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Is Atlas Shrugging on DC Metro buses?

6 Jan

Remember how during the economic collapse in Atlas Shrugged people start doing “Who is John Galt?” graffiti?

In the last pages of  the novel (which reason magazine editor Matt Welch has never read), as the economy collapses and the government becomes a dictatorship and cities lose power, Americans who don’t know exactly how and why the collectivist policies they tacitly supported caused the collapse, do, from their native surviving common sense, begin slapping bureaucrats so hard they break some jaws, and begin scribbling graffiti on walls reading “Who is John Galt?”

Today DC is immobilized, hysterically, by a few inches of snow, following a week where a whole zip code (Logan and Shaw) could not drink the government water, which smelled like kerosene (still no explanation).  Most of Dupont Circle, including one of my offices, has no power today, even though all the power cables there are under ground.  This is in a city where power goes out to many neighborhoods every year when a tree limb falls, and where Metro elevators and escalators are perpetually breaking down.

And today on one of the buses I took so as not to drive in the snow I saw this Obamacare poster, humorously defaced.  My first reaction:  Methinks the natives are getting restless!  I chuckled aloud.  But it turns out the ad is part of a series of very, very, neatly defaced ads.  The insurance companies are putting out ads targeting people who are frustrated with or hate Obamacare!  For the many people whose eyes would normally glaze over if presented with an ACA related ad, this ad gets them to read about the policy offered, by seeming to be rebellious anti-ACA graffiti.

One nation under Galt: How Ayn Rand’s toxic philosophy permanently transformed America

17 Dec

The Game is Afoot…

7 Dec
A libertarian e-pen pal warns me that Randians are plotting to use Cato to convince people that the human race is more important than other concerns:

I’m surprised that you don’t appear to believe that Cato is Objectivist. 

Ever since Ed Crane bit the hand that fed Cato Institute, Cato has been becoming more and more aligned with Randian idealism. It’s no secret that the Koch brothers are Objectivists, and John Allison has even been quoted as saying he has every intention of making Cato more Objectivist. David Boaz inadvertently pointed out why this was fundamentally such a bad idea in his essay Objectivists vs Libertarianism. A political philosophy shouldn’t be attached to a way of life. Look at the clusterfuck the Republican party has become since it allowed the Christian extremists to take over. A philosophy that weighs classist hierarchy over personal freedom has no business judging who is permitted to have the right to personal liberty or freedom. 

Instead of skirting these ideals with political reasoning, Cato has turned full force into linking some sort of pseudo-scientific rationality as to why something isn’t factual. Objectivism is about intellectual conquest, of which they believe savages lack an inherent right. Hence their unflagging devotion to war, conquest or even how we should be free to destroy the environment on the basis that we’re sentient over trees or plants. Based on Objectivism, how can Man possibly be at fault since it is fundamentally within our Darwinian right to survive as the fittest entity in the first place?

I don’t believe that Objectivists are any more Libertarian than Christian Tea Partiers. Liberty isn’t convenience, it’s inherent. The Cato Institute is now a zombie voice for the Koch Brothers, and frankly it does a disservice to the Libertarian party and obscure’s the publics understanding of it. 

Ten Things About the New "Atlas Shrugged" movie – in lieu of an actual review

16 Sep

1.  It may or may not be better than part 2.  It’s definitely better than part 1.  Libertarians are basically panning it everywhere, not for its (in)fidelity to Rand’s book, but for the talents of the directors and producers.





2.  The production values are somewhere around the level of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation or a B grade made for TV movie.  (Maybe that’s why so many trek actors, like Armin Shimmerman, have been sprinkled throughout this trilogy — they know how to act beside nothing but papier mache and glitter.)



(Shimmerman – are Ferengi interstellar Randians?)





3.  Rob Morrow (as Hank Reardon) and a number of well known TV character actors have bit parts or mid-level parts for which they are either bad casting or oddly brief cameos.


And who knew Hank Rearden was a hot Jewish boy?






(Morrow – I’d eat him with some horseradish!)


4.  Actor Kristoffer Polaha does a very respectable job as John Galt, as well as being both a moderately delicious hunk (though truth be told, aside from some pretty mountains, there isn’t a lot else for the gaze to settle on).  As long time Objectivisty libertarian Republican activist Ann Stone just emailed me “I was not crazy about this one at all…seemed stilted…the only positive was the hunk playing John Galt.”  So far all the gals and gay guys I have spoken to agree.

5.  The torture scene, where the worst of the fascist kakistocracy strip and electrocute Galt to try to force him to become the nation’s economic czar, features only a shirtless, not nude, Galt, unlike the book.  The special effects are also not good even for an old episode of TNG in this scene.  And though Polaha, married and the father of three, is 6’3″ and in better shape than me or most of the people reading this, by Hollywood standards he needs to lift some weights to have shirtless scene quality pecs.  Rearden is also not there to help rescue Galt, as he is in the novel.


6.  Funnily, Polaha does actually resemble a number of good looking libertarian boys, our better looking nerds, although he’s taller.  I think he and Gary Johnson’s son could be cousins.


7. Amazingly a number of people attending the group event screening I attended in Arlington, Virginia were libertarians who have never read Atlas Shrugged.  More amazingly they claimed to understand this movie without having read the book or in some cases having seen the first two installments.  I don’t think it is well written enough to stand alone, but if these other viewers can be trusted, I am wrong.


8.  Ron Paul, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Grover Norquist, among others, all appear, in some cases playing themselves and in some cases as extras.  It’s cute, but when someone does a real version of this someday, starring Anne Hathaway and Joe Mangeniello they should take these “product” placement gimmicks out.  (How come they didn’t get Kennedy to play Cheryl Taggart? I bet she would have been good at it for real.)


9.  It’s actually very touching and almost misty eyed making, mainly the scenes where Dagny and Galt navigate the fact that they want to be together but are on different sides of a war.


10.  The one thing the writers and directors did do well is condense The Speech and figure out how to film it.  Among all the overly long and loving panoramas of redwoods and mountains and the cheesy sets, this they did surprisingly well.

On teaching children to share

3 Jun
Very Bloggy Beth has a great post up on sharing.

Libertarian calendar for April

30 Apr
For Libertarian Party events go here

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    *********************************************************************************
    April 25
    8 pm Pacific

    Adam Kokesh on Outright Libertarian radio

    *********************************************************************************
    Washington DC
    April 30

    Who is Happy About Capitalism?

    ***Register here: http://bit.ly/1pz68P6

    Capitalism is the social system for individuals who want to achieve happiness in society. So why is it constantly attacked? Join Tom Bowden for a discussion of Ayn Rand’s unique insights into the system she called an “unknown ideal.”

    Lunch will be served.

    RSVP is required for attendance.

    Register: http://bit.ly/1pz68P6

    *********************************************************************************
    Washington DC
    April 30

    “This Town” by Mark Lebovitch
    6th and I Synagogue

    7 pm

    Admission:
    Ticket: $14
    1 ticket + 1 book: $18
    2 tickets + 1 book: $24
    How to Purchase:
    Online or by phone (877.987.6487 with a $1.50 fee per ticket). Additional fees apply.
    Seating:
    General Admission
    Doors Open:
    6:00 pm

    Mark Leibovich

    In Conversation with Franklin Foer and David Brooks

    Apr 30, 2014 • 7:00 pm
    Hailed as a “hysterically funny portrait of the capital’s vanities and ambitions” (The New Yorker), This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral—Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!—in America’s Gilded Capital captured America’s attention asthe political book of 2013.
    Washington, D.C., might be loathed from every corner of the nation, yet these are fun and busy days at this nexus of big politics, big money, big media, and big vanity. There are no Democrats and Republicans anymore in the nation’s capital, just millionaires. In This Town,Leibovich—chief national correspondent forThe New York Times Magazine—presents a blistering examination of our ruling class’s incestuous “media industrial complex.”
    …  More +
    More Info: Twitter

    Ayn Rand Miscellany

    21 Apr
    1) Ayn Rand, sort of, and John Galt, kinda sorta, make appearances in this Dadaist film about memory, forgetfulness, awkward social situations, and very common names.  Here’s the trailer; you may have to go to your local indie film festival to see the Rand bits – or you can pay to see it online.  It’s not an Objectivist movie, but it also doesn’t have an evil sense of life.  Besides Rand, James Joyce, H.P. Lovecraft and other authors are parodied.

    2) A completely ignorant internet exam (click here) seeks to tell you your Objectivist quotient.  Unfortunately almost half the questions are very badly designed by an author who knows little about the topic, e.g. he thinks there is an Objectivist position for or against meditation.