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Old 05-21-2009, 09:06 PM   #166
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Re: The Grand New Party

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Originally Posted by Beemnseven View Post
Since most Americans aren't paying the bulk of the taxes I have no doubt they would answer this way.

Americans will start caring about the over $250k per year crowd when the jobs start going away. After all, the high earners in this country are usually their employers.

You cannot help the wage earner by bringing down the wage payer.

I think you can sell the idea of reforming the tax code can work if you sell it right. For instance, everybody pays the same rate. Nothing wrong with that. Then you eliminate withholding. Once everybody has to write a check directly to the government every quarter, people will start paying much more attention to how much is taken out of their paychecks, spending will get under control real quick. Then there's the privacy issue. As I said earlier, I'll bet most Americans would agree that the federal government has no right to know how much money you make, what you contribute to savings, or what you put into retirement. Just like the privacy issue, which most Americans like, the same should go for their bank accounts.

Our financial situation is none of the government's business. Sell it that way, and I think you've got yourself an issue that can win.

Everyone is motivated by money including those with money who "employ everyone." This is by far the biggest consumer market in the world as well as the best place for talent. No self-respecting business man would simply pack up and leave because a) it wouldn't be in their best interest for what I hope are obvious reason (employees -> consumers -> $$$ -> employers) and b) someone will step in and fill in the gap they left including foreign investors/corporations/entrepreneurs. There's simply too much competition out there to walk away from the biggest pie on the planet. Sure, our economic power might decline in the future but taxation would be the least of our worries in that regard. Anywho, I leave you with this quote from Ike (the letter is worth reading in its entirety):

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Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas.5 Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

-Dwight D. Eisenhower
p.s. Ayn Rand's utopian view of the world is no better than that of an anarchist shouting "abolish money!"
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Old 05-21-2009, 10:52 PM   #167
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Re: The Grand New Party

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I don't know if your comments on SS and Medicare are serious? I mean what we get is an older population, my very old grandparents included, who can eat and keep a roof over their head. If to you that is worth nothing there's not a lot of room for conversation here...we're coming from vastly different value systems.
You said we got nothing from SDI. If you read the article, which based on your post you didn't, there are very tangible things that have come from SDI spending. SS and Medicare are entitlement programs that provide for people's well being, but leave nothing tangible. SS and Medicare have morphed greatly from what FDR originally intended. As far as your grandparents they absolutely deserve their SS & Medicare as I'm sure they paid into the programs for years. However both programs are going to need drastic overhauls real quick or we are looking at higher rates, less benefits, or insolvency of the program altogether.
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Old 05-21-2009, 10:58 PM   #168
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Re: The Grand New Party

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So, I think I have laid out what I would consider a basic platform for an opposition party:
Add: Term Limits - total of 8 yrs for a rep, 12 yrs. for a Senator.
Balanced Budget ammendment.
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Old 05-21-2009, 11:26 PM   #169
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Re: The Grand New Party

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That's fine. You and your children can go die for someone else's freedom. Those same people that you saved will spit in your face after you've given them everything. If sticking your nose in everyone else's business is what you call conservative then I can understand why we had jerks like the Bushes and McCain run the GOP.
as saden mentioned, when it's in the nation's interest we need to act. I'd rather stop a potential aggressor thousands of miles away than at any of our borders. If we can save millions of lives in the process than I'd say that's a plus. I served in the military and was stationed in Japan so I was prepared to die "for someone else's freedom", if necessary. My son is looking into going into the USAF and God forbid he dies serving his country. If that happens I'll be devastated but proud of what he stood for, even if I disagree with a decision of the Commander in Chief or Congress (be they D or R). If you chose to sit any conflicts out, that's your choice, we have an all-volunteer military.

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NATO is BS. As members of NATO you have to come to the aid of a nation that is attacked. That token army they threw up isn't squat and everyone knows it. Bush tried to get more troops, eff you. Obama thought he'd get more troops because he wasn't "a go it alone guy like Bush". They just told Obama to eff himself too. If we're not at war in Afghanistan then why is our army there, tea, opium? Lie to me, tell me something.
We are at war IN Afghanistan against terrorist factions, not at war WITH Afghanistan. If we were attacked by a hostile COUNTRY the countries of NATO would be obiligated to assist as if they were attacked.

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Going into the eastern bloc is a big mistake. If you think Russia will allow Georgia and the Ukraine to become members of NATO without a fight you've got another thing coming. The best thing to do is let the Commies be and not rub their noses in s**t. We might need the Russians in the future.
Alger Hiss had the same advice for FDR at Yalta. The Polish people suffered under the Soviet bloc for 50 years thanks to that mentality. If people like you had won the foreign policy debate in WWII or the Cold War we would've had to fight a two front war....alone against Japan and Germany or we would still be in the Cold (or possibly full-scale) War with the USSR and who knows what side China would be on (probably not the side of Democracy). Oh and tens of millions more would've died, but they would've spit in our faces anyway.

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We didn't bring down the Soviets. Their own ignorant marxist economist brought them down. Just like the ignorant marxist in our government are bringing us down.
Reagan pushed several key buttons to hurt the Soviets at every turn (Poland, Afghanistan, etc.). He forced the Soviets to divert too many resources towards a military build-up. This coupled with some help from the Saudis manipulating the oil market and Europe shutting down a pipeline of natural gas crushed the Soviet economy.

I agree we have some serious issues to address in the country, but is anyone doing anything right in our country according to you?
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Old 05-21-2009, 11:26 PM   #170
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Re: The Grand New Party

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Originally Posted by saden1 View Post
Everyone is motivated by money including those with money who "employ everyone." This is by far the biggest consumer market in the world as well as the best place for talent. No self-respecting business man would simply pack up and leave because a) it wouldn't be in their best interest for what I hope are obvious reason (employees -> consumers -> $$$ -> employers) and b) someone will step in and fill in the gap they left including foreign investors/corporations/entrepreneurs. There's simply too much competition out there to walk away from the biggest pie on the planet. Sure, our economic power might decline in the future but taxation would be the least of our worries in that regard. Anywho, I leave you with this quote from Ike (the letter is worth reading in its entirety):



p.s. Ayn Rand's utopian view of the world is no better than that of an anarchist shouting "abolish money!"
Ike wasn't purely conservative. That's never been in doubt. Besides that, what he said is probably true, which is why those who believe in limited government have such an uphill climb. Americans have been conditioned over many years to expect the government to be there for more and more of their basic needs. Dependency then becomes a bigger problem and anyone who tries to present the idea that people should be more self-sufficient doesn't stand a chance. That's why the focus should really be on changing the mindset of the people, not so much the politicians.

As to your first point, you're correct; money certainly is the motivating factor. But once the high achievers realize that there is no point acquiring wealth because it will be confiscated, there's no point in producing either. They can sit on their wealth, earn interest and kick back. Or they can leave.

And I can promise you this -- there won't be a huge influx of businesses to take their place if the new business stands to take the same type of hit the last guy did. The incentive to do business is no longer there.
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Old 05-22-2009, 12:56 AM   #171
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Re: The Grand New Party

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Originally Posted by Slingin Sammy 33 View Post
as saden mentioned, when it's in the nation's interest we need to act. I'd rather stop a potential aggressor thousands of miles away than at any of our borders. If we can save millions of lives in the process than I'd say that's a plus. I served in the military and was stationed in Japan so I was prepared to die "for someone else's freedom", if necessary. My son is looking into going into the USAF and God forbid he dies serving his country. If that happens I'll be devastated but proud of what he stood for, even if I disagree with a decision of the Commander in Chief or Congress (be they D or R). If you chose to sit any conflicts out, that's your choice, we have an all-volunteer military.

We are at war IN Afghanistan against terrorist factions, not at war WITH Afghanistan. If we were attacked by a hostile COUNTRY the countries of NATO would be obiligated to assist as if they were attacked.

Alger Hiss had the same advice for FDR at Yalta. The Polish people suffered under the Soviet bloc for 50 years thanks to that mentality. If people like you had won the foreign policy debate in WWII or the Cold War we would've had to fight a two front war....alone against Japan and Germany or we would still be in the Cold (or possibly full-scale) War with the USSR and who knows what side China would be on (probably not the side of Democracy). Oh and tens of millions more would've died, but they would've spit in our faces anyway.

Reagan pushed several key buttons to hurt the Soviets at every turn (Poland, Afghanistan, etc.). He forced the Soviets to divert too many resources towards a military build-up. This coupled with some help from the Saudis manipulating the oil market and Europe shutting down a pipeline of natural gas crushed the Soviet economy.

I agree we have some serious issues to address in the country, but is anyone doing anything right in our country according to you?
I too served in the military in Japan and I told my warrant officer that I took an oath to the Constitution of the United States not to a people that tried to kill my grandfather. His brother, my great uncle, thought like you do. He was killed in Korea by the very same filthy communist that he helped to save against the Japanese.

Afghanistan should've been glowing in the dark as the ink was drying on a declaration of war. We lost more people on 9/11 than on Pearl Harbor and Bush wanted to build those filthy animals up, to grow more opium so people could poison their minds? For what, Freedom? Those ignorant rats only know the Koran and a Kalishnakov. That's it.

Our people were incenerated by jet fuel and crushed under steel and ruble, and the Europeans say how bad they feel about it and give us a token army? We stood down the Russians for that? I spit on Europe, save England. Don't tell me about NATO. NATO is an expensive sick joke.

The Germans, Italians, and Japanese declared war on us. I already won that arguement with my history professor. We knew war was coming too. Everyone one knew that. Our aircraft carriers were out looking for the Japanese. That's why they were not at Pearl Harbor. Unlike many of the wars that we fought including the Great War, we actually had no choice in fighting WWII. We needed the Russians to fight the Japanese, and as any Pole will tell you, no one gives a damn about Poland.

Reagan, God Bless his soul, did a lot. But he didn't bring down the Soviets all by himself. Their own economics did that. That's why the Red Chinese no longer practice Marxist economics.

What's done is done. I'm not going to argue about the past. My beef with these politicians is they're not practical nor do they follow anything related to common-sense. I expect Marxist Democrats to be Marxist Democrats, that's a given, but the Republicans shouldn't be Commie / Progressive light.

This country is not the racket called the government. The only thing those socialist jerks can do right in my eyes is jump in the Potomac and forget how to swim. If Congress was dissolved I'd still have Virginia and we're still armed to the teeth.

I'm no pacifist but I'll not fight and die in wars that this government doesn't care to win. God forbid your son lose his life.
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Old 05-22-2009, 04:09 AM   #172
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Re: The Grand New Party

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Originally Posted by Beemnseven View Post
Ike wasn't purely conservative. That's never been in doubt. Besides that, what he said is probably true, which is why those who believe in limited government have such an uphill climb. Americans have been conditioned over many years to expect the government to be there for more and more of their basic needs. Dependency then becomes a bigger problem and anyone who tries to present the idea that people should be more self-sufficient doesn't stand a chance. That's why the focus should really be on changing the mindset of the people, not so much the politicians.

As to your first point, you're correct; money certainly is the motivating factor. But once the high achievers realize that there is no point acquiring wealth because it will be confiscated, there's no point in producing either. They can sit on their wealth, earn interest and kick back. Or they can leave.

And I can promise you this -- there won't be a huge influx of businesses to take their place if the new business stands to take the same type of hit the last guy did. The incentive to do business is no longer there.
There lies a fundamental problem with "conservatism" of today. True conservatism as proposed by current corp of conservatives is extreme. There is no room for compromise and there's no room for social services. If pure socialism is a failure what makes you think pure conservatism is not? This country has never been and will never be pure anything and the sooner conservatives realize this the faster they can move forward and get the public on their side.
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Old 05-22-2009, 12:13 PM   #173
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Re: The Grand New Party

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Originally Posted by Trample the Elderly View Post
This country is not the racket called the government. The only thing those socialist jerks can do right in my eyes is jump in the Potomac and forget how to swim. If Congress was dissolved I'd still have Virginia and we're still armed to the teeth.
Some fresh blood (not bought and paid for by special interests) in DC is definitely what this country needs.
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Old 05-25-2009, 01:23 AM   #174
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Re: The Grand New Party

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p.s. Ayn Rand's utopian view of the world is no better than that of an anarchist shouting "abolish money!"
I agree with this. Ayn Rand's hideous prose coupled with a worldview which denies the existence of God is deplorable. This is long, but as a negative review it is exemplary. Whitt Chambers destroys Ayn Rand. This is from the National Review in 1958:

Several years ago, Miss Ayn Rand wrote The Fountainhead. Despite a generally poor press, it is said to have sold some four hundred thousand copies. Thus, it became a wonder of the book trade of a kind that publishers dream about after taxes. So Atlas Shrugged had a first printing of one hundred thousand copies. It appears to be slowly climbing the best-seller lists.


The news about this book seems to me to be that any ordinarily sensible head could not possibly take it seriously, and that, apparently, a good many do. Somebody has called it: "Excruciatingly awful." I find it a remarkably silly book. It is certainly a bumptious one. Its story is preposterous. It reports the final stages of a final conflict (locale: chiefly the United States, some indefinite years hence) between the harried ranks of free enterprise and the "looters." These are proponents of proscriptive taxes, government ownership, labor, etc., etc. The mischief here is that the author, dodging into fiction, nevertheless counts on your reading it as political reality. This," she is saying in effect, "is how things really are. These are the real issues, the real sides. Only your blindness keeps you from seeing it, which, happily, I have come to rescue you from."
Since a great many of us dislike much that Miss Rand dislikes, quite as heartily as she does, many incline to take her at her word. It is the more persuasive, in some quarters, because the author deals wholly in the blackest blacks and the whitest whites. In this fiction everything, everybody, is either all good or all bad, without any of those intermediate shades which, in life, complicate reality and perplex the eye that seeks to probe it truly. This kind of simplifying pattern, of course, gives charm to most primitive storyknown as: The War between the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness. In modern dress, it is a class war. Both sides to it are caricatures.
The Children of Light are largely operatic caricatures. Insofar as any of them suggests anything known to the business community, they resemble the occasional curmudgeon millionaire, tales about whose outrageously crude and shrewd eccentricities sometimes provide the lighter moments in boardrooms. Otherwise, the Children of Light are geniuses. One of them is named (the only smile you see will be your own): Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastian dAntonio. This electrifying youth is the world's biggest copper tycoon. Another, no less electrifying, is named: Ragnar Danesjold. He becomes a twentieth-century pirate. All Miss Rand's chief heroes are also breathtakingly beautiful. So is her heroine (she is rather fetchingly vice president in charge of management of a transcontinental railroad).
So much radiant energy might seem to serve a eugenic purpose. For, in this story as in Mark Twain's, "all the knights marry the princess" though without benefit of clergy. Yet from the impromptu and surprisingly gymnastic matings of the heroine and three of the heroes, no children it suddenly strikes you ever result. The possibility is never entertained. And, indeed, the strenuously sterile world of Atlas Shrugged is scarcely a place for children. You speculate that, in life, children probably irk the author and may make her uneasy. How could it be otherwise when she admiringly names a banker character (by what seems to me a humorless master-stroke): Midas Mulligan? You may fool some adults; you can't fool little boys and girls with such stuff not for long. They may not know just what is out of line, but they stir uneasily. The Children of Darkness are caricatures, too; and they are really oozy. But at least they are caricatures of something identifiable. Their archetypes are Left-Liberals, New Dealers, Welfare Statists, One Worlders, or, at any rate, such ogreish semblances of these as may stalk the nightmares of those who think little about people as people, but tend to think a great deal in labels and effigies. (And neither Right nor Left, be it noted in passing, has a monopoly of such dreamers, though the horrors in their nightmares wear radically different masks and labels.)
In Atlas Shrugged, all this debased inhuman riffraff is lumped as "looters." This is a fairly inspired epithet. It enables the author to skewer on one invective word everything and everybody that she fears and hates. This spares her the playguy business of performing one service that her fiction might have performed, namely: that of examining in human depth how so feeble a lot came to exist at all, let alone be powerful enough to be worth hating and fearing. Instead, she bundles them into one undifferentiated damnation.
"Looters" loot because they believe in Robin Hood, and have got a lot of other people believing in him, too. Robin Hood is the author's image of absolute evil robbing the strong (and hence good) to give to the weak (and hence no good). All "looters" are base, envious, twisted, malignant minds, motivated wholly by greed for power, combined with the lust of the weak to tear down the strong, out of a deepseated hatred of life and secret longing for destruction and death. There happens to be a tiny (repeat: tiny) seed of truth in this. The full clinical diagnosis can be read in the pages of Friedrich Nietzsche. (Here I must break in with an aside. Miss Rand acknowledges a grudging debt to one, and only one, earlier philosopher: Aristotle. I submit that she is indebted, and much more heavily, to Nietzsche. Just as her operatic businessmen are, in fact, Nietzschean supermen, so her ulcerous leftists are Nietzsche's "last men," both deformed in a way to sicken the fastidious recluse of Sils Maria. And much else comes, consciously or not, from the same source.) Happily, in Atlas Shrugged (though not in life), all the Children of Darkness are utterly incompetent.
So the Children of Light win handily by declaring a general strike of brains, of which they have a monopoly, letting the world go, literally, to smash. In the end, they troop out of their Rocky Mountain hideaway to repossess the ruins. It is then, in the book's last line, that a character traces in the dir, over the desolate earth," the Sign of the Dollar, in lieu of the Sign of the Cross, and in token that a suitably prostrate mankind is at last ready, for its sins, to be redeemed from the related evils of religion and social reform (the "mysticism of mind" and the "mysticism of muscle").
That Dollar Sign is not merely provocative, though we sense a sophomoric intent to raise the pious hair on susceptible heads. More importantly, it is meant to seal the fact that mankind is ready to submit abjectly to an elite of technocrats, and their accessories, in a New Order, enlightened and instructed by Miss Rand's ideas that the good life is one which "has resolved personal worth into exchange value," "has left no other nexus between man and man than naked selfinterest, than callous "cash-payment."' The author is explicit, in fact deafening, about these prerequisites. Lest you should be in any doubt after 1,168 pages, she assures you with a final stamp of the foot in a postscript:
And I mean it." But the words quoted above are those of Karl Marx. He, too, admired "naked self-interest" (in its time and place), and for much the same reasons as Miss Rand: because, he believed, it cleared away the cobwebs of religion and led to prodigies of industrial and cognate accomplishment. The overlap is not as incongruous as it looks. Atlas Shrugged can be called a novel only by devaluing the term. It is a massive tract for the times. Its story merely serves Miss Rand to get the customers inside the tent, and as a soapbox for delivering her Message. The Message is the thing. It is, in sum, a forthright philosophic materialism. Upperclassmen might incline to sniff and say that the author has, with vast effort, contrived a simple materialist system, one, intellectually, at about the stage of the oxcart, though without mastering the principle of the wheel. Like any consistent materialism, this one begins by rejecting God, religion, original sin, etc., etc. (This book's aggressive atheism and rather unbuttoned "higher morality," which chiefly outrage some readers, are, in fact, secondary ripples, and result inevitably from its underpinning premises.) Thus, Randian Man, like Marxian Man, is made the center of a godless world.
At that point, in any materialism, the main possibilities open up to Man. 1) His tragic fate becomes, without God, more tragic and much lonelier. In general, the tragedy deepens according to the degree of pessimism or stoicism with which he conducts his "hopeless encounter between human questioning and the silent universe." Or, 2) Man's fate ceases to be tragic at all. Tragedy is bypassed by the pursuit of happiness. Tragedy is henceforth pointless. Henceforth man's fate, without God, is up to him, and to him alone. His happiness, in strict materialist terms, lies with his own workaday hands and ingenious brain. His happiness becomes, in Miss Rand's words, "the moral purpose of his fife."
Here occurs a little rub whose effects are just as observable in a free-enterprise system, which is in practice materialist (whatever else it claims or supposes itself to be), as they would be under an atheist socialism, if one were ever to deliver that material abundance that all promise. The rub is that the pursuit of happiness, as an end in itself, tends automatically, and widely, to be replaced by the pursuit of pleasure, with a consequent general softening of the fibers of will, intelligence, spirit. No doubt, Miss Rand has brooded upon that little rub. Hence in part, I presume, her insistence on man as a heroic being" With productive achievement as his noblest activity." For, if Man's heroism" (some will prefer to say: human dignity") no longer derives from God, or is not a function of that godless integrity which was a root of Nietzsche's anguish, then Man becomes merely the most consuming of animals, with glut as the condition of his happiness and its replenishment his foremost activity. So Randian Man, at least in his ruling caste, has to be held "heroic" in order not to be beastly. And this, of course, suits the author's economics and the politics that must arise from them. For politics, of course, arise, though the author of Atlas Shrugged stares stonily past them, as if this book were not what, in fact, it is, essentially a political book. And here begins mischief. Systems of philosophic materialism, so long as they merely circle outside this world's atmosphere, matter little to most of us. The trouble is that they keep coming down to earth. It is when a system of materialist ideas presumes to give positive answers to real problems of our real life that mischief starts. In an age like ours, in which a highly complex technological society is everywhere in a high state of instability, such answers, however philosophic, translate quickly into political realities. And in the degree to which problems of complexity and instability are most bewildering to masses of men, a temptation sets in to let some species of Big Brother solve and supervise them.
One Big Brother is, of course, a socializing elite (as we know, several cut-rate brands are on the shelves). Miss Rand, as the enemy of any socializing force, calls in a Big Brother of her own contriving to do battle with the other. In the name of free enterprise, therefore, she plumps for a technocratic elite (I find no more inclusive word than technocratic to bracket the industrial-financial-engineering caste she seems to have in mind). When she calls "productive achievement" man's noblest activity," she means, almost exclusively, technological achievement, supervised by such a managerial political bureau. She might object that she means much, much more; and we can freely entertain her objections. But, in sum, that is just what she means. For that is what, in reality, it works out to. And in reality, too, by contrast with fiction, this can only head into a dictatorship, however benign, living and acting beyond good and evil, a law unto itself (as Miss Rand believes it should be), and feeling any restraint on itself as, in practice, criminal, and, in morals, vicious (as Miss Rand clearly feels it to be). Of course, Miss Rand nowhere calls for a dictatorship. I take her to be calling for an aristocracy of talents. We cannot labor here why, in the modern world, the pre-conditions for aristocracy, an organic growth, no longer exist, so that the impulse toward aristocracy always emerges now in the form of dictatorship.
Nor has the author, apparently, brooded on the degree to which, in a wicked world, a materialism of the Right and a materialism of the Left first surprisingly resemble, then, in action, tend to blend each with each, because, while differing at the top in avowed purpose, and possibly in conflict there, at bottom they are much the same thing. The embarrassing similarities between Hitler's National Socialism and Stalin's brand of Communism are familiar. For the world, as seen in materialist view from the Right, scarcely differs from the same world seen in materialist view from the Left. The question becomes chiefly: who is to run that world in whose interests, or perhaps, at best, who can run it more efficiently?
Something of this implication is fixed in the book's dictatorial tone, which is much its most striking feature. Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. In addition, the mind which finds this tone natural to it shares other characteristics of its type. 1) It consistently mistakes raw force for strength, and the rawer the force, the more reverent the posture of the mind before it. 2) It supposes itself to be the bringer of a final revelation. Therefore, resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, right reason itself enjoins them. From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: "To a gas chamber go!" The same inflexibly self-righteous stance results, too (in the total absence of any saving humor), in odd extravagances of inflection and gesture-that Dollar Sign, for example. At first, we try to tell ourselves that these are just lapses, that this mind has, somehow, mislaid the discriminating knack that most of us pray will warn us in time of the difference between what is effective and firm, and what is wildly grotesque and excessive. Soon we suspect something worse. We suspect that this mind finds, precisely in extravagance, some exalting merit; feels a surging release of power and passion precisely in smashing up the house. A tornado might feel this way, or Carrie Nation.
We struggle to be just. For we cannot help feeling at least a sympathetic pain before the sheer labor, discipline, and patient craftsmanship that went to making this mountain of words. But the words keep shouting us down. In the end that tone dominates. But it should be its own antidote, warning us that anything it shouts is best taken with the usual reservations with which we might sip a patent medicine. Some may like the flavor. In any case, the brew is probably without lasting ill effects. But it is not a cure for anything. Nor would we, ordinarily, place much confidence in the diagnosis of a doctor who supposes that the Hippocratic Oath is a kind of curse.
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Old 05-25-2009, 01:28 AM   #175
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Re: The Grand New Party

"Ayn Rand's hideous prose coupled with a worldview which denies the existence of God is deplorable"

That's extremely subjective don't you think?
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Old 05-25-2009, 01:38 AM   #176
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Re: The Grand New Party

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Originally Posted by tryfuhl View Post
"Ayn Rand's hideous prose coupled with a worldview which denies the existence of God is deplorable"

That's extremely subjective don't you think?
Partly. That is, my belief in God may be unique to me. He may not have any interest in the rest of you - I couldn't say. But Ayn Rand's bad writing is bad by any standard, at any time, and in any place. Even people who find her philosophy compelling are forced to admit that her writing is abominable. WFB has called it "ideological fabulism". I would call it "adolescent". It is the clumsy musings of a mind that has not eperienced love or loss, joy or pain, or any other deep emotion that makes us human.
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Old 05-25-2009, 02:52 AM   #177
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Re: The Grand New Party

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I agree with this. Ayn Rand's hideous prose coupled with a worldview which denies the existence of God is deplorable. This is long, but as a negative review it is exemplary. Whitt Chambers destroys Ayn Rand. This is from the National Review in 1958:

Several years ago, Miss Ayn Rand wrote The Fountainhead. Despite a generally poor press, it is said to have sold some four hundred thousand copies. Thus, it became a wonder of the book trade of a kind that publishers dream about after taxes. So Atlas Shrugged had a first printing of one hundred thousand copies. It appears to be slowly climbing the best-seller lists.


The news about this book seems to me to be that any ordinarily sensible head could not possibly take it seriously, and that, apparently, a good many do. Somebody has called it: "Excruciatingly awful." I find it a remarkably silly book. It is certainly a bumptious one. Its story is preposterous. It reports the final stages of a final conflict (locale: chiefly the United States, some indefinite years hence) between the harried ranks of free enterprise and the "looters." These are proponents of proscriptive taxes, government ownership, labor, etc., etc. The mischief here is that the author, dodging into fiction, nevertheless counts on your reading it as political reality. This," she is saying in effect, "is how things really are. These are the real issues, the real sides. Only your blindness keeps you from seeing it, which, happily, I have come to rescue you from."
Since a great many of us dislike much that Miss Rand dislikes, quite as heartily as she does, many incline to take her at her word. It is the more persuasive, in some quarters, because the author deals wholly in the blackest blacks and the whitest whites. In this fiction everything, everybody, is either all good or all bad, without any of those intermediate shades which, in life, complicate reality and perplex the eye that seeks to probe it truly. This kind of simplifying pattern, of course, gives charm to most primitive storyknown as: The War between the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness. In modern dress, it is a class war. Both sides to it are caricatures.
The Children of Light are largely operatic caricatures. Insofar as any of them suggests anything known to the business community, they resemble the occasional curmudgeon millionaire, tales about whose outrageously crude and shrewd eccentricities sometimes provide the lighter moments in boardrooms. Otherwise, the Children of Light are geniuses. One of them is named (the only smile you see will be your own): Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastian dAntonio. This electrifying youth is the world's biggest copper tycoon. Another, no less electrifying, is named: Ragnar Danesjold. He becomes a twentieth-century pirate. All Miss Rand's chief heroes are also breathtakingly beautiful. So is her heroine (she is rather fetchingly vice president in charge of management of a transcontinental railroad).
So much radiant energy might seem to serve a eugenic purpose. For, in this story as in Mark Twain's, "all the knights marry the princess" though without benefit of clergy. Yet from the impromptu and surprisingly gymnastic matings of the heroine and three of the heroes, no children it suddenly strikes you ever result. The possibility is never entertained. And, indeed, the strenuously sterile world of Atlas Shrugged is scarcely a place for children. You speculate that, in life, children probably irk the author and may make her uneasy. How could it be otherwise when she admiringly names a banker character (by what seems to me a humorless master-stroke): Midas Mulligan? You may fool some adults; you can't fool little boys and girls with such stuff not for long. They may not know just what is out of line, but they stir uneasily. The Children of Darkness are caricatures, too; and they are really oozy. But at least they are caricatures of something identifiable. Their archetypes are Left-Liberals, New Dealers, Welfare Statists, One Worlders, or, at any rate, such ogreish semblances of these as may stalk the nightmares of those who think little about people as people, but tend to think a great deal in labels and effigies. (And neither Right nor Left, be it noted in passing, has a monopoly of such dreamers, though the horrors in their nightmares wear radically different masks and labels.)
In Atlas Shrugged, all this debased inhuman riffraff is lumped as "looters." This is a fairly inspired epithet. It enables the author to skewer on one invective word everything and everybody that she fears and hates. This spares her the playguy business of performing one service that her fiction might have performed, namely: that of examining in human depth how so feeble a lot came to exist at all, let alone be powerful enough to be worth hating and fearing. Instead, she bundles them into one undifferentiated damnation.
"Looters" loot because they believe in Robin Hood, and have got a lot of other people believing in him, too. Robin Hood is the author's image of absolute evil robbing the strong (and hence good) to give to the weak (and hence no good). All "looters" are base, envious, twisted, malignant minds, motivated wholly by greed for power, combined with the lust of the weak to tear down the strong, out of a deepseated hatred of life and secret longing for destruction and death. There happens to be a tiny (repeat: tiny) seed of truth in this. The full clinical diagnosis can be read in the pages of Friedrich Nietzsche. (Here I must break in with an aside. Miss Rand acknowledges a grudging debt to one, and only one, earlier philosopher: Aristotle. I submit that she is indebted, and much more heavily, to Nietzsche. Just as her operatic businessmen are, in fact, Nietzschean supermen, so her ulcerous leftists are Nietzsche's "last men," both deformed in a way to sicken the fastidious recluse of Sils Maria. And much else comes, consciously or not, from the same source.) Happily, in Atlas Shrugged (though not in life), all the Children of Darkness are utterly incompetent.
So the Children of Light win handily by declaring a general strike of brains, of which they have a monopoly, letting the world go, literally, to smash. In the end, they troop out of their Rocky Mountain hideaway to repossess the ruins. It is then, in the book's last line, that a character traces in the dir, over the desolate earth," the Sign of the Dollar, in lieu of the Sign of the Cross, and in token that a suitably prostrate mankind is at last ready, for its sins, to be redeemed from the related evils of religion and social reform (the "mysticism of mind" and the "mysticism of muscle").
That Dollar Sign is not merely provocative, though we sense a sophomoric intent to raise the pious hair on susceptible heads. More importantly, it is meant to seal the fact that mankind is ready to submit abjectly to an elite of technocrats, and their accessories, in a New Order, enlightened and instructed by Miss Rand's ideas that the good life is one which "has resolved personal worth into exchange value," "has left no other nexus between man and man than naked selfinterest, than callous "cash-payment."' The author is explicit, in fact deafening, about these prerequisites. Lest you should be in any doubt after 1,168 pages, she assures you with a final stamp of the foot in a postscript:
And I mean it." But the words quoted above are those of Karl Marx. He, too, admired "naked self-interest" (in its time and place), and for much the same reasons as Miss Rand: because, he believed, it cleared away the cobwebs of religion and led to prodigies of industrial and cognate accomplishment. The overlap is not as incongruous as it looks. Atlas Shrugged can be called a novel only by devaluing the term. It is a massive tract for the times. Its story merely serves Miss Rand to get the customers inside the tent, and as a soapbox for delivering her Message. The Message is the thing. It is, in sum, a forthright philosophic materialism. Upperclassmen might incline to sniff and say that the author has, with vast effort, contrived a simple materialist system, one, intellectually, at about the stage of the oxcart, though without mastering the principle of the wheel. Like any consistent materialism, this one begins by rejecting God, religion, original sin, etc., etc. (This book's aggressive atheism and rather unbuttoned "higher morality," which chiefly outrage some readers, are, in fact, secondary ripples, and result inevitably from its underpinning premises.) Thus, Randian Man, like Marxian Man, is made the center of a godless world.
At that point, in any materialism, the main possibilities open up to Man. 1) His tragic fate becomes, without God, more tragic and much lonelier. In general, the tragedy deepens according to the degree of pessimism or stoicism with which he conducts his "hopeless encounter between human questioning and the silent universe." Or, 2) Man's fate ceases to be tragic at all. Tragedy is bypassed by the pursuit of happiness. Tragedy is henceforth pointless. Henceforth man's fate, without God, is up to him, and to him alone. His happiness, in strict materialist terms, lies with his own workaday hands and ingenious brain. His happiness becomes, in Miss Rand's words, "the moral purpose of his fife."
Here occurs a little rub whose effects are just as observable in a free-enterprise system, which is in practice materialist (whatever else it claims or supposes itself to be), as they would be under an atheist socialism, if one were ever to deliver that material abundance that all promise. The rub is that the pursuit of happiness, as an end in itself, tends automatically, and widely, to be replaced by the pursuit of pleasure, with a consequent general softening of the fibers of will, intelligence, spirit. No doubt, Miss Rand has brooded upon that little rub. Hence in part, I presume, her insistence on man as a heroic being" With productive achievement as his noblest activity." For, if Man's heroism" (some will prefer to say: human dignity") no longer derives from God, or is not a function of that godless integrity which was a root of Nietzsche's anguish, then Man becomes merely the most consuming of animals, with glut as the condition of his happiness and its replenishment his foremost activity. So Randian Man, at least in his ruling caste, has to be held "heroic" in order not to be beastly. And this, of course, suits the author's economics and the politics that must arise from them. For politics, of course, arise, though the author of Atlas Shrugged stares stonily past them, as if this book were not what, in fact, it is, essentially a political book. And here begins mischief. Systems of philosophic materialism, so long as they merely circle outside this world's atmosphere, matter little to most of us. The trouble is that they keep coming down to earth. It is when a system of materialist ideas presumes to give positive answers to real problems of our real life that mischief starts. In an age like ours, in which a highly complex technological society is everywhere in a high state of instability, such answers, however philosophic, translate quickly into political realities. And in the degree to which problems of complexity and instability are most bewildering to masses of men, a temptation sets in to let some species of Big Brother solve and supervise them.
One Big Brother is, of course, a socializing elite (as we know, several cut-rate brands are on the shelves). Miss Rand, as the enemy of any socializing force, calls in a Big Brother of her own contriving to do battle with the other. In the name of free enterprise, therefore, she plumps for a technocratic elite (I find no more inclusive word than technocratic to bracket the industrial-financial-engineering caste she seems to have in mind). When she calls "productive achievement" man's noblest activity," she means, almost exclusively, technological achievement, supervised by such a managerial political bureau. She might object that she means much, much more; and we can freely entertain her objections. But, in sum, that is just what she means. For that is what, in reality, it works out to. And in reality, too, by contrast with fiction, this can only head into a dictatorship, however benign, living and acting beyond good and evil, a law unto itself (as Miss Rand believes it should be), and feeling any restraint on itself as, in practice, criminal, and, in morals, vicious (as Miss Rand clearly feels it to be). Of course, Miss Rand nowhere calls for a dictatorship. I take her to be calling for an aristocracy of talents. We cannot labor here why, in the modern world, the pre-conditions for aristocracy, an organic growth, no longer exist, so that the impulse toward aristocracy always emerges now in the form of dictatorship.
Nor has the author, apparently, brooded on the degree to which, in a wicked world, a materialism of the Right and a materialism of the Left first surprisingly resemble, then, in action, tend to blend each with each, because, while differing at the top in avowed purpose, and possibly in conflict there, at bottom they are much the same thing. The embarrassing similarities between Hitler's National Socialism and Stalin's brand of Communism are familiar. For the world, as seen in materialist view from the Right, scarcely differs from the same world seen in materialist view from the Left. The question becomes chiefly: who is to run that world in whose interests, or perhaps, at best, who can run it more efficiently?
Something of this implication is fixed in the book's dictatorial tone, which is much its most striking feature. Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. In addition, the mind which finds this tone natural to it shares other characteristics of its type. 1) It consistently mistakes raw force for strength, and the rawer the force, the more reverent the posture of the mind before it. 2) It supposes itself to be the bringer of a final revelation. Therefore, resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, right reason itself enjoins them. From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: "To a gas chamber go!" The same inflexibly self-righteous stance results, too (in the total absence of any saving humor), in odd extravagances of inflection and gesture-that Dollar Sign, for example. At first, we try to tell ourselves that these are just lapses, that this mind has, somehow, mislaid the discriminating knack that most of us pray will warn us in time of the difference between what is effective and firm, and what is wildly grotesque and excessive. Soon we suspect something worse. We suspect that this mind finds, precisely in extravagance, some exalting merit; feels a surging release of power and passion precisely in smashing up the house. A tornado might feel this way, or Carrie Nation.
We struggle to be just. For we cannot help feeling at least a sympathetic pain before the sheer labor, discipline, and patient craftsmanship that went to making this mountain of words. But the words keep shouting us down. In the end that tone dominates. But it should be its own antidote, warning us that anything it shouts is best taken with the usual reservations with which we might sip a patent medicine. Some may like the flavor. In any case, the brew is probably without lasting ill effects. But it is not a cure for anything. Nor would we, ordinarily, place much confidence in the diagnosis of a doctor who supposes that the Hippocratic Oath is a kind of curse.
Jesus Christ, you sure do have a lot of time on your hands!
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Old 05-25-2009, 02:42 PM   #178
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Re: The Grand New Party

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Jesus Christ, you sure do have a lot of time on your hands!

In 70's defense you're here because you have a lot of time on your hands. One can learn a lot from 70 so it's worthwhile to pay attention to what he has to say.
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:44 PM   #179
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Re: The Grand New Party

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Jesus Christ, you sure do have a lot of time on your hands!
You know he didn't actually write all that, right?
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