Saturday, September 22, 2007

Around the World Wide Web 25

1. My jaw hit the floor when I read this paragraph from Ayn Rand Institute's email press release (link will come when they post the piece on their web site), "The Un-American Call For National Service":

But the idea behind national service is that service to the state is a moral duty. The government, its advocates claim, should teach us that service is an integral part of American citizenship. Robin Gerber, a professor of leadership at the University of Maryland, writes: “Young Americans should be told they have an obligation to serve, a duty to actively support their democracy.” Conservative writer David Brooks endorses national service because it “takes kids out of the normal self-obsessed world of career and consumption and orients them toward service and citizenship.” Brooks favors military-related national service, because under it, “Today's children . . . would suddenly face drill sergeants reminding them they are nothing without the group.”

David Brooks longs to have drill sergeants screaming into a young person's face. "You are nothing without the group!" And we can't have a nation of citizens who are obsessed with career -- how horrible that would be. (What does Brooks think people like Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller were obsessed with? Wasting time in soup kitchens? In the 19th century, when America was free, the nation was filled with people obsessed with career.) As usual, the worst stuff comes from conservatives.

2. I see that Bill Clinton has published a new book called Giving. I think they left off the second word of the title, "Head." Must be a mistake.

Another book from a politician exhorting citizens to sacrifice for the collective? I would say it deserves a place right between Mein Kampf and Quotations From Chairman Mao, but that would be giving Giving too much stature. As Clinton is a hillbilly con artist from Arkansas, his book should be on the bottom shelf next to Lil Abner reprints and books on the dangers of inbreeding.

3. Bob Herbert writes about an interesting ballot initiative that Californians might vote on in the next primary election. In California the "winner takes all" -- the winning Presidential candidate gets all 55 electoral votes, even if he only won 50.1% of the vote. This initiative would award electoral votes depending on Congressional districts. Check out this map of the 2004 election, and you see what a disaster this ballot initiative could mean for the Democrats. Herbert says the Republican would get 20 votes, as much as the state of Ohio. The Democrats depend on all 55 votes to win the Presidency, so this change would make it just about impossible, the way things are now, for a Democrat to be elected President.

Make no mistake, the Republicans are not doing this out of any high-minded political principles. If the winner take all method favored the Republicans, they would scream that this ballot initiative heralded the end of the world as we know it. This is a "Just win, baby" move.

Would the change be good? Well, it would make me feel like my vote counted a little more. The way things are now, California Republicans are discouraged to bother voting. Republican candidates ignore the state. Everyone assumes the 55 votes will go Democrat. This change would not only give 20 votes to the GOP, but it would motivate more Republicans to vote, a double disaster for the Dems. (This is not to say I will necessarily vote Republican in 2008. Conservatives like David Brooks and Alan Keyes might drive me to join the loonies at Democratic Underground.)

4. James Caan talks about what he's learned. These quotes sound like what he would say.

5. Dodgers have lost six in a row. Is it basketball season yet?

6. Naomi Wolf argues that President Bush is taking us to Fascist America, in 10 easy steps. Before we dismiss this as leftist hysteria, we should remember that if Hillary Clinton were President, right-wingers would be writing pieces just like this. If the Patriot Act passed during a Clinton presidency, giving the government broad powers to listen to individuals, don't you think World Net Daily, Newsmax and Human Events would be screaming?

Most of her points are overwrought, such as point three, "Develop a thug caste." Please, the only thug caste today is the leftist demonstrators who disturb the peace at G8 meetings and throw trash cans through store windows.

The more interesting question to me is: what happens when the government is turned over to a Democrat President? What does that President do with the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security? Does that President use articles such as Ms. Wolf's as justification for his own crackdowns on civil liberties?

If President Bush has initiated policies that depend on the goodness and honesty of those in power for them not to be abused, then aren't those policies bad?


madmax said...

In connection to Naomi's fascist state, did you read about the Florida student that was tasered for disrupting a John Kerry speech? The Left is of course going nuts but I have read at least one Objectivist that thinks it was thuggish of the police:

After what happened to John Lewis at George Mason, I am not sympathetic to Left wing college protesters.

Myrhaf said...

After watching that clip, I agree with you completely. After he asked the question he started shouting and struggling with the cops who came to take him. After he was warned to stop or he would be tasered, he was tasered. Nothing wrong with how the police acted.

dismuke said...

"As usual, the worst stuff comes from conservatives."

And there is one conservative who is even more disgusting than Brooks: William F. Buckley. My assumption is that Brooks would not deny that what he is advocating is compulsion. Buckley took it one step further and much, much lower back in the early 1990s when he advocated voluntary national service. Completely voluntary, of course - it is just that if one does not "volunteer" then, according to Buckley, the government should refuse to issue you a drivers' license or a Social Security card. And if nobody will hire you because it is mandatory for employers to get a Social Security number before they will pay you and if it is all but impossible for you to get a job in the majority of regions of the country because you do not have any form of legal transportation - well, that is a situation you brought on yourself by choice by virtue of your decision to not "volunteer." I kid you not, the man actually said all that in one of his newspaper columns - and even though I was already aware of the "to a gas chamber go" review that he ran in his publication, I was still stunned when I read it. Advocating slavery is bad enough. Having the gall to call it "voluntary" - well, that is beyond obscene.

I wonder how Brooks and Buckley would react if they were suddenly forced to face a drill sergeant screaming in their faces - especially one that mocks Buckley's pathetic, pompous and, I suspect, fake British-esque accent.

dismuke said...

I think the police were very much within their rights and good judgment when they tased that kid.

But one thing went through my mind when I watched the clip that, if true, would make me feel kind of sorry for him: if this kid grew up in a world surrounded by self-righteous nihilists such as Kerry and typical Leftist parents and teachers who pandered and caved to his every whim any time he threw a temper tantrum, he might actually have had zero life experience or basis to grasp that when the police told him to step down, they were serious and really meant it. My basis for suspecting that is the emotion that the kid projected was more of surprise than the anger and hostility that I suspect is more typical of most people who resist arrest. This guy's struggle and his pleas for help sounded more along the lines of what you or I might probably do if four or five armed criminals were to attempt to overpower and kidnap us out of a crowd of people and drag us into a car or something. I think the guy truly believed that he was being subjected to some gross injustice. If so, then I think it is kind of sad because that is a rather late age and certainly a very painful and brutal way to confront the cold fact of reality that the world and other people do not revolve around one's whims. But, of course, such a notion is exactly what Kerry (who, by the way, served in Vietnam) and his fellow 1960s hippies have always stood for. And I think that there is a certain justice with the sight of the so-called "pigs" that the 1960s microphone seizing hippie protesters despised and disparaged enforcing legality and property rights in order to protect one of those hippies' heros' right to speak. My guess is that Kerry felt very awkward up there.

Myrhaf said...

I too noticed that the fellow genuinely did not understand what he did wrong. I think he got out of line in the first place because he is clueless and rather childish. This is different from leftists who come to an event planning to disrupt it and to keep their opponents from being heard.