We’re only two years shy of the 60th birthday of the publication of Atlas Shrugged. My, how time flies. And how we are reminded that its flight is circular.
For even though plain good sense provides adequate vaccination against the ravages of Ayn Rand’s novel, every few years it rises again to infect at-risk segments of the population—those who’ve neglected basic mental hygiene.
You remember the insistently adolescent plot, no? —In a nutshell, it is this: there exist Special people, each an Atlas bearing the weight of the world. These are not merely the heroes of the book, they are its target audience. As Thomas Mallon notes, the book whispers, “You’re right, they’re wrong; you’re special, they’re not.”
These heroes’ labor is pitifully unfair, for all that they seem to be specially favored: “The greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders.”
Special People should be deferred to, or what use is being special? In Atlas Shrugged’s view, the Special People are always and forever plagued by Takers. These weak and bungling rodent-like creatures, (like a certain Kenyan President we shall not mention), though fecklessly incompetent, are also somehow irresistibly powerful.
The pathetic Takers hold this power because of just one thing. They do not properly defer.
The B, hard at work.
We saw Buster on his way today. I can barely type the letters to make the words that say so. Storms of grief, followed by stretches of misted calm, take me without my leave. I'm alone in the house, so I can howl my anguish as loud as I need.
But why so quiet, NRA?
Unless the law you championed in Florida promoting deadly force in cases of "self defense" is differential. Depending on who's involved in the deadly force.
Back when it was passed, Florida’s wonderful self-defense law was lauded by the NRA for providing that
if a person is in a place he or she has a right to be—in the front yard, on the road, working in their office, strolling in the park—and is confronted by an armed predator, he or she can respond in force in defense of their lives.
Seems clear enough. But it could lead to some wrong conclusions.
Bill O'Reilly proved beyond any question the depth of his intellect this evening. In the light of the firestorm beginning to swell over Rush Limbaugh's assault on women, O'Reilly complained that "these women" are asking us to subsidize their activities. (Set aside for the moment what is really being requested is support for their health care, and that the need extends beyond just contraception.)
Well I played football, squawked O'Reilly. Shouldn't the government have bought my helmet? I could have gotten hurt! Shouldn't I have been able to ask the taxpayer to keep me safe?
Well, dumbass, they did.
F. Scott Fitzgerald remarked, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
From which we may take that Republicans have nimble, subtle minds. (Okay, okay--that “and still function” clause is a problem.)
I’m serious. Just look at the things the wingnuts are capable of believing at the same time:
• You may base your facts on the conclusions you reach, but facts cannot force you to reach conclusions you do not support.
• Your success in business was due to your being a huge predatory ruthless dick, but that doesn’t give people leave to be mean to you.
• OWS is a bunch of loser outsider longhaired socialist DFHs who should get a haircut a bath and a real job, but in order to appeal to a lot of people your campaign theme music comes from DFHs Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, David Byrne, K’naan, or Bruce Springsteen.
Follow me over the bobwire for more.
--A 2,500 year-old word without a settled definition. The word is oddly autological, in that democracy is admirable partly for a stubborn unwillingness to declare matters once and for all settled. (Franklin said, “Having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.”)
But now, the country that introduced rule by the people, the demos, is threatened with the surrender of its own democracy. Its creditors are essentially demanding the country be arrested and tossed into debtors’ prison.
Today mortgage lender GMAC pulled a gun and aimed it at the head of Massachusetts.
Because yesterday, the state’s AG filed suit against it and four other banks’ illegal mortgage practices.
In retaliation, the company announced that it will no longer make any loans in the state of Massachusetts:
GMAC Mortgage, the mortgage lender of Ally Financial Inc., is exiting the vast majority of its lending in Massachusetts a day after the state sued it over its foreclosure practices....Recent developments have led mortgage lending in Massachusetts to no longer be viable.
For “no longer viable,” read “all of a sudden held to a standard of law.”
Congratulations, Mayors Bloomberg and Quan, city powers of Chapel Hill and Portland. You panicked in the face of change. And doing so, you rent holes in the veil of ‘respectability’ and ‘order’ which is ever how the powerful exert the status quo. (For if the status quo ante did not benefit the powerful, they would not be powerful, no?)
Most of all, congratulations for rekindling a fire of righteous anger in the Occupiers—a fire the chill of coming winter had threatened to cool.
So now that you have done all that, let’s see if you can complete the trifecta. Let’s see how shamelessly and transparently you can show yourselves in attempting to lure the Occupiers back into the system they’ve so profoundly rejected.
What is it about the Very Serious People that gets them so worked up by Occupy that they can’t think or talk straight?
Watching them try to get a handle on The Great Occupy reminds you of someone trying to dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper and deeper.
There’s this bigshot economist and professor guy, for instance, Peter Morici. Kind of guy who ducks his dull low-paying academic work by pimping himself out as an op-ed writer to the moneyed classes. Recently, he offered (harrumph) to explain this Disagreeable Recent Turmoil for readers of The Street. The Street, you may know, is a Jim-Cramer-clotted online advice rag, advising 1%ers how to maximize their local optima—a.k.a. make a shitpile of money and damn the consequences.
Morici opens with this observational gem:
Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party are really the same species.
Man, you gotta hand it to these guys. The Real Big Money Boys. As Michele Bachmann said—they got the shootzpah.
The con they’ve been running for the last twenty, thirty years on us little people—consumers, laborers, middle class marks, taxpayers, and a whole spectrum of unfortunates? They just doubled down on it. Betting we won’t notice.
They’re taking it international.
Big drop in markets last few days, have you heard?
S & P downgrade? Yeah, that had something to do with it. Because it reminded markets that criminally incompetent morons (the ones who downgraded residential mortgage-backed securities in 2007, neglected to downgrade the CDOs--made up of those very same RMBSs--until six months later) still occupy an exalted and responsibility-immune place at the financial decision-makers table.
The debt deal? Yeah, that also had something to do with it. It demonstrated that the country’s government is run by idiots who cannot distinguish between “we can’t pay our debts” and “we won’t pay our debts.”
But something bigger is going on.
On the surface, leftward carping at the president seems out of proportion. Sure, the Republicans have squeezed too many concessions out of him. But the man is hardly George Bush. Let alone Barack Hitler.
And it isn’t like he hasn’t been doing what every other president has done in order to clear a logjam, or move things along. (Yup, even FDR, whose initial Social Security measure excluded farm workers—meaning lots of Latinos—and domestic workers—meaning lots of African Americans.)
Plus, he’s up against a crowd for whom conversation is defined as ‘you shut up while I talk.’ You know. Morons. With their thoughtful mavericky independence of thought—while voting as a solid, monolithic bloc on Every. Single. Issue. Even ones they said just yesterday they agreed with. A person can’t negotiate with people like that, though as president you must seem to, especially if you are gifted at seven-dimensional chess. If you uniquely “see quickly the trade-offs among policy options.”
Feint and dance out of the way, swirl the cape, perform the delicate balancing that political jiu-jitsu requires. Keep your eyes out there, on the horizon. There’s just no other way to make progress.
You keep hearing how the take home lesson of the 2010 elections was, The American Public Has Spoken.
And just what did the public say? Just this, according to the authorized translation: We don't have a Revenue Problem, we have a Spending Problem ™.
The trouble is, like so much Republican orthodoxy, this is demonstrably false. Not only that, this problem was even worse during the 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008 elections, with nary a peep out of the Real American People.
Thankfully, the patriotic states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, et al., have provided us a clearer version of the Message of 2010: Republicans won. Won big! Woo hoo! They are Winners, and Dems are Losers!
So hey, you Dems? STFU. Shut up right now, and while we're on the subject, make it forever.