Atlas Mugged: Making The World Safe For Sociopaths

 Posted by at 10:28 AM on April 25, 2011
Apr 252011

The Museum Of Retrograde IdeologiesWhat do Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan, the Teabaggers, and Lucifer have in common?
(If you want to feel the backward, you must click it.)

In Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel and current movie, Atlas Shrugged, the ideological template for those wishing to usher in a new Gilded Age run by billionaire plutocrats like the Koch Brothers, Atlas is meant to symbolize the Titans of industry who hold up the world by their individual, heroic efforts. The rest of us are mere leeches sucking the mighty Titans’ blood dry with taxes to construct an elaborate welfare state where lazy souls and Welfare Queens live in idle carefree comfort. Should the PTB decide that enough is enough, however– if Atlas should shrug– then the world will come tumbling down.

Take that, socialist biatches.

Before exploring Rand’s influence on today’s Libertarians, Teabaggers, and establishment Rethugs like Paul Ryan and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, it would behoove us to review some of the initial criticisms of her book. In Ayn Rand’s first television interview, conducted in 1959 by 60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace, Wallace asks:

Q.  . . . Other reviews have said that, “You scorn churches, and the concept of God.” Are these accurate criticisms?

A.  . . . I’m challenging the moral code of altruism. The precept that man’s moral duty is to live for others. That man must sacrifice himself to others. Which is the present day morality . . .

Q.  . . . You say that you do not like the altruism by which we live. You like a certain kind of Ayn Randist selfishness.

A.  I will say that, “I don’t like” is to weak a word. I consider it evil. And self-sacrifice is the precept that man needs to serve others, in order to justify his existence. That his moral duty is to serve others. That is what most people believe today.

Q. . . . We’re taught to feel concern for our fellow man. To feel responsible for his welfare. To feel that we are as religious people might put it, children under God, and responsible one for the other. Now why do you rebel?… What’s wrong with loving your fellow man?  Christ, every important moral leader in man’s history has taught us that we should love one another.  Why then is this kind of love, in your mind, immoral?

A. It is immoral if it is a love placed above oneself.  It is more than immoral, it’s impossible . . .

So much for Christ’s proclamation that  “Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends.” And “He who would be greatest among you let him be server of all.”

For further contrasts between the teachings of Christ and those of Rand and Christ, see Friday’s post by Isaiah J. Poole titled: Atlas Shrugged. Jesus Didn’t, in which he underscores the inherent tension between the GOPers two largest voting constituencies— fundamentalist Christians, and Randian Teabaggers who are, at their core, anti-Christian:

Rand is very clear: walking in the path of Christ and walking in the path of “Atlas Shrugged” hero John Galt will take you to two very different places. Which ought to give pause to political leaders who claim to embrace the values of Christ but adopt the politics of Rand.

Rand is certainly entitled to her atheistic beliefs and to reject the teachings of religious teachers throughout the ages. But I have to wonder what her Objectivist, rational mind would make of findings by today’s evolutionary psychologists of reciprocal altruism:

“. . . behaviour whereby an organism acts in a manner that temporarily reduces its fitness while increasing another organism’s fitness, with the expectation that the other organism will act in a similar manner at a later time.”

Behavior that geometrically improves the survival of a larger group as it cascades through its socially networked system.  Additionally, Matt Osborne over at Crooks and Liars informs us that:

. . . [S]tudies have found that charitable giving is more closely related to class, with have-nots giving at a higher rate than have-mores.  Man being a social animal, it seems that we tend to share more in common when we all have less — a survival trait of our species that Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism rejects.

Wallace again:

Q. How does your philosophy translate itself into the world of politics?  Now one of the principle achievements of this country in the past 20 years, particularly I think, most people agree, is the gradual growth of social and protective legislation, based on the principle that we are our brothers keepers. How do you feel about the political trends of the United States?

A. The way everybody feels except more consciously. I feel that it is terrible, that you see destruction all around you, and that you are moving toward disaster, until, and unless, all those welfare state conceptions have been reversed and rejected.  It is precisely these trends which are bringing the world to disaster, because we are now moving towards complete collectivism or socialism.  A system under which everybody is enslaved to everybody, and we are moving that way only because of our altruist morality.

Can’t you just smell the arrogance?  Rand feels what everybody else feels, except more consciously.  She considers the ability to expand one’s individual identity to include the whole a bug, not a feature.

Moving on.  In a 1961 review of Atlas Shrugged by Gore Vidal published in Esquire Magazine, Gore cuts to the core of her moral philosophy and anticipates the Teabaggers’ fascination for her:

This odd little woman is attempting to give a moral sanction to greed and self interest . . . to pull it off she must at times indulge in purest Orwellian newspeak . . . . She has a great attraction for simple people who are puzzled by organized society, who object to paying taxes, who dislike the “welfare” state, who feel guilt at the thought of the suffering of others but who would like to harden their hearts . . . .

[Rand] has declared war not only on Marx but on Christ….I doubt if even the most anti-Christian free-thinker would want to deny the ethical value of Christ in the Gospels For to justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral, but evil . . . .

[S]ince we must live together, dependent upon one another for many things and services, altruism is necessary to survival.  To get people to do needed things is the perennial hard task of government, not to mention of religion and philosophy . . .  We often fail.  That predatory demon “I” is difficult to contain but until now we have all agreed that to help others is a right action . . . .

Both Marx and Christ agree that in this life a right action is consideration for the welfare of others….Miss Rand now tells us that what we have thought was right is really wrong. The lesson should have read: One for one and none for all.

Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous…as we enter a curious new phase in our society.

Curious, and I would add, dangerous. Lest there be any doubt, Rand also authored an essay titled: The Virtue of Selfishness: A Concept of New Egoism (1964), where she expounds on the illusionary benefits of a Me versus a We society.

Though Rand’s fictional characters are written as ethical, standup individuals, a closer examination shows an extreme individualism that is in fact, pathological.  Fast forward to the present and Mark Ames article at Think Progress where he describes her as:

. . . a textbook sociopath.  In her notebooks Ayn Rand worshiped a notorious serial murderer-dismemberer, and used this killer as an early model for the type of “ideal man” she promoted in her more famous books.  These ideas were later picked up on and put into play by major right-wing figures of the past half decade, including the key architects of America’s most recent economic catastrophe — former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan and SEC Commissioner Chris Cox — along with other notable right-wing Republicans, such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh, and former South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford.

The loudest of all the Republicans, right-wing attack-dog pundits and the Teabagger mobs, fighting to kill health care reform and eviscerate “entitlement programs,” increasingly hold up Ayn Rand as their guru.  Sales of her books have soared in the past couple of years;  one poll ranked Atlas Shrugged as the second most influential book of the 20th century, after the Bible.   The best way to get to the bottom of Ayn Rand’s beliefs is to take a look at how she developed the superhero of her novel, Atlas Shrugged, John Galt.

Back in the late 1920s, as Ayn Rand was working out her philosophy, she became enthralled by a real-life American serial killer, William Edward Hickman, whose gruesome, sadistic dismemberment of 12-year-old girl named Marion Parker in 1927 shocked the nation. Rand filled her early notebooks with worshipful praise of Hickman. According to biographer Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market, Rand was so smitten with Hickman that she modeled her first literary creation — Danny Renahan, the protagonist of her unfinished first novel, The Little Street — on him.

What did Rand admire so much about Hickman? His sociopathic qualities: “Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should,” she wrote, gushing that Hickman had “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.” This echoes almost word for word Rand’s later description of her character, Howard Roark, the hero of her novel The Fountainhead“He was born without the ability to consider others.” (The Fountainhead is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas‘ favorite book — he even requires his clerks to read it.)

I’ll get to where Rand picked up her silly superman blather later — but first, let’s meet William Hickman, the “genuinely beautiful soul” and inspiration to Ayn Rand.  What you will read below — the real story, details included, of what made Hickman a “superman” in Ayn Rand’s eyes — is extremely gory and upsetting, even if you’re well acquainted with true crime stories — so prepare yourself.  But it’s necessary to read this to understand Rand, and to repeat this over and over until all of America understands what made her tick, because Rand’s influence over the very people leading the fight to kill social programs, and her ideological influence on so many powerful bankers, regulators, and businessmen who brought the financial markets crashing down, means her ideas are affecting all of our lives in the worst way imaginable . . .

I’ll spare you the details.  Trust me, it couldn’t be more gruesome and sick.  Ames continues:

This is the “amazing picture” Ayn Rand — guru to the Republican/Tea Party right-wing — admired when she wrote in her notebook that Hickman represented “the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own.  A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul.  Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should.”  The fear that some felt at the time was that these philosophers’ dangerous, yet nuanced ideas would fall into the hands of lesser minds, who would bastardize Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and poison the rest of us.  This aptly describes Ayn Rand, whose philosophy developed out of her admiration for “Supermen” like Hickman.  Rand’s philosophy can be summed up by the title of one of her best-known books:  The Virtue of Selfishness. She argues that all selfishness is a moral good, and all altruism is a moral evil, even “moral cannibalism,” to use her words.  To her, those who aren’t like-minded sociopaths are “parasites,” “lice,” and “looters.”  But with Rand, there’s something more pathological at work.  She’s out to make the world more sociopath-friendly, so that people [like] her hero William Hickman can reach their full potential, [and are] not held back by the morality of the “weak,” whom Rand despised . . .”

Sure, Rand in her journals rationalizes her admiration of Hickman by disavowing his actions— it’s his character she admires, not the particular pathological consequences derived therefrom.

” ‘[My hero is] very far from him, of course. The outside of Hickman, but not the inside.  Much deeper and much more.   A Hickman with a purpose.  And without the degeneracy.  It is more exact to say that the model is not Hickman, but what Hickman suggested to me.’ “

That’s like saying: Forget the degenerate actions of Peter Pederast.  It’s his deep love of children that should inspire us all.

Ames concludes:

Republican faithful like GOP Congressman Paul Ryan read Ayn Rand and declare, with pride, “Rand makes the best case for the morality of democratic capitalism.”  Indeed.  Except that Rand also despised democracy, writing that, “Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights:  the majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions.  In principle, the democratic government is all-powerful.  Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation;  it is not a form of freedom.”  “Collectivism” is another one of those Randian epithets popular among her followers.  Here is another Republican member of Congress, Michelle Bachman, parroting the Ayn Rand ideological line, to explain her reasoning for wanting to kill social programs:

“As much as the collectivist says to each according to his ability to each according to his need, that’s not how mankind is wired.  They want to make the best possible deal for themselves.”

Too many critics of Ayn Rand — until recently I was one of them — would rather dismiss her books and ideas as laughable, childish, and hackneyed.  But she can’t be dismissed because Rand is the name that keeps bubbling up from the Tea Party crowd and the elite conservative circuit in Washington as the Big Inspiration.  The only way to protect ourselves from this thinking is the way you protect yourself from serial killers: smoke the Rand followers out, make them answer for following the crazed ideology of a serial-killer-groupie, and run them the hell out of town and out of our hemisphere.

Continue reading »

The Three Ivory Amigos

 Posted by at 8:24 AM on April 7, 2011
Apr 072011

Vacationing in Abidjan in happier days, three lillywhite supporters of ex-president Gbagbo’s Christian regime are speaking out against the duly elected Alassane Ouattara, because, well, he’s a Muslim— and the power of Christ compels them, or something.  If you want to size up their religious bigotry, you must click it.

Four months after losing an election certified by the international community, Laurent Gbagbo is hunkered down in a bunker underneath his residence, besieged by a host of forces including UN troops, the French military, and his own countryman.

With the International Criminal Court busy preparing indictments for war crimes and crimes against humanity, international pariah Gbagbo can count few allies these days. Among them, however, is an unholy trinity of three influential Americans on the Christian Right: Pat Robertson, Sen. James Inhofe, and Glenn Beck.

On Tuesday, Think Progress described the situation thusly :


Gbagbo is reportedly negotiating a surrender and the conflict, which analysts just days ago feared could spin out of control, could now come to an end within “hours.”

That is, unless some in the American Christian right, who want to turn this into a religious battle, have their way. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) took to the Senate floor yesterday to give a lengthy speech in defense of incumbent Gbagbo and his powerful wife, whom Inhofe called “good friends.” Inhofe painted a picture of the conflict in polar opposition to the facts on the ground, accusing challenger Ouattara of “rigg[ing]” last November’s elections, and ludicrously claiming that Gbagbo’s forces “don’t have any weapons.” Thus, Inhofe demanded an immediate ceasefire in the conflict, even though Gbagbo’s forces have already been routed. Watch a portion of Inhofe’s speech:

Why would Inhofe defend a war criminal tyrant in contradiction to every international human rights organization and his own government? As Salon’s Justin Elliott reported last week, Gbagbo, an evangelical Christian, has “longtime ties to the Christian right in the United States,” in part through a secretive international network of powerful evangelical Christians known as the Fellowship. Inhofe and many of his colleagues have reportedly lived in the Fellowship’s congressional boarding house on C Street in Washington.

You remember The Fellowship, which member and convicted Watergate conspirator Charles Colson once described as a “veritable underground of Christ’s men all through the U.S. government.” Those would include family values champion Nev. Senator John Ensign (R), whose mummy and daddy paid a former staffer $96,000 in hush money to cover up his extra-marital affair; former Republican Congressman and family values champion, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (R), who went incommunicado for four days, ostensibly while hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was really climbing all over his Argentine mistress; and a host of present and former members of Congress, as well as “corporate executives, heads of religious and humanitarian aid organizations, and ambassadors and high ranking politicians from across the world.”

IOKIYAEC– It’s Ok If You’re An Evangelical Christian. Especially if the opponent happens to be a Muslim.

This Week In Teh Crazy (7/4/09)

 Posted by at 11:57 AM on July 4, 2009
Jul 042009
“I will be able to die knowing that I had met my soul mate.”
The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tip/Wag - Cynthia Davis & Fox News
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Jeff Goldblum

Folks, competition for this week’s entries into Teh Crazy was fierce. There were all the usual suspects. Early in the week, Rush Limpbot had the early advantage. Here’s just a sampling of his wares:

On 6/29, he claimed that the 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court in the Ricci Case was actually 9-0, and that they had found that Sonia Sotomayer was a racist.

On 6/30, commenting on the fallout from the Mark Sanford affair, he offered this stunning insight into the female psyche:

Do you realize how the liberal women are going to eat this up? The liberal infobabes, oh, they’re swooning, folks. I will guarantee you they are having to excuse themselves and run to the bathroom here to control themselves….liberal women who are already in heat reporting this.

On July 1, he characterized the Democrats’ plans for health care as “gang rape.”

On the same day, he offered that President Obama is leading the Dems “into doing everything he could to ensure the defeat of the U.S. military.”

Speaking of Mark Sanford, the poor guy just couldn’t keep digging, giving a melodramatic interview to the AP in which he revealed that he had “crossed lines” with women other than his Argentine mistress.  Here’s a little unsolicited advice, Mark. Since you had earlier stated that you were trying to fall back in love with your wife for the good of your family, ix-nay on the oul-say, ate-mate talk, okay? I know that many South Carolinians are praying for you, like the minister shown in the clip below who is hoping that you “go into a more silent mode.” Or as Jon Stewart helpfully translated:  please, just STFU.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Shut Up, Mark Sanford
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Jason Jones in Iran

Glenn Beck didn’t disappoint, seeming to agree with his guest, former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer that “The only chance we have as a country right now is” for bin Laden to “detonate a major weapon” in U.S.”

Then there was of course the Sarah Palin resignation meltdown speech. No shortage of coverage there.

But I put my personal favorite at the top of the page. It features  a newcomer to teh crazy scene, Rethuglican representative Cynthia Davis from Missouri who presented the case for why the government should let children go hungry.

There’s more fireworks, fer sure, but I’m off to celebrate the real thing.

Happy Independence Day.

Terrified Beyond The Capacity For Rational Thought (Updated)

 Posted by at 9:04 AM on April 25, 2009
Apr 252009

newtmellow1(Click for maximum gross-out.)

Newt Gingrich as the avenging Sumerian god, Gozer the Traveler

In their devastating November 4th defeat at the hands of an inexperienced, junior senator from Illinois, the Rethuglicans are in desperate search of a leader, someone that can match the intelligence, boldness, charm, and overwhelming popularity of Barack Hussein Obama. While their own humiliated presidential candidate, the anachronistic John McCain decomposes like so much roadkill in the hot Arizona sun, a furious competition for the 2012 election has begun.

Lord of the Flies comes to mind.

Newcomers like current Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former Arkansas preacher turned governor Mike Huckabee vie for the allegiance of Christian fundamentalist “value voters” (probably 50% of what’s left of the party membership). Current Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney vie for the ‘competency vote.’ South Carolina Governor and plantation owner Mark Sanford showboats about not taking government stimulus funds for his state’s increasingly desperate unemployed, despite the fact that his state has the 4th highest unemployment rate in the country; and a social safety net next to none. (SC ranks 48th in TANF-Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, f/n/a AFDC))

But looming above them all like the avenging Stay Puft Marshmallow man from the movie Ghostbusters is the former Speaker of the House, the ethically compromised, moral and political hypocrite par excellence, Newt “Dr. No” Gingrich.

The disastrous events of his political and personal life are well known, which for the last dozen years or so had kept him on the political sidelines. (According to Tom Delay, Newtie, in a fit of pique, shut down major parts of the US government in 1995-6 because he didn’t like his seating assignment on Air Force One, the political equivalent of seppaku.)  But Newt re-emerged during the 2008 presidential election campaign, even dipping his toe into the water of a possible candidacy. Realizing that he didn’t have chance back then, he became a regular guest on Fux News and other wingnut media outlets.

Earlier this year, Gingrich criticized Notre Dame University for inviting Obama to speak there, claiming he embraced “anti-Catholic values.”  He was immediately criticized by Catholic leaders for sticking his then-Baptist nose where it didn’t belong.  Not wanting to alienate a valuable voting constituency, a small majority of whom voted for Obama, Newtie quickly apologized (even converting to Catholicism a few days later).

During Obama’s recent trip to Latin America, he lashed into the president, excoriating him for “bolstering the enemies” of the US by shaking hands with Hugo Chavez.  Newtie seems to have forgotten that in 2007, when George W. Bush was president, he proudly proclaimed that he had grown up “. . .in a world, you know, where politics ended up at the water’s edge and overseas we had to try to find ways to be Americans and to work together.

On the matter of national security, he has accused Obama of having a “a dangerous fantasy that runs an enormous risk. … Not since Jimmy Carter have we had an administration this out of touch with reality.”

Such risky behavior includes wanting to hold a world security summit and working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, such as was the goal of Newtie’s own hero, Ronald Reagan.

Given his highly partisan track record as House Speaker, denying practically everything President Clinton ever proposed, it should come as no surprise that “Dr. No” Newtie is shaping the current Rethuglican redemption strategy of trying to block Obama’s foreign and domestic agenda at every turn.

Make no mistake about it. Like the angry Sumerian god Gozer the Traveler, who made a dramatic comeback after being temporarily forced into inter-dimensional exile by the Proton Pack wielding Ghostbusters, Newtie is back with a vengeance.

Dr. Egon Spengler: Vinz, you said before you were waiting for a sign. What sign are you waiting for?

Louis: Gozer the Traveler. He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!

All Newtie has to do to terrify us beyond the capacity for rational thought is to come back as himself.

UPDATE: The lead story in today’s LA Times is titled CIA reportedly declined to closely evaluate harsh interrogations. It documents an investigation in early 2003 by the then-CIA’s Inspector General, John L. Helgerson , that seriously questioned both the efficacy of torture and whether alternatives existed. It was circulated within the agency, the Defense Department, and Justice Department in draft form, setting off alarm bells within the Administration. It was quashed. In its place?

One report by a former government official — not an interrogation expert — was about 10 pages long and amounted to a glowing review of interrogation efforts.

That official was Gardner Peckham, national security advisor to–you guessed it– Newt Gingrich.

Da Borg

 Posted by at 10:18 PM on February 24, 2009
Feb 242009

coulterborgThere’s a new ReBorglican queen Ann in town, and yes, those monkeys flew right out of where you think they did.

Sorry, no time for blogging tonight.  I’m going to be counting the hours back to Boulder by resisting the ReBorglicans, as they continue their efforts to assimilate hapless Americans who remain vulnerable to their lies and logic because they haven’t learned to think and reason for themselves.  Thus when Piyash Insane Gindal or Mark Sanford bloviate about protecting them from the “generational theft” of the past eight years by assimilating their few remaining dollars— by refusing federal assistance that could save them from destitution in the coming months— resistance is not only necessary, but must be countered with the same kind of relentlessness the ReBorglicans use.

That doesn’t mean we must become automatons like the ReBorglicans as they reshape history, politics, well shit— reality— in order to deny their generational epic fail.  It means we must realize the true power in honest and forthright recognition of our values, and live them in a way that empowers the benefits of diversity, and achieves genuine unity— not uniformity.

The worst of all worlds, the lockstep boot-licking flying monkey fantasies of Richard Pearl, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and all the other bankrupt republican suppositories of the deceased ideas of conservatism, will never come to fruition precisely because they inherently go against all that is ultimately true, beautiful, and good in humanity. Fear and hate guarantee that the values and ideas that ride on their hot air   will pass into an ugly chapter of our planetary history.

ReborglicansReBorglican headquarters, floating aimlessly in the inky blackness of… wait for it… stupidity.

The McSame Game

 Posted by at 1:54 PM on July 12, 2008
Jul 122008


TNG’ The Game
A Mind’s Eye View of Star Trek’s The Game

In Star Trek: The Next Generation’s The Game (Episode 106, first aired 10/28/91), the crew of the Enterprise becomes totally addicted to a virtual reality game brought aboard the ship from an alien world.

A slick pair of VR specs sends visual imagery to brain, energizing the brain’s serotonin and dopamine receptor sites. The more one plays, the more one is chemically rewarded, rendering the higher cortical (reasoning) areas of the brain moot. This puts the ship and, by extension, the entire Federation at grave risk.

I was reminded of The Game as I read today’s New York Times editorial titled There He Goes Again. It’s a rather mild take-down of John McSame’s ridiculous economic proposals, the core of which is keeping in place Bush‘s tax cuts for the billionaires amongst us. Money quote:

Mr. McCain and his advisers must know that his numbers do not add up. But adding up is not their point. Their point is to perpetuate the fantasy that Americans can have ever bigger tax cuts and a balanced federal budget. They cannot. The unbalanced budgets of the Reagan years and two Bush presidencies are proof.

Perpetuating fantasies is the very function of the Rethuglican propaganda machine. Believing that Iraq is a success, that we aren’t already in a recession, that we can drill our way out of rapidly increasing gas and energy prices in time to ward off an even more severe economic downturn, that attacking Iran will enhance our national security, that tax cuts for the hyper-rich will trickle down their legs to benefit the rest of us are just a few of their most prominent delusions.

Neurocognitive evidence for addictive delusional behavior is provided in Dr. Drew Westen’s book The Political Brain: The Role of Emotions in Deciding the Fate of the Nation. Westen reports an experiment in which political partisans are presented cognitively dissonant information about their favorite politician. Functional MRIs reveal which parts of the brain are involved in processing that information, and the extent to which it will go to restore mental harmony. Even the most clearly bogus rationalizations are no match for the brain’s electrochemical reward circuitry, the same used by drug addicts when getting their fix. Not only does the subject again feel good about their candidate, but they end up feeling better. (Westen wryly notes that the term political junkie is thus more than just a metaphor.)

Message to McSame and their MSM enabled Rethuglican propaganda machine:

Take those rose colored VR glasses and shove ’em where the sun don’t shine.

UPDATE: A McSame VP candidate, South Carolina’s Governor Mark Sanford, experienced a moment of cognitive flatulence Sunday morning when asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to identify any economic policy differences between McSame and Bush.

Kinda hard to watch, but Huffpo has the vid.