Early Morning Open Thread: Are We Living in Atlas Shrugged?

Sen. Ron Johnson, fellow Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, and some other guy

Sen. Ron Johnson, fellow Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, and some other guy

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson’s time in the glow of media attention isn’t quite over yet. He’s still making an ass of himself without realizing it. Via Mother Jones, The Republican Senator who was humiliated by Hillary Clinton during last week’s Benghazi hearings gave an interview on January 16 to The Atlas Society, an organization who raison d’etre is the celebration of the odious Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged.

Johnson is such a huge fan of the novel that he and a friend (Tea Party leader and campaign fundraiser Ben Ganther) bought a giant statue of Atlas holding up the world and today it sits outside his friend’s contracting business in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin. Engraved on the statue’s base are the words “Fight to be free.”

atlas johnson

Johnson told interviewer Laurie Rice that he “absolutely” sees “parallels” between the U.S. today and the plot of Atlas Shrugged.

It’s a real concern. As I talk to business owners that maybe started their businesses in the ’70s and ’80s, they tell me Ron, there’s no way– with today’s regulations, today’s levels of taxation– there’s no way I could start my business today. And I’m certainly concerned a lot of the generation of baby boomers that have had successful businesses, they just might shrug. With all the regulations, with the increasing taxes, they may say I’m going to give it up.

According to Johnson, we’re headed for disaster because of the national debt and because of the New Deal programs that have been in effect since the 1930s with no ill effects, but are suddenly going to bring the country down. Does this man know that Ayn Rand took both Social Security and Medicare?

I see two tipping points– the financial tipping point, which really is, talking about the debt crisis, the point where world creditors look at the United States and say I’m not going to loan you any more money, not at that rate. And interest rates start increasing, and then our interest costs explode, crowds out all their spending. That’s the financial tipping point.

The other one I’m talking about is the cultural tipping point, where we really have developed this culture of entitlement dependency that is not what America’s all about. I mean, America– and that’s, of course, what Atlas Shrugged is about– is individuals aspiring to build things. To make their life, and as a result the world, a better place. And when we shift to a culture where people are just saying I’m happy to sit back and let the government provide me with things, that becomes a very dangerous point in time for this country.

Apparently Johnson knows better than Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who isn’t at all worried about rising interest rates or a sudden lack of interest in Treasury bonds. But Johnson’s biggest fear is…wait for it….


I think Americans are a little bit like a bunch of frogs in that pot of water and the water’s being brought up to a boil. And I think we’re losing freedoms across the board. The reason I ran really was in reaction to the passage of the health care law, which I think is really the greatest assault on our freedom in my lifetime.

During the original oral arguments at the Supreme Court, I was the only Senator that attended all four days of those arguments. And prior to attending those, I was being interviewed by somebody and I had this concept that we’re all suffering collectively from the Stockholm Syndrome. That’s where people who have been kidnapped are grateful to their captors when they just show them a little bit of mercy. And collectively, we just don’t understand the freedoms we’re really losing.

So we’re going to the Supreme Court, begging them please, please allow us this one last shred of freedom. Allow us the freedom to decide what product we’re going to purchase or not purchase. And unfortunately for Americans, for our freedoms, we were denied that right.

But Johnson assures us he’ll never give up fighting for our freedom to live without health insurance.

I guess when you take a look at the book Atlas Shrugged, I think most people always like to identify with the main character– that would be John Galt. I guess I identify with Hank Rearden, the fella that just refused until the very end to give up. And I guess I’d like to think of myself more as a Hank Rearden– I’m not going to give up.

America is something far, far too precious in the span of human history. I’ll never give up hope on America. I hope everybody that’s watching this will never give up hope.

Watch the whole interview if you dare!

Via Dave Wiegel, in 2010 when he first ran for office, Johnson discussed his love for Atlas Shrugged with WaPo columnist George Will.

Before what he calls “the jaw-dropping” events of the past 19 months — TARP, the stimulus, Government Motors, the mistreatment of Chrysler’s creditors, Obamacare, etc. — the idea of running for office never crossed Ron Johnson’s mind. He was, however, dry tinder — he calls Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” his “foundational book” — and now is ablaze, in an understated, Upper Midwestern way. This 55-year-old manufacturer of plastic products from Oshkosh, Wis., is what the Tea Party looks like.

As for the novel that helped form his bizarre world view, Johnson told Will,

What Samuel Johnson said of Milton’s “Paradise Lost” — “None ever wished it longer than it is” — some readers have said of “Atlas Shrugged.” Not Johnson, who thinks it is “too short” at 1,088 pages.

Noting that Massachusetts “is requiring insurance companies to write polices at a loss,” he says, “We’re living it,” referring to the novel’s dystopian world in which society’s producers are weighed down by parasitic non-producers.

He probably takes the Bible literally too. Are there any Republicans left who don’t get all their ideas from fiction and folklore?

I’ll be back later with a midmorning reads post. Have a great morning and a fabulous Tuesday!

20 Comments on “Early Morning Open Thread: Are We Living in Atlas Shrugged?”

  1. I can’t take this shit anymore. What is wrong with these people?

    There is no logic in their thought processes, no way to argue with assholes who are completely disconnected with rational thought.

    My frustration level is high because of my own problems, trying to get through to someone who can help me with an insurance issue…Fighting with insurance companies and dealing an idiot who can’t seem to understand that he needs to tell me when documents I’ve been waiting for finally come in…I feel like I am going insane!

    I feel like a breakdown is just around the corner, and it is all because of a stupid ass and his inability to communicate anything important to me…ugh!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hold on tight, JJ. Don’t let them get you down. Remember you can turn to us–or write it out in a post.

    • Delphyne says:

      JJ – my working life was spent in the insurance industry. If I can help, just let me know. It can be beyond exasperating talking to people who either don’t listen or don’t know.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Fredster over at “The Widdershins” has a post covering dak’s “favorite” Bobby Jindahl.


    “What’s wrong with these people?” is a question that seems to defy an answer. Whatever it is is spreading itself across the nation by a party of intellectual pygmies.

  3. janicen says:

    Isn’t a “government regulation” the same thing as a law? I’ve decided that whenever I’m in a conversation with someone who is repeating the mantra that, “…we need fewer government regulations…” I’m going to substitute the word “law” and ask them if they mean we need fewer laws. How many fewer laws? Should we have no laws at all? Seriously, I am sick of people repeating words and not taking the time to understand what they mean!

    And don’t even get me started on how the wing nuts fall into a trance at the sound of the word “Obamacare”.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Good points Janicen

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Great minds……I was thinking the exact same thing this AM. Regulation = law, so shall we drop speed limits, allow banks to be robbed, and so on.

    • ‘Isn’t a “government regulation” the same thing as a law?’

      No. “Government regulations” are a subset of laws where the government initiates force against people. Another kind of laws, which are not “regulations,” are those that protect people from having force initiated against them. Laws such as those against theft, rape, and murder aren’t generally called “regulations.”

      I am against the subset of laws called “regulations,” but not against the other laws that allow the government to retaliate against those who violate the rights of others. The only way to violate the actual rights of others is to initiate physical force against them. So proper laws are those that ban initiations of physical force.

      • janicen says:

        I get it. So regulations are the things that restrict me and those are bad, but laws are things that restrict other people and those are good. Thank you for making my point.

      • bostonboomer says:

        LOL, Janicen!

      • No, thank you janicen. Thank you for showing me so quickly that both you and the author of this article are intellectually dishonest libtards who will willfully misunderstand anything I say. Now I can see that I’m wasting my time trying to discuss “real issues” here. I’ll leave you to your little hateful, irrational club.

        Goodbye and good riddance.

        • dakinikat says:

          “libtards” The height of mature argument is the retreat to name calling. Sorry, we don’t take bad fiction seriously here; let alone form a little adolescent cult around it. I didn’t get a PHD in financial economics to spend time calling bad fiction any kind of “real issue”. Come back when you grow up.

  4. ANonOMouse says:

    Great post this morning BB…..Ron Johnson is a disgusting douche. He and his wingnut pals like Jindal and Ryan live in a parallel universe because they still don’t understand the message of election 2012. American’s have totally rejected the Ayn Rand model and overwhelmingly embrace the FDR model. They can stick their Atlas statue where the sun don’t shine.

    No matter how much they rephrase their batshittery American’s know they’re still trying to sell us a pig and their pig is lipstick resistant. We’re not going back to Herbert Hoover.