Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan Is the New Speaker of the House. So Just How Much Does He Love Ayn Rand?

Celebrate the libertarian-leaning congressman's new gig with this amazing painting of Ryan with Rand and pancakes.


The House of Representatives got a new speaker today: Rep. Paul Ryan

To celebrate, Twitter artist Dan Lacey, a.k.a. @PainterPancakes, has produced this astonishing portrait of the libertarian-leaning Wisconsin Republican. With Ayn Rand caressing his pancake abs. And a pancake bunny cameo.

And today seems like as good a day as any to remind you that while the new speaker has said some very nice things about Ayn Rand (skip to 1:45 for the soundbite):

Reason's Brian Doherty also named him in a lineup of "Rand recanters" this August, noting that:

Ryan was happy to discuss Rand's political wisdom early in his congressional career, including telling me in 2009 that, as per Rand, "we owe it to the American people to give them a clear choice: Do you want a collectivist welfare state or do you want to get back to being a free market? We need to make a moral, not just practical or statistical, case."

But by the time he was Mitt Romney's vice presidential candidate in 2012, Ryan was ferociously wiping the sweat of his reputation as a Rand-lover off his fevered brow.

And as Doherty wrote in 2012:

Ryan began denying Rand earlier this year. Here's what he said to National Review in April: "I reject her philosophy," Ryan says firmly. "It's an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person's view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas," who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. "Don't give me Ayn Rand," he says.

Ryan, from his twisty TARP endorsement, is the worst sort of Rand villain: a man whose knowledge and understanding embrace free markets, but who traduces them for reasons of phony "practicality" or belief that one has to go against one's values to defend them….

Alas, making a moral case for capitalism--which is the same as the moral case for human liberty--requires a voting record that shows an actual belief in the notion that government has, if any, only the powers that the individual can rightly grant them. That's the power to defend one's individual right to life and justly acquired property. That does not include many, many things Ryan as congressman has supported, from TARP to Medicare Part D to auto bailouts (as un-Randian as you could imagine, as Conor Friedersdorf noted in his article rightly dubbing Ryan a Rand villain) and the Patriot Act.

By the time someone runs for high office, trying to suss out what they sincerely believe is impossible. But I suspect that a young Ryan did indeed think of himself as a Rand devotee (while always rejecting the atheism) but the "realism" of being a congressman and running for vice president beat it out of him. In its way, then, another variation on Branden's "afraid of what the neighbors will think" motive for Rand apostasy.

For more Paul Ryan, deep dive into Reason's archive.

Pancakes via Ken Layne.

NEXT: Autistic Man Jailed for Talking to Kids. Just Talking. That's All.

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  1. There’s nothing in this post worth giving even the slightest of a shit about.

    1. You said, it man. Do i just slide my libertarian card under the door or do i have to come back when lunchtime cocktail hour is over?

      1. You have to say that God is dead and George Bush is a war criminal, while doing a bong hit and wearing six-guns.
        Otherwise, you won’t get the REAL libertarian vote.
        Then you have to marry 3 dudes and call every elected politician a sell-out.

  2. What the…

  3. This was even worse than a KMW “robot teachers” post.

    1. How about a Robot Speaker of the House?

      1. We just had that. Orangebot is being retired for Randbot.

  4. And once again, xkcd nails it

    “I had a hard time with Ayn Rand because I found myself enthusiastically agreeing with the first 90% of every sentence, but getting lost at ‘therefore, be a huge asshole to everyone.”

    1. You trying to summon C-toxic?


        1. STOP IT.


            1. You know, American intervention in the Middle East has been a real clusterfuck.

              1. Only when America got into nation-building or other acts of altruism.

                1. Goddammit. This is on you, Warren. You KNEW he was about to get off that school bus, eat his snack, and then get on the computer. You KNEW that.

    2. At least in her fiction Rand’s central point seemed to have been “don’t roll over when others are assholes to you.” Granted, it’s been several years.

      1. That’s one of the big reasons the left hates her. They live to give orders and cannot brook those who disobey.

        1. Well, I can see why: it’s fine to resist letting people bully you unless it’s a majority of people.

      2. Rand spent her childhood watching her family’s fortune melt away after her father’s business was stolen by the state twice, then saw her anti-communist friends and professors disappear one by one. Her childhood was basically a horror show of totalitarian socialism.

        I can forgive her for being rude and verbally abusive to socialists if not everyone else, as she was intimately aware of the sort of real-world evil socialism entails. Chomsky types babble on about abstractions; Rand saw the real-world suffering his “academic” thought and purportedly good intentions entail.

      3. She was a horrible writer. Just horrible. The advise I would give new libertarians is that you don’t have to read, or agree, or like Ayn Rand to be a libertarian. I wish someone had told me that.
        In fairness, reading her horrid tomes did introduce me to Randism, which eventually led me to libertarianism.
        But Jesus, it’s a bitch struggling through her sludge.

        1. Ok, I’ll amend that: She had a horrible editor. One long soliloquy per character is ok, one from every character, separated by two pages of actual plot, then another soliloquy by every single fucking character, two pages of plot, another round of soliloquys is just crappy writing.

          1. I think a little from column A and a little from B. Personally, I liked her advocacy of objectivism (especially over socialism/statism) but, more than once, it detracted from her message. About 1/2 of the way through AS I was thinking; “For a book about pure objectivism, there sure is a lot of internal ‘dialogue’ going on.”

            I definitely remember reading the part about Rearden carrying the kid out of the ditch after the riot and thinking that if the story were told/narrated by Rearden as it was in the book, I would’ve been certain that the author was trying to convey the message that Rearden was making the whole story up.

            In the afterword by her, there was a line along the lines of ‘For anyone who thinks that these characters are unreal or larger than life…’ and I thought the only reason you would say that is a) you know world-famous pirates that are really members of royal families and married movie stars or b) you’re about to feed everyone reading a load of bullshit… and then she proceeded to say they were real and how she and her husband were examples of these very people.

        2. Ayn Rand herself didn’t like “hippies of the right” as called libertarians.

    3. Pretty syre XKDC is projecting himself onto that strawman right there.

  5. When did pancake abs become a thing?

    1. At least as far back as Steve Reeves.

  6. Ryan’s lack of nipples makes me less enthusiastic about his future as SotH.

    But I suspect that a young Ryan did indeed think of himself as a Rand devotee (while always rejecting the atheism) but the “realism” of being a congressman and running for vice president beat it out of him.

    The Objectivist epistemology is so much a core of Rand’s thought that it’s difficult to think of any Christian being a Rand devotee if he knows anything whatsoever about Christianity or Rand. And certainly the students of Objectivism wouldn’t have anything to do with Ryan, as they can barely stand the less cultic systematic libertarians. More likely, Ryan just glommed onto a sorta popular, edgy idea that would get him some press without knowing much about it.

    It is funny that apparently all conservatives and libertarians read is Rand. Too bad classical liberalism doesn’t have a full-throated philosophical tradition or anything, as all we can do is talk about Ayn and her collection of capes.

    1. Never underestimate the ability of people to pick and choose what parts of their chosen philosophy they wish to follow, and which ones they ignore. Christians and pork, etc.

      1. I agree with the statement but not the specific example. Christians (unless also jews) have no pork restriction. Acts covers this.

        1. Also, at least one of the Gospels.

      2. The New Testament says that it is not what goes into a man that defies him it is what cones out of his mouth.

        Not sure where you get your info about Christianity but The New Testament is the only true source.

        Read it sometimes a find that out for yourself.

        1. After so many Christians have quoted Leviticus to me, I kinda got the impression that Leviticus applies.

          If Leviticus does not apply, I think you have a lot of Christians to correct.

      3. Christians and pork, etc.

        There are plausible interpretations of the Bible for no longer following dietary laws, so it doesn’t amount to ignoring anything. However, that doesn’t stop some Christians (albeit a small minority) from also having fairly plausible interpretations of still observing things such as dietary laws. The collections of writings that were compiled into the Bible are simply confusing, unclear, and inconsistent with each other. That is why there are countless disagreements among Christians about what in blazes it’s supposed to mean.

        1. The collections of writings that were compiled into the Bible are simply confusing, unclear, and inconsistent with each other.

          Not really, but I can see why some people would think so.

          When in doubt: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Do unto others”.

          Yes, a lot of Christians miss this, and those who were raised in a Christian household and claim to be “Christian” don’t even know them. Just because many Christians are hypocrites doesn’t mean Christ was wrong (or that he wasn’t God who died for us).

          1. I didn’t say anything about hypocrisy. I simply recognized that Christians (who all earnestly seek the truth) have countless disagreements among themselves about what the Bible actually says and means. It’s easy to conclude that the collection of writings compiled into the Bible are confusing and unclear with each other, causing these myriad disagreements including issues with the trinity, faith vs. works, sacraments, baptism, dietary laws, and many, many more. I would also say the books are inconsistent, leading to these fundamental disagreements.

            1. It’s easy to conclude that the collection of writings compiled into the Bible are confusing and unclear with each other, causing these myriad disagreements including issues with the trinity, faith vs. works, sacraments, baptism, dietary laws, and many, many more.

              Not quite true. You assume that the “faithful” are actually little angels with only theological perfection as their main goal. When Christ tells you that you must take up your cross to follow him (be willing to die terribly), people see that and go “well, he must have meant something else (cause I don’t want to do that)”. It’s easy to make exceptions when the teaching is hard. (This was one example among very many.)

              Faith vs works is clear as can be, sacraments were made up by the Roman Church, dietary laws are clear too (everything is lawful for me, not everything is beneficial – don’t make your brother stumble). The entirety of the Baptism argument comes from a lack of understanding of what baptism is, a turning from sin to God.

              I can see why there are disagreements on some non-essentials (some of these), but most so-called “theological discussions” are based on any given human’s desire to continue in their sin. People will do most anything to avoid confessing that they were wrong, even to the point of twisting Scripture.

              1. My goodness. So most everybody who disagrees with you about what the Bible says (except for the non-essentials) does so because they want to “continue in their sin” and therefore engage in “twisting Scripture”? If that’s what you’re saying, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I think a lot of people who are Roman Catholic are earnest in their beliefs and earnest in finding the truth, just as are many Methodists, Evangelicals, Lutherans, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Amish, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, etc. I also think that many different explanations for different interpretations are usually plausible, precisely because you can easily read the Bible as saying lots of different things due to its general lack of clarity and inconsistency between its different books (and maybe even within a single book itself). Of course, there are hundreds or even thousands of different harmonizations of these unclear and inconsistent aspects, but the harmonizations don’t agree with each other which leads to the thousands of different denominations that we have today.

                I’ve gotta go to work. You can have the last word if you like.

                1. I’ve gotta go to work. You can have the last word if you like.

                  I’d like to thank you, actually, for being civil here. I mean not to argue, but explain.

                  So most everybody who disagrees with you about what the Bible says (except for the non-essentials) does so because they want to “continue in their sin” and therefore engage in “twisting Scripture”?

                  I guess, the most common answer is pure ignorance rather than malice, but yes, the vast majority of other “debates” are due to people being unable to overcome their sin nature and purposely (probably more commonly subconsciously) misinterpreting Scripture so they can keep doing what they were doing. When Christ said “lend freely and expect nothing in return”, do you think people actually WANT to follow that? No, so they usually ignore it or try to “interpret” it away.

                  I believe that most people people who are sincere in their faith and disagree on things that looks cut and dry to me are just not reading their Bibles very much. They are sometimes led by those who want to be proven right, damn the logic of it all.

                  Are the wine and bread actually Christ’s body and blood? I’d say, probably not, that was metaphorical. Does it really matter? No. This isn’t an example of what I’m talking about. I’m talking about stuff like the homosexual issue (which is Biblically indefensible) or people conveniently ignoring Christ’s words on what adultery is. It’s easier to ignore it than change.

  7. This entire post seems like an excuse to put up that painting.

    1. Yep. Pretty much that.

      It also dignifies that by responding to it. And makes it look like Reason goes out of its way to laugh at the mentally ill.

    2. I do not see the downside.

      1. Samesies.

    3. That painting is amazing though.

      That’s about the most disturbing image I’ve seen in a long time.

      Can’t unsee it!

      1. The artwork of the mentally ill is often profoundly disturbing, and without being gruesome or violent in any way.

  8. That’s like Mary Stack level unhinged. That painting reminds me of some of the artwork done by mental patients in the text for my abnormal psychology class.

    1. “Your husband’s work is what we call ‘outsider art.’ It could be by a mental patient, a hillbilly or a chimpanzee.”

    2. Mary Stack of Pancakes we called her.

    3. Tonio, have you been to Collection de l’art brut in Lausanne? It’s an actual museum that displays the artwork done mostly by mental patients.

  9. Fun fact: I have not had a pancake for at least two years.

    1. Are you allergic to pancakium?

      1. We’ve over-mined pancakium anyway. We need to ration it rationally.

        1. I’m sick of this sort of vapid alarmism. Peak Pancakium is a myth.

    2. LEGO MY EGO!!!!!

      1. Long way into the comments before somebody finally said it!

    3. There’s nothing fun about a lack of pancakes

    4. Pancakes are overrated

      1. Pancakes are overrated

        The young one is correct. Anyone who chooses pancakes over french toast is worse than pedophile Hitler.

        1. Thank you. Agreed on french toast.

          1. Waffles! Unless you’re a politician.

        2. When the option is pancakes or French toast, then yes, the choice is obvious. lap83 does not appear to have faced that particular choice. He seems to be suggesting an intentional categorical rejection of pancakes, a position I find abhorrent.

          1. Argh, Crusty. Not lap. My mistake.

          2. I like French toast. Without the eggs.

            1. So… soggy bread?

              1. Follow Alton Brown’s French toast recipe and see if you change your mind.

                If you don’t mind filling your gut with loads of carbs first thing in the morning, that is. I recommend tofu-egg scramble and asceticism instead.

                1. I recommend tofu-egg scramble and asceticism instead

                  I’ll have the Zen Plate Special, if you please.

        3. This and this.

        4. There are pancakes, and there are pancakes. Sour milks are better than buttermilks. Oatmeal pancakes are different, and good IMO (Try with steel cut oats). You can make any of those lighter by separating the eggs, whipping the whites, and folding them into the rest of the batter. Beyond these there are wheat crumb, cornmeal, buckwheat and Dutch pannenkoeken, just to keep going. And then there’s the whole world of skinny pancakes, a/k/a crepes.

          At our house, we never make pancakes from a mix; always from scratch.

          Seems like everyone criticizes Rand’s literary style, which is fairly wooden. But sales of her books in spite of that must say something about her ideas. I got to Libertarianism by way of her.

    5. What about waffles?

      1. It has been even longer since I have had a waffle. Every time I try to correct this I stop and revert back to eggs.

        1. It has been even longer since I have had a waffle.

          I’m not surprised.

          waffles aged out of your preferred demographic some time ago.

          1. Some hippy coupled opened up a waffleria down the street. They serve waffles piled over with an assortment of sweet or savory options. I got mine with sausage and egg covered with maple syrup. Delicious.

            1. There’s a place near me that’s similar, with the waffles being “authentic Belgian” style. Impossible for me to go in there without hurting myself, and loving every delicious bite.

              1. Put maple syrup on just about anything and it’s bound to taste delicious. And Canadian.

      2. Especially blue waffles………yum………

        1. Threads like this are why I come to Reason……

  10. I missed when conservative statist slaver Ryan became “libertarian-leaning.”

    1. Lean in!

    2. He’s “libertarian-leaning” in the sense of “Hey there libertarian, lean over and try to relax.”

      1. It’s actually better (in a Sparrow/Children of God sense) if the glibertarian isn’t relaxed.

    3. He does have better small government bona fides than most congressmen.

      1. Boner fidelity?

      2. How so?

        “Ryan as congressman has supported, from TARP to Medicare Part D to auto bailouts (as un-Randian as you could imagine, as Conor Friedersdorf noted in his article rightly dubbing Ryan a Rand villain) and the Patriot Act.”

        He’s sounds like a generic “conservative” establishment Republican to me. I can think of plenty of congressmen who have better small government bona fides than him: Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, Raul Labrador, Dana Rohrabacher, Mark Sanford, Mia Love, Ted Yoho, etc.

        1. Pretty much this. Ryan at least isn’t an orange crybaby monstrosity and will probably be a better negotiator than Boner.

  11. the libertarian-leaning Wisconsin Republican.

    I dunno who that is, but the painter made him look kinda like Paul Ryan.

  12. Right to life? The only way to insure it is to repurpose the DEA.

    1. We can call it the PEA – the Pregnancy Enforcement Authority. Run by PEA brains.

  13. libertarian-leaning Wisconsin Republican

    This might be why you don’t end up with particularly good interns, Katherine. When everyone is a libertarian, no one is.

    1. I keep putting my application in and every year they turn me down. Granted, my experience consists of commenting here and for samples I give the H&R url, but I would do the commentariat proud.

      1. Have you tried putting maple syrup on it?

  14. The weirdest part is the rabbit coming out of the tunnel with a pancake on its head.


    1. Dude, that’s Oolong.

      1. Thanks. That made my day. I purely love eccentric people, and that is galactic-class eccentricity.

  15. You people need to stop it! You made me snort chicken noodle soup all over my keyboard! At work, no less!

  16. This is why we can’t have nice things. Like small government.

    1. Or clean keyboards.

  17. How much does Ayn Rand love Paul Ryan? Ayn Rand wasn’t a sucker. How much does Paul Ryan love Ayn Rand? Boundlessly until another bill shows up on his desk.

  18. I think that Ryan’s election as speaker actually represents the END of the Republican civil war, or at least the beginning of the end. All in all, the Tea Party has petered out, having nudged the R’s marginally to the right on fiscal issues. Most of the gains of the 2011 budget deal have been clawed back, but the establishment has had to concede some power to the right wing insurgents. Ryan represent the new grand bargain between the various wings of the party.

    1. By end do you mean the Liberty/tea party (whatever they are called now) caucus is finished and the establishment will continue on as it has? Cause if that’s what you mean then I agree.

      Look at what these pricks have done since 2010. Absolutely nothing good. Or Conservative. Or Libertarian.

      1. I think the establishment shifted slightly rightward and is absorbing/co-opting the Liberty/tea Party insurgents. Fiscal policy will be incrementally more conservative and the Tea Party congressmen will be bought off by giving them more leadership positions, as long as they prove themselves accomodating.

        1. I think your analysis is pretty spot on.

  19. Sorry, but Paul Ryan is no where remotely close to being a Libertarian.

  20. There is only one thing of Rand’s I want him to believe:

    “Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned. The recognition of individual rights entails the banishment of physical force from human relationships: basically, rights can be violated only by means of force. In a capitalist society, no man or group may initiate the use of physical force against others. The only function of the government, in such a society, is the task of protecting man’s rights, i.e., the task of protecting him from physical force; the government acts as the agent of man’s right of self-defense, and may use force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use; thus the government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of force under objective control.” ? ? AYN RAND

    The proper function of government is to defend individual negative liberty with the retaliatory use of force.

  21. ‘”we owe it to the American people to give them a clear choice: Do you want a collectivist welfare state or do you want to get back to being a free market?”‘

    No, as the first option necessarily involves some people making the choice for other people. It’s like saying, “We owe it to Tony and Mik?os to give them a clear choice: Do you want to split up Nardo’s treasure or do you want to let him keep it and dispose of it as he will?” And then calling it a moral case.

    1. Yes. Giving other people a “choice” of whether they want to loot other people’s stuff is immoral.

    2. The American ‘people’ were already given that choice twice, in ’08 and ’12. And the voting majority chose the looter welfare state each time.

      1. Do you really think there was a significant difference between the choices?

  22. The dreaded Atheistic Worldview!

    (*ominous chord of DOOOOOOMMMMM*)

  23. As a man who enjoys the work of Giger, I find that painting disturbing.

  24. Fuck this. Paul Ryan voted for the 700 billion dollar TARP subsidy and bailout, the GM-Chrysler bailout, the confiscatory taxes on CEO bonuses, No Child Left Behind, the $192 billion stimulus bill in 2009, the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, the expansion of the Medicare prescription drug program in 2003, and, when running as Romney’s VP, he was all in for tariffs.

    Ryan is a big government, establishment Republican. He has nothing in common with Rand, Objectivism, or even conservatism and libertarianism for that matter.

  25. Live Free[er]?

    Dear Reason reader,

    one of the most personal freedom- damaging beliefs you can have [one of many :-)] , is the belief in the necessity of political involvement – to supposedly “improve” your life via the political process.

    Fact: as an individual you will _never_ enjoy a freer life for yourself until you completely reject the “drug”, “religion” [ or whatever else you want to call it] known as “political activism” or “involvement”, in its entirety.

    It is nothing more than a trap- a dead end that ultimately _decreases_ your chances for more personal freedom and happiness in this world.

    Regards, onebornfree.
    Personal Freedom Consulting:

  26. Yep. We definitely need to take a fresh look at how positive christianity went from banning movies of Jack Johnson boxing matches to mass nationalsocialist rallies at Nuremberg… to war crimes trials in that same city. Everyone loved Jesus and approved heartily of altruism, sacrifice and the initiation of force. What went wrong?
    The Brandens were into psychology when it was still a science, and Solomon Asch was measuring the monkey-see-monkey-do effect of social pressure on decisions. Ryan is simply a cowardly collectivist, the exact thing that took over Germany in 1933 even as voters the US were struggling to shake off the influence of that same ideology.

  27. Paul Ryan is going to unite the GOP: by kicking all the libertarians and tea partiers out, and then going full neocon.

  28. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go? to tech tab for work detail,,,,,,,


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