insurance, support for the poor and middle-class, regulation of industry and government provision for roads or other infrastructure. She also insisted that law enforcement, defense and the courts were the only appropriate arenas for government, and that all taxation should be purely voluntary. Her view of economics starkly divided the world into a contest between “moochers” and “producers,” with the small group making up the latter generally composed of the spectacularly wealthy, the successful, and the titans of industry. The “moochers” were more or less everyone else, leading TNR’s Jonathan Chait to describe Rand’s thinking as a kind of inverted Marxism. Marx considered wealth creation to result solely from the labor of the masses, and viewed the owners of capital and the economic elite to be parasites feeding off that labor. Rand simply reversed that value judgment, applying the role of “parasite” to everyday working people instead. On the level of personal behavior, the heroes in Rand’s novels commit borderline rape, blow up buildings, and dynamite oil fields — actions which Rand portrays as admirable and virtuous fulfillments of the characters’ personal will and desires. Her early diaries gush with admiration for William Hickman, a serial killer who raped and murdered a young girl. Hickman showed no understanding of “the necessity, meaning or importance of other people,” a trait Rand apparently found quite admirable. For good measure, Rand dismissed the feminist movement as “false” and “phony,” denigrated both Arabs and Native Americans as “savages” (going so far as to say the latter had no rights and that Europeans were right to take North American lands by force) and expressed horror that taxpayer money was being spent on government programs aimed at educating “subnormal children” and helping the handicapped. Needless to say, when Rand told Mike Wallace in 1953 that altruism was evil, that selfishness is a virtue, and that anyone who succumbs to weakness or frailty is unworthy of love, she meant it.
PAUL RYAN’S AYN RAND BUDGET:
Given that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is the lead architect of the GOP’s 2012 budget plan, his own devotion to the ideas of Atlas Shrugged and its author are worth noting. Conservative columnist Ross Douthat has dismissed the connection as Ryan merely saying some “kind words about Ayn Rand,” which simply isn’t a plausible characterization given what we know: Ryan was a speaker at the Ayn Rand Centenary Conference in 2005, where he described Social Security as a “collectivist system” and cited Rand as his primary inspiration for entering public service. He has at least two videos on his Facebook page in which he heaps praise on the author. “Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism,” he says. All of which reflects a rather more serious devotion than a few mere kind words. So it should come as no surprise that Ryan’s plan comports almost perfectly with Rand’s world view. He guts Medicare, Medicaid, and a whole host of housing, food, and educational support programs, leaving the country’s middle-class and most vulnerable citizens with far less support. Then he uses approximately half of the money freed by those cuts to reduce taxes on the most wealthy Americans. By transforming Medicare into a system of vouchers whose value increases at the rate of inflation, he undoes Medicare’s most humane feature — the shouldering of risk at the social level — and leaves individuals and seniors to shoulder ever greater amounts of risk on their own. But if your intellectual and moral lodestar is a woman who railed against altruism as “evil” and considered the small pockets of highly successful individuals to be morally superior, it’s a perfectly logical plan to put forward.
1527 – German troops began sacking Rome, bringing about the end of the Renaissance.
1529 – Babur defeated the Afghan Chiefs in the Battle of Ghagra, India.
1576 – The peace treaty of Chastenoy ended the fifth war of religion.
1682 – King Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles, France.
1835 – James Gordon Bennett published the “New York Herald” for the first time.
1840 – The first adhesive postage stamps went on sale in Great Britain.
1851 – The mechanical refrigerator was patented by Dr. John Gorrie.
1851 – Linus Yale patented the clock-type lock.
1861 – Arkansas became the ninth state to secede from the Union.
1889 – The Universal Exposition opened in Paris, France, marking the dedication of the Eiffel Tower. Also at the exposition was the first automobile in Paris, the Mercedes-Benz.
1910 – Kind Edward VII of England died. He was succeeded by his second son, George V.
1915 – Babe Ruth hit his first major league home run while playing for the Boston Red Sox.
1937 – The German airship Hindenburg crashed and burned in Lakehurst, NJ. Thirty-six people (of the 97 on board) were killed.
1941 – Joseph Stalin assumed the Soviet premiership.
1941 – Bob Hope gave his first USO show at California’s March Field.
1942 – During World War II, the Japanese seized control of the Philippines. About 15,000 Americans and Filipinos on Corregidor surrendered to the Japanese.
1945 – Axis Sally made her final propaganda broadcast to Allied troops.
1946 – The New York Yankees became the first major league baseball team to travel by plane.
1954 – British runner Roger Banister broke the four minute mile.
1959 – The Pablo Picasso painting of a Dutch girl was sold for $154,000 in London. It was the highest price paid (at the time) for a painting by a living artist.
1960 – Britain’s Princess Margaret married Anthony Armstrong Jones. They were divorced in 1978.
1960 – U.S. President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1960.
1962 – The first nuclear warhead was fired from the Polaris submarine.
1981 – A jury of international architects and sculptors unanimously selected Maya Ying Lin’s entry for the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
1994 – The Channel Tunnel officially opened. The tunnel under the English Channel links England and France.
1994 – Former Arkansas state worker Paula Jones filed suit against U.S. President Clinton. The case alleged that he had sexually harassed her in 1991.
1997 – Army Staff Sgt. Delmar G. Simpson was sentenced to 25 years in prison for raping six trainees at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
1997 – Four health-care companies agreed to a settlement of $600 million to hemophiliacs who had contracted AIDS from tainted blood between 1978-1985.
1999 – Britain’s Labour Party won the largest number of seats in the first elections for Scotland’s new Parliament and Wales’ new Assembly.
1999 – A parole board in New York voted to release Amy Fisher. She had been in jail for 7 years for shooting her lover’s wife, Mary Jo Buttafuoco, in the face.
2001 – Chandra Levy’s parents reported her missing to police in Washington, DC. Levy’s body was found on May 22, 2002 in Rock Creek Park.
2002 – “Spider-Man” became the first movie to make more than $100 million in its first weekend.