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Rand-omly related stuff

over the river and thru the woods to Grandmother's house we go

over the river and thru the woods to Grandmother’s house we go

Just got home last night from my trip to Pittsburgh where I had forgotten how bone chillingly cold winter weather is there.  It must be a unique combination of cold and humidity in the Pittsburgh climate.  My aunt took me on a tour of some neighborhoods that I had missed when I lived there before.  Little hidden gems that would be prime real estate territory if Pittsburgh was San Francisco.  She’s got a good eye. The view from the cliffs is spectacular and houses in that area are going for a song.  Nope, not going to tell you where they are in case I decide to become a long term real estate investor. Bwahahahaahhhhhh!

I was away from my internet connection for almost 5 days and I am here to tell you that it is survivable, especially if there are interesting people around to talk to.  But I was able to surf a teensy bit when the wind was blowing signal in my direction.  One of my favorite posts of the past week was Matt Taibbi’s 10 Most Pretentious Moments in History.  There are some awardees I had never heard of but will now have to track down, if I can stand it.  How have I managed to miss Martin Amis all my life??

Anyway, coming in as a close runner-up to the most pretentious moment in history is Ayn Rand’s appearance on Phil Donahue’s show in 1979.  Only one segment of this infamous interview was included in the post but it was so jaw-droppingly pretentious that I had to see the whole thing.  Take a look:

Part 2/5

Part 3/5

Part 4/5

Part 5/5

Wow, Roger Ailes must have been watching that because Rand laid out the entire conservative strategy for duping people on Fox.  She even demonstrated how the “Shut up! Shut up!” tactic works.  You just refuse to answer questions you don’t like and tell your questioner that they’re being rude.  What a piece of work.  It’s all there. But what was really unsettling was that the audience was much smarter back in 1979.  They called her on her bullshit.  You’re not allowed to do that on TV anymore.  Questioning uber meany conservatives who say stupid, illogical things is strictly forbidden.  It’s so forbidden that it probably hasn’t been done like that since 1979.

Rand was full of good ideas like letting the rich and powerful do whatever they liked and giving them permission to feel special about themselves.  She was an early proponent of eliminating public education.  She was an anti-feminist.  If you want to know why Hillary lost in 2008, look to Rand.  She gave men permission to murder a powerful woman’s political career for no other reason than they felt they should never have to follow a woman.

It’s hard for me to take in that Alan Greenspan was this woman’s disciple, but it certainly explains Andrea Mitchell’s dismissive and nasty attitude towards Clinton in 2008.  I listened in on the press briefings and was always struck by Mitchell’s nastiness and arrogance.

I only read The Fountainhead and decided to stop there.  So I had to read the cliff notes version of Atlas Shrugged on Wiki and, apparently, the precious “jahb creators” decide to drop out of society to teach the rest of us a lesson, which sounds like a very good idea.  But the literary reference that I think would most accurately describe the consequence of that decision is probably the one from Douglas Adams’ Restaurant at the End of the Universe where the wise people of Golgafrinchan scared their problematic stratum of society into thinking their planet was about to be destroyed and tricked them into boarding an Ark Ship to be sent ahead to an outpost planet millions of light years away, leaving all the productive innovators and working class bereft of their input.

Unfortunately, according to Adams, the Golgafrinchans landed on earth. Rand was like an ancestral Eve.

And now for something completely but not really different, take a listen to this podcast by the Thinking Atheist’s Seth Andrews on the Church of Satan, which Andrews does with tongue firmly in cheek.  Rand and Anton LeVey must have known each other.  It’s uncanny.

18 Responses

  1. All we need to know about Martin Amis is that he was besties with Christopher-Hitch the Snitch-Hitchens. ‘Nuff said, now, I’m off to enjoy the Ayn Rand clip, hoping it includes lots of derisive laughter from Phil’s audience.

  2. I think you’re probably a little young for Martin Amis. Lucky you. My memory of pretentious was Margaret Thatcher replying to an interviewer who had made a remark about Maggie’s cement-headed(he didn’t put it that way, of course) belief in monetarism to the effect that it was a economic phase that would pass, “Oh, no, Thatcherism is for the ages.” But, you know, you can’t get elected if you don’t have that kind of chutzpah. People want certitude and they never recognize it as egomaniacal delusion.

  3. Donahue’s audience was too polite.
    Man, was he folliclely blessed, Phil makes John Kerry look like a chrome dome.
    Donahue was cute but I had forgotten that he was such an annoying toucher and personal space invader.

  4. Maybe ten years ago, I was looking around for a spot we might want to retire in for the semi distant future. Now, it is more like 5 to 7 years but then it was 15 years. At the time, I was looking for housing prices, medical care and a large enough metro area that there would be things to do. The surprise on my list was Pittsburgh. Of course, the winter weather was the fly in the ointment.

    Housing is a lot cheaper than Jersey. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is excellent. Lots of things to see and do and not too far from other attractions. If you live in Florida, there are no weekend trips. How many times can you go to Disney World/Epcot if you are over 12?

    Five minutes of Ayn Rand was more than enough. With the crowd cheering at the start, I was thinking that maybe Donahue was packed for the day with Rand fans. Maybe I should have stayed around for the crowd to turn on her. Definitely not my cup of tea. I prefer transcripts because I can zip through them much quicker. For some reason, it seems less annoying although I guess you do miss the full effect.

    One of the major impacts of the last 30 years has been the imposition of the tonal police. Being rude is the ultimate sin but being cruel and heartless and nasty in an off handed manner is perfectly OK. I’d much prefer shouting and arguments with a lot of heart than the deadly silent nasty of today.

    Two completely different sets of pretentious are not included. One set is the tendency of kings or dictators (usually not queens, bte) to proclaim how splendid they are in so many activities. Think of Louis Xiv starring in his own ballet performances to the fawning admiration of his court, Mao swimming in some river with the banks packed with spectators and proclaiming that he was a champion swimmer in his 60s or 70s, Fidel Castro striking out his country’s best players and proclaiming that in his youth he was one of the all time greats who could have dominated the American professionals.

    The second are the proclamations that this is the war to end all wars, the height of progress, and that history will roll downhill from now. L’etat , c’est moi … apres moi est le deluge.

    • About where to retire . . . that’s a long way off for me, if ever. One big consideration for me is phrased like this: If Californian goes runaway-critical and melts down like a social Fukushima, where would twenty million Californician refugees flee to? On the other hand, where would Californians never ever want to live? Eastern Nebraska? Eastern Kansas? Iowa? UP Michigan? Cape Girardeau, Missouri? Well . . . those are the sort of places I want to live eventually. I don’t want my old age to be cluttered up with hundreds of thousands of Californian refugees in flight from their own stupid refusal to maintain a functioning society.

  5. The right has held up Rand as their revered Philosopher. She makes a superficial Reader’s Digest case for “greed is Good.” I think the capitalists urge for validation has lead to their embrace of her pop moralism.

    To understand how Alissa Rosenbaum created Ayn Rand, we need to trace her itinerary not to pre-revolutionary Russia, which is the mistaken conceit of these biographies, but to her destination upon leaving Soviet Russia in 1926: Hollywood. For where else but in the dream factory could Rand have learned how to make dreams—about America, about capitalism and about herself?

  6. What would explain the women who conspired to derail HClinton’s nomination? Starting with Pelosi? And Brazille? And so forth?

    • The same thing as explains, or co-explains, the men:

      A preponderance of the 1% wanted Obummer.

      Career politicians know that those who co-operate with the 1% can look forward to lavish second careers and retirements, courtesy of the 1%. This, rather than payments while in office, is the foremost source of corruption in our political system. 👿

      • As an aside, in 2008, I did not realize at first that a preponderance of the 1% wanted Obummer, until the Corporate Media took his side against the CM’s old barbecue buddy McCrank.

        I thought the 1% had ordered the CM to praise Obummer to the skies in order to trick the Dems into nominating the candidate whom I thought was weaker, so that McCrank could win in spite of the dismal record of the Chimperial Cheney Assministration.

        It was only when the CM stuck with Obummer over McCrank that I realized the 1% really wanted Obummer.

        • Boy, did they! And a heaping second serving, as well.

        • Well, I voted for Obummer over McCranky myself . . . because I suspected that McCranky wanted to spread the war to Iran so as to ignite student protest all over the colleges and universities . . . so as to call out the armed authorities to repress them once and for all. ” Two, three, many Kent States” . . . to paraphrase an old saying from those days. Of course, HolderBama rolled out a kinder gentler version of the Kent State Protocol against OWS, which Yves Smith wrote about just recently over at NaCap.
          Its really worth a read. And interestingly enough, the Obama Administration was apparently considering a Full Metal Kent State response if they deemed it necessary.
          Or does anyone REALly think that a “free lance group” would decide on its own to plan for assassinating OWS leaders with long distance sniper-rifle fire without permission to do so from the HolderBama Department of Justice and its captive FBI? Read the Yves Smith article.
          No. Really . Go read it.

      • Social Class . . . . the crazy one-eyed cyclops aunt-uncle elephant in the attic in the center of the room . . . as Ross Perot used to say.

  7. In fact, LaVey once stated that the Church of Satan was “just Ayn Rand’s philosophy with ceremony and ritual added”

    • And, of course, there are more than a few similarities between how Alissa Rosenbaum created the character of Ayn Rand and how Howie Levey created the character of Anton LaVey.

      • J. R. R. Tolkien vs. Ayn Rand

        There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

        Atlas Shrugged? This tea party blog on Rand’s über-hero,

        In the novel’s dark world, America is in economic collapse. And like today, a hyper-Progressive government, in the name of compassion of course, sets policies in motion that lead to a complete economic disintegration. Adding to the calamity, America’s captains of industry retire, with some going so far as to destroy their businesses in protest of the government’s heavy-handed tactics…

        “While you were dragging to your sacrificial altars the men of justice, of independence, of reason, of wealth, of self-esteem—I beat you to it, I reached them first,” says Galt of his successful plot denying the state the talents and wealth of America’s greatest producers. “I told them the nature of the game you were playing and the nature of that moral code of yours, which they had been too innocently generous to grasp.”

        Lately, as I said, American conservatives have been citing this novel as part of their pushback against Obama’s plan for a fairer tax system and more financial regulation. (They call this “socialism” when Obama only plans to roll back the Bush tax cuts–thereby increasing the top tax bracket, the upper 1% who make more than the bottom 50% of Americans combined, from its current 36% to 39%! This is not only not “socialism,” it isn’t even close to the progressive taxation of the Truman and Eisenhower eras.) I find it ironic that they are reduced to citing a bad novel to justify their indefensible support of greed and individual selfishness and complete rejection of the common good in a time of national and international crisis. I suppose Rand is slightly more respectable than channeling Gordon Gekko, the Michael Douglass character in the 1987 movie Wall Street who, in a hostile takeover that destroys a corporation and puts people out of work, declares “Greed is good.” I saw Michael Douglass interviewed years later about that film. He said that, as an actor, he always assumed that he was playing the villain, but that in the years since, he’d had dozens of Wall Street investors come up to him and shake his hand and say that the Gekko speech is what motivated them to go into finance!!!

        A contrasting piece of fiction is that of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, in which selfless hobbits, elves, dwarves and some humans sacrifice themselves for the greater good–and in which greed and selfishness are seen as vices, not virtues. Of course, Rand was an atheist and Tolkien was a Catholic and I used to believe that this was the root of their different outlooks on individualism versus the common good, selfishness and greed versus heroic sacrifice, care for others, courage, and mercy and respect for the created order. But since the rise of the Religious Right, U.S. Christians seem to have largely embraced the self-centeredness of Rand and Gordon Gekko–ignoring all that Scripture says against exploiting the poor and of the dangers of wealth. And, at least some atheists and agnostics during this same period (perhaps via general revelation or common grace), have lined up more with Tolkien and against Rand.

        But maybe this can all be said with more humor. Via Kung Fu Monkey comes this gem of a quote:

        There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

  8. I’m in Pgh and I think its winters are quite mild. For comparison there is Plaza, ND, where my brother and his family live. Try them on the weather bug some time. Yikes.

    • Depends on what you consider “mild”. I lived in Ballston Spa, NY back in the 70s where it starts snowing at the end of November and melts in early May. The streets were permanently frozen in the winter with a thick layer of snow and ice and everyone’s tires wore chains. Snowstorms lasted 2-3 days and below freezing temperatures were not uncommon. I have pictures of my mother shoveling snow off the roof and a VW bus in the neighbor’s driveway completely covered. There was a shoulder high corridor of packed snow from our driveway to the front door and my mother never picked us up from school on a snowy day. We had to trudge through that stuff no matter how fast and deep it was falling or how far below zero the temperatures had gone.
      And yet, when I moved back to Pgh in 1976, the winter definitely felt colder. Like I said, it might be a combination of cold and humidity that is unique to Pittsburgh, or the fact that the sky is so frequently overcast in the winter. Whatever it is, the cold goes clear through to the bone unlike any upstate NY winter cold snap. I’d take dry and below freezing any day over damp chill.

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