Rand Paul Follows Ted Cruz To Sean Hannity’s Fox News/GOP Welcoming Party

Yesterday marked the arrival of the second official candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States. Kentucky senator, and former self-certified ophthalmologist, Rand Paul placed himself in contention for the nomination at the Galt House in Louisville. For those fortunate enough to have never slogged through Ayn Rand’s tedious and preachy novel “Atlas Shrugged,” John Galt is a leading figure who is best known for epitomizing the childish “take my ball and go home” philosophy of social interaction.

Rand Paul 2016

In what may signal a trend in the GOP’s strategy for launching a political campaign, Paul went straight from the Galt House to Sean Hannity’s House at Fox News for his first post-announcement interview. That is exactly what Ted Cruz did after announcing his candidacy at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, where students were threatened with fines if they did not attend. Perhaps Fox News has implemented the same policy wherein Republican candidates will be fined, or otherwise punished, if they do not pay their respects to Hannity before proceeding with their campaign.

While it is no surprise that GOP presidential wannabes would kowtow to Fox News (aka the PR division of the Republican Party), it is a demonstration of their arrogance that they are not at least trying to disguise their biases for the sake of appearing to be credible. Apparently that ship has sailed, been commandeered by Fox pirates, and is now rusting on the ocean floor.

As for Paul, he delivered what he called a “a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words.” Indeed, it was loud. And that message turned out to be decades old sloganeering whose words relay nothing of substance: “We have come to take our country back.” It’s easy to mock this theme by asking simply “back to what?” From all appearances, Paul wants to take us back to the Reagan years, with its soaring deficits, crushing unions and working people, abandonment of the poor and mentally ill to the streets, and illegally bankrolling foreign terrorists with money made from selling arms to terrorist states.

However, the more interesting question is who does Paul mean when says “We?” The “we” that he is leading so that he can snatch the country back from the citizens who twice elected Barack Obama, are the bankers, oil barons, and other privileged elites who he would free from regulations that protect the public from their greed and abuse. Paul is a favorite of the Koch brothers and, of course, Fox News kingpin, Rupert Murdoch.

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It will be interesting to see how the rest of the GOP roster rolls out their campaigns. Marco Rubio is anticipated to be next in line. He would be smart to skip the Hannity ring-kissing ceremony, if just to differentiate himself from the pack. After all, he could go straight to Megyn Kelly and still satisfy his bosses at the network.

And just for fun…

Paul was famously outed as a plagiarist by Rachel Maddow who noticed that his speeches were curiously identical to the Wikipedia page for the movie Gattaca. If that seems like an odd source for staking a false claim of authorship, then what do we make of his having designed a logo for his presidential campaign that appears to be a rip-off of the logo for the hook-up site, Tinder?

World on Fire

I’m just asking. And while we’re at it, why do both Paul and Cruz feature flames in their logos? Is it to convey their belief that “the world is on fire,” as Cruz told a frightened little girl?

UPDATE: Marco Rubio did indeed make Hannity his first media stop. That makes Hannity and the GOP field three for three.

Ayn Rand Redux: Atlas Shrugged Part 2 Set To Fizzle This Fall

The second installment of the threatened cinematic trilogy of Ayn Rand’s insipid novel Atlas Shrugged is set for release in October of this year, a month before the presidential election. The release date was deliberately chosen by the producers for its political significance despite the fact that they haven’t even begun production.

John Aglialoro and Harmon Kaslow, reprising their roles as producers, claim that part two is fully funded. And why shouldn’t it be? Part one, which ran for all of five weeks last year, was universally panned by critics and theater-goers, and earned back only one-fifth of what it cost to produce and distribute. This dismal performance was achieved despite a massive effort on the part of right-wing media and Tea Party activists to prop up the film.

Everyone from Andrew Breitbart, to the Koch brothers, and John Boehner, and, of course, Fox News, joined the hype campaign with the vain hope of turning this turkey into a hit. The day care kiddies at Fox & Friends spun the story so hard they must have gotten nauseous the next day when the producers contradicted their phony hoopla and publicly admitted that they had a bomb on their hands.

The hype has apparently already begun with an article by Paul Bond in the Hollywood Reporter that inexplicably describes Atlas Shrugged part one as having “earned a respectable $5,640 per theater.” Respectable to whom? That is an even lower take than the unmitigated theatrical disaster of Sarah Palin’s Undefeated, which pulled in only $6,500 per screen before shuffling off to an early video demise. By contrast, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth did $70,000 per screen; Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story did $58,000 per screen; Banksy’s Exit Through The Gift Shop did $21,000 per screen.

Adding to the irony is the fact that under Rand’s philosophy this film project should be abandoned. The obedience to free market principles demands that failures such as this be relegated to history’s garbage heap. But conservatives always exempt themselves from the rules they apply to everyone else. So the [dog and pony] show must go on. Here’s a peek at the promotional trailer just released that features absolutely nothing from the actual film:

Wow. Compelling stuff. The promo begins with Glenn Beck and features snippets from six people who don’t do much more than mention Rand’s name. Five of the six are Fox News personalities (how did Phil Donahue get mixed up in this?). Who do you suppose this film is being targeted at? The rest of the promo shows a clip of Rand that conveniently leaves out her notoriously anti-American, atheistic views. Perhaps this would have made a better promo:

Why Do Tea Baggers Idolize Ayn Rand?

I have never really understood how the Evanga-publicans, Tea Baggers, and Foxpods could have taken Ayn Rand to their hearts. She is a despicable proponent the most extreme brand of selfishness and Narcissism. (Hmm…maybe it’s not so hard to understand after all). And she is an avowed, nearly militant, atheist. How does that jibe with the Christo-centric rightist movement in America?

The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t. Rand’s philosophy would be abhorrent to conscious religious conservatives. The problem is that so many of them are closer to catatonic than consciousness. Thankfully, most Americans are more aware and have dismissed Rand and her breed of mean-spirited egoism. The recent film version of her “Atlas Shrugged” was a monumental failure, creatively and financially.

But that doesn’t mean that her fans are non-existent or immaterial. So it was nice to see this video from the American Values Network and the accompanying documentation of Rand’s dementia:

From the American Values Network web site:

Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged has been among Amazon’s top 20 best sellers for much of the past year. This year she’s outsold Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life, and The Shack combined! Rep. Paul Ryan–the Republican choice to address the nation following the State of the Union and author of the Republican budget–credits Ayn Rand as the reason he got in to politics, and he requires all his staff and interns to read her books.

So who is Ayn Rand, and why this spike in interest in her teachings? Ayn Rand has resurfaced in recent years as the philosopher championed by the Tea Party and many prominent Republican leaders. But, as conservative evangelical icon Chuck Colson recently pointed out, Ayn Rand’s strong atheism, absolute rejection of Christ’s teachings, and goal of replacing religion with her belief system stands in total opposition to all that which America’s faith community holds most dear.

And a few quotes from Rand:

“I don’t approve of religion.”

“[Faith] is a sign of a psychological weakness. . . I regard it as evil to place your emotions, your desire, above the evidence of what your mind knows. That’s what you’re doing with the idea of God.”

“What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.”

“It must be either reason or faith. I am against God for the reason that I don’t want to destroy reason.”

Feel free to pass this on to anyone you know who has been suckered in by this freak.

Atlas Sucks As Fox & Friends Suck Up

OK, this has got to be embarrassing.

The kids in the Fox & Friends Day Care spent a couple of minutes yesterday fluffing Atlas Shrugged and feigning amazement at its unprecedented success. Steve Doocy beamed that it’s “amazing” and that “it has really taken off.” Brian Kilmeade exuberantly delivered the film’s stats saying that “this is a lot of money for people in the business – they say this is staggering.” He gleefully mused that “the profit’s gonna go through the roof.” Juliet Huddy was glowing as she claimed that there was so much demand for the film that the producers “don’t have enough copies of the film.” She continued saying that “It sort of just came out of nowhere and it really blossomed.”

Wow! This must be a blockbuster in the making. I may have to retract my previous article calling the movie a bomb. Or maybe not. Because today the producer came out and spoiled the whole thing for the Foxies by saying that “he is reconsidering his plans to make Parts 2 and 3 because of scathing reviews and flagging box office returns for the film.”

“Critics, you won,” said John Aglialoro, the businessman who spent 18 years and more than $20 million of his own money to make, distribute and market “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1,” which covers the first third of Rand’s dystopian novel. “I’m having deep second thoughts on why I should do Part 2.”

Nice of him to blame it on the critics and not his shoddy filmmaking. Aglialoro also said that he is reconsidering his plans to expand to 1,000 screens by the end of this month. That decision is probably being helped along by the fact that there aren’t 1,000 theaters who want the film, despite Huddy’s giddy imaginings.

It’s all over for Atlas Shrugged. Rarely does a film’s producer go public with his project’s epitaph after the second weekend in release. All of the Tea Bag Media who were falsely claiming that the film was a surprise success are now revealed to be liars. And it doesn’t get much worse than the dishonesty exhibited by the Fox & Friends crew whose fatuous hype was deflated the next day by the film’s producer. That’s what they get for acting as the PR agents for a crummy movie.

What If Atlas Shrugged And No One Was There To See It?

The film version of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s soporific paean to malevolent ego-centrism, has finally been released to the throngs of slobbering Tea Baggers desperate for some cinematic validation. Sadly for these pathetic flim(flam) buffs, this flick hardly fills the void in their lost souls.

Atlas ShruggedThe movie is being released as “Part 1” with the promise of two more in the unlikely event that this one turns a profit. But the circumstances of its production foretell its dreary fate. Producer John Aglialoro has stated publicly that he was forced to commence production a few days short of the expiration of his rights to the book. As a result it was hurried into production without a script or a cast. He also admitted that casting was difficult because “Talent agencies were not sending us many of their top people.” Apparently no one of note wanted to be associated with a project that had been aborted on numerous occasions. That’s why one of the most popular books of the last half century is coming to the screen with unknown TV talent in the leads. The director complained that he didn’t have the necessary time to make the movie he wanted to make. It’s almost as if the principals are preemptively making excuses for why the movie sucks so bad. And they aren’t the the only ones who think so. The reviews have been merciless:

Roger Ebert: “The most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault. I suspect only someone very familiar with Rand’s 1957 novel could understand the film at all, and I doubt they will be happy with it.”

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: “The book was published in 1957, yet the clumsiness of this production makes it seem antediluvian.”

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: “It has taken decades to bring Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ to the big screen. They should have waited longer.”

Kurt Loder, Reason Online: “The new, long-awaited film version of Atlas Shrugged is a mess, full of embalmed talk, enervated performances, impoverished effects, and cinematography that would barely pass muster in a TV show. Sitting through this picture is like watching early rehearsals of a stage play that’s clearly doomed.”

Peter Dubruge, Variety: “Part one of a trilogy that may never see completion, this hasty, low-budget adaptation would have Ayn Rand spinning in her grave.”

Washington Post: “Nearly as stilted, didactic and simplistic as Rand’s free-market fable.”

Some of the most damning criticism highlighted above comes from those who might otherwise be considered the film’s target audience, for instance the Wall Street Journal (Fox’s newsprint cousin) and Reason Magazine (the imprint of Randian Libertarianism).

From the start the film’s prospects were dim. It was an independent with little backing and decades of false starts. In order to preserve his rights, Aglialoro bankrolled the project with $10 million of his own money. Without a heavyweight distributor they had to be creative. So they hit up the Tea Party circuit for support.

A trailer for the film debuted at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. It was screened for such cultural tastemakers as John Boehner, and Andrew Breitbart (yes, that was sarcasm). Then they brought in the big guns: FreedomWorks, the AstroTurf Tea Party organizers sponsored by the billionaire Koch brothers. Matt Kibbe, the president and CEO of FreedomWorks went to work promoting the film via his Freedom Connector social network (which has been prominently plugged by Glenn Beck), and a massive email list. It doesn’t appear to have worked.

The boxoffice for the opening weekend, timed to coincide with the federal tax filing deadline, was middling at best. The movie pulled in $1.7 million for three days from 300 screens. The take dropped nearly 50% from Friday to Sunday, which doesn’t bode well for increasing the number of screens in the weeks ahead (and the universally dreadful reviews won’t help either). The filmmakers are already touting the per-screen attendance numbers, but what they fail to acknowledge is that per-screen sales are generally higher for limited releases because more people are funneled into fewer venues.

[Update: Weekend #2 – Tea Baggers stayed away from Atlas Shrugged in droves. The movie earned half as much money as the previous weekend despite playing in 165 more theaters (+55%)]

The truth is that the Tea Party marketing has been less than spectacular (perhaps because the Tea Party doesn’t actually exist). If FreedomWorks has a couple of million people on their mailing list and all of the film’s viewers were FreedomWorkers (not likely), then 90% of their supporters ignored the call to action. The weak turnout by the Tea Party set mirrors their weakness at the annual Tax Day rallies where mere dozens bothered to show up.

The affinity for Ayn Rand by the Tea Party has always been a bit of a mystery. Sure, there is a shared hostility for government, particularly when it endeavors to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to provide for the general welfare. Both Rand and the TP’s despise efforts to aid society’s less fortunate, whom they believe deserve to suffer. But how do predominantly Christian, patriot, Tea Partyers justify their idolization of an anti-American, atheist who regards compassion as evil and selfishness as the pinnacle of human values?

Ironically, a key theme of the book and the film is the rejection of society by the wealthy business class who mysteriously disappear. There is a correlation to that plot point in contemporary America as we have already witnessed the disappearance of business luminaries like Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, Jack Abramoff, Dennis Kozlowski, Bernard Ebbers, and John Rigas, to name a few. It doesn’t appear that society has suffered from their absence. Yet there is another industrial titan who not only hasn’t vanished, he is masquerading across the airwaves as a presidential candidate. I’m not sure Ayn Rand would approve of this, however, the popularity of Donald Trump at Tea Parties is perfectly understandable. He is the ultimate manifestation of Randian politics: a greedy, conceited, selfish bully. But for every Tea Party supporter there are probably twenty other Americans who wish that Trump would “go Galt.”

There is another curious irony in the marketing strategy for the film. Tea Partyers and other Rand fans were furiously emailing appeals to their friends and Facebook buddies to implore them to see the movie – not because they considered it great cinema, they hadn’t seen it yet – but because strong ticket sales would somehow validate the book’s principles. In Rand’s world money equals truth. They regard the quality of the film as secondary to the need for boxoffice success in order to advance their agenda and to prove the power of the Tea Party as a consumer/political force. In other words, these Utopian free marketeers were afraid to trust the free market to decide the film’s fate.

Alas for them, it will anyway. And in the end, all anyone will remember of this drivel is that, when moviegoers were presented with a poorly planned, shoddily executed load of dreck, the audience shrugged.

This is far more entertaining: