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Monday, November 19, 2012

• • The Quiet Ones 
When the train came to my stop I had to walk by his seat again on my way out. “Glad we could come to a peaceful coexistence,” I said as I passed. He raised a finger to stay me a moment. “There are no conflicts of interest,” he pronounced, “between rational men.” This sounded like a questionable proposition to me, but I appreciated the conciliatory gesture. The quote turns out to be from Ayn Rand. I told you we talked like this in the Quiet Car.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

 The Party of Work 
Individualism  | [The original American creed] evolved with the decades. Starting in the mid-20th century, there was a Southern and Western version of it, formed by ranching Republicans like Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Their version drew on the traditional tenets: ordinary people are capable of greatness; individuals have the power to shape their destinies; they should be given maximum freedom to do so. This is not an Ayn Randian, radically individualistic belief system. Republicans in this mold place tremendous importance on churches, charities and families — on the sort of pastoral work Mitt Romney does and the sort of community groups Representative Paul Ryan celebrated in a speech at Cleveland State University last month. But this worldview is innately suspicious of government.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

• • • Glories of Capitalism, With Gas at $40 a Gallon 
Atlas Shrugged movie  |Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Capitalism  |The Fountainhead movie  |Image  |Video  | If you have never read Ayn Rand’s legendary 1957 novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” (guilty!) or seen the 2011 dystopian fantasy “Atlas Shrugged: Part I” (not guilty, alas), you may have trouble parsing who’s doing what and why in that movie’s narratively addled sequel. “Atlas Shrugged: Part II,” which opened on Friday and was not shown in advance to critics for The New York Times, takes off where “Part I” left off. Like the first, it opens in 2016 with the world gripped in an economic crisis (and rife with amusingly torpid Occupy-style protests) that has led to an astonishing development that sounds like an environmentalist’s dream: because gas costs more than $40 a gallon, Americans now rely on railroads as their major means of transportation.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

• • Disdain for Workers 
Atlas Shrugged  | Where does this disdain for workers come from? Some of it, obviously, reflects the influence of money in politics: big-money donors, like the ones Mr. Romney was speaking to when he went off on half the nation, don’t live paycheck to paycheck. But it also reflects the extent to which the G.O.P. has been taken over by an Ayn Rand-type vision of society, in which a handful of heroic businessmen are responsible for all economic good, while the rest of us are just along for the ride. [....] Now, such sentiments aren’t new; “Atlas Shrugged” was, after all, published in 1957. In the past, however, even Republican politicians who privately shared the elite’s contempt for the masses knew enough to keep it to themselves and managed to fake some appreciation for ordinary workers. At this point, however, the party’s contempt for the working class is apparently too complete, too pervasive to hide.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

• • • OP-ART; Judge This Book by Its Cover 
Atlas Shrugged  |Image  | A graphic artist redesigns Ayn Rand’s novel for the election season.

• • How the Choice of Ryan Affects the Race 
Atheism  | “Conservative Star’s Small-Town Roots” (“The Long Run” series, front page, Aug. 13) says Representative Paul D. Ryan took a “passionate interest” in Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand is like one of those childhood diseases such as measles or chickenpox: if one must, it is best to develop the enthusiasm early and outgrow it as one matures. The reason that Mr. Ryan has “disavowed” Ms. Rand probably has to do with his inability to reconcile her economics with her militant atheism and contempt for Christianity.

• • Sunday Dialogue: Are Americans Selfish? 
Egoism  | [T]hose at the top of the socioeconomic pyramid tend to vote in their self-interest, and tens of millions of others vote with them and undermine their own interests in the process. I have never subscribed to Ayn Rand’s top-down advocacy for the “virtue of selfishness,” but from the bottom up it might be just what we need.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

• • • Galt, Gold and God 
Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  |Paul Ryan  | So far, most of the discussion of Paul Ryan, the presumptive Republican nominee for vice president, has focused on his budget proposals. But Mr. Ryan is a man of many ideas, which would ordinarily be a good thing. In his case, however, most of those ideas appear to come from works of fiction, specifically Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged.” For those who somehow missed it when growing up, “Atlas Shrugged” is a fantasy in which the world’s productive people — the “job creators,” if you like — withdraw their services from an ungrateful society. The novel’s centerpiece is a 64-page speech by John Galt, the angry elite’s ringleader; even Friedrich Hayek admitted that he never made it through that part. Yet the book is a perennial favorite among adolescent boys. Most boys eventually outgrow it. Some, however, remain devotees for life.

• • Beware a Beautiful Calm 
Syndicated  | Even Catholic bishops, who had to be dragged toward compassion in the pedophilia scandal, were dismayed at Ryan’s uncompassionate budget. [....] The Jesuits were even more tart, with one group writing to Ryan that “Your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

• • Prime Time for Paul Ryan’s Guru (the One That’s Not Ayn Rand) 
Capitalism  |Paul Ryan  |Image  | Nobody (not even Hayek) has ever taken his abstract, philosophical writings and constructed an actual plan for governance. Do you eliminate all those government agencies on the same day? How much should the government-issued base salary for all citizens be? And how exactly do you make plans for the future if you don’t believe in economic forecasts? There are countless practical issues, all of which are likely to spur intense argument, especially because other Tea Party favorites, like Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman, often disagreed with Hayek (Rand once called him “pure poison”) and with one another on fundamental issues.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

 When Cruelty Is Cute 
Altruism  |Atlas Shrugged  |Individualism  |Personal life  | And Rand would not have approved of [Paul] Ryan’s votes in the House backing W.’s profligate spending on unwinnable wars, a bank bailout and a Medicare expansion. She would no doubt have been thrilled, however, that under the Ryan budget plan, the megarich Romney would go from paying shamefully as little as possible in taxes to virtually no taxes. [....] His long infatuation with her makes him seem even younger than he looks with his cowlick because Randism is a state of arrested adolescence, making its disciples feel like heroic teenagers atop a lofty mountain peak.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

• • • Ayn Rand Wouldn’t Approve of Paul Ryan 
Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Individualism  |Paul Ryan  | Early in his Congressional career, Paul D. Ryan, the Wisconsin representative and presumptive Republican vice-presidential nominee, would give out copies of Ayn Rand’s book “Atlas Shrugged” as Christmas presents. He described the novelist of heroic capitalism as “the reason I got into public service.” But what would Rand think of Mr. Ryan?

Saturday, August 04, 2012

 Five Obamacare Myths 
Under the law, to be sure, insurance will be governed by new regulations, and supported by new subsidies. This is not the law Ayn Rand would have written. But the share of health care spending that comes from the federal government is expected to rise only modestly, to nearly 50 percent in 2021, and much of that is due not to Obamacare but to baby boomers joining Medicare.

Monday, July 30, 2012

 America the Philosophical, by Carlin Romano 
Book review: America the Philosophical, by Carlin Romano.
The formerly marginalized groups of African-Americans, women, Native Americans and gays have a chapter each; two-thirds of this space is devoted to the chapter on women, one of the richest in the book, which features Ayn Rand, Hannah Arendt, Susan Sontag, Camille Paglia, Martha Nussbaum and a host of lesser-known thinkers.

 Nora Ephron, Essayist, Screenwriter and Director, Dies at 71 
In the late 1960s Ms. Ephron turned to magazine journalism, at Esquire and New York mostly. She quickly made a name for herself by writing frank, funny personal essays — about the smallness of her breasts, for example — and tart, sharply observed profiles of people like Ayn Rand, Helen Gurley Brown and the composer and best-selling poet Rod McKuen.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

• • Kira Peikoff, Matthew Beilis 

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand  |Leonard Peikoff  | Kira Lily Peikoff, the daughter of Cynthia P. Peikoff of Irvine, Calif., and Leonard Peikoff of Aliso Viejo, Calif., was married Saturday to Matthew Seth Beilis, a son of Rosalie and Alan Beilis of Matawan, N.J. Ben Pomerantz, a Universal Life minister and an uncle of the bride, officiated at the Surf and Sand Resort in Laguna Beach, Calif. [....] The bride’s father is the author of “Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand,” and was the executor of Ms. Rand’s estate. The bride’s mother is a psychotherapist in private practice in Irvine.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

 Capitalists and Other Psychopaths 
Capitalism  | There’s been a lot of talk lately about “job creators,” a phrase begotten by Frank Luntz, the right-wing propaganda guru, on the ghost of Ayn Rand. The rich deserve our gratitude as well as everything they have, in other words, and all the rest is envy.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

 Free Events at Littlefield, and a PEN Reading in Carroll Gardens 
The youngsters should probably be cleared out for Sunday’s evening program, a free 7:30 performance of Adam Guthman’s one-man show, “The Conceit of My Pants,” described as something of an extended circular improvisation involving terrifying elements like wormholes, murder, apocalypse and Ayn Rand. It sounds like a laugh to the Miser, at least.

Monday, April 30, 2012

• • Ryan’s Rise From Follower to G.O.P. Trailblazer 
Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Paul Ryan  | [Paul] Ryan likes to dispel two “urban legends” around him. First, he said, he is not a disciple of Rand, the strident libertarian. Second, he never drove the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. In fact, there is some truth to both. In a 2009 Facebook video, Mr. Ryan said the “kind of thinking” in the Rand epics “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” was “sorely needed right now.” As for the Wienermobile, one summer as he was pressing Oscar Mayer Lunchables and turkey bacon on meat buyers in rural Minnesota, two “very nice young ladies” who were driving the hotdog-shaped vehicle did let him “take it for a spin,” he confessed.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

 The Gullible Center 
Paul Ryan  |Syndicated  | So, can we talk about the Paul Ryan phenomenon? And yes, I mean the phenomenon, not the man. Mr. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and the principal author of the last two Congressional Republican budget proposals, isn’t especially interesting. He’s a garden-variety modern G.O.P. extremist, an Ayn Rand devotee who believes that the answer to all problems is to cut taxes on the rich and slash benefits for the poor and middle class.