Tag Archives: Atlas Shrugged

Review: Atlas Shrugged: Part II

Altas Shrugged Part II Atlas Shrugged: Part II opened in theaters today, and I was lucky enough to be in a market that had an early matinee this morning. Of course, I already had tickets, and was first in the theater… way too early.

Again, no spoilers but a few thoughts. Part II, “The Strike”, is anti-climactic. If you have read the book, you know this is the part of the story that builds a case for John Galt and his vision. If you haven’t read the book, and were confused by some of the things in Part I, your confusion will not much be helped by seeing Part II. Go see it anyway.

The cast included some surprising choices this time around (and it is an all-new cast). Actor Paul McCrane, of E.R. fame, was a surprisingly good choice for Mouch, but his character wasn’t developed enough. Mouch is the embodiment of crushing government, and they didn’t quite let Mr. MrCrane crush. I was, however, very happy with the casting of Esai Morales as Francisco d’Anconia this time around. The role of d’Anconia in this part of the story is far different from his role in Part I, and I think that Morales’ was probably the best acted in the entire film. Samantha Mathis was competent as Dagny, but her role was over-acted. I was conflicted through much of the movie in my opinion of Jason Beghe as Hank Rearden. I think he portrayed Rearden more accurately than Grant Bowler, but I do believe that Bowler was a more compelling Rearden. Patrick Fabian was a perfect choice as James Taggart, and acted it horribly. *sigh*.

Go see the movie. The implementation of Directive 10-289 is chilling, and eerily familiar in a very uncomfortable way. Expect that it will be overacted and the language a little stiff. Expect, if you have read the book, that there will be things left out that you wish had been left in, but know that Francisco gives his swoon-inducing money-speech (to an ineffective lead-up), and that was enough for me. More people need to hear those words.

Finally, there were some timely pop-culture references in the movie that I am not certain added to the story, but were fun to catch. There is a vague Titanic reference, some obvious Occupy Wall Street parallels, and TEA Party-style nuance (pay close attention to the protesters after Directive 10-289 is enacted!) It was fun to see some other familiar faces like Sean Hannity, Juan Williams, and Jonathan Hoenig, of Capitalist Pig Asset Management! And, to finally catch a glimpse of John Galt (D.B. Sweeney has the best line in the movie… “I am John Galt.” )

Tonight on the Dark Side with Kira Davis

10/7/12 Atlas Shrugged: Part II opens next week and producer Harmon Kaslow joins me to talk about the movie and the new cast. Also, I’ll wrap up the debate and tell you who is REALLY to blame for Obama’s performance. And Louis Fowler stops by for his weekly Entertainment Crack-Up. Tune in tonight at 10pm ET/7pm Pacific on the CDNews Network on Blogtalk radio.
UPDATE: Listen to a replay of this show here or click the link to download

Listen to internet radio with CDNews Radio on Blog Talk Radio

Free Market Revolution

Amid the ire directed towards our government, our biggest corporate entities and each other, there are calls from all sides for dramatic change in the policies and politics of America. From TEA party activists, to Occupiers, to the weary long-time unemployed, there is a sense of urgency that something must change, and must change fast. Free Market Revolution is a hard and honest look at the current culture of dependency, the malaise of a once motivated people, and the events that have culminated in our current fiscal crises and ever growing discontent with a system that repeatedly fails to promote growth and prosperity… and offers the only credible and moral ( yes, I said moral) solution to our country’s woes.

In Free Market Revolution, Yaron Brook and Don Watkins break down the often repeated talking points that our current financial crises was caused by greed and deregulation. They speak factually and bluntly about the actual numbers of regulations that were added during the last and current Administration, and their roles in creating a recipe for guaranteed disaster in the housing market, the resulting credit and lending crises that has been fueling the greatest recession since the 1930s, as well the slowest recovery in modern history. The undeniable blame for the current business-killing climate is laid at the feet of big government and collective calls for more regulation, where it belongs.

Dispelled, is the myth that America operates under a capitalist, free market system and explained are the reasons why proponents of a purely free market have been incapable of offering a defense of capitalism that appeals to America as a whole: A moral case for capitalism as an economic system that creates opportunity, wealth, and security for all, without ignoring what the left has so effectively defined as “basic need” and “rights”. Critics of Ayn Rand, without fail, point to her lack of empathy for the poor as a means of demonizing a free market system. Capitalists have been unable to argue the emotional talking points and the morality argument presented by the left, giving way to even more cries for social safety nets and spending by the government to pay for those “basic needs”. Until now.

Free Market Revolution makes clear what capitalists, successful businessmen, and proponents of Ayn Rand’s free market ideas have always known: That the only moral economic system is one that allows for success or failure based on individual effort and self-interest. Yaron Brook and Don Watkins put forth the simple idea that an economy unfettered by overbearing regulation will stimulate innovation and regulate itself via competition and common sense. They handily dismiss the idea that all entrepreneurs and successful business owners are out to gain by nefarious means, and grant the reader the idea that working for your own prosperity is not only fundamentally human, but also fundamentally moral. It is time for supporters of a free market economy to point out that the free market has not existed in America and could not have caused our current fiscal crises. It is time to stop allowing people like Madoff to be the public image of corporate success, and time to stop granting merit to the idea that selfishness automatically means benefiting at the cost of another.

Free Market Revolution is a tool for free market capitalists. One that offers a logical argument to the more and more public and political shouts against free markets and cheers the morality of an economic system that should not need defending, but extolling. You can order your copy here!

Yaron Brook (@YaronBrook) is Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Investor’s Business Daily, and CNN.com, and appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, The Glenn Beck Show, On the Money, and Closing Bell, among others. A former finance professor at Santa Clara University, he is the co-writer with Don Watkins of a column on business and capitalism at Forbes.com

Don Watkins (@dwatkins3) is a fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute and the co-writer with Yaron Brook of a column on business and capitalism at Forbes.com. He appears regularly on radio and TV, and his op-eds have appeared in such venues as Investor’s Business Daily, The Christian Science Monitor, FoxNews.com, and Forbes.

In Deep with Michelle Ray

When: Thursday, August 16th, 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific

Where: In Deep with Michelle Ray on Blog Talk Radio

What: Join Social Media Director of ConservativeDailyNews.com, Michelle Ray (@GaltsGirl) as she discusses the issues that impact America.

Tonight:Tonight: Conservative rockers Madison Rising chat about their new album and Kickstarter project and we debunk the idea that Paul Ryan’s policies are influenced by Ayn Rand.

Listen to internet radio with CDNews Radio on Blog Talk Radio

Breitbart IS John Galt


Guest post by suzibasterd

Andrew Breitbart is a force of nature, and I use the current tense intentionally; he will never leave us. Many words have been said about his passing. Many tears have been shed. Shock over his death was not an uncommon emotion and while the conservative community rallied and mourned, the progressives showed their true, gangrenous heart through the vitriol that they spewed in all communication mediums.

But enough about what happened. Let us focus, instead, upon what is…and that “is” is a BIG one, just as BIG as Breitbart and all his BIG websites.

Andrew Breitbart IS John Galt.

If you don’t know who John Galt is, I’m not sure if I should tell you to stop reading now and get thee to a library or a bookstore and read “Atlas Shrugged” or tell you to keep reading and THEN go get a copy. But I digress.

John Galt, beloved character of “Atlas Shrugged,” brought the men of the mind back to their senses. He taught them that they didn’t need to apologize for their success or their independence. “You are attacked, not for any errors or flaws, but for your virtues. You are denounced, not for any weaknesses, but for your strength.”

Breitbart was repeatedly attacked by the insidious left and he, unlike many of us before he came along, reveled in it. Andrew showed us that all we need to do is shine the light…and the truth…on the lies of the left and they will writhe and shrink like slugs with salt poured on them.

Galt and Breitbart both shrugged the feebleness of the left off their shoulders as if they were no more than a feather. When John Galt is asked by a looter what he thinks of the looter, Galt’s response is, “But I don’t think of you.” When told he should apologize for something, Breitbart’s response was, “Apologize for WHAT?”

Galt led the way to a better life by ignoring the left and Breitbart led the way by attacking them, but both showed that the left…the progressive, unscrupulous left of yesterday and today…are the antithesis of goodness and right.

And while John Galt took away producers from the world, Breitbart urged today’s producers to “run towards the fire!” He recognized the looter mentality of the progressive movement, most especially the progressive news media and their selective reporting, if not their outright lies, and he went toe-to-toe with all of them, begging them to prove him wrong. They never could.

It was his conviction in his rightness that makes Breitbart our Galt.

It was his fearlessness.

It was, most of all, his virtue.

An American Anthem

I recently assigned Ayn Rand’s novella Anthem to my freshman English students as a reading assignment. I’ve read this piece numerous times over the years, but this was the first time I had read it through someone else’s eyes – my students’. It also resonated with me differently this time because of the current entitlement crisis as represented by the Occupy movement.

Those who have not read Anthem, or are unfamiliar with Ayn Rand, might not know that the prevailing goal in her writing is to show the superiority of individualism to collectivism. In Anthem, she paints the picture of a society in which government provides everything for all and no individuals or traits of individuality are allowed to exist. Vocations and breeding partners are chosen by the government. Humans are not even permitted to have names. Instead, they are classified into groups and then given a number. The protagonist, for example, is referred to as Equality 7-2521. The words used to reference characters in the story are all collective in nature (“we,” “us” and “our”), even when it is clear to the reader that a speaker is simply referring to him or herself.

This notion is strangely reminiscent of the ways in which Americans have begun to categorize themselves. Take the popular practice of hyphenating cultural identities as an example. We are not individuals or even Americans in this country anymore. We are “African-Americans” or “Mexican-Americans.” Beyond our collective cultural labels, we are grouped according to our socio-economic status: “middle America,” “millionaires and billionaires,” or “the less fortunate.” One can quickly begin to see that the distinction between the fictional, government-imposed label “Equality 7-2521” and the self-imposed OWS label “We are the 99%!” is minor. In fact, it’s much more offensive that Americans would impose such collective ideals upon themselves.

The Occupy crowd argues that the government should provide health insurance, free college tuition, homes, and a job for everyone. This is precisely how it happens in Rand’s Anthem. Equality 7-2521 is relegated to the vocation of street sweeper. Though he is quite brilliant in math, he accepts this lesser position and views it as an unintentional consequence for his near-obsession with the illegal activity of knowledge acquisition. You see, he reads. Voraciously. Through the course of his reading activity, he eventually comes across the forbidden word “I,” and this is where Rand’s plot takes a hopeful turn. Upon recognition that he is an individual, his eyes open to possibilities, his mind to new perspectives. At one point, he finally “sees himself” when he looks into a pond and notices his reflection. As a result of these discoveries, he begins to rebel.

Those who are active in the Occupy movement already seem to have rebellious tendencies, so perhaps we can assume that they are just an ignorant bunch. Like Equality 7-2521 – who eventually assigns himself the name of Prometheus – perhaps each individual of the entitlement mindset should undertake the challenge of reading his or her way to self-discovery. Maybe each should also take a look in the mirror and decide whether or not he likes the reflection he sees. He should read Rand’s prediction of what life would be like if the government was the end all, be all. Considering she escaped the Bolshevik Revolution in Soviet Russia, Rand’s words bear the weight of experience and should not be discounted. She wrote Anthem – and subsequent novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged – because she saw signs decades ago that America was headed down the same Socialist path.

Perhaps the best lesson in reading this 100-page fictional story can be found in its nod to ancient myth. The mythological character on which Rand’s Prometheus is based is best known for stealing fire from Zeus and offering it to humankind so that humans could rely on themselves instead of the powerful overseer. It would be great to see these same principles applied to those who classify themselves as “less fortunate” or who think they are “entitled” to have someone else provide for them. These Occupiers need to see themselves as empowered and not entitled. Rand paints the dismal picture of what the world would look like if we relinquished all individual power and allowed ourselves to be grouped into categories, to be controlled by our government. She shows us what thinking of ourselves as part of the 99% really looks like, and it ain’t pretty.

Atlas Shrugged: Part 1

It has been 21 years since my grandfather directed me to read Atlas Shrugged. It changed my life. I know that sounds cliche, but it is the truth, nonetheless.  He died just after I graduated high school, not long after. I will never be able to thank him enough for getting that book into my hands.

Skip ahead 21 years: Years of re-reading Atlas fairly regularly, adding in more Rand, Mises and Hayek, getting “educated” and living life. I have children of my own now. None have read Atlas yet, but I am hoping that my oldest will pick it up soon. I have been Galt’s Girl all of his life.  Surely, the curiosity will win him over soon. As Dagny said last night :” I would never force a man to do anything”.

When I heard that Atlas was finally going into theatrical production, I confess I wasn’t hopeful about a movie’s ability to incite the same fire and thought that the book does, but I was grateful that it was being done. The timing seems so perfect, so relevant, so … final.  I have wondered over the last year how each detail in the book would be handled. Worried over what would be omitted to keep the attention of the ADD generation.  I was right to be concerned, there is a lot to cover and a lot of it matters greatly to the character development.

I was thrilled to find out that I was in one of the original opening markets. I bought a ticket the moment they were available online. I showed up at the theater way too early. I was excited. It happens occasionally.

It is probably a good thing that I got there early. The theater was sold out and I managed to snag a great seat. It was interesting to watch people coming in and finding their seats. Many were as outwardly excited as I was. There was a lot of smiling, patting backs, and laughing over seat shifting. It really was a great crowd. The previews started and that is when it became an almost surreal experience.

I won’t go into the previews, but they seemed odd and silly. The crowd was SILENT. All I could hear between mundane previews was the occasional shake of a candy box or rustle of a popcorn bag. No one talked through the previews or shifted in their seat. I don’t even think many of us were breathing.  Most of these people had been waiting as long as I had.

After an insane number of previews, the production logo appeared on a black screen. The man next to me, easily in his seventies, shed a couple of tears. He wasn’t the only one, I don’t think. He was whispering under his breath and I turned and smiled at him. He actually took my hand and squeezed. The last thing I remember is him saying “maybe now…” and the film began.

No details, no spoilers. I will say that there were a few omissions that I was sad for, and the film’s small budget was apparent, but overall I loved the movie. I believe that the female roles were superbly cast, that the actors in the film were passionate about the film they made, and that the crowd in the theater felt much the same way I did.  I don’t think anyone left to get more popcorn or hit the bathrooms during the movie. Not a single cell phone rang (mine was turned off), and there wasn’t a single conversation. When it ended there was an ovation. I have never seen a movie that ended with the entire crowd clapping, most standing, and almost no one leaving.

It sounds so simple, but at the end of that movie, I think I knew everyone in that theater and nearly everyone I saw was BEAMING as I walked past. They stood in the hall and outside the theater talking afterwards. There was talk of drinks in some of the crowds. I bowed out.. came home… and tweeted. The only thing that could have made the experience better for me would be to have seen it with @TheTwisters .. or my father. I will do a Part 2 once the movie has played for most of those who will take the time to see it.  Until then, let me leave you by saying .. go … see it… and take a friend who hasn’t read the book.

Government “help” to business is just as disastrous as government persecution… the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off. ~ Ayn Rand

CDN Staff Panel Live Radio Show – The Plain, Hard Truth

The Plain, Hard TruthSeveral of our staff and I made the jump to live internet radio. The Plain, Hard Truth aired it’s first show on Thursday, April 14th at 8pm Pacific/11pm Eastern. Our continuing fixed who time will be 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern.

While CDN is our serious side, the radio outlet is meant to show that we are human, not just word-churning, progressive-mashing, cynics. Ok, maybe it still will show that, but we’ll laugh about it .. or something.

This was our first episode so give it a listen as Michelle, Allenah and I talk about the worthlessness of zero tolerance rules, possible Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Mitch Daniels, the battle over budget cuts and the upcoming feature film, Atlas Shrugged.

You can listen to the archive version of the show with the player below (don’t forget to tweet and share it – we rock .. or something.

 

Listen to internet radio with Rich Mitchell on Blog Talk Radio

To keep up with the whole show and future episodes, go to the show site.

‘Going Galt’ Without Realizing

Going Galt Atlas Shrugged In March of this year, there was a firestorm of libertarians and ultra-conservatives taking up the call of John Galt from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.  Galt is a bright inventor/engineer that decides to quit furnishing his skills to the economy when his company goes Marxist.

Several on the right are considering a Galt-like removal from the economy to starve the money-hungry habits of an increasingly-socialist government.  Others are becoming Galtist without even knowing it.

Many conservatives are shedding debt and increasing assets at an historic pace.  By not needing to service debt, they would need anywhere between 5% and 20% less capital than someone living off of lines of credit from banks and credit card companies.  The popularity of get-out-of-debt personalities such as Dave Ramsey and Clark Howard is massive and escalating.  These personal finance empowerment experts are motivating Americans to shed debt and unnecessary purchases.  According to a Wall Street Journal Article, “Total consumer credit outstanding, which includes everything from credit-card debt to loans for recreational vehicles, fell $12 billion in August, or at a 5.8% seasonally adjusted annual rate, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday. It was the seventh straight month of declines”. Conservatives are eating-it-up, the whole thing, all the way.

If the major bread winners in the economy stopped buying a new BMW or SUV every two or three years that means that they need far less cash flow to service their lives.  The real drivers of the economy won’t need to grow their business and some are deciding that enough-is-enough by getting what they get and not going after much more.  These people represent almost half of the job creation in the entire U.S. market.  What is pushing them to consume less, need less, and therefor produce less?

As income increases, disproportionately so do the taxes, bureaucracy, risk, disparagement by the socialist-minded left and responsibility.  An Entrepreneur’s appetite for risk decreases as each of the negatives increase in an increasingly-socialistic atmosphere.  Without a tolerance for risk, these captains of the economy will cease to take out loans to finance their future business growth, cease to hire additional workers, cease to find additional ways to increase revenues that will only get increasingly sent to the government.  Have we passed the risk/reward threshold?  Have the capitalist-hating liberals finally crushed the spirit of the entrepreneur?  I don’t think so, but we are approaching these limits rapidly.

Constantly spouting wealth-hating rhetoric, putting in increasingly anti-capitalistic policies, and taxing out high-earners is focusing the mindset of an already fiscally-conservative crowd.  This drives them into sharing the ideals of Ramsey and Howard, shedding liabilities and only adding fully-owned assets or even worse for our Keynesian approach to money – saving. The savings rate in America increased by almost 5 times to 6% in the second quarter of this year. We’re saving at a higher rate than any time in the last 20 years and many economic experts think that rate could exceed 8%.

If you believe the news, the increased savings and reduction in credit balances are due to a “credit crunch”. Hooey! Consumers aren’t borrowing. On Bloomberg.com, they state that, “only 8% of adults plan to increase household spending…” while 3% will spend less and a little more than half will spend at their current levels.

This not only takes the interest on credit lines out of the picture, but also takes serious private liquidity out of our financial system.  The U.S. uses a fractional reserve system.  Basically, a bank must hold $1,000 to be allowed to loan $10,000 (not the real ratio, but good for demonstration purposes).  This creates liquidity as $9,000 goes into the economy that did not previously exist.

If the major wealth in the country no-longer believes that some margin of debt is o.k., where will this liquidity come from?  The government.  Now the cycle of artificial public liquidity (loaning by the Federal Reserve, a.k.a. “printing money”) requires increasing taxes, more-and-more people either unsubscribe to the idea that debt is fine or increasing numbers of them go bankrupt and won’t be able to borrow.  A liquidity crisis spiral is created until the big-government spending-based economy collapses under its own weight.  That was the goal of John Galt in Rand’s novel and it would appear that it may be occurring not because people are intentionally “going Galt”, but because they are being driven to it by ever-increasing government spending and derision of capitalistic entrepreneurship.

Reagan had it right, you pump up this economy by empowering the hard-working, wealth-creating capitalists. I’m not sure the current administration understands that.. at all.