What Would John Galt Do?

A whole different way of looking at "WWJD"

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Left Hand of Thanks

There's an abundance of sloppy-sentimental "patriotism" in America on days like the one just past.  And a fair number of creeps who come out of the woodwork to exploit a day that is supposed to be about honoring those who died in service to America -- for partisan political fuckery.

I'm a Libertarian who doesn't go Full Rothbard.  I am not anti-war, and I am not anti-military.  I shan't elaborate here; I only want to make it clear that I'm not coming from any of the usual ideological perspectives as I write this.

So I ran across a rant over the weekend by someone claiming to be "a veteran of both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy" who "served from Vietnam to Beirut" (it's possible -- the two were only about ten years apart) about the hollowness of the whole "Thank a Vet" that has become all but a meaningless gesture.

His rant starts out well:
...but why are people doing it, really?

I am old enough to have experienced the very different reception that was given to Vietnam era veterans where veterans were spat upon, called names like "murderer, baby killer, baby burner,” etc. Sometimes ... people who were there (America 1960s-70s) try to compensate for the shameful actions still lodged in their memories....

There are others, unfortunately, and they seem the most vocal and public, who just want to feel good about themselves. They want to be seen thanking veterans and by doing so ... gain the image of being "Patriotic." It isn't really about the veteran, it is all about them....
Amen.  I, too wonder whether a lot of this is an overreaction to the despicable way that returning Vietnam vets were treated.  Unfortunately, from there the rant takes a sharp Left turn and proceeds straight down the road to Hell:


If you really want to thank a Veteran: 

...Stop voting for people who deny help for military families who need food stamps to exist month to month.

Stop voting for people who make it impossible for veterans and their families to get the education they need to build a better life.

Stop voting for people who ... could not care less if your grandmother loses her home and has to live in a cardboard box under a bridge while you are serving your country in Afghanistan and her Social Security and Medicare are taken away.
What a steaming pile of crap.  This is pure Democrat National Committee propaganda:  NO politician has ever denied anyone food stamps, or taken away anyone's Social Security, but the DNC has been slandering Republicans with these charges for decades.  And the remark about making it impossible for vets to get an education -- a pure, lying, sack of shit.

Look carefully at the wording:  this has come straight out of the DNC talking points, word for word.

So we know that we're dealing with a partisan Democrat.  And we've known since the Paul Wellstone funeral that Democrats will exploit any corpse in pursuit of their Socialist agenda.  I shouldn't be surprised, I guess, that they also have no qualms about desecrating dead soldiers, but -- a veteran!  Doing this to his own!  I've lost a little bit of my respect for veterans qua veterans*, right here.

Enough of that.  So I got to thinking about the whole "military families on food stamps" meme, and got to wondering:  What does that actually mean?  And just how in the hell does that happen?  If a couple is that poor, they have no business having babies they can't afford.  Why should it matter if one of them is a soldier?  Does "supporting our troops" mean that we also have to support all the kids they're having?

So I decided to do a little fact checking.  I presume that we're not talking about officers here.  So here are this year's monthly pay grades for grunts:

E-1E-2E-3E-4E-5
2 years or less$1,546.83$1,733.88$1,824.24$2,019.48$2,202.90
Over 2 years$1,546.83$1,733.88$1,938.04$2,122.92$2,350.74
Over 3 years$1,546.83$1,733.88$2,055.38$2,238.07$2,464.34

A few notes:

  • Promotion from E-1 to E-2 is pretty much automatic during the first year.  After 2 years, the only E-1's are people who really screwed up.
  • Hardly anyone makes E-5 in the first four years.
  • This is taxable income, so it would be an apples-to-apples comparison to civilian pay... except:
  • They also get a housing allowance, tax-free.  This varies by zip code, but a quick check in zip codes where I've lived indicate that it very nearly amounts to free rent.  Not quite, but very close.
  • So for a real apples-to-apples comparison, add to these numbers whatever rents are typical for your zip code.
Now let's compare all this to this year's food stamp thresholds:

Household size Gross monthly income (130 percent of poverty) Net monthly income (100 percent of poverty)
1 $1,265 $ 973
2 1,705 1,311
3 2,144 1,650
4 2,584 1,988
5 3,024 2,326

So there's no way that a young childless couple, one of whom is in the military, is going to get food stamps.  Even if only one of them is working.

Even with one kid, it ain't happening.  With two kids and the soldier hasn't made it past being a PFC, still probably not.  Three kids -- if you're popping out three kids in your first three years in the service, and you haven't yet made E3 -- uh, something is wrong with this picture.

I checked with a family member who is a recent veteran, and he told me that "military families on food stamps" is a crock.  He said that the whole time he was in, he never knew anyone who was on food stamps.

So if you want to thank a veteran -- first of all, don't do it with your left wing hand.  Deal with things as they really are, not as some Socialist wants the world to view them.

Or better yet, wait for "Hanoi Jane" Fonda to die and go piss on her grave.  But you're going to have to wait in line... a long line... mostly of veterans...

Just sayin'.

You can read the original rant here.
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* By that I mean:  it does not lessen my respect for any individual, that I already know, who happens to be a veteran; it does mean that I am less likely to prejudicially favor someone I don't yet know, just because s/he is a member of that group.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Fifty Shades of Bootleggers and Baptists

Any time two despicable groups who hate each other agree on something, know that your freedom is at stake.

Economists have long observed a phenomenon that, in their jargon, they simply call "Bootleggers and Baptists."  You should probably Google it to get the whole story, but here's the nutshell version:

As it became more and more obvious what a colossal mistake Prohibition was in the United States, two groups remained steadfastly opposed to the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment:  religious busybodies whom God had anointed to stick their noses into other people's personal choices and pleasures -- and the criminals who profited enormously from supplying the forbidden drug.

Here were two groups that hated each other, working toward a common goal.  Note that the goal was the loss of personal freedom.

And now we have another Holy War, again waged by two despicable groups joining forces to deny you the freedom to make your own personal choices.  I would like to call this one Feminists and Fundamentalists (or "F&F" for short) in the hate campaign currently being waged against the movie Fifty Shades of Grey that will be released later this week.

Both groups really do not want you to watch that movie.  Or, apparently, read the book.

I saw the trailer and, frankly, it's boring:  well, duh, it's a "chick flick."  And I've heard that the novel isn't exactly high prose.  But nobody is complaining about the movie being boring or the novel being poorly-written.  No, they're complaining that it "promotes" (i.e., exposes people to forbidden ideas) a sexual practice that has been around since humans first evolved from the apes:  BDSM (Bondage, Dominance, Sado-Masochism).  And therefore, you shouldn't watch it.  Nobody should watch it.  Because, well, "vanilla" sex is the only kind that is Approved By God.  Or something.

The feminists hate it because, well, Doms and Subs*.  And any time the Dom is male and the Sub is female, then we have a problem.  Because, you know,  oppression and exploitation and hegemony and all the rest of that huge steaming pile of Marxist crap that is called Postmodernism.

Now, it isn't likely that I'll ever read the book or watch the movie.  Which saddens me a little bit because I love seeing Holier-than-thou Christians and Postmodern feminists suffer.  But I have a feeling that the movie will be a great success without me.

BDSM isn't for everyone.  But there are some people I count as friends who derive great pleasure from it, and who have taken the effort to explain to me what they do and why.  I shan't go into details here, but there is a well-known physiological basis to the pleasure that a "Sub" derives from BDSM play.  And it is all consensual:  all of the people I know who do this kind of play have a rather strict set of rules governing consent, and of ensuring that consent is continuous throughout the play session.

So, if you don't like BDSM, don't engage in it.  But what other people do with their genitals between or among consenting adults IS NONE OF YOUR GODDAMNED BUSINESS.

If you don't like Fifty Shades of Grey, then don't watch it.  If other people want to watch it, that's their business, not yours.  Leave them alone.

And -- dare I suggest? -- if you think other people's sexuality is any of your business, you need a spanking.

* Not gonna explain it.  Go look it up.  NOT at work!

Friday, November 21, 2014

On Thanksgiving, thank an economist

By now most of you reading this have heard the story of what actually happened in Plymouth Rock between the time the Pilgrims landed in 1620 and the first Thanksgiving feast in 1623, so I shan't dwell on it very long.

For the rest, here's a cursory explanation of the story; you are encouraged to look it up and fill in the details yourselves:

The original Mayflower Compact held that it was to be a Collectivist society, with no private property and all work to be done in common. Within three months, half of them were dead. And for the next two years, starvation and resentment ruled the colony.

William Bradford recorded the reason in his diary:
For this comunitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much imploymet that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For ye yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour and service did repine that they should spend their time and streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, with out any recompence. ... And for mens wives to be commanded to doe servise for other men, as dresing their meate, washing their cloaths, &c., they deemd it a kind of slav­erie, neither could many husbands well brokke it.
The same thing happened in the Ukraine three hundred years later when the Soviet Union tried Collectivism again.  Fifty million people died of starvation in one of the richest wheat-growing regions in the world.

After two years of starvation at Plymouth (the daily ration of corn was reportedly three kernels per person) the Colony elders relented from their Utopian "Platonic ideal" and divided up the land among the families, with each empowered to keep all of what they harvested, to consume or to trade as they wished.

And that year's harvest was abundant beyond all expectations.

150 years later, men began studying economics and we now understand what happened there and why it happened. What happened was: Private property. Individual rights. Free Trade.

At its core, Thanksgiving is a celebration of the triumph of individual rights over Collectivism. And that is why I shan't be spending it with my family, or with any others who still believe the fables of Collectivism. I shall spend it with someone who, like me, understands economics -- and appreciates the power thereof.

I suggest that all who read this do the same.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

One More Thing...

Ever since my first post on this blog, I've been reminding you Dear Readers that there are only three things that really light my fuse.  Those are, and have always been (in no particular order):  Stupidity, Dishonesty, and Hypocrisy.

Almost everything that angers me in today's political or interpersonal discourse -- most of which can be boiled down to people who want to control other peoples' lives -- fits very nicely into one or more of those three categories.  Environmentalists, fundamentalist Christians, Marxists, clueless Republicans, Keynesians, fundamentalist Muslims, anti-Free Market corporations, what Ayn Rand called "moochers, looters and parasites," Democrats (but I repeat myself), and people who think it's their business to dictate what other people do with their sex organs -- all are guilty of at least one of the above, most are guilty of two, and a few are guilty of all three.

About a year ago I began recognizing a fourth category.  This is the "One More Thing" that is the subject of today's post:

Hatred.

Hatred is inextricably linked with that most vile of all human drives:  the urge to control others.

Over the last two and a half decades we have seen a precipitous rise in what Rush Limbaugh once called "the politics of personal destruction" practiced by the Left.  It's a lot older than that, of course -- witness the way they utterly destroyed Sen. Joe McCarthy (who, as we now know, was right all along).  What I am talking about is the ongoing, nonstop barrage of sustained machine-gun-fire of hatred that I first noticed in the hate campaign against loggers in the Pacific Northwest.  In that campaign cute, fuzzy, large-eyed Spotted Owls were pitted in a false-dichotomy struggle against "evil," "greedy," logger-"rapists."  Yes, they actually referred to loggers as "rapists," and did so repeatedly. And they won that war, just as they won the one against Sen. McCarthy four decades earlier.

Since demonization is one of the most pernicious of the panoply of ad hominem attacks employed daily by the Left, it is worth taking our time to look at it here before moving on.  Since a demon is the Spawn of Hell and one of Satan's minions (i.e., not a human being), once you have successfully demonized someone -- which means to turn that person into a demon in the eyes of your audience -- you make that person less than human.

So in the end, demonization is dehumanization.  And once you have successfully dehumanized someone, that person no longer deserves any human rights, and you are free to abuse him in any way that your most perverse tastes desire.  You may take away his property -- everything he owns, and everything he will ever own -- his dignity, and even that most precious human right of all, his life.  You need never concern yourself again with any of the moral injunctions that govern relations between and among human beings, because that person is not a human; s/he has become an other.

And this is what political discourse in the United States has come down to.

The next barrage after the Spotted Owl hoax, launched even before that one had died down, was in response to a flawed and vastly over-reaching 1992 Oregon ballot measure to insert language into the state Constitution "that recognizes homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism and masochism as abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse."  As extreme, ridiculous and stupid as this was, the Left managed to outperform the measure's sponsors, ratcheting the demonization all the way Up To Eleven with the vilest, most vicious ad hominem attacks ever seen at that time.

Note that the sexual Neanderthals (fundamentalist Christians, all) who proposed the measure never engaged in even a single ad hominem attack throughout the entire campaign -- but their opponents did, repeatedly.  Note that while Lefties are fond of invoking Godwin's Law to shut down a debate, they repeatedly made lying references to Nazi Germany in that debate, invoking revisionist events that never happened.  And they made repeated use of the words "hate" and "bigotry" without ever bothering to look up what those two words actually mean.

But I did look them up, back then.  Mostly because I wanted to understand what the word "bigot" actually means, and what it does not, before using the word in a sentence.  Using a Funk & Wagnall's, I started with the word "bigotry" and then looked up, in the same dictionary, the actual meaning of all the words that were used to define "bigotry."  And then I looked up the meanings of the words used to define those words.  And so on, until I came to what I believed was a solid, foundational understanding of what was being talked about.

What I found was that if you trace far enough, you'll find that both hate and bigotry involve taking away someone's rights. 

We shan't go into the issue of whether the ballot measure did that.  I mentioned the story mainly to segue into what "hate" is, and is not.  And to explain, in precise terms, what I mean when I use the word in a political context:

When I accuse someone of hatred, I always mean it within the context of taking away someone's rights.  If no rights are being taken away, then the thing under discussion does not clear the bar, and is not hatred.

Let us now look at what are rights -- and what are not.  A few of them are enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.  Many more are not.  And finally, a plethora of so-called "rights" being bandied about today -- simply do not exist.
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. ... As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a negative kind:  to abstain from violating his own rights.
-- Ayn Rand, "Man's Rights," The Virtue of Selfishness

As Ms. Rand explains a few sentences later, there is no such thing as a "right" to an object.  Which includes:  another's wealth.  And, later yet, that property rights are not rights to an object:
The right to property means that a man has the right to take the economic actions necessary to earn property, to use it and to dispose of it; it does not mean that others must provide him with property.
-- ibid.

Stated another way:  a right is a moral prohibition of actions that others may not take against you.  There is no such thing as a "right" compelling anyone to do anything for you.  And the rights enumerated in the U.S. Constitution are examples (but not an exhaustive list) of actions that Government may not take against you.  Again, there is no such thing as a Constitutional "right" to have Government give you anything.

Any time someone is accused of hatred, the first question in your mind should be, "What right is being taken away here?"

So when a Libtard throws out the old, tired, "You only hate Obama because he is black," the only proper response is:  "Oh, really?  What right am I trying to take away from him?"

And when I accuse (for one example out of thousands) the Huffington Post of being a hate group, I believe I am on firm ground, since they repeatedly support taking away the fruit of certain people's (but not others') labors at the point of a gun, and redistributing it to those who have produced nothing.  Wealth redistribution is nothing short of slavery.

This is precisely the same hatred that led to the slaughter of six million Jews in Germany.  As Winston Churchill wrote in The Gathering Storm, Hitler didn't hate the Jews because they were Jews:  he hated them because they were "the rich."

And every reference to a "right" to health care is a Grand Lie, because 1) what is really meant is a "right" to make someone else pay your expenses, and 2) there is no such thing as a "right" to other people's wealth.

Now let's talk about sex.

The hate that bothers me the most isn't that coming from the Left.  Since theirs is an ideology based on class envy and hatred, it is to be expected from them:  you might as well get angry at cats because they like to kill things, or birds because they like to poop from above. No, the hatred that gets me the angriest is that coming from self-identified Conservatives -- almost all of whom are coming from the perspective of a certain shame-based religion that hates the entire human race:
Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good which it defines as impossible for him to practice. It demands, as his first proof of virtue, that he accept his own depravity without proof. ...his duty is to crawl through years of penance, atoning for the guilt of his existence to any stray collector of unintelligible debts.... The name of this monstrous absurdity is Original Sin.
-- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

And thanks to a certain sex addict* named Saul of Tarsus a.k.a. Paul the Apostle, all of Western civilization has been infected to varying degrees with the disease of shame.  From birth, most of us have been conditioned, Pavlov-style, to be ashamed of our sex organs:  ashamed that we have them in the first place, ashamed of the pleasure that they bring us, and especially ashamed of our desire to feel that pleasure again and again.

Every tyrant, every dictator, despot, and general, all-around asshole that I have been able to find throughout history, has used this shame to control his subjects: China.  The Soviet Union.  Iran.  The Vatican.  The Ayatollahs in control of the Republican Party.  And in every instance that I have found, it is always used to the same end:  controlling people.  Forcing people to give up their souls, their humanity, their very lives (all of which are the essence of your sexuality) -- to satisfy the whim of an autocrat who takes pleasure in seeing others suffer in abject human misery -- ranks among the most despicable examples of man's inhumanity to man.  Because there are only one or two human conditions that are more miserable than being forbidden the affirmation of Life and pure joy that naturally flows from sex-play with other consenting adults of your choice.

Many there be among the self-identified conservatives who think that only monogamous, heterosexual partnering is "normal" -- and that it is somehow their mission in life to force you into that mold.  Even if you're gay.  Or polyamorous.  Or that most despised creature of all:  a bisexual.

I recently left an online community known as Galt's Gulch Online because of this.  It is a place built with the best of intentions by Harmon Kaslow, the producer of the Atlas Shrugged movies.  Unfortunately, the site has been over run by two married women who are constantly flirting with the men, while simultaneously condemning anyone who actually lives a sexually alternate lifestyle.

Their sniping at bisexual women ("can't decide which way she wants to swing," for one example) is especially galling.  As if each of us is allowed only one partner...

The final straw was a rant in which one of them demanded that married men who want to plan for the number and timing of children (instead of, you know, having them come haphazardly) should either wear a condom or do without sex completely!

Yes, there are women who hate men.  Even among Objectivists (or at least, people who claim to be), and a large number who identify as Conservatives.  They anger me even more than Lie-berals.

Which makes a nice segue into another rant, which I shall have to write someday.


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* because, whether you compulsively seek a thing, or compulsively avoid it, it is still controlling your life and you are, by definition, an addict.  Doubly so if you are compulsively seeking to force others to avoid it.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tense...

Gotten over the 2012 U.S. elections yet?  This is just a short post about the word "tense."

As in, past, present and future.  Yes, I like to play with words.

Starting with the future tense at an event in the past, here is a protestor at one of the first Tea Party protests.  This was the Nashville (TN) protest on Tax Day, 2009:


Now with the election over, Atlas IS shrugging.  Present tense.

There's a new blog out there:  Galt's Gulch Online, created by Harmon Kaslow, the producer of the Atlas Shrugged movies.  A great resource for like-minded folks, I highly recommend it.  Lots and LOTS of people are suddenly posting asking how to "Go Galt."

And lots of others are not asking; they're just doing it.  I should probably post a few links, but you've probably already seen all of the items in the news of people shutting down or downsizing their businesses -- to make LESS money -- to avoid the extreme taxes that are coming less than two months from now.

So, we're now in the present tense.  And soon, it will all be past tense.  Just like the novel's title.

There, I hope that relieves a bit of your... tense-ion...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ayn Rand & The Prophecy Of Atlas Shrugged -- a review

I don't quite understand why this documentary was made or what its producers meant to accomplish. But it was interesting and, in some places, entertaining.

Thinking that any filmmaker that made it possible for me to win free tickets to an Objectivist film must have his priorities in the wrong place, I was pleasantly surprised when we walked into the theater. While the theater was not literally packed, it was a challenge to find two seats together. But then there are a lot of Objectivists here in the locus of Atlas Shrugged (I live only a few miles away from where the John Galt Line would pass through, if it existed).

Using the word "Prophecy," with its connotations of mysticism and outright quackery, in the title of a film about one of the 20th Century's best-known atheists is clearly provocative, and now that I've seen the film I think it was only used to draw people in to see it. Of course, anyone who has read Atlas Shrugged cannot help being astounded by how accurately Miss Rand predicted the America, fifty years hence, in which we now live -- and in our time it certainly looks like prophecy.

But I am reminded of a video I recently watched of an interview with Milton Friedman that occurred in, I believe, the 1980's. The subject had come up regarding the malaise and stagflation of the Carter presidency, and that under Keynesian theory it was supposed to be impossible. The interviewer asked Friedman, "...but you [Austrian economists] explained it, right?"

To which Friedman replied, "We not only explained it, we predicted it."

In the late Christopher Hitchens' book Why Orwell Matters (titled Orwell's Victory in the UK), he relates the tale of the immense popularity of 1984 in countries behind the Iron Curtain (every copy of which was pirated, by the way). Eastern Europeans were astounded -- and literally could not understand -- how a man who had never lived in a Communist country could so accurately describe life under Communism.

Were Friedman, Orwell, and Ayn Rand relying on a crystal ball a la Jeanne Dixon, or divine intervention a la the Old Testament prophets? Of course not. The Austrians -- and Miss Rand -- merely laid out the logical and inevitable consequences of Government interference in markets. If a man who had never lived under Communism could accurately describe life under that system, then certainly an author who had lived under Soviet rule could accurately predict what would come in an America hurtling over the same cliff.

Which she did, in great detail. Just as Friedman, Hayek and several others have also done. All it takes is understanding how things work in the Real World.

The biggest takeaway from the film, and quite possibly the reason it was made, is that Miss Rand did not want to predict the future in which we are now living.

She wanted to prevent it.

Which means that for the first time in human history, a "prophet" who got everything right -- was a failure.

As a Hollywood screenwriter, she may (or may not) have been aware of the influence that Soviet agents were already exerting in the film industry in the 1930's when she wrote We The Living. But she clearly saw the direction America was heading -- decades before anyone else saw it -- and wrote that novel as a warning.

But nobody "got it." So then she wrote The Fountainhead. Which the critics loved, but still no one got the message. And this, folks, is why Atlas Shrugged practically beats the reader over the head with its message. Yes, the biggest legitimate criticism against the novel -- exists precisely because the critics never "got it" in earlier novels. This time, she wanted to make absolutely certain that everyone understood her message.

And they did. The book was universally panned, and the mean-spirited coverage of it is discussed at length in this film, including the scathing review that Communist agent cum Neocon darling Whittaker Chambers penned for the National Review. One has to wonder how genuine Chambers' defection really was. Perhaps he was pandering to the Communist agents still employed by the New York Times who had so savaged him, and destroyed the career of Sen. Joe McCarthy. This might make an interesting topic for a literary scholar to pursue someday -- but considering the current state of academia, would probably be a death sentence to its author's graduate degree.

There were the usual interviews with people who knew Miss Rand, and some rather glaring omissions (e.g. Leonard Peikoff, the Brandons, et. al.) of people who were not in the movie. One of the most entertaining of those who were included is Al Ruddy, a major fan of the novel, who tells the story of how he, fresh from his success producing The Godfather, walked away from the Atlas Shrugged movie project in a way that makes him look like Hank Reardon.

There is a brief mention of John Aglialoro's Atlas Shrugged Part I near the end of the documentary, with the pithy comment that "While it failed to reach a large audience, on the day it was released there were more copies of the novel sold than ever before."

In summary, the documentary does a nice job of telling the remarkable story of a fifty-plus-year-old novel that has never gone out of print, and indeed sees increasing sales every year.

Those who have never read the novel will probably not get much out of this film.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Atlas Shrugged, the movie

Here are my thoughts on the movie, which I went to see on opening night. Most of this post is gleaned from email correspondence with my friend Paul Nathan, who lives too far from any of the cities in which Atlas opened to go see it.

The short version: It isn't perfect. It IS worth going to see.

With one glaring exception, the movie is faithful to the novel, at least as far as plot and dialog are concerned.

Any time a book is adapted to a movie, lots of stuff has to be left out -- theaters don't like movies that run much over 100 minutes -- and this one is no exception. Even though it only covers one-third of the novel, the film still feels rushed, a lot like it would feel to try to see Colorado by riding the John Galt line at hundreds of miles per hour. You ain't gonna see Colorado's real beauty, which lies in the small things such as blue Columbines in a grove of Aspens whose leaves are shimmering in the wind, and you won't see the real beauty of Atlas either because it lies in details that there simply isn't time to stop and examine.

The actor playing Hank Reardon seems perfect for the role. I saw an interview with him a while ago, and he "gets" the character as well as the message of the novel -- but the viewer never gets a clue of his guilt over being "rich", which is his fatal character flaw.

The actress playing Dagny doesn't play the role as hard-edged as I would like, but other than that she is nothing short of stunning. And anyone who is going to nit-pick over her hair color (yes, some people are actually doing that) needs to go get an enema. Nobody is complaining about Eddie Willers being a black man, and if we can deal with that we can sure as hell deal with a blonde Dagny.

The actor playing Francisco does a great job showing his internal agony, but has far too little time on-screen for anyone not already familiar with the novel to even understand who he is and why he's in the story, let alone ponder the mystery of what happened to such a fine young man.

The villians' characters suffer even worse from the time constraints. Even Wesley Mouch and James Taggart, who both get quite a bit of screen time, never get to show us the depth of their evil.

In spite of all that, the film IS faithful to the book except for Hugh Akston's character. What they did to him is just plain criminal.

They did a nice job with the Colorado scenery. The Rearden Metal bridge is photoshopped into some nice shots of the Royal Gorge, about a hundred miles south of here where I live. I joked to my friend, "It makes you want to move to Colorado, doesn't it?"

Dagny's movie-cliche "NO-O-O-O-O" scream at the sight of Wyatt's Torch is done so well that it doesn't seem cliche. It makes a perfect ending and they need to just chop the few seconds of film that follow it.

It is interesting how often the subject of Francisco's money speech comes up. Practically everyone I have talked to has asked about it, so allow me to deal with it here.

I re-read Part I of the novel a few weeks ago to prepare for the movie, and was eagerly waiting to get to that part. I never got to it. It must be in Part II, because I refuse to believe that there are any pages missing from my copy of Atlas!

That speech had better be in the next movie, or there will be Hell to pay! I have a mental image of Objectivist villagers with pitchforks and torches storming John Aglialoro's house if he leaves it out. It is ominous to me that in this movie, they DID leave out Francisco's line that defines Part I, which in the novel is titled Non-Contradiction: "Contradictions do not exist. If you think you are facing one, check your assumptions. You will find that one of them is wrong." If that -- the entire point of Part I -- is missing from this first movie, will they also blow Part II? I certainly hope not.

Brian Patrick O'Toole is a talented scriptwriter with real street cred in adapting novels to the Big Screen. However, he has said some things in interviews that tell me that he doesn't quite "get" this novel. He thinks he does because he's gotten the story, the narrative down pat -- but the fundamentals of Objectivism are clearly still opaque to him.

He only had a few weeks to write the script, and I don't think he had been exposed to Ms. Rand prior to taking on the project. Perhaps during the hiatus between this movie and the next, he will immerse himself in Rand's other writings so that he can grok what "Non-Contradiction," "Either-Or," and "A is A" really mean.

At least I hope so, because the success of Part II depends on a deeper understanding of Objectivism than what we've seen so far.