Tag Archives: FreedomWorks

Radical RAND: The Truth About GOP Hero Ayn Rand -a repost,a republican idol?


socialsecurityposter1I have to say, I do not usually read articles from Maureen Dowd, nor do subscribe to most of her comments but this one about ayn rand grabbed my attention …and is still relevant as 2018 begins

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.

RAND’S PHILOSOPHY:

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.

AlterNet 8/2011

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Marissa Graciosa, Reform Immigration FOR America


I've learned a powerful lesson in my years of organizing: you get what you ask for.

Tell your representative to show leadership and pass immigration reform now!

Send a postcard!

I’ve learned a powerful lesson in my years of organizing: you get what you ask for. With countless activists like you making calls, joining rallies and marches, and even risking arrest to ask for nothing less than a fair pathway to citizenship as part of immigration reform legislation, all we need now is for our representatives in the House to come forward and lead on the issue.

While our communities show true courage, our legislators in the House of Representatives are hiding. They are choosing political theater over working together to fix our broken immigration system. They are hiding from our demands for bold action to keep our families together.

It’s time the House followed our lead. We’re sending postcards directly to Congressional offices with images of our communities showing real leadership and a message demanding action. Send your representative a clear message: “Real leaders don’t hide. Pass immigration reform in 2013.”

We elect our members of Congress to lead, yet the House has failed to do so by refusing to take action. We must remind them that, as representatives of the people, they answer to us — and we challenge them to model the bravery and leadership that thousands are demonstrating in the streets every day by passing immigration reform this year.

We are closer now than we have ever been to passing real reform, and our representatives need to know that we aren’t backing down. Send your message now: step up and lead on immigration reform! Click here to send a postcard.

Standing strong,

Marissa Graciosa
Reform Immigration FOR America

Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare


 Health Care and the ACA ~~ Originally posted on 8/22/13

the Progress Report

In less than 6 weeks, millions of Americans will have the chance to sign up for quality, affordable health coverage for the very first time. Progressives are doing everything possible to educate Americans about the law and push back on the never-ending conservative misinformation campaign against Obamacare. Conservatives are, well, trying anything and everything in order to try and derail the law at the very last minute.

(Things are not going very well for conservatives.)

Here’s a roundup of the very latest Obamacare news:

For the latest news, be sure and check out ThinkProgress health.

Shutdown Meltdown


by ThinkProgress

GOP Descends Further Into Chaos

As their years-long quest to kill and undermine Obamacare demonstrates, Congressional Republicans are united in nothing if not their irrational hatred of a law which is already helping tens of millions of Americans and will give millions more the security of quality, affordable health care for the very first time in just a few short months.

Despite this apparent unity, the GOP has somehow managed to descend into an all-out civil war over the efforts of a few extremists in the Senate to shut down the government in October rather than fund Obamacare. Never mind that the Congressional Research Service reported yesterday that shutting down the government will not, in fact, stop Obamacare.

Here’s what a few Republicans have had to say about their colleagues’ efforts to shut down the government over Obamacare:

  • “Madness.” – former Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Holtz-Eakin
  • A denial of reality mixed with a whole bunch of hype…intellectually dishonest…a good way for Republicans to lose the House…destroying the Republican Party.” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
  • The political equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum.” “A suicidal political tactic.” -Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK)
  • “Terror politics.” – Rep. Peter King (R-NY)
  • “The dumbest idea I’ve ever heard of.”Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
  • “A silly effort.”Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)
  • “Feckless.Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

Undaunted, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and some of his party’s leading 2016 contenders, including Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Rand Paul (R-KY), march on in this futile, dead-end effort. Outside groups like Heritage Action, which is launching a nationwide tour in support of the politically disastrous push, and FreedomWorks and pundits like Sarah Palin, Erick Erickson, and Sean Hannity are fanning the flames of this intra-party battle.

These outside groups have come in for criticism from fellow conservatives, with one GOP lawmaker suggesting that Heritage Action cares more about fundraising than anything else. The group, which has swung far to the right after its sister organization was taken over by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), apparently has no plan for what to do next should the government actually shut down, something which has rankled GOP leaders.

Meanwhile, POLITICO reports that Sen. Cruz accused Republican doubters of belonging to the “surrender caucus” and “is taking his hardball tactics to a whole new level” because he relishes “intra-party warfare.”

Even as the House of Representatives is set to waste time this week on yet another pointless vote to repeal Obamacare — the chamber’s 40th, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) is privately urging his colleagues not to shut down the government over Obamacare or anything else.

This is perhaps because Boehner understands that it’s the GOP that stands to lose should this intra-party battle break out into an all-out war in Washington over shutting down the government. A new poll out this morning found that by a 2:1 margin, voters would be less likely to vote for a candidate who had voted to shut down the government in order to defund Obamacare. This echoes the result of a poll out earlier this week that found repealing Obamacare is not a very popular idea.

BOTTOM LINE: Instead of wasting time fighting with one another and trying to deny the security of quality, affordable health care to millions of Americans, the GOP should actually give governing a try. Less than two full work weeks remain before the government will run out of money and shut down unless the House GOP abandons its demands for more austerity spending cuts and deep cuts to programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You Might’ve Missed

Paul Ryan says Boehner should put immigration reform up for a vote, even if a majority of Republicans don’t support it.

Fox News host has no idea how inflation works.

Top Latino journalist torches the GOP over immigration reform and intolerance.

Judge rules that the Catholic Church has a constitutional right not to compensate victims of abuse.

Republican cuts could kick 5 MILLION off food stamps.

North Carolina governor gives protesters cookies to make up for taking away abortion rights.

The Anthony Weiner scandal has devolved into an excuse for slut-shaming.

House GOP appropriations chairman denounces his party’s own strategy on the budget, sequester, and spending bills.

The sequester continues to drag down the economy.

huge developmen​t …Crystal King, DSCC Political Director


News just broke that a major Tea Party organization has created a new “Super PAC” to elect extreme right-wing candidates like Rand Paul and Jim DeMint. I put together a quick memo below about the major threat this poses to our 2012 plans.

This is a huge development that we will watch closely. But we can’t take them on unless everyone pitches in before this deadline.

Please contribute $5 to fight against this extreme group before midnight Sept. 30. Meeting this goal just got a lot more crucial to keeping the Tea Party from taking over the Senate.
WWW.DSCC.ORG

TO: Grassroots Activists
FROM: Crystal King, Political Director

PROBLEM: Yesterday, a major Tea Party group announced the launch of a SuperPAC, “FreedomWorks for America.” This group is planning a $20 million campaign dedicated to electing candidates in the mold of Jim DeMint and Rand Paul. They could spend even more. Thanks to the Citizens United decision, this PAC can spend unlimited money attacking our candidates.

THIS IS DIFFERENT: Unlike many other organizations, this well-funded group will focus on the most extreme, right-wing candidates. In fact, the PAC is already pledging support for Tea Party-Republican Senate candidates in Texas, Arizona and Florida.

IF THEY WIN: The Tea Party takes over the Senate, just like the House. The current Senate firewall blocking their dangerous agenda would be gone. Led by FreedomWorks’ new senators, they would end Medicare, privatize Medicaid, stop unemployment benefits, repeal health care reform, roll back civil rights, and shutter the EPA.

HOW WE WIN: Fulfill every fundraising goal, especially the one coming at midnight on Sept. 30. It’s the only way we can fight them head-to-head in every state. Otherwise, we hand over states – and likely the majority – to the GOP.

WHY: Because the DSCC is currently protecting 23 seats, under a razor-thin four-seat majority. We have to meet monthly budgets to stay ahead of the Republicans. Also, if the GOP gains a fundraising advantage, it can create runaway momentum before campaign season even starts.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: More than 90% of the DSCC’s contributions come from grassroots supporters. We absolutely can’t hold the Senate without your help. Please give $5, $10 or whatever you can. We still need to raise $465,000 by midnight Friday to stop the Tea Party takeover.   WWW.DSCC.ORG