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Jonathan Chait corrects our little blog

20 Jun
Bit dog barks first.”

In today’s column at New York magazine, Jonathan Chait uses a factual error in this blog’s response to his lame attacks on Rand Paul and libertarians to preface his attempt to respond to the more substantial critiques of his smear pieces in The Atlantic and reason magazine.  My teeny hobby is being used by him as a rhetorical device in his response to some of my favorite writers.

I claimed he does not disclose that his wife is an Obama campaign operative.  And apparently she isn’t.  Not exactly anyway.  She was instead an “analyst” at the de facto Obama (and Hillary) campaign shop that pretends to be a think tank, the misnamed Center for American Progress, funded by the multimillionare, crony capitalist, Boomtown gravy train, lobbyist brothers John and Anthony Podesta.  Yawn.  By the way, Ms. Chait’s employer’s Kentucky affiliate, Kentucky Progress, is the group that made racial slurs against Elaine Chao, another Kentucky Senator’s Asian wife.

CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS 4/8/08 $250 Obama, Barack (D)
OFF STATE SUP OF EDU/INTERIM DIRECT 3/22/12 $212 Obama, Barack (D)

Additionally Mr. Chait denies being an Obama quisling.  The definition of quisling is

 [ kwízzling ]   

  1. traitor: a traitor, especially somebody who collaborates with an occupying force

And Mr. Chait is a traitor to journalistic ethics in collaboration with an occupying regime that intends to erase the Bill of Rights.
Finally, Mr. Chait is part of a government class that profits off racial injustice and misery, from failed and de facto segregated public schools to the Drug War, while smearing opponents who do not support their failed statist model of so called “civil rights” and its formula for factional strife over a shrinking pie of welfare benefits.  A failed model of civil rights Americans are rejecting in recent polls, where they both favor gay marriage and oppose affirmative action.  Mr. Chait is not imaginative enough to comprehend any ways of dealing with bigotry in a multicultural society other than his old and failed statist formulae, so he smears.

The Chaits, like almost all DC leftover media and political class members, live in a lily white neighborhood, Chevy Chase, on Nevada Avenue, in an otherwise black city.  It’s what economists call demonstrated preference – meaning you talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

Note well Chait’s overall thesis:  Rand Paul is anti democracy; people like him with wrong ideas should be disenfranchised.

Here’s Chait’s column:

My item on Rand Paul the other day, predictably, went over quite badly in the libertarian community. The Insomniac Libertarian, in an itemwonderfully headlined “Obama Quisling Jonathan Chait Smears Rand Paul,” complains that my Paul piece “never discloses that [my] wife is an Obama campaign operative.” A brief annotated response:
1. I question the relevance of the charge, since Rand Paul is not running against Obama.
2. In point of fact, my wife is not an Obama campaign operative and has never worked for Obama’s campaign, or his administration, or volunteered for his campaign, or any campaign, and does not work in politics at all.
3. I question the headline labeling me an “Obama quisling,” a construction that implies that I have betrayed Obama, which seems to be the opposite of the Insomniac Libertarian’s meaning.
4. For reasons implied by points one through three, I urge the Insomniac Libertarian to familiarize himself with some of the science linking sleep deprivation to impaired brain function.
A more substantive, though still puzzling, retort comes from the Atlantic’sConor Friedersdorf, a frequent bête noire of mine on subjects relating to Ayn Rand and Ron or Rand Paul. Friedersdorf raises two objections to my piece, which traced Rand Paul’s odd admission that he is “not a firm believer in democracy” to his advocacy of Randian thought. Friedersdorf first charges that the intellectual connection between Paul and Rand is sheer paranoia:
Chait takes the quote and turns it into a conspiracy … As I read this, I couldn’t help but think of Chait as a left-leaning analog to the character in Bob Dylan’s “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues.” Those Objectivists were coming around/They were in the air / They were on the Ground/ They wouldn’t give me no peace. For two thousand years, critics of unmediated democracy have warned about the masses abusing individuals and minorities. The American system was built from the very beginning to check democratic excesses.
But if Rand Paul distrusts democracy he must’ve gotten it from Ayn Rand. 
A conspiracy? Am I imagining that Rand Paul has been deeply influenced by Ayn Rand? Paul himself has discussed the deep influence her work had on his own thinking. In college he wrote a series of letters and columns either quoting Rand or knocking off her theories. He used a congressional hearing to describeone of her novels at tedious length. How is this a conspiracy?
Friedersdorf proceeds to argue that Rand is not really very militant anyway:
It’s also interesting that Chait regards Rand’s formulation as “militant.” Let’s look at it again. “I do not believe that a majority can vote a man’s life, or property, or freedom away from him.” Does Chait believe that a democratic majority should be able to vote a man’s life or freedom away? …
In the political press, it happens again and again: libertarian leaning folks are portrayed as if they’re radical, extremist ideologues, even when they’re expressing ideas that are widely held by Americans across the political spectrum.
Well, here we come to a deeper disagreement about Ayn Rand. My view of her work is pretty well summarized in a review-essay I wrote in 2009, tying together two new biographies of Rand with some of the Randian strains that were gaining new currency in the GOP. My agenda here is not remotely hidden, but maybe I need to put more cards on the table. I’ve described her worldview as inverted Marxism — a conception of politics as a fundamental struggle between a producer class and a parasite class.
What I really mean is, I find Rand evil. Friedersdorf’s view is certainly far more nuanced and considerably more positive than mine. He’s a nice, intelligent person and a good writer, but we’re not going to agree on this.
Friedersdorf waves away Rand’s (and Rand Paul’s) distrust of democracy as the same fears everybody has about democracy. Well, no. Lots of us consider democracy imperfect or vulnerable, but most of us are very firm believers in democracy. Rand viewed the average person with undisguised contempt, and her theories pointed clearly in the direction of cruelty in the pursuit of its fanatical analysis. A seminal scene in Atlas Shrugged described the ideological errors of a series of characters leading up to their violent deaths, epitomizing the fanatical class warfare hatred it’s embodied and which inspired Whitaker Chambers to observe, “From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: ‘To the gas chambers — go!’”
Randism has never been tried as the governing philosophy of a country, so it remains conjecture that her theories would inevitably lead to repression if put into practice at a national level. But we do have a record of the extreme repression with which she ran her own cult, which at its height was a kind of totalitarian ministate. You can read her biographies, or at least my review, to get a sense of the mind-blowing repression, abuse, and corruption with which she terrorized her followers.
But the upshot is that I strongly dispute Friedersdorf’s premise that Rand’s theories are a variant of democracy, any more than Marx’s are. In fact, I find the existence of powerful elected officials who praise her theories every bit as disturbing to contemplate as elected officials who praise Marxism. Even if you take care to note some doctrinal differences with Rand, in my view we are talking about a demented, hateful cult leader and intellectual fraud. People who think she had a lot of really good ideas should not be anywhere near power.