STUPID. I'm pushing sixty now and I keep backing off to the big
picture. I think about the fact that our president is almost a
generation younger than I am and he is obviously pissed off at
everything that made him what he is. Whereas I don't care that much
about myself anymore and am pissed off thinking of those who will have to come
after and live down our mistakes.
This is the great problem of secularism. Of atheism. Why Europe is
dying. They're not producing a next generation. Their belief in God has
died and they are living for themselves, which is why they can't abide
austerity programs to save their economies and cultures.
Why so-called liberals in our country are prepared to hurl us back into
the pre-industrial age in the name of preserving the earth for those
species who are not cursed with consciousness. They'd prefer it if four
billion people died and the survivors lived like Stone Age hunter
gatherers. The Obama administration isn't that draconian. They want to
roll back time to the early twentieth century, when we had just enough
electricity to power our flush toilets.
It is, obviously, the old, nay, the ancient,
original sin. Human beings are inherently and uniquely a
sin against creation itself, greedy, racist, etc, to the point that
only sustained penury can ensure sufficient atonement. Every other form
of life on earth is justified in what it does to survive. But not
humans. We are the sole villains of a universe that somehow has no
meaning. And the villainy can actually be specified to originate with
the white people who invented conquest and capitalism.
This isn't philosophy. It isn't science. It isn't the total fiction
called social justice. It's pure nonsense.
Obama isn't a Christian. He's Spartacus. He wants to hurt what he
thinks has hurt him. Which is kind of the opposite of Christianity. And
to the extent you let him continue in that mission, you aren't a
Christian either. You're just beta and gamma predators yourselves who are content to be
ruled by an alpha wolf.
The continuum of human civilization depends on the belief in God.
That's the first indicator that God exists. Without belief in God,
people feel no need to mitigate their own material demands on behalf of
their children. Children themselves become ancillary, their upbringing
subcontracted to others, their needs subordinated to egotistical
displays of how very very much we care for them. As opposed to actually
raising them to be good citizens themselves. So we raise crap and our
species dies slowly away.
Without some concept of divine justice, we're back to Atlas standing on
an unsupported turtle while he holds up the world. No reason why all of
us shouldn't be ravening wolves. But it's the secularists who insist, wrongly, that
they are something other than brute survivors.
Can't tell you how many movies and TV shows I've seen of late in which
break the law to cover for criminal children. This is held to be a
great virtue, a kind of triumph of parenthood. It isn't. It's nothing
but the alpha of the pack protecting
his young. This is my pup, I
matter above all others in my pack, and
therefore I will do anything to ensure his survival.
I can look like this too. But when I
do, I have an idea in mind.
I can tell you with absolute certainty that if I had confessed a murder
to my father he would have informed the police at once. He would have
testified against me while paying for my defense and he would have
visited me in prison up to the day of my execution. And I would have
understood. He was a human
being, not a wolf.
Interestingly, wolves are called an "indicator" species. They don't
adapt well to change in their environments. Why there are (way) fewer
million wolves alive in the world today and more than 100 million dogs,
supposed offshoot more notable for altruism, loyalty, and, well, love
than any other species.
Imagine 100 million wolves. Imagine 6 billion. I'm thinking they
wouldn't be straining to find ways to save endangered human beings if
the circumstances were reversed.
I'll resume this discussion later. There're far more than one or two
indicators of God. But start thinking about the question on your own.
I'm thinking we're being asked to consider this question more deeply
than we have for a generation. Independent of all our usual cliches.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
At Long Last...
My Review of Atlas Shrugged
mind can be an action hero. Oh yes it can.
ALWAYS KNEW IT WOULDN'T WORK. We're on a new schedule here, not that you should
care, but it
involves the alarm going off at 4 am. You can do it for days at a time,
but sooner or later the body rebels. My wife handles it by sleeping for
12 hours a
night on weekends, but I'm yawing all over the place. Sometimes I crash
as early as eight o'clock, and other nights I can't even get sleepy. So
last night after my wife went to bed at a reasonable hour, I watched Atlas Shrugged on my iPad. And today I can't keep my eyes open. Sigh.
Brizoni already reviewed it here,
and he's much more of a fan than I
am, but I'm moved to write this because we don't quite agree about what
wrong. He blamed the SyFy production values. I have a different take.
I don't think the production values were all that bad. I have four
objections to what was done. 1) Setting, 2) Casting, 3) Casting, and 4)
Brizoni caught the problem but misunderstood it. He called for an
adaptation rather than a transliteration. Meaning that he saw the
clunkiness of Rand's dialogue when he was confronted with it. Good for
him. He's a smart boy.
Thing is, and this is the good news for all you Randians, the movie
convinced me there is a movie
to be made from Atlas Shrugged. This just wasn't it.
They tried to make it topical, with multiple references to the kinds of
economic crises the Obama administration is perpetuating or creating.
Which isn't inaccurate, just wrong-footed. Distracting. Like watching
an episode of Law & Order where you wince at every snide allusion
to the Bush administration. I get what they're referring to, and I even
agree, but it's so ham-handed I can't stand it. Give me a movie, not a series of conservative one-liners.
You've got to begin by trusting the work. Atlas Shrugged is not about
Obama, no matter how well he reflects the mindset being attacked. It's
a work of philosophy, an allegory. a parable. In other words, it's a
comic book or, to put it more kindly, a graphic novel. It's the 300 of the mind. It requires
enormous gyrations of logic to put railroads at the center of a
contemporary economic crisis. So don't do it. Make Sin City or Dark City instead.
Accept that Atlas Shrugged is like 1984, a place in the imponderable
past where a
wrong turn was taken. Trust the audience to make the connections. They
will or they won't, but make a damn movie they'll remember anyway.
Romanticize the trains, which
isn't hard to do, and lionize the woman
who was determined to keep them running.
Make it a dark, timeless, hyper-dramatic world, where Manhattan looks
like Gotham City, and forget all about contemporary celebrity and
society culture. Follow Dagny.
Which leads to my three other objections. Find actors who have the
chops to play the lead characters or don't make the movie at all. It's
that important. Eschew for once the Hollywood cliche of the underage girl-power
executive and the dashing male tycoon who looks like he belongs in a
soap opera, not a Shakespearean tragedy. Find the dangerous ones, the
smoldering ones, the camera magnets who become the black holes into
which all audience attention is funneled. If you have to, lie to them
about what they're doing. The audition is not a political science test.
For me, it's imperative that Dagny Taggart be an action star. Claudia
Black. Rhona Mitra. Yeah. Brits. Not young but still choice and
absolutely commanding, violence suppressed and channelled. The tycoons,
Reardon and Francisco, should be equally strong. Make your own
nominations. I'm guessing they'll be Brits too.
The movie they've made is glop. Not because of bad CGI, but because
they missed the point and made an op-ed instead of a story. "Who is
John Galt?" should be a throwaway line, as it is in the book, not a
scene-killing non sequitur. Make a movie bout keeping the railroads
going because everything depends on it, and don't bother arguing why.
That's the reality you're accepting when you pay for your ticket.
All the political shenanigans should be in the background, a constant
chaff of weak-minded bureaucrats who keep changing the rules. Make them
look pale and keep them in the background. This movie is not about
political dialogue. It's about making people fall in love with the ones
who consistently make things happen regardless.
And, uh, yeah, if that means junking all
of Rand's dialogue, do it. Find the story that is buried in her
political manifesto, put it on the screen, and make a goddam movie.
Just don't betray her ideas.
Because she'll come back from the dead and kill you.
started with the music because it's the right music for the story. If
you want a movie clip instead, here it is.
See? Awfulness is its own signature.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Reductio ad Liberales
is as funny does.
DOORWAYS BECKON. It's only the dumb ones who get all weepy about
older relatives like babies. If you're educated enough, you know
that they're all as inconsequential as a Bill Maher twat joke, if not exactly the same thing. Certainly not worth
losing any sleep over. Enlightened medical
ethicists know the score:
Don't you just love the PC male and female pronoun usage referring to neutral, insentient things we're entitled to squash like bedbugs?
The argument above was posed in an
eminent medical journal in the U.K., which has a much longer history of
government run healthcare than we do. But Americans are catching up.
Singer is quite as eloquent on the subject:
Singer states that arguments for or
against abortion should be based on utilitarian calculation which
compares the preferences of a woman against the preferences of the
fetus. In his view a preference is anything sought to be obtained or
avoided; all forms of benefit or harm caused to a being correspond
directly with the satisfaction or frustration of one or more of its
preferences. Since a capacity to experience the sensations of suffering
or satisfaction is a prerequisite to having any preferences at all, and
a fetus, up to around eighteen weeks, says Singer, has no capacity to
suffer or feel satisfaction, it is not possible for such a fetus to
hold any preferences at all. In a utilitarian calculation, there is
nothing to weigh against a woman's preferences to have an abortion;
therefore, abortion is morally permissible.
Similar to his argument for abortion,
Singer argues that newborns lack the essential characteristics of
personhood—"rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness"
-- and therefore "killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing
a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living."
You probably don't see the wisdom in this argument yet. But that's only
because you're a hyper-emotional, under-educated troglodyte who isn't a professor at Oxford or
Princeton and has weird ideas about what life is.
You've got till November to learn. After that, the government will
render your personal ideas on the subject irrelevant. Then you
can lean back and content yourselves with waiting for the great new NBC and ABC
sitcoms about how much fun offing newborns can be. I mean, if the mother's
got a cute body and a gutter mouth, you'll just laugh and laugh with no thought about what happens after the commercial. The way you always do.
Extra credit for being able to laugh just as hard at the next step: toddlers.
Don't fret. With the help of the MSM -- and probably incandescent comic star Louis CK -- you'll be on board no later than midway through
Obama's second term. There's no species of liberal tolerance you can't
be taught to accept. Look at how anxious you are to lynch the brown man
who killed the black man.
Everyone can become civilized. It just takes time. And close attention
to the Comedy Channel.
Friday, April 20, 2012
The "Nice Guy"
No, not JFK. It's the One.
There he is. Let's ask him.
. I'm actually trying to be fair about this.
irate that thus far Romney seems to be repeating the John McCain
strategy of ceding that Obama is a nice guy but wrongheaded about
policy matters. Laura Ingraham was seething about it this morning,
Michelle Malkin has a bellicose column
about it and some supporting links (1,
including her own TV tirade on the subject.
The linked articles make excellent points about the political
ruthlessness of the president and his penchant for being meaner and more
personal in his attacks than people are used to from presidents. But
there's also a sense in which they're missing the point or not making
it in ways that could be truly effective.
People know that politics is hardball, and it's entirely possible, if
not likely, that their definition of a "nice guy" excludes the public
rhetoric and power moves and manipulations a national politician uses
to prevail in accomplishing his agenda. Their definition may very well
rest on intangibles outside the lines of political combat. In other
words, it's not a political but a personal question. Which means
conservatives who suspect Obama isn't
a nice guy should look deeper than the cut and thrust of day-to-day
politics if they want to dismantle the popular belief in the
I've done some research, which I'll share with you, but I am also
asking for you to do
research. My own has merely turned up more questions, which may be
evidence of a kind, but it's hardly definitive. I say this believing
with all my heart that this
is the real Obama:
distant, superior, calculating, and opportunistic.
Obviously, part of the image is tied directly to the president's status
as a man with a successful marriage and two young daughters. I don't
know why men become less likeable when their children are grown and
living lives of their own, but they seem to. Romney's misfortune. In
the presidential context, Americans have a perpetual soft spot in their
hearts for Camelot and the treasured photos of JFK with his lovely wife
Jackie and their two adorable
dream we all want to believe in.
Maybe the pics above were all staged photo-ops, but there is something
undeniably warm and authentic about them nonetheless. So I got the idea
of hunting down some "candid
photos" from the Obama White House. When it comes to family, there
aren't as many as you might suspect. But here are (truly)
Still trying to be fair, but I'm not seeing the Camelot charm here. I'm
unable to say that Michelle is gazing fondly or ever really quite looking at her husband in any of
these photos. She seems forced in her few smiles, pained, frazzled,
tired, or just plain physically distant from her husband. I;ll leave the girls out of it. (But is that
an Obama football he's carrying in his romp with the dog who bears his
initials? He looks happier with Bo than... well, enough said.) Truth is, the family pics are vastly outnumbered by arty
pics of "Obama
Alone," which I won't reproduce here but which also suggest a
deliberate MSM attempt to identify him with the famous images of JFK during
the Cuban Missile Crisis. Presumably, things have been that intense at
the White House for every single day of his campaign and presidency.
Well, maybe they have been. I can't say the president isn't a nice guy
from this kind of photo evidence, but I can say there's little sign of
genuine warmth in the record we have. Maybe the Kennedys were just
better at the posing that goes with the job.
Can we agree that warmth, humor, and abiding friendships are part of
the nice guy profile even in a relatively solitary man?
If so, there's still a problem with the vaunted Obama likeability.
Forget the missing transcripts, test scores, and university essays.
It's darned hard to find Obama friends
in his past. Even Nixon had Bebe Rebozo. Who does Obama have? Media
attempts to paint a different picture have a blaring ring of
inauthenticity. Take the 2008 MSM
characterizations of his Harvard ties.
As Barack Obama puts together his
administration, more than 20 Harvard Law School classmates dot the
ranks of his transition team â€” solidifying the Crimson connection as
his most enduring, yet least-known, personal network.
Eyeing the presidency as a freshman senator, Obama turned to his
classmates first for their high-level contacts, and then to help raise
campaign cash. Now, theyâ€™re putting their day jobs on the backburner to
help their friend build a government.
â€śIf you think about the progression of the president-electâ€™s national
career, initially he didnâ€™t have a national network of people who he
could call on,â€ť said Cassandra Butts, general counsel for the
transition. â€śThe Harvard group was helpful on that front â€” helping him
make introductions on policy, political and financial frontsâ€ť...
[T]he Harvard relationships... reach two decades back, forged during a
popular constitutional law class, at the financial aid counter in Pound
Hall, in Buttsâ€™ kitchen during a dinner party, through long nights at
the Harvard Law Review. As distance separated them, Obama was the one
to try to stay in touch â€” penning personal letters in the days before
e-mail, picking up the phone to congratulate a friend on the birth of a
The network, although loose, looks like the cross-section of a tree
trunk, with a small group of the oldest friends occupying the innermost
Butts, the transition general counsel, bonded with Obama as they filled
out the financial aid forms guaranteeing years of debt for their
Harvard education. As a Washington operative, Butts would later connect
Obama to key figures such as Dick Gephardt during the infancy of his
national political career. On the presidential campaign, she served as
a domestic policy adviser.
At Harvard, Butts was moot court partners with Perrelli, who first met
Obama at the dinner party and served as his managing editor on the
Harvard Law Review. Perrelli, a Washington lawyer who had never been a
fundraiser, would go on to collect more than $500,000 for Obamaâ€™s
presidential campaign. He is now part of the Department of Justice
Dinner parties, phone calls, and
financial aid forms. Damon and Pythias should be so lucky. More telling
about the Harvard connection is this jocularity by Elena
Kagan (now an associate justice of SCOTUS):
Kagan remembered the president-elect as
a student who â€śtook Harvard Law School by stormâ€ť when he stepped onto
the Cambridge, Mass., campus in the fall of 1987.
She joked about how the president-elect has become somewhat of a claim
to fame for many professors.
â€śEvery faculty member I see says that he or she was Barack Obamaâ€™s
mentor,â€ť she said. â€śThis guy mustâ€™ve been mentored to death!â€ť
Why am I reminded of the saying that "success has many fathers (and
failure is a bastard)?" If all those professors were mentoring him, why
does nobody remember what courses he took or anything else about his
academic career? Where are the friends who went carousing with him
after finals? Unless that never happens at Havard Law School (Ha!).
It's equally hard to find people who remember him from Columbia, where
he got his undergraduate degree. I looked. The subject is so mysterious
felt obliged to prove that he had actually attended Columbia. They
succeeded in finding a couple people who remembered him, including a roommate:
The way Sohale Siddiqi remembers it, he
and his old roommate were walking his pug Charlie on Broadway when a
large, scary bum approached them, stomping on the ground near the dog's
This was in the 1980s, a time when New York was a fearful place beset
by drugs and crime, when the street smart knew that the best way to
handle the city's derelicts was to avoid them entirely. But Siddiqi was
angry and he confronted the bum, who approached him menacingly.
Until his skinny, Ivy League-educated friend -- Barack Obama --
He "stepped right in between. ... He planted his face firmly in the
face of the guy. 'Hey, hey, hey.' And the guy backpedaled and we kept
walking," Siddiqi recalls...
Obama spent the six years between 1979 and 1985 at Occidental College
in Los Angeles and then in New York at Columbia University and in the
workplace. His memoir, "Dreams from My Father," talks about this time,
but not in great detail; Siddiqi, for example, is identified only as
"Sadik" -- "a short, well-built Pakistani" who smoked marijuana,
snorted cocaine and liked to party...
Together, the recollections of Siddiqi and other friends and
acquaintances from Obama's college years paint a portrait of the
candidate as a young man.
They remember a good student with a sharp mind and unshakable
integrity, a young man who already had a passion for the
underprivileged. Some described the young Obama's personality as
confident to the point of arrogance, a criticism that would emerge
decades later, during the campaign.
Not everyone who knew Obama in those years is eager to talk.
Some explained that they feared inadvertently hurting Obama's campaign.
Among his friends were Siddiqi and two other Pakistanis, all of them
from Karachi; several of those interviewed said the Pakistanis were
reluctant to talk for fear of stoking rumors that Obama is a Muslim.
"Obama in the eyes of some right wingers is basically Muslim until
proved innocent," says Margot Mifflin, a friend from Occidental who is
now a journalism professor at New York's Lehman College. "It's partly
the Muslim factor by association and partly the fear of something being
The young man Mifflin remembers was "an unpretentious, down to earth,
solidly middle-class guy who seemed somewhat more sophisticated than
the average college student. He was slightly reserved and deliberate in
a way that I sometimes thought betrayed an uncertainty."
But another former Oxy classmate, Robert McCrary, now general manager
of a contract sewing company, saw him differently: "He definitely had a
cocky, sometimes arrogant way about him. ... He was not open to
There's a great deal more of this piece and you need to read it because
there are signs that Obama was sincere in his beliefs, personally
honest to a fault, tolerant, capable of being a good friend, and not
averse to going out on the town and picking up girls, though he had
absolutely forsworn drugs by the time he reached Columbia.
more Columbia sources are Wikipedia
and the New
York Times. Everyone says he was smart and a good student, which
obviously raises the question of why his Columbia records are as sealed
as his Harvard records.
A nice guy? Hard to say. When you have an old acquaintance who became
president (which Columbia historically doesn't do), memory can become
convenient. The description of him as honest is suspect all by itself.
Lying is, after all, the signature trait of his whole
administration as well as the life he lived outside his vividly
imagined autobiographies. The difference between "I knew him when" and
was a good friend" can be a matter of "what's in it for me right now?"
Sadly, we're left with the photo at the top of this post, a mere
silhouette of a man who, apart from his meteoric rise in politics, has
left behind nothing personal that's colorful or even memorable, except
in terms of what he ascended to later. In personal terms that doesn't
make him a bad guy. But it does make him a drab one.
suspect he's a lonely guy, which is neither good nor bad. Does that
make him likeable? Not to me. I think he's retreated from real life
into the utopian dreams inside his own head. That's his refuge, his
substitute reality. And that's what makes him so incredibly dangerous
to the constitution and the republic. He has the power to pretend that
our realities don't exist or don't count. That's long been the road to
ruin. Does he know the difference between posing and policy, between
play-acting and principled leadership? I fear not.
Which would make him a very bad guy indeed.
But you -- all of you -- look into it for yourselves. We can't afford
our president to be a cipher or a shadow. We need him to be a man.