There is good reason to credit the novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand as being the most influential figure in contemporary American politics. Her novels sucked and her philosophy, objectivism, is the Wal-Mart of ideas, but her work has the magical power of mesmerizing high school and college students and making them her worshippers for the rest of their lives. Many of her worshippers went on to become leaders of American conservatism and the right wing of the Republican Party. The USA populist phenomenon known as the Tea Party is a sort of high-school-dropout reflection of Ayn Rand's belief system.
In radio interviews, she'd yell in her thick Russian accent: "It's AYN! as in SWINE!"
Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, attended Ayn Rand's funeral in 1982. Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi called Greenspan "the biggest asshole in the universe" and blamed him for the current economic collapse.
Rand wrote two novels, "The Fountainead" and "Atlas Shrugged." You can get a quick dose of "The Fountainhead" in the Gary Cooper movie, for which Rand wrote the screenplay.
After watching Cooper in "The Fountainhead," it is impossible to believe he was also a gifted comic actor.
"The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail."
-- Flannery O'Connor, author of the novels "Wise Blood" and "The Violent Bear It Away," and the short story collections "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" and "Everything That Rises Must Converge"
O'Connor first achieved fame when, as a 6-year-old girl on a Georgia farm, she taught a chicken to walk backwards, and Pathe News showed a newsreel of the event, "Little Mary O'Connor," around the USA.
"When I was six I had a chicken that walked backward and was in the Pathe News. I was in it too with the chicken. I was just there to assist the chicken but it was the high point in my life. Everything since has been anticlimax."