Conservatives Should Think Again Before Following John Galt

Conservatives and libertarians who think that a few point increase in the marginal tax rate is reason to drop out of society as in Atlas Shrugged seem to be out of touch with reality. Many of them also have little understanding of Ayn Rand’s views and fail to realize how low an opinion Rand would have of them. Democratic Strategist presents some quotations from Rand which conservatives might not want to read:

Capitalism is what the “conservatives” dare not advocate or defend. They are paralyzed by the profound conflict between capitalism and the moral code which dominates our culture: the morality of altruism . . . Capitalism and altruism are incompatible; they are philosophical opposites; they cannot co-exist in the same man or in the same society.

–Conservatism: An Obituary” from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

I consider National Review the worst and most dangerous magazine in America…[b]ecause it ties capitalism to religion. The ideological position of National Review amounts, in effect, to the following: In order to accept freedom and capitalism, one has to believe in God or in some form of religion, some form of supernatural mysticism.”

–1964 Playboy Interview

Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason.

–1964 Playboy interview.

If they [people] place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man’s life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite.”

–1964 Playboy interview

Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered.

—-”Of Living Death,” The Objectivist, 1968

I cannot project the degree of hatred required to make those women run around in crusades against abortion. Hatred is what they certainly project, not love for the embryos, which is a piece of nonsense no one could experience, but hatred, a virulent hatred for an unnamed object…Their hatred is directed against human beings as such, against the mind, against reason, against ambition, against success, against love, against any value that brings happiness to human life.

–”The Age of Mediocrity,” The Objectivist Forum, 1981

I am profoundly opposed to Ronald Reagan. Since he denies the right to abortion, he cannot be a defender of any rights. Since he has no program or ideology to offer, his likeliest motive for entering a Presidential race is power-lust.

–Letter to the Editor, The New York Times, August 11, 1976 (subscription only)

Rand did not think much of either conservatives or libertarians:

Above all, do not join the wrong ideological groups or movements, in order to ‘do something.’ By ‘ideological’ (in this context), I mean groups or movements proclaiming some vaguely generalized, undefined (and, usually, contradictory) political goals. (E.g., the Conservative Party, which subordinates reason to faith, and substitutes theocracy for capitalism; or the ‘libertarian’ hippies, who subordinate reason to whims, and substitute anarchism for capitalism.) To join such groups means to reverse the philosophical hierarchy and to sell out fundamental principles for the sake of some superficial political action which is bound to fail. It means that you help the defeat of your ideas and the victory of your enemies.”

–”What Can One Do?” from Philosophy: Who Needs It, an address to the graduating class at West Point, 1974

Neither I nor “Atlas Shrugged” nor my philosophy has any connection with the so-called “Libertarian” movement. I hold that politics without a consistent philosophical base leads to disaster. The “Libertarian” movement is a random movement of emotional hippies-of-the-right who play at politics without philosophy or consistency.

–Letter to the Editor, The New York Times, August 11, 1976 (subscription only)

Ron Silver Dies at 62

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Actor Ron Silver has died at age 62 of esophageal cancer. Silver shifted from being a liberal Democrat to become a far right Republican in response to the 9/11 attack. Towards the end of his life he seemed to be moderating his views, acknowledging some of the faults of the Bush administration:

Silver’s last public appearance came on “Larry King Live” in late October just before last year’s presidential election.

The actor seemed to be swinging slightly back to the left, and took a moderate, down-the-line stance on then-Sen. Barack Obama’s race with GOP rival John McCain.

Silver acknowledged the GOP’s failings under President Bush and seemed resigned to an oncoming landslide.

“The Republican Party, if they are out of power for a while, needs to regroup and rethink who they are as a party,” he said. “This deregulation, this whole Reagan Revolution did not seem to work in this crisis.”

Silver appeared in nineteen episodes of The West Wing, playing  political consultant Bruno Gianelli. The storyline mirrored Silver’s real life as Gianelli was a Democratic consultant who managed Jedd Bartlett’s reelection campaign. He later crossed party lines to work for Republican candidate Arnold Vinick in his campaign against eventual winner Matt Santos.

SciFi Weekend: Battlestar Galactica at UN Before Finale; Dolls and Victor’s Man Reaction; Doctor Who and Torchwood News

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We are down to only two  hours of Battlestar Galactica (not counting at least one planned television movie) with the second part of the finale to air Friday. Ron Moore has discussed the finale:

THR: Legacy question: Is there anything about sci-fi shows that you think “Galactica” has changed?

Moore: One of the goals going into it (was) we wanted to make a sci-fi show that was relevant and spoke to our times and dealt with real issues that approached the drama in a naturalistic way and made it “real.” If we’re able to define a legacy of asking other shows to do the same in the genre and keep sci fi going in a way that tackles meaningful ideas and challenge audience expectations, I think that would be a great thing.

If Moore’s goal was to tackle meaningful ideas, it looks like some people at the U.N. believe he has succeeded. A panel discussion on the show is planned at the United Nations:

On March 17, there will be a “Battlestar” retrospective at the U.N. in New York and a panel discussion of how the show examined issues such as “human rights, children and armed conflict, terrorism, human rights and reconciliation and dialogue among civilizations and faith,” according to Sci Fi.

The “Battlestar” contingent on the panel will consist of executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, as well as stars Mary McDonnell (who plays president Laura Roslin on the show) and Edward James Olmos (Admiral William Adama).

UN representatives on the panel are Radhika Coomaraswamy, special representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; Craig Mokhiber, deputy director of the New York office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Robert Orr, assistant secretary-general for policy planning, executive office of the Secretary-General.

The panel will be moderated by “Battlestar” fan Whoopi Goldberg.

The invitation-only panel will take place at 7 p.m. March 17 in the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council Chamber, three days before the Sci Fi show’s series finale.

The Sci-Fi Channel will be recording the session and a transcript will be released.

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Friday will be a big day for science fiction. Besides the Battlestar Galactica series finale, Dollhouse will be having an episode which promises to advance the mythology of the show. This week’s episode provided more suggestions that the “dolls” are not wiped clean as much as was initially suggested. The main story involved Echo infiltrating a cult which was almost forced to commit mass suicide. She was working for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms but I”m not sure how we have one government agent trying to prove whether the Dollhouse even exists while another wound up hiring their services.

In terms of advancing the mythology, the most significant event was when it was discovered that Victor was having erections when showering with Sierra. For the benefit of non-viewers who might wonder why this is remarkable, the “dolls” are supposed to be in a child-like state between being programmed for missions. They supposedly lack sexuality and all take coed showers together. Victor apparently is not as childlike as they believed, and we have received suggestions that the same might be true of Echo.

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There have been rumors for the several days that when Matt Smith takes over as The Doctor, his companion on Doctor Who will be played by Hannah Murray. Murray was previously on the BBC show Skins.

There’s still a few episodes to go with David Tennant. Current  plans are for only two episodes in 2009 beginning with the Easter special, Planet of the Dead with Michelle Ryan. Lindsay Duncan will play The Doctor’s companion in the Christmas special which will have the return of the Ood. The planned third special for this year has been pushed back into 2010 but might air as early as New Year’s Day. It will be the final appearance for David Tenant and will take place on Mars. Peter O’Brien  reportedly will be playing the villain.

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While there are only three more televised episodes planned with The Doctor, the format leaves open many more stories as there could be hundreds of years between each special. I’m sure there will be many more Doctor Who novels and a comic book series is planned. Maybe they will fill in the gaps in the River Song storyline after Song (played by Alex Kingston) revealed that The Doctor will become involved with her in his future (and her past).

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Wired has spoken with director Euros Lynn about the upcoming Torchwood miniseries:

“When we catch up to our characters, they’ve mourned the loss of Owen (played by Burn Gorman) and Tosh (Naoko Mori) and are trying to move on,” Lyn explained. Owen and Tosh sacrificed themselves to save their friends in the second season’s finale.

“For the first time, we’ll see Torchwood facing a threat from home while they’re also investigating an alien invasion. When they try to discover why all the children in the world have suddenly stopped at the same time, Torchwood also has to deal with human beings who are trying to hide a past mistake.”

Here is a trailer for the series:

Conservatives vs. Meghan McCain

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Meghan McCain has come under tons of criticism from the right wing since she criticized Ann Coulter. Most of the attacks have centered around trivial matters such as her weight. McCain responded yesterday.

Michelle Malkin wrote today about what she sees as The Trouble With Meghan McCain. To her credit Malkin did avoid criticism based upon her weight. That, after all, is a trivial matter. Instead she attacked Malkin for her choice of comedians.

Malkin argues “The trouble with Meghan McCain is that, like her father, she has no fixed ideological principles — conservative, liberal, or otherwise.” I really haven’t paid very much attention to Meghan McCain’s writings until all the controversy in the past week so I’m not sure if this is a fair criticism or not. I am interested in seeing McCain’s response.

It is possible that, if we were trying to view Meghan McCain as a serious political pundit, this might be an issue. It is a different story if we try to see her as a typical young woman with a Republican background who just happens to be the daughter of their last presidential candidate. In this sense McCain might have some lessons for them as to why the Republicans are turning into a regional party of the south and Mormon belt, and why young people are abandoning them in tremendous numbers.

Is the problem that McCain has no principles, or that she will not adopt the extremist principles which are required of anyone staying in the Republican Party? The Republican Party has been driving out their moderates and taking on an extremist philosophy which even Barry Goldwater was highly critical of in his later years. Maybe they don’t mind that John McCain’s daughter doesn’t accept their extremism, considering they also see John McCain as a heretic, but in addition we saw two of Barry Goldwater’s granddaughters back Barack Obama this year, along with many other Republicans.

It is one thing for a political party to think they are adhering to a consistent philosophy. It is a problem for that party when their views become so narrow and out of touch with reality that many of their supporters leave the party. When a generation is becoming lost to them, they must seriously question if they are in danger of going the way of the Whigs.

Meghan McCain is certainly not a flaming liberal. If conservatives desire to have any chance of building a majority party which has the support of the young they would be far better off listening to her objections as opposed to attacking her weight or choice in comedians. The Republicans received Meghan McCain’s vote in 2008 because her father was on the ticket. They can hardly expect to win the youth vote if this is the only way many young people (or rational people of any age) will have anything to do with the GOP.

Defining The Democratic Party (A Right Wing Contest)

Yesterday I commented on the conservative extremism expressed by Robert Stacy McCain. In his blog he regularly repeats the usual distortions of Democratic beliefs spread by the extreme right. Checking back to his post I see that he has added an update with a contest to Describe the Democratic Party in 20 Words or Less. I’m sure he won’t choose this as a winner, but here is a far more accurate definition than any he has considered:

People with a wide variety of beliefs who oppose the authoritarianism and incompetence of recent Republican rule.

What people like McCain fail to recognize is that many of us now voting Democratic for lack of any other reasonable choice are former independents and there are even many former Republicans who oppose the extremist and authoritarian views now being promoted by the Republican party. The party now includes moderates and rational conservatives as well as liberals, with the Republicans driving out everyone other than the extreme social conservatives.

If they wish for the Republicans to again be a viable national political party they need to drop their ridiculous bashing of Democrats and realize that Democrats now represent the majority of the country, including many former Republicans. Rather then engaging in their attacks they need to closely examine their own failed ideas to see why they are driving away most of the country, and consider what is needed to get former Republican voters to reconsider the party.

Of course if they desire to be a small party of the south and Mormon belt which presents a  consistent platform of theocracy and opposition to individual liberty they can ignore this as they are well on their way to accomplishing their goal.

Dick Cheney Still Does Not Understand How To Prevent Terrorist Attacks

Dick Cheney still hasn’t figured out where the Bush Administration went wrong as he gives bad advice to Barack Obama:

Cheney told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the Bush administration’s “alternative” interrogation techniques were “absolutely essential” to preventing further assaults like the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

Critics said those techniques amounted to the torture of prisoners in American custody.

“President Obama campaigned against it all across the country, and now he is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack,” Cheney said.

Since taking office in January, Obama has announced plans to close the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to halt the military trials of suspected terrorists there, and to make CIA officers follow the Army field manual’s rules on interrogations.

How exactly will stopping torture increase the risk of another attack? As The Washington Independent points out, it is a  “widely known fact that information extracted through torture is unreliable.” Dick Cheney apparently confuses events on 24 with the real world.

There was plenty of more reliable information which could have helped prevent the 9/11 attack which the Bush administration ignored. The Clinton administration left the Bush administration warnings about al Qaeda. The Bush administration not only ignored these warnings but lied about receiving them. Then there was that classic CIA briefing entitled “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.” just before the attack.

As Al Gore discussed in The Assault on Reason, paying attention to this warning should have led to a review of the State Department/INS watch list which already contained the names of many of the 9/11 terrorists. Others could have also been identified before the attack as they were using the same addresses or frequent flier numbers. In 2006 Keith Olbermann also reviewed the many warnings which were ignored.

Dick Cheney is among the last people qualified about how to prevent an attack. There is no need to resort to war crimes as committed by the Bush administration to protect the country when all that was really needed was a return to competent governing. The 9/11 attack occurred on their watch, and their subsequent actions, including violations of the Geneva Convention, have only increased the danger of future attacks and have weakened the United States.

Picture of My Office?

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Somehow Andrew Sullivan managed to get a picture of my office first thing in the morning before getting to all the paperwork. In the upper left is a stack of requests for prior authorizations for prescriptions, primarily for patients in Medicare D plans. Below it are three piles of faxed requests for items for patients which had never been ordered from medical equipment places. The smaller pile next to it is for signatures for supplies that had actually been ordered. Beyond that are piles of test reports from the previous day and forms for signatures from home health agencies. The above picture was taken on a relatively light day.