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Conservative on Ryan: Rand and Religion Don’t Change My Vote

South Dakota hard-right blog P&R Miscellany responds to left-wing cries (including my own) for right-wing consistency with this defense of Paul Ryan (recycling this National Review spin from April 2012) from charges of fealty to the atheist Ayn Rand. The Displaced Plainsman catches P&R trying to hide from the real issue. The problem, says LK, is not that Ryan is an atheist (no one says he is, and it's certainly not in my interest to encourage voters to reject a candidate because he's an atheist); the problem is that Ryan bases his worldview and his policies on Ayn Rand's philosophy. Yes, Ayn Rand was an atheist, but much, much worse, Rand preached a "relentless, single-minded dedication to one's passions" that flies in the face of community and Christianity.

I find P&R's Ryan apologetics worthy of some line-by-line. First, P&R tries to get Ryan out from under the onus of Rand fanaticism:

To be sure, Ryan finds some of Rand's moral arguments for capitalism and individualism as opposed to collectivism quite helpful and has said so. He did say that he "tried to make my interns read [Atlas Shrugged]." While I'm personally with the interns who did not read it (Rand is, in my opinion, largely unreadable, tendentious, boring, and worse), this is a far different thing than adopting wholesale Rand's objectivism. As this Politico piece makes clear, even when he was doing that he was not endorsing objectivism or atheism but individualism and capitalism as morally defensible [P&R, "Ryan and Rand: Not So Close as Charged," P&R Miscellany, August 12, 2012].

P&R recognizes, as made clear in his own subsequent comment, as made clear by Ryan's own recent spin, that conservatives must keep Rand from becoming the issue. But Rand is the issue. The clearest proof of Ryan's fealty to Rand is Ryan's own words to a 2005 meeting of the Atlas Society, an Ayn Rand fan club:

I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are. It's inspired me so much that it's required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff. We start with Atlas Shrugged. People tell me I need to start with The Fountainhead then go to Atlas Shrugged [laughter]. There's a big debate about that. We go to Fountainhead, but then we move on, and we require Mises and Hayek as well [Paul Ryan, address to Atlas Society, 2005].

Ryan acknowledges that Rand's books played a significant role in forming his value system. He acknowledges that he required his interns and staff to read Rand's two biggest books. He is deep enough into Rand that he knows the internal debate among Randians about which novel new recruits ought to read first.

Ryan also told the Atlas Society that he consulted Rand's writings religiously:

It's so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand's vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are. I always go back to, you know, Francisco d'Anconia's speech (at Bill Taggart's wedding) on money when I think about monetary policy. And then I go to the 64-page John Galt speech, you know, on the radio at the end, and go back to a lot of other things that she did, to try and make sure that I can check my premises so that I know that what I'm believing and doing and advancing are square with the key principles of individualism... [Ryan, 2005].

Ryan knows Rand's characters and parables. He treats her novels like Scripture, "checking his premises" for consistency with Rand's words. Ryan's knowledge of Rand is no casual acquaintance with a pop culture figure. It's serious attention. By his own words, Ryan is a Randian.

P&R admits Rand's philosophy is "immoral." To preserve his conviction that the Ryan-Romney ticket deserves his support, P&R must toss principle in favor of "anyone but Obama"-ism:

But a lot of Republicans are Christians and Protestants. If the left can destroy Ryan by tarring him as an atheist in the same way that they keep reminding us of Romney's Mormonism, then they can demotivate the GOP base. This will help to preserve Obama, including his attacks on religious freedom, his raw assertions of executive power, his devastating economic policies, and all the rest.

Frankly, I wouldn't care if Ryan were an atheist. Such irreligion would still be preferred to Obama's religious infatuation with government and the fiscal bankruptcy to which it is driving us. None of the candidates for president and vice president share my religious beliefs. There are two Catholics (both vice-presidential candidates), one Mormon, and one Black Liberation/Christo-Marxist (Obama). Religiously, I think they're all wrong [P&R, August 12, 2012].

A Christian conservative admits he'd rather have an atheist in office than the clearly Christian Barack Obama. Wowza! I guess all that talk about how the Founding Fathers created a Christian nation and said we couldn't govern without Christian principles really is just campaign chatter. We're making progress here!

As P&R throws religion out the window, he begs us to prioritize other values:

But Ryan and Romney are right on the economics, right on their appraisal of human nature, right on their understanding of how business and government work, right on the public morality they wish to uphold and defend, right on the limited nature of government and the U.S. Constitution... [P&R, August 12, 2012].

P&R is in la-la-land on the specifics. Ryan-Romney preach trickle-down economics disproven by the Bush tax cuts. Their every-man-for-himself thinking pales as public morality compared to President Obama's understanding that we have obligations to each other within community. And no one is preaching limited government; Romney and Ryan just want government to interfere in different realms (ask anyone with a uterus). But in general, I can get on board with P&R's declaration that the church you go to matters much, much less (if at all!) than other principles that guide one's public policies.

P&R then makes clear the ability of the right wing (of all humanity, really) to will itself to the outcomes it preconceives:

I'm not voting for pope or pastor. I'm not voting for God, either. I'm voting for president and vice-president and nothing Ryan has said that I'm aware of dampens my enthusiasm for him in the least [P&R, August 12, 2012].

In other words, Paul Ryan can cite a radical atheist egoist as the basis of his policy making, can indoctrinate other people in that egoist's bad literature, can even get his own Catholic theology grossly wrong, and good conservatives will still line up and vote for him.

Fine. As I said to Taunia last night, I don't like fighting a religious war. You can't win. But P&R and the Right's "anyone but Obama" rationalizations make me willing to fight the religious war with the objective not of victory but of cease-fire. I will accept the argument P&R makes, that we aren't voting for God, pope, or pastor. I will accept his argument that it doesn't matter what religion a candidate professes or shuns.

But I offer the cease-fire on two conditions:

  1. No Republican ever again mentions Jeremiah Wright.
  2. No Republican may say, insinuate, or countenance without rebuttal accusations that Barack Obama is a Muslim (not that there'd be anything wrong with his being a Muslim, but we're talking truth here).

If Republicans accept that cease fire, then we will have made immense progress to talking real, practical issues.

If they don't accept that cease fire, then the GOP will crush itself with the Romney-Ryan, Mormon-Rand ticket.


  1. David Newquist 2012.08.13

    I, too, have posted on what the endorsement of Rand's philosophy portends. The desperate attempt to disassociate Ryan from what he openly and enthusiastically embraces and demonstrates in his political work, such as his budget proposal, is an act of frantic subversion. It is also evidence of how drastically and vehemently the GOP has moved away from Lincoln, who it still claims as the progenitor of Republican values.

    [CAH: Excellent work, David! I apologize for not including it in my commentary and offering readers a link. Rand's position on the Native Americans—they didn't produce a "heroically productive capitalist" society, so we can justify taking their land—is particularly galling; someone should ask Ryan about it.]

  2. Dougal 2012.08.13

    The Monday morning buzz from Republicans to hurry up and pour water on the brushfires created by Romney's kowtow to the rigid radical right with the Ryan pick is like listening to a cicada swarm. Yes, those cicadas seem to be everywhere. They fly aimlessly, bumping into things and dropping on the ground and stumbling around. They make a LOT of noise, day and night, for about a couple weeks and then they die off.

    Ryan is a momentary distraction, like the cicadas. The buzz to redefine his Ayn Rand austerity as being taken out of context will fade. And the real candidate for president will emerge from the buzzing, talking about the right level for trees, his wife's multiple Cadillacs, how much he likes firing people, his flipflops to pander to people who hate women's reproductive rights and the human dignity of gay Americans, his gaffes abroad and backing away from Romney/ObamaCare. His name is Mitt Romney.

    It's August. Give the cicadas their moment buzzing around. They'll be gone by Labor Day.

  3. Steve Sibson 2012.08.13

    "that flies in the face of community and Christianity"

    But as the discussion on another thread shows, a Christian community does not include the wicked.

  4. Steve Sibson 2012.08.13

    "A Christian conservative admits he’d rather have an atheist in office than the clearly Christian Barack Obama."

    A Christian cannot promote the wicked gay agenda.

  5. Steve Sibson 2012.08.13

    "If they don’t accept that cease fire, then the GOP will crush itself with the Romney-Ryan, Mormon-Rand ticket."

    The GOP won't win if they do accept the cease fire. They can't win if they do. America will lose no matter who wins. This election is irrelevant. Such is the case when pragmatism trumps principles. It is a dog fight, Darwinian survivalism where the one who attracts the most mud loses.

  6. larry kurtz 2012.08.13

    the grapes were sour anyway: fun watching you implode, stevie.

  7. larry kurtz 2012.08.13

    Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.

  8. larry kurtz 2012.08.13

    but sleep with a rocket launcher anyway....

  9. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Let's put this out there and see what you all think.

    Hypothesis: Before the addition of Ryan to the ticket, the election seemed like it was going to be inevitably close... within a few points either way. But this new paradigm crystalizes the debate, giving voters a clear choice between two conflicting ideologies. Depending on how those positions are argued, there now exists the possibility of a landslide election and the winner having a clear mandate from the American voters. True, or false?

  10. larry kurtz 2012.08.13

    Why not include the Libertarian ticket as the Third Way in the discussion, Bill?

  11. Steve Sibson 2012.08.13

    "giving voters a clear choice between two conflicting ideologies"

    The lessor of two evils is not a clear choice. I am voting for neither one. I have no choice.

  12. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Not voting is a choice, Steve. I'm just sayin'.

  13. Joseph G Thompson 2012.08.13

    I agree with you, think and hope that whomever wins, wins with a landslide victory and controls both the house and the senate.
    The public needs to speak very loudly, telling our elected leadership which direction this nation needs to move or we will continue to flounder and only our enemies will continue to win.
    The worst thing that can happen is that this election is close and we go thru what we went thru in the Bush/Gore election. As devided as we are, I am afraid that a repeat of that situation would be our undoing.
    Larry, in my ignorant opinion, I think that Gary Johnson would make a very good President. However, the Libertarian party must step away from advocating the demise of Social Security and Medicare. Social Security and Medicare are two programs, presently so entrenched in America, that any talk of truly eliminating them, in whole, causes most of the right, the left and what remains of the middle to step back and gasp.
    The party may continue to have some success at the state/local level but until they step back from Social Security and Medicare, the party will be as irrelivant in national politics as the Democrats are in South Dakota politics.

  14. Steve Sibson 2012.08.13

    "Not voting is a choice"

    Not a clear choice. The point is that Obama and ROmney are both liberals. Christian and conservatives are being mislead.

    So Joseph wants to use the tyranny of mob rule to take rights away from the minority. Plus Joseph must enjoy the mob rule of the SDGOP. Very sad.

  15. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    I don't hear Joseph advocating to take anyone's rights away, Sibby.

  16. PNR 2012.08.13

    I find Madville's fixation on Ryan's appreciation for Rand very much like those rightwingers who think Obama's a muslim. Both grossly misunderstand, and apparently willfully so, the nature of their professed religious beliefs and their respective actions in the light of those differing beliefs. On that point, I'm quite ready to cede his request re: a cease fire. But then, I've never said Obama was a muslim.

    Secondly, I reject Madville's characterization of Ryan's appreciation for Rand on multiple levels, which is pretty obvious from my posts and responses to his comments on my own blog, so he's setting up a straw-man argument. He claims X is true, therefore I must believe Y, but I don't accept the premise, so the conclusion that Y must follow doesn't hold.

    Thirdly, if one is going to label Obama as "clearly Christian" on the basis of his affiliation with Rev. Wright and his self-profession, one must also label Ryan "clearly Christian" on the basis of his affiliation with the Catholic Church and his self-profession. But Madville wants to let Obama claim the mantle of Christian and disallow it for Ryan. That's a double standard, methinks. I'll allow they're both Christian, and that I disagree with the teaching of both their respective churches.

    Given that I don't hold to the religious (or philosophical) views of any candidate entirely, the question becomes one of practical governance - their policies and politics. What do they propose to do as president (Obama) and vice-president (Ryan)? It should be no surprise to anyone who reads my site that I tend to favor Romney-Ryan on that question over Obama-Biden.

    I've never tried to make this a "religious war" - Madville is doing that, not me. Any time he wants to revert to the policy debate, I'm all ears.

    By the way, since we're looking at Obama v. Ryan, I find it striking that in both and now apparently in 2012, liberals are trying to pit their presidential candidate, Obama, against the GOP vice-presidential candidates, Palin and Ryan - apparently Obama isn't up to facing his, you know, actual opponent.

  17. larry kurtz 2012.08.13

    Romney's LDS and Ryan's church are two of the biggest NGOs on the planet hiring the best paid lobbyists and employing a myriad; so, gutting the federal budget while allowing those Ponzi schemes to survive is so beyond what the Founders envisioned it leaves nothing to the imagination.

  18. troy 2012.08.13


    I do agree with Joseph in this will crystalize the decision for many with regard to the direction of the country.

    However, I don't think it will result in a landslide (at least not in the popular vote).

    For the past year, Obama's job approval has been pretty steady. Over the last year, it has been virtually static, fluctuating between 46.5% and 49%. Thus, Obama's floor is no lower than 46%

    Over the same time, Obama's job disapproval has been almost as steady. Over the last six months, this number has fluctuated between 46.3% and 48.9% which also means Romney's floor is also around 46%. My guess is these 92% will be little swayed by the campaign from either side, even the selection of Ryan.

    Of the remaining 8%, you have 1% that have vacilated to and away from Obama over the last six months. This is Obama's low hanging fruit. And, another 7% who seem to have no opinion (which seems virtually hard to imagine). It is my guess is the 7% who have never formed an opinion are also not likely to vote or split one discernible direction one way or another.

    So, if you have only 1% of the electorate who are truly up for grabs, you can't help but have a whisper close election.

    And, when you are talking about such a small slice of the electorate, Obama and Romny spending millions of dollars on polling and focus groups, they will still not have a great deal of statistical confidence on the effect of messaging.

    Here is my "wild card." Those who have vacilated to and from Obama are on pins and needles for economic news. Good news and they go Obama, giving him the margin he needs. Bad news, they go Romney giving him the margin he needs.

    In the end, this most critical group will care nothing of Ayn Rand.

    Sidenote: This analysis is only with regard to the popular vote. The electoral college is another matter. Here are everyone's most close battleground states representing 89 electoral votes. My break on the other state's is 243-206 favoring Obama.

    Obama's electoral college ceiling is 322 (vs. the 365 he got last time).

    Romney's electoral college ceiling is 295 (vs 286 Bush got in 2004).

    If either candidate gets over my ceiling, I'd say there was a shift in the electorate. Maybe it might be a "Ryan" effect but I doubt it. I think it will be more likely a economic news item or either Obama fatigue or a relighting of hte Obama magic.

    To affect a wholesale shift in the electorate (necessary for a landslde) I just don't think Romney-Ryan have the time to fully explain their agenda nor Obama to justify four more years in two months.

    VA, OH, WI, IA, NH, FL, and CO.

  19. Donald Pay 2012.08.13

    This crystalizes our "choice" to voting for Obama, a center right Democrat who has supported and passed Republican positions on health care, and Romney, a center right politician who is attempting to jettison his center right positions for crypto-fascist ones. I'm not a big fan of fascism, so I'll vote for the traditional Republican in this race--Obama.

  20. Steve Sibson 2012.08.13

    "I don’t hear Joseph advocating to take anyone’s rights away, Sibby."

    Yes he is and now Troy is agreeing.

  21. Julie Gross (NE) 2012.08.13

    Lids, especially secular libs, are quite amusing when they criticize Christians (just Christians mind you; not other theists) for being able to integrate the best of all belief systems.

    Atheists/agnostics are the most intolerant folks around.

  22. larry kurtz 2012.08.13

    Just following the money, "Julie."

  23. troy 2012.08.13


    What did I say to advocate taking anyone's rights away?

  24. Anne 2012.08.13

    The attempts to dismiss Ayn Rand from the current political discussion is pure dissembling on the part of those who currently call themselves conservatives. She wrote the scripture that is the basis for their liturgy. It is precisely her version of capitalism that has brought the nation to the economic state it is now, and the Christian right wing preaches her gospel whether they know or not.

    Paul Ryan's testimony pulls down the pretenses and reveals the motives that in the last 30 years have made the 90 percent the disposable thralls of the upper 10 percent, with the one percent calling all the plays.

    This clear delineation of political choice will make the election a clear choice of what kind of country America has decided to be. Mr. Pay defines clearly what the choices are.

  25. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Troy, the split I have in mind will come from our generation and older (persons 50+). If Romney/Ryan can sell the dissolution of Medicare as we know it and make people believe they can be trusted with their investment in the program (i.e. that their program is ethical and compassionate), the Repubs could get another shot at the White House. But it will be a steep uphill climb.

    If they fail, Obama and Company will win by a landslide. They will get the Senior vote, the Women's vote, the Hispanic Vote, the Catholic vote, and the Youth Vote. Obama 58% Romney 42%.

  26. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    (p.s. I did that prognostication cypher with my NewAge Monad Mojo Hand, Troy. Don't tell Sibby I have one, okay?)

  27. Julie Gross (NE) 2012.08.13

    --find Madville’s fixation on Ryan’s appreciation for Rand very much like those rightwingers who think Obama’s a muslim

    Amen. The Returners, the Bainers, and now the Randies are just a bizarre collection of new-age witch hunters.

    You Randies remind me: Someone came up to me the other day and suggested that Obama's children may be illegitimate. Well, are they? How many are his? One? Two? More? Does he have kids in Indonesia? In Kenya? In the Caymans? In the Bahamas? We don't really know because he won't release the birth certificates.

    Barry needs to release the birth certificates of his "daughters' and any other child that he is accused of fathering.

    What's he hiding?

  28. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Reflecting here a little, I realize that I just said is there will either be a close race that Romney wins or an Obama landslide. I can't see the possibility of a big Romney win. That's probably what Troy is saying. If so, I agree with him.

  29. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Julie, don't be an idiot. We only have room for one of those at a time here, and Sibby has seniority.

  30. Steve Sibson 2012.08.13

    "What did I say to advocate taking anyone’s rights away?"

    You agreed that if there is enough of a landslide that the winning party can direct the country. That is tyranny of mob rule.

  31. troy 2012.08.13


    Sometimes you make me laugh. You really think there is a chance Obama can go from 53% to 58%? I don't think you really do.

    Four bets (we will net out wins and losses to increase the odds neither of us get fatter).

    1) Obama vs. Romney: Popular Vote (I get Romney)
    2) Obama vs. Romney: Electoral College (I get Romney)
    3) Popular vote margin: I get nobody gets over 51%
    4) Catholic Vote: I get Romney wins the Catholic Vote.

  32. Steve Sibson 2012.08.13

    "We only have room for one of those at a time here"

    So Fleming, why can you handle the truth only once at a time?

  33. troy 2012.08.13


    I believe those that win can effect change within Constitutional limits. If that is mob rule to you, so be it. I think it is just our democracy at work.

  34. Steve Sibson 2012.08.13

    Troy, so what if Romney wins. A liberal pretending to be a conservative is more dangerous than a liberal being a liberal. At least Obama woke up some people. Either way, America well continue down the road toward the New Word Order and the establishment of a New Age Theocracy.

  35. Steve Sibson 2012.08.13

    "within Constitutional limits"

    What Constitutional limits? Both party leaderships are for exceeding them.

  36. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Troy, LOL. I'm not in bet mode yet. This is still a nubile hypothesis. A nascent whisper of a notion. A canary in the mine shaft.

  37. Stan Gibilisco 2012.08.13

    For some reason, I never learned about Ayn Rand. So I had to do a little research.

    It seems to me that Rand based her philosophy on what Osho, one of my favorite gurus, would call "rational selfishness."

    In a clamshell, it might go something like "You can't take care of anyone else if you don't take care of yourself."

    On the basis of that summary, I know of no politicians today who fail to embrace that philosophy in regards to the way they conduct their own lives.

  38. Stan Gibilisco 2012.08.13

    By the by, I do not mean to imply that just because you take care of yourself, you'll take care of anybody else.

    We now have two clean-cut white men on the Republican ticket. I mean, they are absolute models of the type.

    If Obama wants to guarantee his reelection, he'll get Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden to swap jobs.

    If the contrast is going to be stark, we might as well make it as stark as possible, eh?

  39. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Funny thing about that, Stan. Four years ago, Hillary would have been the GOP's devil-woman. My hunch is, if she were on the ballot this year, a third of the GOP would vote for her in a heartbeat. Maybe more.

  40. larry kurtz 2012.08.13

    The convention would be the likely venue to test the Clinton hammer: might be fun.

  41. Joseph G Thompson 2012.08.13

    Bill, Troy,
    This is my WAG.
    1. Romney wins popular vote and Obama wins electoral vote. Popular vote close 50% to 51% Romney to 48.5% to 49.5% Obama. Republicans control House or Senate.
    2. Romney wins popular vote 53% to 46% and electoral vote. I don't think Romney can win a close election, has to be over 52% of the popular vote. Republicans control both House and Senate.
    I think number 1 is the most likely outcome.

  42. Steve Sibson 2012.08.13

    "third of the GOP would vote for her in a heartbeat. Maybe more"

    Hillary? Bill, you have said some really wild things in the past, but I think this one is in the top 10.

  43. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Sibby, Hillary's favorables are in the high 60's ....last two readings were 69% and 67%. That, by definition, includes a significant number of Republicans. Faced with the choice of Romney or Hillary, my assertion is 1/4 to 1/3 of Repubs would vote for Hillary. Especially GOP women.

  44. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Joseph, do you follow Nate Silver's predictions on this?

    Next week or so, we'll see the impact Ryan has on Nate's formula, but for now, he has the chance that Romney wins the Pop vote but loses the electoral at 4.3%, and an Obama landslide at 9.2%. Admittedly, neither one has very good odds.

  45. troy 2012.08.13


    I've been saying since March there is a good chance Romney wins popular vote but not the electoral vote. My premise mostly relies on Obama's inability to move his job approval number. All indications are the red states are much redder than last time while the blue states have become only slightly less blue. In other words, Romney's popular vote gain (vs. McCain) will have less electoral effect than the popular vote movement would indicate. And, the purple state movement is barely perceptible at this point.

  46. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Troy, that was before Romney and Ryan flushed the Senior vote down the toilet. LOL.

  47. troy 2012.08.13


    I would give HC high marks for the job she has done as SOS. Doesn't mean I'd support her for President, HHS Secretary, or even US Trade Rep.

    And, in general, if you think she would get 1/3rd of the GOP women vote (much less 1/3 of all the GOP vote), you are crazy. But then you did assert Obama might get 58% too. Is everything OK? Have back surgery and get given some strong meds?

  48. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    You would never vote for her, Troy. I know that. I'm only saying about 1/4th to 1/3 of Repubs would. A majority of them would be women. And they would never admit it to you. ;^)

  49. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    (...ah, the magic of the secret ballot.)

    p.s. I'm feeling fine, Troy. (Okay, maybe a little light headed. I've dropped 30 lbs. over the last three months. Si se puede, amigo.)

  50. Joseph G Thompson 2012.08.13

    Thanks for Silver's blog. Had a quick look and political junky that I am, I added it to my online "must read" list.

    "the Magic of the secret ballot" that is why I think that Romney has more of a chance of a large popular vote win than the President.

    I think, being the ignorant soul that I am, that there may be many more Democrats out there that publicly and for poll purposes support the President because they are afraid of the names they will be called for not supporting him than there are Republicans who would support HRC for any political office.

  51. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Ha! Joseph that's excellent. Let me tell you a little secret. The nice thing about being a Democrat is, we get to vote for anyone we want to. LOL.

  52. Joseph G Thompson 2012.08.13

    Good one.

  53. troy 2012.08.13


    Obama's Job Approval is a challenge for him.

    If one would give Obama the electoral votes where OJA is 49% and above, Romney all the electoral votes where OJA is below 45% and below:

    Electoral College: Romney up 248-211. (270 needed to win)

    If you then give Romney those states where the OJA is 46%, Romney is over 311. Hmmm. Maybe a landslide is possible. :)

    Seriously, the Obama job approval is virtually identical to Bush's at this stage. When Bush beat Kerry, he moved his job approval on election day to 49.5% which had a 2.7% margin over those who disapproved. Bush's margin of victory was 2.4%.

    Today, Obama's job approval is 48% which is .4% lower than those who disapprove. Whisper close. Even closer than a whisper.

  54. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Which poll are you talking about, Troy? I'm not seeing it. Of the most recent 4 polls I'm seeing 3 @49%, one @50% and one @48%.

    (p.s. btw, it's really fun to use the "@" symbol for the right reason)

  55. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Sidenote: Keep in mind that there are a number of us who don't approve of Obama's job performance on all fronts, so a person being honest on a poll doesn't necessarily translate into a vote for Romney. Also, the polls are a mess now, with the proliferation of cell phones. The the youth vote in particular is significantly under-sampled.

  56. troy 2012.08.13

    I'm using the RCP average for all matters unless otherwise noted.

    But, you are correct. I just don't know how many of those there are and if 2004 is any indication they were either very small or canceled out by something else. Stats are only good for looking from a distance.

  57. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Okay, got it, Troy. Thanks!

  58. Bill Fleming 2012.08.13

    Yes, I see it. On the RCP average, Gallup and Rasmussen are bringing the average down (both have 45). They seem quite a bit out of sync with the other polls (4-49s and one 50).

    Both Gallup and Rasmussen have been skewing pretty strong right this year. Perhaps they should be weighted as such?

    I think it's safe to say this. There are a lot more voters using cell phones and only cell phones now than there were in 2008 (and it was a problem in 2008). In 2004 the problem wasn't nearly as pronounced. Fair enough?

  59. Donald Pay 2012.08.13

    Here's the problem with these approval polls. If I had to state whether I approve of the job Obama is doing, I'd say "no," though I would never even consider voting for Romney-Ryan. And there are a lot of progressives who think Obama is a failure, but won't vote for the Green Party because then the fascists win. We'll vote for Obama and his center right government in order to prevent the end of American freedom, even though Obama has delivered on far less than what we wanted in 2008.

  60. troy 2012.08.13

    You guys make whatever "adjustments" to skew the polls to what you think is accurate. I could make a case that Gallup and Rasmussen were hte most accurate last election, thus, adjust the other polls.

    But I don't. I just take what is out there, assume biases cancel out. And go with it. We are just prognosticating.

    Regarding the cell phones, it might affect the raw gross sample and thus it affects the the outcome. Pollsters claim their adjustments/weighting of responses covers that. For instance, if the number of people (say under 24) under-represents the total population, they give greater weight to the responses from those under 24 they actually surveyed.

    The problem of a lack of sufficient cell phone respondents is more concerning to the people who poll for messaging purposes as they sometimes get insufficient raw data on a target market. And, when you weight subsets, the information is less reliable. It has a much smaller effect on the broad set.

  61. Jana 2012.08.13

    On the right side...(yep, the right side) of Nate Silver's 5-3-8 blog you can gather some more aggregated information.

    Electoral college: 300.8 to 237.2
    Chances of winning: 71.4 to 28.6
    Popular vote: 50.8 to 48.2

    There's also the latest data on swing states.

  62. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.08.13

    Steve, a Christian cannot add books to the Old and New Testament. Romney does that with the Book of Mormon. Obama does not. Therefore, Romney is more of a Christian than Obama.

    I offered cease fire, Sibby. Quit before you and the GOP get crushed.

  63. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.08.13

    I guess PNR doesn't want cease-fire, either. Oh well.

    PNR, my discussion of Ryan's ideological fealty to Rand is nothing like the lie that Obama is a Muslim. I claim Ryan follows Rand's philosophy in forming policy. Ryan himself said in 2005 that he reads and rereads Rand as he makes decisions to make sure he's getting his premises right. That's a pretty explicit affirmation of my claim.

    Now, show me one word Obama has ever said that affirms with equal strength anyone's claim that Barack Obama is a Muslim.

  64. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.08.13

    Oh, and PNR, we'll debate policy. Obama and I will win there, too. But as Dougal says above, it's August! We're all at the beach, like the French, having fun! And unlike you, I don't have to dismiss discussion of philosophy and cling to chanting "Anyone but the other guy!" to justify my candidate.

  65. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.08.13

    Troy: 1% up for grabs? Could be! And if that's the case, the Ryan-Rand nexus might be worth playing, even if it only swings 1000 voters (the Florida margin in 2000 was 500-some, right?).

  66. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.08.13

    Stan, you are quite correct to note that taking care of oneself does not lead to taking care of others. Rand would have spat her coffee (beans grown in her own composted waste, I'm sure, ground in her bare hands, and gulped from a cup cast on her own potter's wheel) at you for even suggesting that her proposed selfishness was a means to the end of helping others.

    As for swapping Biden and Clinton, Stan, I don't think the White House will take you up on that offer, although Biden or Clinton alone blows Romney and Ryan put together out of the water on foreign-policy chops (and issue Team Romney has apparently decided to abandon). Biden and Clinton are each doing their jobs well. And changing the line-up now would only give the appearance of the "panic" Troy thinks we Dems are feeling.

  67. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.08.13

    Julie: barf. Compare your claim to mine. I point to Ryan's own words on Rand. You cite "someone [who] came up to me." You peddle disgusting rumor. I give you your candidate's own words.

  68. Donald Pay 2012.08.13

    Cory, you just don't understand the Ryan-Rand connection won't make much difference with the Christian right. The Ryan-Rand connection is well-known in Wisconsin, and hasn't made much of a difference. Ryan is a cuckoo bird who believes the same fascist claptrap that the Christian right believes. That's all they care about.

  69. Taunia 2012.08.14

    "There are two Catholics (both vice-presidential candidates), one Mormon, and one Black Liberation/Christo-Marxist (Obama)."

    This is one of the most glaring (subliminal?) statements by the GOP of the entire 2012 election cycle. Not the religious branding, but the "We're the white guys running against the black man" - just one candidate's race is pointed out here.

    All in the wording.

  70. Taunia 2012.08.14


    July 31: Romney 51%, President Obama 42%

    Aug 12: Romney 45%, President Obama 44%
    (with 1/2 of polling done after VP announcement)

  71. Justin 2012.08.14

    The National Catholic Reporter is SO left wing:

    Buckley, of course, would not go as far as Ryan. One has a hard time imagining Buckley heaping praise on Ayn Rand as Paul Ryan has done. (Of course, Buckley had actually known her.) Here is Buckley: “Her scorn for charity, for altruism, was such as to build up an unfeeling system.” ("Unfeeling system" seems to be a perfect description of the Romney-Ryan worldview!) Buckley also recalled her saying to him, “You are too intelligent to believe in God.” Here is Ryan, in a 2009 campaign video: “Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism and, to me, this is what matters most.”

  72. larry kurtz 2012.08.14

    NPR: 2012 may be last election where white people have effect on vote.

  73. Steve Sibson 2012.08.14

    "Steve, a Christian cannot add books to the Old and New Testament. Romney does that with the Book of Mormon. Obama does not. Therefore, Romney is more of a Christian than Obama.

    I offered cease fire, Sibby. Quit before you and the GOP get crushed."

    Neither is a Christian. Both are using deception. And yes the GOP is going to get crushed on this one, but not me. I am sticking with Jesus Christ, not some fake substitute.

  74. troy 2012.08.14


    Catholics don't usually like using political terms to describe the different perspectives within Church discussions. It creates confusion that is unhelpful. I enjoy NCR and think they are pretty good. This said, they do give greater emphasis to aspect of Social Teaching that articulates solidarity and common good vs. individual dignity and subsidiarity. I can't remember the last article at NCR that discussed subsidiarity. This is a tension everyday for every one in the flock to discern where to put emphasis. And, we are well served by the diversity of perspective and emphasis.

    Regarding Rand and Buckley, Buckley's perspective had many similarities to Rand with regard to the sanctity of the individual. At the same time, like Ryan, her main underpinning (atheism and a lack of concern for the common good) is anathema to Ryan and Buckley.

    Someplace here at Madville, I said Randism taken to its logical conclusion is hatred of others. Marxism taken to its logical conclusion is self-hatred. Taking any ideology to its logical conclusion always exposes its weakness. The problem with ideology is it has the appearance of being fully rational and intellectual yet denies the emotional/bias prejudice within the individual advocating/describing the ideology. Rand has excessive self-love (this maybe is more accurate than hatred of others as Randism is basically just an apathetic disregard to others). Marxism has excessive self-hatred.

    Much of the rhetoric from Obama the past week sounds very Marxist. The "you didn't build that" comment had strong ties to the concept all fruits are the result of common effort. Thus, all fruits are owned by the collective and nothing to the individual.

    But I don't think Obama is a Marxist. But he does place greater emphasis on what he believes is the common good and is willing to use the power of the collective to enforce his vision of the common good, which by definition is less emphasis on the individual and his perspective on the common good. Ryan/Buckley do place greater perspective on the rights of the individual and the value of the individual's view on the common good.

    This is a different world view. Let's debate that different world view. But, if you believe casting Ryan as a Randian is appropriate, do not complain when Obama is called a Marxist. The standard is exactly the same and logic demands a consistent application.

    Regarding your statement of "unfeeling system," I don't know what you mean for sure.

    If you are implying they don't care, I disagree. To criticize a difference of opinion with the charge they don't care presumes you can peer into their hearts. Don't think you got that skill. More important, I've been around politicians most of my life. Whether they be Republlican or Democrat, the extreme vast majority do care about forming good policy and do care. Even among people who disagree with Ryan (as it was/is with Biden), nearly everyone respects his commitment to public service and the public.

    But, if you are implying their solutions are rational without wearing emotion on their sleeve, I wouild accept that commentary. It doesn't imply they don't care and implies a willingness to make a tough decision. I would hope your ideas have the same degree of being rational and devoid of emotion. Problems deserve our best mind exploring solutions. If the solution requires tough decisions, allowing emotional constraints to delay or water down the decision only victimizes those we should be helping because of our own emotional baggage.

    The Ryan selection clarified this election with regard to what is best for our nation- Greater emphasis of individual rights and responsibility or greater emphasis of collective rights and collective responsibility. I'm ok and relish that debate. But, if it is going to degrade into ad hominem attacks (which is exactly what the Rand-Ryan linkage is doing), we will solve nothing.

    Personally, I like Ryan's last quote. Rand does explain the morality of capitalism and individualism quite well (I can't believe anyone would say her explanation isn't highly clear and cogent but I understand people disagreeing with capitalism and individualism). I too think we need greater emphasis on the dignity of the individual. And, while I reject much of Randism, to reject everything she says because she says it is an adhominem attack.

  75. Bill Fleming 2012.08.14

    Notice what is happening. The GOP now has Obama running against Ryan instead of Romney. Interesting.

  76. larry kurtz 2012.08.14

    there you have it: Schoenbeck wing rakes in the dough by looking more sane than the other wing of the earth hater party.

  77. Anne 2012.08.14

    There is some pompous and pretentious discussion going on here that is filled with false premises and absolutely erroneous statements. It illustrates the schizophrenic state of our politics.

  78. PNR 2012.08.14

    We weren't discussing philosophy. We were discussing the extent to which Ryan holds to it - and given Ryan's actions and statements, I believe it is fairly limited. Madville thinks Ryan is in wholesale and completely, disallowing Ryan's mitigating statements and subsequent actions. Strip things out of context and one can "prove" almost anything. Whether a birther or a "Obama is a Muslim" right-winger, or a "Ryan is an unfeeling Randian nut job" left-winger, you're doing the same thing. The logical fallacy is "begging the question" - you assume what is to be proven, cite only those things that fit this assumption, then claim you've made your case.

    But if you want to discuss Rand's philosophy rather than Ryan's adherence to some portion of it, then we could do that. I don't know that it would be much of a discussion since my own opinion of Rand is rather low. It's rather like THE JUNGLE - about 10 pages in that book, and about the same in ATLAS SHRUGGED have anything worthwhile to say.

    As for refering to Obama's religious beliefs as "Black Liberation/Christo-Marxist", I would simply point out that the adherents to that theological perspective, such as Rev. Wright, refer to it as "Black Liberation Theology" themselves and for cogent reasons. Liberation Theology is a fusion of Marx and Christian theology that has its roots in Latin America.

  79. Julie Gross (NE) 2012.08.14

    --You peddle disgusting rumor.

    If Harry Reid can, why not me?

  80. larry kurtz 2012.08.14

    From where in the South did you flee, Rev. PNR?

  81. Justin 2012.08.14

    I'm not implying anything, the word "unfeeling" belongs to the NCR.

  82. troy 2012.08.14


    But you did appropriate the word and attributed it to their world view. Just trying to understand what you meant. Which of my characterizations is accurate? Or is there another one?

  83. Justin 2012.08.14

    I certainly did not, I just quoted them. Open the link and read it yourself. Maybe you should ask the author. The only words that are mine are "the ncr is so left wing"

  84. troy 2012.08.14

    My mistake. I thought the phrase in parenthesis were yours:

    (“Unfeeling system” seems to be a perfect description of the Romney-Ryan worldview!)

    Glad though you urged me to open the source document. Should have and apologize for not.

    The author of this blog piece is a political progressive by his own description with views outside even the mainstream of Catholics who emphasize Catholic Social Teaching.

  85. Justin 2012.08.14

    Apparently the bishops are as well, because they have expressed an almost identical point of view,

  86. Steve Sibson 2012.08.14


    Very interesting link regarding the Georgetown Priest's adverse reaction to the Ryan budget. Very much the same reaction coming from the far-left Marxist Democrats. Perhaps this will help explain the Jesuit marriage to the far-left Marxist policies that include Obama's religious foundation in liberation theology:

  87. Justin 2012.08.14

    Very interesting indeed. Listen to all the power the Jesuits have, according to the author they control:

    The United Nations, NATO, European Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, various central banks, big corporations, secret services, numerous societies and cults, such as Freemasonry ("The Brotherhood") and Opus Dei.

    What ever happened to the Jewish conspirators that used to control everything according to the crackpots? I guess this is a big victory for Catholics.

  88. Dougal 2012.08.15

    I’ve been a campaign strategist for 25 years and if I were a Republican, I would run, not walk, to the Romney HQ to scream at them that they’ve got a freak show out there with Paul Ryan. Nobody should have ignored the fact that Ryan’s plan to eliminate Medicare would sell with the GOP’s most important voting bloc. Nobody should have ignored the crazy pro-Ayn Rand quotes from Ryan. This combination of Ryan and Romney is a disaster. As a Democrat, I even feel devastated by such a clumsy and completely tone-deaf decision. This campaign is over.

  89. grudznick 2012.08.15

    Mr. Dougal. I am very impressed with your 25 years of being a campaign strategist. That's probably right on line with young Mr. PP's time of doing the same. It appears to me that your election results are the same.

    ***grudznick is a nationally syndicated columnist and a campaign strategist with over 2 hours of in depth experience. You can see his statewide broadcasts on the you tubes and other places where thousands of people watch. Send your money to Mr. H, who will give grudznick his cut***

  90. Justin 2012.08.15

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who calls my dong "Mr. PP"

    OK, bad joke. But I really wanted to say it and now I did!

  91. Julie Gross (NE) 2012.08.15

    --Steve, a Christian cannot add books to the Old and New Testament

    Well sure they can, and have. Christians can add and subtract all they want.

    Gee, that's why we have a Catholic bible and protestant bibles. Just like Muslims add to their Quran and Hadeeth.

    I'm rather surprised by your ignorance of religion.

  92. larry kurtz 2012.08.15

    christianity is an endangered cult.

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