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With Release of “Atlas Shrugged” Movie, a Rise in Rand Rants on Reason

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

I awoke the other day to this email from a stranger:

Just saw your 2009 piece on Atlas Shrugged. You completely missed the point of Rand’s book, which is that you can’t consume what you don’t produce, but that a lot of folks would like to consume what they can take from others. I’m looking forward to the movie next month. No doubt we will see the leftists out in force to tell us how bad it is. The best thing for Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand has been the Obama administration.

I replied: “Then you can’t see the movie if you didn’t produce it, by that reasoning…”

A movie adaptation of any lengthy book is bound to reduce its ideas, themes, and arguments to piece meal phrases that will not do justice to the author’s intent. But I foresee a particular risk in this upcoming film effort tackling Rand’s opus of ego, and spurring some to further reduce it to clichés about how everyone is always trying to take your sh*t from you. Read more »

Also posted in Huffington Post | Leave a comment

On Citizens United Anniversary, Reform is Brewing

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

The Supreme Court decision Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, decided in a 5-4 decision on January 21, 2010, is a case which will live in infamy. What started out as asking permission to put a partisan movie on pay per view somehow ended up deciding that companies are people with the same free speech rights as citizens, that money equals speech, and that any limit on money spent by a corporation was a violation of their First Amendment rights, so companies should be allowed to spend unlimited amounts without even having to identify themselves. Corporations got the rights of personhood, ergo, without the responsibilities we have like spending limits, or the requirement to be publicly listed for your donation. This is not to get into the obvious inequity that corporations are really made up of other people who already have those same rights, or that corporations will have far more resources to spend with obvious financial incentives that people won’t. Seriously–what were they thinking?

Such a brazen act of judicial activism by the Roberts court was an even more partisan power grab than the decade old Bush v. Gore, which backed a partisan Secretary of State’s order that ballots in her state stop being counted so she could hurry up and award the election to the guy whose campaign she was working on. Where that decision improperly decided the outcome of one election, Citizens United has opened the floodgates for blizzards of overwhelming corporate spending in races across the country on all levels of government, from now on, unless something is done.

The year since the Citizens United decision saw campaign spending explode. In this graph produced by Public Citizen from data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, campaign spending in the midterm went up 427%. Read more »

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David Frum Tries to Blame Pot for Tucson Shooting: What Is He Smoking?

Posted by John Wellington Ennis
David Frum. Image source is a screen shot from...

After seeking to separate Sarah Palin’s out-sized persona from the horrific reality of a gunman opening fire in a Safeway parking lot, I hoped for similar entreaties for perspective from mainstream columnists–particularly Beltway conservatives who were never so big on guns, and prefer to stir debate, but avoid fights.

So in those shocking few hours following the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the slaying of six others, after all news outlets had erroneously reported Giffords’ death, it should be obvious professional journalism to learn more about developing details surrounding the suspect in custody. The media was still reporting that Jared Loughner may not have acted alone, until police stated that the second person of interest turned out to be the cab driver that dropped Loughner off there. Read more »

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It’s Not Sarah Palin’s Fault

Posted by John Wellington Ennis
Sarah Palin - FlightSim Gamer
Image by asecondhandconjecture via Flickr

It’s not Sarah Palin’s fault that some guy went and shot some people in Tucson, any more than it’s Taxi Driver’s fault that some guy went and shot Ronald Reagan to impress Jodie Foster. For one, there are no accounts whatsoever of Sarah Palin’s whereabouts being in the vicinity of the shooting (even though her daughter Bristol did just buy a house less than two hours away).

The responsibility of a gunman ultimately lies in their deciding to become what will invariably be described as a “gunman” — being the one operating a gun. Jared Lee Loughner is widely reported to be the shooter taken into custody, but it was also widely reported that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was dead, until it was reported that she was in surgery and then looked likely to survive. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik blamed the attack on the violent rhetoric that has become the voice of accepted right wing discourse:

“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” he said. “And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

A perusal of Jared Lee Loughner’s YouTube videos give a convincing first impression of crazy. Having edited graphics, text, and music a lot over the years, just a few seconds of looking at his nonsensical messages in small, off-centered type with weird electronic music convinced me, professionally speaking, that this guy was complete crazy pants. The pathetic burning of an American flag in the woods while wearing trash bags? These little videos are disconcerting and creepy like that haunting VHS tape in The Ring tried to be, but instead ended up looking like a music video by Nine Inch Nails.

It’s not like if FOX News were a little less incendiary, this guy wouldn’t be having violent fantasies. In what constitutes a massacre, as well as a brazen act of domestic terrorism, there will no doubt be endless review of the killer’s background and lead-up to this tragic day of shooting 18 people, killing six, including a 9 year old girl. All the warning signs are always there in hindsight.

But this isn’t Sarah’s fault.

As soon as the shooting occurred, the Internet lit up with people pointing out that Sarah Palin had put a gun sight target over Giffords’ district as a target, which was controversial at the time for being incendiary. Sarah even kept it up after election day when she Tweeted:

Remember months ago “bullseye” icon used 2 target the 20 Obamacare-lovin’ incumbent seats? We won 18 out of 20 (90% success rate;T’aint bad)

But now, to Sarah, all this linking of her gun talk to gun rampages is just the Gotcha Media at it again. Read more »

Also posted in Huffington Post | Leave a comment

Alec Monopoly: The Spray Paint Zorro

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

Cross-posted at PAY 2 PLAY Blog.

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Alec Monopoly: An Art Show, Minus the Artist

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

The first major exhibit of the street artist Alec Monopoly opened Thursday in New York, taking over a corner storefront in Chelsea, at 22nd Street and 8th Ave., and will be free and open to the public for the next week.

Alec’s show displays the colorful styles of pop art which he has implemented in his pieces adorning neighborhoods in Los Angeles and New York — iconic portraiture of Jack Nicholson, Bob Dylan, and Twiggy, interspersed with a large-scale series re-imagining the Monopoly man series on canvases coated in archived newspapers, sealed with resin. New large celebrity portraits are unveiled in this show as well, such as Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, Christian Bale in American Psycho, and a dancing profile of Michael Jackson. Other paintings revealed a broader sense of style, as some canvases touched on impressionism, others evoking a feminine sensibility through color, subject, and minimal line art.

While such an impressive debut exhibit by a young artist would traditionally warrant an appearance by the creator himself, circumstances inhibit in-person accolades: The NYPD are looking for him. Read more »

Also posted in Huffington Post | Leave a comment

Alec Monopoly: An Art Show, Minus the Artist

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

The first major exhibit of the street artist Alec Monopoly opened Thursday in New York, taking over a corner storefront in Chelsea, at 22nd Street and 8th Ave., and will be free and open to the public for the next week. Read more »

Also posted in Huffington Post | Leave a comment

Karl Rove, You Got Served

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

PAY 2 PLAY Blog

Karl Rove was served with a subpoena Sunday, Oct. 24th, 2010, as he arrived at CBS studios to appear on “Face the Nation.” The subpoena was to compel Rove to provide a deposition in a lawsuit that stems from the 2004 election in Ohio. Despite the fact that news crews from CBS and CNN taped Rove being served, neither have reported it or aired the footage. 

I sat down with the attorneys who issued the subpoena, Clifford Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis, who explained how their suit reached this point and what Mr. Rove’s legal obligations are, considering his aversion to appearing under oath.

Read more »

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My Awesome Experience Voting Early

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

Just a few minutes down the 5 and YOU can get the jump on the biggest craze that will be sweeping the country in November, but available only to a select few right NOW!

That’s one way to appeal to Angelenos–make something exclusive. But voting early in person is easy, fun, and a great peace of mind. And this year in California, there are a few important measures on the ballot that are worth knowing you’ve already voted on, with your bare hands.

I went down to the Los Angeles Country Clerk Register Recorder in Norwalk on Imperial Highway to vote on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

This slide show on Huffington Post of my adventure is a cautionary tale for those who might miss out on the awesomeness that is early voting.

Also posted in Huffington Post | Leave a comment

When Karl Rove Squeals, You’re Doing Something Right

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

by John Wellington Ennis

PAY 2 PLAY Blog

In the wake of recent revelations about foreign spending on U.S. elections, President Obama has called out the Chamber of Commerce for its anonymous donors toward campaign ads in a series of speeches over the weekend. Karl Rove has at once made uncharacteristically desperate efforts to deflect this from becoming an issue in the home stretch of the midterm elections. As Shakespeare observed in Hamlet, “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”

When Obama took to the campaign trail for the long weekend last Thursday, the news had spread from Think Progress’ report on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce receiving money from foreign donors. Obama intoned to a crowd in Chicago“Right here in Illinois, in this Senate race, two groups funded and advised by Karl Rove have outspent the Democratic Party two-to-one in an attempt to beat Alexi — two-to-one. Funded and advised by Karl Rove.”

Karl Rove went to the last refuge of the scoundrel, Politico, and was quick to change the subject with a non-denial bringing up talking points about the stimulus and healthcare reform. Read more »

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