A License to…Look Out For Number One

Living in a Material World, Part Two

Atlas Shrugged and Went About his Own Business

Atlas Shrugged and Went About his Own Business

Not long ago, while riding the commuter train home, I sat down on an upper row seat not far from a young Indian woman. Her head was covered so I believed her to be a devoutly religious person. On her lap was Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”. I wondered what interested her in Rand’s lengthy novel.


As you know there has been much in the media-the politically biased-media-about corporate greed, fairness and income inequality. The “social justice “rhetoric is ubiquitous, whether here in the U.S. or in re-salvaged unrepentant Greece.

In op-eds and news commentaries we are lectured to with the by-products of the liberal elites (e.g., Paul Krugman (see my previous post about economist Krugman’s $225K payday in return for his thoughts on Income Inequality!), by Progressive politicians (e.g., Hillary Clinton and Liz Warren) and by their media puppets (e.g., MSNBC), all of whom feign a disdain for money, that “filthy lucre”, while quietly reaping enormous capital gains of their own (See also Vanity Fair’s glossy wealth-guilt sympathy card dated August 2015, the article “The Charlie War”, regarding the French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo coming into mega-Euros.) Looking out for number one has never been so savoir faire.

Then not long ago we were accosted by the “commoners” – the OWS protesters. Though largely unfocused and self-trivializing we were told by our ‘betters’ that these poor folk just wanted to generate a discussion about what is ethically the “right thing to do” in the world of money and specifically money as a power or a force to use for “good” and not for selfish materialistic pleasure (ahem, Vanity Fair). The Wall Street bulls and bears became the effigies they wanted to burn or, rather, smoke to get their solvency high.

The OWS’ trashy 60’s bohemian style protest became a mixed message diatribe against a ‘rigged” system, a system that didn’t appear (in their cloud computing at least) to offer them a break into the big leagues of the adult material world. Apparently, the OWS protestors ‘just’ wanted to “survive” materially, debt-free, well-off and on their own terms-no pain, all gain, Greek style.

OWS! May Day!

OWS! May Day!

It was noted though by those standing head and shoulders (a stock chart term) above the “Leaning Forward” genuflectors that the protestors was certainly compromised in their messaging. Their signage/texting revealed the protesters demands.

Their demands included gaining “justly” (a word replacement for “freely”) the same materialistic “well-being” that someone else had achieved under the rubrics “income equality” and “free tuition” and “social justice”. Their socialist mantras were remarkably self-centered, covetous and Marxist.

Is the OWS’ ‘just’ quest for materialism-looking out for number one-any different from the Wall Street gang “running with the bulls” down Wall Street in hopes of not being gored by unleashed regulators? And, rigged or not rigged, Materialism, in the light of day, wears the same “envy green” scrubs.


Unions are all about looking out for Number One.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) a federal union, is fighting against reforms of the badly run VA administration. You won’t see AFGE publicly decrying a measure that would mean that their union members may be held responsible and they may be fired or their bonus withheld. AFGE is currently working in Congress to stop VA reform. From a Daily Caller Article:

A union representing government employees on Tuesday condemned a bill meant to reform how bonuses are awarded at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“It’s time to turn the page on morale-busting measures like Rep. Miller’s proposal and focus on the mission of delivering top-quality care to America’s veterans,” AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. declared in a statement.

Yeah, it’s about time to focus on others…

Here is why AFGE’s is against VA reform:

A Koch Brothers-funded front group called the Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) has been making waves on Capitol Hill lately, promoting a long list of anti-VA, anti-worker proposals that would break this sacred promise and leave veterans out to dry. Led by former Wall Street bank employee and failed Senate candidate Pete Hegseth, CVA has been the driving force behind efforts to dismantle the VA health care system and trim service members’ hard-earned disability and other benefits.

Yeah, those evil Koch Brothers trying to help veterans by removing bad employees-not Number One on AFGE’s list.

Why make the VA better for our wounded veterans when union members are more G_d-Damn important?

Looking out for Number One leaves the robbed and wounded man left for dead alongside the road…until the Good Samaritan comes along to care for him.



Going Number One Onto Others:

The recent abominable SCOTUS decision made it possible for homosexual couples to look out for their Number One mission-use their new-found legal licentiousness to bash Christians and to seek material gain via law suits against Christian wedding cake bakers who refuse their demands. All done under the guise of ‘true love’ and “equality” (actually, unabated unnatural desires).

Looking out for number one has never been so “User friendly” for lawyers and bullies.


A well-known looking out for Number One persona:

Objectivism is my Game.

Objectivism is my Game.

Ayn Rand’s (1905-1982) novels portray the philosophy of Objectivism. The (paper) weighty “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” clearly identify the key tenets of Objectivism: objective reality, reason, individualism over group-think, self-interest and ego-ism.

Ayn Rand’s Objectivism:

There are four pillars to Rand’s objectivism: objective reality, reason, self-interest and capitalism.

Reason: direct stimuli from nature; there is no God, no soul, no intuition, nothing beyond what we determine though reason.

For Rand Man is all there is. There is no spiritual reality of angels, demons and God. The heroism of man was to be worshipped, as did the Greek stoic philosophers and the food-and-wine-friendly Epicureans who avoided God and enjoyed the ‘heroics’ of pleasure.

Early Greek philosophers taught that man was mortal, corporal, and that sensory inputs were the only reality available to mankind. God was described as elsewhere and angry so therefore the true God was not of any material benefit to mankind. Avoid pain, seek pleasure. Be your own hero. Be Number One.

Rand’s Self-interest: your own self-interest and happiness is what life is all about. You take care of Number One.

Capitalism for the Objectivist is all about individual rights and private property; self-reliance, free trade, entrepreneurship and initiative all operate freely and without coercion within capitalism and the free market system. I have no issues with Rand’s objective definition of capitalism. As a Christian in the Kingdom of God I do have a problem with Rand’s use of capitalism as a means to flee from God and from responsibility towards others and to use it as self-promotion, as a prosperity gospel.

Ayn Rand’s described herself as a romantic-realist. Her Objectivism is atheistic, rejecting faith and religion. It believes only in reason and what the self can determine. For her it was every man for himself, the survival of the fittest. This viewpoint is born out of a godless Darwinian materialist view of life, the Enlightenment era and philosophical naturalism. Objectivism is blind faith in Number One-Yourself.

Rugged individualism, for Rand, was a force like other forces of nature and something to be reckoned with. As you might imagine this type of thinking would certainly feed the ego and especially if the person who embraces Objectivism is successful in life. For these people pride of place means you’ve made it to the top of the heap. Your self-esteem is rewarded. You are recognized by your peers as having objectively “made it.”

Ayn Rand’s extreme philosophy is most likely a reaction to her early life in Russia during the Communist Revolution. As a child she learned to despise coercion, government intrusion and totalitarianism. She came to oppose statism and collectivism while she promoted social systems which protected individual rights and personal initiatives. As a romantic realist she hated the dystopian effects created by those seeking to create a man-made utopia. Though a polemic, Rand never insisted that others be made to accept her philosophy. She was “laissez faire” with respect to others.

A Christian Perspective:

The Kingdom of God’s answer to Looking Out for Number One: kenosis- a ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” The Apostle Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth, II Corinthians 8:9

A Christian’s response to Ayn Rand


The call of "Number One"

The call of “Number One”

Before Ayn Rand another voice of philosophical naturalism had chosen the similar atheistic force with which to respond to “the law of life”: Jack London (1876 – 1916).

Remember Buck and the rugged ‘individual’s’ response to “The Call of the Wild”? It’s a tale of primitive and bestial survival, of self-interest, of the strong seeking to overcome nature. It’s a tale of reversion to innate instincts and characteristics of our evolutionary heritage-a looking out for Number One and a dog eat dog meal ticket.

Odd Is The Loneliest Number

Odd.  That describes me in a nutshell.

 Flannery O’Connor, the great Catholic writer, was once quoted as saying “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.”  So be it. I am in good company then.

 Now that I am older and wiser (at least according to the aphorism) I am less jostled by every wind of fashion, less captivated by got-cha type of thinking typical of the penny-ante journalists so in vogue today.  In more ways than one I have let odd take over.

 Some odd thoughts:

 A wise old preacher once told me “If it’s new it ain’t true.  If it’s true it ain’t new.”

 Truth has historical record. Lies, cheap novelty as in “Hope and Change.”

 I agree with Wolcott’s assessment (see James Wolcott’s Vanity Fair article  “Prime Time’s Graduation”)about the state of today’s movies being rather boorish and sophomoric and that television/cable TV is far outpacing movies with its much higher quality of writing and directing and a greater depth of characters. Yet, I despair of any good thing coming out of either.

 Truly, I cannot remember the last time I rented a movie.   I don’t remember the title of the movie, either. I haven’t been to theatre in well over two years.  For what reason I did attend is forgotten.

 TV:  I don’t watch The Living Dead, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Real Housewives of Chicago’s North Side or all manner of well-written, well-crafted dramatic episodes or all manner of crime investigations, all manner of (fill-in-the-blank) “finely textured” serial programming that Hollywood cranks out. Though superbly crafted these often prurient programs hold nothing of interest or value to me. I am happily odd without them in my head.

 You can believe me when I say that I don’t care about dead people who hang around unwanted or that Don Draper is losing himself in his work and the next untapped babe or that Walt is a terminally living drug producer and seller (Breaking Bad, like many cable shows in fact outrage me.  That anything like this can of trash is available on TV for kids and adults to view is unthinkably criminal. I’m a mature adult. I don’t care about the show’s supposedly ‘mature themes.”  I think the show is substantive abuse.)

 Look around.  We consume comparison:  commercials, magazines, TV programs, the Shahs of Sunset. I could easily imagine that Obama’s class warfare rhetoric would quickly lose its teleprompter zip if our culture didn’t keep promoting keeping up with the Shahs of Sunset and the like.

 Contentment has been dislodged from the human psyche and has gone missing.  Ubiquitous high-profile bling now holds court.  Disparity is highlighted daily. And, as a result, charity (in the form of higher taxes) is demanded in order to make all things equal.  Somehow, this equates to social justice.

 These days low-income people can dwell on income disparity 24/7.  Many now have big screen TVs and microwaves.  And, before them now on the big hi-def screen are the ostentatious rich:  The Real Housewives of Atlanta.  It would be easy for anyone watching to say “The Grass IS greener…” Envy and covetousness are in your face, especially when the bas-relief is provided by HDTV. 

 Beside this, BHO and other talking heads of the liberal media are telling them that the rich need to do their part. This demand is ludicrous.

With his bully pulpit BHO promotes class warfare.  He tells us that the answer to your problems is to take money from someone else!  Isn’t this the mentality typically found among Chicago street gang members but is now code-named Social Justice?  (BTW:  What we need is not a single payer health care system. What we need is single payer taxpayers where every single person does their part and not just 50 % of the nation. Everyone should be invested in our country.)

 Am I human?  Upon occasion:

I have been known to watch Guy Fieri (I think he’s cute.) on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives hamming it up with restaurant owners. And, sometimes when I’m in a really grisly mood I watch Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations (Anthony, Paula Deen can cook for me anytime, your blackballing of her cooking style notwithstanding). 

 Speaking of food, I don’t own a Blackberry, iPhone or other hand-held electronic device which could bleep in a restaurant and interrupt a Crème brûlée with a dear friend.  This even though I work in a technical industry and could easily finger pointed barbs with the best of them. I am old school.  Pen and paper work well.  Spitballs, too.  And, if the world is going to end I am prepared. I won’t need an iPad telling me that I’m going to be with the Lord – that’s already been documented.

 Without the gizmos I don’t tweet. I don’t send 140 character snippets of pithy self-brined revelation out to chomping-at-the-bit (or byte) followers.  Come to think of it I don’t think I have any followers! (This post has enough characters to choke a gaggle of hand-held devices and their indentured slaves.)

 ‘What does she do?”

I mostly read, talk to myself when no one is around, go to church, dance wildly to the Romantics’ What I Like About You, annoy my family and routinely infuriate people I don’t know on the internet. 

 How odd. But with a name like Sally Paradise how could I not be the odd woman out or the \sqrt{3}.

The Bard and a Blustery Blowhole

It is Saturday afternoon and I am listening to Wynton Marsalis playing Stadust on his horn. I am drinking Sofie, a tart Belgian Style Ale from Goose Island and I am reading the current (May 2011) Vanity Fair. I am suddenly struck by an off-handed pejorative comment in a VF article (again).

The current Vanity Fair magazine issue contains a column by contributing editor John Heilpern. The “Out To Lunch” one page piece is titled Avon Calling. This sounds interesting. But, wait.

The article relates Heilpern’s recent interview of Professor Harold Bloom at Bloom’s home in New Haven. Bloom, a professor of humanities at Yale for the past 55 years, is a well-known Shakespeare scholar. He has studied and read Shakespeare’s work in great depth. His latest book, number 39 in a series of scholarly works is titled The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life. (I am currently reading Bloom’s book Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human.)

In the interview Bloom’s talks about his respect for Shakespeare:

“If Shakespeare is not God, he told Heilpern, “I don’t know what God is.” And, regarding Shakespeare’s biographers, “Let me quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, best mind to come out of America: ‘Shakespeare is the only biographer of Shakespeare.’ In other words, don’t look for the man in the work; look for the work in the man. And stop speculating about his life.”

Further in the interview, Bloom: “All high concept Shakespeare directors should be shot a dawn,” Later, Heilpern mentions Al Pacino’s and F. Murray Abraham’s New York performances of Shylock (The Merchant of Venice) saying that Abraham is the greatest Shylock he’d ever seen. (Recently, March, Abraham was Shylock at the Bank of America Theatre in Chicago.)

The interview brushes on the topic of Falstaff. Bloom: “Sir John Falstaff…even more than Hamlet – and that’s saying something – he’s the most intelligent person in all of literature. He has the best mind, the best wit, the most beautiful laughing language. As my late friend the marvelous critic George Wilson Knight said about Hamlet, he’s the embassy of death. But Falstaff is life! Falstaff is blessing.”

Prince Hal and Falstaff’s banishment are mentioned and then Bloom says, “Falstaff sees through the all-powerful. ““He sees through everything. He’s the best possible guide to the state of the world today. Can you think of anyone more antithetical to the Fascism of the Tea Party than Sir John Falstaff?”

What?! Why the sniping Tea Party comment? Wait. I think I know why the old fart and gassy pontificator Bloom, learned disciple of Falstaff and urbane liberal, looks down upon the Tea Party from his ivory tower:
“He’s a drunk, a liar, and a cheat. Yet he’s been glowingly described as “the personification of England”. He’ll do anything with a debt but honour it, and makes light of accepting bribes from fit men and leading a troop of 150 decrepit soldiers to their deaths. Yet he’s also taken, at his own admiring estimate, as a great booster-jab of infectious liveliness: “I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men.” He has a spectacular obesity problem and he’s referred to – with epic freedom from euphemism – as “that swoll’n parcel of dropsies”, “that stuff’d cloak-bag of guts”, “this bed-presser, this horse-back-breaker, this hill of flesh” – a man who secretes sweat in such quantities that he “lards the lean earth as he walks along”. Yet his most prominent characteristic, according to many commentators, is his “jubilant brain”. Meet, if you will, Sir John Falstaff.”

O, the humanity!

The above quote from this web page.

Being Vanity Fair?

I read Vanity Fair magazine (VF) because it contains articles that interest me: art, fashion, finances, society, culture, short biographies and general hob-nobbing. I understood from the beginning that VF is left leaning magazine. The readers of VF may believe that conservatism is too staid, too un-Pop-culture-ish and too unchanging and therefore too uninteresting for their tastes. (I prefer The New Criterion magazine. It better suits my conservative palette anyway. According to The New Criterion’s opening editorial The New Criterion magazine was created to combat “the insidious assault on the mind that was one of the most repulsive features of the radical movement of the sixties.” The New ‘arrow’ hits the old mark.)
Before getting on the train yesterday, I purchased a copy of the October 2010 issue of Vanity Fair. Therein, Graydon Carter in his Editor’s Letter, titled America the Angry wrote:
“…We are now defined more by what we don’t like than what we do like. And the list of what we don’t like is getting longer.” He goes to list his observations of what he believes everyone must hate. He then he says “We even have a cable network devoted to solely to anger and hate: it’s called Fox News. In the same letter, Carter goes on to talk about Rupert Murdoch (the owner of Fox News) and about Murdoch’s‘war’ with the very liberal New York Times owned by Sulzberger family.
I am unabashedly a conservative with a libertarian streak. I listen to Fox News daily. I listen to Fox Business network and Neal Cavuto. I listen to the Fox newscasts and I listen to the opinion shows. I listen to Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Greta van Sustern and Judge Napolitano on a regular basis. I have never heard anything that could be construed as hate. Never. Carter’s words are slanderous and uniformed in nature.
I have listened to Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck become angry at what is happening to America. America is being sold a bill of Progressive ‘goods’ that will destroy our country from the inside. The progressive bill of goods is packaged as high brow good will offered to the lower classes. I am angry about this, too. America is about equal opportunity and not about equal outcomes. America is about “One Nation Under God”, not about One Nation Under Socialism.
Being angry and hating are two separate things in the regular world. What I see on Fox News is anything but hate. Apparently Mr. Carter (and many others in the main stream media) had never watched Fox news. Fox News is the largest cable news channel out there. Perhaps there is some envy coupled with anger and hatred being projected on to Fox news. I don’t doubt it.
Featured in the same Vanity Fair issue is a typical ‘thrown-from-the-left’ pejorative punch at Sarah Palin: 

Sarah Palin: The Sound and The Fury (Smears, lies and Big Speaking Fees, Inside Sarah Palin Inc.) written by Michael Joseph Gross. The article is petty. What else could you expect?  Nothing comes from nothing.

I am always astounded when the left’s bigotry and smugness is hailed as intellectualism.

Vanity Fair, if you want to write about hate and anger then look to the left. There you will see the black liberation salvation messenger Jeremiah Wright. Look at the NAACP. Look at the Black Panthers. Look at MSMBC and Chris Matthews. Look at Rachel Maddow. Look at the angry homosexuals spewing their hate on those they denounce as “homophobic”. If you seek you will find.
At this point in time, the left has moved so far to the left that they stand on nothing and for nothing. Bloated satire keeps them afloat, but only for the moment. The Sound and the Fury of Vanity dissipates quickly from a hot air balloon.