Atlas Shrugged: The Incorruptibles

SterlingSilver

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIThe time has come for the first of The Speeches. These are Ayn Rand's infamous filibusters in which the action comes to a halt so that one of her characters can deliver a lengthy philosophical lecture expounding their author's views. The speech in this chapter is one of the shorter ones - a mere 2,600 words, scarcely a footnote compared to what's coming later - but even that would take at least 20 minutes to recite at normal speed. Naturally, in the world … [Read more...]

The Supreme Court’s Ignorance on Secularism

GavelAndJustice

I'm coming late to the subject, but I wanted to circle back and talk about the Supreme Court's ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway, where a 5-4 conservative majority held that official prayers before town meetings are constitutionally permissible.Make no mistake, this is a bad ruling, although not as bad as it could possibly have been. The one consolation is that the court didn't slam the door completely, as they could have done and have done in other cases; they didn't wipe out the right … [Read more...]

The New Untouchables

RainbowFlag

Last week in Kansas, one house of the state legislature passed the most savagely anti-gay bill to appear in the U.S. in a long time. In the name of "religious liberty", it would have repealed all equal-protection laws as they apply to LGBT people, allowing any business owner to deny service to a gay customer on a whim: restaurants could turn them away, doctors could refuse to treat them, department stores could put up "No Gays Allowed" signs. Even more shocking, the bill also applied to … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: January 25

Coffee

• Is conservative Christianity itself bad for marriage? The research says yes. Michelle Goldberg lays out the facts:Ironically, the very practices meant to shore up marital security in conservative communities end up sabotaging it. By promoting abstinence until marriage, these communities encourage people to marry young. Poor sex education and limited access to contraception for teenagers lead to unintended pregnancies and shotgun weddings. Gender-role traditionalism leads to … [Read more...]

Book Review: The New Jim Crow

Summary: A work of consciousness-raising with the visceral impact of a gut punch. One of the rare books that will transform the way you understand politics in America.I've always been an advocate of legalizing recreational drug use. The drug war is stupidity, wastefulness and futility on a colossal scale, and the results speak for themselves: prisons crammed with hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug users, prohibitionist policies that ensure drug profits fuel criminal gangs rather than … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: December 28

Coffee

While you rest and recover from all the holiday feasting, some links:• The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that buried the Roman city of Pompeii also buried another town, Herculaneum. One of the buildings that's been unearthed was a rich Roman's villa - including the library. The thousands of scrolls it contained were thought to be charred beyond recognition, but high-resolution CAT scans and multispectral imaging are finally making it possible to read the lost scrolls from the Villa of the … [Read more...]

Attacking Half the Electorate Surprisingly Not a Winning Strategy

Next Tuesday, voters in Virginia will choose their state's next governor. After months of hard-fought campaigning, the race is clearly tilting in favor of the Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe, and against Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli. As recently as May, Cuccinelli was ahead in the polls, but the most recent poll shows that McAuliffe has taken a double-digit lead - almost entirely because of an astonishing 24-point gap that's opened up among women.And why is there such a yawning … [Read more...]

Why Not a Distributed Congress?

I've just gotten back from a vacation in Europe, where the news coverage of the ongoing American government shutdown vacillates between incredulous amusement and horror at the depths of dysfunction to which our country has sunk. (Then again, I was in Belgium, which still holds the world record for the longest span of time without a government, so don't get too cocky, Europeans.)Based on public statements from a majority of Democrats plus some moderate Republicans, there are enough votes to … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

LegalPapers

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VIIThe next chapter opens in Colorado, where Dagny is personally supervising the construction of the Rio Norte Line in the shadow of Ellis Wyatt's oil derricks. As we found out earlier, her best contractor, McNamara, mysteriously closed his company and vanished, so she's being forced to rely on a replacement contractor named Ben Nealy. (We're told he has "a soft, sullen face" and skin with "the tinge of butter" [p.158], so you can guess whether he's competent … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Terror on the High Seas

PirateShip

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VIAs Dagny drifts through the crowds at Hank's party, she overhears a conversation:"Last night," said the spinster, "I stayed awake because of the shooting. There were guns going off all night, way out at sea. There were no flashes. There was nothing. Just those detonations, at long intervals... Everybody down on the shore knows what it was. It was Ragnar Danneskjold. It was the Coast Guard trying to catch him.""Ragnar Danneskjold in Delaware Bay?" a … [Read more...]


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