Thursday, March 17, 2005

Drugs, not Thugs! - Police start program to drug ADD kids into submission.

Coming soon to a police state near you:

Police fight attention disorder

The aggressive behaviour associated with attention deficit disorders can sometimes land children in trouble with the law.
Without the right care and treatment these children's lives can be ruined at a tender age.

With this in mind, police in east Lancashire have launched an initiative to help such vulnerable children avoid the risk of getting involved in crime.


How long before this program is adopted by our public school system? Are you SURE you don't want to home school?


Ever since folks started speaking out against Bush, America has adopted "free speech zones". These are small restricted or roped in areas where folks can exercise their first amendment right to free speech. These are generally found about 4 blocks away from any human activity and media reporters. In other words, you can exercise your right to free speech as long as nobody can hear or see you.
When I grew up, the free speech zone was everything within the boundaries of the United States. But, times have changed.
Below is a story showing how one group of activists was threatened if they did not comply with the "free speech zone" rules. The disturbing part about this is that today it happened to people wanting to inform citizens about the lies regarding marijuana, tomorrow, it could be gun groups, tax groups, home schoolers, or religious groups. If we don't stand up for the rights of others, why should we expect others to stand up for OUR rights? 'We must all hang together or we will surely hang separately'.

# # # #
(If they can do this to NORML, they can do it to gun owners, too. Or libertarians. Or anyone who's message the government doesn't like. Then they can send in the headbreakers who can hide behind badges.)

Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 17:59:48 EST

My name is Henry Koch and I am the President of Midlands NORML, the Columbia, SC chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Last year we were forced to bring suit against the city of Columbia and the Three Rivers Music Festival Association, through the ACLU, in US District
Court. Three Rivers was creating barriers and arguably attempting to completely exclude us from participating in an annual three day publicly funded music and arts festival which is held on public property because they don't like our literature. The lawsuit is centered around first amendment violations.

The day the festival started, Judge Cameron Currie set aside our case since we could no longer prove damage. The festival attorney promised the court that NORML would not be removed from the festival, nor harmed in any way should we leave our booth to distribute literature to festival attendees. Judge Currie continued the case - she didn't rule nor dismiss in the event there might be a need to continue the case the following year.

Festival organizers threatened to remove us from the festival if we left our 100 sq. ft (10x10) space to pass out literature or speak to anyone who didn't approach us first and specifically request information. This conditional free speech policy that the festival organizers attempted to enforce violates free speech as outlined in the US Constitution.

In previous years non-profit organizations (NPO's) paid a nominal fee to
attend the festival - $250 compared to over $1000 for merchandise and food

This year, in their continued efforts to exclude Midlands NORML or
significantly suppress our ability to get our message out to as many people as possible, they have removed the NPO status and increased the fee to $1060.00. All organizations, including university sanctioned student groups, must pay the same fees for-profit merchandise vendors pay.

An article in The State newspaper by John Drake stated this policy change was made because of NORML. Mr. Drake told me that he received that information in an email from Virginia Bedford, President of the Three Rivers Music Festival.

This year the free speech zone has been extended to 1,100 Sq. Ft. within
which we will be permitted to exercise our constitutional rights to freedom of speech up to 20 feet from our tent. Evidently, beyond that 20 foot barrier, the Three Rivers organizers have declared that the United States Constitution does not apply and free speech is strictly prohibited.

Ms. Bedford told me, that if someone not affiliated with NORML hands out our literature outside the authorized free speech zone, we will be removed from the festival. She then went on to state that if I want to sue her after the festival is over that is okay with her.

Ms. Bedford is knowingly planning on breaking laws and violating the United States Constitution. She knows she will be culpable for these violations, yet feels this tactic is justified to suppress our message.

Ms. Bedford told me that all vendors will be watched closely for violations of the twenty foot limit and that Midlands NORML would be watched closest of all since we broke the rules last year by violating the festival's limited free speech policy.

I suspect that someone working with the festival organizers might sabotage
us. They could employ a number of tactics, including the distribution of drug law reform literature away from our space and then remove us from the festival for breaking the rules, despite that their rules violate the Constitutionally protected right of expression and speech.

Our message is not to advocate the use of marijuana or breaking any laws
regarding use or possession. Rather, it is teaching the truth about the most beneficial plant on the planet, cannabis sativa, and exposing the lies the US Government has been perpetuating for almost 70 years in their attempt to eradicate this plant from the planet.

We teach the benefits of industrial hemp and how hemp can save the planet. We teach about the medical benefits of cannabis for many ailments. We teach about the damage prohibition has caused and is causing in our society. We show how gangs exist and children have easy access to illegal drugs because of prohibition. We advocate for a change in laws to stop arresting adults for the responsible use of marijuana.

If you feel the policy of the festival organizers is wrong you might want to contact Virginia Bedford and let her know how you feel. She can be reached at any of the following which are in the public domain:

Virginia Bedford
Three Rivers Music Festival
1511 Taylor St.
Columbia, SC 29201

Fax 803-401-8992
Email -
Yahoo newsgroup, not-moderated:

Home address:
Virginia Bedford
2926 Clark St.
Columbia, SC 29201
fax 803-254-9568

In order to ensure she gets your message you may wish to use every means
available to contact her. She arguably ignores mail that she doesn't like.

I would appreciate you forwarding this plea for help to everyone you know who supports free speech.

Live free or die!

Henry Koch
Midlands NORML

US: KGB and STASI reinforce Homeland Security. For whom?

Foreign Press Foundation | 16.12.2004 13:06 | Anti-militarism | Repression

Why have Soviet secret service 'KGB', General Yevgeni Primakov, as well as Markus Wolfe, the ex-boss of the ''STASI'', the equally feared former East German 'State Security Police' been hired by - and for - the US Gov't.?


US: KGB and STASI reinforce Homeland Security. For whom?

"These appointments have already been made"

Dec. 16th - 2004 - If somebody would inform you, that the former Ex-head of the inhuman and despicable Soviet secret service 'KGB', General Yevgeni Primakov, as well as Markus Wolfe, the ex-boss of the ''STASI'', the equally feared former East German ''State Security Police'' - (Staats Sicherheitsdienst) - have been hired by the United States Gov't for the lawless and already feared secret service "HOMELAND Security", as experts to reinforce the control in the US of all it's citizens: would that make you sleep badly ? Im sorry to wreck your night's rest, but it seems that it just happened to you, or, better said: to all of us globally.

Nobody - outside the US mainstream media's reach - would be surprised if the US neocons would appoint a revived Dr. Josef Mengele from Auschwitz as the new Head of Medicare.


Read the entire story here

Robert Blake acquitted

After 4 years in prison, actor Robert Blake was acquitted of killing his wife of 6 months. Wow... 4 years. Anyway, now that he is 71, he should have no trouble finding some other California gold-digger to marry him.

Judge Upholds Death Sentence for Peterson

All over the news today I heard that Peterson is a monster for killing his wife Laci and her unborn child. "Unborn child"...Isn't that an oxymoron?
Peterson was sentenced to death for 1st degree murder and 2nd degree murder.
So if a woman or a doctor performs an abortion, it is not murder; If a mother puts herself at risk and loses the baby, it is not murder.
If Peterson is guilty of 2nd degree murder, why are abortions legal? It seems like a double standard to me.
It seems to me that one can't kill something that isn't born. But, if we can establish when life begins, then we can determine when ending that life becomes murder. If ending the life of a fetus is murder, we better start building more prisons (or gas chambers).

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Ebbers Convicted of All Counts

A New York jury has FINALLY convicted Bernard Ebbers on all counts in an accounting fraud that sank WorldCom.

After an eight day dilberation, Ebbers was convicted of conspiracy, securities fraud and making false filings with federal regulators. Ebbers himself took the stand and said he knew nothing about fraud on his watch. (Maybe they should have hit him with contempt of court, too.)

This means that this greedy billionaire could go to prison for up to 85 years. (But with billions to bribe with, what are the chances of that happening?)

His conviction follows an accounting investigation that found more than eleven billion dollars in cooked books.

I wonder how this conviction will impact the loyal employees whose 401K's dropped in value from $1,000,000 to only $500?


Terror Suspect Buying Firearm, US Report Finds - From New York Times

(My comments at the end - Fran)

From Today's New York Times
Terror Suspects Buying Firearms, U.S. Report Finds

WASHINGTON, March 7 - Dozens of terror suspects on federal watch lists were allowed to buy firearms legally in the United States last year, according to a Congressional investigation that points up major vulnerabilities in federal gun laws.

People suspected of being members of a terrorist group are not automatically barred from legally buying a gun, and the investigation, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, indicated that people with clear links to terrorist groups had regularly taken advantage of this gap.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, law enforcement officials and gun control groups have voiced increasing concern about the prospect of a terrorist walking into a gun shop, legally buying an assault rifle or other type of weapon and using it in an attack.

The G.A.O. study offers the first full-scale examination of the possible dangers posed by gaps in the law, Congressional officials said, and it concludes that the Federal Bureau of Investigation "could better manage" its gun-buying records in matching them against lists of suspected terrorists.

F.B.I. officials maintain that they are hamstrung by laws and policies restricting the use of gun-buying records because of concerns over the privacy rights of gun owners.

At least 44 times from February 2004 to June, people whom the F.B.I. regards as known or suspected members of terrorist groups sought permission to buy or carry a gun, the investigation found.

In all but nine cases, the F.B.I. or state authorities who handled the requests allowed the applications to proceed because a check of the would-be buyer found no automatic disqualification like being a felon, an illegal immigrant or someone deemed "mentally defective," the report found.

In the four months after the formal study ended, the authorities received an additional 14 gun applications from terror suspects, and all but 2 of those were cleared to proceed, the investigation found. In all, officials approved 47 of 58 gun applications from terror suspects over a nine-month period last year, it found.

The gun buyers came up as positive matches on a classified internal F.B.I. watch list that includes thousands of terrorist suspects, many of whom are being monitored, trailed or sought for questioning as part of terrorism investigations into Islamic-based, militia-style and other groups, official said. G.A.O. investigators were not given access to the identities of the gun buyers because of those investigations.

The report is to be released on Tuesday, and an advance copy was provided to The New York Times.

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, who requested the study, plans to introduce legislation to address the problem in part by requiring federal officials to keep records of gun purchases by terror suspects for a minimum of 10 years. Such records must now be destroyed within 24 hours as a result of a change ordered by Congress last year. Mr. Lautenberg maintains that the new policy has hindered terrorism investigations by eliminating the paper trail on gun purchases.

"Destroying these records in 24 hours is senseless and will only help terrorists cover their tracks," Mr. Lautenberg said Monday. "It's an absurd policy."

He blamed what he called the Bush administration's "twisted allegiances" to the National Rifle Association for the situation.

The N.R.A. and gun rights supporters in Congress have fought - successfully, for the most part - to limit the use of the F.B.I.'s national gun-buying database as a tool for law enforcement investigators, saying the database would amount to an illegal registry of gun owners nationwide.

The legal debate over how gun records are used became particularly contentious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, when it was disclosed that the Justice Department and John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, had blocked the F.B.I. from using the gun-buying records to match against some 1,200 suspects who were detained as part of the Sept. 11 investigation. Mr. Ashcroft maintained that using the records in a criminal investigation would violate the federal law that created the system for instant background gun checks, but Justice Department lawyers who reviewed the issue said they saw no such prohibition.

In response to the report, Mr. Lautenberg also plans to ask Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to assess whether people listed on the F.B.I.'s terror watch list should be automatically barred from buying a gun. Such a policy would require a change in federal law.

F.B.I. officials acknowledge shortcomings in the current approach to using gun-buying records in terror cases, but they say they are somewhat constrained by gun laws as established by Congress and interpreted by the Justice Department.

"We're in a tough position," said an F.B.I. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not been formally released. "Obviously, we want to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, but we also have to be mindful of privacy and civil rights concerns, and we can't do anything beyond what the law allows us to do."

After initial reluctance from Mr. Ashcroft over Second Amendment concerns, the Justice Department changed its policy in February 2004 to allow the F.B.I. to do more cross-checking between gun-buying records and terrorist intelligence.

Under the new policy, millions of gun applications are run against the F.B.I.'s internal terrorist watch list, and if there is a match, bureau field agents or other counterterrorism personnel are to be contacted to determine whether they have any information about the terror suspect.

In some cases, the extra review allowed the F.B.I. to block a gun purchase by a suspected terrorist that might otherwise have proceeded because of a lag time in putting information into the database, the accountability office's report said.

In one instance last year, follow-up information provided by F.B.I. field agents revealed that someone on a terror watch list was deemed "mentally defective," even though that information had not yet made its way into the gun database. In a second case, field agents disclosed that an applicant was in the country illegally. Both applications were denied.

Even so, the report concluded that the Justice Department should clarify what information could and could not be shared between gun-buying administrators and terrorism investigators. It also concluded that the F.B.I. should keep closer track of the performance of state officials who handle gun background checks in lieu of the F.B.I.

"Given that these background checks involve known or suspected terrorists who could pose homeland security risks," the report said, "more frequent F.B.I. oversight or centralized management would help ensure that suspected terrorists who have disqualifying factors do not obtain firearms in violation of the law."

# # #
My comments:
The FBI will always blame someone else for their incompetence. The current laws prohibit known CRIMINALS from buying guns. They want to use this report so that they can now prohibit known SUSPECTS. They use the term SUSPECTED TERRORIST because they know the kind of knee jerk response that the people will have to that phrase. However, a few years back, the FBI released a flyer defining Suspected Terrorists. It included political activists, Christians, tax-evaders/protestors, people who refer to the constitution, and generally speaking anyone who spoke out against government. This proposed bill needs to be watched closely and people need to understand that the FBI's idea of a terrorist is all encompassing. On the other hand, perhaps this will help educate people why they need to only buy guns through private gun sales. The bit about "destroying the list in 24 hours" is a total crock. When congress approved of background checks, it was conditional upon the "immediate destruction" of the list after application. This was NEVER done. What's worse, is that the FBI has released those records to new state task forces that were set up for the sole purpose of confiscating guns that had been legally purchased.



Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is putting his anti-gun spin on a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on firearms purchases by suspected terrorists during a five-month period last year to push his gun control agenda, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) said today.

Sen. Lautenberg announced that he will introduce legislation requiring the National Instant Check System (NICS) to retain records of gun purchases by suspected terrorists for at least ten years.

"In Sen. Lautenberg's warped view, anyone who buys a gun is a suspected terrorist," said CCRKBA Chairman Alan M. Gottlieb. "Based on his past record, he is looking for any avenue to justify a back door gun registration scheme so that if he could get even one of his gun ban bills passed, he will know where to go to collect them all. The report demonstrates that the NICS system works. The GAO clearly notes that only 44 out of more than 3.1 million gun transactions showed valid matches to 36 different people whose names are on terrorist watch lists. Of those, 35 transactions were allowed to proceed, six were denied, and three were subject to pending resolution.

"Remember," Gottlieb noted, "none of the people who successfully purchased firearms has been charged with, or convicted of any crime, yet their names are on a watch list. How does somebody's name get on one of those lists? How is it removed? Lautenberg wants to keep records on these people for ten years. Where is the ACLU? If this involved anything but a gun purchase, the ACLU would be in hysterics over invasion of privacy issues."

"Actually," added CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron, "the report indicates that procedures have been changed already to further reduce the potential that the wrong people will obtain guns. Unfortunately, no system will ever be one hundred percent fool-proof. Even if we adopted all of the gun controls Frank Lautenberg has ever advocated, we would only disarm honest citizens, not criminals or potential terrorists, and he knows it.

"However, there is more to this story that Sen. Lautenberg won't mention," Waldron added. "The report says an estimated 650 NICS transactions generated initial hits on terrorist watch lists during the GAO study period. Yet, the vast majority of those hits did not result in valid matches. The bottom line is that the NICS system works and Sen. Lautenberg is trying to say it doesn't so he can demand that we keep records on people who may have broken no laws. Should we deny them the exercise of a civil right? If we do, what's next? Do we take away their other rights? Will we hold them in confinement without trial? How far do we go? Where does it stop?"

With more than 650,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is one of the nation's premier gun rights organizations. As a non-profit organization, the Citizens Committee is dedicated to preserving firearms freedoms through active lobbying of elected officials and facilitating grass-roots organization of gun rights activists in local communities throughout the United States.


Smoke and Mirrors From the FBI

Gun Owners,

Unfortunately, CCRKBA – like so many others – has taken the bait.

Rather than expressing their outrage at the FBI, they have focused on Lautenberg and are now pleading that the Instant background checks for firearms purchases should be left alone, begging the congress to leave NICS as it is.

Why is there no one pointing out that congress only approved the NICS system on the condition that all records were destroyed immediately and that NO Database of US gun owners be kept. The FBI has blatantly IGNORED this contingency and has even provided those records to City taskforces (Chicago) for the express purpose of confiscating these guns that were legally purchased. In fact, FBI even participated in those confiscations.

How dare CCRKBA send out a news release stating, “The bottom line is that the NICS system works and Sen. Lautenberg is trying to say it doesn't so he can demand that we keep records on people who may have broken no laws.”

Wake up! The system doesn’t work! It does NOT keep guns out of the hands of criminals. It does NOT prevent crime.

It DOES what it was originally proposed to DO. Prevent citizens from buying guns, allow local records to be kept on law-abiding gun owners, create a national database of gun owners, and provides a shopping list of guns and locations for confiscation task forces. It is just another incremental step towards gun confiscation in the US. And as far as the FBI wanting to use the NICS system to prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns… think again. The FBI put out a flyer a few years ago to help their field offices identify suspected terrorists. I URGE you to read the FBI flyer.

Essentially, Christians, defenders of the Constitution, and anyone who questions the authority of the police are on their terrorist watch list. Therefore, anyone who is opposed to their plan IS by THEIR definition a suspected terrorist.

This should be offensive to all gun owners, all citizens who believe that the constitution is the supreme law of the law, and especially to RKBA groups.

Rather than play defense, why not attack the FBI and Lautenberg for violating their oath to uphold the constitution? Why not demand that the NICS system be stopped immediately until we can prove that they have ignored congresses order to NOT maintain a database of gun owners? Why not demand that congress immediately investigate the FBI and order them to destroy the records that they were ordered not to have in the first place? Why? Because it is too late; The database already exists, it has be given to states and is being used exactly as it was intended to be used – to take guns away from law abiding citizens. If I were on the board of CCRKBA, I would send out an immediate retraction of this release. If I were a member of a group professing to be working to protect members gun rights, I would be outraged at that group for stating that “NICS is working”. Hopefully, my message has outraged you enough to read the FBI flyer yourself, and to contact your gun rights organizations and let them know that you are not interested in any more compromises. You want the NICS system to END, not to be given MORE power to trample our rights.

Fran Tully

Monday, March 14, 2005

Review: The Black Arrow by Vin Suprynowicz

by Fran Tully

The Black Arrow is a futuristic tale of hope and resistance. Set in the year 2030, it opens in the streets of Gotham . The reader is introduced to a world where homeland security has blossomed and bestowed upon us its wonderful "protection" against terrorism--not only in our airports, but right off busy sidewalks at impromptu "portals." Passers by are treated to an inspection for weapons, illegal software, drugs, and proper ID. Of course, if they don't find any problems, inspectors often treat themselves to a good grope or other sexual rewards from the defenseless citizens in this new "police state." Ah, but on the rooftops and in the shadows lurks the Black Arrow--a hero along the lines of Batman or Superman. While the book may open with an almost comic book feel, we soon learn that it is a serious, believable novel that stirs our souls much like the film “Spartacus” does.

With The Black Arrow, Vin has given us a real treasure. For example, when was the last time that “Passionate”. . . "Sexy". . . "Stylish" . . . "Thought-provoking" . . . "Funny". . . "Exhilarating!". . . "Action-packed!" . . . and "Tear-jerker" were all used to describe the same book--let alone a book about FREEDOM???

The characters are so real, likable, and unique that you believe that you know them. The Black Arrow starts out with a righteous assassination by an archer. The ancient method of attack is chosen to effectively render the vast “SonicNet gunfire detection grid” about as useful as the ancient Maginot Line.

Later, we find that the resistance is equally proficient with blades, martial arts, or firearms. I found it extremely refreshing to read a novel with technically accurate gun battles. Without going overboard or getting too technical, the author provides the reader with a real sense of what it feels like, sounds like, and looks like to engage an armed enemy while equipped with bows and guns. After some of the shooting scenes, you'll actually find yourself with ringing ears yawning, trying to get your ears to pop, as though a low-flying jet had just broken Mach 1 overhead.

The masterful word pictures put you on the front line. You feel the cold rain, are aroused by the sex, and smell the dark, dank, vast Gotham underground. This is a thriller with soul. You will go from laughing out loud, to shaking with sheer hatred, and then down to a lump in your throat--from the tear-jerking romance.

If you're part of the "gun culture," you'll feel absolutely privileged to be surrounded by serious, well trained freedom fighters who not only practice good muzzle control, but also let you in on their thoughts before and AFTER they pull the trigger. You find yourself understanding their justification for their conflict and their willingness to “hold the line”--despite their terrible odds of survival.

Some of the scenes are so heinous that you question the need to be so graphic; after all, no government could be THAT cruel. And then you recall that you've seen these stories before . . . you remember that these are real events. Vin has craftily taken the most horrific injustices to our liberties and magically made them appear as current news items in 2030. The Black Arrow is a must-read for romantics, libertarians, resistance fighters, and anyone who is passionate about life. It also provides the ultimate solution for the elimination of "boot-on-your-neck" politics.

The dialogue is witty and sharp. The history lessons and quotes from the Founding Fathers are timeless and pertinent.

Vin has given us a stunning first novel that is sure to be a timeless classic among such greats as Atlas Shrugged, The Count of Monte Cristo, Animal Farm, 1984, and Unintended Consequences. Get the limited edition, leather-bound printing while it lasts and pass it on to your grandchildren. It is guaranteed to stir even the faintest glowing cinder of patriotism into a raging fire of resistance. I can't wait to see what Vin will come up with next--and I hope it is soon.

About the author: Vin Suprynowicz , a collector of surplus military firearms, spent his youth in New England and worked his way through school as a disc jockey, short-order cook, motel night clerk, and member of the relentlessly unsuccessful rock & roll band "The Four Shadowings of Doom." Vin has had an extensive, award-winning career in journalism and is currently a columnist and editorial writer at Nevada 's largest newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He is also the author of two non-fiction books, Send in the Waco Killers and The Ballad of Carl Drega. Both of his non-fiction works were awarded Freedom Book of the Year by, and The Black Arrow is certain to win it this year.

The targets of Vin's books and columns include taxation, gun control, and the War to Spread Pain (more generally dubbed the "War On Some Drugs.")

But Homeland Security and our new national pastime, the airport grope-and-grab, also do not escape his literary scalpel.

You can buy "The Black Arrow" from the Liberty Book Shop online.

Is "THE INCREDIBLES" based on Ayn Rand philosophy?

Superhero Me!by David Kelley

Countless articles and books have exposed the injustice of egalitarian policies, from affirmative action to "comparable worth" pay. Economists have documented their destructive effects. Newspapers bring daily reports of egalitarian lunacy: a school that won't post honor rolls, lest it be sued by parents of C students; SAT tests "re-normed" to boost the scores of minorities; a teacher hauled up before a college court for using the word "niggardly," taken as a slur by semantically challenged students. None of this seems to have done much to stem the egalitarian tide. Who would have thought that an animated film would finally touch a nerve, putting egalitarians on the defensive? That is the achievement of Pixar Studios' new hit, The Incredibles, the story of a family of superheroes who struggle against the reign of mediocrity and finally break free to excel. Along the way it skewers the dumbing down of schools, the mantra that everyone is special, and the laws that give losers special status as victims. Banishing Heroes The movie begins with a droll conceit: Superheroes with miraculous powers have been put out of action by the very people they saved from fires, felons, and other fiascoes. With the help, naturally, of trial lawyers, these "victims" brought a rash of lawsuits against their saviors for incidental injuries and "wrongful rescue." The former heroes are now living in suburban obscurity under the government's Superhero Protection Program, forbidden to exercise their powers in public. Bob Parr, formerly Mr. Incredible, works as a claims adjustor in an insurance company, commuting in a beat-up sedan barely large enough to hold his still-immense bulk. His wife, Helen (Elastigirl), stays home raising the kids, who also have superhuman powers. The family chafes at their enforced normality. Dash, the grade-school son who runs like a rabbit on speed, is angry that he can't join the track team lest he reveal his special power. "Dad says our powers make us special," he complains to his mother. "Everyone's special, Dash," she says - and he mutters, "Which is another way of saying that nobody is." Bob sneaks off at night to fight crime with an old superhero buddy. When Helen tells him he's missing a meaningless ceremony at Dash's school, he grumbles: "They keep finding new ways to celebrate mediocrity." It's only a matter of time before Bob accepts a secret superhero mission, one that eventually draws the entire family into a battle with a surprising villain, named Syndrome. Syndrome was a young wannabe in the days when superheroes flourished but, lacking any special powers of his own, wasn't admitted to the club. Now, filled with resentful envy, he has been eliminating the retired superheroes one by one. Like a James Bond villain, operating from a high-tech desert island lair, he has invented technology that neutralizes the superheroes' advantage. He has also invented an indestructible weapon he can use to get even with the world, demanding money, power, and respect. When Bob is lured to the island and trapped, Helen and the children come to the rescue, and the whole family saves the day in a wonderfully orchestrated blur of animated prowess. Pixar's computer-generated animation is stunning throughout. The Parr's struggle with family life gives the characters depth; the dialogue is witty, the action inventive. No wonder the movie is a runaway hit, with revenues of nearly $178 million by its third weekend out. But the most interesting thing about it is the controversy it has stirred. In this respect, the film's distinction is not that it features exceptional characters doing heroic things. Such films are a dime a dozen, from comic-book classics like Superman to the latest thriller. What's distinctive is that the film explicitly defends the value of talent and achievement against the leveling values of egalitarianism. In doing so it has unleashed a storm of commentary, pro and con, by reviewers, commentators, and bloggers. A Rand Connection? New York Times reviewer A.O. Scott said the film suggests an "immersion in both the history of American comic books and the philosophy of Ayn Rand." In the Nation, Stuart Klawans sneered: "The superheroes are in hiding because greedy trial lawyers sued them into retirement; and, while concealed, they chafe at their confinement, like Ayn Rand railing against enforced mediocrity." Scott and Klawans were among the many who cited Rand as a point of reference, and possible inspiration, for the movie's theme. To judge by the discussion of The Incredibles, Rand is known as much for her unapologetic love of excellence as for her ethic of self-interest and her libertarian politics. She was indeed a great admirer of human achievement, and, as a consequence, defended the rights and the honor of the highest achievers. Her goal as a novelist, she said, was "the projection of an ideal man." In the world she created in Atlas Shrugged, the economy comes to a halt when the most productive people go on strike against the altruist moral code and its demand that they serve as keepers of their less able brothers. Rand also understood the envy and power lust that fuel egalitarian doctrines. In an arresting scene in The Fountainhead that has particular relevance to The Incredibles, her power-hungry villain Ellsworth Toohey explains one of the techniques he used to break the spirit of individuals and make them willing to submit to the collective. Kill man's sense of values. Kill his capacity to recognize greatness or to achieve it. Great men can't be ruled. We don't want any great men. Don't deny the conception of greatness. Destroy it from within. The great is the rare, the difficult, the exceptional. Set up standards of achievement open to all, to the least, to the most inept - and you stop the impetus to effort in all men, great or small. You stop all incentive to improvement, to excellence, to perfection. . . . Don't set out to raze all shrines - you'll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity - and the shrines are razed. The Incredibles elicited predictable howls from the egalitarian Left. One blogger saw the movie as a page out of Nietzsche: "The strong, the movie suggests, should be allowed to thrive outside the false laws and values of the weak, acting according to their own superior, self-generated code." Another complained that the filmmakers were "apparently oblivious to the critiques of the Nietzsche/Rand/Nazi undertones beneath every superhero from Superman on down. There's a huge difference between respecting difference, and instructing the weak to honor the inherent superiority of the great." Peter Conrad, a writer for England's left-wing Guardian, wrote a particularly nasty commentary on the superhero genre. "The superman is a man of power, which means that from the first his mission was political. Superheroes are instinctive bullies and despots," he claims, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, or George W. Bush, or America as a world power. In The Incredibles itself, however, there is no sign whatever that the heroes are interested in power. Nor of course did Ayn Rand believe that great ability entitled a person to control others, as she made abundantly clear in distinguishing herself from Nietzsche and defending the rights of all people to live as they choose. Egalitarians insist on reading elitist political motivation into every work that recognizes differences in ability because of their own collectivist blinders. If one assumes from the outset that the group is the primary unit of existence, which controls the lives of individuals and gives them their identity, then indeed there are only two basic choices: an egalitarian society with democratic governance or a hierarchical society with aristocratic governance. But the assumption and the dichotomy are false. A Few Complaints While The Incredibles has a theme to warm the hearts of Objectivists and has made the right people angry, it is not Atlas Shrugged. For one thing, the heroes are not productive geniuses who create value through exceptional ability in art, science, business, or invention. They are traditional heroes who ward off the destruction of value by criminals or natural disasters. The film's only scenes of work are of Bob in his miserable insurance-company cubicle and of his conflicts with his boss—a Scrooge-like caricature of the greedy capitalist who wants to turn down every customer's claim and watches indifferently when a man is mugged on the street outside his window. In fighting crime and rescuing people, traditional heroes embody the classical virtues of the warrior, especially strength and courage, combined with the altruism of the Christian knight, dedicated to protecting the weak. In a review for Box Office Mojo, Objectivist Scott Holleran accused The Incredibles of altruism on this score, because the superheroes are engaged in "saving lives as a moral duty for 'the greater good.'" It's true that the Parrs risk their lives to help others, battling a villain portrayed as a selfish monster. Nevertheless, it seemed to me that their deeper motivation was the joy of exercising their powers - just as someone might choose to practice medicine, a profession whose goal is to heal the sick, because he loves the challenge of the work. Bob embarks on his heroic exploits not because others need him but because he needs to break out of a life he finds stifling. It was, after all, an ungrateful public that consigned him to that life in the first place. Indeed, many liberal commentators complained that the film's superheroes are too selfish in pursuing self-realization rather than service. A hostile article in the York Observer, for example, quoted liberal author Richard Goldstein: "And what is The Incredibles? It's really a movie about people sort of bursting out of this model of decency and concern for others, and all of those values that now get labeled politically correct, and bursting forth with their true strength and power, like an animated Hobbes." The one unambiguous flaw in the movie's conception of heroism lies in its portrayal of the villain. Syndrome has invented technological marvels, like boots that enable him to fly, a fortress run by computers, and a ray gun that traps its target in an anti-gravitational force field. Though he puts these tools to evil uses, they are obviously the product of exceptional mental ability that makes the superheroes' athletic gifts seem crude by comparison. By invoking the stock figure of the evil genius, the filmmakers have signed on to the conventional view that intelligence is at best amoral. Had they simply omitted any character of heroic mental powers, they would have conveyed a merely limited conception of heroism; by introducing such a character and making him the villain, they have offered a distorted conception. In an extraordinary moment near the end, Syndrome says his goal in inventing the technology was to destroy the superheroes by enabling everyone to do what they do. "Everybody will be super, which means no one will be." In that one line, writer Brad Bird managed to equate murder and invention as acts of envy-driven hatred, and to elevate native physical abilities over the exercise of man's distinctive ability to think, create, and magnify his powers through technology. The latter is an especially bizarre statement for the wizards at Pixar to make. But it's only one line. Write it off as temporary insanity and enjoy the rest of the film.