Why Ayn Rand Is a Fan Favorite Among Christian Theocrats

Anything that unifies extreme groups and reinforces their ideology should set off alarm bells.

Source: talk2action via alternet

Author:James Sanford

Emphasis Mine

Ayn Rand’s followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been a rallying point for both groups. Still, the philosophical disharmony between Christianity and Objectivism (Ayn Rand’s philosophy) has presented problems for anyone seeking to straddle the two worldviews. Just ask Paul Ryan.

Congressman Ryan, a Conservative Catholic, made no bones about his love for Ayn Rand’s signature novel, Atlas Shrugged, when he began his political career. The novel’s portrayal of heroic entrepreneurs fighting an evil government fits perfectly with Ryans’s ideal of conservatism. But a few years ago, the congressman began to feel pushback from traditional Christians who weren’t so keen on Ayn Rand’s theological views. How, it was asked, could Ryan condone an atheist who dismissed religionists as ignorant and deluded? The upshot: Ryan began parsing his words in a hurry.

Judging from recent trends, however, the icy divide over the God issue shows clear signs of melt. Gradual movement toward accommodation is coming not just from Christians wishing to co-opt Ayn Rand’s capitalistic ethic, but from Randians seeking to expand their fan base.

A hint of compromise from the Randian side was evident this fall with the rollout of Atlas Shrugged, Part III, the final film segment of the novel. Whatever the film’s cinematic defects–it has generally been panned by critics–the filmmakers have signaled an interest in reaching beyond the usual circle of devotees, realizing that traditional Christians, a key conservative demographic, are good targets for Rand’s pro-capitalist message. John Aglialoro, the movie’s main producer and a trustee of the pro-Randian Atlas Society, seemed to have their sensitivities in mind in an interview with Bill Frezza of Forbes Magazine awhile back. “Most people have a respect for spirituality, maybe even a yearning,” he stated. “There must be room in Objectivism for charity and benevolence.”

See: http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/why-ayn-rand-fan-favorite-among-christian-theocrats?akid=13252.123424.3haMGB&rd=1&src=newsletter1038489&t=5

The Age of Selfishness: What Made Ayn Rand Tick — And Why She’s a Right-Wing Favorite Today

A look at how her influence extends into the present day, and even played a role in bringing on the Great Recession and financial crisis.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Elias Isquith

Emphasis Mine

With Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul having recently announced his intention to be the next U.S. president (an announcement he delivered, incidentally, from Louisville’s Galt House Hotel), now seems as good a time as ever to reexamine the life and legacy of one Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum, a woman better known as Ayn Rand.

This is not the first time that an avowed fan of the novelist, polemicist and pseudo-philosopher has reached such heights of American politics, of course. Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee in 2012, at the very least used to be a big fan; and her views were well-aligned with those of Sen. Barry Goldwater, the Republican Party’s 1964 presidential nominee (of whom she was a big fan). Her ideas — especially her uncompromising opposition to redistribution — permeate throughout the conservative movement still.

Yet while there have been books about Rand before, none of them have been quite like “The Age of Selfishness: Ayn Rand, Morality and the Financial Crisis,” a new graphic novel from artist, photographer and sculptor Darryl Cunningham. The artist and former mental health care worker combines mediums to take a long look at Rand’s history, but he goes one step further, looking at how her influence extends into the present day, and even played a role in bringing on the Great Recession and financial crisis.

Recently, Salon spoke about the book with Cunningham via Skype. Our conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

When did you first come into contact with Ayn Rand? 

I think it would have been back in my 20s, sort of generally reading about things, and I think it possibly came up in connection with people I was reading like Robert Heinlein or science fiction stuff. A lot of more right-wing stuff seemed to ape a lot of philosophical ideas, and I came across her then without really knowing anything about her.

Through the years, I read bits about her and I was quite appalled because her philosophy seemed quite opposite to everything I seemed to believe, myself. I was drawn to it like you’re drawn to a car crash, really; with horror and fascination. Fascination because her view of things was so upside down, I just wanted to get to the nub of how she could come up with such conclusions. Along the way, a book seemed to be a good way to explain the attraction of neoliberal politics and how come we live now in a society so dominated by neoliberal politics. Looking at the philosophy and the psychology at the same time, using her as a starting point.

Did your research on Ayn Rand change your perspective on her at all? Was there anything about her that surprised you?

I found myself to be more sympathetic toward her as a person than I initially was. Having read her story— I read two of the big biographies of her and then some smaller books— I began to see that she was quite a sympathetic person, really. She could hardly be other than what she was. Although she could be monstrous, you could understand her outlook and the way she formed her views because it came out of a childhood, out of the difficulties she and her family had during and after the Russian Revolution. That forever colored her view of humanity.

What was it about her childhood that was so traumatic that made her particular worldview understandable, if not quite persuasive?

She grew up in St. Petersburg; her father owned a pharmacy, and they were quite a well-to-do middle-class family. Come the Revolution, the father’s business was appropriated by the Bolsheviks for the good of the people, and so they were left basically with nothing and had to leave St. Petersburg and go to the Crimea and try to make a living.

When they eventually returned to St. Petersburg, they found that the apartments they had had been taken over by others and they had to share just a small part of it with another family. The streets were filled with ex-soldiers and it was just a disaster, basically, all around. I think she saw how altruism had been a cover for a sort of naked grasp for power or money, so she became suspicious about altruism and to see selfishness as more of the real virtue and altruism as a vice to be avoided. It seemed to come out of those incidents.

When you were doing research about objectivism, was there anything there that wasn’t what you expected to find? Was it less weird or weirder than you thought?  

There’s much to be said about the philosophy of objectivism in terms of standing up for yourself or not compromising your beliefs. These are things everybody certainly should learn, to have strength of character, but she just takes it a little too far. It becomes about basically dominating other people, and that I can’t agree with. There were good and bad things about objectivism, but overwhelmingly, I found it a bad experience to read about.

How much did it feel that you were sort of a psychoanalyst in looking into her life and her philosophy? Is it wrong to look at objectivism as a philosophical version of what’s ultimately an emotional or psychological response to trauma?

I think at the root of her philosophy was an emotional response, that she was genuinely quite a selfish woman. Intellectually, she had to find a way of justifying it, and the whole philosophy of objectivism came out of that. Part of my sympathy to her is that my background is in mental health, so I naturally think in those terms. I was looking at her from a psychological point of view.

Do you think that selfishness was reflected at all in the people who gravitated toward her?

I think young people in particular are attracted to objectivism and toward Rand because, certainly when you’re a teenager, you feel quite often very alienated. If you want to raise your self-image, there’s no better way than to read objectivism because it puts you at the center of the universe; you can be more important than everyone else. If you want to feel that everyone else is a fool and a sheep, then objectivism will give you that power; it will lift your self-esteem.

I think most people grow out of that approach and see a more equal way of looking at things. That sounds like I’m dismissive of younger people but I’m not at all; I went through it just like everyone else.

Sometimes people, in their personal lives, aren’t how they’re perceived in public. Was that the case with Rand? Was she generous on an interpersonal level? Or was she selfish, there, too?

She was very much like her work; she was a very difficult woman to get on with. It was said that she never lost an argument. If you got into an argument with her, you’d kind of lose your bearings because she would simply outflank you in every way. People didn’t want to get involved in her inner circle because they felt they’d get sucked into this little cult that she had built up around her and see the things the way she saw them.

She was quite domineering and magnetic, really, but she was full of contradiction as well. She believed she was considered to be the first lady of logic, but she often didn’t see things that were right in front of her, even though the evidence was there all along. The younger man she had an affair with for years [Nathaniel Branden] was two-timing her with another woman, and although the evidence was there for all to see she just could not see it, would not accept it. She was as capable of being flawed in that way as anybody else.

You get into some pretty complicated stuff about financial transactions and mortgage law. Did you find any one part of your book more difficult to explain than any other? Or did your approach make it easier than it might have been if you were just writing? 

I think having the ability to actually draw it, visually, made it a lot easier to explain. When it comes to trying to explain things like derivatives, it’s very complicated. It took me quite a while to get my head around some of it, and I had experts looking over the material as I was doing it and partly rewriting some of it for me so I’d get a clearer picture. Certainly, to be able to visually show it as well as being written in the text above is incredibly useful.

In terms of economics, there is a sort of Grand Canyon-size gulf of understanding between the general public and economics, and I think that’s something we’d all benefit from understanding a little better. I think the media have done a very poor job of explaining these things to the general public; I certainly didn’t know anything about it before I set off on this road of research. My math is terrible, but just because you can’t do math, doesn’t mean you can’t understand the general concept.

Why is Ayn Rand still so influential? What has made her relevant to multiple generations?

I’ve been asked this a number of times and I still struggle with it a little. The British edition of the book is called “Supercrash” and it doesn’t mention her on the cover at all. The reason for that is that my European publishers didn’t think she was much of a draw in Europe, and she isn’t; she’s hardly known.

In America, of course, she’s very well known and my publisher in the U.S. wanted her front and center on the cover for that reason. I think it has something to do with the American character itself. Being a younger country, there’s still that hangover from the frontier days of individualistic liberalism, which there isn’t so much in Europe because we have countries and governments that have been there for many centuries. I think that might be part of it, but I do struggle to understand exactly what the difference is.

Do you think Ayn Rand was a happy person?

No, I think she struggled with happiness. However much success she had, I think she looked around and saw that she wasn’t changing the world in the way she had hoped to. Her personal life was also a struggle, so I think she had some success but I don’t think she was a particularly happy person throughout.

Elias Isquith is a staff writer at Salon, focusing on politics. Follow him on Twitter at @eliasisquith, and email him at eisquith@salon.com.

see: http://www.alternet.org/books/age-selfishness-what-made-ayn-rand-tick-and-why-shes-right-wing-favorite-today?akid=12994.123424.uI1qzu&rd=1&src=newsletter1034621&t=5

10 Things I Learned About the World From Ayn Rand’s Insane ‘Atlas Shrugged’

If Rand were still alive she would probably say, “Thank you for smoking.”

Source: AlterNet

Author: Adam Lee

“Over the past year, I’ve been reading and reviewing Ayn Rand’s massive paean to capitalism [3], Atlas Shrugged. If you’re not familiar with the novel, it depicts a world where corporate CEOs and one-percenters are the selfless heroes upon which our society depends, and basically everyone else — journalists, legislators, government employees, the poor — are the villains trying to drag the rich down out of spite, when we should be kissing their rings in gratitude that they allow us to exist.

Rand’s protagonists are Dagny Taggart, heir to a transcontinental railroad empire, and Hank Rearden, the head of a steel company who’s invented a revolutionary new alloy which he’s modestly named Rearden Metal. Together, they battle against evil government bureaucrats and parasitic socialists to hold civilization together, while all the while powerful industrialists are mysteriously disappearing, leaving behind only the cryptic phrase “Who is John Galt?”

Atlas Shrugged is a work of fiction, but as far as many prominent conservatives are concerned, it’s sacred scripture. Alan Greenspan was a member of Rand’s inner circle, and opposed regulation of financial markets because he believed her dictum that the greed of businessmen was always the public’s best protection. Paul Ryan said that he required his campaign staffers to read the book, while Glenn Beck has announced grandiose plans to build his own real-life “Galt’s Gulch,” the hidden refuge where the book’s capitalist heroes go to watch civilization collapse without them.

Reading Atlas Shrugged is like entering into a strange mirror universe where everything we thought we knew about economics and morality is turned upside down. I’ve already learned some valuable lessons from it.

1. All evil people are unattractive; all good and trustworthy people are handsome.

The first and most important we learn from Atlas Shrugged is that you can tell good and bad people apart at a glance [4]. All the villains — the “looters,” in Rand’s terminology — are rotund, fleshy and sweaty, with receding hairlines, sagging jowls and floppy limbs, while her millionaire industrialist heroes are portraits of steely determination, with sharp chins and angular features like people in a Cubist painting. Nearly all of them are conspicuously Aryan. Here’s a typical example, the steel magnate Hank Rearden:

The glare cut a moment’s wedge across his eyes, which had the color and quality of pale blue ice — then across the black web of the metal column and the ash-blond strands of his hair — then across the belt of his trenchcoat and the pockets where he held his hands. His body was tall and gaunt; he had always been too tall for those around him. His face was cut by prominent cheekbones and by a few sharp lines; they were not the lines of age, he had always had them; this had made him look old at twenty, and young now, at forty-five.

2. The mark of a great businessman is that he sneers at the idea of public safety.

When we meet Dagny Taggart, Rand’s heroic railroad baron, she’s traveling on a cross-country train which gets stuck at a stoplight that may or may not be broken. When the crew frets that they should wait until they’re sure it’s safe, Dagny pulls rank and orders them to drive through the red light [5]. This, in Rand’s world, is the mark of a heroic and decisive capitalist, rather than the kind of person who in the real world would soon be the subject of headlines like “22 Dead in Train Collision Caused by Executive Who Didn’t Want to Be Late For Meeting.”

Dagny makes the decision to rebuild a critical line of the railroad using a new alloy, the aforementioned Rearden Metal, which has never been used in a major industrial project. You might think that before committing to build hundreds of miles of track through mountainous terrain, you’d want to have, say, pilot projects, or feasibility studies. But Dagny brushes those concerns aside; she just knows Rearden Metal is good because she feels it in her gut [5]: “When I see things,” she explains, “I see them.”

And once that line is rebuilt, Dagny’s plan for its maiden voyage involves driving the train at dangerously high speed through towns and populated areas [6]:

“The first train will… run non-stop to Wyatt Junction, Colorado, traveling at an average speed of one hundred miles per hour.” …

“But shouldn’t you cut the speed below normal rather than … Miss Taggart, don’t you have any consideration whatever for public opinion?”

“But I do. If it weren’t for public opinion, an average speed of sixty-five miles per hour would have been quite sufficient.”

The book points out that mayors and safety regulators have to be bribed or threatened to allow this, which is perfectly OK in Rand’s morality. When a reporter asks Dagny what protection people will have if the line is no good, she snaps: “Don’t ride on it.” (Ask the people of Lac-Megantic how much good that did them. [6])

3. Bad guys get their way through democracy; good guys get their way through violence.

The way the villains of Atlas Shrugged accomplish their evil plan is … voting for it. One of the major plot elements of part I is a law called the Equalization of Opportunity Bill [7], which forces large companies to break themselves up, similarly to the way AT&T was split into the Baby Bells [8]. It’s passed by a majority of Congress, and Rand never implies that there’s anything improper in the vote or that any dirty tricks were pulled. But because it forces her wealthy capitalist heroes to spin off some of their businesses, it’s self-evident that this is the worst thing in the world and could only have been conceived of by evil socialists who hate success.

Compare this to another of Rand’s protagonists, Dagny Taggart’s heroic ancestor Nathaniel Taggart. We’re told that he built a transcontinental railroad system almost single-handedly, which is why Dagny all but venerates him. We’re also told that he murdered a state legislator [9] who was going to pass a law that would have stopped him from completing his track, and threw a government official down three flights of stairs for offering him a loan. In the world of Atlas Shrugged, these are noble and heroic acts.

Then there’s another of Rand’s heroes, the oil baron Ellis Wyatt. When the government passes new regulations on rail shipping that will harm his business, Wyatt retaliates by spitefully blowing up his oil fields, much like Saddam Hussein’s retreating army did to Kuwait in the first Gulf War [10]. In real life, that act of sabotage smothered much of the Middle East beneath clouds of choking, toxic black smoke for months, poisoning the air and water. But as far as Rand sees it, no vengeance is too harsh for people who commit the terrible crime of interfering with the right of the rich to make more money.

4. The government has never invented anything or done any good for anyone.

In Rand’s world, all good things come from private industry. Everyone who works for the government or takes government money is either a bumbling incompetent or a leech who steals credit for the work of others. At one point, the villainous bureaucrats of the “State Science Institute” try to sabotage Rand’s hero Hank Rearden by spreading malicious rumors about his new alloy:

“If you consider that for thirteen years this Institute has had a department of metallurgical research, which has cost over twenty million dollars and has produced nothing but a new silver polish and a new anti-corrosive preparation, which, I believe, is not so good as the old ones — you can imagine what the public reaction will be if some private individual comes out with a product that revolutionizes the entire science of metallurgy and proves to be sensationally successful!”

Of course, in the real world, only minor trifles, like radar, space flight, nuclear power, GPS, computers, and the Internet were brought about by government research.

5. Violent jealousy and degradation are signs of true love.

Dagny’s first lover, the mining heir Francisco d’Anconia, treats her like a possession [11]: he drags her around by an arm, and once, when she makes a joke he doesn’t like, he slaps her so hard it bloodies her lip. The first time they have sex, he doesn’t ask for consent, but throws her down and does what he wants: “She knew that fear was useless, that he would do what he wished, that the decision was his.”

Later on, Dagny has an affair with Hank Rearden (who’s married to someone else at the time, but this is the sort of minor consideration that doesn’t hold back Randian supermen). The first time they sleep together, it leaves Dagny bruised and bloody, and the morning after, Hank rants at her that he holds her in contempt and thinks of her as no better than a whore [12]. Almost as soon as their relationship begins, he demands to know how many other men she’s slept with and who they were. When she won’t answer, he seizes her and twists her arm, trying to hurt her enough to force her to tell him.

Believe it or not, none of this is meant to make us judge these characters negatively, because in Rand’s world, violent jealousy is romantic and abuse is sexy. She believed that women were meant to be subservient to men [13] — in fact, she says that “the most feminine of all aspects” is “the look of being chained” [14] — and that a woman being the dominant partner in a relationship was “metaphysically inappropriate” and would warp and destroy her fragile lady-mind.

6. All natural resources are limitless.

If you pay close attention to Atlas Shrugged, you’ll learn that there will always be more land to homestead, more trees to cut, more coal to mine, more fossil fuels to drill [15]. There’s never a need for conservation, recycling, or that dreaded word, “sustainability.” All environmental laws, just like all safety regulations, are invented by government bureaucrats explicitly for the purpose of punishing and destroying successful businessmen.

One of the heroes of part I is the tycoon Ellis Wyatt, who’s invented an unspecified new technology that allows him to reopen oil wells thought to be tapped out, unlocking what Rand calls an “unlimited supply [16]” of oil. Obviously, accepting that natural resources are finite would force Rand’s followers to confront hard questions about equitable distribution, which is why she waves the problem away with a sweep of her hand.

This trend reaches its climax near the end of part I, when Dagny and Hank find, in the ruins of an abandoned factory, the prototype of a new kind of motor that runs on “atmospheric static electricity” and can produce limitless energy for free [17]. Rand sees nothing implausible about this, because in her philosophy, human ingenuity can overcome any problem, up to and including the laws of thermodynamics, if only the government would get out of the way and let them do it.

7. Pollution and advertisements are beautiful; pristine wilderness is ugly and useless.

Rand is enamored of fossil fuels, and at one point, she describes New York City as cradled in “sacred fires [18]” from the smokestacks and heavy industrial plants that surround it. It never seems to occur to her that soot and smog cause anything other than pretty sunsets, and no one in Atlas Shrugged gets asthma, much less lung cancer.

By contrast, Rand informs us that pristine natural habitat is worthless unless it’s plastered with ads [19], as we see in a scene where Hank and Dagny go on a road trip together:

Uncoiling from among the curves of Wisconsin’s hills, the highway was the only evidence of human labor, a precarious bridge stretched across a sea of brush, weeds and trees. The sea rolled softly, in sprays of yellow and orange, with a few red jets shooting up on the hillsides, with pools of remnant green in the hollows, under a pure blue sky.

… “What I’d like to see,” said Rearden, “is a billboard.”

8. Crime doesn’t exist, even in areas of extreme poverty.

In the world of Atlas Shrugged, the only kind of violence that anyone ever worries about is government thugs stealing the wealth of the heroic capitalists at gunpoint to redistribute it to the undeserving masses. There’s no burglary, no muggings, no bread riots, no street crime of any kind. This is true even though the world is spiraling down a vortex of poverty and economic depression. And even though the wealthy, productive elite are mysteriously disappearing one by one, none of Rand’s protagonists ever worry about their personal safety [20].

Apparently, in Rand’s view, poor people will peacefully sit and starve when they lose their jobs. And that’s a good thing for her, because accepting that crime exists might lead to dangerous, heretical ideas — like that maybe the government should pay for education and job training, because this might be cheaper and more beneficial in the long run than spending ever more money on police and prisons.

9. The only thing that matters in life is how good you are at making money.

In a scene from part I, the copper baron Francisco d’Anconia explains to Dagny why rich people are more valuable than poor people [21]:

“Dagny, there’s nothing of any importance in life — except how well you do your work. Nothing. Only that. Whatever else you are, will come from that. It’s the only measure of human value. All the codes of ethics they’ll try to ram down your throat are just so much paper money put out by swindlers to fleece people of their virtues. The code of competence is the only system of morality that’s on a gold standard.”

You’ll note that this speech makes no exceptions for work whose product is actively harmful to others. If you burn coal that chokes neighboring cities in toxic smog, if you sell unhealthful food that increases obesity and diabetes, if you sell guns and fight every attempt to pass laws that would restrict who could buy them, if you paint houses with lead and insulate pipes in asbestos — relax, you’re off the hook! None of this matters in the slightest in Rand’s eyes. Are you good at your job? Do you make money from it? That’s the only thing anyone should ever care about.

10. Smoking is good for you.

Almost all of Rand’s heroes smoke, and not just for pleasure. In one minor scene, a cigarette vendor tells Dagny that smoking is heroic, even rationally obligatory [22]:

“I like cigarettes, Miss Taggart. I like to think of fire held in a man’s hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips … When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind — and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression.”

It’s no coincidence that Atlas Shrugged expresses these views. Ayn Rand herself was a heavy smoker, and she often asserted that she was the most rational person alive; therefore, she believed, her preferences were the correct preferences which everyone else should emulate. Beginning from this premise, she worked backward to explain why everything she did was an inevitable consequence of her philosophy. As part of this, she decided that she smoked tobacco not because she’d become addicted to it, but because it’s right for rational people to smoke while they think.

In case you were wondering, Rand did indeed contract lung cancer later in life, and had an operation to remove one lung. But even though she eventually came to accept the danger of smoking, she never communicated this to her followers or recanted her earlier support of it. As in other things, her attitude was that people deserve whatever they get.


Emphasis Mine


The Tea Party History of the United States.

Until one understands what is wrong with the above, they have no hope of understanding the USA of today.

Things were almost perfect during the seventh and eighth years of the Presidency of GW Bush: The Axes of Evil had been subdued (Really?); income tax rates for the highest earners were at a historic low(TRUE); the terrorists had been vanquished(FALSE); income tax rates for the highest earners were at a historic low; the estate (death) tax – (inheriting an estate enables hard working Americans to be successful because of their birth situation) was on life support (TRUE);income tax rates for the highest earners were at a historic low; there was almost no deficit adding to the minuscule national debt (FALSE); income tax rates for the highest earners were at a historic low; access to contraception and abortion for people without means was low (TRUE); and fewer Americans than ever understood Natural Selection in specific or science in general (TRUE). The only dark cloud on the horizon (besides the fact that Social Security was on sound footing) was in housing: some very wealthy people – of the class know as job creators – had been growing our economy by speculating on increasing housing values, which had created a bubble getting ready to burst; and many home mortgages – of a type labeled  subprime – had been written because the government forced financial institutions to make loans to people who had no chance of ever paying them back(FALSE). (The job creators dealt with the latter issue by hiding these bad loans in a package of securities, which they – using the best of free market principles – sold to unsuspecting clients) (ALL TRUE).  When the housing bubble burst, the shady, worthless securities were exposed, markets collapsed, millions of job were lost (TRUE),  many homes became worth less than what was owed on them (TRUE), and then, even worse, a Democrat – and  a Black person – was elected President.

The President and his Democratic Party friends came into office and instantly the national debt and the deficit became huge (FALSE),unemployment reached levels almost as high as during the Reagan Administration(TRUE), gas prices skyrocketed, our national defense was compromised, and – horror of horrors – legislation to help people gain access to affordable health care was signed into law (TRUE).  Even worse, the policy – begun in the previous presidency – of helping the financial and auto industries by providing low interest loans was continued(TRUE). What could have been worse? Higher taxes? Food stamps and unemployment insurance for those who were living the American Dream until their jobs were destroyed? Higher taxes? Spending tax money on successful military missions?  Higher taxes?  Strengthening public schools in poor neighborhoods so that some could gain the skills to survive, and even prosper? Higher taxes?  Improved access to contraception and woman’s health needs?  Marriage equality?

N.B.: taxes on moderate incomes are lower than they were on Jan 19, 2012; the marginal (highest) are unchanged.

Until one understands what is wrong with this tea party perception of history, they have no hope of understanding the USA of today.

Crucifixion and Resurrection: The Republican Warping of Christ’s Moral Lessons

Whether or not one believes in a god, Jesus Christ, or the Christian bible is irrelevant to basic humanity and caring for those in need

From: Politics USA

By: Rmuse

“All around the world today, multitudes of Christians are celebrating their opportunity for salvation and everlasting life because of their savior’s sacrifice to benefit all human kind. America is no different, but there are indications that many American Christians cannot bring it upon themselves to sacrifice anything for their fellow Americans in the present and it diminishes Christ’s sacrifice and the alleged altruism inherent in the meaning of Easter. The crucifixion and resurrection story are moral lessons for Christians that the greatest expression of love for fellow humans is sacrificing oneself to benefit all people, but the sentiments being manifest by the religious right and their Republican political leaders is more akin to the sinful greed and hate Christ condemned than his commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

In the Christian bible, it says that “For god so loved the world that he gave his only son that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  However, the bible also says that belief or faith in Jesus and his sacrifice is not sufficient to earn everlasting life and that a devotee must show their faith in Christ by following his example of having love for all human beings and expressing that love through charity and care for the least among us. In the New Testament, James, the alleged brother of Jesus Christ wrote that, “faith, if it does not have deeds, is dead in itself” and “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17, 26). The implication is that no matter how great one claims their belief and faith in Christ’s sacrifice is, without following his explicit commandments and examples of love for all people, it is better to have never known Christ or his sacrifice.

Every Christian has heard the bible’s stories of Christ’s directives to care for the poor and infirm even if it means caring for a hated enemy, and yet here are alleged Christians, supporting Republicans’ Draconian cuts to programs that feed, house, and provide healthcare for the poor, children, seniors, and minorities under the guise of fiscal conservatism and austerity to control the nation’s deficit. Even if the notion of reducing the deficit was sincere, Christ made no allusion to an exception for caring for the poor if a government needed help to control its deficit in the present or for future generations as Republicans are wont to claim. And yet, here are Christian conservatives in Congress and state legislatures slashing spending on food stamps, housing assistance, and healthcare for the poorest Americans and they have garnered support from the same Christians who assert their faith and belief in Christ and his ultimate sacrifice as payment for their eternal life. Christ had strong words for these so-called “Christians” and it did not include granting them everlasting life or praise for their rank greed and selfishness. Christ may as well have been speaking to 21st century Republicans, conservative Christians, and the religious right when he said, “Hypocrites, This people honors me with the lips, but their hearts are remote from me, and they adore me vainly, inculcating teachings that are commands of men” (Matt. 15:7-9).

The commands of Republicans to their loyal followers is to reward the wealthy at the expense of the poor, and they have convinced their “good Christian” adherents that it is virtuous to reject Christ’s admonition to help the poor as a requirement for being a good American. The conservative Christians supporting Republican Paul Ryan and Willard Romney’s budgets and economic plans have taken to heart not Christ’s teachings, but those of Ayn Rand and wealthy industrialists such as the Koch brothers and their think tanks that inculcate the proposition that instead of helping the least advantaged, Americans are duty-bound to heap the nation’s assets on the wealthy that Christ claimed would have great difficulty in profiting from his life-giving sacrifice.

There are millions of Christians who do not subscribe to the Republicans’ teachings that the wealthy deserve more sacrifices from Americans, and poll after poll demonstrate that, indeed, the majority of Americans believe the wealthy should share in sacrificing by contributing more to assist the poor and pay down the deficit. There are Christian clergy who have spoken out against the Republican Draconian cuts to programs for poverty-stricken Americans, and yet they have had as much success influencing conservative Christians as Secular Humanists who are closer to following Christ’s teachings than so-called Christian conservatives.

This is not necessarily an indictment of the Christian faith or all Christians,  because if its devotees followed Christ’s teachings exclusively and ignored the hate-filled exhortations of the apostle Paul and the Hebrew Scriptures’ god, then commentaries such as this would be unnecessary. But there are very few Christians who bifurcate Christ’s teachings of charity and assistance for the poor from the discriminatory, racist, and anti-woman dogmata inherent in the rest of the Christian bible, and it is the latter group that deludes themselves that Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection has any relevance in aiding their eternal life as believers and faithful followers of the Christian religion. Instead, these conservative Christians are the epitome of hypocrisy that Jesus cited for their “showy display” of lip service while their hearts are intent on rewarding the wealthy with ill-gotten gains from the poor, children, and senior citizens, and no amount of adoration for their savior, his instrument of death, or their claim of faithful devotion will save them.

Whether or not one believes in a god, Jesus Christ, or the Christian bible is irrelevant to basic humanity and caring for those in need, but when alleged followers of Christ offer their supreme devotion to Republicans who claim to be Christians while elevating the wealthy to god-status and eliminate crucial safety nets such as food, housing, and healthcare for the poor, they besmirch the Christian faith and the sacrifice of their avatar of goodness and love. However, as long as they clutch their bible to their bosom, do obeisance to the cross, and proclaim their faith in Jesus Christ, they are able to justify any actions that are contrary to Christ’s teachings. It leads one to wonder to what extent they really believe in his sacrifice on their behalf, and what reward they aspire to as adversaries of Christian charity and love for their fellow man, because their works belie faith in Christ’s sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection.

Republicans will always punish the poor to enrich the wealthy and no amount of Christian posturing or reverence for the bible will change their greed and contempt for Americans who are not wealthy. The Christians who are devoted to helping Republicans punish the poor are in the same calamitous position as their Republican heroes and one would think that at Easter, they would reflect and re-evaluate the meaning of sacrifice, but obviously they are consumed with bunny rabbits, tax cuts for the wealthy, and hatred for an African American sitting in the Oval Office. The lesson for Christians is simple; if they think that dressing up on Easter Sunday, coloring eggs, and acknowledging their savior’s death and resurrection guarantees them everlasting life at the same time they support the policies and hateful agenda of Republicans, their everlasting existence is about as likely as a Jewish man coming back to life after decomposing for three days in a tomb.”

Emphasis Mine