When a politician accepts the premise that in politics appearance is reality, it can be dangerous to his mind. The words he says do not necessarily have to stay connected to reality. Just think of how this false premise could wreak havoc with a person's epistemology. Over time a person would become less sharp and more vague in his thinking. He would not examine his words against reality but against the standard of political pragmatism. Do his words help his poll numbers that afternoon? Then they become reality.And be sure to read the comments.
If you're beginning to detect a rigid sense of citizenship and a skeptical attitude toward individual choice, you are beginning to understand what kind of president John McCain actually would make, in contrast with the straight-talking maverick that journalists love to quote but rarely examine in depth. For years McCain has warned that a draft will be necessary if we don't boost military pay, and he has long agitated for mandatory national service. "Those who claim their liberty but not their duty to the civilization that ensures it live a half-life, indulging their self-interest at the cost of their self-respect," he wrote in The Washington Monthly in 2001. "Sacrifice for a cause greater than self-interest, however, and you invest your life with the eminence of that cause. Americans did not fight and win World War II as discrete individuals." [bold added]Although I stand by my fundamental criticism of Welch for subscribing to libertarianism, an anti-intellectual political movement that poses a grave threat to the cause of individual rights, I must now concede that he does understand the danger McCain represents better than I'd given him credit for -- although still not enough to quit aiding and abetting the Libertarian Party.
Intel has found a way to stretch a Wi-Fi signal from one antenna to another located more than 60 miles away.
Intel has announced plans to sell a specialized Wi-Fi platform later this year that can send data from a city to outlying rural areas tens of miles away, connecting sparsely populated villages to the Internet. The wireless technology, called the rural connectivity platform (RCP), will be helpful to computer-equipped students in poor countries, says Jeff Galinovsky, a senior platform manager at Intel. And the data rates are high enough--up to about 6.5 megabits per second--that the connection could be used for video conferencing and telemedicine, he says.
The RCP, which essentially consists of a processor, radios, specialized software, and an antenna, is an appealing way to connect remote areas that otherwise would go without the Internet, says Galinovsky. Wireless satellite connections are expensive, he points out. And it's impractical to wire up some villages in Asian and African countries. "You can't lay cable," he says. "It's difficult, expensive, and someone is going to pull it up out of the ground to sell it."
...Importantly, the devices require relatively little power. Running two or three radios in a link, Galinvosky says, requires about five to six watts. This makes it possible to power the radios using solar energy.
Police are investigating an 11-year-old girl's death from an undiagnosed, treatable form of diabetes after her parents chose to pray for her rather than take her to a doctor.That is, Ms. Neumann has nothing against doctors except when it came to calling upon one to treat her daughter's plainly obvious and easily manageable condition. Yet consider for a moment just what evidence Neumann had to conclude that "healing comes from God." This claim is nothing more than unfounded faith, utterly devoid of any reason or proof. In contrast, modern medicine is nothing more than the scientific method applied to physical health—the process of systematically identifying and obeying nature so as to be able to properly command it. And here we have abundant proof that science makes human life better; after all, our entire modern civilization, from CAT Scans to iPhones, is built upon the practical benefits of this truth.
An autopsy showed Madeline Neumann died Sunday of diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that left too little insulin in her body, Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said.
She had probably been ill for about a month, suffering symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness, the chief said Wednesday, noting that he expects to complete the investigation by Friday and forward the results to the district attorney.
The girl's mother, Leilani Neumann, said that she and her family believe in the Bible and that healing comes from God, but that they do not belong to an organized religion or faith, are not fanatics and have nothing against doctors. [Robert Imrie, Associated Press Writer]
It happens every election. My thinking is the polar opposite of liberal thinking on the economy. What I think is good, liberals think is bad. What I see as white, liberals see as black.
So when Democrats make commercials criticizing Republicans, those commercials sound to me like the most persuasive argument for voting for the Republican. The spots come down to something like, "Candidate X won't use the government to fix things!" Well, hallelujah, I cry.
I must remind myself that Democrats are so out of touch with reality that when they attempt to smear a Republican they end up exaggerating his free market bona fides.
Obama and Clinton, talking about the economy, are now doing it. They are making a better case for McCain than McCain will probably ever make.
Both Obama and Clinton argued that Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain isn't ready or willing to handle an economic emergency.
"The phone is ringing, and he would just let it ring and ring," Clinton said, echoing the "3 a.m. phone call" TV ad she used earlier to suggest she was more qualified than Obama to handle a national security crisis. Speaking in Raleigh, N.C., she chastised McCain for opposing government intervention in the nation's credit and mortgage crisis.
Bemoaning the nation's economic woes, Obama, like Clinton, dismissed McCain's approach as pure hands-off. On Tuesday, McCain derided government intervention to save and reward banks or small borrowers who behave irresponsibly though he offered few immediate alternatives for fixing the country's growing housing crisis. Obama said McCain's plan "amounts to little more than watching this crisis happen."
Obama is so sure that big government is the way to win votes that he goes on to criticize his fellow Democrat Bill Clinton for deregulation policies.
I imagine John McCain in a secret meeting with Karl Rove.
"Karl," the Senator says, "I have these paleolithic conservative jackoffs on my ass for being too much 'big government.' What should I do?"
"Don't worry," Rove says with a twinkle in his eye. "I'll use my mind control machine to make the Democrats hit you for not being socialist enough! Nothing else could work better to unite Republicans around you."
Now, McCain defenders will surely object at this point that their man should get credit for opposing government intervention.
Yes, he gets credit for that. I haven't looked at his ideas in detail, where the devil often lies, but if he opposes government intervention, then he is right.
As a long-suffering observer of Republicans in action, however, I have learned that what they mean by "smaller government" is actually "bigger government, just not as big as what the Democrats want."
Call them 50% Me-Too Republicans. It is true that they don't take us 100% as far as the Democrats want, but at the end of the day we're 50% of that distance down the road to serfdom. The Republicans erode freedom and expand the government -- and then they congratulate themselves for not going as far as the Democrats.
The worst thing about 50% Me-Tooers is that, in their pragmatism, they concede the principle of big government to the Democrats. Once the principle of laissez-faire capitalism is thrown out, then the battle is lost. The Republicans have no principled arguments to stop the next Democrat assault on liberty.
John McCain's name is on some of the worst violations of freedom in our time, such as McCain-Feingold and McCain-Leiberman. If he got it right on the credit and mortgage crisis, such lucidity is rare and out of character for him.
Like Bush he is ignorant of economics and like Bush he will expand the government. McCain is more dangerous than a mediocre cypher such as Bush because he has explicitly rejected the Goldwater ideal and replaced it with Teddy Roosevelt's trust-busting, big government progressivism.
Another thing to remember is that, for the last 40 years at least, Republican presidents have been more effective at expanding government than Democrats. Look at Nixon's record. One could make the case that the most free market president of our time has been Bill Clinton, he who (cornered by a Republican Congress) reformed welfare, balanced the budget, passed NAFTA and, as Obama complains, repealed the Glass-Steagall Act on bank regulations. Bush 41, by comparison, passed the Americans with Disabilities Act. Bush 43 passed the biggest expansion of the welfare state since LBJ with the prescription drugs bill.
Republicans in Congress grow a spine only when we elect a Democrat president. They harry and attack Democrat presidents like terriers going after a rat. Any expansion of government proposed by a Democrat president brings forth howls from the Republicans.
Democrats in Congress, on the other hand, criticize Republican presidents for not expanding government. Thus a Republican president can be a 50% Me-Tooer and look like Goldwater against a backdrop of leftist moonbats in the Congress.
Let us not fool ourselves by thinking John McCain is in any substantial, principled way for less government. Getting it right every other Tuesday is not enough.
Flemming Rose, the courageous newspaper editor made world-famous for publishing the "Danish Cartoons" depicting Mohammed, has just written another good column on free speech: "Bin Laden Wants My Blood"Indeed!
(Those of you who attended the special ARI conference on the "Jihad Against the West" may recall his fantastic talk entitled, "Islam and Europe after the Cartoon-Crisis.")
As Rose asks, "What kind of civilization are we, after all, if we refrain from mocking and ridiculing bin Laden and his followers?"
If only we had more news editors like him in the United States...
I own rental property in DC, though not enough to be covered by rent control laws. Frankly, if I were in a position to buy more rental property, I would do so. The article only hints at how active the rental property market is. No one buys rental property out of desperation, so I think those who advocate for totally unregulated a market need to explain why so many would "volunteer" for odious regulation.I think that the author's use of scare quotes around the world "volunteer" is quite telling; the author knows that there nothing voluntary about the government's regulation of rents under the penalty of the law. And the reason why landlords stay or enter the rental business despite government regulation is easily explained simply by looking at a supply and demand graph. Price controls punish those whose costs are greater than the legally mandated price; they put some people out of business, but they don't put everyone out of business.
[Johnson] County officials have given their informal OK for ghost hunters to check out a one-time insane asylum to see if any spirits are lurking about.Perhaps while they are at it, they could also secure footage of a man actually tipping over a sleeping cow, because that would be just as plausible. And notice that they don't even have a "ghost" problem; they just want to make sure that they don't have any ghosts, because, you know, you can't be too careful when it comes to ethereal beings from another dimension. I just hope they don't cross their energy streams, because as everyone knows, that would be "bad."
The Johnson County Board of Supervisors took the initial action on the request from the Johnson County Historical Society, which gives tours of the 153-year-old building.
Brandon Cochran, museum operations assistant for the historical society, said there have never been reports of ghosts or bizarre happenings at the building and that bringing in a paranormal team is "kind of taking the pre-emptive approach.
He wants an Iowa-based paranormal investigative team to come in for one night. Cochran said he hopes they don't find any paranormal activity and the investigation can put to rest any speculation.
A four-person Carroll Area Paranormal Team will use thermal imaging equipment and voice recording systems, Cochran said. [AP]
... Ethanol, in particular, drives [Bryce] wild. Fuel derived from corn has channeled billions in subsidies to Midwestern farmers and agribusiness, he writes, despite glaring shortcomings. It is expensive to produce and requires enormous amounts of water when irrigation comes into play. It produces much less energy than gasoline while emitting more pollutants into the air.Yes. The problem with many fuels is their high cost, and this is why oil remains the best of the alternatives. (I'd love it if the petroleum industry had enough moral backbone to begin a huge PR campaign against ethanol and called oil something like "the alternative of choice".... Please, oil executives, use this idea! It's free.)
Detroit loves ethanol because it can use it to inflate fuel-efficiency ratings on their cars artificially. The mammoth Chevy Suburban, produced as a flex-fuel vehicle capable of burning both ethanol and gasoline, magically boosted its fuel efficiency to 29 miles per gallon from 15, since under federal rules only a vehicle's gasoline consumption need be factored into the equation. Ethanol, in other words, has allowed American car manufacturers to produce more gas guzzlers and contribute to increased imports of foreign oil.
The problem with corn and other alternative fuel sources boils down to cost and output. Fuel made from switch grass, another potential solution to the energy problem, costs a lot to produce, delivers a lot less energy than petroleum and would require, like corn, vast areas of farmland to meet a meaningful percentage of current energy needs. [bold added]
Matt Welch reminds us why John McCain is one of the most frightening politicians in America (if not the most frightening).
Mr. McCain’s stump speeches, as well as his five books, are chockablock with calls to elevate national greatness, collective duty and Washington rejuvenation over whatever individual roads we might be pursuing. In “Worth the Fighting For,” he wrote that “our greatness depends upon our patriotism, and our patriotism is hardly encouraged when we cannot take pride in the highest public institutions.” These institutions, Mr. McCain wrote, should “fortify the public’s allegiance to the national community.”
John McCain repudiates the ideas of our Founding Fathers. He throws out the individualism of the Declaration of Independence and admires collectivism and "national greatness" instead.
The presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party has seduced the press and the public with frank confessions of his failings, from his hard-living flyboy days to his adulterous first marriage to the Keating Five scandal. But in both legislation and rhetoric, Mr. McCain has consistently sought to restrict the very freedoms he once exercised, in the common national enterprise of “serving a cause greater than self-interest.”
Such sentiment can sound stirring coming from a lone citizen freely choosing public service. But from a potential president, Mr. McCain’s exaltation of sacrifice over the private pursuit of happiness — “I did it out of patriotism, not for profit,” he snarled to Mitt Romney during the final Republican presidential debate — reflects a worryingly militaristic view of citizenship.
“We are fast becoming a nation of alienating individualists, unwilling to put the unifying values of patriotism ahead of our narrow self-interests,” Mr. McCain warned in a speech during his 2000 presidential campaign. He added that “cynicism threatens to become a ceiling on our greatness.”
When you throw out individual rights as a standard, then you can use collectivism and "national greatness" to justify any intrusion of the state into our rights. He made the template in his assault on the First Amendment:
When people raised First Amendment objections to the law, which prohibits citizen advertisements that so much as mention a federal candidate’s name within 60 days of an election, Mr. McCain responded, “I would rather have a clean government than one where quote ‘First Amendment rights’ are being respected that has become corrupt.” When the Supreme Court questioned the law’s constitutionality, he complained in a legal brief that ads were targeting “candidates in close contests — and almost invariably in a partisan manner.”
With this reasoning McCain could find justification for any expansion of the state; the only limits to his power lust will lie in two things I can think of. First, what Americans will still resist from a fading culture of individualism that is the last glow of our Enlightenment heritage. But as public education dumbs down America, and the welfare state saps our self-reliance, our tattered, disintegrating traditions and sense of life can't be much of a defense against a committed statist like McCain.
The second factor is the way our federal government works. With the balance of powers, it seems to have been designed to resist revolutionary change. Big changes come slow in America. For a century the liberals have, except for moments such as FDR's first 100 days, had to resort to gradualism in erecting the welfare state. This can be frustrating for those of us who want to roll back the welfare state yesterday, but it also provides the sturdiest bulwark against tyranny coming tomorrow.
But how fast might statists destroy freedom in a great crisis? Federalism should buy us some time, but maybe not.
As the Democrat candidates destroy themselves with their multiculti/politics of identity squabbling, leftist ideology and hopeless inadequacies, it looks more likely that McCain will be the next President of the United States of America. The blood chills.
I spoke at Georgia Tech last week on "No Substitute for Victory: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism." A pro-Islamic group in the audience (some at least were students) tried to filibuster the Q&A. Their attacks openly called for Islamic law (a "good thing"), praised jihad as a "wonderful" concept, and proclaimed that subjugated peoples forced to pay the Islamic tax should be "grateful" for the "protection" they receive. They whitewashed history as well as the present situation, demanded that we stop "offending" them, said that the Iranians had no reason to trust the United States, and called me a "criminal mind." This was all-out support for a category of thoughtcrimes in American universities.You can find the full report on Principles in Practice. It's pretty stunning -- and I can only admire John for keeping his cool in the face of such dishonest yet explicit Islamic totalitarians. Also, here's an update on a conference of Muslims reported by an audience member to have condemned terrorism.
“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”
“I went to eighty countries, you know. I gave contemporaneous accounts, I wrote about a lot of this in my book. You know, I think that, a minor blip, you know, if I said something that, you know, I say a lot of things – millions of words a day – so if I misspoke, it was a misstatement.”
“Hillary Clinton’s boasts that she gained major foreign policy experience as First Lady have been undermined after 11,046 pages of her White House schedules provided scant evidence to back up her claims….The documents were made public by the U.S. National Archives [and also by Bill Clinton’s presidential library in Arkansas] after pressure from her rival Barack Obama and freedom-of-information groups.
“Many details were redacted [edited] at the request of lawyers acting for former president Bill Clinton, citing privacy and national security concerns.”
“In all, 11,046 pages have been made available. Nearly 4,800 pages have parts blacked out. Archivists said that’s to protect the privacy of third parties….Her Democratic presidential campaign released a statement Wednesday saying the schedules spanning her two terms as first lady ‘illustrate the array of substantive issues she worked on’ and her travel to more than eighty countries ‘in pursuit of the administration’s domestic and foreign policy goals.’”
“…[S]he and Cherie Blair, then the prime minister’s wife, were to ‘proceed to the children’s play area, where children were creating playground models.’ They were then to ‘proceed down the path where they are joined by 25 children with balloons’ and go ‘to the top of the hill and release the balloons.’”
“…[I]n her January 1994 visit to Russia with her husband, her schedule is focused on events with political wives. She sat in on a birthing class at a hospital, toured a cathedral and joined prominent women in a lunch of blinis with caviar and salmon….The Clinton campaign said the schedules are merely a guide and don’t reflect all of her activities.”
“The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday from a conservative group that wants to promote its anti-Hillary Clinton movie without complying with campaign finance laws….The court’s decision leaves in place a lower court ruling that says the group, Citizens United, must attach a disclaimer and disclose its donors in order to run the ads….Campaign regulations prohibit corporations and unions from paying for ads that run close to elections and identify candidates….The case is Citizens United v. FEC 07-953 (Federal Election Committee).”
I would rather have a clean government than one where quote "First Amendment rights" are being respected that has become corrupt.But whereas Brook immediately notes that, "a government which strips us of our right to free speech is by that very fact corrupt," Matt Welch continues on with McCain's lame (and completely irrelevant) excuse for restricting freedom of speech, and without any real sense of alarm.
It can be a bracing approach when his issues line up with yours -- I, for one, would welcome President McCain's unilateral wars on pork-barrel spending and waterboarding -- but it's treacherous territory for those of us who consider "the pursuit of happiness" as something best defined by individuals, not crusading presidents-to-be. [bold added](For the record, McCain's stand on waterboarding (also) endangers individual rights and his preoccupation with pork-barrel spending is a distraction from protecting them at best.)
D.C. police are going door-to-door Monday in one of the city's crime-plagued neighborhoods, asking residents for permission to search their homes for guns and other illegal contraband.In reality, there is no such thing as a "courtesy" police search; this program is little more than naked coercion disguised as crime-fighting; after all, it seems pretty clear that it is designed so that the mere act of refusing to submit to the government's search casts you in a cloud of suspicion. This program is little more a disgusting assault on the individual's right to be free of government interference in his life absent probable cause.
The program, called the Safe Homes Initiative, will offer homeowners and renters limited amnesty for possessing any contraband found by police.
The program is aimed at removing guns and drugs kept by children and young adults in their parents' homes. The homeowners will be asked to sign a form, consenting to the search.
"I think that's good," said parent Brenda Freeman Jones, who worries that many parents aren't aware of what their kids are up to. "Look for the gun and drugs, sign the papers. Get stuff off the street."
Police plan to test any firearm that is recovered to see if it used in a crime. Weapons linked to shootings or murders will require an investigation, according to police, and could lead to charges. [WJLA News]
Hillary Clinton has been getting ripped because she admits she "misspoke" about a trip to the Balkans. She said there was no greeting ceremony at the airport, and that they ran for fear of sniper fire. The tape, however, shows a greeting ceremony at the airport.
You know what's scary? I think she believed what she said. I don't think she was lying.
Now, you might think that you would never make such a mistake. I know I wouldn't. But Hillary Clinton did. She must have been lying, right?
I don't think so. I have a hypothesis as to why she believed what she said when she said it.
Hillary Clinton accepts the premise that in politics appearance is reality. She watched her husband operate successfully under that premise for eight long years. Bill Clinton is a man who can say with a straight face that it depends on what the meaning of is is. White House operatives would hit the media with their spin, and come the next polls, if 51% of the American people bought the spin, then it became reality to the Clintons' enablers in the MSM.
When a politician accepts the premise that in politics appearance is reality, it can be dangerous to his mind. The words he says do not necessarily have to stay connected to reality. Just think of how this false premise could wreak havoc with a person's epistemology. Over time a person would become less sharp and more vague in his thinking. He would not examine his words against reality but against the standard of political pragmatism. Do his words help his poll numbers that afternoon? Then they become reality.
So, as in the time she said she was named after Edmund Hillary (although it turns out she was born before Mt. Everest was conquered), I think Clinton believed what she said about her trip to Bosnia when she said it because she did not think it necessary to examine her words against reality.
Remember this the next time you hear Democrats praise Senator Clinton's intelligence. Clinton's epistemological premises have, I believe, made her stupid and inept. Only a reality-based epistemology helps one function in reality.
No, I don't trust Hillary Clinton to handle any 3am phone calls well at all.
For all of those folks who have been checking The Crucible faithfully for the last 4 weeks, I have to extend an apology. I've been in the process of finalizing the sale of my house, buying a new one, moving my entire life over and getting settled. Along with a busy work month, it didn't leave a whole lot of time for blogging. I know some of my fellow Obloggers use their blogs like diaries, but I can't seem to do that. I seem to always want to try to make the posts novel and substantial and that means I have to have the time to use my brain. That's what I want The Crucible to be known for, and that's what I want you to be able to expect. So if it means that I don't post when I don't have the time, I hope you'll understand.
Today's post requires that I tell you a short story.
Back around Christmas time while visiting family in Washington D.C. I spent one day at the Holocaust Memorial Museum with my sister. The experience was nothing short of an emotional wringer. It was hard to keep it together for most of the day. I recommend that anyone who spends time in D.C. devote at least an afternoon to this memorial. For me, it concretized and made real the horror and fiendishness of the Holocaust, especially when you come so close to the actual physical remnants of those acts.
I saw a synagogue ark (where the torah scrolls are kept) defaced on Kristallnacht night, the violent gashes of Nazi axes across the face of it making the violence palpable. I entered a room completely bare but for a floor filled with tens of thousands of shoes, discarded from a concentration camp "selektion", and read a poem which is only a few lines long, but in that room carries the weight of millions of the dead. I stood in a boxcar not much bigger than the 12x14 room I'm in right now, which held hundreds of people for days without food, heat, water, or sanitation as they traveled to their deaths. And I stood in a three story atrium covered in black and white photos of the daily life in one eastern European shtetl, or Jewish community. You pass through the atrium three different times in a chronological journey, first getting to know the families, and learning of their lives. At the final pass, you learn that the entire town of 3,500 was wiped from existence by Nazi death squads. I knew this would be the end when I passed through the first time, but it never prepares you for how you'll feel once you've come to know them in the vibrant midst of their lives.
I bought three books from the memorial bookstore, and it is one of those books, which I just finished that I wish to highlight for you. The book is Newborn and Dumbach's Sophie Scholl and The White Rose. The book tells the true story of a group of student activists in Munich who covertly published and distributed anti-Nazi tracts in late 1942 and early 1943. Members of the group were caught in the act of distributing one of the pamphlets, were arrested, tried and summarily executed. Eventually the Gestapo tracked down the remaining members of the group and all were executed.
I found this story inspirational, as opposed to the other books I bought which focused on the tragedy of the Holocaust. While the narrative is straight forward, the book did an excellent job of taking you into the motivations and growth in the members of the group, the events which inspired them, and the reasons behind their decision to act. Unlike the millions of Germans who witnessed the events unfolding in Nazi Germany and rationalized them, finding reasons not to act, this group of young men and one women held onto their independent judgement, formed their own conclusions, and once convinced of the immorality of the regime decided that they must do something to try to counter it.
Educated children of a liberal father who detested the Nazi's, Sophie's brother Hans, the key leader of The White Rose, served in the Hitler Youth as a boy until becoming disillusioned with its focus on propaganda, hypocrisy and rejection of even rational discourse. Strong-headed Sophie spoke up when she disagreed with the party line and quickly rejected its tenets. Both witnessed Nazi book burnings of the literature they so loved. Though she became a member of the group late in its development it is through Sophie's sensibilities and early writings that one begins to understand the mind of The White Rose. Her words are incredible, and inspirational, rivaling the sense of life of Rand. From a high school journal entry,
I could shout for joy that I am so alone, with the wild, rough wind drenching my body. I'd like to be on a raft, standing upright above the gray river, whose hurrying water the wind cannot disturb... The sun comes out and kisses me tenderly. I'd like to kiss it back, but I forget that immediately because now the wind has leaped on me. I sense the wonderful firmness of my body; I laugh out loud for joy because I can offer the wind such resistance. I feel such strength in me.
The members of the White Rose are models of integrity, independent thought, and the belief that one must act upon ones values in order to be happy. As Sophie wrote in her diary,
After all, one should have the courage to believe only in what is good. By that I do not mean one should believe in illusions. I mean one should do only what is true and good an take it for granted that others will do the same.
The White Rose published only 6 pamphlets in two phases, the first four in the summer of 1942, and the last two after the male members returned from a tour of duty as medics on the Eastern Front, in Winter of 1943. The wrote the tracts themselves and published them on a hidden, hand-cranked mimeograph. The first phase of pamphlets were published each in the hundreds and mailed randomly to people selected from the phone book within Munich. After their return from the front, the members linked up with like-minded groups in other cities, and the last two pamphlets were published in the thousands and the members couriered stashes of pamphlets to other cities for distribution. Hans and Sophie were spotted by a Nazi sympathizer dropping leaflets of the 6th tract from a university window, and they were turned into the Gestapo. They were interrogated, tried and summarily beheaded before their families could even mount a defense.
I was inspired to write of this group because I so often encounter Pragmatists among the ranks of Objectivists. People who believe in the concept that ethics and morality are some sort of survival cost-benefit analysis. That when faced with a mortal threat, life, any sort of life will be preferable to death, and one should act accordingly. To me it's an indication that to value life is to value a certain kind of life and if one dies in the careful attempt to create or preserve that life, that that is preferable to life as a slave. I also loved this story because it highlights the incredible importance of the thing in which The White Rose was dealing, of the importance of ideas. They were not pursued because they were caching arms, or mounting a physical resistance, but because the spread around pieces of paper with ideas on them.
One might look at the fact that the tracts were only published in small numbers and resulted in little immediate outcome and conclude that the acts of The White Rose were merely the futile acts of a suicidal band of idealistic students. But then one reads the following,
News of the White Rose, and the spirit of their resistance, reached the American public as well, despite the blanket of silence and Gestapo intention. On August 2, 1943 -- three weeks after Alexander Schmorell and Kurt Huber had gone under the executioner's blade, an editorial appeared in the New York Times under the title "Young German Martyrs." It concluded with the following words: "... these Munich students, few or many, representative or otherwise, rose gloriously... protesting in the name of principles which Hitler thought he had killed forever. In years to come we, too, may honor [them]."
Once they reached the West, the leaflets of the White Rose were reprinted -- now in the tens of thousands -- and dropped from Allied aircraft over the cities of Germany.
The leaflets made people like Thomas Mann, in exile, weep with happiness. For those who read them or heard about them, inside or outside of Germany, they brought a sense of joy that is hard to express. They were testimony to the fact that there were Germans, locked inside the Third Reich's fortress of death, who still cared, who did not look away, who stood up, who fought back.
and can't help but conclude that even small acts, and simple ideas can have a meaningful impact.
In lecture 3 of the Islamist Entanglement, I presented the history of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. I introduced this topic to my students by explaining that Turkey is by far the most westernized of all the Islamic countries in the Middle East. As such, Turkey is a kind of historical prototype–an advanced model whose development can help us predict how other countries in the Middle East might develop. Sadly, in this regard, Turkey’s history demonstrates that there is a frightening limit to how much even the most progressive Muslim countries can be expected to achieve given the interaction between the Middle East and the Western world.
Turkey’s relatively advanced position stems from its history of close cultural contact with Europe. After failing to take Vienna in 1683, the Ottoman Turks were driven back across Eastern Europe, and in the wake of the “Great Turkish War,” agreed to a peace that involved the first dictated terms ever endured by that medieval superpower. Over the next century, they continued to lose to the West, most notably in the Russo-Turkish Wars of 1768-74 and 1787-92. Subsequently, their autonomous vassals, the Mameluks of Egypt, were also trounced by Napoleon in 1798. In light of all these military defeats, the Turks hit upon the need to discover the secret of the West’s superiority and began to study Europe intently.
At first, the desire to learn from Europe was entirely pragmatic. The Turks were merely looking among their adversaries for the means to destroy them. However, the first ambassadors ever sent to the West by Sultan Selim III in 1793 reported back that European countries had achieved certain political advances, which, when they were copied, began to make Turkey more like the very enemies it hated.
Ostensibly, Europe’s countries had moved beyond feudalism. Their centralized monarchies boasted efficient conduits of information within and between the military and civilian authorities, allowing the monarch’s tentacles of power to extend outward to touch every aspect of the state. Feudalism, an unwieldy system with unreliable arrangements of vassalage, had been replaced with standing armies and a hierarchy of professional civil servants to integrate and support them. This was believed to be the political dimension that underlay European success. Selim and his successor Mahmud II set about mimicking this apparatus, hoping that by duplicating the “technological” side of Western government, they could match its efficiency.
Despite such efforts, European supremacy over the Ottoman world continued unabated. More radical reforms were needed. As it became evident that military and bureaucratic changes were insufficient, education became an area of special focus. Military cadets were sent to Europe in waves. The first secular educational institutions for military, medical, and scientific training were created.
In a report of the Ottoman “Board of Useful Affairs” concerning this work, it was noted that “Religious knowledge serves salvation in the world to come but science serves the perfection of man in this world.” A more fundamental factor fueling the West’s advance had thus been identified: the emancipation of science and practical life from religion.
This was not something that traditionalist Muslim authorities were willing to accept, however, or to allow to be widely implemented. Thus knowledge of the West’s secular superiority was restricted to the ranks of a small educated elite associated with the Ottoman Sultanate, and a rift between that elite and the bulk of the people developed.
When asked by a scholarly committee about the religious validity of implementing a secular Western legal code for regulating commerce, the Ottoman Grand Vizir replied, “The holy law has nothing to do with such matters!”
“Blasphemy!” responded the committee.
Sadly, this has continued to be the response of the ulema (religious scholars) and the large, religiously submissive element of the Turkish population to this day.
By the time Turkey was formed in 1923, the educated Westernized intelligentsia still constituted less than 10% of its population. Most of the people were still agricultural peasants, and still under the sway of their local imams (”priests”).
Not surprisingly therefore, when Turkey’s great modern leader, Mustafa Kemal, came to power after WWI, he found that it was necessary to “force the people to be free.” He would establish a benevolent, secularist dictatorship, until a more stable foundation could be erected and the people could be entrusted to direct their own progress.
Primary and secondary education were secularized. Women were emancipated, and given access to all levels of education. All symbols of traditional submission, such as long beards and headscarfs, were eliminated within government institutions. Even the alphabet and the calendar were Westernized. Given such measure, within a few generations, perhaps, the people would be ready.
It may seem surprising that Kemal, and his successor Ismet Inonu, who were both oppressive dictators after a fashion, were indeed committed to freedom. They definitely crushed any opposition–often violently. Critics could be exiled, or just as likely hanged in public, while the reform program was imposed upon the people. Still, Turkey’s leaders continually tinkered with democratic forms, trying to expand the peoples’ participation in the government.
Sadly, they found them still incapable of understanding and defending their own freedom. In 1950, hoping that the time had come, Inonu allowed the first free elections to be held, and the incumbent regime was removed. From this point on, Turkey’s history is a dizzying, erratic succession of democratic and military regimes, with coups almost as numerous as elections. The army, the most westernized institution in the country, has repeatedly defied the majority of the population’s wish to re-inject Islam into the government. Most recently, a democratically elected Islamic party was ousted by the military in a 1997 coup, only to be succeeded by a new democratic regime whose leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also intends a shift towards Islamism.
The situation in Turkey is inherently unstable.
Indeed, without a fundamentally positive shift in the culture, Turkey’s Kemalist system is likely to come to an end. However, no such shift seems likely to occur, and the United States deserves a good deal of the blame.
What Turkey has needed since WWII, when it came to America’s attention, is much more than just a nuclear aegis to fend off Communism. It has needed principled guidance by the United States on how to advance the secularist program so that it can truly Westernize once and for all. Unfortunately, that’s not what it got.
Truman specifically had Turkey in mind when he enunciated his doctrine. If its regime could be propped up, he believed, then the Soviets would be prevented from penetrating to the Mediterranean. Of course, Turkey was but one piece in a much larger containment scheme. If, in order to appease the Soviets during the Cuban Missile Crisis, America needed to withdraw Turkey’s nuclear shield (American Jupiter missiles) then so be it. If in 1964, Turkey planned to intervene in Cyprus, where a civil war between Greek and Turkish Cypriots was brewing, but this was deemed counterproductive by the United States, then Turkey was warned that American support against the Soviet Union was contingent upon following orders to diffuse the conflict. Throughout the past sixty years, though nominally committed to helping Turkey, the United States has done nothing but treat it as a disposable asset.
How then could Turkey be expected to progress? Could it reasonably be expected to model its culture on America’s? The United States certainly hasn’t shown Turkey any special respect for its secular virtues.
On the contrary, it is entirely understandable that Turkey should reject American domination and American values — a trend that began during the Ford administration — while seeking closer ties with both the Soviet Union, and especially Europe.
This will probably be its undoing. The great irony of Turkey’s rapprochement with Europe is that the European Union requires democratic governments in its candidate states. For Turkey to embrace Europe’s democratic ideal, however, is to insure that the Islamist element in Turkey wins a permanent voice in its political system, and possibly even that it becomes the dominant element — as foreshadowed by the Erdoğan premiership.
Turkey thus seems poised to regress rather than progress.
There is no sign that it will find any new guidance from America, or that on its own, it will be able to realize the aim of full cultural secularization. Turkey has been stuck on a plateau ever since the Kemalist secularization program stopped and the country’s progress was undercut by America’s Cold War treatment of it. Now Islam appears ready to make a political comeback.
What Turkey is thus likely to transmit to the Islamic world in the next generation is not the image of a successful secular Middle Eastern country, but rather the frightening picture of the partial-birth abortion of one.
Sen. McCain was once asked whether McCain-Feingold abridges freedom of speech. He implicitly admitted that it does: "I would rather have a clean government than one where quote 'First Amendment rights' are being respected that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government." We should tell Sen. McCain and those who agree with him that a government which strips us of our right to free speech is by that very fact corrupt. [bold added]Quite true. If we cannot openly discuss the merits of a given policy, political proposal, or candidate, how can we make rational, informed decisions at election time?
How should this "grip of fear" by Muslims be ended? The declaration demands that the Indian government shift the fear onto anyone criticizing Islam, by forcibly banning freedom of speech for critics of Islam.And if you think governments in the West are going to stand up to this on their own, you have another thought coming.
The underlying lesson of the Obama-Wright flap -- which the MSM, now the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party, refuse to address -- is how far left liberals have gone. Only in a far left atmosphere of Democrat politics could Obama have forged a close relationship with a pastor who thinks the US government created the HIV virus and who applauded 9/11. It never occurred to Obama that he might need to create some distance from this wacko in order to avoid controversy when he sought the presidency.
Obama's problem is anti-Americanism. People don't want their Commander In Chief to hate America. But liberals can't think straight about anti-Americanism because they evade the problem. How can they address a problem they refuse to acknowledge? When any right-winger is so gauche as to bring up leftist anti-Americanism, liberals have been trained to leap up, pound the table and shout, "HOW DARE YOU QUESTION MY PATRIOTISM?" The question is designed not to explore the issue, but to stop all discussion. Leftist anti-Americanism is That Which Must Not Be Named.
This culture-wide evasion did not help Obama. He never even realized he had a problem until it exploded on You Tube. It is a classic case of a Democrat living in the liberal cocoon and then having reality slap him in the face when his ideas leak outside the cocoon.
His reaction was woefully inadequate. In his speech he falls back on more liberal assumptions: America is a racist nation, and so on. Like an alcoholic who just wants one more for the road, Obama continues to avoid That Which Must Not Be Named.
Obama's problem is the problem of the Democrat Party for the last 36 years. They cannot be honest to the voters about who they are and win the presidency. I look for signs that an open liberal can win the presidency forthrightly, the Kossacks' ideal, but it seems the American electorate is still not quite there.
Ironically, the Republicans seem determined to ape the Democrats in their evasion of reality. The Republicans have become a big government, welfare state party, but they won't admit it. They still pretend to hold small government ideals of a past era that recedes further from us every year and begins to look as quaint as Prohibition and the Spanish-American War.
Perhaps we should take heart that both parties still feel they must pretend to be better than they are to succeed with voters. Their hypocrisy is the tribute statists pay to the better ideas that Americans have yet to forget -- ideas such as individual rights, self-reliance and free markets. As long as our politicians twist themselves into pretzels pretending to conform to America's individualist, capitalist history, then there's hope.
"I've Seen My Share of Spitzers: The View From an Escort Service"You can read the full essay here.
[About the men:]
.....But why would a rich, powerful and handsome man pay for extra-marital sex? Aren't there tons of women waiting to throw themselves at him for free? Yes, there are. But those women always want something: they want attention, intimacy and romance. They want to enjoy the high of sleeping with a powerful man. Escorts don't want or care about any of those things. At least one of the articles about the 22 year-old escort who slept with Spitzer implied that she didn't even know who he was. Based on my experience, I think it's highly unlikely that she knew or cared. She was in it for the money, and she had as much to hide as he did.
One high-powered New York attorney explained it to me like this: "Of course I love my wife. Escorts have nothing to do with that. She comes to my hotel room and I don't have to know her name, because they all use fake names like Amber and Kimberly. I don't have to worry about how she feels or what she wants. It's a simple exchange: I give her a thousand bucks, we have a good time for a couple of hours, she goes away and we never have to see each other again."
A thousand dollars is nothing for these men. Money has little value; because no matter how hard they try they will never be able to spend their hundreds of millions. And if you are about to say that for a thousand bucks those girls must supply the best sex in history, then you really do not understand this world. Because it is not about sex; it is about power. And the simple act of ordering up an anonymously pretty 22 year-old girl to do your bidding in the salubrious confines of a luxury hotel suite is an act of power.
[About the women:]
.....None of these girls was coerced into selling her body for money. Most of them came from middle-class backgrounds, and many had been accepted to universities. But they dropped out as soon as they discovered that they could make $20-30,000 a month as an escort.
Then they got addicted to the money and the lifestyle. And then one day, usually between the ages of 25 and 28, once they'd developed that knowing, experienced look that clients instinctively disliked, they found that themselves in a classic bind: they were addicted to high living but could no longer pay for it; they had no marketable skills; and years of late nights and lazy days had left them with no self-discipline. What to do? The really smart ones pulled themselves together and, with the help of a sympathetic client, started some kind of a business. Others married rich, cynical, older men in a sort of paid-wife arrangement. Those were the most common stories. I did not inquire into the fate of the girls who sort of faded away. I did not want to hear about their loneliness and poverty.
The following is both a hilarious parody, and a tragic reflection on the decline of American culture. American journalist Oliver Jensen is the creator of the second entry, which is based on Eisenhower’s style of delivering press conferences.
The Gettysburg Address, as Lincoln delivered it:
Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth
on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and
dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing
whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so
dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-
field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of
that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave
their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether
fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate…we cannot
consecrate…we cannot hallow…this ground. The brave men,
living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it
far above our poor power to add or detract. The world
will little note nor long remember what we say here, but
it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the
living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished
work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly
advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the
great task remaining before us…that from these honored
dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which
they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here
highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain;
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of
freedom; and that government of the people, by the people,
for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
The Gettysburg Address, if Eisenhower had given it (written by Oliver Jensen):
I haven’t checked these figures but 87 years ago, I think it was, a number of individuals organized a governmental set-up here in this country, I believe it covered certain Eastern areas, with this idea they were following up based on a sort of national independence arrangement and the program that every individual is just as good as every other individual. Well, now, of course, we are dealing with this big difference of opinion, civil disturbance you might say, although I don’t like to appear to take sides or name any individuals, and the point is naturally to check up, by actual experience in the field, to see whether any governmental set-up with a basis like the one I was mentioning has any validity and find out whether that dedication by those early individuals will pay off in lasting values and things of that kind. . . . But if you look at the over-all picture of this, we can’t pay any tribute - we can’t sanctify this area, you might say - we can’t hallow according to whatever individual creeds or faiths or sort of religious outlooks are involved like I said about this particular area. It was those individuals themselves, including the enlisted men, very brave individuals, who have given the religious character to the area. The way I see it, the rest of the world will not remember any statements issued here but it will never forget how these men put their shoulders to the wheel and carried this idea down the fairway. Now frankly, our job, the living individuals’ job here is to pick up the burden and sink the putt they made these big efforts here for. It is our job to get on with the assignment - and from these deceased fine individuals to take extra inspiration, you could call it, for the same theories about the set-up for which they made such a big contribution. We have to make up our minds right here and now, as I see it, that they didn’t put out all that blood, perspiration and - well - that they didn’t just make a dry run here, and that all of us here, under God, that is, the God of our choice, shall beef up this idea about freedom and liberty and those kind of arrangements, and that government of all individuals, by all individuals and for the individuals, shall not pass out of the world-picture.
I was 13 years old when I stood up alone to all my classmates and told them that I thought they should be ashamed of themselves for supporting an anti-Semite [i.e., Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson] for president. I was a child. But Obama came to Wright as an adult. And as an adult, he sat through 20 years of Wright's anti-white, anti-Jewish, and anti-American vitriol and said nothing. Indeed, until just a few months ago, he was honoring him as his spiritual mentor. What does that say about him?This needed to be said, and deserves to be widely publicized. (HT: LGF)
It can be argued that there is a difference between how I reacted to black bigotry and how he reacted to black bigotry because I was an outsider and he was an insider. I wasn't trying to become a member of the black community. I was simply demanding to be treated with respect as a non-black by blacks who happened to be the vast majority of my classmates and teachers.
But then, here's another example.
I saw that the audience had given [Paul Williams, a speaker she vehemently disagreed with, but who was supposedly on her side] a standing ovation and so I began to wonder if I shouldn't simply return the check I had received from the organizers and leave. But I decided to stay and to challenge him.
And that is what I did. I quietly and forcefully explained why what Williams said was wrong, un-American, and in defiance of both Christian and Jewish values and approaches to human beings. And, as luck would have it, I received an even larger standing ovation than Williams did.
The point here is that I didn't nod my head to fit in, or treat him politely simply because we sat on a stage together. And I didn't surrender the floor to him. We were supposedly on "the same side," but his statements were so contrary to what I believe that it occurred to me that I'd rather be shopping with Nancy Pelosi than sitting through his hateful nastiness.
And I write all of this not to puff myself up. I don't think I did anything extraordinary by standing up to Williams or to my classmates and teachers in high school. I think that it is how people should behave particularly if they are smart enough to understand that ideas are important. And Obama is certainly smart enough to understand that ideas are important.
Obama's denunciation of Wright's bigotry amounts to too little too late. The time to stand up to him wasn't now, when his association with Wright is sinking his hopes for the White House. The time to have stood up to Wright was when Obama was just another member of his church. If he truly believes in what he says he believes, he should have walked out of Wright's church or grabbed Wright’s microphone and told his fellow churchgoers that Wright was wrong and that they mustn't hate. In twenty years of attending Wright's church, why didn't Obama once stand before his fellow church members and tell them that they mustn't hate their country and their fellow Americans? [bold added]
Fortunately, the American people, even the supremely gullible, are generally skeptical and disdainful, again generally, of hypocrisy. That Senator Obama, who claims to be a unifying leader who embodies every and all conceivable qualities which the great mass of the American people hold in common, is sitting by while his "spiritual mentor" accuses the government of the United States of unleashing biological warfare upon its own citizenry and the rest of the world, murdering "innocent" people without offering any context, and bringing the just fury of Islamic terrorists upon itself explodes his logic. Ironically, Obama has been wrapping himself in this man's coattails in order to appear sufficiently religious and pious. That goal was ridiculous. His call for unity is just plain dangerous (even in wartime, a loyal opposition is useful and necessary). Now one irrational desire is destroying another. And who says there is nothing good in American politics these days?A disdain of hypocrisy speaks well of a people, but it will go only so far in carrying the day when the dominant morality is altruism. Obama's collapse will, after all, play into the hands of either Hillary Clinton or John McCain, both altruists, and the latter proudly so. In this race, we want the idiot or the cynic, but we look like we're going to get the "hero".
Progress is being made when all 3 remaining presidential candidates oppose earmarks.So what if all three candidates want to bust pork when all three support strangling the economy with global warming legislation and a big lurch towards fully socialized medicine? The desire on the part of Congress to fine-tune the vote buying pales by comparison to the huge new statist proposals our great anti-pork crusaders have in store for us -- and which Congress is likely enact in some form.
Unfortunately, they are up against an entrenched and immovable object: Congress.
As the controversy continues, Americans will gradually realize that Obama stuck by Wright as part of a need to get ahead. They will chalk up to pragmatism why he was so close to such a preacher. As they come to realize that Obama doesn't agree with Wright but used him to get started, they will be more forgiving. [bold added]I am afraid that Dick Morris is on to something here....
By itself, as a distinctive theory, the pragmatist ethics is contentless. It urges men to pursue "practicality," but refrains from specifying any "rigid" set of values that could serve to define the concept. As a result, pragmatists -- despite their repudiation of all systems of morality -- are compelled, if they are to implement their ethical approach at all, to rely on value codes formulated by other, non-pragmatist moralists. As a rule the pragmatist appropriates these codes without acknowledging them; he accepts them by a process of osmosis, eclectically absorbing the cultural deposits left by the moral theories of his predecessors -- and protesting all the while the futility of these theories. (128) [at "Pragmatism" link, search "twentieth-century" and read preceding entry]When you reject the whole idea of a clear definition of "what works", those who do not will happily set your terms for you.
BB&T Donates $2 Million for Ayn Rand Research At The University of Texas at AustinIf you'd like more information on John Allison, you can listen to an excellent EconTalk interview with him. (To hear of a company systematically practicing the Objectivist ethics is quite thrilling!) You can also read about BB&T's philosophy and values on their web site.
March 20, 2008
AUSTIN, Texas -- BB&T Corporation, one of the nation's largest banks, has awarded $2 million to the Department of Philosophy at The University of Texas at Austin to establish the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism.
Tara Smith, professor of philosophy, has been named the first holder of the chair. Over 10 years, the gift will support research on Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, as well as conferences, workshops, guest lecturers, visiting scholars and research on the moral foundations of capitalism.
Smith spearheads Objectivism scholarship in the university's philosophy department. She has published several articles on Rand's philosophy and the 2006 book, "Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist" with Cambridge University Press. She holds the Anthem Foundation Fellowship for the Study of Objectivism and is organizing the interdisciplinary conference, "Objectivity in the Law," April 4-5.
"Ayn Rand's philosophy has been the subject of increasing academic interest in recent years, and this generous gift will allow us to deepen examination of her thought and engage leading scholars in other fields, such as law," the Rand scholar said. "It's an exhilarating opportunity and a testament to BB&T's recognition of the vital importance of philosophy in people's lives."
Rand, a Russian-born American philosopher and novelist, is best known for her magnum opus, "Atlas Shrugged." A joint survey conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that "Atlas Shrugged" is the second most influential book for Americans today, after the Bible. According to the Ayn Rand Institute, an estimated 20 million copies of her books have been sold.
"We believe that ideas matter. In this context, BB&T is trying to encourage a thorough and fair discussion of Rand's philosophy and the moral foundations of capitalism on university campuses," said BB&T Chief Executive Officer John Allison. "We are pleased to support the philosophy department's important work in the study of Objectivism at The University of Texas at Austin."
BB&T Corp., headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C., is a financial holding company with $132.6 billion in assets. With more than 29,000 employees, its bank subsidiaries operate more than 1,500 branch offices in 11 states and Washington, D.C.
I was talking to a liberal recently. He is an erudite, educated man who prides himself on looking up conservative lies at snopes.com and calmly explaining the truth. Of course, being a liberal, for all his education and intelligence, he is abysmally ignorant of economics. They all are. It's one of the defining characteristics of liberals.
He is an entertaining conversationalist, however -- and he makes some good points about the more hysterical claims of conservatives.
But then the subject of Ann Coulter came up. This man changed from a sophisticated urbanite to a neanderthal at the mention of her name. He began to fantasize about her being gang raped. I was stunned at the sheer, brutal ugliness of his words. He imagined a scenario of violent sex that no one should wish on any woman. I don't know if he has an underlying hatred of women or just a hatred of Ann Coulter, but the hatred was there.
Why does an otherwise calm, pleasant intellectual become a barbarian at the mention of Ann Coulter's name? Because liberals think conservatives are evil, and therefore any attack on them, however dirty or mean, is an act of justice. This is the premise that leads to "the end justifies the means" in liberal thinking. This is the premise that leads liberals to think they can lie, cheat to win elections and smear their opponents character.
The problem is not that liberals make moral judgments of their opponents. The problem is that they discard reason and act by their emotions with no regard to justice, fair play or honesty. It's as if liberals are subjectivists and moral relativists who make no judgments about anyone -- until they are threatened by their enemy, then they go to the other extreme and fight dirty.
We see in the liberal mind the end of two centuries of irrationalist philosophy at work. Liberals no longer have confidence in reason. To liberals, socialism was "scientific," and the collapse of socialism proves the efficacy of irrationalism and radical subjectivism. When push comes to shove in the real world -- and push always comes to shove in politics -- the liberals turn into snarling beasts when they fight. Having abandoned reason, they will tell any lie and smear any character it takes to win.
Since the 1972 rout of liberal George McGovern by Richard Nixon, the Democrat Party has had a problem. How does a New Leftist party win the presidency in a nation whose voters are not so far left?
It has been a difficult 36 years for the left. The Democrats won the presidency twice in that period with southern governors, Carter and Clinton. Their primary strategy has been to obfuscate their identity as liberals. They have been a party that is afraid to admit who they really are. Liberal became a dirty word, so much that even Ted Kennedy would not admit on a Sunday morning talk show that he was one. The Democrat Leadership Council was created to help Dems get elected in a nation afraid of liberals.
The great hope of the left has been that the American electorate is changing, becoming more liberal, and the Democrats can stop "triangulating" and compromising their liberal principles. The "netroots," led by Daily Kos, have championed the more open, in-your-face liberal candidates. Recently, there has been an upheaval as supporters of Hillary Clinton have left the web site. Kos doesn't care, sneering at them as "laughable."
I'm hoping the 2008 election answers the question of whether or not the Kossacks are right. Can the Democrats campaign honestly and openly as liberals and win the presidency?
It's an open question. America is not the same country it was in 1972. Take California, where I live. This is the state that gave us Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. Orange Country used to be synonymous with the far right wing; now it seems to be full of young college educated kids and hispanics, two groups that vote Democrat. It's been a long time since a Republican presidential candidate wasted any time in California.
At the same time we have seen a growth in religion in America, and those voters tend to be conservatives. But as Huckabee showed, religious people can happily embrace environmentalism and socialism. Another big question of our time: what does it mean to be conservative? Ironically, it seems that, like the liberals, conservatives are giving up the pretense of being against big government.
We have two parties getting in touch with their inner statist. Hey, I love big government! Yes! This is who I am, damn it, and I don't care who knows it! I'm liberated!
I suspect we are at the precipice of a whole new era in American politics. The prospect is ominous.
Here’s a link to an interesting animated overview of the history of the Middle East from Ancient Egypt to the present, which takes only 90 seconds to watch.
A number of things are missing from this presentation.
One is evolution of the empires in question after they reach their height, such as the division of the Roman Empire, and the subsequent shrinking of the Byzantine Empire. The map shows the growth of empires at the expense of previous empires, but that creates an erroneous perspective. To be truer to the martial nature of the history of the region, it would be better to at least see the territories of the empires fluctuate to symbolize border wars and territorial losses other than those inflicted by the next major power. For instance, in relation to the Roman example, it does not show the major territorial losses incurred during the barbarian migrations in Europe. One thus gets an exagerrated sense of the power of the Byzantines as the Muslims emerge. In truth, they had retreated to a smaller Eastern territory.
Another is the coexistence of empires over relatively long stretches of time. For instance, one does not get the sense from the presentation that the Byzantines withstood the Muslim advance for 800 years, or that the Ottoman Empire was coexistent with a considerable Persian Empire that it could not conquer. It would be good if the presentation paused at milestones other than the greatest extent of a particular empire, and showed the distribution of power at key times. This would help capture one of the important factors in the history of the region: the existence of competing powers and cultures over long stretches of time.
Anyways, as far as oversimplifications go, it’s a good one. You probably can’t do much more in 90 seconds!
On March 13, I gave my talk "'No Substitute for Victory': The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism" to an audience of about forty at Georgia State Technical University . . . The onslaught began with the first "question," actually a monologue that lasted nearly fifteen minutes. The monologist claimed that: (1) there is a long history of separation of church and state in Islam; (2) Islamic law is good; (3) whenever imposed, Islamic law has brought peace; (4) jihad is a "wonderful idea" and does not mean war; (5) Islamic Totalitarianism poses no threat, since 500 million Muslims reject terrorism; (6) the tax leveled against subjugated peoples is just, because they are protected by Muslims in return; (7) I am "ignorant of history" if I do not acknowledge the "truth" of these claims.Lewis goes on to report more of the same with other questioners with a notable exception:
I listened to him without interrupting-and even asked a legitimately annoyed member of the audience to allow him to finish-so that he could fully reveal himself. In answer, I re-read a series of quotes in which Islamic leaders-as well as a young girl on Lebanese television-call for jihad, war, and death; and I pointed out to the monologist that he must be quite angry at these Muslims for their incorrect view of jihad. But instead of being angry at those who give his presumably peaceful religion a bad name, he condemned me for reading their quotes. This is evasion par excellence-to condemn those who raise Islam's violent past and present rather than have to face the fact that the vision of idyllic peace that one associates with one's religion has no basis in reality.
[A man who described himself as a thirty-year emigré from Turkey] noted with pride that his homeland had a thoroughly secular government and he praised Kemal Ataturk for bringing Turkey into the modern age, for instance, by banning the headscarf. But today Turkey's secular government is being undercut-by Americans who describe its government as "moderate Islamic" and thereby blur the line between theocracy and secularism. This opens the door to the establishment of Islamic law. The man's message was this: There can be no compromise between theocracy and secular government; it is either-or. To accept "moderate Islam" into government is, in principle, to establish theocracy. I wonder if he realized that, by the standards of the brownshirt in my audience, he was a criminal for holding such a view.Or worse, that an American president would dare to call the ideology that seeks to enslave Turkey and the rest of the world "a religion of peace."
Capitalism and the Environment: The Virtues of "Exploitation"
What: A talk analyzing the destructive nature of environmentalism--and explaining the constructive role of science, technology, and capitalism in promoting human life and progress. A Q&A will follow.
Who: Richard M. Salsman, speaker for the Ayn Rand Institute
Where: Rice University, Herzstein Hall, Room 212, Houston, TX
When: Tuesday, March 25, 2008, at 7:30 pm
Admission is FREE.
Description: Man achieves his survival by using his mind to alter his environment to suit his needs and improve the conditions of his existence. It is this process--expressed in science, technology, and capitalism--that has allowed man to rise from the hunger, drudgery, and misery of primitive existence to the comfort of modern civilization. But it is precisely this process that is under attack by the reactionary "greens"--who want to return man to the pre-industrial era even to the Stone Age.
In this talk, Mr. Salsman does not merely discredit the scientific claims of environmentalism; he demolishes its moral and philosophical base. He demonstrates that: (1) the doctrine that nature has "intrinsic value," i.e., some sort of mystical value entirely apart from its relation to man, is nothing but the desire to destroy human values, (2) the improvement of the environment--for man--can only be provided by laissez-faire capitalism, and (3) that it is the environmentalist movement itself that is today's greatest danger to human health and happiness.
Bio: Richard M. Salsman, CFA, is founder, president and chief market strategist of InterMarket Forecasting, Inc., an investment research and forecasting firm based in Chapel Hill, NC. Mr. Salsman is a noted authority on banking and capitalism. He is the author of two books, Gold and Liberty (1995) and Breaking the Banks: Central Banking Problems and Free Banking Solutions (1990). Mr. Salsman's articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Investor's Business Daily, Barron's, Forbes, and The National Post (Canada). Mr. Salsman lectures widely at investment gatherings and at universities such as Harvard University, the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley.
For more information: e-mail email@example.com
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Ayn Rand Institute Press Release
You Call this "Victory"?
March 24, 2008
Irvine, CA--In Congress, on the campaign trail, and across America, many have accepted a strangely favorable view of what President Bush's war policies have accomplished.
Conservatives regard his "surge" as a master stroke and celebrate what Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell calls the "extraordinary progress that has been made in Iraq." The popular sense that the war is going well is at least part of the story behind the comeback of McCain, whose support for Bush's policies initially dragged him down.
Democratic candidates Clinton and Obama both concede that the "surge" has worked and grudgingly quibble about the slow pace of political reconciliation among Iraqis.
"But the idea that we're nearing 'victory' in Iraq is a fantasy," said Elan Journo, resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. "Iraqis may now be butchering each other a bit less often, but Bush's war policy has done nothing to protect Americans."
"Cheerleaders of the President's policy focus myopically on whether insurgents have been kicked out, for the time being, from one street in one neighborhood of Baghdad. But the only rational benchmark for the war's success is whether it has made the lives of Americans safer from the threat of Islamists. Our security depends on how we're doing in the face of the global enemy, the ideological movement of the jihadists, which is widely popular and sponsored by states such as Iran.
"Far from working to defeat the enemy, Bush's war policy has been, not to defeat the jihadist forces, but to show 'compassion' to Iraqis and Afghans, to raise them out of poverty and give them elections. Bush's policy has left the enemy undefeated and empowered."
It is not Washington, but the hostile Iranian regime that can definitely claim to have scored "successes" thanks to Bush's policies, argues Mr. Journo. "As the leading sponsor of Islamist hostility and terrorism, Iran has grown stronger in the face of Washington's inaction. Iran arms insurgents in Iraq and jihadists across the region in attacking Americans. And Iran has won enormous power over Iraq.
"The loudly touted security 'gains' of the surge in Iraq are but a momentary reduction in bombings and attacks on U.S. troops. The Iraqi government is still the theocratic regime dominated by Islamist groups, which still operate death squads, and it is still in Iran's pocket."
Mr. Journo continued: The Iraq fiasco is emblematic of the turmoil Bush's policies have caused across the region. U.S.-backing for elections has given Hamas, Hezbollah, and other Islamists more political power and added confidence. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to the U.S. National Intelligence Director, al Qaeda is gaining in strength and improving "the last key aspect of its ability to attack the U.S." (i.e., new recruits who can blend into American society and attack domestic targets). The creeping Talibanization along the Afghan-Pakistan border poses a real threat of further attacks on the United States.
"All Americans should ask themselves: Why has Bush's 'compassionate' war policy not only failed to confront the major enemy, but strengthened it--and left us more vulnerable? How can we truly defend ourselves against the Islamist enemy? If we are to protect American lives, we need to answer these questions correctly, now."
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Mr. Journo is a resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. He specializes in foreign policy and the Middle East. His writings have appeared in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Houston Chronicle, The Chicago Sun Times, and the Globe and Mail of Canada. He is also a contributing writer for The Objective Standard, a quarterly journal of culture and politics. Mr. Journo has been a guest on numerous nationally syndicated radio programs.
Elan Journo is available for interviews.
Contact: Larry Benson
Phone: (949) 222-6550 ext. 213
For more information on Objectivism's unique point of view, go to ARI's Web site at www.AynRand.org. Founded in 1985, the Ayn Rand Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."
Yahoo News has an interesting article that includes a very hopeful set of predictions on the outcome of the Iraq War, where, according to at least one Middle East expert, “A reasonable outcome would find something like 30,000 to 40,000 troops in Iraq for 25 to 50 years.”
An good parallel is drawn in the article between the Cold War and the Islamist Entanglement (my term). “After all, the US has deployed troops in and for 63 years, and Korea for 57. Might Iraq, in the end, require a commensurate commitment?”
It’s a good point, except that if experts think the US is merely going to be in a “cold war” with a nuclear Iran, they are off the mark–unless they are factoring in the idea that the US would be willing to live across an “iron curtain” from an Iran that has already wiped Israel off of the map.
Check out the article here.
This presidential campaign will be, by far, the most expensive in U.S. history. And it is ironic that John McCain, the co-author of McCain-Feingold, is one of the candidates hustling to raise tens of millions of dollars. One thing is for sure: No matter who wins, the call for more campaign finance legislation will intensify--all in the name of combating the allegedly corrupting influence of money on politics. This is ominous, because what campaign finance restrictions actually do is subject political speech to the corrupting influence of government control.It's an excellent column, particularly in its use of telling examples from the current presidential election. Sadly, one need not look far to see the absurdity of the McCain-Feingold law and other restrictions on political speech. His point about total government funding of elections as a sure means of creating a "political aristocracy" in America as particularly apt -- and chilling. Based on the numbers he cites, it's already happening in America, thanks to current regulations.
Sales of "Atlas Shrugged" at All-Time Record
March 10, 2008
Irvine, CA--Fifty years after its publication, Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" is selling more than ever, having reached the astounding mark of 185,000 copies sold in 2007.
As noted by Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, "this sales figure is an all-time annual record, far exceeding sales of any year in Ayn Rand's lifetime." "Even more impressive," added Dr. Brook, "is that since its publication in 1957, more than 6 million copies of 'Atlas Shrugged' have been sold."
According to statistics from Penguin Group (USA), the English paperback sales of "Atlas Shrugged" have been climbing steadily through the decades since the novel was first published.
"In the 1980's," pointed out Dr. Brook, "'Atlas Shrugged' sold an average of 77,000 copies a year, increasing to 95,000 in the 1990s, and jumping to 130,000 in the first years of the new century.
"The trend is clear and inescapable. 'Atlas Shrugged' is selling more than ever and tens of millions of individuals in America and across the world are now aware of Ayn Rand's revolutionary ideas."
Media coverage of the 50th anniversary of "Atlas Shrugged" was extensive, with pieces printed in the "Wall Street Journal," "Los Angeles Times," "New York Times," "Washington Times," and "Forbes" magazine.
The "Los Angeles Times" called Ayn Rand's message "inspiring" and praised her most important novels, "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead," as "masterpieces of plotting." The article acknowledged that there is "good reason" that her novels continue to sell hundreds of thousands of copies a year and noted that 25 years after Ayn Rand's death "she's still big business and still very much a force."
The "New York Times" lauded the novel as "One of the most influential business books ever written" and aptly described it as "Ayn Rand's glorification of the right of individuals to live entirely for their own interest."
According to another piece, in "Forbes" magazine, "A quarter century after her death, and half a century after the publication of 'Atlas Shrugged,' Ayn Rand is back." But according to the historical record of the sales of "Atlas Shrugged," said Dr. Brook, "Ayn Rand never really went away."
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The Easter Masquerade
By Keith Lockitch
In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII established our modern calendar and fixed the rules determining the date of Easter. This year Easter falls on March 23, but from year to year it can shift by as much as a month on the Gregorian calendar.
Finding Easter's date for a given year requires a surprising degree of scientific acumen. The last things one might expect to see in, say, the Book of Common Prayer are tables of numbers and rules for mathematical calculations--but there they are, nevertheless.
At first glance, this seems to exemplify a kind of harmony between religion and science, a peaceful concord between faith and reason. Indeed, a variety of public figures--from prominent scientists to the Pope--have promoted the view that science and religion are not adversaries but complementary and mutually supporting fields. "Truth cannot contradict truth," they declare, implying that the truths discovered by reasoning from sensory evidence cannot clash with the "truths" of religious dogma.
A closer look, however, reveals the long history of the hostility of faith towards reason--which continues to this day. Violent clashes between the two are not only possible but unavoidable, and the notion that religion can coexist on friendly terms with science and reason is false.
For reasons both biblical and astronomical, Easter is defined as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox (the first day of spring). To get his calendar rules right, Pope Gregory had to rely on some of the best astronomers and mathematicians of his day. Ironically, one of these was Nicolas Copernicus, whose sun-centered astronomy engendered one of history's most famous clashes between science and religion.
A faithful canon of the Catholic Church, Copernicus supported the calendar project happily. His scientific work was partly motivated by the goal of predicting more accurately the first day of spring and the subsequent full moon. He modestly expressed the hope that by facilitating the calculation of Easter his labors would "contribute somewhat even to the Commonwealth of the Church."
At first Copernicus's work was warmly accepted by Church officials--but only because they didn't take it seriously. Sixteenth century common sense held that the Sun orbits the Earth, which is motionless at the center of the universe. More important, Church scholars held that the true structure of the world is established not by science but by official interpretation of Scripture. Hence, they regarded the motion of the Earth as nothing more than a convenient mathematical assumption--an idea justified solely by its utility in making astronomical predictions. Thinking they could evade a clash between reason and revelation, they denied the reality of the Earth's motion but used the Copernican theory nonetheless.
This contradiction became inescapable decades after the Gregorian reform when Galileo removed the objections from common sense by explaining the physics of the moving Earth. But the objections from faith proved more intractable. Galileo's outspoken defense of the Earth's motion as a serious physical idea forced Church leaders to take a stand--and when they got off the fence, they came down firmly against science. That the Church persecuted Galileo for defending Copernican theory is well-known. Less frequently acknowledged is the utter hypocrisy of that act: the Church persecuted Galileo for defending the very ideas on which its Easter reform depended.
In 1992 Pope John Paul II grudgingly admitted-- 350 years too late--that his predecessors had been wrong. He called the Church's persecution of Galileo a "sad misunderstanding" that "now belongs to the past."
But does it?
Although few would now declare the Earth the motionless center of the universe, it is not difficult to find those who claim it to be 6,000 years old and deny the long, slow evolution of its species. More alarming is that the same Dark Ages mentality that dragged Galileo before the Inquisition now seeks to prohibit entire fields of scientific research, such as therapeutic cloning. The war of religion against science has merely shifted to new battlegrounds, but it still rages on.
Religion's alleged harmony with science is a fraudulent masquerade, extending only insofar as religious dogmas are not called into question. True defenders of science must be committed to reason as an absolute principle--following facts wherever they lead and bowing to no authorities but logic and reality. And they must understand that the servile obedience demanded by faith is wholly incompatible with science--and with the rational thinking on which all human progress and prosperity depends.
Easter warning: crucifixion is bad for youWow. Why can't they just do a nice quiet egg hunt?!? (Oh wait, that's the pagan tradition. Silly me!)
By Thomas Bell, South East Asia Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:54am GMT 20/03/2008
Many people in the Philippines consider crucifixion and self flagellation good for the soul, but it is bad for your health according to new government advice for penitents.
This Holy Week, the thousands of guilt stricken or pious worshippers who will flay the skin off their backs, and the handful who will crucify themselves, are encouraged to get a tetanus shot first and be sure to use a clean whip or nails. "We are not trying to go against the Lenten tradition here because whipping has somewhat already become some form of 'atonement for sins' for some of us," Health Secretary Francisco Duque the 3rd said. "Getting deep cut wounds during whippings or lashings is inevitable and being so exposed during the course of the penitence, with all the heat and dust blowing in the wind, welcomes all sorts of infections and bacteria like tetanus," he explained.
Re-enactments of the Passion of Christ are common in many parts of the mostly Roman Catholic Philippines but frowned upon by the church authorities. In San Fernando City 23 people, including two women, have signed up to re-enact the crucifixion at three "improvised Golgothas" around town. Four of them will use real nails. The city government's website trumpets the preparations.
"The City Health Office (CHO) autoclaved all the nails to be used and will administer anti-tetanus vaccine to all the "Cristos" to ensure their protection from possible infection," it points out. City officials will conduct an inspection of the Golgothas on Thursday.
The festival is sponsored by Coca-cola and a company called Smart Telecommunications.
In a break from the original tradition, penitents are encouraged to "bring enough drinking water for the whole course of the pilgrimage to avoid dehydration, rather than buy bottled drinking water from unfamiliar sources."
There is also government advice for the many tourists and spectators who attend the events. "It is also better to bring self-prepared foods such as sandwiches, not only to save money, but also to avoid getting diseases such as diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid after eating food bought from street vendors," the health secretary suggested.
The great actor, Paul Scofield, is dead at 86. Check out these two clips of his acting, one from A Man For All Seasons and one from Mel Gibson's Hamlet.
Both clips feature brilliant acting. Scofield's Ghost quietly and convincingly shows the agony this creature is in -- something most actors miss in this role.
The writing in these clips is also pretty good. The scene from A Man For All Seasons has a nice defense of law against the medieval religious mentality. And Hamlet is, well... it's Hamlet. I'm always struck by how modern Shakespeare's writing is in this play. It is one of the great masterpieces of drama, a work of art that enhances your life for experiencing it.
When I watch a master like Scofield at work, I am inspired to make the extra effort in my own work. A good actor is not satisfied with mediocrity, not when such greatness is possible.
(If you want to see another bit of brilliant Shakespearean acting, though not featuring Scofield, check out this scene from Coriolanus starring Alan Howard. The language is quite difficult, but it's worth watching the whole scene. The way Howard says "Shall remain!" is spine-tingling. I find Coriolanus a fascinating play because it is about a proud hero who disdains the mob.)
Phillip Zane, who specializes in antitrust matters for the law firm Baker Donelson, said that a Democratic administration was likely to take a tougher line on merger reviews than the Bush team.OK, that's probably true, but imagine if Mr. Phillip Zane esq. was a criminal attorney warning the public that a Democratic administration was likely to take a tougher line on murder. Most would recognize that different political administrations may seek more or less aggressive sentences for murder as punishment for having been convicted of committing it, but the actual definition of what constitutes murder under the law remains the same regardless of administration.
"If I had any sort of close deal, I'd rather have it go now," Zane said. "It may be that some of the airline deals are close deals." [Diane Bartz Reuters]
Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production. It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes--that is, the majority--as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and it seems fair. I just recently read an article in a paper where His Holiness the Pope also pointed out some positive aspects of Marxism.So here we have a leader who repeats the tired chestnut that Marxism is a noble ideal and implies that all Marxism needs is less coercion and more guilt. After all, if "Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis" that wealth won't just distribute itself—it will require a means of distribution. Since the Dali Lama says he eschews coercion, all that's left is guilt.
As for the failure of the Marxist regimes, first of all I do not consider the former USSR, or China, or even Vietnam, to have been true Marxist regimes, for they were far more concerned with their narrow national interests than with the Workers' International; this is why there were conflicts, for example, between China and the USSR, or between China and Vietnam. If those three regimes had truly been based upon Marxist principles, those conflicts would never have occurred.
I think the major flaw of the Marxist regimes is that they have placed too much emphasis on the need to destroy the ruling class, on class struggle, and this causes them to encourage hatred and to neglect compassion. Although their initial aim might have been to serve the cause of the majority, when they try to implement it all their energy is deflected into destructive activities. Once the revolution is over and the ruling class is destroyed, there is not much left to offer the people; at this point the entire country is impoverished and unfortunately it is almost as if the initial aim were to become poor. I think that this is due to the lack of human solidarity and compassion. The principal disadvantage of such a regime is the insistence placed on hatred to the detriment of compassion.
The failure of the regime in the former Soviet Union was, for me, not the failure of Marxism but the failure of totalitarianism. For this reason I still think of myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist.
1. Obama, Clinton and McCain are all ignorant of economics.
2. The conservative Rick Moran reveals his ignorance of economics in "Is Capitalism and the Conservative Rationale for It Dead?"
...the huge investment companies who manage the hundreds of funds that invest in securities were overconfident in their ability to manage everything from the risk of mortgage securities to the effect the bursting of the housing bubble had on the value of their portfolios.
They just got it wrong, that’s all.
Mr. Moran fails to take into account economic distortions created by preexisting government policies.
For decades our government has had a semi-official policy that large financial institutions are too big to fail—and therefore must be bailed out when they risk insolvency—a policy that creates perverse incentives for them to take on far more risk than they otherwise would. "Too big to fail" is implemented through a network of government bodies that protect financial institutions from the long-term consequences of their decisions at taxpayer expense—a phenomenon we can observe right now.
Mr. Moran ends up calling for more of what caused the problem, government intervention in the economy:
Maybe we need new regulation to prevent this from happening again. Maybe we need better monitoring and thus less “free” markets by the government. And what good is “individual and corporate responsibility” if the economy would be prostrate if we followed that dictum and just allowed economic Darwinism to rule the day and watch as millions lost their savings and millions were thrown out of work?
Thus do breezy, half-assed dilettantes like Rick Moran, blithely unaware of the damage they wreak, spread stupid ideas and take America a little further down the highway to hell.
4. Cassandra imagines what would happen if Obama's relationship with a radical preacher were a Republican problem.
On taking over the presidency in January 2009, she says she will instruct the Joint Chiefs of Staff to draw up a plan for withdrawal to start within sixty days of her inauguration; she will next convene a regional stabilization group composed of states bordering Iraq, major US allies and other global powers to find an agreement on how to support a durable Iraqi state - a long overdue proposal, first put forward by another Democratic presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry, in the 2004 race; and she will ask the most important multilateral organization on the planet, the United Nations, for its involvement as a "neutral, honest broker" to forge political reconciliation in Iraq.
It sounds like a recipe for chaos to me. And one of those states bordering Iraq is Iran. Would it be good to have Iran dictating how Iraq should be run? Can the UN keep peace in Iraq?
[L]eaders of the world's Muslim nations are considering taking legal action against those that slight their religion or its sacred symbols. It was a key issue during a two-day summit that ended Friday in this western Africa capital.Before I move on, the president of Senegal has it exactly backwards. One cannot have freedom of speech at all by imposing limits.
The Muslim leaders are attempting to demand redress from nations like Denmark, which allowed the publication of cartoons portraying the Prophet Muhammad in 2006 and again last month, to the fury of the Muslim world.
Though the legal measures being considered have not been spelled out, the idea pits many Muslims against principles of freedom of speech enshrined in the constitutions of numerous Western governments.
"I don't think freedom of expression should mean freedom from blasphemy," said Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade, the chairman of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference. "There can be no freedom without limits." [bold added]
While the Muslim world worries about the image of Islam in the West, the U.S. envoy to the OIC attended the summit to try to tackle the thorny question of America's image among Muslim states.In the objective sense that freedom of speech promotes man's life, it is a value. In the sense of being appreciated by all men, it is plainly not "universal". To pretend that America has any "common ground" with those who have pledged to attack freedom of speech is to betray that value. The fact that we sent an envoy to such a conference is bad enough, but the fact that our envoy apparently did not protest this declaration of war is a remarkable act of appeasement.
Sada Cumber calls his campaign the "soft power" of the U.S. -- an effort to find common ground with Muslim nations by championing universal values the U.S. holds dear like religious tolerance and freedom of speech. [bold added]
I watched Obama's speech given in response to the furor around the statements of Obama's preacher-mentor, Jeremiah Wright. The speech is an enormous straw man meant to obfuscate and distract from the real problem.
Let me sum up Obama's problem in a paragraph:
Barack Obama, like most Democrats, is a New Leftist. As such he believes in many ideologies such as multiculturalism, feminism and environmentalism. The most controversial idea held by New Leftists is anti-Americanism. This leftist anti-Americanism is not a problem within the Democrat Party, but It is the one belief that Democrats must hide more than any other in order to be elected President. Obama's preacher has made outrageous anti-American statements. People wonder if Obama agrees with them; they wonder why he did not break with Wright years ago. For a Democrat presidential candidate even to be suspected of anti-Americanism is catastrophic problem, one that is probably fatal to most politicians.
In his speech Obama did not attempt to answer the problem -- it is so profound and dangerous that Democrats will not even name it. Instead, he changed the subject and made a speech about race.
The suspicions about Obama's anti-Americanism will linger. People don't want the Commander In Chief to be someone who can listen to a nutjob shout, "God damn America" without breaking relations with the man. Obama has lost those Democrats who are not anti-American leftists. They used to be called Reagan Democrats; come November 5, 2008, if Obama is the Democrat candidate, they will be called McCain Democrats.
Spin number one is that Jeremiah Wright's words were "taken out of context." Like most people who use this escape hatch, those who say this do not explain what the words mean when taken in context.Indeed. And I also agree with Sowell that, "Equality means that a black demagogue who has been exposed as a phony deserves exactly the same treatment as a white demagogue who has been exposed as a phony."
In just what context does "God damn America" mean something different?
Spin number two is that Barack Obama says he didn't hear the particular things that Jeremiah Wright said that are now causing so much comment.
It wasn't just an isolated remark. Nor were the enthusiastic responses of the churchgoers something which suggests that this anti-American attitude was news to them or something that they didn't agree with.
If Barack Obama was not in church that particular day, he belonged to that church for 20 years. He made a donation of more than $20,000 to that church.
In all that time, he never had a clue as to what kind of man Jeremiah Wright was? Give me a break!
You can't be with someone for 20 years, call him your mentor, and not know about his racist and anti-American views. [bold added]
Americans and Europeans share a common goal – to build an enduring peace based on freedom. Our democracies today are strong and vibrant. Together we can tackle the diverse challenges we face, whether radical religious fanatics who use terror as their weapon of choice, the disturbing turn towards autocracy in Russia or the looming threats of climate change and the degradation of our planet. [bold added]McCain plays the "freedom from foreign threats equals socialism" card instead. He also touts his message as "the truest form of realism". He does not explain, however, how subordinating America's national sovereignty in order to impose, for example, a multinational fuel ration is "realistic", let alone moral.
(You can skip to the lecture’s beginning at 5:40.)
By the way, the introductory quote is from Ayn Rand’s 1970 essay “The Comprachicos.” The text is:
Observe also the intensity, the austere, the unsmiling seriousness with which an infant watches the world around him. (If you ever find, in an adult, that degree of seriousness about reality, you will have found a great man.)
Internet users in China were blocked from seeing YouTube.com on Sunday after dozens of videos about protests in Tibet appeared on the popular U.S. video Web site.Invariably the discussion turns to the Olympic Games which are to be held in Beijing this summer. My view is if their will be no Olympic boycott (and at this stage at least I doubt their will be), let every athlete who medals wear a Tibetan flag on his lapel for the presentation of his medal or some other form of protest. The Chinese cannot fathom dissent and "disorder;" with these games that are supposed to symbolize their emergence as a world power, let them confront it everywhere they turn--and in a form they cannot squelch. It is high time the Chinese learn that it cannot be authoritarian and simultaneously embrace the rest of the world in friendship and sport.
The blocking added to the communist government's efforts to control what the public saw and heard about protests that erupted Friday in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, against Chinese rule.
Access to YouTube.com, usually readily available in China, was blocked after videos appeared on the site Saturday showing foreign news reports about the Lhasa demonstrations, montages of photos and scenes from Tibet-related protests abroad.
There were no protest scenes posted on China-based video Web sites such as 56.com, youku.com and tudou.com.
Recently, I gave my second lecture in The Islamist Entanglement series, entitled “America and the Middle East.” In that class, I explained the importance of the Truman Doctrine in relation to America’s involvement in the Middle East, and I was asked by one of the students, “Was the Truman Doctrine rational, given the context (of the Cold War)?”
My answer was “no.”
The Truman Doctrine was a blanket commitment to combat communism, wherever and whenever it might arise. In philosophical terms it was a “moral imperative,” or context-less absolute, not unlike a religious commandment. Acting according to it, in much the same manner as one might try to adhere to a religious code, every subsequent president failed to properly perceive where America’s self-interest really lay and directed the country’s resources in ways that while opposing communism actually harmed America both in the short and long term.
For those who need a refresher, the Truman Doctrine, was a statement of American foreign policy enunciated by President Harry Truman in 1947:
“I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.”
The immediate context for this declaration was an indication from Great Britain that it was withdrawing from its assumed custodial role in Greece. After WWII, a Communist insurgency threatened the government that the British had helped to install after retaking Greece from the Axis powers, but Britain could no longer do anything about it. It was retreating from its “imperial overreach.” Equally important was the fact that Britain would no longer act to sustain the Turkish government, which was under immediate expansionist pressure from the Soviet Union.
Thus it seemed that the takeover of Eastern Europe by communism might be aggravated by a wave of communist expansion on Europe’s periphery, through which the Balkans would also be absorbed, and further threats to Mediterranean Europe might materialize. All of Europe appeared ready to collapse.
Also significant was that the Soviets had delayed their withdrawal from Iran, which had been occupied by the Allies during the war as a Lend-Lease corridor, and that China was engulfed in a civil war involving a communist threat. The impact of FDR’s decision to support the Soviet Union during the war was now beginning to haunt America. Communism seemed poised for a massive set of gains just as fascism had been overcome.
Truman’s interpretation of these threats was summed up in the following way:
“…totalitarian regimes imposed on free peoples, by direct or indirect aggression, undermine the foundations of international peace and hence the security of the United States…”
This was the critical line of Truman’s policy statement. It made the all important connection between the broad abstraction of “international peace” and the obvious need to defend America’s interests. Based upon this reasoning, America took it upon itself the lead the world in a defense against communist expansion. For a period of over 40 years–the Cold War of 1947-1991–it attempted to act upon Truman’s premise that “international peace” and America’s interests were one. The core of his belief, and the essential nature of the policy, however, was the moral duty to support ”free peoples.” (Notably, the question of what constitutes “free peoples,” and any allowance for the idea that there could be a legitimate distinction made between ”free peoples” quite willing to adopt communism and “free peoples” willing to fight to their last breath for freedom, were never considered.)
Viewed from a 1990s perspective, it seemed as if the Truman Doctrine succeeded. The Berlin wall fell. The Soviet Union ceased to exist. Former Warsaw Pact countries became democracies and began to join NATO.
But one does not judge the character of an era or the validity of its driving philosophy merely based on what immediately follows it. Indeed, it was all too easy in the post Cold War euphoria to allow the main failure of the Cold War–that of the Soviet Union–to conceal a lesser failure–that of the proper defense of America’s interests. From today’s vantage point, it is easier to be objective.
Before addressing the question of the Truman Doctrine itself, let me say that this whole issue might well have never emerged. In my view it would have been entirely proper for the United States to preemptively use nuclear weapons to destroy the Soviet Union anytime after WWII (while we still had overwhelming military superiority)–just as it is entirely proper for Israel to wipe Iran off the map today. In other words, on a fundamental level, I view it as morally justified for a free country to destroy an oppressive regime that threatens it. Of course, had this been done, then the Truman Doctrine would never have arisen. There would have been no communism to contain.
Accepting that nobody at the time, except maybe General MacArthur, would have been willing to “push the button,” let us assume that rather than act preemptively, the United States chose merely to assume a strong defensive posture, the question is did the Truman Doctrine contribute or detract from it, and from the true promotion of America’s interests?
There are two ways of finding a proper answer to this question which must be used in tandem. One is to closely analyze the containment record, and its impact on America during the Cold War. The other is to integrate the Cold War into the context of its historical consequences, which are now apparent.
By examining the Korean War, as a first major proxy war against communism, we observe American casualties totalling 35,000 dead and 100,000 wounded. Observing the longer term effects of the conflict, we see the establishment of an ideological fault line along the 38th parallel, and the continuing existence of a regime that survives through nuclear extortion to this day, and which may yet choose to supply nuclear weapons to terrorists who wish to target the United States.
Was there a positive outcome that justified this loss of American lives in Asia, and mitigates the problem of the remaining threat? Well, there is the emergence of South Korea, a strongly Western country and important trading partner. But it still requires a continual American military commitment for its defense, at significant cost, and with few thanks. Also, no end seems to be in sight in this scenario. At best, the jury is thus still out on this one.
Also inconclusive is the question of Taiwan, which may yet be reabsorbed by China.
By contrast, the jury has most definitely concluded deliberations with regards to Vietnam. Casualties in that war amounted to 60,000 dead and 300,000 wounded Americans. Also, the war cause a tremendous schism in American culture, which hinders its ability to project a common set of values to the world to this day. To make matters worse, as we pan across time, we see the emergence of the Nixon Doctrine, whereby America gave up fighting proxy wars and decided instead to arm countries that might be directly threatened–such as Iran. As a result, if you zoom in close enough you can see that a good number of F-14s and F-15s flying around in the Middle East during the 1970s bear Iranian insignia. And, soon enough, the populace of this ”ally” in the containment of Communism would be chanting “Death to America!” in the streets.
What should have been obvious from the start was that Vietnamese communism may have threatened “international peace,” but it never had anything to do with America’s interests. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which emerged from the war, and which aligned with the Soviet Union, was involved in conflicts with Cambodia and China. But its decrepit economy did nothing but put additional strain on the Soviet Union, which funneled financial, military and administrative aid its way in order to continually prop it up. This sapped Russia’s always declining vigor, and contributed further to Communism’s fall.
As for the consequent arming of Iran, although it may seem like a reaction against the Truman Doctrine, it really only altered the means of implementing it. America remained committed to ”free peoples” whose connection to our national interests were negligeable, if not entirely imaginary.
Let us look at one more critical episode: America’s handling of the Suez Crisis of 1956. In that year, Egypt’s leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, took over the Suez Canal, thus seizing what was British and French property. When Britain, France, and Israel responded with an invasion of the Sinai and canal zone, President Eisenhower–who had not be consulted, who thus felt personally insulted, and who feared that such a move would damage Arab nations’ perception of the Western world–demanded that they withdraw. Faced with the threat of losing American aid–established via the Truman Doctrine’s Marshall Plan–Britain had no choice. Its allies were similarly compromised, and forced to back down.
The motivation for the president’s action was further elaborated post hoc–in the so-called Eisenhower Doctrine of 1957. In this corollary to the Truman Doctrine, Eisenhower announced that America would help nations in the Middle East resist communist expansion. In the Suez Crisis he had acted with precisely this intent. He humiliated a committed ally (Great Britain) in the name of appeasing a potential ally (Egypt), so that Nasser might choose to align himself with America, and so that the other Arab nations might be drawn to the United States as the more accomodating of the two superpowers.
So what did American accomodation, motivated by Truman/Eisenhower doctrinal thinking, yield for America in the Middle East? The attempt to manipulate its regimes in the name of a broader American goal for some forty years has spawned The Islamist Entanglement–the current debacle with reactionary political Islam. In the words of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the region’s true aim was to align with ”neither East nor West.” It was always to assert its own Islamic character, as was done in the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
So the Truman Doctrine failed North Korea and Vietnam, with a terrible cost to America. Further, courting the Middle East during the Cold War created the next major threat to America’s interests, just as courting the Soviets in a bid to stop the Nazis had yielded the Cold War itself.
Shall we say that it was all worth it because of Western Europe’s gratitude, and its defiance of communism? I shall continue to address this question in my series on “Europism,” but I don’t think too many Americans are deluded into thinking that Europeans are enamored with America or that Europe’s growing union is dedicated to freedom. Collectivism still dominates European thinking.
True, there is at least America’s close relationship with Britain and its Commonwealth offshoots Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Were the Soviets ever really going to conquer these countries? If communism had even briefly expanded to encompasses continental Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia by means of voluntary adoption and/or Soviet infiltration, it would have burned itself out so fast that the Cold War would have been a Cold Battle! The evil nature of communism would have been revealed all the more incontrovertibly. And these Western countries, which otherwise drifted towards socialism, would have been forced to defend themselves properly and thus abandon the draining accouterments of the welfare state. So I’m afraid I don’t see it in those cases either.
Finally, do I really need to mention Latin America? We let the communists have Cuba, and we sponsored countless “Western” dictators in place of the oppressive regimes the people there would have preferred to impose on themselves.
Now, before closing the case, I want to return to the Middle East, and indulge in a projection of what could and should have happened there had we allowed communism to expand in a manner consonant with our true self-interest. I submit that it is quite possible that Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Greece, Afghanistan and Pakistan might have been temporarily become communist countries. I submit, however, that this is beside the point, and might even have been a good thing. Just as quickly, others–most notably Saudi Arabia–would have been forced into our arms, and we could have dictated regime change there with as much ease as we did in Japan after WWII. The result would have been secure access to the world’s largest proven oil reserves, and the accelerated Westernization of a limited part of the Middle East. The resulting leap in wealth there–for everyone, not just the monarchy–would have proved once again the superiority of capitalism over communism and provided a real prototype for the aggressive secularization of Islam.
In the end, therefore, I don’t think that there is any outcome associated with the Truman Doctrine that could not have been improved upon if the idea of “international peace” and “the security of the United States” had been decoupled, and America had pursued only the latter. Even for those countries who would have suffered as a result of communist aggression, the outcome in the end would have been a much more genuine commitment to democratic republicanism. More importantly, however, hundreds of thousands of American lives would have been spared, and the debacle we find ourselves in today would never have arisen.
(For a more complete record of America’s Cold War record in the Islamic world, listen to my lecture “America in the Middle East,” available separately at a reduced introductory rate!)
I'm a regular reader of Noodlefood, and have a question about environmentalism. I understand and agree with the idea that human beings should not hold nature as an end in itself nor sacrifice themselves for its benefit. However, does Objectivism differentiate between environmentalism of this kind and the kind that would seek to preserve the planet for humanity's own sake? For example, many Objectivists seem to be of the mind that the global warming issue is nothing but hysterical propaganda aimed at subjugating mankind to nature. However, isn't it in our self interest to avoid a future catastrophe that could be disastrous for people as well as the planet? If there are scientific papers claiming that global warming poses no threat to humans, I'd very much like to read them. Do you think Objectivists are too quick in dismissing pro-environment ideas as "anti-man" when there are clearly cases in which both environment and mankind benefit?That's a good question. Due to constraints of time and ignorance, I will limit myself to a few brief comments, plus recommended reading.
Defining the Right of Self-Defense by Gun
First, the robber hit Willie Lee Hill more than fifty times with a can of soda, knocking him unconscious. Later, the 93-year-old victim awakened, covered with blood, to find his 24-year-old assailant ransacking the bedroom. When Hill pulled out a .38-caliber handgun from near his bed, the robber lunged at him. Hill stopped his attacker with a single bullet to the throat. “I got what I deserved,” the robber told police afterward.
That episode happened in
As the Declaration of Independence recognizes, governments are created to protect our individual rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The right of self-defense is included and implied in the right to life. In forming a government, citizens delegate the task of defending themselves to the police. But to delegate is not to surrender. Each citizen retains the ultimate right to defend himself in emergencies when his appointed agents, the police, are not available to help.
But what constitutes an emergency? What acts of self-defense are permissible in such a situation? And what tools may private citizens own for emergency self-defense? The law’s task is to furnish objective answers to such questions, so that citizens may defend their lives without taking the law into their own hands.
An emergency, properly defined, arises from an objective threat of imminent bodily harm. The victim must summon police, if possible. An emergency ends when the threat ends, or as soon as police arrive and take charge. During that narrow emergency interval, a victim may defend himself, but only with the least degree of force necessary under the circumstances to repel his attacker. A victim who explodes in vengeance, using excessive force, exposes himself to criminal liability along with his assailant.
Many objects commonly owned for peaceful purposes can be pressed into service for emergency self-defense. But unlike kitchen knives or baseball bats, handguns have no peaceful purpose--they are designed to kill people. The same lethal power that makes handguns the most practical means of self-defense against robbers, rapists, and murderers, also makes handguns an essential tool of government force. Handguns are deadly force and nothing but--a fact that gives rise to legitimate concerns over their private ownership in a civilized society.
These concerns can be resolved only by laws carefully drawn to confine private use of handguns to emergency self-defense, as defined by objective law. Such laws must also prohibit all conduct by which handguns might present an objective threat to others, whether by intent or negligence.
Contrary to an often expressed worry, therefore, a right to keep and bear arms in no way implies that citizens may stockpile weaponry according to their arbitrary preferences. Cannons, tanks, and nuclear weapons have no legitimate use in a private emergency, and their very presence is a threat to peaceful neighbors.
If handguns are confined to emergency self-defense, no legitimate purpose is served by an outright ban such as the
With the aid of his handgun, Willie Lee Hill survived that violent home invasion last July. Self-defense was his right, as it is ours. A proper legal system recognizes and protects that right, by permitting private ownership of handguns under appropriate limits.
Thomas A. Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute, focusing on legal issues. Mr. Bowden is a former attorney and law school instructor who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore,
Eliot Spitzer's public career was at war with reality because his ideals -- altruism, statism and collectivism -- are also at war with reality. They are an affront to justice, a massive con game in which the rights of the strong and able are violated in the name of the weak and disable.There are many aspects of this scandal that strike me as "teachable moments", as Jim May once put it, and this goes beyond just the fact that Spitzer is a consistent practitioner of the morality of altruism. He was so consistent, in fact, that he was, as Galileo Blogs pointed out yesterday, so petty and short-range in his thinking as to be barely more than a criminal.
The welfare state breeds creeps like Spitzer and Bill Clinton, who seek affirmation in the bedroom that they are above reality, that the rules don't apply to them, that they can get away with whatever they want. [bold added]
The problem with Spitzer's downfall is that [it] happened over a sex scandal and not for the dictatorial behavior he exhibited toward his real or perceived enemies, such as innocent businessmen like John Whitehead.Here's a small taste of the kind of attitude we're up against from The Houston Chronicle's own capitalism-hating business columnist, Loren Steffy:
Spitzer's goal wasn't to win convictions -- it was to change behavior. At that, he proved adroit. [This is praise for trial by media backed by government threats, something that is underhanded and undermines rule of law. --ed]That last line takes the cake in the "obscene moral equivocation" department, but should be no surprise coming from someone who opens his column about such a sleazeball with the following gem of psychological projection: "When a white knight falls in the mud, we all seem to laugh a little louder."
He's not the only attorney general to use the tactic. In fact, a long line of AGs in New York and elsewhere have employed similar strategies in consumer protection.
But if he was effective at forcing changes in corporate behavior, he was far less adept at changing his own.
As governor, and as the state's former top cop, he has, in all likelihood, been caught in alleged illegal activity. So it's not just about sex, it's about breaking the laws that he was sworn to uphold.
Spitzer and those he prosecuted are linked by a common denominator in their undoing, a bond of conceit and hypocrisy. [bold added]
If an ordinary citizen proposed to the mortgage industry that it bail out borrowers through a widespread rate freeze and call it a "private sector effort," the proposal would be dismissed as a joke. But when the government proposes such an initiative to private industry, all participants know that it can do great damage to them if they refuse--and can grant them huge favors if they comply. Today's HOPE NOW and Project Lifeline participants, for instance, can be harmed by the passage of "anti-predatory-lending" laws, which would expose them to huge lawsuits by borrowers who claim to have been in the dark about the contracts they signed. These participants can also be helped with unearned handouts--with cheap Fed money, with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac taking risky mortgages off their hands, and with a bailout in the future if, say, they face bankruptcy because of sloppy lending practices. [bold added]The sum of his two articles shows that this situation is analogous to some thug making you sample crack cocaine at gunpoint. He makes the crack analogy in his second article.
[A]s a Fortune cover crudely put it: "What were they smoking?"Read the whole thing to see how the promise of a bailout destroys long-range planning on the part of those whose job it is to do just that.
A major part of the answer is: government bailout crack.
[Maryam Namazie, head of the Council of Ex-Muslims in Britain] must have been shocked, I suggest, when the Archbishop of Canterbury said the introduction of some Sharia in Britain was unavoidable. No, she says; she wasn't even surprised. "It was quite apt, although he didn't expect the reaction he got. It was an attack on secularism really. It is, in a sense, to his benefit if there are Muslim schools and Sharia. It makes it less likely that anyone will oppose Christian schools and the privileged place of religion in society."The Christian religion offers no protection against the left or against Islamism. The sooner advocates of freedom understand this, the better.
She is adamant, though, that no form of Sharia should be allowed here. "It is fundamentally discriminatory and misogynist," she says and is dismissive of the idea that people would be able to choose between Sharia and civil jurisdiction. Women could be railroaded into a Sharia court, she says. "This would hit people who need the protection of British law more than anyone else." [bold added]
• Extortionate and confiscatory taxes wherever they turn on virtually everything they earn, purchase, or do, from the local level on up to the federal level;Congress is proposing, in Barack Obama's Global Poverty Act (S.2433, based on H.R. 1302, passed by the House September 25, 2007), that Americans be delivered into a state of indentured servitude as laborers for the United Nations. Perhaps "indentured servitude" is too kind a term, for as horrendous a condition as it is, there is usually a time limit to such servitude. Slavery would be the more accurate term in this instance, for what Congress is considering is servitude by Americans in perpetuity, in exchange for nothing but the privilege of laboring to "save" the world without thanks or reward, of filling the alleged needs of others, of performing unlimited "community service" for the offense of merely existing.
• Myriad regulations, controls and arbitrary rules that hamper or obstruct their productivity and their lives;
• Footing the endless bills of earmarked pork barrel projects at home in the amount of billions;
• Footing the bill in the amount of the billions for bottomless altruist and "humanitarian" pork barrel projects abroad;
• Footing the bill for an ever-expanding and ever more costly welfare state to subsidize the ill, the retired, the aged, the young, etc.
• Being held hostage by, say, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and other hostile "oil-producing" countries, because our government has decided that snail darters, sea cows, and caribou have a greater right to live than have human beings;
• Paying more for food because mandated ethanol, which reports prove costs more in oil to produce than it "saves," in the gas they buy is taking more crop acreage out of production;
"to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the U.S. foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day."The "Millennium Development Goal" refers to a United Nations declaration adopted by the U.N. Millennium Assembly and Summit in 2000 that calls for "the eradication of poverty" by "redistribution (of) wealth and land," cancellation of "the debts of developing countries" and "a fair distribution of the earth's resources."
"The Millennium project is monitored by Jeffrey D. Sachs, a Columbia University economist. In 2005 he presented then-U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan with a 3,000-page report based on the research of 265 so-called poverty specialists.The tax would be imposed not only on their production, but on their use, as well. Among other consequences, Americans would be impoverished for the purpose of reducing poverty abroad by 0.7 percent of the U.S.'s gross domestic product.
"Sachs' document criticized the U.S. for giving only $16.5 billion a
year in global anti-poverty aid. He argued that we should spend an additional
$30 billion a year in order to reach the 0.7% target that the U.N. set for the
U.S. in 2000....Sachs said that the only way to force the U.S. to commit that much
money is by a global tax, such as a tax on fossil fuels [oil, coal, natural
What About Landlords' Interests?
The premise of The Post's series on the condominium boom ["Forced Out," front page, March 9-11], that landlords victimize their tenants in pursuit of profits, failed to capture the root cause of the District's housing woes.
We cannot exempt rents from the law of supply and demand and expect that landlords will maintain their properties, build new properties or not seek to convert their properties to more profitable uses.
What incentive does a landlord have to endure a market in which profits are capped and the specter of criminal liability for regulatory violations looms omnipresent?
In a free market, a tenant's desires could be obtained by contract and a willingness to pay the market rate (and a willingness to move when expectations are not met). Instead, under rent control, we have a system in which tenants are legally permitted to get something for nothing.
Some may wish otherwise, but it is inevitable that such a system fails in practice.
Center for the Advancement of Capitalism
OK. Let’s switch tracks. Modern politics is so depressing, and I’m sure we all need a metaphysical pick-me-up after thinking about Iran-Israel.
I recently got two great art books for my birthday, and when I tell you that one of them was full of Victorian nudes, but that it’s the other one I’m most excited about, you’ll have some idea of how good it is!
I’m talking about the best book I’ve ever seen on the art of Sir Edward Everett Millais. The book is simply entitled “Millais,” by Jason Rosenfeld and Alison Smith. (Get it here, at an amazing price, from Amazon.)
Millais first came to my attention because he created some remarkable works of historical art. My favorite of these is Huguenot Lovers, which depicts an intimate moment during the St.Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the religious civil wars in France. The French Protestants, known as “Huguenots,” were to be massacred this day, by order of the royal family. Catholics were to be safely identified by the white armbands they wore.
In Millais’s depiction of a great conflict of values related to this episode, a woman attempts to fasten a white band onto the arm of her lover, who, while embracing her, prevents her from doing so.
In the words of the poet, Richard Lovelace, “I could not love thee, Dear, so much, Loved I not Honour more.“
Also worth a look: John Everett Milais, Beyond the Pre-Raphaelist Brotherhood. It’s has a more limited thesis, and does not offer the same comprehensive presentation as the Rosenfeld-Smith book, but it’s still nice. Also, if you can find it, Sir John Everett Millais by Geoffroy Millais has been a happy component of my collection. It’s older, so the reproductions are not quite as sharp, however.
For more information about Millais, you can also take in a post I wrote about another one of his works, The Boyhood of Sir Walter Raleigh over at HistoryAtOurHouse.
This artist is fighting for a place in my top five favorite painters of all time! Find out why, by picking up the amazing Rosenfeld-Smith book!
Whether it was Spitzer's involvement in the Dirty Tricks and Internal Revenue scandals that targeted Senate Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, his threats against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and other Assembly Democrats, his undermining through rumor and innuendo of Lt. Gov. David Paterson, or his seemingly paranoid hostilities to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Spitzer's style struck many as so far out of line with his public claims of righteousness that many started using the jargon of abnormal psychology to describe him. [bold added]The above passage is disturbing for two reasons. First, it describes a widely respected and admired man who actually held elected office in New York, and who had legitimate presidential aspirations. Second (and worse), it draws the wrong conclusion about the relationship between Spitzer's "claims of righteousness" and his megalomaniacal, controlling personality.
Sing a songNormally, I prefer to focus my activism efforts on local papers, but that was too good an opportunity to pass by. Paul also published a letter to the editor on health care in The Christian Science Monitor last Friday. Hooray FIRM!
Thanks to Dick Armey ("Airing on free use," Commentary, Friday) for defending intellectual property in broadcast radio as a matter of justice to the creators.
Today's producers of music--artists, management and record companies--offer consumers around the world a vast array of music for all tastes. Those producers deserve to be rewarded handsomely for their efforts, not cheated of royalties by legal loopholes for broadcast radio or online file sharing.
Without the producers of music, we'd be stuck listening to our own off-key shower singing.
A House subcommittee chaired by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., convened a hearing Tuesday on a proposal to change the composition of both coins. Republicans and Democrats like the concept, particularly its promise to save taxpayers $100 million a year by using cheaper metals at the U.S. Mint. If the legislation clears the House and Senate and President Bush signs it, you could be plucking steel pennies off the street before year's end. [bold added]Wow! A nationwide savings of one hundred million dollars a year! (Excuse me while I whistle through my teeth here.)
Money is the tool of men who have reached a high level of productivity and a long-range control over their lives. Money is not merely a tool of exchange: much more importantly, it is a tool of saving, which permits delayed consumption and buys time for future production. To fulfill this requirement, money has to be some material commodity which is imperishable, rare, homogeneous, easily stored, not subject to wide fluctuations of value, and always in demand among those you trade with. This leads you to the decision to use gold as money. Gold money is a tangible value in itself and a token of wealth actually produced. When you accept a gold coin in payment for your goods, you actually deliver the goods to the buyer; the transaction is as safe as simple barter. When you store your savings in the form of gold coins, they represent the goods which you have actually produced and which have gone to buy time for other producers, who will keep the productive process going, so that you'll be able to trade your coins for goods any time you wish. [bold added]Consider what government printing of unbacked currency means in this light: Inflation not only robs you of part of your current effort by effectively reducing your income, it retroactively taxes the fruits of any past effort you have set aside. To the extent that this occurs, it is as if you hadn't lived a portion of your productive life at all.
It is no accident that societies built upon socialism resemble societies built on slavery in that the great mass of people are being sacrificed either to some smaller group of people or, theoretically, to each other. In either case, their lives do not belong to them but to others. The only real difference is whether one prefers being ground up in the sugar mills of an 18th century French plantation in St. Domingue (Haiti) or being pounded into the dust of some five year plan in Soviet Russia. Either way, you are just as sacrificed; either way, you are just as dead. [bold added]The distinction between slavery and socialism is one that unfortunately masks their essential similarity.
Eliot Spitzer knew how to catch bad guys by following the money. As attorney general, he once broke up a call-girl ring and locked up 18 people on corruption, money-laundering and prostitution charges. He ruthlessly investigated the pay packages of Wall Street executives and was so familiar with shady financial maneuvers that he rose to become the top racketeering prosecutor in Manhattan.This man made a career out of using the apparatus of the state to go after people who, in many cases, were not doing anything that should have been illegal. He could have chosen to work to repeal such bad laws, but decided instead to enforce them ruthlessly. His semi-just desserts, while cathartic on some levels, will in fact be a legal travesty. I do not morally condone a married man using prostitutes, but the fact remains that prostitution should be legal.
But in the end, it appears that Spitzer may have been done in by the same behavior he built a career out of prosecuting.
In fact, it seems he was tripped up by some of the very financial accounting methods he used so successfully against multibillion-dollar Wall Street firms. [bold added]
I realized that oftentimes - not always, but oftentimes -- I am more interested in winning an argument than I am about the ideas. OR I am interested in the ideas and it sickens me to see people with the wrong ideas prevail, so I just end up avoiding the discussions altogether.This is doubtless as common as it is counterproductive, and the fact that the false theory/practice dichotomy gets pounded into our skulls from every direction in our culture makes it almost impossible not to be afflicted with this urge to some degree, especially soon after encountering Ayn Rand. (And as I know from experience, it can take lots of time to get past this.)
Susan Estrich attempts to make sense of Eliot Spitzer:
My old roommate used to call it "getting stupid." In the beginning of the story, the guy might be smart, thoughtful, good-looking and funny. But when it came to sex, she'd just shake her head. Lord, could guys get stupid or what?
That's the phrase that kept running through my head as I listened to the reports, read the affidavits and plowed through the details of the mess surrounding my very smart former student Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
How could one smart guy get that stupid?
Rich, powerful men don't need to pay women to have sex; there are plenty who will do it for nothing, save the expectation that they be treated as people. I have never understood why such men prefer to pay for it. Or, more accurately, I have understood, and I think less of them for their choice. What does it say about a man that he'd rather pay for sex? That he is willing to offer nothing but money?
Estrich fails to understand that sex is more than just physical pleasure, more even than psychology. Sex is an affirmation of metaphysics.
Eliot Spitzer's entire career was at war with reality. Why shouldn't his sex life reflect that war as well?
Spitzer was a statist thug who persecuted innocent businessmen.
As he declared war on Wall Street and other corporate abusers, Spitzer also declared war in effect on his own oath of office: a commitment to the state and federal constitutional guarantees of the presumption of innocence.
Time after time with high-profile corporate officials - most conspicuously, former American International Group CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg - Spitzer railed on national television that his targets had broken the law.
But in most cases - after the damage to reputations was already done - no charges were brought.
Robert Tracinski notes that Spitzer had the soul of a power luster:
Spitzer's "crusading" career as New York's attorney general is a catalog of abuses of prosecutorial power. He tried cases in the media instead of the courts by releasing embarrassing documents at press conferences and leaking carefully selected facts to sympathetic reporters. This is slander under the color of law, an attempt to ruin a target's reputation without actually have to prove the allegations against him. Spitzer smeared his victims by digging into their personal lives and spreading rumors about their infidelity (another disgusting irony of this affair). He blackmailed businesses into paying massive fines by threatening to file corporate indictments that would cripple a firm's ability to operate, even if it were eventually acquitted. He threatened respectable businessmen with the prospect of being hauled off in handcuffs in front of their families.
He did everything he could, in short, to bully the rest of the world into a solicitous state of submission—the state of terrorized subjects groveling before a tyrannical emperor.
Gus Van Horn writes,
He prosecuted citizens for victimless "crimes", some of which were forms of productive activity. The laws that made these acts crimes were legal codifications of arbitrary religious and altruist proscriptions against behavior that violated the rights of no one and, therefore, did not belong on the books.
In other words, Eliot Spitzer was not motivated by a desire to protect the individual rights of the people who elected him, but by a moral code that is incompatible with personal freedom because it calls for the sacrifice of individuals. Whether Spitzer was benevolent but misguided at first (which seems very unlikely to me) or a power-luster from day one is irrelevant.
Eliot Spitzer's public career was at war with reality because his ideals -- altruism, statism and collectivism -- are also at war with reality. They are an affront to justice, a massive con game in which the rights of the strong and able are violated in the name of the weak and disable.
The welfare state breeds creeps like Spitzer and Bill Clinton, who seek affirmation in the bedroom that they are above reality, that the rules don't apply to them, that they can get away with whatever they want.
Reality caught up with Spitzer and Clinton, and someday it will catch up with the welfare state. There will be hell to pay when those chickens come home to roost. Spitzer's problems, if they are then remembered, will seem insignificant.
Perhaps Israel’s action will come before the upcoming election! Maybe Bush and Cheney will take one huge parting shot in the “war on terror” by using Israel as a proxy–one that doesn’t require “congressional authorization”–to strike at Iran? That’s what this Washington Post editorial suggests. It states the following reasons for concern about an upcoming attack:
Perhaps by “Israeli comments,” one can include the fact that there have apparently been leaks concerning an Israeli nuclear strike on Iran using bunker-buster weapons–which may have been supplied to Israel by the US as recently as 2006 expressly for the purpose of attacking Iran.
If this happens, it’ll simply mean that Israel recognizes the imminence of the Iranian threat and is going to render McCain-Obama even more irrelevant by preempting any self-defeating move either of these leaders might make with regards to Iran.
What worries me, however, is that these attacks will amount to “nuclear pinpricks” and thus do nothing but reinforce Islamic totalitarianism’s hold over Iran and exacerbate the long-run situation in Iraq beyond repair.
Too Big to Bail
By Alex Epstein
Every few days we hear that another leading financial institution has written down billions more on subprime investments gone bad. Nearly every major financial institution, it turns out, had a hand in loans to low-credit borrowers--borrowers whose ability to pay often hinged on endlessly low interest rates or a strong housing market. How could this happen? How could nearly all the leading lights of the financial industry--the experts in assessing and managing risk--expose themselves to such massive losses? Or, as a Fortune cover crudely put it: "What were they smoking?"
A major part of the answer is: government bailout crack.
For decades our government has had a semi-official policy that large financial institutions are too big to fail--and therefore must be bailed out when they risk insolvency--a policy that creates perverse incentives for them to take on far more risk than they otherwise would. "Too big to fail" is implemented through a network of government bodies that protect financial institutions from the long-term consequences of their decisions at taxpayer expense--a phenomenon we can observe right now.
Consider Countrywide, a major subprime money-loser just acquired by Bank of America. Private lenders have not been willing to grant Countrywide the $10s of billions it sought to keep afloat, given the company's huge and difficult-to-measure subprime exposure. In a free market, bankruptcy would loom--but in our system, Countrywide and others can turn to the government-backed Federal Home Loan Banks for cash; these banks have lent Countrywide over $70 billion so far. According to the Wall Street Journal, these banks specialize in "providing funding where other creditors won't go"--which they can do because of "a widespread belief the government would bail them out [with taxpayer money] in a crisis."
Cash from Federal Home Loan Banks is just one of the many entrees the government provides on its bailout menu. Another option a failing bank has is to court bank depositors--who will not be scared away because their deposits are backed by the government's Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Countrywide and others have a huge potential pool of capital accessible to them if they take on the additional cost of offering depositors higher interest rates than their competitors'. On its Web site, Countrywide is actively chasing your dollars, boasting, "Can your bank match our CD rates?" The policy is working; American depositors have invested or kept $10s of billions of their savings in Countrywide's coffers--despite regular headlines about the company's perilous finances. Depositors know that no matter how reckless Countrywide is with their money, other taxpayers will be there to pay the company's FDIC-backed commitments--just as they were there to bail out depositors in savings and loans in the 1980s.
Still another item on the bailout menu is provided by the Federal Reserve. Today and throughout history, when major financial institutions are losing money, the Fed uses its power to manipulate interest rates and the money supply so that banks can borrow cheaply--giving them easy money with which to paper over their old mistakes. Again, it is other taxpayers who pay--in this case, through inflation. Inflation depletes Americans' hard-earned savings; the trend of skyrocketing housing and commodity prices we have witnessed during the last five years is just the latest and most obvious harm done by our government's inflationary actions.
The combined effect of these and other bailout policies is to make risk-taking less risky for large financial institutions--because true failure is not an option.
If an institution can be bankrupted when its investments go bad, it is supremely clear to its managers and its creditors (its depositors, in the case of a bank) that they must be continuously diligent about risk. They have every incentive to thoroughly investigate long-term consequences--because enough money badly invested could mean the firm's extinction.
However, when the long term loses its meaning, when institutions are told they can never fail, managers are given an incentive to put more capital at risk. If the investments go well in the short term, as subprime investments did for several years, the profit potential is huge. If they eventually fail, the downside is only so bad; the government will "do something" to keep the firms afloat.
And when these reckless investments do go well in the short term, they're sure to be repeated. If one financial giant is reaping huge profits from subprime, other firms are pressured to follow along--or else risk losing investors, customers, or employees who want to be part of the exciting profit machine. The long-term result of "too big to fail" is a gradual and overall decline in responsible risk-taking--with periodic crises like the subprime debacle.
Any doctrine that encourages overly-risky investing, and punishes sound risk-taking is unfair and destructive. We need to phase out "too big to fail" and replace it with a free market in banking, which would reward sound long-term lending and borrowing practices and punish irresponsible ones. Otherwise, the next financial market fiasco is just a matter of time.
Alex Epstein is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute, focusing on business issues. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand--author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead." Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The signers of "A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change" acknowledged that not all Christians accept the science behind global warming. They said they do not expect fellow believers to back any proposed solutions that would violate Scripture, such as advocating population control through abortion.For anyone who still thinks that religion is any kind of a bulwark against the left or socialism, please note the priorities given in bold above. The codified oral traditions of primitive tribesmen from millennia ago are to be obeyed even if they contradict minor aspects of this agenda, and yet they somehow know that this "threat" is "too grave" to worry about whether human beings really do contribute to global warming!
However, the leaders said that current evidence of global warming is "substantial," and that the threat is too grave to wait for perfect knowledge about whether, or how much, people contribute to the trend. [bold added]
Thou shall not pollute the Earth. Thou shall beware genetic manipulation. Modern times bring with them modern sins. So the Vatican has told the faithful that they should be aware of "new" sins such as causing environmental blight. [bold added]Another report notes that these more modern mortal sins have a more collectivist emphasis than the older ones:
The "sins of yesteryear" - sloth, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath and pride - have a "rather individualistic dimension", he told the Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper.I recall one Objectivist intellectual acknowledging that one positive cultural contribution (although couched in an inconsistent mystical context) Christianity had made to the West was the notion of man as an individual.
The new seven deadly, or mortal, sins are designed to make worshippers realise that their vices have an effect on others as well.
"The sins of today have a social resonance as well as an individual one," said Mgr Girotti. "In effect, it is more important than ever to pay attention to your sins." [bold added]
While Americans try to sort out the question of who will be their next president, the real question people should be asking themselves is, “Will Israel have the courage to save itself–and the rest of the world–when it comes time to deal with Iran?”
It really doesn’t matter whether the American electorate takes the unlikely view that it wants a more bellicose geriatric version of George Bush, i.e. John McCain, or the likelier scenario that it wants a vibrant black JFK who promises change, i.e. Barack Obama. Either way, the responsibility for saving the world will fall on Israel’s shoulders.
Pick your leader America. I’m afraid it won’t matter!
If McCain becomes president, the United States will obviously stay in Iraq longer than otherwise. The American government will continue to try to suppress the reactionary tendencies within Iraq’s Islamic culture, only to find that any policy designed to direct Iraq’s development necessarily involves other requirements beyond America’s current political will.
To try to mitigate Iraq’s external handicaps, McCain proposes to apply ”international pressure” on the regimes that seek to undermine Iraq’s Westernization, i.e. Iran and Syria. This deliberately vague proposal means one of two things: 1) either McCain does not want to confront them directly, and he’s being up front about it, or 2) he wants to, but realizes that it would be political suicide to say so. Either way, he will never do so with the effectiveness required to dissuade these terrorist regimes and motivate America’s political allies in Iraq.
Only with America’s full support against Iran could Iraq’s secular leaders possibly be motivated to tough out what will certainly be decades of religious strife to come. It is well known that Iran aids insurgents militarily, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Iran is the central hub of contemporary Islamism and thus it impacts the entire region ideologically. The reactionary theocratic philosophy that fueled its 1979 revolution has been gaining in appeal among Muslims, and Iraq’s leaders need to know that they will always get help resisting this force.
Similarly, Iraq’s nascent democracy needs to know that its ally will not tolerate the undermining presence of oppressive theocracies and terrorist states along its other borders. Consequently, regime change in Saudi Arabia and Syria would also have to figure in any American plans for a stable Iraq. These things will never happen. In the Republican mindset, Saudi Arabia is a stable ally, and Syria is just a containable nuisance.
What will happen if America sticks with the Republicans is that McCain will attempt to “stay the course.” He will try to isolate the Iraq situation, and try to evade the fact that it can’t be isolated. And if Americans aren’t calling for the troops to come home quite loudly enough for McCain to hear it yet, he won’t be able to not hear it as president.
Tragically, the longer American troops stay in Iraq while Iran remains untouched, the stronger the eventual backlash against America’s presence will be. Iraq will most likely disintegrate into civil war. The world will be scrambling to come to grips with Iraqi disintegration, and praying that we aren’t swallowed up by some world-wide conflict. While everything is busy pointing the finger at America for creating this mess, and falling over each other not to get involved, Iran will capitalize on America’s diplomatic isolation and try to do what every Muslim regime in the Middle East wishes it could do: destroy Israel.
But what if Obama becomes president? Can we avoid such an outcome?
With Obama in charge, America will adopt a position of respect for the “self-determination” of the Middle East. Obama will remove America’s troops from Iraq as quickly as possible.
In the hopes of stabilizing the situation in the region, he will then attempt to befriend Ahmedinejad as JFK attempted to befriend Nasser. Like JFK, however, he will get stung, only it’ll be much worse than Nasser sending troops to revolutionary Yemen. It’ll be a lot more like Chamberlain getting stung by Hitler.
The historical parallel between modern Iran and pre-WWII Germany has naturally occurred to many. Like Germany in the 1920s, Iran does not accept its subordinacy to powers that have never conquered it. It does not accept that other countries may determine its national fate. Like inter-war Germany, it is surrounded by weaker countries that share an ethnic (in this case religious, not racial) identity with it, and which it hopes to dominate based on an integrating ideology, in this case Pan-Islamism.
Iran’s neighbors only vaguely apprehend its ambitions and have only a loose connection to the power that should be the one to stop Iran, the United States. However, just as in the 1930s, Americans want disengagement, and Obama is ready to deliver.
What’s worse is that like Chamberlain before WWII, he is willing to exchange hand shakes and promises with someone he believes isn’t really an enemy, just a frustrated patriot.
Thus what McCain would abhor doing, but can’t avoid, Obama will willingly do: empower Iran to strike at Israel.
The situation has deteriorated to the point where we will arrive at this juncture regardless of which of the current candidates leads America into it.
With America paralyzed, the way will be cleared for Iran to make its move.
As everyone is well aware, Ahmedinejad is pushing forward with Iran’s nuclear energy program. And as everybody knows, this is a natural stepping stone to the creation of nuclear weapons. The idea that Iran needs nuclear energy to help its own people, when it starves them of oil which it has in abundance, is ludicrous. For a committed Islamist regime nuclear power can have only have one purpose: nuclear weapons, and nuclear weapons can have only one first-strike target: Israel.
Ahmedinejad’s message is clear, but it’s so frightening no one wants to listen.
So the real question is: what will Israel do when the time comes?
Will Israel strike first? It will take incredible courage. I don’t envy the Israelis to have to be in this position because America has defaulted and will continue to default on its role as world leader. If they choose to destroy Iran by the preemptive use of nuclear weapons, they will have to endure decades of international hatred for refusing to be sacrificed for “peace in our time.”
But this is their only option. No matter how good Mossad’s operations are in Iran, and no matter how good their air force pilots are, limited strikes can hardly guarantee a secure result, and they will only serve to align the world against Israel and embolden Iran to take the final step.
Unlike pre-WWII Czechoslovakia, Israel is powerful enough to stop its aggresive neighbor militarily. Its policy of “nuclear ambiguity” is obviously a cover for its own nuclear program, which has probably been in place since the 1960s. Its leaders certainly understand as well that Israel is too small to trade blows on a nuclear battlefield, and cannot risk being the first to be struck.
This all adds up to one of only two results. Iran gone. Or Israel gone.
The only thing the upcoming election is going to settle is the number and variety of intervening events along this terrifying timeline.
This is a building where our deeply-troubled public school system once stored its supplies, and then one day apparently walked away from it all, allowing everything to go to waste. The interior has been ravaged by fires and the supplies that haven't burned have been subjected to 20 years of Michigan weather. To walk around this building transcends the sort of typical ruin-fetishism and "sadness" some get from a beautiful abandoned building. This city's school district is so impoverished that students are not allowed to take their textbooks home to do homework, and many of its administrators are so corrupt that every few months the newspapers have a field day with their scandals, sweetheart-deals, and expensive trips made at the expense of a population of children who can no longer rely on a public education to help lift them from the cycle of violence and poverty that has made Detroit the most dangerous city in America. To walk through this ruin, more than any other, I think, is to obliquely experience the real tragedy of this city; not some sentimental tragedy of brick and plaster, but one of people.What better symbol could there be of the failure of state-run education, right?
Pallet after pallet of mid-1980s Houghton-Mifflin textbooks, still unwrapped in their original packaging, seem more telling of our failures than any vacant edifice. The floor is littered with flash cards, workbooks, art paper, pencils, scissors, maps, deflated footballs and frozen tennis balls, reel-to-reel tapes. Almost anything you can think of used in the education of a child during the 1980s is there, much of it charred or rotted beyond recognition. Mushrooms thrive in the damp ashes of workbooks. Ailanthus altissima, the "ghetto palm" grows in a soil made by thousands of books that have burned, and in the pulp of rotted English Textbooks. Everything of any real value has been looted. All that's left is an overwhelming sense of knowledge unlearned and untapped potential. [bold added]
I have seen these photos and selections from my post appropriated by right-wing, racist, and libertarian bloggers to illustrate existing prejudices against black people, the city of Detroit, and the very idea of public education.Let's set aside, for the sake of argument, whether this passage is meant to lump advocates of capitalism together with white racists and Republicans (or equating us with libertarians), as so often happens.
From time to time, I get a letter from some aspiring young writer, asking about how to write or how to get published. My usual response is that the only way I know to become a good writer is to be a bad writer and keep on improving. However, even after you reach the point where you are writing well—and that can take many years—the battle is not over. There are still publishers to contend with. Then there are editors and, worst of all, copy-editors. [bold added]Enjoy!
What's with the "Titanic Deck Chairs" thing? Hopefully it's pretty obvious, but here's the thumbnail sketch. I hate talking about trivial crap. Sure, I may talk about working on my house or something, but when it comes to Ideas, I can't be bothered to discuss the surface issues at any great length. The only thing I get fired up about is digging to the heart of an issue and finding the fundamentals.He's got just a couple of posts up so far, but I can't wait to read more!
Thus, I refuse to "rearrange deckchairs on the Titantic" when there are icebergs out there.
He got the job of postmaster at the University of Mississippi ..., but his duties began to interfere with his writing. His letter of resignation to the Postmaster General is one of the brighter items on file in Washington.... but my advice would be: "Do not attempt this -- unless your name happens to be 'William Faulkner'!"
"As long as I live under the capitalistic system," he wrote, "I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp. This, sir, is my resignation." [bold added]
Every year, millions of people seek to immigrate to the United States, and with good reason: Opportunities to improve their lives abound here. Immigrants and would-be immigrants want to pursue the American dream. Whether or not they would put it in these terms, they want to be free to think and act on their best judgment; they want to produce wealth and keep and use it as they see fit; they want to make better lives for themselves and their families. In other words, foreigners want to come to America for the same reason the Founding Fathers established this republic: They want lives of liberty and happiness.Read the whole thing.
Immigration is the act of moving to a country with the intention of remaining there. Morally speaking, if a person rationally judges that immigrating to America would be good for his life, he should immigrate; a rational morality holds that one should always act on one’s best judgment. But does a foreigner have a right to move to America? And should America welcome him? Yes, he does—and yes, she should. Recognition of these facts was part and parcel of this country’s founding . . .
The latest "eco- scandal" flight took place on February 9 after American was forced to cancel one of its four daily services from Chicago to London.Does this not sound like American made a half-hearted effort to cancel a flight, only to decide to go ahead anyway? It did to me when I first skimmed through the article.
While it was able to find places for nearly all the passengers on the fully-booked flight, five still had to be accommodated. Those who did fly were upgraded to the business class cabin.
Because of a mechanical malfunction, AA flight 90 was 14 hours late leaving Chicago's O'Hare airport on February 8. Though most passengers made other arrangements to London, five lucky passengers unable to be rebooked made the 6,400 kilometer (4,000 mile) flight in business class, with two crew members per passenger.In other words, American needed a plane in London and somehow had to get it there in time to carry a full load of passengers home. So they made the best of a bad situation and boarded five passengers on the otherwise empty jet they decided to ferry to Heathrow. But I'm not going to remain bogged down ranting about media bias because there are bigger fish to fry here.
American Airlines said it chose to continue with the flight because of the full load of passengers waiting at London's Heathrow airport to return to the United States.
"With such a small passenger load we did consider whether we could cancel the flight and re-accommodate the five remaining passengers on other flights," says American Airlines' European spokesperson Anneliese Morris.
"However, this would have left a plane load of west-bound passengers stranded in London Heathrow who were due to fly to the U.S. on the same aircraft." [bold added, links dropped]
Governments must stop granting the aviation industry the unfair privileges that allow this to happen by taxing aviation fuel and including emissions from aviation in international agreements to tackle climate change. [bold added]This is an attempt to gain public sympathy for more government taxation and regulation of the economy. Such regulation will, if Dyer has his way, take the form of preventing airlines from using their own property to make money by, incidentally, providing you and me with reliable transportation.
Before you start laughing at the British Nanny State, check out this ruling of the 2nd Appellate Court in Los Angeles, which forces home schooled kids to attend public school on the grounds that:
“. . . the educational program of the State of California was designed to promote the general welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the personal ideas of any individual in the field of education.”
In other words, the State of California will not tolerate any non-conformist, individual thought. If the parents do not comply, the state will certainly seize the children and place them in a state-approved parental program, since the State of California does not intent to accommodate any personal ideas in the field of parenthood either.
"Apollo and Dionysus" RevisitedIf you know of people in the Boston area who might like to attend, please send them the announcement.
In 1969, Ayn Rand's Ford Hall Forum talk, "Apollo and Dionysus," addressed the near simultaneous events of Woodstock and the first lunar landing. Employing Greek mythology's god of the sun and god of wine, she compared the awe-inspiring accomplishments of NASA's Apollo space program to the famous three-day concert that has come to exemplify the counterculture of the 1960s and the "hippie era." Almost four decades later, Dr. Yaron Brook, President and Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute, reflects on her words and takes a new look at our society's drives toward individualism versus wholeness, light versus darkness, and civilization versus primal nature.
Thursday, May 8
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Old South Meeting House
... Bugs and Daffy represent polar opposites in how to deal with the world. Bugs is at ease, laid back, secure, confident. His lidded eyes and sly smile suggest a sense that he knows the way things work. He's onto the cons of his adversaries. Sometimes he is glimpsed with his elbow on the fireplace mantel of his remarkably well-appointed lair, clad in a smoking jacket. (Jones once said Cary Grant was his inspiration for Bugs. Today it would be George Clooney.) Bugs never raises his voice, never flails at his opponents or at the world. He is rarely an aggressor. When he is pushed too far and must respond, he borrows a quip from Groucho Marx: "Of course, you realize this means war." And then, whether his foe is hapless hunter Elmer Fudd, varmint-shooting Yosemite Sam, or a raging bull, Bugs always prevails.Given the lack of contact with reality of most intellectuals and academics today, the fact most political activists are meddlesome and annoying, and that most Americans have their own business to mind, it is understandable that so many are apolitical, and tune in just long enough (if at all) to decide which candidate they like more (or dislike less) come election time. Foolish, but understandable.
Daffy Duck, by contrast, is ever at war with a hostile world. He fumes, he clenches his fists, his eyes bulge, and his entire body tenses with fury. His response to bad news is a sibilant sneer ("Thanks for the sour persimmons, cousin!"). Daffy is constantly frustrated, sometimes by outside forces, sometimes by his own overwrought response to them. In one classic duel with Bugs, the two try to persuade Elmer Fudd to shoot the other -- until Daffy, tricked by Bugs' wordplay, screams, "Shoot me now!" [bold added]
Moses was probably also on drugs when he saw the "burning bush," suggested Shanon, who said he himself has dabbled with such substances.The technical term for Shanon's "classic phenomenon" is synesthesia.
"The Bible says people see sounds, and that is a classic phenomenon," he said citing the example of religious ceremonies in the Amazon in which drugs are used that induce people to "see music."
He mentioned his own experience when he used ayahuasca, a powerful psychotropic plant, during a religious ceremony in Brazil's Amazon forest in 1991. "I experienced visions that had spiritual-religious connotations," Shanon said.
He said the psychedelic effects of ayahuasca were comparable to those produced by concoctions based on bark of the acacia tree, that is frequently mentioned in the Bible. [bold added, minor edits]
It is cliche, not plagiarism, that is the problem with our stilted, room-temperature political discourse. It used to be that thinking people would say, with at least a shred of pride, that their own convictions would not shrink to fit on a label or on a bumper sticker. But now it seems that the more vapid and vacuous the logo, the more charm (or should that be "charisma"?) it exerts. Take "Yes We Can," for example. It's the sort of thing parents might chant encouragingly to a child slow on the potty-training uptake. As for "We Are the People We Have Been Waiting For" (in which case, one can only suppose that now that we have arrived, we can all go home), I didn't think much of it when Rep. Dennis Kucinich used it at an anti-war rally in 2004 ("We Are the People We Are Waiting For" being his version) or when Thomas Friedman came across it at an MIT student event last December. He wrote, by the way, that just hearing it gave him -- well, you guess what it gave him. Hope? That's exactly right. [bold added]True, but only up to a point. The real problem is what underlies all these cliches: The recycling of stale old ideas which most people would reject out of hand if they were stated openly.
The reason that some conservatives fear Ayn Rand is that, ultimately, they can't defend America philosophically. Conservatives don’t like the fact that Rand defends reason, objectivity, and certainty--and they won't; they don't like the fact that she defends rational self-interest, moral absolutism, and rationally grounded virtues--and they won't; they don't like the fact that she defends individual rights and capitalism--and they won't. Because they won't defend these philosophical principles, they can't defend America. That is conservatism's dirty little secret. [bold added]I went to a small, conservative college, and had a professor take the trouble to mail me clippings of stories -- some bilge from one of the Brandens and something, I think, from National Review -- that attacked Rand personally, but failed to answer any of her arguments. He had promised to send something that would "prove" Ayn Rand wrong. He obviously failed.
No Substitute for Victory:
The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism
Who: Dr. John Lewis, speaker for the Ayn Rand Institute
What: A talk and Q & A explaining why we are losing the war against Islamic totalitarianism, and what we must do to win it
Where: Georgia Tech, Smith Building Auditorium, Room 105, Atlanta, GA
When: Thursday, March 13, 2008, at 8 PM
Admission is FREE.
Description: Over six years after Manhattan was viciously attacked by Islamic holy warriors, the world is still held hostage to their rants and their bombs. Iraq is in turmoil, Syria is emboldened, and Iran, in pursuit of nuclear weapons, intends to wipe Israel off the map and destroy the Great Satan, America. What went wrong?
This lecture will show how our failure to identify Islamic Totalitarianism as the ideology of our enemies has made it impossible to confront them. Drawing on the lessons of America's victory over Japan, this lecture will challenge us to reject our assumptions about the nature of a "just war," and to demand the removal, by force, of Islamic Totalitarianism from the face of the earth.
For more information on this talk, please e-mail email@example.com
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Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand's Morality of Egoism
Who: Craig Biddle, editor and publisher of "The Objective Standard"
What: A talk and Q & A examining Atlas Shrugged and explaining Ayn Rand's morality of rational egoism
Where: University of Virginia, Cocke Hall, Gibson Room, Charlottesville, VA
When: Wednesday, March 12, 2008, at 7:30 pm
Admission is FREE.
Description: In her novel Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand set forth a new morality, which she called rational egoism. In contrast to altruism--the idea that one should self-sacrificially serve others--rational egoism holds that one should selfishly pursue one's own life-serving values. Against predation--the practice of sacrificing others for one's own ends--Rand's egoism holds that sacrificing others is immoral and impractical. In contrast to hedonism--the idea that pleasure is the standard of value--Rand's egoism holds that the long-range requirements of one's life and happiness constitute the standard of value. And against moral relativism--the notion that "anything goes"--Rand's egoism holds that morality is absolute: Nothing "goes" except that which promotes one's life while respecting the rights of others.
Rand's egoism is a system of observation-based principles regarding the requirements of human life, personal happiness, social harmony, and political freedom. In this talk, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Atlas Shrugged, Craig Biddle presents the basic principles of rational egoism, contrasts them with the alternatives, and shows why everyone who wants to live happily and freely needs to understand and embrace them.
Bio: Craig Biddle is the editor and publisher of "The Objective Standard" and the author of "Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It." He is currently writing a book on the principles of rational thinking and the fallacies that are violations of those principles. In addition to writing, he lectures and teaches workshops on ethical and epistemological issues from an Objectivist perspective.
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Darwin and the Discovery of Evolution
Who: Dr. Keith Lockitch, resident fellow focusing on science and environmentalism at the Ayn Rand Institute
What: A talk and Q & A exploring Darwin's life and work, and describing the steps by which he came to discover and prove the theory of evolution by natural selection
Where: New York University, Kimmel Center, Room 802, New York, NY
When: Thursday, March 6, 2008, at 7:00 PM
Admission is FREE: Attendees must RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Description: The theory of evolution is often disparaged by its opponents as being "just a theory"--i.e., a speculative hypothesis with little basis in hard, scientific facts. But this claim carries with it the implied accusation that Charles Darwin was "just a theorist"--i.e., that he was merely an armchair scientist and that his life's work was nothing more than an exercise in arbitrary speculation. A look at Darwin's pioneering discoveries, however, reveals the grave injustice of this accusation. Darwin was not "just a theorist" and evolution is not "just a theory." In this talk, Dr. Lockitch explores Darwin's life and work, focusing on the steps by which he came to discover and prove the theory of evolution by natural selection.
Bio: Dr. Keith Lockitch is a resident fellow focusing on science and environmentalism at ARI. He teaches writing courses for the Objectivist Academic Center's undergraduate program and a history of physics course for the graduate program. His writings have appeared in publications such as the Orange County Register, San Francisco Chronicle, Australia's Herald Sun, Canberra Times, and USA Today magazine. Dr. Lockitch has been a frequent guest on radio shows such as The Thom Hartmann Program on Air America Radio. Prior to joining ARI in 2003, Dr. Lockitch was a postdoctoral researcher in physics at the University of Illinois and at Pennsylvania State University.
For more information on this talk, please e-mail email@example.com.
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Ayn Rand's Ideas: An Introduction
Who: Elan Journo, resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute
What: A talk presenting an introduction to Ayn Rand's philosophy. A Q&A will follow.
Where: UC Davis, Social Sciences Building, Room 1100, Davis, CA
When: Thursday, March 6, 2008, at 7:00pm
Admission is Free
Description: With the publication of her two major novels The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), Ayn Rand achieved spectacular and enduring success. Today, interest in Ayn Rand continues to burgeon: her books sell upwards of half a million copies per year, and university courses on her works are increasing in number. Underlying her fiction is a comprehensive system of ideas--a philosophy (as she put it) for living on earth: Objectivism. She wrote: "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."
What, specifically, does Objectivism advocate? What guidance does it offer man for everyday living? What does it say about ethics? Politics? These are some of the questions to be considered in this lecture. (No prior knowledge of philosophy or of Ayn Rand’s works is assumed.)
Bio: Elan Journo is a resident fellow focusing on foreign policy issues at the Ayn Rand Institute. His Op-Eds have appeared in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Houston Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chicago Sun-Times, and Orange County Register. Mr. Journo's articles have also been published in major newspapers abroad, including Australia's Herald Sun, Canberra Times and Canada's Globe and Mail. Mr. Journo is also a contributing writer for The Objective Standard, a quarterly journal of culture and politics. Mr. Journo has lectured in college campuses and has given numerous radio interviews on foreign policy and the threat of Islamic totalitarianism
For more information on this talk, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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Ayn Rand's Ideas: An Introduction
Who: Elan Journo, resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute
What: A talk presenting an introduction to Ayn Rand's philosophy. A Q&A will follow.
Where: Wrinston Auditorium, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI
When: Friday, March 7, 2008, at 7:30pm
Admission is Free
Description: With the publication of her two major novels The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), Ayn Rand achieved spectacular and enduring success. Today, interest in Ayn Rand continues to burgeon: her books sell upwards of half a million copies per year, and university courses on her works are increasing in number. Underlying her fiction is a comprehensive system of ideas--a philosophy (as she put it) for living on earth: Objectivism. She wrote: "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."
What, specifically, does Objectivism advocate? What guidance does it offer man for everyday living? What does it say about ethics? Politics? These are some of the questions to be considered in this lecture. (No prior knowledge of philosophy or of Ayn Rand's works is assumed.)
Bio: Elan Journo is a resident fellow focusing on foreign policy issues at the Ayn Rand Institute. His Op-Eds have appeared in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Houston Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chicago Sun-Times, and Orange County Register. Mr. Journo's articles have also been published in major newspapers abroad, including Australia's Herald Sun, Canberra Times and Canada's Globe and Mail. Mr. Journo is also a contributing writer for The Objective Standard, a quarterly journal of culture and politics. Mr. Journo has lectured in college campuses and has given numerous radio interviews on foreign policy and the threat of Islamic totalitarianism
For more information on this talk, please e-mail email@example.com
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Irvine, CA--The European Union has just fined Microsoft another $1.35 billion under antitrust law, bringing the company's total EU fines to $2.5 billion.
"This fine should be regarded by all for what it is: an act of government theft," said Alex Epstein, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute. "It is not proper for a government to impose a financial penalty unless a company is violating someone else's property rights. But Microsoft has violated no one's rights. It has sold a valuable product to willing customers and made voluntary agreements with willing developers.
"The European Union, on the other hand, has flagrantly violated the rights of Microsoft. It has forced the company to spend untold man-years tied up in court, submitting to invasive EU probes, and providing as much new documentation as EU antitrust chief Neelie Kroes feels like demanding. And it is seizing $2.5 billion of the company's earnings.
"That a productive company doing its best to succeed in the fiercely competitive software and online markets can be fined for adding a media player feature to its Windows software, or setting the price for access to its secret software codes, is a travesty. But it must be recognized as a travesty that flows from the nature of antitrust laws.
"Antitrust laws regard successful competitors on a free market as dangerous 'monopolists,' and authorize governments to punish these companies however they see fit. For over 100 years, some of the world's most productive companies, from Standard Oil to General Electric to IBM, have been persecuted under antitrust for expanding markets and lowering prices.
"It is time to put an end to this injustice. The EU can start by paying back to Microsoft's shareholders every penny it has taken from them."
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At 2 pounds, it's easy to tote.The bonus for me is that I normally use Linux, anyway! No "new gadget" learning curve. No software incompatibility issues. No vendor lock-in. Oh yeah. Its "hard drive" is actually flash memory, so you don't have to worry as much about damaging your computer if you drop it. The company's web site even touts it as "shock-proof".
At about $350, it's incredibly cheap compared to, say, my old Vaio laptop.
I decided not to install Windows. [That one's a no-brainer. --ed] The Linux software suite is very capable and loads a lot faster than Windows. The Open Office word processor handled some short edits of the speech I'm giving tomorrow.
The whole thing is incredibly user friendly. Open the box. Power it up. Everything's loaded and ready to rock and roll.
Project Lifeline: Collaboration or Intimidation?
By Alex Epstein
Since the subprime meltdown began, the Bush administration has pledged to act to prevent foreclosures--but without interfering in the market or bailing anyone out. How is this possible? The administration's answer: by "facilitating" what it calls "private" initiatives to prevent foreclosures. In December the administration announced, in conjunction with mortgage industry leaders, HOPE NOW--a "private sector effort" to give hundreds of thousands of subprime borrowers a free, five-year extension on low introductory teaser rates. Now, the administration has announced Project Lifeline, under which participating servicers (those who collect loan payments for mortgage investors) will offer a 30-day pause in the foreclosure process to borrowers whose mortgage payments are 90 or more days overdue.
The leader of these initiatives, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, repeats endlessly that these are "private" initiatives adopted because they are in "everyone's interest"--not government-mandated schemes. But if that is truly the case, why is the government involved at all? What does it bring to the table that the market can't?
Paulson says government is necessary because servicers face an "unprecedented volume of resets that cannot be addressed through individual, loan-by-loan negotiations." It requires, he says, a "streamlined" approach "facilitated" by Washington.
But why? Grant for a moment the dubious premise that the entire mortgage and finance industries can't do one or two million loan-by-loan negotiations (the anticipated volume of potential subprime foreclosures)--even though they process millions of new loan applications a year, and even though individualized processing, by optimally assessing each case, could potentially save $10s of billions. If large-scale "streamlining" is truly necessary to protect investor interests, servicers and investors are perfectly capable of "streamlining" different classes of borrowers as they judge best.
So the question remains: What is the government bringing to the table? Is it as simple as: it came up with an ingenious financial plan? Hardly. Consider the rate freeze, which offers five extra years of low rates to practically any subprime borrower with bad credit (a FICO score of less than 660) and little-to-no equity in his home (less than 3 percent) who bought during the height of the housing boom. Paulson claims this makes sense "because we all know it is in everyone's interest--homeowner, servicer, investor . . . to avoid foreclosures that are preventable." Not true.
There are many cases in which it is investors' interest to foreclose, because the cost of foreclosure is lower than the hit taken on a rate freeze. For instance, it might make sense to foreclose if a borrower shows no prospect of being able to pay his regular rates five years down the line. It might make sense if the borrower's teaser rate is so low (say, 1 percent) that an extension would mean huge losses. It might make sense not to freeze a rate but to negotiate a compromise between the teaser rate and the reset rate. What is certain is that it does not make sense to follow Paulson's cookie-cutter approach, which would lead to billions in unnecessary investor losses--a "private sector" bailout of borrowers that would actually break servicers' contractual obligation to serve the financial interests of investors.
And yet over 90 percent of servicers are in HOPE NOW. Why? Because of the real attribute the government brings to the table in "collaborations"--not mortgage-handling capabilities or financial ingenuity, but the power to coerce and intimidate.
If an ordinary citizen proposed to the mortgage industry that it bail out borrowers through a widespread rate freeze and call it a "private sector effort," the proposal would be dismissed as a joke. But when the government proposes such an initiative to private industry, all participants know that it can do great damage to them if they refuse--and can grant them huge favors if they comply. Today's HOPE NOW and Project Lifeline participants, for instance, can be harmed by the passage of "anti-predatory-lending" laws, which would expose them to huge lawsuits by borrowers who claim to have been in the dark about the contracts they signed. These participants can also be helped with unearned handouts--with cheap Fed money, with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac taking risky mortgages off their hands, and with a bailout in the future if, say, they face bankruptcy because of sloppy lending practices.
With all these sticks and carrots on the line, is it any wonder that the mortgage industry has walked in lockstep with whatever the administration proposes? It is impossible to know exactly what combination of winking assurances and veiled threats brought so much of the finance and mortgage industry into these "collaborations." What we can know is that nothing resembling economic freedom and respect for property rights is occurring--just coercion, bailouts, and the abridgement of contracts.
What today's market desperately needs is for lenders and borrowers to bear the full consequences of their own bad decisions, and for the government to stop manipulating the market, violating property rights, and inviting future disasters. It is time to stop letting the Bush administration pretend it can have government-dictated economic policy and a free market, too.
On the face of it, the development of a European identity seems like a positive thing. Indeed, the establishment of the European Union has resulted in many positive developments for that continent. However, Europeans should not allow themselves to be seduced with a kiss.
In 1951, the European Coal Steel Community (ECSC) was formed, with the express intent of preventing industries essentially connected with the production of war materials to be wielded for that purpose. By coordinating production through a supranational “High Authority” the system was to remove trade barriers for these industries and form a common market. In principle this market could also be joined by other nations. Thus it represented in one regard a positive thing: the reduction of trade barriers.
It must be understood, however, that this was not “free trade.” It was supranational socialism. The coal and steel industries were not to be left free to trade across national boundaries, thus dissolving their national associations through mutually respectful and advantageous trading, they were to be directed in their activities by a supranational government agency.
The model of the ECSC was broadened in 1957 to other industries in order “preserve peace and liberty and to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe.” The means were the same. Now, a broader “customs union” would be formed, which would remove internal trade barriers and establish a common tariff system for external trade. Again the system was open to other European countries. Again, however, it involved supranational socialism, especially in the area of agriculture, where price levels were to be established not by markets, but by government officials. Because the number of industries involved was greatly expanded, some countries were worried about their ability to manipulate industries themselves and the power of the supranational authority was reduced.
The removal of “internal” customs barriers was, of course, a positive development. As was the subsequent Schengen Agreement of 1985, which removed restriction on the freedom of movement of laborers. These both meant a decline in the power of national governments over the individual. They also can said to have fostered a great sense of “community” among peoples, who were now more mobile and interconnected.
In connection to this, I am reminded of a personal experience of mine that always stuck with me. I was riding my mountain bike across Europe with a friend after graduating from college–such a cliché, I know . On this trip, I was impressed by this sense of community among the young people of Europe. I recall in particular sitting before the Trevi Fountain talking to another traveller. He noted, with considerable embarrassment, that he had never visited this famous place before, stating that this was strange given that this was his home. “Oh, are you from Rome?” I asked. “No, I’m from Holland.” I was briefly puzzled, but he clarified. “I mean, Europe is my home.”
As heartwarming as this sentiment seems, and admitting that for many European youths there is a certain benevolent idealism involved in the idea of European Union, when one moves past this youthful perspective and penetrates to the philosophical essence of the European identity, it takes on a different significance. The idea of being “European” is still fundamentally collectivist in nature, and thus necessarily exclusive and antagonistic as well. On an ideological level, Europe is largely being brought together in order to resist or counterbalance a perceived threat — the United States and the ideas of American Enlightenment.
(Continued in Part 4.)
In a move that could be the most enduring imprint of U.S. influence in the Arab world, American military officials in Baghdad have begun a crash program to outfit the entire Iraqi army with M-16 rifles.
Imagine if, after defeating Japan in WWII, the U.S. military trained every Japanese soldier in our military tactics, and handed them our latest rifle. That would be insane, right? Right?
Many "independent" voters do not hold much of an explicit political philosophy. They aren't like Objectivists who have strong views on an ideal political system, but do not like either party. Rather, the typical "independent" has accepted the principles of current status quo. He thinks that the problems lie only in implementation (i.e. bad politicians), not with political philosophy. [bold added]John McCain's crusade for campaign finance "reform" is a perfect example of how this type of thinking can make our problems far worse even in the process of attempting to solve them.
[E]ven though the center-of-gravity remains unchanged in the middle, the more people there are crowding around the middle, the faster and more likely such policies will get enacted at all. As long as enough people from both sides are far from the middle, they will delay and fight changes, and government is slowed down a bit.And this is just one more thing that makes McCain especially scary to me. He'll save us from the frying pan of gridlock by casting us into the fire of a consensus of statists.
This annoys the typical independent "in the middle", because they see the bickering and the "gridlock" and think it's bad. They want their politicians to stop fighting, and meet at the middle.
In his farewell address, George Washington warned against entangling alliances with the outside world. His words were headed by a century of American presidents. Today, however, the United States is thoroughly entangled in a web of commitments throughout the world, and especially the Middle East. Learn how this tragic deviation from a foreign policy of independence to one of internationalism and interventionism occurred by joining me for lecture 2 in The Islamist Entanglement: America and the Middle East.
In this lecture, available as an individual purchase, we will summarize the foreign policy of America’s founders, culminating in the Monroe Doctrine of 1823. Then we will see, in the wake of the Civil War and Reconstruction, the gradual undercutting and abandonment of this doctrine by presidents seemingly committed to it — from Grover Cleveland to Theodore Roosevelt, and ultimately Woodrow Wilson.
The result has been a dismal succession of American sacrifices, from WWI to Vietnam to Iraq, interspersed with brief but futile attempts to define a foreign policy of self-interest in the context of a growing number of international commitments.
Of special interest in this treatment will be America’s conduct towards the Middle East in the context of the Cold War. From the advent of this period onward, America has attempted to maintain a commitment to freedom in the region, first against Soviet agression and subsequently against radical Islam. A succession of presidential doctrines has evidenced the desire to integrate this idealistic commitment with America’s (practical) interests, only to find that not only has the region not embraced American aid or American values, but rather violently rejected them. America now finds itself the primary target of Islamic hatred throughout the globe.
For a complete explanation of the Islamic world’s rejection of America, one must first understand the story of Britain in the Middle East (Lecture 1 of The Islamist Entanglement) and trace the cultural reaction of the various Middle Eastern nations to their contacts with the West (Lectures 3-9). This sets the proper context for a discussion of America’s past, present, and–undoubtedly–future failures, which will be the emphasis in the final lecture, lecture 10, of the series.
To start participating in The Islamist Entanglement find out about how you can purchase individual lectures here. Act now, and you can participate in the live teleconference lecture this Wednesday evening, 8:30 PM Central.
Everyone knows the First Amendment protects freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly. How many remember that, in addition, the First Amendment protects a fifth freedom -- to lobby?Some will argue that not all lobbyists are good, to which Krauthammer offers the following:
Of course it doesn't use the word lobby. It calls it the right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Lobbyists are people hired to do that for you, so that you can actually stay home with the kids and remain gainfully employed rather than spend your life in the corridors of Washington.
To hear the candidates in this presidential campaign, you'd think lobbying is just one notch below waterboarding, a black art practiced by the great malefactors of wealth to keep the middle class in a vise and loose upon the nation every manner of scourge: oil dependency, greenhouse gases, unpayable mortgages and those tiny entrees you get at French restaurants.
There is a defense of even bad lobbying. It goes like this: You wouldn't need to be seeking advantage if the federal government had not appropriated for itself in the 20th century all kinds of powers, regulations, intrusions and manipulations (often through the tax code) that had never been presumed in the 19th century and certainly were never imagined by the Founders. What appears to be rent-seeking is thus redress of a larger grievance -- insufferable government meddling in what had traditionally been considered an area of free enterprise.I agree, but I think one needs to take the argument a step further. No one has a right to regulate or vet the speech of others merely because they disagree with it. As much as the rational may detest the words and ideas of the irrational, the protection of the rights of the rational demand that all non-fraudulent and non-defamatory speech be protected under the law—which includes the right to lobby one's government. Those who seek to shackle lobbyists and regulate political campaigners attack a fundamental freedom: the right to persuade others of the merits of one's views, yet that is precisely what we are seeing more and more of today.
In the quest to find an electronic cure for blindness, some researchers are experimenting with brain-computer interfaces. While promising, this is an expensive and long-term solution. Another innovative approach is seeing with sound, which uses an inexpensive home-made setup to project a sonic representation of images to the user. I downloaded a free copy of the software to give it a try – and it works. I was able to quickly memorize the “sonic shape” of my face, and move the webcam around to focus on my face without looking at it. I was even able to tell how far away my face was by the duration of the signal. The sounds are the same whether you are “viewing” images on a computer screen or reality.
Despite evidence of their abilities, many bright, capable people do not experience an inner sense of competence or success, believing instead that they have somehow managed to fool others into thinking they are smarter and more competent than they "know" themselves to be. [bold added]If the emphasis on innate ability rings a bell, it may be because you recall an intriguing article I blogged some time ago about how flattering children for their intelligence stunts the development of a work ethic and genuine self-esteem.
Of those praised for their effort, 90 percent chose the harder set of puzzles. Of those praised for their intelligence, a majority chose the easy test. The "smart" kids took the cop-out.I think it would be inaccurate to claim that a tendency to flatter children for "being smart" is the sole cause of impostor syndrome, but I suspect that it is a major culprit, and not just for those being flattered.
Why did this happen? "When we praise children for their intelligence," Dweck wrote in her study summary, "we tell them that this is the name of the game: Look smart, don't risk making mistakes." And that's what the fifth-graders had done: They'd chosen to look smart and avoid the risk of being embarrassed. [bold added]
Such sentiments seem at odds with entrepreneurship. Starting companies, after all, requires plus-size confidence, and few positions are more exposed than the summit of one's own business. In addition, factors that often contribute to the impostor syndrome -- such as poor academic records and uninspiring early careers -- are badges of pride for many entrepreneurs, who often speak derisively of M.B.A.'s and have made "fake it till you make it" a mantra. [bold added]These people have had brilliance pounded into their skulls as an important quality all their lives. And they have also had it pounded into their skulls that they lack it. But they nevertheless do work hard, and they do in fact apply their minds successfully to problems.
In other ways, though, entrepreneurship is a perfect breeding ground for the syndrome. "People who have had bad experiences in organizations may see entrepreneurship as the only way out because it allows them to control their lives," says Manfred Kets de Vries, a psychoanalyst and professor of leadership development at Insead, in France. With no boss, company founders can avoid critical scrutiny. Buffered by their relative control of the environment, entrepreneurs may feel ill-equipped to survive in the outside world. "I've always felt if I stopped doing Cornucopia, who would hire me?" says Stockwell. "If I think about it rationally, I know there's good reason I'm successful. But it wouldn't take a lot to shake my confidence." Adds Steven Myhill-Jones, CEO of Latitude Geographics Group, a $2.5 million geographic-analysis software company in Victoria, British Columbia: "I know my company, but I don't have skills that I could go apply somewhere else. I feel like a lot of what I've done has been a fluke or good timing." [bold added]Never mind that, as Louis Pasteur put it, "Chance favors the prepared mind." Someone who is not used to knowing his virtues as virtues -- but is used to not enjoying praise for the usual reasons it is handed out -- is going to fail to appraise himself in the way he deserves and he will expect others not to appreciate him. Only there is a twist: Since he "knows" that success demands a superior intellect, he feels a constant, nagging fear of exposure rather than occasional indignation.
Another Achilles' heel has to do with expectations. The public assumes CEOs will be knowledgeable about every aspect of their businesses, and business is getting more complex. In this respect, those with scant education are especially vulnerable. "It's like the skills I have are just commonsense skills, like being able to relate to people," says [Bud] Stockwell. "They don't feel as valid as knowledge-based skills." [Steven] Myhill-Jones, for his part, is the founder of a software company who knows very little about technology. "To this day I can't do the work we do," he says. "I can make a comment on the user interface or something. But I don't understand the underlying technology." [bold added]Note that in addition to selling his well-honed interpersonal skills short as mere common sense (i.e., an ability everyone has), Myhill-Jones also accepts the false premise that he should understand technology in minute detail.
The European Union is an embryonic supranational political entity. What does this mean?
The first thing to notice about the term supranationalism is that it involves the concept of nationalism. In other words, it is rooted in collectivism. Unlike internationalism, however, supranationalism does not hold that the solution to the friction between national collectives is a co-operative association. It advocates the institution of an overarching, subordinating political authority that sacrifices the goals of the smaller national collectives to a larger organic entity, in this case Europe.
Perversely, the advocacy of this position is rooted in the recognition that collectivism kills. Whether it is nineteenth century French or Austrian imperialism, or twentieth century German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, or Russian Communism, the result is the same: war, conquest, oppression. Supranationalists are willing to accept the overwhelming historical case against national collectivism, however they see it as a problem of scope, not of substance. To them, the implementation of collectivism along national lines does not subsume the individual to a large enough collective to prevent him from engaging in his natural, predatory “selfish” behavior. In fact it seems to facilitate it, by providing those with unharnessed predatory proclivities with the national instruments of war.
To stop man’s supposedly innately destructive character from actualizing itself, the supranationalists propose a broader and stricter form of collectivism. Internationalism, in their view, is too lax. It doesn’t have the mechanisms necessary to force aggressive regimes to sacrifice their ambitions to international consensus. This is especially so because it doesn’t have a way of coercing those nations which pledge to stop agressors to do so on a purely altruistic basis. Supranationalism, by contrast, involves such a mechanism — a coercive apparatus that penetrates and overrides national governments.
At the present time this mechanism is in its infancy. The European Union budget is about 1/8th that of the British Government, and about 1/20th that of the US government. And half the budget is dedicated to agricultural subsidies to boot. So it’s a “small” government. Still, the European Parliament has representation by population, rather than by country, and it has growing legislative power. It is also has an expanding executive power as part of the European Common Foreign Security Policy–which aspires to supplant NATO (if only!). The European Court of Justice in 2005 ruled that EU Law takes precedence over national law for member states.
It’s hardly surprising to find that national politicians are often at odds with the EU, and especially its courts. Nor is it surprising that a major issue relating to the latest round of attempts to expand EU power has been the question of secession. For a “United States of Europe” to come about, a new allegiance has to develop more fully in people’s minds: Europism.
(Continued in Part 3.)
I will be on the radio next Monday, March 3, from 4:00 to 6:00 PM EST. [That's TODAY!] WBGU FM is Bowling Green University radio. The show is "Political Animals," hosted by graduate students qua political junkies. The show has had some well-known guests; Jonah Goldberg was on last week, and they get a lot of play in Canada.Listen and call in, if you can!
My ostensive topic is the election, although I told them I'll have nothing to say about the "candidates" per se, except to note the crappiness of it all, and to offer an alternative in Ayn Rand''s thought. I expect some Ron Paul adherents to call in, and I expect to have to disgorge on the libertarians and "anti-state versus anti-statism."
Radio is 88.1 FM in the Bowling Green, Ohio area. It may be heard on the web at http://wbgufm.com/tunein.php
Please call in. You can do so at (local) 419-372-8810, or (long-distance) 888-7-WBGUFM. You can email during the show at firstname.lastname@example.org (they read emails on-air).
Here's a question to think about over the weekend: Is capitalism immoral?My apologies for posting the entry in its entirety, but I wanted to include the mention of Ayn Rand, since that included the false claim that the US isn't anti-capitalist.
Stefan Theil seems to think that is what is being taught to European school kids. In an article in the January/February edition of Foreign Policy magazine, Stefan Theil concluded that Europe, particularly France and Germany, are teaching their children a "philosophy of failure," based on the idea that capitalism is immoral, savage and unhealthy. Theil - whose day job is European economics editor for Newsweek - cites a 2005 poll in which only 36% of French citizens said they support the free enterprise system; 47% of Germans said in 2007 that they support socialist ideals. Theil mentions that anti-American attitudes may be, in part, anti-capitalist.
Theil, who studied French and German financial textbooks as a fellow for the German Marshall Fund, compiles a couple of quotes from the books that guide Europe's impressionable young into what he calls a "deep anti-market bias." One German textbook intones, "The worldwide call for...more deregulation in reality means a grab for the material lifeblood of the modern nation-state," and a French one teaches, "Globalization implies 'subjugation of the world to the market,' which constitutes a true cultural danger."
Well, now you know why foreign companies have such a hard time buying anything in Germany or France. (And why France's Suez and Gaz de France were forced to merge with each other rather than accept foreign buyers, and why NYSE-Euronext has a big Paris base, as does Alcatel-Lucent.) But you knew that already.
In contrast, it would seem easy to conclude that "Western-style capitalism" is actually only practiced by the U.S. and Britain. Those two countries are the biggest sellers of their own homegrown assets, according to a report this week from Canada's Secor Conseil.
But the U.S. is hardly immune to protecting its national borders, particularly when it comes to China, as CNOOC will tell you. Or how about the long to-do about China's Huawei's involvement in Bain Capital's $2.2 billion bid for 3Com. It's America that's having trouble with the bid, and America's not, as far as we can tell, anti-capitalist. (That's why Ayn Rand lived here). And some of the policies that Thiel considers anti-capitalist, like a "rich-people tax," are espoused not just by Germany's Angela Merkel; they're also supported by American Democrats, including Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
So Deal Journal Readers, what would be the ideal U.S. textbook entry addressing the morality or immorality of our globalized capitalist system?
"What would be the ideal U.S. textbook entry addressing the morality or immorality of our globalized capitalist system?"The comments so far are mostly horrid: either openly anti-capitalist or pragmatist. So I'd encourage people to post something arguing for the morality of capitalism.
I'd recommend Ayn Rand's essay "What is Capitalism?" from _Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal_. Rand clearly and persuasively argues that capitalism is the only moral political/economic system. Only capitalism respects the inescapable metaphysical fact that a person must reason in order to live. By recognizing individual rights, particularly by banning force and fraud, capitalism protects each person's capacity to act according to his own rational judgment in pursuit of his values. To varying degrees, every other economic system makes the pursuit of the values required for life impossible. (Today, that's most dramatically illustrated by the starvation of North Korea under communism.)
However, America is not a capitalist nation: we have a mixed economy in which the government routinely violates individual rights with welfare programs, antitrust laws, environmental regulations, corporate subsidies, drug laws, and more. As much as Ayn Rand loved America, she would not defend the status quo.
"Mr. Buckley's greatest achievement was making conservatism - not just electoral Republicanism, but conservatism as a system of ideas - respectable in liberal postwar America."The Times does not say what ideas comprised that system. Further on it notes that
"The liberal primacy Mr. Buckley challenged had begun with the New Deal and so accelerated in the next generation that Lionel Trilling, one of America's leading intellectuals, wrote in 1950: 'In the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation.'"The article is wrong that the liberalism Buckley opposed had begun with the New Deal; it began long before that, long before World War I. But Trilling, at least, was partly right; the dominant political ideas after World War II were liberal collectivist ones. Opposing them were "conservative" ideas, with the Republicans especially becoming vaguer and vaguer about what it was that they wished to "conserve." Their vision of a limited government republic was growing dimmer and hazier, and in light of their tepid opposition to (and in many instances, of their endorsement of) statist policies, their occasional harking back to the days of freedom, liberty and free enterprise was growing more and more hollow. They had no compelling answers to the liberal ideas.
"Buckley's aim was to turn the Right-wing movement in America into a recognizable, politically definable and powerful force, and to cleanse it of what some of its critics saw as leanings toward anti-Semitism and Fascism....Buckley was often credited with being the originator of the conservative thrust of the post-war years, which he saw as the antidote to the liberal philosophy which he believed had been dominant since the New Deal of President Franklin Roosevelt....[His] greatest moment, arguably, came when Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter for the presidency in 1980. The fall of Communism vindicated much of what he fought for for decades."It was Reagan's tenure in the White House that legitimatised the religious character of Republican conservatism and gave it impetus, the results of which we are seeing today not only in President Bush's faith-based initiative and in his war policy, but also in a religious revival in America that straddles left and right.
"...[I]t ties capitalism to religion. The ideological position of National Review amounts, in effect, to the following: In order to accept freedom and capitalism, one has to believe in God or some form of religion, some form of supernatural mysticism. Which means that there are no rational grounds on which one can defend capitalism. Which amounts to an admission that reason is on the side of capitalism's enemies, that a slave society or a dictatorship is a rational system, and that only on the ground of mystic faith can one believe in freedom. Nothing more derogatory to capitalism could ever be alleged, and the exact opposite is true. Capitalism is the only system that can be defended and validated by reason."In commentary in the New York Daily News of March 11, 1982, shortly after Rand's death, Buckley revealed a petulance that cloaked his malice for her and for reason:
"She was an eloquent and persuasive anti-statist, and if only she had left it at that, but no. She had to declare that God did not exist, that altruism was despicable, that only self-interest was good and noble."In short, his animus for Rand was based essentially on her refusing to relegate reason in the role of handmaiden of theology, on her divorcing reality from mysticism, on her "anti-statism" integrating an "eternal vigilance" against any tyranny over the mind of man as well as over his body. Let no one doubt that Buckley understood Rand's philosophy to the core, that he feared it, and chose as his weapon against it the Toohey-esqe tactic of snickering laughter. For that reason alone, he should be damned and no respectful esteem granted him.
William F. Buckley is dead. So, incidentally, is the philosophy he sought to launch dead; it was in fact stillborn.
If that first paragraph sounds like a rather graceless and gloating way to talk about the recently deceased, I'm paraphrasing Buckley's column on the death of Ayn Rand:
"Ayn Rand is dead," wrote conservative author William F. Buckley in an obituary in 1982 about the best-selling novelist-philosopher. "So, incidentally, is the philosophy she sought to launch dead; it was in fact stillborn."
Objectivism was not dead in 1982, nor is it dead now. It thrives and grows more influential every year. It was ignored, however, in 1982, and there were misconceptions about it due to dishonesty and smears such as Whittaker Chambers's vile review of Atlas Shrugged in National Review that likened the philosophy of the book to Hitler's genocide of the Jews.
Unlike Objectivism, conservatism is dead, and Buckley lived long enough to see its death, if he was still paying attention. We now have a Republican party that has made its peace with the New Deal and is a big government, welfare state party. Buckley deserves some of the blame, even though his stated goal was limited government.
But Buckley himself was not as consistent about free market economics as many conservatives even back in the 1960's. He always had pragmatist streak:
All this adds up to a conservatism premised on firm principle and opportune adjustment alike, a dialectic impressed upon Buckley by two of his early mentors, James Burnham and Whittaker Chambers, both ex-Communists with well-developed aversions to strict party lines. When conservatism emerged from the wilderness in the 1960s, it was Buckley who insisted its elected tribunes be given room to operate outside the strictures of "the movement." In 1967, he defended the right's brightest star, Ronald Reagan, who, as governor of California, had enlarged, rather than slashed, the state's budget. Buckley calmly spelled out the reasons and concluded his case by quoting Chambers: "A conservatism that cannot find room in its folds for the actualities is a conservatism that is not a political force, or even a twitch: it has become a literary whimsy."
So from the beginning he defended Republicans acting like Democrats in order to get elected.
Buckley's disastrous mission was to integrate religion and capitalism. It doesn't work. As Robert Tracinski writes:
Fusionism is unstable because its basic premise--that the moral foundation of free markets and Americanism can be left to the religious traditionalists--is false. For five decades, under Buckley's influence, conservatives have ceded to the religious right the job of providing the moral fire to sustain their movement. But they are discovering that the religionists do not have a strong moral commitment to free markets. In fact, the religious right seems to be working on its own version of "fusion"--with the religious left.
Wednesday's Washington Post provided the latest example: a column by former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson on the shift to the left among evangelical Christians, who "respond to a message of social justice and community values, not only to a message of rugged individualism and unrestricted markets." Gerson insists that "Christianity indicts oppressive government--but also the soul-destroying excesses that sometimes come in free markets and consumerism." So much for traditional religious values serving as the basis for advocacy of capitalism.
The reason for this shift toward the religious left is that religion cannot support the real basis for capitalism and a strong American national defense: a morality of rational self-interest. Christianity is too deeply committed to a philosophy of self-abnegation, a destructive morality that urges men to renounce any interest in worldly goods and to turn the other check in the face of aggression. The early Christian saints, for example, abandoned all material comforts and lived in caves--which is to say that their closest contemporary disciples are the radical environmentalists. As for foreign policy, St. Augustine spent a fair bit of his massive apologia for Christianity, The City of God, explaining to the Romans that being sacked by barbarians was good for them because it taught them the virtue of humility and cured them of their attachment to material wealth.
Ayn Rand wrote about National Review in a letter to Barry Goldwater in 1960:
"This leads me to the subject of the National Review. I am profoundly opposed to it--not because it is a religious magazine, but because it pretends that it is not. There are religious magazines which one can respect, even while disagreeing with their views. But the fact that the National Review poses as a secular political magazine, while following a strictly religious "party line," can have but one purpose: to slip religious goals by stealth on those who would not accept them openly, to "bore from within," to tie Conservatism to religion, and thus to take over the American Conservatives. This attempt comes from a pressure group wider than the National Review, but the National Review is one of its manifestations. . . .
"The attempt to use religion as a moral justification of Conservatism began after World War II. Observe the growing apathy, lifelessness, ineffectuality and general feebleness of the so-called Conservative side, ever since. You are, at present, a rising exception in the Republican ranks. I do not believe that that pressure group could succeed in making you its tool. But a philosophical pressure group is very hard to detect, particularly at first. That is why I want to warn you against them now, and help you to identify the nature of their influence.
"I am not certain that you understood my relationship to the National Review, when I spoke to you here. I thought that you knew the facts, but perhaps you do not. In brief, they printed a review of Atlas Shrugged by Whittaker Chambers, which I have not read, on principle; those who have read it, told me that this former Communist spy claimed that my book advocates dictatorship. Thereafter, the National Review printed two articles about me (which I did read), one of them allegedly friendly, both of them misrepresenting my position in a manner I have not seen outside The Daily Worker or The Nation. What was significant was their second article: it denounced me for advocating capitalism."
The post-war movement to defend capitalism with religious morality will prove to be the most damaging thing ever to happen to American liberty. The leader of that movement was Buckley.