Tumblr fans, in case you’ve missed it, TNR’s latest issue is here!
In this issue, Alec MacGillis explains how Paul Ryan convinced Washington of his genius, Timothy Noah describes how Mitt Romney would squash the recovery, Molly Redden confronts the perils of running against Todd Akin, T.A. Frank rides out the recession at Disneyland, Ken Silverstein buckrakes around the world with Tony Blair, and Nathan Heller reflects on the cranky wisdom of Peter Kaplan.
PLUS, David Denby laments the profit motive in American movies, David Thomson wonders why American movies don’t aspire to greatness, Mark Lilla recounts how a religious revolution secularized society, and Ruth Franklin tackles Zadie Smith’s identity crisis. Also, don’t miss Robert Alter on the King James Bible, and Leon Wieseltier on U.S. foreign policy.
Click here to access the October 4th issue and much more!
Exploring a philosophy for adolescents
Though the stories are out in force now that he is the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, I could already tell that Paul Ryan was an admirer of Objectivism (though recently renounced). After all, his signature budget proposal is, per the title of one Krugman column, “ludicrous and cruel.” From personal experience, I can attest that ludicrousness and cruelty are two of the very hallmarks of Objectivism.
Of course, I didn’t know that when I first picked up Ayn Rand’s books—her most popular novel, The Fountainhead, and her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged—as a misguided high school kid.Indeed, I was the type of young person for whom Rand’s wacky gumbo of libertarianism, anti-communism, atheism, self-help and trickle-down economics makes a lot of sense. I was the poster child for Nora Ephron’s maxim about The Fountainhead—that “it is better read when one is young enough to miss the point.”
Jonas Blank — “I Was a Teenage Objectivist”
The dishonesty of Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan introduced a new argument about Medicare today. I love it, because it shows that his critics have been right all along: Ryan isn’t nearly as candid about policy and trade-offs as his reputation suggests.
The argument is about the $716 billion of Medicare cuts in the Affordable Care Act. Ryan and Mitt Romney have been citing those reductions as proof that Obamacare “raided” Medicare. If you haven’t heard the line in one of their speeches, then perhaps you caught it in their new advertisement, which has all the sublety of Cialas ad.
Jonathan Cohn — “It’s Time to Revoke Paul Ryan’s Wonk Card”
Ayn Rand’s strangest notions
“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,” Paul Ryan said in 2009. “And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.” In time for Team Romney’s vetting process, the freshly-minted V.P. nominee has since walked back his devotion to Rand and her philosophy, telling National Review that an admiration for the mid-century Soviet émigré does not “suggest that a person is therefore an Objectivist.”
Wherever Ryan currently stands on Objectivism, which Rand invented, it’s worth reviewing the basics of the world’s greediest philosophy.
Simon van Zuylen-Woods — “No Taxes, No Female Presidents, and No Physical Attraction: The Ten Strangest Things About Objectivism”
Could the selection of Paul Ryan be a means to escape blame in defeat?
There are two ways to think about Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan this morning. The first is how it affects Romney’s prospects for winning in November. The second is how it affects the internal struggle between conservatives and moderates within the GOP.
Regarding the first question, the Ryan pick is, of course, lunacy. Ryan’s claim to fame is a long-term budget blueprint that would massively cut Medicare over the coming decades while essentially zeroing out domestic spending oneverything else but defense. It would pair this unprecedented austerity with enormous tax cuts for the wealthy. All of these things are, to varying degrees, wildly unpopular. Which makes it hardly surprising that the only time the Ryan budget actually came before voters—in a 2011 congressional special election in upstate New York—it was a political disaster, handing a safe Republican district to a little-known Democrat.
Noam Scheiber — “Just One Reason to Pick Ryan: Blame the Loss on Conservatives”
Jonathan Cohn offers a guide to understanding Paul Ryan.
Many millions of working-age Americans would lose health insurance. Senior citizens would anguish over whether to pay their rent or their medical bills, in a way they haven’t since the 1960s. Government would be so starved of resources that, by 2050, it wouldn’t have enough money for core functions like food inspections and highway maintenance. And the richest Americans would get a huge tax cut.
This is the America that Paul Ryan envisions. And now we know that it is the America Mitt Romney envisions.
Of course, we should have known that already. Romney committed himself to the Ryan agenda during the presidential primaries, both by embracing the Ryan budget rhetorically and specifically proposing key features of Ryan’s agenda, starting with a tight cap on federal spending. But if anybody doubted that Romney was serious about these commitments, the Ryan pick should put those doubts to rest. Maybe Romney sincerely believes these ideas are right for the country and maybe he feels that endorsing them is necessary to please his party’s base. It really doesn’t matter. It’s the way he intends to govern.
Jonathan Cohn — “Six Things to Know About Ryan (and Romney)”
What does the Catholic church have to say about Paul Ryan’s budget plan?
"Republican leaders have repeatedly cited support of (some) Catholic leaders in their opposition to the Obama Administration’s health care policies—particularly a requirement that insurance plans cover contraception, which the Church opposes on principle. But now Republicans are the ones catching grief from Catholic leaders, for violating a different set of Church teachings: about the need to protect the poor and vulnerable.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a series of stern letters to Republican committee chairman in the House. The subject was proposed cuts to programs like food stamps and housing assistance, consistent with the overall spending blueprint that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan has put forward. The message: Don’t slash the safety net, particularly if you’re doing so to finance tax cuts for the wealthy.”
Jonathan Cohn: Unholy Cuts: The Bishops Decry Ryan Budget
Photo courtesy of CLR Forum
Do we even need fact-checkers anymore?