<< ARI Watch

Shysters

Shyster  :  One who does business trickily; a person without professional honor.
    — Century Dictionary

Before we get to the shysters at the Ayn Rand Institute first consider a creepy organization called the Transition Integrity Project.  From their working paper titled  “Preventing a Disrupted Presidential Election and Transition”: [1]


“... the administration of President Donald Trump has steadily undermined core norms of democracy and the rule of law and embraced numerous corrupt and authoritarian practices.”

Composed of government, military, and media people – mostly Obama Democrats and leftover Neocons – The Integrity Project wants to ensure a smooth transition after the 2020 race. As the paper’s title suggests, they expect Biden to supersede Trump as president of the United States. Founded by Rosa Brooks and Nils Gilman – the first a Soros (Open Society Institute) leftist, the second a Never-Trump Republican, TIP claims to be concerned that:

“the Trump administration may seek to manipulate, ignore, undermine or disrupt the 2020 presidential election and transition process.”

They accuse Trump, in advance, of defending himself from what they themselves provide plans for Biden to do. In the guise of objective analysis they show how Biden can steal the 2020 presidential election. The mainstream media goes along by publishing articles preparing the public for a contested election. [2]

This is the sort of people we are up against. The best defense is for Trump to win by a landslide that overwhelms vote fraud and that cannot be spun into a loss by lying propaganda.

However the folks at the Ayn Rand Institute take a rather different position.

Shyster #1:  Yaron Brook

Yaron Brook is chairman of the board of the Ayn Rand Institute. On his podcast of 7 September 2020  he spoke once again about Trump versus Biden.  Reading a question from the chat (he substitutes “I” for “you”): [3]


“Why do I want Biden to win?  How does Trump destroy America but Biden stops those nihilist forces?”

Mr. Brook begins his reply by criticizing Trump’s first term.


“[Trump] has done more to move us towards authoritarianism ... than any president, and another term of his will move us dramatically even closer ...”

During his first term, even more towards authoritarianism than Obama, FDR, or Lincoln?  Quite an accomplishment for someone fighting the Deep State and his own party.  Mr. Brook continues:

“[Trump] does not respect Congress, he does not respect the American system of government ... He has no respect for the institution of free speech, he has no respect for the institution of a free press, he has no respect for the American system of government and rule of law. And he has no respect on the issues that ... are the most crucial: Separation of Powers and Free Speech.”

The mainstream media’s outrageous treatment of Trump is well-known. It’s worse even than their treatment of Richard Nixon during his own first term half a century ago (when the mainstream media was pretty much the only media). Nixon, like Trump, fought back. In Nixon’s case instead of Twitter (there was no Twitter) he used his vice president, Spiro Agnew.  In a speech of 13 November 1969 Agnew chastised the television networks (back then there were only three: ABC, CBS, NBC) for their slanted coverage, and in a speech of 20 November 1969 a few days later he lit into the newspapers, specifically the New York Times and the Washington Post. [4]  The press and newscasters went wild, accusing Agnew of intimidating reporters and undermining freedom of the press.

Rand spoke of the conflict in the Q&A after her Ford Hall Forum talk in 1970. Her remarks are transcribed here from a recording. Someone in the audience asks a question and the moderator speaks:  “Could this gentleman have your opinion of the Nixon administration in general and Spiro Agnew in particular?”  Here is Rand’s complete reply ( a “liberal” back then would be better known as a “leftist” today): [5]


“I did not expect too much from Mr. Nixon but I was disappointed. [Audience laughter then applause.] Now, I could criticize Spiro Agnew but with big reservations because he is the victim of the most vicious smear campaign that I have ever witnessed. [Audience applause.] My criticism of him would be the exact opposite of the liberal criticism. And I was in the same predicament in the case of Joe McCarthy, who is still being smeared. You know, McCarthyism. I didn’t believe that McCarthy was philosophical enough to undertake the kind of battle he did, and I say the same thing about Spiro Agnew. What he is doing is fine up to a certain point on the journalistic level. Somebody has to speak out, and the liberals and the press are doing their best to prove him right by the kind of tactics they are using against him, only he has no philosophical base and therefore he is tragically sticking his neck out. I don’t believe he will accomplish much. For the moment, however, it’s wonderful to hear somebody saying something that is not mealy-mouthed, apologetic, and middle-of-the-road. [Extended applause.]”

She did not say  “Nixon has no respect for freedom of the press”  and next election throw her support to the Democrat.

As for Mr. Brook’s contention about Trump and Separation of Powers, he is challenged to tell us how Trump has been worse than any other president since FDR.

Mr. Brook goes on to say that Trump has  “completely corrupted the Republican Party” – what an amazingly powerful man – “and moved it away from even its weak ... defense of capitalism to becoming a completely statist ... political party.”  Here he gives an example: the moratorium (or postponement) of rents. He neglects to mention that it applies only to property owners having government-insured loans. Insofar as this is statist (it is marginally statist at worst), still it is nothing compared to what Nixon did before his first term was up (wage-price controls). And yet come the next election (1972) Rand supported Nixon against the leftist Democrat.

That last should be emphasized.  Rand urged people to vote for Nixon even though in his first term he had mandated a freeze on all wages, salaries, and prices. It makes any statist thing Trump has done look trivial. She supported Nixon despite his flaws because his opponent was a flaming statist far worse than he was. There was none of this  “vote Democrat so the Republicans can reform themselves”  that Mr. Brook is handing us.

Mr. Brook speaks of a corrupt Republican Party.  Yet – quoting Mike Whitney, a better Democrat with a harsh view of Trump – which of the following is a greater threat to America? [6]


“An incompetent and boastful president ... who is rash and impulsive in his dealings with the media, foreign leaders and his critics?”

“Or a political party that collaborates with senior-level officials in the Intel agencies, the FBI, the DOJ, the media, and former members of the White House to spy on the new administration with the intention of gathering damaging information that can be used to overthrow the elected government?”

Has Mr. Brook, or anyone at ARI, ever addressed the Russiagate attempted coup? Not in print and it seems like not in their endless podcasts, yet this is one of the biggest frauds in U.S. history.  In the webinar reviewed in the section “More Shysters” below he says we shouldn’t speak of a Deep State, “The whole language of the Deep State is dangerous and destructive.”  Move along, nothing to see here.

Trump is far from “completely statist” – another of Mr. Brook’s absurd exaggerations. Biden is much further in the direction of statism than Trump is or ever will be, a comparison Mr. Brook apparently doesn’t want you to make.

The man just doesn’t do comparisons. Mr. Brook continues trashing Trump in absolute terms, never comparing Trump’s position on an issue with Biden’s, which is invariably worse:


“[Trump] has moved the Republican Party away from capitalism, away from any ability – any ability – to be an opposition party to the left, which it used to be.”

The left certainly thinks Trump opposes them. They’ve been screaming for his head since day one – at times too literally for comfort. Trump has been a lightning rod revealing the virulence of the left – and the perverse hybrid we call Obleftivism – for all to see.

Then Mr. Brook tells us that Trump has  “moved the Republican Party dramatically away from any kind of free market.”  Any kind?  Again an over-the-top pronouncement. We should engage in free trade with free countries. Who would have any problem with regulating trade with the likes of China?

Mr. Brook’s objectivity can be judged from something he said the very day Trump won the 2016 election, before he had done anything as president:  “Trump is a villain, the villain of our time.” [7]  Habitual exaggeration shows contempt for objectivity.  Mr. Brook is not basing his claims on Trump’s actual actions.

After a few more spasms of Trump Derangement Syndrome Mr. Brook finally gets to the chat question,  “Why do you want Biden to win?”  He replies with a straight face (indeed he looks rather miserable):


“I do not support Biden. I hope Biden loses; I just hope Trump loses more.”

It’s like something out of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.  On second thought, out of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, paraphrased for the occasion:

“May both candidates lose, but one candidate lose more than the other.”

Mr. Brook sounds like a man trying to promote Biden without appearing to do so. He says one thing, then its opposite, and leaves you to untangle the meaning.  If Biden wins, after America’s ensuing nosedive Mr. Brook can say:  “Don’t look at me, I didn’t support Biden, I wanted him to lose!”

Mr. Brook is proud of his mealy-mouthed,  have-your-cake-and-eat-it,  “lose more” formulation.  When someone quoted it on Facebook (9 September 2020) prefaced with “I couldn’t have said it better,” Mr. Brook “liked” the comment, making it appear on his own Facebook page.

Mr. Brook goes on to say that he doesn’t believe Biden would improve America – as if an Objectivist would believe that; he doesn’t realize the absurd level of understatement – but he does believe America would have an opportunity to ultimately improve (by his standards, we say) if Trump loses.  “Which,” he says, “are two different things.”  Understand that this is subtle stuff, intended only for refined intellects.  Here is the full transcript of Mr. Brook’s rationalistic logic-chopping:


“It’s not like I think the Left can cure this country. I don’t think Biden can move this country in a positive direction. I don’t think this country is gonna be better because of Biden. What I hope is that this country is better because Trump loses, which are two different things. Biden will continue to move the country in a negative direction. Maybe, in some respects, even faster than Trump.”
A price Mr. Brook is willing to make you pay.  He continues:
“Trump losing will provide the Republican Party an opportunity to recover and become ... [an] opposition party. ... The country is doomed unless there is an opposition to statism.  Not to leftism, to statism.”

The idea being that statism can come from either the left or the right. Mr. Brook is pulling a switcheroo and equivocating on the word “right,” from the better sort of conservatives opposed to the Hillary, Obama, Biden, Ocasio-Cortez crowd to Mussolini.

“... it doesn’t matter whether statism comes from left or right, we will be doomed. I think it will come from the right ... Leonard Peikoff has written a masterpiece explaining why it will come from the right, called  The DIM Hypothesis.”

In fact Peikoff claims that evangelicals will turn America into a Christian theocracy (“not in 50 years, but, frighteningly, much sooner”). [8]  And even as he supports Mr. Brook he not too consistently recently donated to Trump’s campaign fund. [9]

After more in the same vein, including trashing Tucker Carlson, Mr. Brook concludes:


“I think the far left will never be a dominant force in American politics. That’s my view. America will never become socialist. Not in the egalitarian sense.”

Whatever that means. Some other sense, but he doesn’t elaborate.  The far left as in Ocasio-Cortez?  Anyway, it’s nothing to worry about according to Mr. Brook.

He says that somehow Biden winning the presidency (not to mention Kamala Devi Harris waiting in the wings) might, ultimately, help the Republican Party become less statist even though the government would become more statist first. Seeing Biden win will encourage Republicans to abandon statism, or something. But, we say, more likely the Republicans would become more leftist, to compete in blue and purple states.

Yaron Brook doesn’t realize – or doesn’t want you to realize – that  a Biden presidency is very likely a trapdoor.  Think amnesty and citizenship for 20 million illegal aliens 80% of whom will vote Democrat.  Think open borders.  Think expanding (“packing”) the Supreme Court to a leftist majority.  Making D.C. a state and creating two more leftist senators.  Ending the Senate filibuster while majority Democrat.  Critical Race Theory drilled into every federal functionary.  Censorship in the name of “fighting racism.”  Crackdown on dissident political assembly.

Trump’s first term threw a monkey wrench in the works.  The “powers that be” don’t want it to happen again.

Shyster #2:  Peter Schwartz

Obleftivists rarely commit their thoughts to print, preferring to hold forth on podcasts, which makes their foolishness less evident. Here we review an exception, an article that Peter Schwartz, distinguished fellow of the Ayn Rand Institute and former board chairman, posted on his Facebook page, visible only to “friends”:  “The Presidential Election” (12 September 2020). [10]

Mr. Schwartz begins:


“The Democratic Party is moving America radically leftward.”

He points out that the movement is no longer gradual like it used to be. These days massive political transformations to the left occur frequently. After a few examples he concludes:

“We are past ‘incrementalism’ and lurching closer to full-blown—”

and utters the Objectivist horror-word “collectivism,” without elaborating. Whatever it means, clearly it is bad. [11]

Then a new paragraph.  The naive reader might expect Mr. Schwartz to say that this development is good reason to vote for Trump against Biden.  Poor innocent!  We know Obleftivists better than that.  The paragraph consists of one  intended-to-be shocking  sentence:


“Which is all the more reason to vote against Donald Trump in the coming election.”

Mr. Schwartz proceeds to argue his case.  It’s going to take some doing so pay attention!  Nuthin’ up his sleeve as he pulls a rabbit out of his hat.

The Democratic Party, he says, is a party of bad ideas. The Republican Party used to be a party of better ideas but since Trump took over and  “stripped it of all vestiges of ideology” – how these Obleftivists can lay on the superlatives – it can no longer oppose anything.

We will let Mr. Schwartz continue his argument but first:  Just the opposite is true. Before Trump the Republican Party was becoming more and more like the Democratic Party. It is Trump who made the Republican Party in many respects different and better. I am thinking particularly of immigration policy, an extraordinarily important and long-range issue, which the mainstream media – and ARI – wouldn’t even be talking about were it not for Trump.

Mr. Schwartz says that though the Republican Party had been going downhill for years it  “still retained some semblance of an ideology”:  it more or less stood for smaller government, free trade, open immigration, less regulation, less involvement in medicine. We would say that except for open immigration and free trade with non-Western countries those are good positions.  Mr. Schwartz continues speaking of the Republican Party:


“What does it stand for now, under Trump? Mindless, xenophobic nationalism. At political rallies, Trump elicits passionate responses from the people he refers to as ‘my followers’, not when he calls for reducing the federal budget or cutting back the welfare state, but when he declares that he will ‘build the wall’. He is cheered when he tells crowds that he will ‘make America great again’ – not by promoting capitalism, but by expanding the power of the state and keeping foreigners and foreign goods out of the country. These are the views that now define the party. Trump has co-opted the Republican Party. And Trump’s influence is such that Republican politicians who fail to embrace him are unable to gain the party’s support.”

Take his points in order:
(1) “Xenophobic” is an epithet used by promoters of unrestricted immigration to get cheap labor or to demographically swamp whites, of whom they have a neurotic fear (if whites congregate they will rise up and smite them or something). As these xenophiliacs get what they want your quality of life tanks. Should you protest you’re a dirty xenophobe.
(2) “My followers” is a nothing-burger. Mr. Schwartz is on hair-trigger to find fault. Does he think ARI or Rand or whoever cannot have followers without their being Mussolini wannabes?
(3) “Make America great again” is another nothing-burger. Mr. Schwartz is on hair-trigger to see Nazis behind a harmless campaign slogan.
(4) As for “keeping foreigners and foreign goods out of the country” – if this be mindless, xenophobic nationalism, make the most of it.

No matter what individual, concrete things Trump says or does that are good:


“His disagreements with the Democrats are over random concretes, on which he can switch positions at whim. He is oblivious to ideas and to principles; he is simply a power-seeking authoritarian.”

Even when Trump does something right it is wrong, because he didn’t know why it was right.

Biden is absent from Mr. Schwartz’s essay, literally he is never mentioned, but every reader knows he’s floating in the background. Mr. Schwartz’s argument is becoming clear now. Biden is focused bad whereas Trump is random good and bad. We need to elect Biden to teach the Republicans a lesson. The Republicans, seeing that random good and bad lost them the presidency while focused bad (except their immigration policy, which Mr. Schwartz thinks is good) won it for the Democrats, will turn to focused good. If it’s hard to follow your mind might need to be pickled some more in ARI courses.

“Authoritarian” is ARI’s favorite epithet for Trump, as if he were more authoritarian than any leftist.

Trump has a redneck way of shooting off his mouth. Mr. Schwartz quotes some of his more idiotic extemporaneous remarks. Some are stupid, some are tasteless jokes that go over his head, like the one (mentioned by others at ARI) that Trump made at a campaign rally on 23 January 2016, trying to illustrate his popularity in the face of the media saying he will never win the nomination:  “... I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters ... [Extended laughter from audience.]”  Both Harry Binswanger [12]  and Yaron Brook [7 again]  took this seriously and made self-righteous noises about what a monster Trump must be.

From Mr. Schwartz’s article:  “About China’s dictator Xi Jinping, [13]  Trump said: ‘He’s now president for life. President for life! ... I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.’ ”  Who would take that seriously?

Trump at a campaign rally on October 3rd 2019 as the crowd chants “four more years” (my external quote marks left off, emphasis his):


You want to drive them crazy? Don’t do four more years, say eight more years, you’ll drive them crazy. [Crowd laughs and cheers.] One of these crazy maniacs on a [TV] show was interviewing somebody, radical left, and he [the interviewer] goes “You know he’s going to win don’t you?” Big shot. And the guy goes “No, no, no, we’re gonna fight it, we’re gonna— ” [Interviewer:] “No, no, no, he’s gonna win.” [Leftist:] “And you know he’s never getting out, you know that don’t you. He’s not gonna get out. You know he’s— ” And I thought like, you know, he’s a comedian, I thought he was like kidding and having fun.  He meant it. These people are sick. They meant it. And anyway, but no, if you want to drive them crazy just say eight more years or twelve more years. [Audience laughter.] Sixteen, sixteen would do it good. [Increased laughter.] You’d really drive them into the loony bin. [Cheering.]

Trump knows how to push the MSM’s buttons:  just tell jokes at the expense of their ignorance and paranoia – and Obleftivists are no better than the MSM. [14]

When speaking of Trump Misters Schwartz and Brook examine him critically and over-generalize his faults, yet when it comes to Biden all we get are vague negatives such as “Biden’s an idiot, Biden stands for nothing” – quoting Mr. Brook [9 again]  – insinuating that Biden is harmless.  Mr. Schwartz, as we pointed out, does not mention him at all.  They don’t give Biden anywhere near the same treatment they give Trump.

They spend a lot of time complaining about Trump’s schmoozing flattery of foreign leaders yet don’t give him credit when he criticizes them, for example calling North Korea’s leader a madman. They never mention that Trump has said a lot of good things about the Founders and other non-dictators.  A few of Trump’s extemporaneous remarks are indeed cringe-worthy, but if we can overlook Rand’s occasional gaffes [15]  why hold Trump to a higher standard?

Mr. Schwartz:


“It’s striking that Trump would be so willing to reveal his envy of totalitarian despots. The interesting point is not just that he conveys no moral criticism of their power, but that he does not care that the public might morally disapprove, of the despots and of his praise for them. After all, this is a man obsessed with having others approve of him – yet he can’t even conceive of the idea that moral principles might actually be a concern to some people. Principles are simply alien to his mind.

“Trump is the most anti-ideological, anti-conceptual president in memory.”

The author of this has lost it.  Claiming that Trump aims to be a dictator, or that he envies totalitarian despots, is oblivious to ideas, etc. is ludicrous.  As with Mr. Brook, Mr. Schwarz’s repeated exaggerations tell against his objectivity.

If Trump wants to be a dictator after having reached the age of 70 he must be an extraordinarily late-blooming one.

Mr. Schwartz sums up.  Today, he says, the political battle is between a group with an ideology, the Democrats, and a group without one, the Republicans.  Of these “which will prevail?”


“If the left is to face a challenge to its ideas, the current Republican Party will have to implode and a different party be allowed to emerge. Trump needs to be soundly repudiated. If he loses overwhelmingly in the presidential election, and if a Republican House and Senate are elected, the unmistakable message would be that the ideas of the left cannot be fought via the anti-ideology of Trumpism.”

Mr. Schwartz doesn’t really care if a Republican House and Senate are elected, he wants Biden to win first, foremost, and anyway.  It takes a Ph.D. in Obleftivism to say with a straight face that electing Biden will send any message to the Republican Party other than that Leftism wins.  And whatever message it sends, it would make no difference if the Left gets in power permanently, turning America into California from sea to sea. [16]

-oOo-

Two other shysters (besides that indefatigable chatterbox Yaron Brook) began softening up ARI followers a year before when the party nomination process was just beginning and simultaneously Trump was being impeached. This was in two articles in ARI’s “New Ideal” series published right on ARI’s website. I won’t review them, just provide a few quotes that give their flavor. Both shysters try to shoehorn Trump into one of Rand’s fictional villains, using her novels to promote the Obleftivist agenda.

Shyster #3:  Onkar Ghate

“Why Ayn Rand Would Have Despised a President Trump”
by Onkar Ghate, “senior fellow and chief content officer at the Ayn Rand Institute”
9 October 2019

Despite not being a U.S. citizen Mr. Ghate lectures us on U.S. politics.  He thinks it highly probable that


“were Ayn Rand alive today, almost three years into Trump’s presidency, she would condemn the whole Trump phenomenon. ... she would see Donald Trump as the kind of political figure whose rise she had foreseen and warned us against.”

Thus Mr. Ghate shows his disdain for both Trump and over half of rural and suburban America. I don’t know what Rand would say. Perhaps that Trump is a sense-of-life president who won’t be able to accomplish much because of his intellectual naiveté.

Considering intellectuals these days, thank God Trump isn’t one of them.  Mr. Ghate laments that fact as well as others which aren’t even true.  He says that Trump’s stand-out characteristic is “anti-intellectuality” and that Rand called this “the anti-conceptual mentality.”


“Trump makes no distinction between truth and falsity ...”
...
“Closely connected to this disdain for the truth is a complete amoralism.”

Egad, what a monster!  The article is  over-the-top  like this throughout.  Again, these people are not objective. They do not argue in good faith.

Mr. Ghate refers to  “the vitriol directed by the presidential candidates ... at large segments of the public” and that Trump  “excelled at this.”  It turns out Trump excelled because he  “demonized Hispanics, immigrants, journalists, free traders and elites.”  Apparently not just some but every last one of them!  What a nasty man.

Mr. Ghate compares Trump to the  Atlas Shrugged  character Cuffy Meigs:


“Meigs is a short-range amoralist uninterested in arguments or reasons or facts, who carries a gun in one pocket and a rabbit’s foot in the other. President Trump carries the nuclear codes in one pocket and crackpot conspiracy theories in the other.”

Instead, though Ghate doesn’t come right out and say it, the nuclear codes should go to some responsible person who will annihilate Israel’s enemies.

Shyster #4:  Ben Bayer

“Trump Isn’t Selfish – That’s the Problem”
by Ben Bayer, “fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute”
25 November 2019

Mr. Bayer calls Mr. Ghate’s article “incisive,” opens  The Fountainhead  instead of  Atlas Shrugged,  and compares Trump to Peter Keating.

Trump is no Howard Roark but Peter Keating?  It’s doubtful a Keating could have won the Republican nomination and then become president of the United States, or for that matter have managed the creation of Trump Tower.

-oOo-

More Shysters
Elan Journo, Robert Mayhew, more from Yaron Brook

Elan Journo is a director and senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. Robert Mayhew is on the board of directors of the Ayn Rand Institute as well as the Anthem Foundation.  On 24 September 2020 these two and Yaron Brook conducted an ARI webinar, originally billed as “ARI and elections and today’s political scene.” The video recording has since been renamed “Thinking about the U.S. Presidential Elections.” [17]  Mr. Journo is an Israeli. Mr. Brook became a U.S. citizen but retained his Israeli citizenship. He also moved to Puerto Rico (to avoid taxes) and can’t vote. Fitting men to lecture us about who should be president of our country!

We focus on the parts of the webinar about the 2020 election.

After Mr. Mayhew discusses what Rand said about the 1968 election, he admits,  “I don’t know what she would say about this one.”  Mr. Brook interrupts,  “I think I know.”  He doesn’t say what he thinks he knows – doubtless that she would prefer Biden to Trump – or how.

Later Mr. Brook expresses his low opinion of the American public. They are ripe for a Hitler, a frequent theme of his since 2016:


“What Trump’s election proved is that they [the American public] will accept that authoritarian mindset, they will accept the control, they will accept the kind of mindlessness and nihilism from the right, even if they won’t accept it from the left. And that’s what scares me about Trump and the whole Trump phenomena, is that people buy into it, people embrace it and accept it.”

The truth is that Trump is temporary and expendable. Hs supporters want immigration restriction, an end to Middle East meddling, manufacturing brought back on shore, etc.  To them Trump represents these policies, even if his delivery leaves much to be desired. Trump jumped in front of the parade, he doesn’t lead it.

It looks like Mr. Mayhew wanted Hillary to win in 2016 as well (note that he abbreviates his obscenity, an improvement over Mr. Brook’s expanded style):


“This was my one hope that night when Trump won, was that the Republicans would wake up and [think] ‘What the F just happened?’ and then regroup.”

Mr. Mayhew then laments that his hope was in vain, the Republicans didn’t change course.  In what follows it’s puzzling, since Biden is no worse than Hillary, that Mr. Mayhew has a problem with Biden in 2020:

“I think there will be a socialist candidate eventually if we don’t get some serious opposition. ... So I’m not comfortable about Biden, I think he’s this placeholder. ...

“This is where I would disagree with some Objectivists who I respect deeply. I don’t think Biden represents a kind of Democrat ... in opposition to Sanders, and that’s why I think it’s a disaster. ... from the perspective of would I be willing to vote for Biden as a lesser of two evils, that’s why I would say no. I don’t think there’s anything positive there. I think not being Trump isn’t enough.”

A moment of sanity from Mr. Mayhew!  But don’t worry, he’ll make up for it later.

Mr. Brook says that after four years of Trump, Republican senators and representatives are “lockstep behind him.”


“The effect that Trump has had on the Republican Party is profound. It’s stunning how within four years it has changed. But more than that, I think Trump has had a profound impact on the intellectuals of the right.”

He explains that by “right” he means “collectivists that are more fascist.” He laments that there is now a  “nationalist conservative movement”  complete with  “think tanks that are dedicated to conservative ways in which they can use the state to impose their moral agenda on the populace.”  There is even

“a major [legal] scholar within the conservative movement, that rejects originalism and textualism, and believes that all judges should interpret the Constitution based on the principle of the common good. He’s of the right, not of the left. And he’s celebrated on the right. I don’t think that would have necessarily happened without Trump.”

Mr. Brook really stuck his foot in it. A few days after spinning this fantasy Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court. She is an originalist, that is, she believes that all statements in the Constitution must be interpreted based on the original understanding of the authors or the people at the time it was ratified. Barrett is Trump’s third Supreme Court appointment. What kind of Supreme Court would we have today if Mr. Brook had had his wish in 2016 and Hillary had been the president making those appointments?

Will Mr. Brook give credit to Trump for nominating an orginalist?  Forget it.  Any good thing Trump does should be discounted, as we shall see.  Mr. Brook continues:


“That dramatic shift within the Republican Party ... shows the depth of the damage that Trump has done to the Republican Party, has done to the cause of freedom, and that is one reason ... I wish Hillary had won ...”

He says that he hates, despises and disagrees with Hillary – Mr. Brook tends to express himself in triplicate – but with her as president the Republican Party would not have been  “devastated ... the way it has been”  under Trump.

Mr. Journo paraphrases a question from the chat:  “... in the short term won’t a Biden presidency give us Obamacare and universal healthcare and ... steps towards the Green New Deal. Meanwhile, though Trump hasn’t done much good, in the short term is it [a second term of Trump] going to be as bad?”  Mr. Brook replies:


“I think a lot of people [who] have been trying to defend voting for Trump, present a Biden victory as kind of the end of the world. ... in the short run there is such a disaster that there is no recovery in the long run. And I just think that’s false.”

He mocks the idea that a Biden presidency is a trapdoor. In a moment he will claim that under our system of government making dramatic changes is so difficult you shouldn’t worry about it. Yet – we point out – anyone who is politically aware knows how quickly change can occur. Even Mr. Brook knows this when it suits his purpose.

“While a lot of bad will be done if Biden gets elected ... I think a lot of bad has been done by Trump and if he wins a second term I think that the bad to the country long term is [would be] dramatic and significant and I’m not sure we can recover from it. On the other hand, if Biden wins I think, yeah, he’ll pass some bad stuff, particularly if he has the Senate. ... But the American system of government is built so that things happen slowly. ... Through legislation it is very difficult to change the country quickly.”

Why doesn’t the same argument apply to Trump?

“Long term it would be terrible if Biden won and then Kamala or AOC, or whoever, won after that and you have a string moving towards socialism. ... The only hope I think we have politically, to buy us time, is if Biden wins, then the Republicans take the House and Senate in two years and then maybe they win the presidency in four and maybe it’s a better Republican than Trump who wins then.”

So hope and maybe, if, maybe, maybe Biden won’t be a disaster for America.  The alternative is Hitler.

Now imagine Mr. Mayhew sitting there, possibly worrying that he went too far with that  “Not being Trump isn’t enough”  remark when obviously it’s quite enough for his boss.  After Mr. Brook winds down he says – perhaps thinking of the chat question’s  “though Trump hasn’t done much good”  which implies that Trump has done a little good:


“I want to reject the idea that Trump has done good things.”

Mr. Journo interrupts and reads from the chat,  “Do you think Trump has done anything of benefit economically, internationally, trade agreements, tariffs?”  Mr. Mayhew replies:

“I don’t think so.  I regard Trump’s actions and uh — if you understand the Objectivist view of the arbitrary, that an arbitrary statement is neither true nor false, it has no basis in reality, I think the same way – and not merely as an analogy – as of Trump’s so-called ‘the things he’s done that are good’. That is, just as an arbitrary statement might be uttered by someone else [that is, not Trump] who has the cognitive right to make certain utterances, it could be true or perhaps false. The good things he [Trump] does, they’re neither good or ba— they’re beyond evaluation because they’re coming from someone who is utterly in my view divorced from reality. His statements are, uh, so the only evaluation I can make is that they’re embarrassing, that they’re bad for us.”

These men know how to sling Objectivist phrases.  Poor Trump, sometimes he doesn’t even have the cognitive right to speak. They’ll call him the Missing Link if they ever think of it.  Mr. Mayhew continues in breathless enthusiasm:

“The [inaudible] same actions, if they had been presented by even someone who is just, eh, president, you could cheer them. I mean moving the Israeli capitol to Jerusalem, pulling us out of the Paris Climate Accord, going to California and saying – I mean if you’re someone who actually read books and had the science behind you – saying that these fires were more the result of forestry [mis]management than they were of climate change. Instead what are they? They’re the actions or utterances of the guy who loves Kim Jong Un ... and a zillion other bizarre, arbitrary statements. It’s embarrassing. When we pulled out of the Paris Accord I thought people are going to take this as a ridiculous joke.”

If pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord was good for America, then it was a good thing that Trump did, period. His alleged feeling toward whomever is irrelevant to that fact. Mr. Mayhew, like the others at ARI, has a serious problem with objectivity.

After contrasting Trump with Reagan:

“Reagan was not, I don’t know, what can I say that’s polite about a president? – a whim-worshiping psychopath.  I’ll make it moderate. [Mr. Brook smiles, Mr. Journo stops looking grim.] That’s how I view it. I think he’s just—”

And interrupts himself yet again and says that someone who knew Trump called him a sociopath and he believes it.  Mr. Brook chimes in, beginning with another utter, profound, complete, everything exaggerated:

“He’s a complete irrationalist. And so anything good he does is associated with irrationalism, and therefore it is completely empty and becomes meaningless.”

Garbage premise in, garbage conclusion out.

“... any other president would [can] immediately reverse them [that is, the good things Trump has done – AW], and they’re all easily reversible ... Serious people can’t take what he says seriously. And so I agree with that [Mr. Mayhew] completely. ... even if you ... do lists ... check how many good things he did, how many bad things he did, the bad is in more significant areas [e.g. immigration policy – AW], it’s more substantial, it’s more significant, the good stuff are relatively small things that are fleeting and that don’t have much substance behind them.”

Such as appointing Supreme Court justices?  After Mr. Journo summarizes and agrees, Mr. Brook continues:

“Everything he does ... is full of contradictions and there is no way for anybody innocent to get anything positive out of it. So, I love the brutal dictator of North Korea and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. ... It’s completely unintelligible. And the idea that the better things, moving the embassy, deregulating, is associated with that, with all the negative things, destroys the goodness in the good actions that he’s done.”

A webinar from Bedlam.  Note how Mayhew and Brook must identify the good things – and admit that they are good – before they can claim that an association (Trump did something entirely different that was bad) destroyed them. These ARI people don’t realize the contradiction. The good things still exist, which they acknowledge and then deny.

Clearly they aren’t motivated by caring about the truth.

Mr. Journo is verbose but doesn’t say much. He monitors the chat and agrees with, elaborates, or summarizes what the other two say. [18]

Another Shyster
Gregory Salmieri

On 10 October 2020 STRIVE hosted a Zoom online event titled “Q&A on the State of the Culture and the US Election with Dr. Gregory Salmieri.”  Mr. Salmieri is an Anthem Foundation Fellow.  From STRIVE’s Facebook blurb for the event:


“STRIVE’s Objectivism Q&As offer participants the opportunity to pose questions to experts in Ayn Rand's philosophy. Our goal is to help you explore Rand's ideas and gain a first-hand understanding of her philosophy and its applications.”

Mr. Salmieri says much the same things as Yaron Brook. I jotted down the following bon mots:

“People are too scared of the Democrats.”

“People are more afraid of the left than they have a right to be.”

The moderator didn’t give me a Zoom “raise your hand” icon so I asked the following on the chat:

Salmieri,
You say people are too scared of the Democrats.  Biden when asked refuses to deny he would pack the Supreme Court.  Was Rand too scared of FDR?

The reference is a double one:  (1) In 1937 Rand wrote a letter to the editor (New York Herald-Tribune) protesting FDR’s plan to pack the Supreme Court.  (2) In 1940 she thought it so important to prevent FDR from getting a third term that she quit work on The Fountainhead to work for his opponent. [19]

The STRIVE moderator quickly kicked me out of the event.

Later an acquaintance told me he asked Mr. Salmieri about crime in Mexico coming to the U.S along with its migrants, pointing out that Mexico has a high rate of sexual assault and a murder rate five times that of the U.S.  Salmieri replied in so many words:  So what if we have a few extra muggings, that's the price we pay for a vibrant society.

-oOo-

Some of what ARI thinks are Trump’s flaws are virtues but not all of them. Trump is a flawed candidate to be sure. He should be evaluated critically then praised for what is good and condemned for what is bad. Obleftivists don’t evaluate, they invent an unjust caricature: “Trump is a villain, the villain of our time,” and condemn him for his virtues and vices alike. [20]




1  “Preventing a Disrupted Presidential Election and Transition”
The Integrity Project,  3 August 2020
assets.documentcloud.org/documents/7013152/Preventing-a-Disrupted-Presidential-Election-and.pdf

They fantasize about Trump sabotaging the election process even though his “sabotage” consists of legitimately defending himself against the tricks they encourage Biden to play.  They vaguely forewarn of wrongdoing by Trump when he would only be defending America from an attempted coup.

Whatever else can be said about Trump he certainly has the right enemies. Besides one of the co-founders, the director of The Integrity Project, Zoe Hudson, is a member of Soros’s Open Society Institute.  See:

“Treason”
by Mike Whitney, 15 September 2020
unz.com/mwhitney/treason

 ‘Bipartisan’ Washington Insiders Reveal Their Plan for Chaos if Trump Wins the Election”
by Whitney Webb, 3 September 2020
unlimitedhangout.com/2020/09/investigative-reports/bipartisan-washington-insiders-reveal-their-plan-for-chaos-if-trump-wins-the-election

“Whitney Webb Interview: 2020 Election Chaos Being Used to Set Stage for the Final Technocratic Push”
The Last American Vagabond  podcast, 4 September 2020
youtube.com/watch?v=1SU7VuX-Ip8

“Meet Norm Eisen: Legal Hatchet Man and Central Operative in the ‘Color Revolution’ Against President Trump”
Revolver, 9 September 2020 (3rd in a series)
revolver.news/2020/09/meet-norm-eisen-legal-hatchet-man-and-central-operative-in-the-color-revolution-against-president-trump

Hillary Clinton on Showtime’s “The Circus,” 24 August 2020:
“Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually, I do believe he will win if we don't give an inch and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is. ...
“I think that [Republicans] have a couple of scenarios that they are looking toward. One is messing up absentee balloting. They believe that helps them so that they then get maybe a narrow advantage in the Electoral College on Election Day. ... So we've got to have a massive legal operation, and I know the Biden campaign is working on that.”

2  A sample of articles, listed in “The War on Populism: the Final Act” by C. J. Hopkins, The Unz Review, 20 September 2020 (quote marks left off titles):
This Election Has Become Dangerous for the U.S. Military — Foreign Policy
Al Gore suggests military will remove Trump from office if he won’t concede on election night — Fox News
Former ambassador warns of election violence — The Guardian
All Enemies, Foreign and Domestic: An Open Letter to Gen. Milley (“If the commander in chief attempts to ignore the election’s results, you will face a choice.”) — Defense One
Is Trump Planning a Coup d’État? — The Nation
Trump could refuse to concede — Washington Post
What happens if Trump loses but refuses to concede? — Financial Times
White Supremacists, Domestic Terrorists Pose Biggest Threat Of “Lethal Violence” This Election, DHS Assessment Finds — Forbes
Trump’s Attacks Put Military In Presidential Campaign Minefield — NPR
Trump’s Election Delay Threat Is a Coup in the Making — Common Dreams
What If Trump Won’t Leave? — The Intercept
How to Plan a Coup — Bill Moyers on Democracy
It can happen here: A Trump election coup? — Wall Street International Magazine
Whose America Is It? — The New York Times

Even from the titles you get the idea. If Trump wins it must be a coup. (Or his opponents view Trump voters as part of a “coup.”)  If he doesn’t voluntarily vacate the White House on demand he must be removed by force – either by the military or black shirts.

The premise is absurd. A genuine White House coup (not redefining “coup” to include voters) would require the cooperation of at least some of the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, DHS, yet all these hate Trump.

And then there is
“The Chaos to Come – A Contested Election”
The Yaron Brook Show, 21 September 2020

Mr. Brook reviews two articles about election night uncertainty and possible chaos, one by John Cochran – “Storm Coming” in his The Grumpy Economist blog, 19 September 2020 – and the other by Peggy Noonan – “Get Ready for an Election Crisis” in WSJ, 17 September 2020.  Both articles are reasonable, they don’t have an agenda like TIP.  Though the articles themselves are fair, Mr. Brook’s review is biased against Trump.

For example, he asks why are people for the first time concerned about chaos in a presidential election? In so many words he says it is because for the past few years people have been demonizing politicians they oppose, believing that a victory by them would mean the end of the world. Giving that as the reason indicates a curious lack of self-awareness on Mr. Brook’s part.

He equates violence by the far left with violence by the far right – meaning Trump supporters I guess. He is delusional. The far left initiates violence and frequently. Trump supporters use violence in self-defense and rarely.  To top off the delusion, Mr. Brook blames Trump for the violence of the far left:
“the way Trump has behaved ... has put us in a position where there is real hatred in the streets of America, where both the far left and the far right are being radicalized and emboldened. Both the far left and the far right view this [election] as an existential threat and are willing to commit violence in order to stop it.”
In fact there  is  an existential threat. Viewed from the right end – right in both senses – a Biden win would be a catastrophe for America. Mr. Brook disagrees. Viewed from the left and wrong end, well, let Mr. Brook tell it:  “Trump is a villain, the villain of our time” and if he wins a second term “we will be doomed.”

By the way, in this podcast Mr. Brook says, not too grammatically:
“I would have preferred [Hillary] Clinton be president over the last four years ...”
and though he admits that’s “a horrible thing to say,” he thinks she would have done less damage than Trump.  Three hard left Supreme Court justices and he objects to being called out on TDS ?

He isn’t worried about mail-in voting:
“... for the most part Trump’s contention that mail-in voting is largely susceptible to fraud seems somewhat arbitrary and not based on reality.”
Belied by an Internet search on:
ballot harvesting ilhan omar
(“ilhan omar” is optional).  Mr. Brook’s purpose, as in all his propaganda about a Biden-Kamala presidency, is to lull you to sleep.

3  “Riots & Looting, CA Wildfires, Covid ...” (ellipsis his)
Yaron Brook Show, 7 September 2020.  Starting at 33:28 :
youtube.com/watch?v=5kFnZ5ZzkEc&t=33m28s

4  Spiro Agnew’s speeches:
“Television News Coverage”
Delivered 13 November 1969 in Des Moines, Iowa
Transcript:  americanrhetoric.com/speeches/spiroagnewtvnewscoverage.htm
Video:         youtube.com/watch?v=_3RQ5rzh5bI
“Montgomery Speech”
Delivered 20 November 1969 in Montgomery, Alabama
Audio: oildale.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/22105009/Spiro-Agnew-address-Nov.-20-1969.mp3

5  “The Anti-Industrial Revolution”
by Ayn Rand, delivered 1 November 1970
at the Ford Hall Forum in Boston, Massachusetts
Starting at 1:46:13 :
player.vimeo.com/video/370702645#t=1h46m13s

6  “Betrayal. Infuriating, Betrayal”
by Mike Whitney, The Unz Review, 23 September 2020
unz.com/mwhitney/betrayal-infuriating-betrayal

7  The American Spirit.

8  The quote is from Mr. Peikoff’s website.  From his book: “Not just a religious totalitarianism, but a religious-fascist totalitarianism – that is my prediction of the American future.”  For a review of  The DIM Hypothesis  see
“An American Theocracy”
Objective Dissent
objectivedissent.org/2017/04/22/an-american-theocracy

9  Biden Must Win or America is Doomed.

About Mr. Peikoff’s small donation to Trump’s 2020 campaign see  footnote 5.

10  This is the third of Peter Schwartz’s anti-Trump articles. The first was “Trump and the Meaning of Egoism” published on the liberal website HuffPost 28 September 2015 (updated a year later). The second was “Has the Right Been Eviscerated by Trump?” published on his blog 27 February 2019.

11  The concept labeled by the word “collectivism” was originally economic. It described the idea that there is no private property, all goods are owned “collectively.”  In the hands of Obleftivists the concept (no longer valid) has become so elastic that now you are a collectivist if you refer to a group for any reason whatsoever.

12  Contra Trump, part 2.

13  Note that with Peter Schwartz China is a dictatorship one moment and a country we should engage in free trade with the next.

14  video.foxnews.com/v/6091903070001

The comic routine became a staple at Trump events. When presented a trophy for something or other at the White House on April 18th 2020, Trump quipped,  “This will find a permanent place, at least for six years, in the Oval Office. I was going to say for at least 10 to 14 years, but we would cause bedlam, so we’ll say six.”  At the Republican National Convention on August 24th, as the crowd chanted “four more years” Trump said,  “If you want to really drive them crazy, you’ll say ‘twelve more years’.”  According to an Objectivist on Facebook, at a campaign rally on September 15th Trump said he hoped for “four more years, and maybe four after that. [Laughter from audience.] It drives them nuts when I make that joke.”

15  See  Ayn Rand on Immigration  with particular reference to her remarks on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, described in the main text, quoted and further analyzed in footnote 6.

16  From “Will California Restore Affirmative Action?” by Ron Unz, The Unz Review, 18 September 2020:
“... over the last couple of decades California has become a one-party Democratic state. Democrats hold a better than three-fourths hyper-majority in the State Assembly and their control is nearly as overwhelming in the State Senate. ... of its [Congressional delegation totalling] 53 members only seven are Republican.
“Not only is every statewide officeholder a Democrat, but no Republican has won such a race in almost 15 years, with many of the recent contests not even featuring a Republican on the November ballot. The once-proud Republican Party of Reagan and Nixon has been reduced to almost total irrelevance.
“This same pattern has held in national elections, with Donald Trump losing the 2016 California vote by a remarkable 30 points and the most recent polling data suggesting a similar outcome this November.”
Which is just what Misters Brook and Schwartz want.

17  Possibly because ARI, being a charitable foundation, is forbidden to promote political candidates. Obviously they don’t take it too seriously. (In the 2000 election they explicitly endorsed Bush. See  Disappeared from ARI.)

18  A word on the manner of these men. All three have difficulty speaking. Yaron Brook bobs about in his chair constantly gesticulating, unable to sit still. Elan Journo frequently talks like a robot, pausing between each word, sometimes each syllable, as if he had scanning speech disorder. At times Mr. Brook does this too; Mr. Journo might be unconsciously imitating him. Robert Mayhew can’t seem to plan a sentence in advance and keeps interrupting himself. Misters Journo and Brook speak stridently by default, gratingly self-righteous. The extrovert-enthusiasm of Journo and Mayhew exhausts the ear. At times Journo stutters trying to say two things at once. The most repellent aspect: Mr. Brook’s muscular and derisive voice. The webinar is a vocal freak show.

Gregory Salmieri, mentioned later in the text, uses big words when common ones would do just as well, for example “cognizant” instead of “aware,” and talks a mile a minute consistent with his shallow stream of conscious rambling. Like Mr. Brook he is afflicted with gesticulationitis, though his case is not so severe.

19  For a quote from Rand’s letter see  Ayn Rand on Creeping Tyranny, which was written during the Iraq War. (Some of my commentary is dated. The Supreme Court is somewhat better today than it was then.)  For her attitude towards FDR see  Presidential Elections – Ayn Rand 1932 to 1980.

20    If you find much of what Trump does hard to take you could borrow a line Rand applied to Nixon in 1972 and be an  “anti-Trumper for Trump.” See  Presidential Elections – Ayn Rand 1932 to 1980  for 1972.  Naturally the validity of the analogy between  the Trump-Hillary 2016 election, or the Trump-Biden 2020 election, and the Nixon-McGovern 1972 election  depends on the candidates (Trump and Hillary or Trump and Biden). The shysters dismiss the analogy saying it applies only to “regular Republicans,” not Trump. They also say that Hillary and Biden are “not as awful” as Trump. (Quoting the ARI webinar of 24 September 2020 discussed in the section “More Shysters.”)  It’s true Trump is not a regular Republican, but the analogy is poor because Trump is much better than Nixon.