Brant Gaede

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Everything posted by Brant Gaede

  1. I hate to mention this, but by virtue of my stunning brain power, whenever I post on any thread that that's an automatic hijack to whatever I have decided to pontificate about. You youngsteers (not a sic) have no idea about who's really controlling things around here. B) --Brant
  2. The problem with what the United States is doing now in the Middle East--never mind the war on terror; the war on terror is something else re 9/11--could easily mean a greater conflict later on than what is now going down, in response to a grievous insult, real or imagined. Such would probably involve war with Iran with Pakistan now on the more distant horizon another threat for an even bigger war. Civilians would suffer grievously even without being directly targeted by bombs, missiles and bullets. The US has dissipated its power and ability to deal with the various situations that can arise or are encouraged to arise by its weakness subsequent to the Iraqi War. This is the second big reason I was against it from the start, the first one being that it had little if anything to do with a war on terror represented by what happened on 9/11. Seeking an Objectivist justification for targeting civilians only weakens Objectivism by implicitly glorifying and sanctioning the state and all its rights' violating activities. How civilians will be dealt with in war will be determined by the philosophies of the combatants, which won't be Objectivist, and the circumstances of the conflict. --Brant
  3. PsyOps It is legitimate in war to target civilians with psychological warfare. --Brant
  4. As a US Senator McCarthy had no power to enforce censorship and violate civil liberties. Most of his power was de facto, not de jure. He helped whip up an anti-communist hysteria with irresponsible allegations and thus helped discredit anti-communism. Barbara once said, I believe, that Ayn Rand was ambivalent about the HUAC hearings she participated in. --Brant
  5. How can I be "reminded" when I was never "minded" in the first place? If you want to make a case for collective guilt go ahead and try; that's the first order of business. Don't pretend the job has been done. It is interesting how you let the Muslims off the collective-guilt hook, but not Americans. If Ayn Rand was against anything it was this sort of thing. --Brant
  6. Dan was recently awarded a full scholarship to study at OAC (Objectivist Academic Center) of ARI. Several of us are harshly criticizing Craig Biddle and other ARI intellectuals. You draw your own conclusions. (I am still waiting to see if his coaches will let him answer my questions...) Michael What are they going to teach him? --Brant
  7. Then when the US invaded Mexico before the Civil War the Mexican government had the "right" to drop nuclear bombs on the US if it had had any until the US would never again ever be a threat to the "long-term freedom" of the people of Mexico? --Brant
  8. There are Objectivists who want four things: --War--and to eat it too. --Objectivism--and to eat it too. They misunderstand or do not care to understand "Atlas Shrugged" and egoism. They think that at the end of the novel there wasn't anything left but Galt's Gulch. John Galt did not activate "Project X." Ragnar did not attack universities. Dagny did not gun down college students. Francisco did not assassinate Catholic priests. You cannot use Objectivism to justify genocide and sleep well at night. But you can fantasize about it, even though it's not Objectivism in the real world--yet. Maybe in 50 or a hundred years some idiot calling himself an "Objectivist" will actually do that. Today such advocates aren't idiots, with one or two or three public exceptions; they're just silly. How can you do anything other than trivialize your purported philosophy with such rationalistic constructs? How can you sell it? --Brant
  9. Angie, Ayn Rand would agree with you. Me too. It's a matter of self esteem, so is freedom. --Brant
  10. I'm sorry, Dan, but there is no proper way to answer this question since it is all theoretical and the premises questionable. There is no way to know that A and B could ever justify C and it's doubtful that real-life situations would help either. One can even argue that in WWII the various mass allied bombings were not targeting civilians but the cities they lived in. Maybe not successfully or very well, but one can argue this interminably. The Mongol's once conquered a city in central asia and slaughtered its 1,000,000 inhabitants. Freedom had nothing to do with this war of conquest. Be we Mongols? Hitler slaughtered 6-7 million Jews. Again, this had nothing to do with freedom. Be we Nazis? The environmentalists by their war on DDT are responsible for upwards of 40 million infant malarial deaths and 500 million chronic malarial debilitations over the last +30 years. Nothing to do with freedom. Be we environmentalists? If you are at war you are at war to survive. If you win you will presumably retain the freedoms you had. The deaths of civilians caused by you will not directly affect your freedoms one way or the other. Say you had a bomber with one big bomb to do this job. When you do this you will return to no more or less freedom than before. So, it must be a matter of literal survival. The enemy has its terrible weapon that is going to destroy you hidden in the middle of its largest city. Your big bomb will destroy this terrible weapon but kill all the inhabitants of this city too. What to do? You destroy the city, but it wasn't the civilians who were targeted, it was the terrible weapon. --Brant
  11. Andre, The United States is not at war with Iran. If the United States goes to war then what are legitimate military targets will be decided depending on the decided nature and scope of the war. Some clerics may or may not be deemed worthy targets for arrest. The West is at war with Islamists only metaphorically. You don't cause casualties out of a metaphorical war. BTW, "the first enemy civilians" to be targeted to be "terminated"? How long is your list? --Brant
  12. Dennis, When you fight ideas with bombs they become powerful. If they are right ideas they become even more powerful. The only way to succeed with this is the general if not complete destruction of human consciousness. But then you are rejecting Rand's central thesis: the impotence of evil. You can bomb instruments of evil out of existence and sometimes that is precisely what needs to be done. But evil itself is only as powerful as good makes it. The terrorists who flew those planes into the WTC came out of a culture that couldn't even land those planes or take them off. They attended US flight schools which, in effect, taught them to fly well enough to do their dirty deeds. --Brant
  13. Barbara, Soldiers kill, generally, so they won't be killed--or their buddies won't be killed. Hand to hand combat is unbelievably ferocious; everybody is trying to live--living means killing. I knew someone, slightly, in my high school, who graduated a year or two after I did. The same month I came back from Vietnam he was a Marine Corps machine gunner in the Mekong Delta--also where I had been--and threw himself on a grenade to save his friends. His death, his name was Jedh Barker, earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor. It is only after the battle, when you move among the dead and find in the enemy's possession, family photographs and other such memorabilia, that his common humanity is revealed and achieves human meaning in one's mind. Bomber pilots in WWII were concerned with the survival of themselves and their crews and doing their jobs so they wouldn't be sent back to try again over the same targets. 200,000 airmen on all sides died in WWII, mostly Germans, English and Americans--I have no idea about Russians--and it is beyond all understanding that their consciousnesses could be be so expansive in such circumstances to morally and objectively consider the damage to human lives they were doing. They were fighting and trying to win a war and survive. The bomber crews of WWII were incredibly brave men. If I had been old enough for WWII, I would have chosen to be a 20 or 40mm gunner on a battleship fighting off Kamikaze attacks. Me versus them. One on one. Live or die. Why? No American battleships after Pearl Harbor were sunk. A pretty comfortable birth. In a bomber I might have just been blown out of the sky or in a submarine silently died. I joined the army in 1964 to avoid the draft. I was going to be trained as a photographer at Ft. Dix, NJ. I volunteered for Special Forces in Basic Training. At the time it seemed that that that was the way to actually fight communists. I was a natural soldier that way and still am. Somehow it is in my DNA. (Ironically, my brother, a Marine, went to the photography school I didn't go to and didn't go to Vietnam. He is an accomplished photographer with several very good books of such to his credit.) This is why, among other reasons, I have no tolerance for what can be called "war ignorance." I will call it out every time I see it and can. Whatever the bomber pilots feel or don't feel is irrelevant as long as they keep on coming and do the job they were sent out to do. They know that and American bomber pilots keep on coming even unto death itself. And they know that their targets aren't churches or schools. That was true in the "Christmas bombing" of North Vietnam in December 1972. Technology has made (American and Israeli) bombing much more selective and continues to so so. It is those who aren't fighting for their lives and their friends' lives but who decide how American armed forces are to be deployed and used who are or might be above the fray, not bomber pilots, but they have to be or all battles will either not be fought or lost. Those who do the actual fighting have to trust in them. When I left Vietnam in 1967 it was with great relief for I no longer trusted them. In six months I was proved right when President Johnson, not withstanding American and South Vietnamese victory in the Tet offensive, caved in and effectively surrendered. Now I don't trust the Bush Administration. He isn't going to give in, not him; he's just going to leave office. --Brant edit: I would NOT have chosen to be a gunner on a battleship in WWII. In reality I would have been an officer in some combat capacity, but I am not a big adrenaline junkie. The military life described above is years of mind-numbing boredom followed by hours and a few days of adrenaline-pumping terror. There are those who get off on that rush. In Vietnam I was a good, not particularly heroic soldier, though I was decorated for bravery. I knew when to keep my head down and used a lot of common sense to avoid being killed or wounded. If you are wounded you are a liability. If you are dead you are not an asset and possibly a liability. There is nothing romantic about war. But young men can get romantic notions about it until they get into it. By examining certain publicly available records, I figured out that statistically I had about a 10% chance of being killed in the year I was overseas in my particular SF A-Team. Since we generally didn't have to deal with indirect fire weapons the chances of being wounded were about the same. I was not wounded. I was lucky to get out alive. I was on one operation where the six SF suffered two dead, one wounded. (So much for statistics.) The NCO next to me got a bullet between the eyes. The SP 4 radio man in an assault boat (I was in an airboat) got three machinegun rounds across his chest. I had to escort the bodies to Saigon. I saw their bodies laid out on tables in the morgue, which was not especially busy that day as most of the long row of slabs were empty. At that time only about 10,000 Americans had been killed in Vietnam. I think most of the 40,000 combat deaths (plus a total of about 10,000 non-combat deaths) to come went through that morgue, were processed home after being laid out on those slabs. It was the coldest room I have ever been in and I'm not talking about the ambient temperature--I was wiping off the sweat--but the fact that dead men are soon cold dead men. I knew then, absolutely, what was going to happen, that tens of thousands more American soldiers were going to die in that war and go through that room or similar rooms. In 1966 I didn't know it was going to be for naught. I did a year and a half later when I was home in college. --BG
  14. Michael, What branch of service did that member of the US armed forces occupy? Did he actually engage in combat and joyously kill people? Were you able to verify to any extent that he wasn't a phony, a liar, a wannabe? Many young soldiers start out with but don't keep such an attitude. The most dangerous soldiers in the world are 8-12 year old males. They'll kill anything and anybody in any imaginable circumstance. This was demonstrated in Africa a while back. I met two soldiers who actually enjoyed killing people. One was young and stupid about it, but they were combatants. The other was an officer with a reputation as a killer who didn't take prisoners. After three trials--one hung jury, one conviction thrown out on a technicality, one conviction upheld--he was convicted years later of murdering his Cambodian wife in North Carolina. The prosecution was of the opinion he wanted to marry his cousin and run for the presidency of the Czech Republic. He is no longer incarcerated. I presume he is now in the Czech Republic. He probably did kill his wife. Out of 36 different jurors only one stood up for him. I know he was quite capable. --Brant edit: I thought I hadn't posted the above, but somehow I did anyway, but it reads okay so I'm leaving it up. --BG
  15. Military tactics are justified to defeat an enemy, not to justify one's philosophy. If the latter, then in the name of Objectivism or Nazism or religion or anything else anything can go. If an Objectivist is elected President, mirabile dictu, we all know how rational and pro-life on earth Objectivists are, and the U.S. is in the middle of, say, this war on terrorism then one can imagine Him/Her coming to the "rational" conclusion that it is philosophically and militarily necessary, for the "long-term freedom" of Americans to nuke all Muslim population concentrations. This is tribalism or religion, but it isn't rational. Why call this obvious rationalization "Objectivism?" To fight a war the question is how is it most rational to fight this war? You don't babble on about rights' theory or even "just war." The "just war" is the war that cannot be avoided fought in self-defense. This does not exclude foreign wars; all wars save civil wars are foreign wars. This does not exclude a "first strike" if that is what is necessary to prevent the other guy's "first strike." But what is it being struck? One way to be rational is to ask, "How can this war be fought and won with the least cost?" The answer might even be that military force actually applied may not be necessary, that there is a cheaper, more rational way. Another rational question is "How do we fight this war and not lose our moral soul? We get our morality by referring to the humanity of human beings, ours and others, not a philosophy that we can use to justify inhumanity. And one has to consider that most American wars were a triumph of irrationality and jingoism and should never have been fought in the first place. That's every war I can think of going back to the War of 1812 if not the Whiskey Rebellion and the War of Independence. The "necessary" wars of today derive mostly from the "necessary" wars of yesterday which shaped the world in implicit acknowledgement of American power in the 20th Century. --Brant
  16. Dan, Your use of "action" is incorrect for it implies it isn't a military tactic. It is a military tactic. If you want to best present your case you need to ungarble this formulation. --Brant
  17. I'm going to take my Capuletti brochure to Walgreens and scan the contents onto a CD and mail it to MSK so he can post it on OL. I'm Internet primitive. I can't even do links (nor have I tried to learn). Busybody: "Brant. We have to learn how to do links." Brant: "Don't bother me, don't bother me, don't bother me!" --Brant
  18. Is it perhaps the same painting that I discussed here? That's not the one, Dragonfly, but it looks like he had some trouble there as well. I'll see if I can get the title for you. --Brant
  19. You cannot judge the quality of Frank's or Joan's work by these images. You can say Frank tried a variety of subjects but I cannot discern a strong, particular style. I always disliked "Man Also Rises" for it's sheer crudity. I liked the idea behind it and the title. Joan is technically much, much more competent. I dislike her nudes. I saw her work on exhibition in 1970. Capuletti is interesting but overrated by Objectivists because of Ayn's praise. If he had kept painting (he died of a heart attack 30 years ago) he might have gotten even better and more interesting. He tended to overemphasize landscapes relative to the human subjects. He also tended to leave serious technical mistakes in his paintings. Phillip J. Smith pointed out to his acting students (me included) at the time that in one painting the woman's feet really aren't standing on the floor creating a poor, somewhat jarring effect. I once told Arthur Silber that I found Capuletti "cold," which I didn't like and Arthur said that that's what he did like. I have a signed color brochure for his 1970 New York exhibition at the Hammer galleries. The prices if I remember right were about $10,000 and up. I strongly suspect they aren't all that valuable today; that depends more on his reputation in Europe than the AR association I am pretty sure. Today's dollar is only 1/3 the value of the 1970 dollar if not even less. --Brant PS: Ellen, were any of Frank's paintings on display along with Joan's at the exhibition associated with Allan Blumenthal's piano concert in 1970? I think that Capu's were. If they weren't I'd understand why. I just don't remember.
  20. I'd like to say a few things. First, I do think Dagny's motivation for shooting the guard was underwritten. Second, in an actual operation of that kind the guard and probably all the guards inside would have been shot out of hand. No discussions, no chance to give up or get out of the way. There was a lot of bloody mayhem that wasn't in AS but would have to be in real life, especially with Ragnar. You can't do what he did without a lot of collateral damage. Even in "The Fountainhead" Roark would not in real life have blown up Cortlandt for the simple reason of innocents who might have been in the way. There is a disjunction between real life and art. Still, I was bothered by the killing of the guard bit. I know, I think I know, why it's there. In "We The Living" a mindless guard kills Kira at the end, in "Atlas" Dagny kills a mindless guard also at the end, or near the end that is. There is a kind of gestalt in that. The USSR was full of guards and millions died. Ayn Rand's family destroyed even if they were still alive, which mostly they weren't as it turned out. Where the author trips up here is trying to make a philosophical/moral point in those circumstances. But there is some obvious glee involved when she describes how Francisco blew the heads off two thugs attacking Rearden. While it is unlikely that his pistols could have done that even at close range--I'm not sure--the guard situation is disturbing and so is the tunnel disaster, which I always wished had been depicted differently because the passengers were generally condemned for epistemological reasons, just like the guard. I think "Atlas Shrugged" is a great novel, maybe the greatest all considered, but I think "The Fountainhead" is the superior work of art and my favorite of hers. AS was too big a mouthful even for an Ayn Rand to properly chew in all its numerous significant aspects. --Brant
  21. As far as Objectivism is concerned it is irrelevant if they are right or wrong. It is wrong to take the name of a dead philosopher of stature and pretend that somehow your views would have been her views if she were alive. Maybe yes, maybe no. But she is dead and it is absolutely illegitimate to pretend in any respect otherwise or to give your personal views her gravitas. Okay to say they are consistent with Objectivism, although that would not be my personal frame of reference, but don't throw her name directly into it by creating and using an "Ayn Rand Institute." His views are deeply wrong because egoism has no commonality with Nazism, which more than any one thing is associated in the public mind not with totalitarianism or socialism or even war-mongering, but with genocide. Linz damned Barbara Branden for this and he damned her for that, but he never damned anybody for infesting his Web site with such advocacy. Instead he celebrated it as "KASS." And it's not even justified militarily, so it was completely gratuitous. Let me say this: There is not a single US military unit that would go into a school or church and machinegun clerics and students. It is possible that pilots could be given such bombing coordinates not knowing what the targets actually were. But I doubt that the responsible officers would give out such coordinates even by a direct order from the Commander-In-Chief who would be impeached and convicted and thrown out of office in a heartbeat. It is only some nuts associated with an institute in Southern California called the "Ayn Rand Institute." Lastly, imagine a John Galt or Howard Roark going into a religious school and machine-gunning the students. Something wrong with your imagination? --Brant
  22. On TCM "The Fountainhead" was not cut, not unless they have a policy I am not aware of. No one should ever watch any movie on AMC. The commercials are bad enough. The editing for TV is intolerable. If it's okay to watch AMC then the movie itself isn't fit to see or worth watching in any form. There is one exception: sometimes they show a movie with explanations about the making of the movie. That can be very interesting if it's not the first time you are seeing it. --Brant
  23. Brant Gaede


    Oh no, Kat. There is just no more justification for being public with this kind of thing. (edit) --Brant
  24. I just saw "The Fountainhead" on TCM. It was much, much better than I remembered. I saw so much seemingly for the first time that I wonder how much had been cut out previously. I even thought it was a 90 minute flick for some historical reason. In fact, it is about 115 minutes. Everybody but the Toohey character was miscast for one reason or another, but I only regretted the Wynand character. My favorite scene from the novel wasn't there--the boy on a bicycle--and my favorite dialogue line too, not my favorite in the novel but it would have been if in the movie: "Take off your clothes." Just before Howard is to say that line he says other stuff and no sex there. Ayn Rand did a tremendous job compressing the novel into the movie. This movie can't be remade except in black and white and set in the same time as the novel. The collectivists are no longer worthy opponents, at least then they had more stature in the public mind. Now they are ants. But no one will remake this except in color. No art in color. Then how are they going to blow up Cortlandt after 9-11? The only movie maker who can possibly handle this, because he is a nervy genius stylist, is Oliver Stone. Not to say we wouldn't all regret it anyway if he did it . --Brant
  25. The NBI brochures are now gone. Michael will probabgly post some images, but they won't reveal much as they are in black and white and small. --Brant