September 25, 2013

Ted Cruz reading "Green Eggs and Ham" in its entirety and "Atlas Shrugged" — just parts — from the Senate floor.

Here he is, reading "Green Eggs and Ham" last night at 8 — to us and to his 2 daughters, whose bedtime it was:



I play it, and we talk about how Obama could use that: Try it, try it, try Obamacare and you may see. You may like it. And then when we try it — if we're like the character in the Dr. Seuss book — when we finally try it, we actually do like it. Ah, but in the book, it's not saying try green eggs and ham and once you do, the only thing that you'll ever be able to eat is green eggs and ham from here on in and whether you like it or not.

No, no, that's not the proper comparison. Yes, Obamacare will go into effect, but it can be changed. It can be tweaked. We can drizzle some food dye over the eggs or take away the eggs altogether and just have ham. The ham's not green. Or is it? The text is ambiguous: green eggs and ham.

Let's see those illustrations again. Cruz did not hold up the book and let us see the pictures. No, no, you can't see whether the ham is green until you've tried it and it becomes the only thing on the menu from here on in. We have to pass the bill to find out what's in it. You have to eat the eggs and ham to find out if they're any good, and yes, you know that the eggs are green, but is the ham green too?

I hope you understand that paragraph. That's me, riffing, after a good night's sleep. I activate the live feed and there's Cruz, fully chipper, structured, and lucid, after more than 17 hours. He's not logy and ranting like Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," which — hello? — was a movie, so the struggle of the filibustering Senator needed to feel expansively dramatic. The actor had to demonstrate his range, show his chops, have an opportunity to go big and even — if he's good enough, and Stewart was — give us a taste of the ham. But the acting required of Cruz is to act like he's exactly the same as he was at the point when he started. There's no narrative arc. This is real life. This is not fiction. This is the truth.

And Cruz is talking about truth, I hear, as I activate the live feed on my iPhone (and I'm still in bed, having slept more than 8 hours). Cruz is talking about Ayn Rand, I figure out after a few lazy moments of assuming his references to "Rand" were about Rand Paul.

Cruz is reading and doing commentary on passages from "Atlas Shrugged." One is this:
There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromise is the transmitting rubber tube. 
It's nearly 8 o'clock, and I need to get going. I resist the rejection of moderation. I myself am a moderate. A moderate with a good night's sleep. I'm aroused by Ayn Rand's condemnation of "the man in the middle." I need to do some blogging. That's my part, and I've been doing it, in an unbroken string of days for nearly 10 years — unbroken in the sense of each and every day, but I haven't been typing nonstop as Ted Cruz has been talking nonstop. "Man in the middle" is a phrase that feels like a call to action, because it's a phrase Meade and I have used when we talk about a man we saw as a hero for sitting down in the middle of the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda, in a crowd of sign-carrying, noisy partisan protesters, inviting them to speak, one-on-one, with someone who was not in agreement with the crowd. It looked like this:



At the time — it was March 2011 — I said:
I started to imagine Wisconsinites coming back to the building every day, talking about everything, on and on, indefinitely into the future. That man who decided to hold dialogues in the center of the rotunda is a courageous man. But it isn't that hard to be as courageous as he was. In the long run, it's easier to do that than to spend your life intimidated and repressed. That man was showing us how to be free. He was there today, but you — and you and you! — could be there tomorrow, standing your ground, inviting people to talk to you, listening and going back and forth, for the sheer demonstration of the power of human dialogue and the preservation of freedom.
Talking, indefinitely into the future... in the middle of a government building. That's what Ted Cruz is doing, but not in the moderate, surely-we-all-can-get-along mode. He's on one side, and he's reviling anyone in the middle. He's reading from Ayn Rand, saying that the moderate is evil, because the moderate is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist.

***

In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. Oh? But would you like it it in a box? Would you like it with a fox? Would you like it in a house? Would you like it with a mouse?

50 comments:

SOJO said...

As my mother used to say: Just ignore him. The best thing for him, really.

Leeatmg said...

I'm not sure Cruz is suggesting there is no honor in moderate positions, but rather that there is no honor in having a position, moderate or otherwise, and compromising on that position to generate agreement. It's an important distinction.

RecChief said...

might it be that the man in the middle in the Rand passage is really the one who tries to play both sides? who tries to have his cake and eat it too?

How do we define a moderate? is fiscally conservative/ socially liberal a moderate? how about a person who swings between what we think of as liberal or conservative postitions depending on the issue? That person would still have a definite position, either right or wrong. I don't agree with your analysis on this one.

Xmas said...

I wish Cruz would start rattling off dumb and redundant agencies/office/divisions in the government and how much they cost each year. And every ten lines or so, say "these are the baseline budgets for this year, and the baseline is automatically increased 4%(?) per year."

Or maybe rattle off a list of corporations that get government subsidies and payments and how much they get per year. :)

Ann Althouse said...

"There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong..."

That's already wrong!

2 sides to every issue?!

Ridiculous.

Inga said...

Your purity is in question. "Did you or did you not belong to the Communist Party?!" Something Joe McCarthy may have said.

Did you veer from the purity of the rightist right evah?

C Stanley said...

"If you like your current breakfast, you can keep it."

Paul Zrimsek said...

I do not like your health-care plan. I do not like it, Bam-I-Am.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Ann Althouse said...
"There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong..."

That's already wrong!

2 sides to every issue?!

Ridiculous.


I have a different take on that. To me, he is mocking the people who always say, as their reason for refusing to take a side - "Well, there are two sides to every issue".

To them he is saying "I'll agree that there are two sides to this issue, this way. A right side and a wrong side."

That's how one responds to the non-judgmental cowards and sophists.

Tom Gallagher said...

Why didn't Cruz read the ACA in it's entirety? Rub their noses in it and educate them at the same time.

gbm said...

Obamacare is nothing more than grab for power.


Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
Mao Tse Tung
"Problems of War and Strategy" (November 6, 1938), Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 224.

Ann Althouse said...

"I have a different take on that. To me, he is mocking the people who always say..."

Ayn Rand is a lady.

Robert Cook said...

"There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil."

Pure idiocy. Those who take Rand seriously love this sort of imbecilism because they fear the complexity and ambiguity of life and of real world problems. They want there to be such certainty, such a clear demarcation between right and wrong, what to do and what not to do.

They're emotionally infantile.

Annie said...

If you want to compromise or tweak your poison, that is your business.

But the rest of us, who like our eggs yellow and white, and our ham, pink, prefer to have the freedom to keep what works best for our individual digestion.

We don't get that option here. You either eat your green eggs and ham or you get an anal by the gestapo arm of the government, the IRS, and fined.

Why couldn't they tweak what we already had instead of writing something so big that noone, who was supposed to be writing it, read it. And the 20k plus of regulations to go along with it? How do you swallow that pill?

On this issue, there are indeed, two sides.



Smilin' Jack said...

I'm aroused by Ayn Rand's condemnation of "the man in the middle."

She wasn't the first:

Revelation 3:15-16 King James Version (KJV)

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Why didn't Cruz read the ACA in it's entirety? Rub their noses in it and educate them at the same time."

-- No one's got time for that.

Tank said...

I thought you weren't paying attention. But he got your attention.

And if he had the support of the leaders in his party, they could get even more attention. And they could use that attention to educate the people about why they are right.

It's too bad the so-called leaders of his parties are a bunch of chickenshits. What they need, more than anything, is to press their best arguments (on all issues) and to do so relentlessly, like the leftists, the statists, do.

He may lose this one, he probably will. But he'll have used his time to bring attention to the issues, maybe educate some people, maybe persuade some people. If the conservatives don't do that, they'll never prevail.

Ah, who'm I kidding. We've lost the war already. The moderates, like you know who, are content to let the country slide ever leftward.

DEAD COUNTRY WALKING.

Mitch H. said...

Not a big fan of Ayn Rand, but I like the aphorism that Jonah Goldberg often cites: that in an argument over whether or not to build a bridge over a chasm, it is the compromisers - insisting on half-a-bridge - who consign the traffic off that bridge into the void.

This is why I opposed the ACA - that it was a half-a-bridge designed to fling the traffic into the void until the piled-up wreckage and waste could be used as a justification for single-payer, the authors thinking no doubt of using the resulting wrack and ruin as a support for the remaining spans to the farther slope.

(And yes, professor, there are at least two sides to every issue, or else it wouldn't be an issue at all, it would be a truism.)

Left Bank of the Charles said...

From Wikipedia: "A man-in-the-middle attack can succeed only when the attacker can impersonate each endpoint to the satisfaction of the other — it is an attack on mutual authentication (or lack thereof)."

Dr.D said...

Ted Cruz is MY Texas Senator, and I am very proud of him. He is doing what all conservatives should be doing, but the rest are simply a bunch of cowardly weasels. He is standing for America, while the scum in his own party side with the opposition and try to cut him down.

Ted has the courage, conviction, and moral fortitude to stare down Obama, Pelosi, and Dingy Harry, eyeball to eyeball.

GO TED!!!

Jane said...

The book of Revelation talks about the church - the hot, the cold, and the lukewarm.

God is said to seriously despise one of those. Guess which one?

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

The most healthful thing can be done about our national government is to reduce the involvement of that government in our daily lives.

In its present composition, the Senate is not likely to do that.

So long as Sen. Cruz and friends are speaking on the Senate floor, the Senate is not passing any legislation to increase the size and scope of the government.

I'm fine with that.

MadisonMan said...

Wasn't he elected promising, in part, to do this? It's nice to see a politician following through on his campaign promises.

That his actions confound people in states that are more supportive of what they've been told is Obamacare (because we know no one has actually read the bill) only reflects on the structure of our Representative Government.

Meade said...

Green eggs and ham they look quite awful
“Why is it I can't just eat my waffle?”

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Ann Althouse said...
"I have a different take on that. To me, he is mocking the people who always say..."

Ayn Rand is a lady.


Well, not anymore.

The Godfather said...

I don't think it's "ridiculous" to say there are two sides to every issue. Rand was talking about morality, not policy. She said that a compromise between right and wrong is still wrong, and that's not ridiculous.

The problem is in trying to apply that moral concept to a policy issue. Is it the case that there are only two sides to every policy issue? That depends on what you mean by "issue". You can come up with umpteen different academic analyses of a topic, each one of which has different policy implications, and in that sense there are innumerable "sides" to the issue.

But if by "issue" you mean, Do we do X or not? then there are only two sides, yes and no.

For example, there are many, many possible ways to change the US system for providing and paying for medical care. But when Obamacare came up for a vote, the only choices were Yes or No. Of course, you might vote No because you favored a different alternative, say Romneycare, and I might vote No because I favor medical savings accounts, but there were still only two choices.

tim maguire said...

It doesn't sound like Rand is going after the moderate, that would mean the only true positions are the two extremes. Could Rand have believed that? Maybe, she was pretty extreme, but I decline to understand it that way.

My own view of democratic decision making is that extremists have a vital role to play in discussions (we cannot know the limits unless some urge us to go past them), but they should not control the outcome. The best solution is almost always something more moderate.

As I read this passage, the man in the middle is like the arbitrator who solves disputes by splitting the difference, as though both sides are equally right so the most equitable solution is somewhere in between (an all too common approach of arbitrators and part of why I oppose treating arbitration as a dispute resolution system on par with the court system).

Splitting the difference rewards the wrong at the expense of the right, rewards the unreasonable at the expense of the reasonable. Moderation is something quite different.

RecChief said...

Ann Althouse said, "Ayn Rand is a lady."

I believe SomeoneHasToSayIt meant that Cruz was quoting Rand to say to his opponents that there are two sides to the issue of Obamacare, a wrong side and a right side. Battle lines being (re)drawn.

El Pollo Raylan said...

I get the meme that Cruz must now be destroyed or Alinsky'd but getting cheap shots from the wrong people isn't going to help.

Marshal said...

Robert Cook said...
Those who take Rand seriously love this sort of imbecilism because they fear the complexity and ambiguity of life and of real world problems


How coincidental. This is exactly what I would have said about people who believe the government can save us from risk and competition.

Robert Cook said...

(And yes, professor, there are at least two sides to every issue, or else it wouldn't be an issue at all, it would be a truism.)"

That's not in dispute. What's half-witted is to think most issues have only two sides, or that there is typically a clear distinction between the "right" (or "good") side and the "wrong" (or "bad") side.

Life is much more complex than that.

Hyphenated American said...

""There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil."

Pure idiocy. Those who take Rand seriously love this sort of imbecilism because they fear the complexity and ambiguity of life and of real world problems. They want there to be such certainty, such a clear demarcation between right and wrong, what to do and what not to do. They're emotionally infantile."

So it's all really simple to you, everyone who takes Ayn Rand seriously are imbecile, emotionally infantile and cannot see the complexity and ambiguity of life and real world problems. Sounds like your simplistic reading of her books ( I suspect that this should not be taken literally, since you probably haven't actually read atlas shrugged) of Ayn Rand makes you feel very good about yourself. Indeed the world is complex, of course, but not so complex that actually, maybe, Ayn Rands views are part of this world. Ope, it's all black and white to you, since you are an adult. Ayn Rand is 100% wrong! and anyone who agrees with her is stupid. Yap, that's the complexity that you promote here. Makes a whole lot of sense. You just know this to be true, since you are so complex and educated and grown up. You said this yourself, right, how could anyone not believe you. That's objective and simple truth, right? No middle ground on this one, only one opinion (yours) is right on this white and black, no complexity there.

ken in sc said...

'I like Ike' used to be a political phrase. I did not like Ike, because he used to come on TV on Wed. nights and make 'My fellow American' speeches. That was during the Disney show, and the only night I was allowed to stay up til 8:30.

Today, I like Ted. He can talk all night. At least we know he can stay up and not go to sleep during an emergency—like Benghazi.

Mitch H. said...

That's not in dispute. What's half-witted is to think most issues have only two sides, or that there is typically a clear distinction between the "right" (or "good") side and the "wrong" (or "bad") side.

Life is much more complex than that.


Because you insist on conflating "the question" with "the issues", as if they were synonyms.

And thus you try to skate through life, never committing "yea" or "nay" to a given question, always floating above the moral choice because "it's complicated", always adhering to the option which is never in contention, clinging to the purity of the impossible.

The trimming absolutist! Moderate, reasoned, pure, and impossible. Robert, you *are* Ayn Rand.

Which isn't even ironic, because Rand was an Anti-Communist, in the perfect sense of the term, as absolute as the Party Communist, as fond of scientism and doctrine as the Party Communist, and as tedious as the Party Communist, differing solely on the ground of axioms and purposes.

ken in sc said...

Ayn Rand to me, as a teenager, was inspiring. Later on, I found her to be too grumpy.

Most teenagers are grumpy.

Inga said...

Ayn Rand was an atheist. So those of you quoting Bible scripture as a way of saying her words are beyond reproach, think again. How can Christians, especially born again types put any value to her words? Those who quote her need to be viewed with special scrutiny. She was as "evil" as she says people in the middle are.

Hyphenated American said...

The world is more complex than Roberts vision of it....

(And yes, professor, there are at least two sides to every issue, or else it wouldn't be an issue at all, it would be a truism.)"

"What's half-witted is to think most issues have only two sides, or that there is typically a clear distinction between the "right" (or "good") side and the "wrong" (or "bad") side.

Life is much more complex than that."

Only half-witted don't understand that one could simply define the sides as follows: right and wrong. For example, what is 2 multiplied by two? There are infinite number of answers, and yet, we can say that there are fundamentally two sides. One side which says it's 4, and then the rest of the answers is wrong, and constitutes the other side. Voila, you got two sides. What I did here is a simple exercise in mathematical logic, I defined two sets, and named them "side 1" and "side 2".

Now, on the second claim, Ayn Rand does not say that it's always easy to find the right answer, but people who don't understand complexity cannot comprehend this, which is why they prefer to discuss a caricature instead of debating what Ayn Rand actually said.

cubanbob said...

Politicians robbing me of my money to give it to cronies and deadbeats is evil. That pretty much sums up the Democratic Party agenda of the last hundred years.

wildswan said...

Everyone gets to keep their present doctor under Obamacare
Everyone gets to keep their present plan under Obamacare
Premiums will fall.
Health care costs will be contained.
The above promises were made and that is why Obamacare passed - True
The above promises were false - True
Congress, the White House staff and Obama refused to get their coverage under Obamacare or Obamacare rules. The moment they were touched by Obamacare they got a waiver.

Shouldn't they all go under Obamacare so that any "glitches" will affect them? That would mean that "glitches" will be fixed ASAP.

Jack Wayne said...

As a programmer I can affirm there is no maybe. There is 0 or 1, yes or no, true or false. If you believe that maybe is a good answer to a question there is no doubt you are a washy-washy moderate. And there is no more assinine thing than that.

Jack Wayne said...

As a programmer I can affirm there is no maybe. There is 0 or 1, yes or no, true or false. If you believe that maybe is a good answer to a question there is no doubt you are a washy-washy moderate. And there is no more assinine thing than that.

Basil said...

Rand did not reject moderation. She rejected accommodation of evil in the name of ideology. Not the same thing. Again, please first study, then think, then opine. Otherwise you sound like a Media Matters press release.

Lydia said...

I've always thought no one summed it up better than Whittaker Chambers in his 1957 review of Atlas Shrugged, "Big Sister Is Watching You":

From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: “To a gas chamber — go!”

Basil said...

Inga, Christians do not believe that atheists are evil. We believe that they are potential Christians. Also, since when should one's ideas be judged by their religion rather than on their merits?

Robert Cook said...

"So it's all really simple to you, everyone who takes Ayn Rand seriously are imbecile, emotionally infantile and cannot see the complexity and ambiguity of life and real world problems. Sounds like your simplistic reading of her books (I suspect that this should not be taken literally, since you probably haven't actually read atlas shrugged)...."

Oh yes. I read both THE FOUNTAINHEAD and ATLAS SHRUGGED in college, of my own volition.

I found THE FOUNTAINHEAD entertaining because it was about an iconoclastic artist; I enjoyed ATLAS SHRUGGED to an extent, but found it more of a slog, and Rand's screaming craziness was much more evident, (i.e., she gave herself enough rope to hang herself with, and she did).

Inga said...

Basil,
I'm ot judging her words based on her being an atheist, I don't care that she was an atheist. I'm judging Christians that embrace her and finding them to be hypocrites, because her Objectivist philosophy was anti Christian.

Basil said...

Inga, why do you think Christians, as opposed to other religions or groups, are unable to benefit from the political thought of a non- believer? Many of us draw great inspiration from the Old Testament and the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Your comment, with all respect, clearly suggests your anti-Christian bigotry and nothing more? Why hate Christians? We're not shooting up malls and flying planes into buildings?

Inga said...

Basil, I don't hate Christians at all. I do however dislike hypocites. Ayn Rand was antithetical to Christianity, how can Christians reconcile this?

Alex said...

"Moderation in the face of extremism is no virtue."

Barry Fucking Goldwater

Marshal said...

Inga said...
Basil, I don't hate Christians at all. I do however dislike hypocites. Ayn Rand was antithetical to Christianity, how can Christians reconcile this?


Of course Christians don't have to reconcile this as the contradiction or hypocrisy only exists in Inga's flawed understanding of Christianity. As already noted there's nothing about Christianity which holds that beliefs of non-Christians or those hostile to Christianity cannot be right about non-religious issues.

You'd think that with all the leftists whining about Christianity at least they'd make an effort to get it right. But maybe that's the point. If they had to base their criticisms on actual facts their fearmongering wouldn't be effective.