The Aftermath of the ‘Atlas Shrugged’ Movie: Part One

‘Atlas Shrugged’ Producer Promises Two Sequels Despite Terrible Reviews, Poor Box Office – The Hollywood Reporter

The man who says he spent $10 million of his own money to bring Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 to the big screen vowed Wednesday to go through with his plans to make the next two installments, even though critics hate the movie and business at movie theaters has fallen off a cliff. […]

[John Aglialoro] defended his film Wednesday by accusing professional film reviewers of political bias. How else, he asks, to explain their distaste for a film that is liked by the audience? At Rottentomatoes.com, 7,400 people gave it an average 85% score. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, though, gave the movie zero stars, and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it one. A dozen others were equally dismissive.

“It was a nihilistic craze,” Aglialoro said. “Not in the history of Hollywood has 16 reviewers said the same low things about a movie. “They’re lemmings,” he said. “What’s their fear of Ayn Rand? They hate this woman. They hate individualism.

Or, perhaps they liked Ayn Rand’s work of art and actually did hate Aglialoro’s movie (who did not use the script written by Rand). Let’s hope he doesn’t turn Part III into an opera.

Koran Burners Derek Fenton and Terry Jones: Free Speech and the First Amendment Bow Down to the Advocates of the Religion of Violence and Censorship

Thanks to the ACLU Derek Fenton, Koran-burning transit worker fired from his job after Ground Zero protest, re-hired reports the NY Daily News [22 April 2011]:

A Koran-burning New Jersey Transit worker, fired for his protest near Ground Zero last Sept. 11, is getting his job back – along with an extra $25,000 for his troubles. Derek Fenton, 40, will also collect back pay since his Sept. 13, 2010, dismissal for torching pages of the Muslim holy book on the site of a proposed lower Manhattan Islamic center. The deal additionally pays Fenton $25,000 for pain and suffering and restores his pension credits.

[…] “Our government cannot pick and choose whose free speech rights are protected, based on whether or not they approve of the context of our statements or actions,” Fenton said. “This is the very essence of the First Amendment.”

In related news Florida preacher Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp were jailed for planning a peaceful protest (“he hadn’t even attempted to go to the mosque yet”) outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. Apparently, according to the judge and jury’s Alice in Wonderland “reasoning”, Jone’s attempt to speak against Islam peacefully would cause some Muslims act violently as they are unable to physically control themselves. (Does not anyone find this demeaning to Muslims who are equated as being rabid dogs who cannot control themselves when they hear the barking of the Florida Priest?) Therefore, as the pro-Islam supporters cannot control themselves Terry Jones should face going to jail!!!!

Apparently Jone’s opponents are allowed to physically surround him and scream in his ear and shout in his face and “chase him away” as show in the video clip:

Reports the Detroit Free Press:

A judge late Friday sent two Florida pastors to jail for refusing to post a $1 bond and barred them from visiting a Dearborn mosque or its adjacent property for three years unless the mosque’s leadership says otherwise. After a short time in jail they left on $1 bond each. The stunning developments came after a Dearborn jury sided with prosecutors, ruling that Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp would breach the peace if they rallied at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. Critics slammed the decision to jail them, the court proceedings, and Wayne County prosecutors, saying they violated the men’s Constitutional rights.Prosecutors asked Judge Mark Somers for $45,000 bond. Somers then set bond at $1 each for the two pastors. They refused to pay. And Somers ordered them remanded to jail.

Chaos broke out outside court as opposing factions yelled at each other. Jones and Sapp were led out of court by Dearborn police. That left Jones’ supporters stunned, given that he hadn’t even attempted to go to the mosque yet.

[…]

“This is a true miscarriage of justice,” Elmir said. “Rev. Jones has committed no crime. He should never have been facing jailed time for his protected speech.” [“Terry Jones goes free on $1 bond after jailing; judge bars him from mosque for 3 years”]

Comments Eugene Volokh (his full analysis is well worth reading):

I think requiring anything other than a modest, content-neutral permit fee would be unconstitutional, as the Court held in Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992). Forsyth County struck down an ordinance that required organizations to pay a security fee (capped at $1000) for “the cost of necessary and reasonable protection [for assemblies] … [that] exceeds the usual and normal costs of law enforcement ….” The Court found the security fee
unconstitutional because, among other reasons, the regulation included no objective standards directing how to establish the level of the fee. Instead, the amount of the security fee was left to the “whim of the administrator.” And even beyond the unconstrained discretion as to the amount, the Court held that a demonstration permit fee can’t be based on the likely risk that audience members will react violently:

The Forsyth County ordinance contains more than the possibility of censorship through uncontrolled discretion. As construed by the county, the ordinance often requires that the fee be based on the content of the
speech.

The county envisions that the administrator, in appropriate instances, will assess a fee to cover “the cost of necessary and reasonable protection of persons participating in or observing said … activit[y].” In order to assess accurately the cost of security for parade participants, the administrator “‘must necessarily examine the content of the message that is conveyed,’” estimate the response of others to that content, and judge the number of police necessary to meet that response. The fee assessed will depend on the administrator’s measure of the amount of hostility likely to be created by the speech based on its content. Those wishing to express views unpopular with bottle throwers, for example, may have to pay more for their permit….

The costs to which petitioner refers are those associated with the public’s reaction to the speech. Listeners’ reaction to speech is not a content-neutral basis for regulation. Speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob.

A sound analysis, it seems to me, and one that would preclude jury-set fees for speakers who “might offend a hostile mob” a well as fees set by government officials. To its credit, the Michigan ACLU has publicly sided with Jones on the constitutional question.

Comments Amy Peikoff:

In addition, this is distinctly unlike restrictions on obscenity or profanity. The ideology of Islam, if adopted and practiced consistently, does appear, from everything I know about it (I plan to learn more, soon, starting with my Koran reading group), to be a threat to our way of life. Freedom to protest against it is as important as freedom to protest against any politician, political party, or political ideology. This is not an issue of defending one’s right to produce or consume tasteless pornography, simply as a matter of principle, so that we can preserve our right to political speech. In my mind, this is an unjustified restraint on political speech itself.

For more on this issue see Amy Peikoff’s post “When is Enough Enough?

Event: Individual Rights and Health Care Reform — A Patient’s Perspective

Dr. John David Lewis will be giving a lecture on Individual Rights and Health Care Reform: A Patient’s Perspective on Monday, July 4, 2011 in Fort Lauderdale at OCON 2011. The lecture demonstrates “why government control of medicine violates the nature of man on the deepest philosophical levels, and why bureaucratic rule necessarily destroys the practice of medicine. The issue is deeper than the moral and political violation of individual rights. Government coercion in medicine constitutes a vicious attack against every doctor’s nature as a thinking, acting being.”

“A patient facing a life-threatening disease depends upon the goal-directed, reality-focused actions of doctors—who pursue life-long careers by defeating the diseases that infect patients. Government control of medicine undercuts every doctor’s ability to evaluate, choose and pursue rational goals. In the end, government medicine attacks man at the most fundamental levels: in his use of his mind, his judgments about reality, his ethical decisions, and the actions he takes. We must fight for the freedom of doctors as if our lives depended on it—because they do.”

Objectivist Koran Reading Group

From Amy Peikoff at Don’t Let It Go:

Inspired by the tremendous bravery of Ann Barnhardt:

I decided to lead a Koran reading group. Is Islam a religion of peace that’s been hijacked by a small minority of extremists, as we’ve been told repeatedly by both liberals and conservatives? Or is there something essential to Islamic doctrine that inspires and purports to legitimize acts of terrorism, as we’ve heard from people like Wafa Sultan, Robert Spencer, and Geert Wilders? Find out for yourself. Start by reading the Koran.

To sign up and/or learn more see Amy’s full post.

April 15 Tax Day Facts

Writes Dr. Locke in On Tax Day Thank the Rich and Support Lifting the Tax Yoke off Them:

On Tax Day consider some basic facts. The wealthiest 1% of the
taxpayers pay 34% of all federal income taxes. The top 50% pay 96% of
the total bill. This means that the least wealthy 50% pay almost
nothing. In short, the income tax system soaks the rich. In the name of
justice, the President, Congress and the American public should be
demanding a tax cut that lowers the tax bill of the wealthy.

But the opponents of tax cuts do not want justice. They want
redistribution of wealth. They want to confiscate the income earned by
the wealthy and give it to people who have not earned it. They want the
rich–which includes the most productive people in society–to be the
servants of the poor.

Read the rest…

Neoconservatism Sells Fascism as Americanism

C. Bradley Thompson unmasks Neoconservatism over at Cato Unbound:

The culmination of the neoconservatives’ political philosophy is their call for a “national-greatness conservatism.” Following Irving Kristol and Leo Strauss, David Brooks, William Kristol, and a new generation of neocons proclaimed the “nation” as the fundamental unit of political reality, “nationalism” as the rallying cry for a new public morality, and the “national interest” as the moral standard of political decisionmaking. This new nationalism, according to Brooks, “marries community goodness with national greatness.”

The moral purpose of national-greatness conservatism, according to David Brooks, is to energize the American spirit; to fire the imagination with something majestic; to advance a “unifying American creed”; and to inspire Americans to look beyond their narrow self-interest to some larger national mission—to some mystically Hegelian “national destiny.” The new American citizen must be animated by “nationalist virtues” such as “duty, loyalty, honesty, discretion, and self-sacrifice.” The neocons’ basic moral-political principle is clear and simple: the subordination and sacrifice of the individual to the nation-state.

Politically, Brooks’s new nationalism would use the federal government to pursue great “nationalistic public projects” and to build grand monuments in order to unify the nation spiritually and to prevent America’s “slide” into what he calls “nihilistic mediocrity.” It is important that the American people conform, swear allegiance to, and obey some grand central purpose defined for them by the federal government. The ideal American man, he argues, should negate and forgo his individual values and interests and merge his “self” into some mystical union with the collective soul. This is precisely why Brooks has praised the virtues of Chinese collectivism over those of American-style individualism.

In the end, the neocons want to “remoralize” America by creating a new patriotic civil religion around the idea of “Americanism”—an Americanism that will essentially redefine the “American grain.” The neoconservative vision of a good America is one in which ordinary people work hard, read the Bible, go to church, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, practice homespun virtues, sacrifice themselves to the “common good,” obey the commands of the government, fight wars, and die for the state.

[…]

Neoconservatism is a systematic political philosophy. The neocons’ talk about moderation and prudence is really only meant to disarm intellectually their competitors in the conservative-libertarian movement who want to defend the Founders’ principles of individual rights and limited government. The neocons preach moderation as a virtue so that ordinary people will accept compromise as inevitable. But a political philosophy that advocates “moderation” and “prudence” as its defining principles is either dishonestly hiding its true principles, or it represents a transition stage on the way to some more authoritarian regime—or both.

My deepest fear is that the neoconservatives are preparing this nation philosophically for a soft, American-style fascism—a fascism purged of its ugliest features and gussied up for an American audience. This is a serious charge and not one I take lightly. The neocons are not fascists, but I do argue they share some common features with fascism. Consider the evidence… [Neoconservatism Unmasked]

Read the full article at Neoconservatism Unmasked.

Power Hour Episode 3: Earth Day with Onkar Ghate

From Alex Epstein over at VOICES for REASON:

On Earth Day, we’re told that we should take stock of our impact on our environment. The assumption, of course, is that it’s bad—that we are, to use the common phrase “destroying the planet.”

On this month’s Power Hour—my podcast/Internet-radio-show on energy issues—I bring in philosopher Dr. Onkar Ghate, a senior colleague of mine at the Ayn Rand Center, to question this assumption, and many other assumptions about the relationship between human beings in our environment. Dr. Ghate discusses everything from the political, philosophical, and religious origins of modern environmentalists (the leaders of Earth Day) to the Japanese nuclear situation to how industrialization has positively impacted our environment to the danger of “moderate” environmentalist policies.

I’ve read a lot about environmentalism over the years, and I sincerely believe that Dr. Ghate’s explanations in this podcast are some of the best, clearest explanations of environmental issues available anywhere. Make sure you listen to this interview at least once before Earth Day.

For more information on Power Hour, as well as other commentary on energy issues subscribe to my newsletter “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Energy” by sending an email.

Download “Power Hour with Alex Epstein,” Episode 3: Onkar Ghate

Richard Salsman at Forbes Columns

Richard Salsman has been busy as a bee writing illuminating editorials at Forbes, all worth reading…

U.S. Arms Its Islamic Enemies – Again,” March 31, 2011
The enemy of America’s enemy is not her friend, but her enemy, contrary to what liberals and conservatives believe

Libya Exposes Obama as Our Latest Neo-con President” March 23, 2011
He continues the obscene tradition of Democrat presidents – and Neo-Conservatives – who sacrifice American interests

Obama’s ‘Stimulus’ Precluded a Robust Recovery,” March 15, 2011
Stock prices bottomed two years ago, but Washignton’s so-called “stimulus” spending has precluded a more robust recovery

Bravo For George Buckley, A Righteous CEO,” March 2, 2011
CEOs are usually mealy-mouthed on public policy, but 3M’s CEO is right to name Obama as the ‘Robin Hood’ he really is

Ochlocracy and the Menace of Government Unions,” February 23, 2011
The right to “collective bargaining” should not include coercion against payers – as it has since 1935

Another Illiberal Democracy – in Egypt,” February 10, 2011
Democracy is no guarantor of genuine liberties or rights; indeed, far more often it brutally tramples them

The Actual State of the Union,” February 1, 2011
Presidents no longer bother to give objective assessments of America’s current and future state

Krugman, ‘Toxic Rhetoric’ and the Smear-Mongers,” January 20, 2011
Political programs – but not political “rhetoric” – can inflict violence; let’s start recognize the difference between the two.

New Congress, Same Old Leviathan,” January 11, 2011
Neither GOP control of Congress nor the arrival of 50 or so Tea-publicans will reduce federal spending in 2011-2012  

A Golden Decade of Government Failure,” January 4, 2011
The best investment asset of the past decade was gold – because government policies were a complete failure

A Well-Earned Capitalist Christmas,” December 23, 2010
The real meaning of Christmas – and all that we enjoy about it – is thoroughly pagan and capitalistic

The Virtue of Lower Tax Rates on the Rich,” December 15, 2010
The rich have a right to their earnings and deserve huge tax-rate cuts; they have no duty to create jobs or reduce deficits.

Where Have All the Capitalists Gone?” December 5, 2010
Almost everyone acknowledges that capitalism delivers the goods – but most people still claim it’s immoral

For a list of Richard Salsman’s past Capitalism Magazine columns go here.

Salsman: The U.S. Arms Its Islamic Enemies–Again

Richard Salsman holds nothing back in his gripping editorial The U.S. Arms Its Islamic Enemies–Again over at Forbes:

Evidence grows with each passing week that in Libya the U.S. government and its allies are providing air cover and arms directly to its avowed enemies–including thugs from al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, and Taliban–those who’ve devoted the past decade to slaughtering American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Worse, top U.S. and U.K. officials now acknowledge this and condone it.

[…] Who exactly are the “rebels” and why are the U.S. and its allies so eager to help them? In Iran in early 1979 the Carter administration couldn’t care less about the philosophy or aims of the Ayatollah Khomeini, but only that the pro-Western Shah of Iran be deposed; by March a “referendum” established an Islamic republic; by April scores of prominent Iranians were executed; by December the ruling mullahs declared Khomeini to be absolute ruler for life. Ever since, Iran has been a major sponsor of world-wide terrorism.

In Afghanistan in the 1980s the Reagan administration and a CIA (then led by today’s Pentagon chief, Robert Gates) helped finance and train al Qaeda, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in their fight against the invading Soviets (who withdrew in 1989). The U.S. also backed Iraq in its eight-year war against Iran, which failed, yet emboldened Saddam Hussein, and the U.S. fought him later. In the 1990s Afghanistan became a haven for terrorism, which led to the devastation of Sept. 11. In the decade since the U.S. has spent thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars ensuring “regime change” in Iraq and Afghanistan, which now have Islamic constitutions and are far closer in theocracy and practice to Iran than ever before.

[…] Rebellion is applauded for its own sake. Western cheerleaders claim anything is better than the status quo. Hope! Change! Democracy! The voice of the People is the voice of … Allah! The grim facts become clearer after the dust settles and new leaders and rules take irreversible hold–more fundamentally Islamic than before, closer to Iran than before, more anti-American than before–with the help of the U.S. government.

Thanks solely to the U.S., Iraq’s constitution ensures a “democratic, federal, representative, parliamentary republic” where “Islam is the state religion and a basic foundation for the country’s laws” and “no law may contradict the established provisions of Islam.” Is this why Americans must go to war in the Middle East? The official name of Afghanistan, where the U.S. has fought for a decade, like the failed Soviets, and Obama has boosted U.S. troops to 130,000, is” “the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.” Is this why Americans must fight in the region? [The U.S. Arms Its Islamic Enemies–Again – Richard M. Salsman – The Capitalist – Forbes]

Read the rest here.