Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Devil Goes To Georgetown

The Devil's favorite Congressman, Paul Ryan, delivered a forgettable Georgetown speech, pregnant with hypocrisy and self-serving, insincere piety about his Catholic "faith" driven by the realization that the Republican base is composed of Religious Right Christian fanatics who do not tolerate atheists, even if they're crazy neurotics like Ayn Rand. And, by extension, her cult followers.

A few days before his speech, Ryan received a letter from 90 Georgetown professors who essentially read him the Riot Act Gospel. Here is an extended excerpt [emphasis mine, throughout]:
'We would be remiss in our duty to you and our students if we did not challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has wisely noted in several letters to Congress – “a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons.” Catholic bishops recently wrote that “the House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria.”

In short, your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.

Cuts to anti-hunger programs have devastating consequences. Last year, one in six Americans lived below the official poverty level and over 46 million Americans – almost half of them children – used food stamps for basic nutrition. We also know how cuts in Pell Grants will make it difficult for low-income students to pursue their educations at colleges across the nation, including Georgetown. At a time when charities are strained to the breaking point and local governments have a hard time paying for essential services, the federal government must not walk away from the most vulnerable.

While you often appeal to Catholic teaching on “subsidiarity” as a rationale for gutting government programs, you are profoundly misreading Church teaching. Subsidiarity is not a free pass to dismantle government programs and abandon the poor to their own devices. This often misused Catholic principle cuts both ways. It calls for solutions to be enacted as close to the level of local communities as possible. But it also demands that higher levels of government provide help — “subsidium”— when communities and local governments face problems beyond their means to address such as economic crises, high unemployment, endemic poverty and hunger. According to Pope Benedict XVI: "Subsidiarity must remain closely linked to the principle of solidarity and vice versa.”'
Unfortunately for the Devil and his Soul Brother Paul Ryan, Mr. Ryan cannot feverishly backpedal now, in response to prominent Catholics calling his budget immoral and antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, much less pretend Ayn Rand was nothing but a college "read" rather than his governing philosopher-queen:
'I, like millions of young people in America, read Rand’s novels when I was young. I enjoyed them," Ryan says. "They spurred an interest in economics, in the Chicago School and Milton Friedman," a subject he eventually studied as an undergraduate at Miami University in Ohio. "But it’s a big stretch to suggest that a person is therefore an Objectivist.'
Oh, really? Then how does Ryan explain this:
"The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand," Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

At the Rand celebration he spoke at in 2005, Ryan invoked the central theme of Rand's writings when he told his audience that, "Almost every fight we are involved in here on Capitol Hill ... is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict — individualism versus collectivism."

The core of the Randian worldview, as absorbed by the modern GOP, is a belief that the natural market distribution of income is inherently moral, and the central struggle of politics is to free the successful from having the fruits of their superiority redistributed by looters and moochers. 

I think at this point trying to deny Ryan's attachment to Rand is pretty hard to sustain. He's not requiring his staffers to read Rand because he thinks they need a good love story. And given that it's not just a teenage fascination but the continuing embodiment of his public philosophy, it's worth noting again that Rand is a twisted, hateful thinker.
Or, as I am wont to say, a spawn of the Devil. Right? Undeterred, Ryan continues scrubbing his record furiously in the Republican mode of pretending that core beliefs are a moving target to be expunged when found out:
"I reject her philosophy," Ryan says firmly. "It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas," who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. "Don’t give me Ayn Rand," he says.
Hmm ... Will the REAL Paul Ryan please stand up. Here's his draft introduction to the Georgetown audience: "Please allow me introduce myself: I'm a man of wealth and taste. Pleased to meet you. Hope you guessed my name. But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game" ... You get the picture:
'It doesn't surprise me that sales of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged have surged lately with the Obama administration coming in because it's that kind of thinking, that kind of writing, that is sorely needed right now. And I think a lot of people would observe that we are right now living in an Ayn Rand novel, metaphorically speaking.' [...] 

'Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and this to me is what matters most. It is not enough to say that President Obama's taxes are too big or the health care plan doesn't work for this or that policy reason. It is the morality of what is occurring right now and how it offends the morality of individuals working toward their own free will to produce, to achieve, to succeed, that is under attack. And it is that what I think Ayn Rand would be commenting on, which we need that kind of comment more than ever.'
It seems Paulie is having an EXISTENTIAL conflict of a lesser degree — compared to the millions of suffering Americans he has targeted to victimize and savage, whose existential conflicts are matters of health, hunger, crisis poverty ... in short, life and death. Remember when I wrote of the nasty shit that passes for wingnut humor? A treat for you: Here's an example of what Objectivists might find "humorous," courtesy of one of Rachel's favorite Beltway scribes, David Weigel. I don't particularly object to David, considering he was screwed over by the wingnuts. I just have these conflicted schadenfreude feelings every time this dude sits in front of a camera on MSNBC. We've all been there with the stage fright thing, but David is an extreme example.

Whenever I've seen David on the other side of the red (?) light, he'll start tensing up, his facial muscles contract visibly, and, here's the schadenfreude part: invariably the interviewer, say, Rachel, begins with a really long-winded question, and I'm like, "Rachel, please put this dude out of his misery, otherwise his head might explode ... Let him talk!" (Because, once David starts talking, he relaxes. And so do we.) Not exactly your Nietzschean Superman ... Anyway, here's David's "haha" tweet about protests at the Ryan Georgetown speech. Good guy John Nichols of the Nation (has he been on with Rachel?) replied that the letter signed by 90 prominent faculty members, not to mention the Catholic hierarchy, speaks for itself. David's knee-slapping tweet:

Finally, I absolutely, positively LOVE Catholic sisters! Don't you?

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