Sunday, August 31, 2008

Change and Hot Dogs

I must confess something. For about a month I have thought McCain should pick Palin as his running mate. I have thought so since I first saw her picture. She was an attractive young woman. Sexy. Without knowing a thing about her, I thought McCain would have the best chance of winning with Palin at his side.

When McCain stunned me and the world by doing what I thought he should do, I got serious and looked at what the woman actually stands for. The more I learn about her, the less I like her. But why did I want her on the ticket in the first place? Because she is different.

She is not your average boring politician. You see, in the welfare state, a politician learns to operate in a way calculated to anger as few people as possible. This is what all those politicians with that vaunted "experience" do. They become gray middle-of-the-roaders. It is how one gains experience in a welfare state.

Imagine a politician who believed what I believe -- imagine a bona fide radical for capitalism. Someone who wanted to roll back state intervention in the economy past the antitrust laws. Someone who wanted to dismantle the welfare state, including social security. We're talking about an individual rights absolutist.

How long would that politician survive in today's America? Could he win any elections? Could he get any experience? Or would he, thinking politics is the art of the possible, begin trimming his positions and compromising? Before you know it he would end up kind of like Newt Gingrich or Phil Gramm. He might be on the right side of the spectrum, but he would no longer be sneered at as an "extremist" by the likes of Hugh Hewitt.

People are sick of politics as usual. Obama is right that people want change. That is the lesson of this election now. Three of the candidates are different: McCain is a maverick who sticks his thumb in his party's eye; Obama is black; Palin is a woman. Biden is politics as usual, whom it seems that Obama had to go with to allay fears that Obama was too unusual.

The problem is that in looking for the new, people are not looking for new ideas, but new identities. What happens when these new people give us politics as usual?

We need politicians who will be ideological outsiders. People who will risk having Republican propagandists like Hewitt denounce them as extremists.


I keep thinking of this passage from my idol, Ludwig von Mises:

If any of the socialist chiefs had tried to earn his living by selling hot dogs, he would have learned something about the sovereignty of the customers. But they were professional revolutionaries and their only job was to kindle civil war. Lenin's ideal was to build a nation's production effort according to the model of the post office, an outfit that does not depend on the consumers, because its deficits are covered by compulsory collection of taxes. "The whole of society," he said, was to "become one office and one factory."

If only Lenin had sold hot dogs. What a great thought.

McCain, Obama and Biden have never sold a single goddamn hot dog among the three of them. They are creatures of the state. They don't understand how entrepreneurs must work their rears off to please people -- to make people's lives better -- and earn a profit. They don't understand that the man who makes a profit is the one who truly serves people.

Worse, Obama and McCain think selling hot dogs is morally inferior. If you sell hot dogs, you are merely pursuing your ignoble self-interest. But if they take the money you make selling hot dogs and redistribute it to the poor, then they are moral.

Sarah Palin has sold a few hot dogs in her time. By that I mean that she has worked in the private sector. She did not start out intending work for the state. To me that makes her superior to the little men who preen about a lifetime of "service." The only thing they serve is their power-lust.

UPDATE: George Reisman compares Palin's "windfall profits" tax scheme to Obama's.

Obama and Palin are both obviously ignorant of economics. John McCain, who picked Palin to be his running mate, has admitted his own lack of knowledge of the subject. Knowing little or nothing of the subject himself, he could not be expected to realize that Palin knew nothing of the subject either. An examination of the record of Obama’s running mate, Senator Joseph Biden, would probably turn up a more extensive record of comparable ignorance of economics, given his greater number of years in public life as a leading spokesman for the Democratic Party.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

More Thoughts On Sarah Palin

I have my reservations about Sarah Palin. We still must find out about her judgment, character and capabilities. But I have been appalled over the last 24 hours at the left's attempt to assassinate her character.

The left is trying to do to her what they did to Dan Quayle in 1988. There was a media frenzy when Bush the elder picked him to be his Vice-President. The media and the Democrats defined Quayle unfairly as an airhead. The left has a long history of attacking Republicans as stupid: Reagan, Ford, Eisenhower, and I believe even Wilkie and Coolidge were attacked thus.

Quayle never recovered from that initial onslaught. He never was able to redefine himself. To this day he is radioactive in politics.

Now they're trying to paint Palin as a second Quayle. I don't think it will work because the world is different today. 1988 was in the last days of MSM dominance.

Also, Palin is NOT Quayle temperamentally; her basketball nickname, Sarah Barracuda, bespeaks a scrappy character, a fighter. She holds a gun with authority -- something urbane leftists, from Obama to Dukakis to Adlai Stevenson could not do. If you want an historical comparison for Palin, don't look at Quayle, look at Theodore Roosevelt.

William Kristol (who incidentally was Quayle's chief of staff) gets it right: the left is scared to death of Palin. So the big push is on now to destroy her character.

Let's hope she spells potato right.


I don't find the arguments about experience persuasive -- not in any case, not for McCain and Biden and not against Obama and Palin.

Taking experience alone as a qualification, then the most qualified man to be President is Jimmy Carter. He did it before, and having served only one term he is eligible to be reelected. When you talk about 3am telephone calls, he's been there. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the hostage takeover in Tehran must have been two telephone calls from hell.

Would you want Jimmy Carter to be President?

Ideology is of supreme importance. Experience is a minor factor compared to what a man believes.

Barack Obama is ideologically a lot like Jimmy Carter. Neither has a good understanding of America's enemies in this dangerous world. Obama, you could say, is Carter without the experience.

Which of the two inexperienced candidates, Obama or Palin, would you rather have answering that 3am telephone call announcing China's invasion of Taiwan? A lifelong member of the NRA or a man who holds collectivism as his ideal? A woman who once worked as a commercial fisherman or a man who once worked as a community organizer (a job that is by its nature altruist-collectivist-statist)?

Ideas get little discussion in American politics, and that is a shame. For whatever reason, American politics is occupied with nonessential concretes, from kissing babies to eating greasy food at state fairs. A candidate's experience is the facts of his resume, and today's anti-conceptual minds can parse these empirical facts all day without having to consider ideas and principles. For the most part it's a waste of time.

As I noted, I have reservations about Palin, specifically her mysticism. I want to find out more about how she thinks. But however bad she might be, I have a hard time believing she could deal with the invasion of Taiwan worse than Obama or even the supremely experienced Jimmy Carter. Remember, Obama's initial reaction to Russia's invasion of Georgia was mild and carried no moral condemnation of Russia. It took McCain's strong response to bring the Obama campaign around the next day to issuing something a little firmer than a wet tissue.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin

My first impression of Sarah Palin, McCain's VP pick, is that she is a sharp, confident woman. On a sense of life level, she looks focused on reality, and that is entirely admirable. She is likable.

She is not an intellectual. This promises that she will be, ultimately, ineffectual. We will get from her just more of the same. Yes, she speaks about reform and cleaning up government, but without ideology, it can't be done. Without a conscious, explicit understanding of the ideal of laissez-faire capitalism, one cannot fight for it. In the end, government will continue to grow under McCain-Palin.

George W. Bush is, like Palin, a nonintellectual -- he has even sneered at all that book larnin'. His Christian altruism led him to be a big government Republican. One question we need to find out is just how serious a Christian she is (I'm assuming she is Christian). The more religious she is, the worse she will turn out to be. As an athlete, sportswoman and political activist, she seems to be more focused on this world than any supernatural realm; let's hope so, anyway.

Since her boss, John McCain is a committed "national greatness" Republican and a thorough statist, Palin will have to go along with his vision. She will make little difference in the next four years.

I don't think she will get any Hillary voters just because she is a woman. They're smarter than that. Hardcore Democrats won't vote for a Republican. This morning I spoke to a staunch Hillary supporter, a woman, about McCain's choice and she had nothing but contempt for Palin. All that blather about breaking glass ceilings and "the first woman vice-president" is meaningless in the end. Palin is a Republican, and that's all that matters to the Democrat base.

2012: Clinton vs. Palin? It certainly could happen.

UPDATE: From Chuck in the comments:

According to Wikipedia, Palin supported teaching creationism is public schools in Alaska. She led her high school basketball team in prayers before every game. She is pro-life. She's an environmentalist, who wants to legislate against industries that contribute to "global warming."

She is supposedly in favor of drilling for oil in ANWR, but as she is an environmentalist, I expect she will inevitably cave in to environmentalists on that issue, as well.


On another note, I can't believe the Obama campaign's first reaction to the Palin pick was to sneer at her for growing up in a small town. Do they want to alienate John Mellencamp, too? The entire Obama campaign is deep, deep in the liberal cocoon. Not a good sign for them.

Random Thoughts on the Democrat Convention

Did the networks censor what delegates they showed on camera? I never saw any "San Francisco Democrats" or leftist nutjobs or gays or lesbians.

For that matter, I saw no silly hats festooned with buttons. Gotta have the silly hats and the balloons at the end -- and we got neither.

Someday the older Obama daughter will be a stone cold HEARTBREAKER.

I think Obama had such a serious look on his face in his acceptance speech as a response to McCain's and the 527's attacks. This is more fallout from the Swiftboat trauma the Democrats suffered in 2004.

I have never heard a Republican call a Democrat unpatriotic. Anti-American, yes -- but not unpatriotic. Of course, Dems act as if any criticism regarding foreign policy or war is an accusation of patriotism. As usual, they are trying to shut their opponents up by delegitimizing any criticism.

John McCain should say something like, "Why does Obama act as if I said he does not put country first? When I use 'Country First' as my campaign slogan, I'm putting that idea forth as an ideal to which we all should aspire. I'm delighted Obama shares my ideal. But I'm baffled as to why he is so defensive about it. When I say I put country first, he acts like I've impugned his patriotism. I have news for you, Obama: not everything I say is about you. Grow up."

McCain should answer Obama's bravado about debating him with a call for more debates. "All right, Obama," he should say, "let's get it on. Bring it." Perhaps it is adolescent, but after Obama got in McCain's face in his speech, McCain must give it back or he will look weak.

The most suspense in the convention was watching MSNBC to see which of Keith Olbermann's colleagues he would anger next.

What is Clinton trying to show when he pulls this face?


Is this the face of grizzled experience? Statesmanship? Or is this bizarre grimace the product of a subconscious mind fucked up from a lifetime of lies and evasion?

The leftist argument about the Bush administration is full of nonsense trumped up by the MSM and repeated to the point that Democrats take it for reality. Guantanamo, torture, violating the Bill of Rights, not enough diplomacy, the world no longer loves us -- the list seems non-essential and beside the point, even if it were true. They don't think in principle and find the fundamental problems with Bush.

On Bush's economy the left gets even more surreal. Bush expanded big government. What would the left have done different, besides not cutting taxes, Bush's best policy? If a Democrat had been President for the last eight years, with the same economic policies (and 3.3% growth this quarter), the MSM would talk about how great the economy was. The "reality based community" sees the world it wants to see.

Obama needs to do townhall forum-type events in which he answers all questions from voters. Right now people only have a vague idea of who he is and he needs to correct that. By answering unscripted questions he can give his personality some definition. We need to see who he really is.

I'd like to know what percentage of the delegates at the Dem Con work for the government. I count public school teachers as government employees.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It Can Happen Here

So this is how fascism came to America.

It came in the form of a young, idealistic politician. A handsome fellow and a brilliant orator, he is a man set on fire by the ideals of altruism, collectivism and statism and who has the ability to pass the fire in his soul on to others. Unlike other politicians -- notably Bill Clinton -- who signal their cynicism, Barack Obama absolutely, without any doubt, believes in his purpose. He is a politician and something more -- a missionary, a prophet, a Moses ready to lead us to the promised land. He is a man imbued with moral certainty.

He is a somewhat odd man, one who is hard to define and pin down. He has described himself at times as a "rorshack test" and a "blank screen." He has been called a flake:

Barack Obama is a flake, and the American people have begun to see it. The chief characteristic of a flake is that he makes choices that are impossible to either understand or explain. These are not the errors of the poor dope who can't grasp the essentials of a situation, or the neurotic who ruins things out of compulsion, or the man suffering chronic bad luck.

The flake has a genius for discovering solutions at perfect right angles to the ordinary world. It's as if he's the product of a totally different evolutionary chain, in a universe where the laws are slightly but distinctly at variance to ours. When given a choice between left and right, the flake goes up -- if not through the 8th dimension. And although there's plenty of rationalization, there's never a logical reason for any of it. After awhile, people stop asking.


Back at school, Obama got himself named editor of the Harvard Law Review. This is a signal achievement, no question about it. The kind of thing that would be mentioned about a person for the rest of his life, as has been the case with Obama. But then... he writes nothing for the journal.

Now, let's get this straight: here we have one of the leading university law journals in the country, one widely cited and read. Entire careers in legal analysis and scholarship have been founded on appearances in the Review, including some that have led to the highest courts in the country. Yet here's an individual who, as editor, could easily place his own work in the journal -- standard practice, nothing at all wrong with it. But he fails to do so. And the explanation? There's none that I've heard. We can go even farther than that, to say that there is no explanation that makes the least rational sense. 

We follow Obama down to Springfield, where as a state legislator, he voted "present" over 120 times. What this means, as far as I've been able to discover, is that he voted "present" nearly as much as he voted "yes" or "no".


We turn eagerly to learn what his term in the U.S. Senate will reveal, only to be disappointed. But it's not surprising, really. After all, he was only there for 143 days.

Or he is like Woody Allen's Zelig, a cipher who fits in and reflects any reality about him. If he is a fascist, it is because his party is fascist, our ideals are fascist, the spirit of our time is fascist.

Fascism is the form of socialism in which the means of production are nominally left in the hands of private ownership, whereas the ends of production are dictated by the state. In America the dictation is called "regulation." By regulating business politicians are able to achieve their statist ends while maintaining a pretense that America is still a free country. When their intervention causes a crisis, politicians blame the crisis on greedy businessmen and use it to justify further intervention in the economy.

Every assumption underlying the economic proposals in Barack Obama's acceptance speech tonight is fascist. He lacks any glimmer of understanding of freedom and assumes the state has the right to dictate any terms to business.

For example, Obama criticizes McCain because, "he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars." By what right does the state tell automakers what their fuel efficiency must be? Don't businessmen have property rights? Don't our politicians understand that a free country does not violate rights, even if it means having inefficient fuel standards? These questions are never asked in contemporary, fascist America.

Obama's ignorance of economics is so complete, so unquestioned and so impenetrable that this man has no understanding that his ideals will not work and will destroy freedom in America.

Fascism did not come to America the way it does in Hollywood. It was not brought by an evil mastermind. It was not brought by a greedy white industrialist intent on abusing the common man.

Fascism was brought to America by a Peter Keating, a social metaphysician who earnestly believes the bromides of our culture and lives by the ideals of altruism, collectivism and statism because they are all he has heard. He is a man who simply thinks he is giving America what it wants.

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you.

Obama's speech is titled "The American Promise." It is about America's ideal. And what exactly is this ideal?

...that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.

No, it is not the promise of the Declaration of Independence, the "pursuit of happiness" -- that would be a selfish, individualist promise. To Obama the American promise is collectivism: our destiny is inextricably linked and our dreams can be one. This is the promised end of a President Obama's change. Americans will stop being selfish and will sacrifice to the collective.

It won't be easy, but Michelle Obama has already warned us of that. "Barack Obama," she said, "will require you to work." Nobody gets out of this deal. We're all in this together.

All my life I have wondered if America really could sink into the abyss of dictatorship as Europe did in the mid-20th century. Intellectually I have know it could happen as we have lost freedom after freedom to "regulation." Tonight in Obama's acceptance speech fascism in America was made concretely real as it never was before. Now I am convinced it can happen here.

Harry Reid Speaks

There has been moonbattery at the Democrat Convention, although the MSM has wisely ignored it. Such nuttiness does not make the Democrat Party look good and is unlikely to persuade independents.

Senator Harry Reid went far left to find red meat for the Democrat base:

For the past eight years, the man in the Oval Office has tipped his hat over his eyes, kicked back his chair, and snoozed at his desk. Charged with protecting our national interests, he slept on duty while his vice president conspired with oil industry cronies. Tasked with cutting off funding to terrorists, he slept on duty while oil shortages worsened, oil prices soared, and dollars by the ton were delivered to terrorists’ banks in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Faced with a new kind of war, this president and his vice president helped their friends the old-fashioned way: through war profiteering, tax cuts for billionaires, and in many cases out-and-out corruption.

There are honest answers to the problems we face, but they call for hard solutions and common sacrifices, the kind of sacrifices that this administration has only asked the American people to bear when it lined the pockets of the obscenely rich.

(At what income level does one become obscenely rich? Would John Kerry qualify? Jay Rockefeller? George Soros? Or is the term "obscenely rich," rather a name that socialist idiots call rich people they don't like?)

Does anyone seriously believe Harry Reid's cartoon version of the war in Iraq? That Bush and Cheney would send America's fine men and women in the military to die in Iraq just so they and their friends might get rich? Where is the evidence?

But notice what Reid thinks is the solution to the supposed problem of oil: sacrifice. Yes, sacrifice is the Democrat answer to every problem. He praises Jimmy Carter for getting it right.

President Carter warned us about it in the 1970s when he proposed real solutions—conservation, fuel efficiency, and alternative fuels—to what he correctly named the “moral equivalent of war.” His proposals were ridiculed by Republicans who forgot that both Presidents Nixon and Ford had joined him in calling for America’s energy independence.

To Carter and Reid the solution is that Americans must do with less, with their collective sacrifice directed and coordinated by our wise masters in Washington, D.C. -- people like, oh, Jimmy Carter and Harry Reid.

The real solution is laissez-faire capitalism. Get the government out of energy production. Eliminate all impediments erected by the state and let the market work. Prices would plummet to all-time lows and gas would flow.

But we can't have that. Americans would be more productive and richer -- an environmental disaster! Worse, they would be independent and happy, living their lives without direction from our benevolent masters in Washington, D.C.

And where would that leave people like Harry Reid and Jimmy Carter? They would no longer be important, would they?

Read Reid's speech, and then consider: he is one of the most powerful men in America.

Yes, it is frightening.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Democrat Convention: Day 3

In the last two days I have seen speeches by Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden. The Clintons' speeches said what the Democrats wanted to hear -- and what they needed to hear if the Clintons were to have any future in the party. And both speeches were lies. The Clintons do not want Obama to win in November. They want Obama to lose so they can say, "I told you so," and Hillary can run for President in 2012.

If you have any doubt that the Clintons were lying -- like that's never happened before, right? -- remember that Bill said this yesterday:

“Suppose you’re a voter, and you’ve got candidate X and candidate Y. Candidate X agrees with you on everything, but you don’t think that candidate can deliver on anything at all. Candidate Y you agree with on about half the issues, but he can deliver. Which candidate are you going to vote for?

“This has nothing to do with what’s going on now.”

Why did he bring it up if it has nothing to do with what's going on now? What the hell was talking about then? He was sending a signal of what he really believes. He was cynically telling the world that his speech supporting Obama was a task he had to perform, but don't put too much weight on his words -- wink, wink.

Although she smiled and applauded at the right times, Michelle Obama had a distrustful look in her eyes during the Clintons' speeches. There daggers lurked. And she is quite right to be wary, for the Clintons are NOT her friends.

Joe Biden's speech was heartfelt and passionate. Unlike the Clintons, he believed what he said.

Biden was incoherent. He talked about his Mother admonishing him to get up when he fell down. That's fine. That's self-reliance. Then he criticized Bush because our government is not helping people get up when they fall down. That's not self-reliance, but dependence on the government. If the government gets in the business of helping people when they fall down, then people will forget how to get up by themselves. They will learn to lie there and whine until their keepers come along and help them to their feet.

Biden said we are losing the American dream. Right -- we are. Why is that? Why was the American dream strong in the 19th century and now it is in trouble? Could it possibly be the growth of the welfare state? Could it be that replacing individualism with collectivism destroys the American dream? Could it be that everything the Democrats stand for destroys the American dream?

The Democrats are a party of ignorant altruists. At this late date, you have to be stupid to want more government control over the economy and to think it will work. There has been much stupidity on display for the last three days. I think deep down the more intelligent Democrats understand that socialism will not work, but they evade in order to keep the impracticality of socialism unclear and undefined. And then they have the environmentalists whispering to them that the less the economy works, the more moral it is. This is not an idea they can take to the American public yet, although Al Gore is almost there.

Only the image of American individuals sacrificing for the collective moves them. Their only desire is to have power over all that sacrificing. They don't understand the arguments of people like Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand that show how their morality does not work and is not good. That it is impractical, they don't ultimately care; they will follow their morality into the abyss of destruction and poverty, cheered on by the environmentalists. That their morality is actually immoral -- is a morality of death -- they evade. And that is their greatest sin.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Democrat Convention: Day 2

The premise behind modern conventions is that free TV time is too valuable to waste on anything but an infomercial for the candidate and the party. All that other boring stuff conventions used to do should now be done before the convention starts. All that matters is the show.

What a show the Democrats are putting on! After two nights it looks like they are determined to put a face of middle-class, traditional values normality on the party. I have not seen or heard anything remotely controversial -- no gay or lesbian antics, no minority grievances, no Native Americans bewailing the white man, no foreigners denouncing American imperialism, no illegal immigrants begging for amnesty, no stoners calling for the legalization of dope. All the left-wing stuff is left out with the anarchists on the streets. Inside the convention hall, you'd think it was a Republican convention.

Where are the nutcases raving that Bush and Cheney are war criminals who should be tried and hanged? Where are the truthers giving earnest demonstrations on how Bush was behind 9/11? Where are the calls to bring our troops home now? Where are Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore and Dennis Kucinich? Where are Al Gore and John Kerry?

This must be the phoniest convention in history. You don't think Barack and Michelle, when they're sipping white wine in Bill Ayer's radical salon, talk about "American imperialism," "social justice," "false consciousness," "alienation" and the rest of leftist terminology?

Remember this:

His mild-mannered style has thrown off even some angry black radicals, who want him to speak out more forcefully about the legacy of U.S. racism and economic inequality.

One is Princeton professor Cornel West, a militant black and self-described socialist. Reportedly, West was reluctant to join the refined Obama's presidential campaign until Obama took him aside and explained to him that he had to walk a rhetorical tightrope to reassure whites. West is now solidly on board his campaign as an adviser.

The Obamas are putting on a show to gain voters' trust. They're doing what they have to do to gain power.

I thought the Kossacks would be angry and disappointed at how boring and "white bread" the show is, but they're delighted by the convention. They are collecting their favorite attacks on Republicans like stamp collectors at a philately convention. Apparently, there had been just enough red meat to keep the angry base happy.

Everyone seems to understand that the Democrats need to hide their true leftist nature in order to appeal to the heartland. They already have the votes of the Upper West Side and Castro Street; in this convention they're going after the Reagan Democrats, FDR Democrats and independents. They want to assure religious, small-town Americans that Obama is just like them.

I expect the Republicans to attack this facade and expose it for the lie it is next week. I also expect them to be denounced for "swiftboating" and "throwing red meat to the rabid right-wingers." But if the Republicans don't tell the truth about the Democrats' Potemkin Village Convention, who will (aside from little blogs like this that few read)? The MSM cannot be depended on to do the job. Bring on the swift boats.

UPDATE: Revision.

UPDATE II: I see on O'Reilly that Kucinich was allowed to speak on August 26th.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back In the Saddle, Barely

On top of computer problems I caught a cold over the weekend. I think it was from the gross, sticky counter at Denny's. (But I do love to eat breakfast in the middle of the night.) When I cough, I feel like I'm about to pass out.

Watching the Democrat Convention pushes my weakened endurance to its limit. I heard Nancy Pelosi say that the first achievement of her Congress was to pass nine bills helping people. That's as specific as she got -- helping people. And that was enough for her audience. They don't want to look at the specifics, they just want to hear banalities like Democrats help people. They are not in the least curious as to what businesses were regulated and whose liberty was destroyed in the Democrats' quest to help people. We passed nine bills helping people! Jesus, it's the Kindergarten Party.

I can't watch MSNBC when I see Keith Olbermann there. The network loses all credibility by asking its viewers to take that man seriously.

If I don't pass out from Nyquil, I will post updates of thoughts on the Democrat Convention as they come. Maybe I'll take two shots of Nyquil and one shot of George Dickel just to make sure I pass out.

UPDATE: Barack Obama sees the world as it is and how it should be. Excellent!

But what does he think it should be? We didn't get an answer to that from Michelle Obama. We tend not to get such specifics in these speeches, because specifics will anger somebody out there.

Michelle Obama said that Barack wants to make the economy better. Great! But who would disagree with that? Even Hitler wanted a better economy. No one in America thinks, "Damn it -- I was hoping Obama would make the economy worse!" Okay, some environmentalists might actually disagree, but everyone else nods in agreement. But what is Obama's plan to make the economy better?

Michelle's speech did what it was supposed to do: it humanized the Obamas and showed they had strong family values. None of this should matter much in a voter's thinking, compared to a candidate's political philosophy and his concrete policies and goals, but maybe this sentimental biography does move people.

The speech was imbued with the altruist premise that only in community service does one find true morality. This premise, which Michelle Obama surely does not think is controversial, was the scariest thing in her speech. I keep hearing her famous line, "Barack Obama will require you to work."

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I'm posting this from my Mother's house because my computer stopped working on Friday. I get a screen that says Windows cannot be started because a file is corrupted or missing. The man at the computer shop I called suspects a virus. I must take my computer in at 8:30am Monday morning. The place charges $135/hr.

The villains who start these viruses cause an astonishing amount of property damage. I don't know the extent of the destruction, but it might run into the billions of dollars. My life has certainly been affected -- to what extent, is yet undetermined.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Fantasy -- For Now

Jane Hamsher indulges in a frequent fantasy of the left, the idea that their political opponents will lock them up in concentration camps if they gain power. I myself have heard a Democrat seriously express this fear. As outlandish as it sounds, the fear is real to them.

It is projection. Deep down leftists know what they would do if they found themselves with absolute power, and it would not be to play cricket and drink tea. Having been taught by modern philosophy that there are no absolutes and reason is a myth, they really only take force seriously. They cannot believe their opponents would not do what they would do.

I am convinced that America is very, very lucky that Democrats have made it to the White House only twice in the last 40 years with the rise of the irrationalist New Left in their party. These are people who believe that the end justifies the means. The only thing that has stopped them from abusing power so far is they have not been able to get away with it.

They are working at "change" -- Obama's favorite word -- using public education and the universities to change America to a more collectivist and statist culture. Someday they hope to reform America in their image. They still have some work to do softening the character of the American people and moving them away from their Enlightenment heritage of individualism.

Sooner or later, in the midst of a crisis created by intervention in the economy at home or appeasement abroad, the fissures in our culture will widen, the weak places will snap. The left will see that opportunity has finally knocked after all these years, and they will pounce. Their future power grabs will arise from the same premises and psychological phenomena that fuel their odd fantasies today.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 75

I was a chinese linguist in the USAF long ago. This was back in the 20th century. I don't remember much chinese, but I do know that most people pronounce Beijing wrong. They say a soft J sound like Zsa Zsa, gendarme and Jean Valjean. It should be a hard J, as in jingle and Jupiter. I don't know why people do this, since all the J's I can think of in English are hard J's. The examples of soft J's above are foreign words or names.

1. The Communist Party says Obama is their guy:

The communist newspaper said a broad coalition is backing “Obama’s ‘Hope, change and unity’ campaign because they see in it the thrilling opportunity to end 30 years of ultra-right rule and move our nation forward with a broadly progressive agenda.”


2. Michael Moore's advice to Barack Obama on how to win the election.

His three points:

a. Let Michelle speak.

b. Be as nasty to the Republicans as they are to you.

c. Do not distance yourself from Michael Moore.

And Republicans hope fervently that Obama follows every bit of Michael Moore's advice.

UPDATE: Today I see Moore has come out with another version that has six reasons.

3. Roseanne Barr really is as stupid as she looks. And that's no mean accomplishment. She criticizes Angelina Jolie for saying good things about McCain:

“Aren’t you supposed to be somewhat enlightened, or do you not know that the African daughter you hold in every picture had parents who suffered and died because of the Republican party’s worldwide economic assault on Africa over the last few decades since Reagan?”

This explains why the continent is mired in poverty. It has been economically assaulted by the Republicans! And it all has been done in secret for the last 28 years so that no one but Roseanne Barr noticed. Those evil bastards.

4. In his August 18, 2008 podcast, the philosopher Leonard Peikoff discusses why he disagrees with Aristotle's ethical doctrine of the mean; whether you should wish you were never born if you were the product of evil, such as Hitler starting WWII (confusing question); why should a person with a terminal illness respect other people's rights; "none of the above" on the ballot; and Ayn Rand's statement that her philosophy was not possible before the Industrial Revolution.

5. Let's see, liberals are tolerant and reasonable, whereas right-wingers are close-minded and mean, right? See what happened to this blogger who strayed from PC thought among "progressives."

After her web site was attacked and her character smeared by "progressives," one left this note (and get the name):

Well, Amy, You've spent an otherwise enjoyable Sunday bearing the consequences of running your mouth first and thinking second. It couldn't happpen to a more deserving person.
Immy Kant

(HT: Daily Pundit)

6. Obama and McCain are in a statistical tie in battleground states. At the beginning of this race I thought McCain would blow Obama out. The race looks to be closer than I had first thought, but I still think McCain will win. The fact that they are now tied is remarkable, considering that throughout the spring the media followed Obama around on a coronation tour and barely acknowledged that McCain exists.

Obama has too many weaknesses to overcome. He is farther left than any previous major party presidential candidate, his rhetoric is empty, he performs poorly away from a teleprompter and a script telling him what to say, Clinton's supporters dislike him and he flip-flops.

Russia could not have invaded Georgia at a worse time for the Democrats. Americans are reminded that we live in a dangerous world. National security favors the Republicans (though perhaps it should not).

Polls often underestimate Republican strength. Cowards fear speaking out against the PC crowd. It's just not "hip" to vote Republican, so this spineless faction tells pollsters they will vote Democrat. When they are in a voting booth, alone with their conscience, they get serious. Add the Bradley Effect, that more people say they will vote for a black man than those who actually vote for him, and John McCain is probably the front runner right now.

This is not an endorsement or a look at what I want to happen; it is merely my speculation on what will happen.

UPDATE: Steven Warshawsky looks at the numbers and argues persuasively that Obama cannot win.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shakespeare In a Park

On Saturday we took The Tempest on tour to Sycamore Park in Riverside, California, a beautiful little park that sits atop a hill and gives a nice view of the surrounding valley. About 100 people spread their blankets and lawn chairs beneath the late afternoon sun on a section of grass. We actors performed on another piece of the grass.

It was theatre as basic and raw as theatre gets. There were no lights other than the sun and no special effects; the set was minimal. It was just actors and Shakespeare, actors and the word.

If you think such a thing is impossible in this MTV age of shortened attention spans and video games, let me assure you the performance was a hit. The audience sat quietly and listened intently. Not a one of them left at intermission.

It was just actors and words, but it got through to the audience. The flame that was lit in Shakespeare's soul when he wrote this play was lit in the souls of the audience.

In this depressing time, when America teeters on the precipice, we must make an extra effort to celebrate our values, lest we succumb to despair. I am rejuvenated to have been part of the creation of a beautiful work of art.

America's Greatest Moral Failure On Display

I could only watch seven minutes of Rick Warren's interview with Barack Obama before I gave up. Warren, an evangelical preacher, asks Obama what are his and America's greatest moral failure. Obama's answer is pure altruism, with which Warren heartily agrees.

Obama says he did drugs and alcohol when he was young because he was selfish. He says he had to learn "it's not about me." Warren at that point says, "I like that!" The audience laughs at Warren's remark, which makes me think Warren has written in his books the very point that "it's not about me."

I have to point out here what seems to me obvious: abusing drugs and alcohol are not selfishness, but are acts of selflessness and self-destruction. Getting past drugs and alcohol is quite selfish if one wants to lead a long and happy life. Although Obama's position is absurd, Warren agrees with him entirely.

Obama went on to say America's greatest moral failure was the failure to be sufficiently altruistic, although he didn't use these words. He quoted scripture to back up his idea that we have to help the least among us.

Well, there you have the perfect nightmare, the joining of the New Left with the religious right. Rick Warren, a man greatly admired by the religious Republican Hugh Hewitt, was in complete agreement with Obama's altruism. How can Republicans resist Obama's altruism when they hold the same morality?

From what I read at the Dougout, McCain's answer to Warren's question about America's moral failure was as even worse than Obama's:

McCain said the nation's greatest moral shortcoming is its failure to "devote ourselves to causes greater than our self-interests."

America's greatest moral failure is in fact altruism, the morality of Rick Warren's religion and the ideal held by both Obama and McCain. The Declaration of Independence holds that Americans have a right to the pursuit of happiness. Altruists hold that the pursuit of happiness is immoral and that everyone has a duty to sacrifice for the least among us. The differences between the Republicans and the Democrats are mere quibbling over who sets the standard of sacrifice, God or the state.

Whichever candidate wins in November, the next four years should see liberty in America take some terrible blows. We will be marched down the road to serfdom in the name of sacrifice, with Biblical scripture quoted to justify every step of the way.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The McGovern Example

Eleanor Clift joins the effort to discredit all attacks on Democrats as smears by looking at history.

The Republican formula hasn't changed much in the almost four decades since the Nixon campaign branded George McGovern the candidate of the three A's--acid, amnesty and abortion. McGovern, still trim and agile at 86, explained to an audience of political buffs at the National Press Club this week how that caricature took hold, and what little resemblance it bore to his positions on those issues. "I told my staff we don't have to answer this stuff," he said, adding, "I was wrong."

McGovern thought his views on these issues spoke for themselves. He opposed legalizing hard drugs, but he thought marijuana possession should be a misdemeanor, not a felony. He opposed amnesty in the midst of a war, but said he would look at it after the war ended, telling protesters, "It's the law of the land. If you don't want to go, be prepared to go to jail." His position on abortion was conservative; he thought it should be left up to the states.

President Nixon wouldn't debate him or even risk appearing in the same city. "Judging by the results, I don't know what he was afraid of," McGovern quipped. Nixon won in a landslide. The Vietnam War raged on and McGovern was dubbed a peacenik. He had been a decorated bomber pilot in World War II, service he didn't showcase. He didn't think his love of country or his patriotism would ever be questioned.

I would not be surprised if Nixon smeared McGovern. Nixon was a disastrous president in many ways, the ultimate pragmatist who governed by the seat of his pants. But I don't think Nixon's paranoid smears were as important as McGovern's weaknesses.

I was 15 years old in 1972. In many ways I was your typical public-educated idiot. I was not interested in politics. I was interested in playing Rock'n'Roll, acting in plays, drinking Schlitz and smoking -- tobacco and, er, other stuff. My education came later, after I read Atlas Shrugged at age 20 and became interested in the world of ideas.

I remember one thing about McGovern. This memory might not be accurate through the haze of 36 years, but it's what I remember: McGovern promised to give everyone in America $1,000. (I don't know if I remember this from 1972 or from later reading about McGovern in a bound edition of The Ayn Rand Letter.)

Now, since McGovern did not himself have that kind of money to throw around, where would it come from? From taxpayers. It was a redistribution scheme, taking from the rich and giving to the less rich and the poor. It was a crude attempt to buy votes.

Ironically, this year the government gave everyone $600. The Republicans today have almost descended to where McGovern was in 1972. Today America is more corrupt and statist than it was in 1972. Back then McGovern's redistribution scheme was novel and somewhat shocking. It was seen for what it was: socialism. (Thanks to Bush and today's Republicans for blurring that truth! Too bad there's not a hell because the entire party deserves to rot in it.)

I don't remember Nixon's idiocy about McGovern. I remember McGovern's idiocy. The American people were smart enough in 1972 to understand who McGovern really was. He represented the left wing of the party, the New Left that now controls the party. Back then there were still right-wing Democrats, and McGovern was not one of them. Nobody needed Nixon's help to see this.

The notion that for 36 years Democrats have lost mainly because of Republican smears and playing on the fears of voters is not true. It's a gross underestimation of voter rationality. It's the kind of thing liberal-leftists tell themselves in order to evade the truth.

The simple truth is that the Democrats are to the left of the American people. This reality might be changing or it might not. The New Leftist ideologies -- multiculturalism, environmentalism, feminism, gay rights, and so on -- are indoctrinated into Americans throughout their public education (government schooling). At the same time, religion is spreading and growing stronger in our culture. How all this is changing America we don't know yet, but I fear some ghastly mutant will arise from this swamp of collectivism-altruism-mysticism -- a monstrous hybrid of environmentalism and religion. It will be a creed dedicated to renunciation of life on Earth in the name of God and the Holy Spotted Owl.

The Democrats don't want to examine their ideas, so they blame their losses on Republican smears. This is partly projection; as emotionalists and irrationalists, they have lost confidence in reason. They believe lies and character assassination are metaphysically potent, whereas reason is just a game philosophers play in their ivory towers.

The left's obsession with smears is based on a profound contempt for the American people. It makes sense, given their collectivist premise: the people are a helpless, only temporarily able mass that must be taken care of from cradle to grave by the wise altruists of the state. Such creatures would be incapable of reason. Democrats take the fact that many Americans vote for Republicans as evidence that they are not smart enough to vote for their self-interest. After all, Democrats think, we'll take care of you! Those cruel Republicans will send you out alone into the snow.

As I noted in the comments to my last post, this entire campaign against right-wing books is not about answering lies with reason. Instead of answering their critics, the left is trying to shut them up by discrediting the very idea of anti-Democrat books.

They are fighting what they call smears with a smear campaign. Their main focus is not to answer point for point using reason to find the truth. Their goal is to make people associate books against Democrats with smears. The MSM is chugging away, hoping that if they repeat this notion enough times, it will become... what's the word? Not the truth, because there is no objective truth in postmodern philosophy. They hope this notion will become our collectively accepted narrative.

Tsk, Tsk -- All Those Controversial Books

LA Times columnist Tim Rutten explains right-wing books:

"The Obama Nation" was written and printed because major American publishing houses have decided that there's money to be made in funding right-wing boutique imprints modeled after the Washington-based Regnery, which has made a small fortune stoking the hard-right furnace with combustible prose. Corsi's book is published by Threshold Editions, a division of Simon & Schuster, which hired right-wing political operative Mary Matalin to edit the imprint. Random House has a similar imprint in Crown Forum, and Penguin Group USA has Sentinel. Their business model -- and this is all about business -- is predicated on the existence of an echo chamber of right-wing radio and television shows willing to promote these publishers' products -- however noxious. Beyond that is a network of conservative book clubs and organizations willing to place the sort of advance bulk orders for controversial books that will guarantee them a place on the bestseller lists.

The unspoken assumption beneath this reasoning is that it's impossible for the right wing to be honest and fair. They must smear their opponents to succeed, thus they build "echo chambers" that promote their ideas to unsuspecting Americans.

You'll note that there is never any talk of "left-wing" publishers. In America left-wing publishers are called publishers, just as left-wing media are called the media. The left is considered the norm, the uncontroversial standard against which all lesser ideas are judged.

Conservative book clubs are actually willing to place advance orders on controversial books. Imagine such a thing happening in America! Publishers that don't conform to PC standards like civilized people who have been trained in universities to think acceptable thoughts. And these right-wing publishers crank out these controversial books just to make money because controversy sells.

To Mr. Rutten there is something wrong with the profits these firms make. There must be because they're right-wing. Only the liberal-left is in possession of truth and morality. Only the liberal-left can be trusted with something as important as book publishing.

In Mr. Rutten's perfect world, there would be no "controversial books." The left would make its case and that would be the end of the argument. Maybe he would be happier working at Pravda. Or is the Los Angeles Times close enough?

PrestoPundit explains the importance of The Obama Nation and books like it.

Right wingers who haven't read the book but who are trashing it based on misleading information they've gotten via the Obama campaign need to take a step back and read the book. They'll learn much more about Obama reading the book than they've ever learned about Obama combing through the NY Times and Washington Post for the last two years. Really. Much, much more.

The only thing that would have come close for content on the life of Obama is to have been a regular reader of PrestoPundit. And if you're a PrestoPundit reader, you'll know that Corsi is routinely and overwhelmingly on track, and only rarely fumbles. A very good record when your subject is the life of someone as secretive and dishonest as Barack Obama.

One reason Corsi's account of Obama seems so relatively complete to me -- beyond his own extensive reporting -- is perhaps because Corsi has been familiar PrestoPundit and my Obama postings, and he's clearly combed through this and many other blogs for links and information about Obama. Corsi is conversant with what the smartest bloggers have discovered in the Chicago papers and from international sources -- as well as in Obama's own memoir.

These "right-wing" books have value because left-wing publishers and left-wing media, better known as the publishing industry and the media, cannot be depended upon to report the truth about Obama or to explore anything remotely controversial about "the One." If it were up to the media, there would be nothing but puff pieces and bland stories all the way up to Obama's coronation day.

It seems that the only lesson the left learned from the 2004 election is that they must do everything they can to delegitimize right-wing propaganda. The Swift Boat attack traumatized the Democrats. The lesson they should have drawn is that they need to field a better candidate; he needn't be John Wayne, but perhaps they could find a candidate who didn't throw away his medals and compare our troops to Genghis Khan. Is that so much to ask?

Yes, it is too much to ask of a radicalized party, a party that has moved so far left in the last 40 years that Joseph Lieberman is now reviled. The "Scoop Jackson Democrats" are a distant, fading memory.

Remember, being a leftist means never, ever learning from your mistakes. Why learn when you can just blame the right wing and everyone you know will nod in smug moral approval?

Friday, August 15, 2008


A stand-up comic on the radio (I forget her name) made me laugh when she talked about Canada. She said it's like America's attic; we forget it's there, then when we go up there we find all kinds of interesting stuff we had forgotten about. Mexico, she continued, is like America's basement -- messier, but a lot more fun.

I don't know if her jokes would make Canadians laugh or just remind them of how Americans think of their country as "America's attic" -- when they think of it at all. America is so dominant in every aspect, from economy to military to culture, that many Canadians must feel some envy and resentment to that big noisy place down south.

Canada has a population of some 33 million, a little less than that of the state I live in, California. With 36 million people, California is the seventh largest economy in the world. Canada ranks ninth.

Canada has a disproportionate number of comedians in American culture. Jim Carrey, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Phil Hartman, Rich Little, Howie Mandel, Rick Moranis, Martin Short and many other funny people. It's that accent. It's like Minnesota, only more so. Luke, I am your father, eh?

The most interesting question about Canada to me is defining its national identity. Is Canada more European than American? Something in between? Something its own?

The Canadian Objectivist John Ridpath, as I recall, noted that America revolted against British rule, but the Canadians never did. This difference is reflected in the character of the two peoples. Americans are more independent and individualist; Canadians are more collectivist and statist. I know there are many exceptions in both countries, but we're trying to define the culture-wide sense of life.

I think of Canada as the canary in the statist coal mine. It serves as an existential cautionary tale: this is what happens when a nation gives up its freedom to the encroaching welfare state. How bad will things get in America? Just look north.

Freedom of speech has suffered dreadfully up north in our time. The Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn cases show what happens when political correctness pushes individual rights out of a culture. In Levant's latest post he mentions the case of Guy Earle, a comedian who must stand trial for his politically incorrect retorts to hecklers. If you want to see in concrete, horrific fact how welfare states lose their freedoms, just look north.

You might remember that a few years back some books from the Ayn Rand Institute were held briefly at the Canadian border for suspicion that they were hate speech. (I couldn't find a story about it to link to.) Free countries do not tell their people what they can or cannot read. In its egalitarianism and multiculturalism, Canada is destroying freedoms that Enlightenment thinkers thought had been established for all time. 18th century intellectuals could not have imagined the irrationality of modern welfare states banning speech because it is is hateful. They took it for granted that the individual can use reason to judge hate speech for himself. They would have thought it absurd that a government should protect individuals from even hearing offensive speech.

Canada's system of socialized medicine is another dying canary that Americans would do well to observe and learn from. As Richard E. Ralston writes:

Canadians, we are told, have a better system because they live longer than Americans. Are there other demographic factors involved—didn't they also live longer before they nationalized their heath care system? Is it a better system because, although some prescription drugs are sold at a lower price, many more are not available in Canada at all? Is it better because Canadians wait an average of 17 weeks for referral to a specialist? Is the fact that Canadians come to the United States to spend more than $1 billion a year on health care an indication that Canada has better health care? One wonders why this superior system resulted in the Canadian Supreme Court striking down the law forbidding private insurance "because access to a waiting list does not constitute access to health care." Why did the Canadian Medical Association recently elect as their new President a physician who owns an illegal private clinic in British Columbia if they think Canada has a better system? Significant new spending by the federal government in Canada does not seem to be having much impact on improving the situation.

As I always ask my liberal friends when they advocate more state intervention in medicine in America, "If we socialize medicine in America, where will rich Canadians go for health care?"

If you look at one of the "widgets" in the sidebar on this blog, the one labeled Flags, you'll see that Canada is second only to America in reading this blog. As I write, 5.1% of the hits come from Canada; the next highest, the UK, is only 1.9%. Does this mean Canadians are more interested in American politics than the rest of the world? Since most of my readers are not statists -- like most people, statists prefer to read blogs they agree with -- can we conclude that Canada is a mixed case, with more individualists than the rest of the world? I'm not sure what to make of this anecdotal evidence.

I've never been to Canada. From horror stories I've heard, you do NOT tell Canadian border agents that your trip to Canada is in any way related to work. You tell them you're going on vacation. If they hassle you, maybe it would be best to say, "I'm just a dumb American with a wallet full of money that I want to spend in Canada to help your economy. Would it expedite things if I directed some of my money your way?"

I'm keeping an eye on the country to our north. You can learn a lot that way.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

McCain and Russia

No one has been a harsher critic than I of John McCain, but I have to give him credit where due. He was right about Putin and Russia long before most people were.

Mr. McCain has called for expelling what he has called a “revanchist Russia” from meetings of the Group of 8, the organization of leading industrialized nations. He urged President Bush — in vain — to boycott the group’s meeting in St. Petersburg in 2006. And he has often mocked the president’s assertion that he got a sense of the soul of Vladimir V. Putin, who was then Russia’s president and is now its prime minister, by looking into his eyes. “I looked into his eyes,” Mr. McCain said, “and saw three letters: a K, a G and a B.”

His hard line has been derided as provocative, and possibly dangerous, by some so-called realist foreign policy experts, who warn that isolating Russia would do little to encourage it to change. But others, including neoconservatives who deem promoting democracy a paramount goal, see Mr. McCain’s position as principled, and prescient. Now, with Russia moving forcefully into Georgia as Mr. McCain seeks the presidency, his views are being scrutinized as never before through the prism of Russia’s invasion.

For Mr. McCain, the conflict came after months of warnings about the situation in Georgia. Mr. McCain befriended Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, over the course of several trips there, and even nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 (in a letter that was co-signed by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York).

McCain's response to the Georgian crisis has been strikingly superior to Obama's. (HT: TIA Daily) Of course, talk is cheap and Republicans are often softer than their rhetoric, but still... it is revealing that Obama gives a standard, bland response then goes on vacation. Like all liberal-leftists, he lacks interest in standing up for an American ally against a hegemonic tyranny. It's not important to Obama.

Bill Quick, one of McCain's most vociferous critics, announces he will vote for him. His number one priority is survival in a dangerous world, and we can't worry about the economy or anything if we're dead. I wouldn't go that far, certainly not yet -- but it's something to think about.

The Democrats in their private moments of honesty must be worried that history has not "ended," for national security issues always favor Republicans. People like Hugh Hewitt know this and try to scare the base every day about liberals handling national security. The difficult task is sorting through the spin to find the truth.


And the least intelligent thought about the Russian-Georgian conflict comes from -- may I have the envelope, please? -- Andrew Sullivan!

Since Cheney has exactly the same view about the use of American military power as Putin does about Russian power, I'm not sure what grounds he has to complain. Maybe we should start complaining when as many Georgians have perished as Iraqis - and when Putin throws thousands of innocent Georgians into torture chambers.

The Iraq War is morally equivalent to Russia invading Georgia? America invaded a dictatorship and has turned it into a relatively free country (freer than it was, at least); Russia invaded a relatively free country, and the outcome is undetermined as I write, but if autocratic Russia has its way, the end result will not be the spread of freedom in Georgia.

Sullivan's argument is tantamount to arguing that murder is the same as killing in self-defense. When you divorce these actions from their purpose, then they're both just the act of killing.

Whenever I read Sullivan these days I ask myself, "Was his thinking this bad back when I agreed with him?"


This article in the Wall Street Journal is the best analysis of the conflict in Georgia I have read.

South Ossetia is not, as some have suggested, tit-for-tat payback for American and European recognition, over Russian objections, of Kosovo's independence from Serbia. Russia has been "at war" with democratic Georgia for some time. Driven to distraction by Mr. Saakashvili's assertiveness and Georgia's desire to join NATO, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin first tried to bring the country to its knees through economic warfare beginning in 2005. He cut off access to Russian markets, expelled Georgians from Russia, quadrupled the price of Russian energy to Georgia, and severed transport links.

Georgia failed to collapse. To the contrary, it has flourished: After the Rose Revolution of 2003 ended the corrupt reign of Eduard Shevardnadze, the former Soviet foreign minister, Georgia instituted far-reaching reforms to its governing structures, cleaned up the endemic corruption that infected every facet of pre-Rose Revolution life, and found new markets for its products in Turkey and Europe. It persevered with some of the most profound and thorough economic and pro-business reforms ever undertaken by a developing country -- slashing taxes and government regulations, and privatizing state-owned enterprises. All of which is reflected in Georgia's meteoric rise on the World Bank's Doing Business indicators. The irrelevance of Russian economic sanctions to Georgia made the ideological challenge that the Rose Revolution posed to Putin's vision of Russia even more profound.

It is important to understand -- and this point gets obscured, especially by Russian propaganda and pragmatism from State Department types -- that there is no moral equivalence between Russia and Georgia. Russia is guilty of a terrible crime against a country that is, by the standards of that part of the world, free. From the passage quoted above it looks like the Georgians understand economics better than McCain, Obama or Clinton.

UPDATE: David Horowitz says it well:

What was the response of the two candidates to be the next commander-in-chief? McCain condemned the invasion and called on the Russians to withdraw. Obama called on "both sides" to stop fighting and said the matter should be turned over to the UN -- that is to the pro-Islamist Arab dictatorships and their allies. This is a real world test of what Obama would be like as a commander-in-chief. A disaster.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 74

I know what you're thinking. You're wondering, "Does the 'Haf have Olympic fever yet?" The answer is no, but I tried to get it. I turned on ABC to watch the Olympics, but it wasn't on. I sat through local news and then through Ebert (though he was not there) and some other guy who was not Siskel reviewing movies, thinking the Olympics would start at the end of each show. Then I figured out it's on NBC. So I turned the channel and fell asleep.

1. Al Franken, running for the Senate in Minnesota, held a campaign event about Veteran's Affairs. One man showed up.

Don't get depressed, Al. That's stinkin' thinkin'.

2. Matthew Omolesky explains Georgia in "History Returns to the Caucasus."

(All this talk about the end of history, starting with Fukuyama's book and continuing in Robert Kagan's book, is, I assume, speaking in metaphor. Obviously, history will not literally end so long as man walks the Earth. From the amazon reviews, however, it seems that Fukuyama uses Hegel's ideas, so maybe he really does believe "history" moves with some teleological purpose. It is all annoying nonsense.)

Thomas de Waal explains the conflict. If you're like me, you could not have found South Ossetia on a map last week.

Saakashvili has said, "If the whole world does not stop Russia, then Russian tanks will be able to reach any other European capital." I think he is about to learn that there is a difference between Tbilisi and Paris.

3. Here are some choice excerpts from Pravda on the conflict in Georgia:

Russian officials believe that it was the USA that orchestrated the current conflict. The chairman of the State Duma Committee for Security, Vladimir Vasilyev, believes that the current conflict is South Ossetia is very reminiscent to the wars in Iraq and Kosovo.


Ask anyone in the Caucasus region, and they will tell you never to trust a Georgian because they would shake your hand with a smile and then stab you in the back. On Friday morning, we saw a perfect example of this treachery, when hours after declaring a ceasefire, Georgian military units launched a savage attack on the civilians of South Ossetia.

Pravda is still the place for crude propaganda.

4. Good satire.

5. Stephen Brown's take on Georgia is good.

One of the triggers for the conflict exploding now, however, occurred outside the Caucuses when western countries recognized Kosovo, formerly part of Serbia. This diplomatic manoeuvre upset the Kremlin, which has refused to recognize the new entity. It has also not forgotten that a weak Russia had to watch helplessly in 1999 as an American-led NATO bombed its historical Balkan ally into submission.

Now in retaliation, Russia sees the opportunity to inflict the same fate on America’s Caucasian ally. It reasons that if Serbia is divisible, then so is Georgia. Like the Albanians in Kosovo, the Abkhazians and South Ossetians should have the right to secede if they do not want to remain part of Georgia. And they don’t. As proof, many people in these two rebellious areas, as many as 90 per cent according to one report, have taken Russian citizenship.


But there is another reason besides current political ones that prompted the Kremlin’s military action. By invading Georgia, Russia is also following its age-old historical pattern. When Moscow is weak, as it was after 1917 and in 1991, the states on its periphery break away. But when the center is strong, as it is again becoming now, it sets out to reincorporate those very same peripheral states. “Georgia is only the start,” said Saakashvili in an interview with a German newspaper six weeks ago. “Tomorrow the Baltic states, then Poland.”

While America has been fighting the war against Islamic terror, Russia has bided its time, solidifying its power at home and grabbing as much energy resources as possible. Once again, Russia has chosen to show its totalitarian and expansionist strength for all the world to see. America, meanwhile, with hands full in the terror war, appears only able to urge restraint -- while one of its key allies potentially faces its own ruin and loss of freedom.

6. This piece stunned me. The Georgians are surprised and dismayed that America has not entered the battle on their side.

“We killed as many of them as we could,” he said. “But where are our friends?”

It was the question of the day. As Russian forces massed Sunday on two fronts, Georgians were heading south with whatever they could carry. When they met Western journalists, they all said the same thing: Where is the United States? When is NATO coming?

Since the conflict began, Western leaders have worked frantically to broker a cease-fire. But for Georgians — so boisterously pro-American that Tbilisi, the capital, has a George W. Bush Street — diplomacy fell far short of what they expected.

...Georgians around Gori spoke of America plaintively, uncertainly. They were beginning to feel betrayed.

“Tell your government,” said a man named Truber, fresh from the side of the Tbilisi hospital bed where his son was being treated for combat injuries. “If you had said something stronger, we would not be in this.”

He had not slept for three days, and he was angry — at himself, at Georgia, but mainly at the United States. “If you want to help, you have to help the end,” he said.


“Write exactly what I say,” he said. “Over the past few years, I lived in a democratic society. I was happy. And now America and the European Union are spitting on us.”

On one hand, this seems tragic. Their expectations are way out of touch with reality. On the other hand, it is irksome to think that the Georgians might have pushed things too far thinking America would be there to bail them out.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Insidious Threat to Freedom

Edward Cline's post on The Sensitivity Syndrome got me thinking how potent are the New Leftist ideologies of multiculturalism, environmentalism, feminism, etc. The New Left is far more dangerous -- far more sturdily constructed -- than the Old Left ever was.

The Old Left was Marxism. Marxism is an economic theory with a lot of strange ideas for which Marx never gave evidence. For instance, Marxism holds that history progresses from feudalism through capitalism to socialism, the dictatorship of the proletariat. Late in his life Marx scribbled a note that maybe society could jump from feudalism to socialism, and when Engels published this passage the Bolsheviks made much of it, as they wanted to argue that Russia needn't pass through modern capitalism on her way to socialism. They were rather impatient to get to dictatorship as fast as possible.

The entire theory was nothing but a rationalization for state power. It was a reactionary philosophy, a reaction to the greatest, most liberating revolution in history: the coming of capitalism and the industrial revolution. Though Marxists called themselves "progressives," they were regressive through and through. (Today's progressives are no better.)

The 20th century served as a vast laboratory showing in experiment after experiment that capitalism (freedom) leads to wealth creation and happiness and socialism (state power) leads to poverty and slavery. It is remarkable that an illogical, discredited economic theory prevailed in the east as long as it did.

The New Left is not burdened by Marx's fantasies, and is therefore more effective. Its goal is the same as Marxism: the destruction of capitalism (freedom) and the reordering of society under state power. Instead of a relatively shallow economic theory, the New Left is organized around the more philosophic idea of egalitarianism.

Egalitarianism is how altruism is effected in society. Altruism demands that the strong sacrifice to the weak, the rich to the poor. Egalitarianism is how this gets done. In their quest to make everyone the same, egalitarians never focus on making the poor richer or the less intelligent more intelligent. Instead, they make the strong weaker. They redistribute money from the rich to the poor. They stop honoring the smartest student as valedictorian and just call the entire graduating class valedictorian. They stop one side from winning in children's soccer and declare both sides the winner. The strong are punished for the sake of the weak.

Egalitarianism is the most destructive doctrine in history because its destructive purpose is never mentioned and seldom understood. Egalitarians never say, "We want to destroy X"; instead, they announce, "In X there are no standards -- nothing is better than anything else." When there is no standard of value, then you lose all value. The destruction is done for the altruistic purpose of helping the weak.

Multiculturalism, for instance, does not set out explicitly to destroy capitalism. Multiculturalists say instead that all cultures are equal. We must not impose our way of life on some neolithic tribe on a remote island, but leave them alone to wallow in their squalor. We must not offend Muslims with cartoons of Mohammed because we are strong and they are weak. The strong must sacrifice to the weak.

Environmentalists hold that man must sacrifice his interests and productivity to plants and animals and even rocks. Environmentalists (usually) do not attack man as evil, but merely claim that nature has an intrinsic value apart from man's values. It is a highly abstract form of egalitarianism.

Feminists in their more collectivist variety do not just want individual rights for women; they want women to be considered metaphysically equal to men even in physical areas in which they are not as strong. Thus women who cannot carry a man out of a burning building are given employment as fire fighters under lower standards.

Affirmative Action does not strive to give minorities equal individual rights, but preferences at the expense of the majority. Minorities are not lifted to the level of the majority, but standards are lowered for them.

The New Left assault on capitalist culture has been a brilliant success, much more successful than blundering Marxism ever was. Consider: in the 1950's communism was reviled in a movement led by Senator McCarthy. Many on the left disagreed that communism was bad, but it was clear among all that we were not communist. We were capitalist (or to be exact, a mixed economy) and our enemy was communist. Our school children were not indoctrinated in dialectical materialism.

Today the New Leftist attacks on capitalism are held as moral ideals in our culture and indoctrinated into children throughout their 12 years in public education (government schools). The New Left has succeeded where the Old Left failed. Now we are taught egalitarian ideas that destroy the standards of value of capitalism. As a result, our culture is changing. State power is growing and freedom is disappearing.

The growth of the state is never done explicitly, never with clarity. It is always done in a kind of fog. Statists do not discuss their ultimate purpose, but stop at altruism. "It is our duty to help the little guy," they announce as they pass new regulations strangling corporations, violating property rights and stealing wealth.

Statists are wise to focus their arguments on altruism, because it is the ethics of religion. This morality is already accepted by most Americans. When New Leftists expand the state in the name of altruism, their religionist opponents are disarmed.

The New Left is so successful that it not only steers the Democrat Party, but its premises have penetrated deep into the Republican Party. John McCain, the presumptive nominee for President from the Republican Party, talks about expanding "national service" and "taking on" industry.

John McCain promises to "reform" Wall Street. This will mean an expansion of government intervention in the economy. When Democrats promise anything so bold, conservatives scream that their opponents are socialists and a threat to freedom. The Republicans' own candidate is just such a threat to freedom.

The ideas of the New Left are so widely accepted and so uncontroversial, sitting as they do on 2,000 years of Christian morality in the west, that they go unnoticed like the air we breathe. For the ignorant masses educated in public schools, seeing the New Left is as hard as describing the taste of water. It's just there like a metaphysical fact of nature. Marxism never came close to such success.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

News Jog

The Russians attack Georgia. After reading Stratfor's brief analysis, I think Putin is sending a message. He is saying, "Unless you're prepared to go to the mattresses, please stop this foolish talk about Georgia joining NATO. We're the boss in this part of town." As Stratfor notes, it is more important how the other former Soviet Republics respond to this message than how the west responds, because let's face it: ain't a chance in hell America will go to war with Russia over Georgia. (Their Georgia, not our Georgia.)

John Edwards confesses he screwed around. Someone high up in the party must have leaned on him and said, "End this thing!" So while Edwards was exploiting his wife's cancer for political gain, he was also cheating on her. What a guy! He's a man who got rich suing doctors. No sympathy for this creep.

Olympics begin. Been too busy to watch. Backstage at the performance of The Tempest last night an actor told me that four bicyclists wore face masks because of the pollution and they were forced to apologize to China. My response was, "F**k China."

The Obama salute. It is done by forming an O with your fingers. What I want to know is: did anyone run this by Obama and did he say, "Gee, that's a swell idea"? He's running for POTUS, not for the leadership of some cult in California.

Obama derides America to seven-year girl. This has been getting a lot of criticism from conservatives.

All you need to know about Barack and Michelle's anti-Americanism is that it comes from New Leftist altruism. They believe that America under Bush has not sacrificed sufficiently to the rest of the world. They believe the Iraq war was an act of self-interest by rich Republicans who will make millions from oil and Halliburton.

This is why Michelle called America "downright mean." Although it sounds like something a sixth-grader would say, mean is a favorite word of altruists (as is mean-spirited). In their view it's either-or: either America sacrifices or it is mean. There are no rational egoists in their philosophy; all the world is divided into three categories -- victims, altruists who sacrifice for the victims and selfish beasts who make others their victims. Bush, Cheney and the neocons are among the mean ones who invade helpless countries for financial gain. Obama is an altruist.

If Obama is elected, he will change Bush's mean policies. America will sacrifice greatly to the rest of the world and be loved again. It's the same idea behind the liberal Rob Reiner's recent comments:

If Obama wins, Reiner predicts a great deal of interaction between the candidate and Hollywood, like the days of the Clinton presidency.

"You’d have the same thing, absolutely. There’d be the same kind of love and respect, but I think you’d have it even bigger. With someone like Obama, I think the whole country, the whole world will coalesce. Every election is about change, and change takes a long time because there are big issues that can’t be changed overnight. But the one thing that will change dramatically is how we’re viewed around the world. Once Obama is in there, the world will view us in an entirely different light. And that, to me, is a good thing."

The whole world will coalesce. I end this post by noting that it is only by a titanic act of will power that I write no insult involving the word meathead.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Stooping A Little Lower

One of the most significant (and depressing) political trends of the last few decades has been the left's abandoning of reason and adopting lies and character assassination to defeat opponents. They have taken a big step toward totalitarianism. Those who no longer respect the truth are capable of anything.

Today we learn that some leftists, at least, consider expanding smears and intimidation not just to politicians but to Republican donors.

Nearly 10,000 of the biggest donors to Republican candidates and causes across the country will probably receive a foreboding “warning” letter in the mail next week.

The letter is an opening shot across the bow from an unusual new outside political group on the left that is poised to engage in hardball tactics to prevent similar groups on the right from getting off the ground this fall.

Led by Tom Matzzie, a liberal political operative who has been involved with some prominent left-wing efforts in recent years, the newly formed nonprofit group, Accountable America, is planning to confront donors to conservative groups, hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions. …

The warning letter is intended as a first step, alerting donors who might be considering giving to right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.

As Captain Ed comments, this will backfire. Big time. Republicans are not primarily motivated by love of their candidates -- certainly they have little love of McCain -- but by fear and loathing of the Democrats. This letter will feed that fear and loathing, and justly so.

This is the kind of thing that made me predict that in the end Republicans will fall behind their candidate. They will vote for McCain even though they dislike him because they hate the left. If the Democrats were smart they would stay away from all lies, smears and brownshirt intimidation tactics -- all of which people like Hugh Hewitt use to whip up anger on the right and motivate the base. Apparently, leftists can't help themselves: they just have to release their inner thug.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

What's Wrong With McCain?


What's Wrong With Obama?

As Obama fades in the polls, people are asking why this is happening. Alex Castellanos, David Brooks, and Classical Values examine Obama's weakness as a candidate.

I believe Obama's problem is that he has miscalculated because of his leftist premises. As a socialist and a postmodernist Obama does not believe that man can know the truth about reality. Instead, people's beliefs are determined by other things. You probably remember a few months ago when Obama said to his fellow leftists in San Francisco,

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

This is a materialistic explanation of values: because of economic hardship people turn to guns, religion, bigotry or protectionism.

Leftists believe Americans labor under a "false consciousness" foisted upon us by greedy capitalists. Corporations keep Americans from seeing the truth that leftists, being special people motivated by altruism instead of greed, can see.

Thus, Obama believes the truth is irrelevant when you're talking to the American people. Obama can say anything, take any position, contradict himself if necessary. The only standard is: will his statement help him gain power?

For months Obama has either been so vague that his words can mean anything or when he has gotten specific, he has been all over the map, backtracking and flip-flopping. People are left wondering, "What does Obama really believe?"

Obama underestimates the American people. More people care about logic and the truth than he thinks. Perhaps he is now learning that if your words are meaningless long enough -- if your statements are not firmly tied to reality -- people stop listening.

How ironic it is that a man who won the Democrat nomination by appealing to voters' idealism has been undone so far by excessive cynicism. His idealism was as empty as his cynicism is rich and full to the brim.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 73

This blog looks like crap in Firefox. The letters look strange and thin. Internet Explorer for me.

1. The Road to Serfdom.

2. From Litblog:

Then said Mrs Hauskbee to me--she looked a trifle faded and jaded in the lamplight--'Take my word for it, the silliest woman can manage a clever man; but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool.'

--Three and-an Extra from Plain Tales from the Hills by Rudyard Kipling

3. Fred Hiatt analyzes Democrat thinking.

In this view of the world, Republican operatives, from Lee Atwater to Karl Rove, are more diabolically clever, and less bound by ethical restraint, than their Democratic counterparts.

Yes, the people who invented Borking and who have come to rely on October Surprise character assassination to win elections actually believe they are more ethical than Republicans. As altruists, their self-conception is so bound up in the idea that they are nice, benevolent people that they won't let themselves see how much they have damaged America in the last few decades by abandoning ideas and turning to smear tactics.

The rest of the article is worth reading.

4. Leonard Peikoff's July 21, 2008 podcast discusses not paying taxes, what fiction he reads, applying DIM to music, whether environmentalism is leading society to something like Anthem, what we should do toward cultural change, Galt saying "Don't look down" when there is a blackout in New York at the end of Atlas Shrugged, and speaking out about Objectivism.

His July 28, 2008 podcast looks at why Ayn Rand gave Howard Roark orange hair, how long it should take to master Objectivism, an email from a young man who (like Dominique) despairs in today's world, and the Big Bang Theory in particular and modern physics in general.

His August 4, 2008 podcast looks at whether a person who is "non-conceptual" (concrete bound, does not think in abstract principles) can change himself as an adult, whether the government should ban smoking, whether objective knowledge is possible, treason in non-wartime, and what a contextual absolute is.

5. Oil prices dropping.

Locally, the lowest price is $4.03.

(Oh, and 9/10. Can't forget the 9/10 of a cent. Inflation has made a penny worth so little that the 9/10 convention might be unnecessary. Is there enough difference between $4.03 and $4.04 to affect a consumer's buying? I can remember seeing gas for 19 cents in a "gas war" in Kansas in the 1960's. At 20 cents a gallon, one penny is 5%, so the 9/10 made a big difference in consumer perception. Back then one penny could buy you a piece of candy. At $1 a gallon, a penny is 1%; at $4 a gallon, .25%.)

(I once knew a numismatist who chided me for using the word penny. There are no pennies in American coinage! That almost worthless piece of copper and I think zinc is a one cent piece. England has pennies, short I believe for pence, and they looked like our one cent piece so people got confused and called the American coin a penny. Somehow "one cent piece for your thoughts" doesn't have the right ring to it...)

Anyway, these dropping prices are tragic for environmentalists, Democrats and socialists of all parties who want to use high gas prices to gin up a crisis they can exploit to expand the power of the state. I know, lower prices are good for consumers -- but let's not be selfish. Let's have compassion for the would be tyrants among us and raise the price of gas!

6. Zogby says it's McCain 42%, Obama 41%.

After Obama's last month, in which he has gotten the most glowing media coverage in the history of everything, he is in a statistical tie with McCain? Could it be that people are saying, "Please -- enough is enough with Obama"? Could it possibly be that we underestimate the good sense of the American people?

UPDATE: The price of gas on August 5 is $3.98! Madness! Americans will be buying more gas, driving more, and expanding their carbon footprints to Sasquatch-size. They will be more productive and, worst of all, happier! Can't we do something? Can't the President just order oil companies to raise their prices?