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Monday, May 27, 2013

• • • ‘Mad Men’: Villains, Victims, and Lies 
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Atlas Shrugged  |Objectivist author  | I suffer from cultural claustrophobia. What is "cultural claustrophobia?" It is the feeling of being imprisoned in a culture that is basically anti-freedom, anti-capitalist, anti-American, anti-reason, and anti-value. In short, of being marooned in an alien, hostile, leftist culture determined to wear or beat down anyone who won't yield to its propaganda and beseechments and stealthy osmosis and refuses to get with the collectivist program. [....] I do not think I am alone in suffering this phenomenon. It is quite common among men who see the civilized world slipping into anarchy and tyranny and cannot understand why. Ayn Rand called it "our cultural value-deprivation."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

• • Founding Father James Madison vs. Al Capone’s Enforcer, Frank Nitti 
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Atlas Shrugged  |Objectivist author  | Today’s politicians are not Madison’s intellectual heirs; they are Alinsky’s, and Frank Nitti’s, with numerous political go-betweens on the descent to legislative thuggery and imbecility:  the prim and proper Progressive Woodrow Wilson; the disgraceful Warren G. Harding; the socialist opportunist Franklin D. Roosevelt; the pouting thug Harry S. Truman (the model for Ayn Rand’s “chief of state” villain, Mr. Thompson, in Atlas Shrugged); the bland nonentity Dwight D. Eisenhower; the fascist John F. Kennedy. And all of those who followed, including Ronald Reagan.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

• • Margaret Thatcher: A Singular Ambition 
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Objectivist author  | Hong Kong now exists in a political purgatory. I am reminded by this whole sorry episode of two of Ayn Rand's rules on compromise: 1) In any conflict between two men (or two groups) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent one who wins; 2) In any collaboration between two men (or two groups) who hold different basic principles, it is the more evil or irrational one who wins.

Friday, April 12, 2013

• • The Associated Press’s Blanking Out 
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Atlas Shrugged  |Objectivist author  | [The AP] has excised the terms Islamist and illegal immigrant from its style book. [....] It is an exercise in what novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand called “blanking out.”

Sunday, March 03, 2013

 House of Cards: No Heroes, Only Various Shades of Villany and Corruption 
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Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  |Objectivist author  | The only “anti-capitalist” elements in the American version are Claire Underwood’s foundation, “Clean Water Initiative (CWI), a billionaire who somehow owns a lot of nuclear power plants, and some natural gas conglomerate, the latter two entities intimately tied to the president and to the plot and the competition for government favors. But I suppose that if you were going to indict the Democrats, you would need a couple of “private” interests lobbying for those favors (a la Orren Boyle’s Associated Steel Company in Atlas Shrugged). The Republicans could also be indicted for the same practice. But in Spacey’s “House of Cards,” all stops are pulled and the indictment is merciless.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

• • Al Gore, Al Jazeera, and the Gray Lady 
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Objectivist author  | Gore can only strut as a "successful businessman" if the government subsidizes these companies, or passes legislation forcing everyone else to patronize them. So rich a man as Gore, in these times, can only "profit" if he's a member of what Ayn Rand called an "aristocracy of pull."

Monday, February 04, 2013

• • Real rights vs. “rights” (state-dispensed privileges) 
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The Virtue of Selfishness  |Capitalism  |Individual Rights  |Objectivist author  | [W]hat are rights? Novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand wrote: “A ‘right’ is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life….The concept of a“right” pertains only to action—specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.”

Saturday, February 02, 2013

• • Obama’s Anti-Absolutism Club 
,
Atlas Shrugged  |Objectivist author  | The nation is in a rotten mood, that is, that part of it fed up with the fascist populism and mob rule and the arrogance of a man who thinks he’s God’s or Nature’s gift to the masses. The time will come – and there are bellwether stirrings among the newly disenfranchised of the middle class, the rich, the constitutionalists, the originalists, the “libertarian fantasists” – when men will take up their illegal muskets and semiautomatics and oppose the mobs and SWAT teams and the OWS Stoßtruppen. [....] Or, try this scenario: They will go on strike, à la Atlas Shrugged.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

• • Nihilism in cinema 
,
The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution  |Objectivist author  | What is epistemology? Novelist/Philosopher Ayn Rand defined it as “a science devoted to the discovery of the proper methods of acquiring and validating knowledge.” Psycho-epistemology, she went on to explain, is “is the study of man’s cognitive processes from the aspect of the interaction between the conscious mind and the automatic functions of the subconscious.”

Sunday, January 27, 2013

• • Our Zombie Culture 
,
The Fountainhead  |Objectivist author  | Briefly, according to some accounts, the term “zombie” was popularized in our culture by Bela Lugosi in his 1932 movie, WhiteZombie. The term has Haitian voodoo origins, of course, and the notion of a zombie has ancient European folklore parallels, as well. Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein monster was assembled from the body parts of the dead, thus technically making it a zombie. Stephen Mallory’s “drooling beast” in The Fountainhead could be said to be a zombie, too, a beast deaf to all reason, a thing that lives only to kill, a “maniac who’s had some disease that’s eaten his brain out….You’d see living eyes watching you and you’d know that the thing can’t hear you, that it can’t be reached, not reached, not in any way, yet it’s breathing and moving there before you with a purpose of its own…”*

Saturday, January 05, 2013

• • Turn Left at Hollywood and Vine 
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We The Living  |Capitalism  |The Fountainhead movie  |Objectivist author  | [Ingrid Bergman’s performance in For Whom the Bell Tolls] even bestsAlida Valli, the actress who plays Kira, the [...] passionate and convincing heroine of the 1942 Italian film version of Ayn Rand's We the Living.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

• • Family Security Matters 
,
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology  |Objectivist author  | From the Ayn Rand Lexicon: “A definition is a statement that identifies the nature of the units subsumed under a concept.”

• • A Carnival of the Left 
,
Objectivist author  | Once the world has been made right forever and ever, and all capitalists, “right-wingers,” “conservatives,” Objectivists, Constitution obsessers, Jews, the ideologically unfaithful, gun-lovers, Bible-huggers, libertarians, separationists, and First and Second Amendment cultists – in short, all the philosophically crippled (or “differently abled”) have been vanquished and buried in ecologically-friendly mass graves in a potter’s field, the inheritors of the earth will be able to celebrate their triumph at the Greatest Carnival There Ever Was or Ever Will Be.*

Friday, December 14, 2012

• • The Nihilism of the New Relativity 
,
The Fountainhead  |Objectivist author  | Relativism is the cowardly form of nihilism, whose end is to destroy man’s cognition and his capacity to hold values by elevating the mediocre, the nondescript, and the irrational. As Ellsworth Toohey, the arch villain of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, articulated the principal method: “Don’t set out to raze all shrines - you’ll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity - and the shrines are razed.” It is for the sake of the mediocre, the nondescript, and the average that the relativists have waged a constant and enervating war.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

• • • John Galts vs The Obama Drones: Getting the Hell Out of Their Way 
,
Altruism  |Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  |Leonard Peikoff  |Objectivist author  | In one of the climatic scenes in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, John Galt, the philosopher/scientist who is a prisoner of the government, is taken to a televised banquet in an upscale New York hotel, arranged by the government to show the world its new savior and to hear how he plans to save it. He is prodded, with a gun stuck into his ribs through his tuxedo jacket, to make a speech about how he would go about doing it. After all, his captors believe that because he is a brilliant man, his brilliance can save their lives and the nation. All he need do is think and issue orders. [....] Galt was expected, urged, and begged to become the nation’s economic dictator. He refuses. His mind cannot be forced to solve a problem he does not wish to solve.

Monday, November 19, 2012

• • The Age of Envy and Entitlements: A New Kind of Civil War 
,
Objectivist author  | The American “sense of life.” Decades ago novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand wrote an essay, “Don’t Let It Go.” “Just as an individual’s sense of life can be better or worse than his conscious convictions, so can a nation’s. And just as an individual who has never translated his sense of life into conscious convictions is in terrible danger—no matter how good his subconscious values—so is a nation. This is the position of America today.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

• • Islam’s Affinity with Force and Fraud 
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The Fountainhead  |Objectivist author  | Imagine [Ellsworth] Toohey in a turban, or sporting a keffiyah and a pair of babouches. He could adapt to Islam, easily. It made no difference to him, either, which totalitarian system prevailed. He could submit to Islam, provided he could also subjugate the independent man and erase him from existence. His ends would comport smoothly with Islam’s – and his means, as well.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

• • The Many Appetites for Cruelty 
,
Atlas Shrugged  |Objectivist author  | Cruelty is intimately linked to sadism. A sadist is chiefly a nihilist. Like the villain James Taggart in Atlas Shrugged, who yells, “I want to break him! I want to hear him scream!” he wishes to erase the good so that the evil can exist unidentified as such and unopposed.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

• • The Court’s Mock Examination of Obamacare 
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Atlas Shrugged  |Individual Rights  |Objectivist author  | In Ayn Rand’s prophetic novel, Atlas Shrugged, Narragansett is a judge who has withdrawn his wisdom from the world in protest of the kind of “wisdom” exhibited by the Supreme Court. What he would actually be writing is an amendment. Doubtless he would have included the private realm of health insurance. It would have been a no-brainer.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

• • • Ayn Rand Nation: Look Elsewhere To Learn About Ayn Rand 
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Objectivist author  | Imagine a lecture on the ideas of Ayn Rand – or on those of Immanuel Kant, or John Locke, or Plato, or Aristotle, or on the philosophical system of any major thinker of the past – delivered by Ronald MacDonald in full clown regalia. Pretty ludicrous? Picture it combined with the rhetorical equivalent of “death by a thousand chortles,” punctuated with spittle-spewing Bronx cheers. Pretty disgusting? Not very amusing? Then you will have an idea of the nature and purpose of Gary Weiss’s book on Rand and Objectivism, Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America’s Soul.