|Star-Crossed Love Object(ivists)|
Some people I know had a brief fling with the soap opera fiction of Ayn Rand during adolescence, since her novels seem to satisfy the deep-seated (mainly male) teenage urge to be the center of the universe, have lots of overblown sex, or just be left alone to do their own thing. Most people do shake off adolescent fads and the rigid thinking of youthful cults and well,... just grow out of it. But some don't, and Ayn Randism is nothing if not a cult. Perhaps the most egregious example of someone never outgrowing Rand's juvenile philosophy of selfishness is former Fed Chairman Al Greenspan. To make matters even worse, he actually knew the woman in the flesh and was a member of her inner circle of acolytes. Greenspan is a True Believer in the sanctity of an unregulated free market. The financial world crashed because of his misguided faith. And no, he has never been indicted or even criticized all that much by the mainstream media. It doesn't hurt that he's also married to an msm star (Andrea Mitchell).
"That Paul Ryan thinks 'Atlas Shrugged' is worth reading (and wasting staff time on) tells you all you need to know about him. He is a non-intellectual lightweight who thinks Ayn Rand's dreadful, fascistic romance novel makes for a good lesson in social engineering and economics," wrote Marie Burns of RealityChex today in response to a Maureen Dowd column that simultaneously shilled and dissed yet another movie premiere.
Atlas Shrugged, so Maureen plugged. Instead of a grade C remake, I would rather see a movie on Rand herself, something more realistic than that soft porn straight-to-cable biopic starring Helen Mirren more than a decade ago. If Mirren could play the Queen, she could also play the cold, emotionless Ayn Rand. She could repeat Rand's testimony before the House UnAmerican Affairs committee on the "red menace" in Hollywood in the 50s. Another pivotal scene might be of her famous "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" George Patton-like speech in 1974 to an audience of young West Point cadets. Although it is likely that future General David Petraeus was in the house and met her, that has never been confirmed. But it's only a movie -- and our current government is Kabuki play-acting, anyway, and the military already calls battlefields and campaigns "theatres."
Parts of the speech, which included her assertion that the Military Industrial Complex is just a myth, were later included in the philosophy curriculum of USMA. Here's a choice tidbit she spouted during the Q & A with the cadets: "Any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent." (or for that matter, any other continent, from Asia to Africa and beyond). So she was a not-so closeted racist too, which also fits the bill to be a card-carrying right wing ideologue. Only now, racism is disguised as birtherism. And not so disguised, as in Donald Trump's recent boast that he gets along just fine with "the blacks."
The end of the film (I hereby nominate the Coen Brothers to be writers/directors) would depict Ayn sneakily applying for Medicare and Social Security toward the end of her life, when her chain-smoking habit finally caught up with her and she got lung cancer. I can just picture Mirren haughtily rasping, "I took government welfare only because it was in my own self-interest to do so," before the fade to black. There might also be a scene of young Paul Ryan getting his Social Security survivors' benefits when his father died, also purely out of individualistic selfishness. He certainly didn't need to suck on any of the teats of Alan Simpson's government milk cow, because he inherited a multimillion dollar business. But Social Security isn't means-tested -- though grown-up Ryan would certainly love to change that now.
Of course, Ryan and Greenspan aren't the only Rand Fans. The real Brangelina are apparently true believers. So is Vince Vaughn. Maybe Dowd could write about them next time. Of course, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are in the fold. And CNBC star Rick Santelli, whose on-air rant famously birthed the Tea Party Movement as a means of deflecting blame for the mortgage meltdown from Wall Street to Reaganesque welfare queens, is also a self-avowed Randroid.
Screeched Santelli on the floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange in 2009: "Why don't you put up a website to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages, or would we like to at least buy cars and buy houses in foreclosure and give them to people that might have a chance to actually prosper down the road and reward people that could carry the water instead of drink the water!"
He later admitted, "I know this may not sound very humanitarian, but at the end of the day I'm an Ayn Rand-er." Curiously, despite being an avowed atheist, Ayn Rand is everywhere in right-wing world. Her novels are enjoying a huge boost in sales. The Rapture goes secular.
"For over half a century," writes Jennifer (no relation to Marie) Burns in her new biography, "Rand has been the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right."
Oh, and here's a scoop, in case you missed it in my Times comment. The TARP program, which bailed out the banksters, really stands for The Ayn Rand Program for troubled capitalists. They just never got around to telling us.