Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Cloward-Piven Candidate?

When the Russians invaded Georgia in August, Republicans must have smugly thought, "Good. When issues of national security dominate people's concerns, they vote Republican!" History had returned, the glib saying went, and that was good for McCain.

In this bizarre election year they should have known history had some more to say. What do we get in September? The greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. For whatever reason, this seems to be helping the Democrat.

The graph in this post by Jay Cost shows McCain's poll numbers falling with each bit of financial news.

This election is beginning to look like an absurdist comedy to me, especially if Obama goes on to win. Obama is a comic character. What has he done in life but run for office? He voted present over 120 times as a State Senator. He's a guy who stays quiet and goes along with the machine.

During the negotiations for the bailout bill -- despite what you think of the bill, and I do not support it -- McCain went to Washington and was in the trenches doing whatever Senators do. Obama did nothing. The bill collapses and Obama's lead over McCain grows.

Jim Simpson thinks something more sinister is going on, something called the Cloward-Piven Strategy.

In an earlier post, I noted the liberal record of unmitigated legislative disasters, the latest of which is now being played out in the financial markets before our eyes. Before the 1994 Republican takeover, Democrats had sixty years of virtually unbroken power in Congress - with substantial majorities most of the time. Can a group of smart people, studying issue after issue for years on end, with virtually unlimited resources at their command, not come up with a single policy that works? Why are they chronically incapable?


One of two things must be true. Either the Democrats are unfathomable idiots, who ignorantly pursue ever more destructive policies despite decades of contrary evidence, or they understand the consequences of their actions and relentlessly carry on anyway because they somehow benefit.

I submit to you they understand the consequences. For many it is simply a practical matter of eliciting votes from a targeted constituency at taxpayer expense; we lose a little, they gain a lot, and the politician keeps his job. But for others, the goal is more malevolent - the failure is deliberate. Don't laugh. This method not only has its proponents, it has a name: the Cloward-Piven Strategy. It describes their agenda, tactics, and long-term strategy.

The Strategy was first elucidated in the May 2, 1966 issue of The Nation magazine by a pair of radical socialist Columbia University professors, Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven. David Horowitz summarizes it as:

"The strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis. The "Cloward-Piven Strategy" seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse."

In other words, Democrats don't care if their policies destroy the economy because that serves their ultimate end of socialism. Crises are good for the left. They blame capitalism and then move us closer to socialism. You'll note that the standard line on the left is that deregulation caused the current crisis and solution is more regulation. The cause of our problems is never government and the solution is never freedom.

Is Obama in on this nefarious goal of advancing socialism through crisis? Simpson thinks so:

I ask you, is it possible ACORN would train Obama to take leadership positions within ACORN without telling him what he was training for? Is it possible ACORN would put Obama in leadership positions without clueing him into what his purpose was?? Is it possible that this most radical of organizations would put someone in charge of training its trainers, without him knowing what it was he was training them for?

As a community activist for ACORN; as a leadership trainer for ACORN; as a lead organizer for ACORN's Project Vote; as an attorney representing ACORN's successful efforts to impose Motor Voter regulations in Illinois; as ACORN's representative in lobbying for the expansion of high risk housing loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that led to the current crisis; as a recipient of their assistance in his political campaigns -- both with money and campaign workers; it is doubtful that he was unaware of ACORN's true goals. It is doubtful he was unaware of the Cloward-Piven Strategy.

I'm suspicious of Simpson's explanation. If Obama believes in and fights for Cloward-Piven, then he will have a contradiction at the heart of his presidency, for presidents are admired for their accomplishments, not the crises they create by screwing up. Or does Obama plan to go past the crisis phase to the institution of socialism?

Another thing that makes me suspicious of Cloward-Piven is that, as Mises and the Austrian economists have demonstrated, government intervention creates crises regardless of the motivation of interventionists. Many politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, earnestly think they are making things better when they pass laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley or the Community Reinvestment Act. (Are the well meaning ones mere useful idiots of the radicals?)

Finally, Simpson's theory reminds me of the John Birch Society's old ways of finding a communist conspiracy behind, well, everything. As Ayn Rand wrote, the Birchers don't understand the role of philosophy. Those who hold the same philosophic premises will tend to want the same political policies. Those who do not understand the role of philosophy in man's life think conspiracy theories are at work.

None of my reservations refute the idea that there are radical groups out there that want to replace capitalism with socialism. No question, these leftist radicals exist, they have infiltrated to the heart of the Democrat Party, and Obama has had connections with these groups all his life, starting with his hard-line communist father. But the goals and machinations of the radical left are not the fundamental explanation of America's stumbling from crisis to crisis toward socialism. No, at the root of the problem is the philosophy of altruism, which leads to government intervention in the economy to help the "little guy," and which -- rather conveniently for the acolytes of Cloward-Piven -- does not care if its programs make the world actually better. With altruism, intentions are always more important than results. In the end, altruists are more interested in putting chains on the rich rather than raising the standard of living of the poor. As Ayn Rand showed, their goal is to attack the good for being the good. This destructive, nihilist philosophy led to Cloward-Piven, not the other way around.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman, RIP

Great movie actors have an elusive, hard to define quality called screen presence. It is not just a matter of beauty, although beauty helps. Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn and the mature Joan Crawford, none of them great beauties, had screen presence. Hedy Lamarr, called by some the most beautiful woman of the last century, wasn't much of a screen presence. (These actresses flourished back when Hollywood made movies for adults. Today Hollywood is a factory for making comic book movies, and actresses too old to play the action hero's sex kitten struggle to find work.)

Paul Newman had screen presence as much as anyone ever has. He was the ultimate movie star, although he had contempt for Hollywood and chose to live back east. I remember him reading a letter from a fan of his food products that said toward the end, "My wife tells me you are also an actor." The writer went on to wish him luck in his acting career. Newman carried the letter in his wallet to keep his Hollywood fame in perspective. He was not one to believe his press agent's PR.

Newman also said once that every audition he went to in the '50s, he would see James Dean coming out the door with the part. (How would like to be a mere mortal actor back then competing against Paul Newman and James Dean?)

I'm conflicted about Paul Newman because, though he a brilliant actor, he represents the rise of naturalism in Hollywood in the '60s. I'll never forget how startling and original Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was in 1969. Early in the movie there's a scene in which Butch (played by Newman) is arguing with this big guy in his gang. It looks like the scene is heading toward a fist fight -- standard stuff in westerns. Then Newman kicks the big guy in the balls. The fight is over before it begins. My 12-year old self could not believe what I was seeing. He kicked him in the balls!

If the kick in the balls seems like a cliche now, it is only because William Goldman's screenplay is one of the most influential scripts of all time. Before this movie, good guys did not kick their enemy in the balls. Cowboys were heroic and noble; they had a code of ethics.

This brash, rule-breaking naturalism was fresh and unexpected in 1969. However, I do not think it has been good for American culture since then. Naturalism works like a literary Gresham's Law: bad heroes drive good heroes out of the culture. Just as in our value-deprived culture there are young people today who have no idea of what a beautiful melody in popular music would sound like (because they don't listen to Radio Dismuke), so the young have never seen a hero who is good, noble, moral and intelligent. Instead, they get psychotic Dark Knights and mystics with lightsabers.

The essence of Newman's career is described:

Newman gave strong performances and appeared in important movies in each of the decades he worked. Still, it's the two indelible title roles from the early 1960s -- paradigms of what came to be called "antiheroes" -- that throw the longest shadows. In "The Hustler" he played "Fast Eddie" Felson, a cocksure pool player come from the West Coast to New York City to challenge the legendary Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). Eddie has talent to burn but not yet the "character" to avoid snatching defeat from victory. The drama -- which takes on Faustian overtones via an enigmatic gambler (George C. Scott) who diagnoses Eddie as a "born loser"-- ends on a note of bleak triumph, but only after exacting a terrible cost from Eddie and those who loved him.

No matter how brash, rash, or sulky Eddie Felson became, he still compelled sympathy. "Hud" is a portrait of "an unprincipled man," a "cold-blooded bastard" who "doesn't give a damn" about anybody or anything. Up to a point, this was not an unheard-of challenge for an avowedly serious actor, especially one with cred from Yale School of Drama, the Actors Studio, and performing in original Broadway productions of plays by Tennessee Williams and William Inge. But "Hud," and Hud, went beyond. Surely there'd be a turning, some piercing blow or epiphany to show Homer Bannon's unloved second son the way to "character"? No. Nothing reformed Hud. His character was what it was. And he remained true to it even as he casually slammed the ranchhouse door in our collective face. The End.

So Hud compelled scant sympathy. But he could charm the dew off the grass, and certainly the audience. And despite the film's firm denunciations of Hud and his heartlessness and materialism, that was at bottom OK. Because as the tagline on billboards assured us: "Paul Newman IS Hud."

He could play antiheroes because he was so damned likable on screen. You couldn't believe a face that noble was really bad inside. With Hoffman, Pacino, De Niro, Malkovich and the rest you can believe it because there is nothing heroic in these faces.

Paul Newman can hardly be blamed for acting in the movies of his time. He brought glamour to movies like the overrated Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, The Hustler and Cool Hand Luke and the more tightly plotted The Sting. It would have been nice to see him as Don Carlos or Hernani or Jean Valjean or Cyrano. Could he have played a hero of great moral stature? I think he might have risen to the occasion. Maybe not: he might have dragged these heroes down to his level of comfort because, after a lifetime of acting flawed antiheroes, he was no longer capable of playing a moral giant.

An lntellectual Thug

I just checked in with Rule of Reason for the first time in a week. Holy cow, I missed a hell of a lot of action over there. Apparently, you can't let more than a day go by without seeing Rule of Reason.

Nicholas Provenzo was on the Laura Ingraham Show, which is, astonishingly, the fifth most popular radio show in America. (Ingraham is rumored to be hell to work for. Watch the video of her complaining to her staff on the set of her Fox News show.)

People like Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity represent the decline of conservatism. They are intellectual lightweights who come to conservatism by reading National Review and listening to Rush Limbaugh. They understand food fight TV journalism, shouting down an opponent and scoring quick points, rather than long, coherent arguments. Modern philosophy infects them to the point that, like the left, they use arguments from intimidation and mockery to shut up their opponents instead of rationally refuting them.

Listen to this MP3 of Ingraham interviewing Provenzo. She reveals herself to be staggeringly stupid and dishonest. She takes one of Provenzo's points -- that a Down Syndrome person is marginally productive -- rips it out of context, and then tries to play "gotcha" by asking if Provenzo would kill actual human beings, such as people suffering from Alzheimer's, because they are marginally productive. Her interview was so unfair and crude that I have to think that any of her millions of listeners who did not sense she was doing something wrong must themselves lack intelligence or listen to her out of focus. (This last happens all the time when people are driving into work with the radio on. They have to split focus between driving and listening, which I would think must affect their ability to judge an argument. There have been studies showing that many people have no idea what was advertised in a block of spots; all they noticed was that the music was not playing.)

In the video linked to above, you can see that she took care to wear a cross around her neck on air to announce her Christianity and her morality. Indeed, that cross and her actions reveal more than she intended about her morality.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The First Debate

McCain beat Obama in tonight's debate. He wiped him out. Foreign policy is the one area in which McCain is clearly superior to Obama. This one wasn't even close.

William Kristol brought up the analogy of a boxing match on Fox News. If this were a fist fight, McCain knocked Obama down and then kicked him almost to the point of unconsciousness. Obama lay in blood with snot dripping from his nose, whining, "Mommy! Make the bad man go away!"

It is disgusting that Obama holds as one of his foreign policy goals "to restore America's standing in the world." If America is in low standing in world, then there is something wrong with the world, not with America. In effect, high on Obama's to do list is to kiss the butt of every two-bit socialist dictator around the world and to give them boatloads of taxpayer dollars.

Neither candidate is great on the issue of talking to Achmadinejad. You don't talk to man like Achmadinejad; you kill such a man. The very act of talking to a dictator who wants to destroy you is worse than anything that could be said in these vaunted discussions because it gives the dictator moral sanction. How can you wipe out a regime if it is decent and rational enough to talk to? You can't. And that's why Obama is desperate to talk to our enemies: the act of talking itself prevents us from attacking. For someone who voted present over 120 times as a State Senator, it is important to be relieved from any expectation or responsibility to take action. Talking is what politicians do when they pretend to have a solution but in reality have nothing. Obama has nothing. He is all symbolism and no substance.

Even on the economy in the first half hour of the debate, McCain won. Obama's big idea is to redistribute wealth. Hey, there's an original idea! When he talks about tax cuts for 95% of Americans, he means a tax increase for the richest 5%. That's redistribution from the richest to the rest of America. This has been Democrat policy for, I dunno, a hundred years or so? Will the Democrats ever come up with a new idea?

McCain came off as a man who understands that the world is a dangerous place and America must preserve peace through strength. Obama came off as a shallow cipher and an empty suit who wants to appease America's enemies.

In economics, both candidates prescribe more of the poison that is killing us: government intervention. In foreign policy, only Obama prescribes more the poison that is killing us: appeasement. McCain will probably come around to appeasement, but he prescribes a lower dosage of the poison. I guess that's the most one can hope for from a Republican these days.

And Another Thing...

I take a break from my break on this blog to urge you to take an hour to watch this lecture by Yaron Brook called, "The Resurgence of Big Government." Not only is Dr. Brook an Objectivist, but he used to teach finance at a college, so he, like, actually knows what he's talking about regarding economics.

You won't find any commentary this good from conservatives, neo-conservatives, paleo-conservatives or libertarians. (Commentary from liberals, socialists and environmentalists on economics is about as useful as flapping your lips with your index finger while vocalizing. Try it! You'll sound just like Barney Frank.)

On another note, I heard on the radio that a church in the midwest, referring to Katy Perry's smash hit, "I Kissed A Girl," had a sign out front that read, "I kissed a girl and I liked it -- then I went to hell."

UPDATE: This commentary by Hugh Hewitt castigating House Republicans for having the temerity to question Paulson's bailout plan shows why Hewitt is the worst. Republicans should be saying, "Uh, wait a minute..." about the greatest leap toward socialism in recent memory. But if the government does not intervene and the meltdown spreads, then McCain's presidential hopes might suffer, and Hewitt cares only about one thing: Republican electoral success.

Republicans embracing big government for fear they might lose the next election is destroying the party. Voters are not stupid: if they want Democrats, they know they might as well elect real ones instead of these trembling, spineless creatures that are me too Republicans.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Few Notes

I just finished playing Prospero in The Tempest with the San Jacinto Shakespeare Festival. It was a hard role, almost 700 lines, much of which were expository monologues in the dense poetry of Shakespeare's late style. Next week I have a big audition for the summer of 2009.

I need to take a break from politics until events warrant a comment. Both campaigns are busy slinging mud, with the left as always a bit more dishonest and outrageous. (A rule of thumb: whatever the left accuses the right of doing, the left is actually doing to the right.)

The financial meltdown has been caused by economic miscalculations that came about as the result of government intervention. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans show much understanding of this; they would profit mightily by reading the Austrian Economists. Instead, they prescribe more of the poison that is killing the patient. They are hoping that inflation -- a hidden tax that falls hardest on the weakest in society -- will get us through until the next guy takes over. Then it is his problem. So, instead of a market collapse, every American will "sacrifice for something greater than self-interest." McCain should be happy! Nationwide suffering: altruism doesn't get better than that. (And as a bonus from inflation, because of pervasive economic ignorance, the statists in the government can scream at corporations for raising prices, and use inflation as an excuse to further destroy freedom in America. Really, for big government, inflation is like manna from heaven.)

I hope to relax and get some reading and playwriting done. If all goes well, I will take at least a week off from this blog.

Here are a few links for your enjoyment.

1. What Would Ayn Rand Have Done?

The only quibble in the piece is the writer's idea that Ayn Rand would have hated a postage stamp with her image on it. Since she was a philatelist, I think she would have liked it.

2. Imagine an intelligent creature that hunts other intelligent creatures. The predator delights in cracking open its prey's skull to eat its brains and in snapping its bones to suck out the marrow.

Science fiction? It happened on Earth. The predator was the human being; the victim was the Neanderthal.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Nature of the Democrats

For years I've been following one of the most ominous trends in American culture, the radicalization of the Democrat Party. The Democrats are taking on aspects of a totalitarian party. Force, lies and intimidation replace reason in the party's pursuit of power.

Obama's campaign has taken this totalitarian trend farther than any Democrat presidential candidate has done before. The campaign has taken a series of troubling actions.

It smeared McCain in a cynical, outright dishonest ad in which Rush Limbaugh's comments were taken out of context to make Republicans look racist. Limbaugh writes,

...the commercial flashes two quotes from me: ". . . stupid and unskilled Mexicans" and "You shut your mouth or you get out!

The "stupid and unskilled Mexicans" remark came while he was defending NAFTA, and attributing that line to its opponents. Limbaugh believes the opposite about Mexican workers.

Limbaugh sums up,

The malignant aspect of this is that Mr. Obama and his advisers know exactly what they are doing. They had to listen to both monologues or read the transcripts. They then had to pick the particular excerpts they used in order to create a commercial of distortions. Their hoped-for result is to inflame racial tensions. In doing this, Mr. Obama and his advisers have demonstrated a pernicious contempt for American society.

This ad shows a shocking contempt for the truth from the Democrats. These people have decided that their end of power justifies any means.

This week Obama exhorted his followers,

I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face.

(Bold added.)

This is asking for more than just persuasion. This is not just asking the Bambis of the Democrat party to show some spine. This is asking for Democrats to intimidate. Getting in another person's face is an attempt to instill fear and silence that person. The threat of violence is implicit. This is not about reason; it is about force. Obama is turning his supporters into proto-brown shirts. Today they are asked to intimidate. What might they be asked to do tomorrow?

If any Republican exhorted his followers to get in the other side's face, the MSM would take this as evidence of the Republicans' mean-spirited nature.

Also this week Palin's emails were hacked into by a 20-year old boy who happens to be the son of a Democrat Tennessee State Representative.

ACORN, which registers voters for the Democrats, is suspected of voter fraud.

...ACORN workers often handed in the same name on a number of voter registration cards, but showing that person living at different addresses. Other times, cards had the same name listed, but a different date of birth. Still another sign of possible fraud showed a number of people living at an address that turned out to be a restaurant.

We will see a lot more voter fraud on November 4 as the Democrats try to steal the election. It worked for them in 1960 and they almost pulled it off in 2000.

For weeks now Obama has attempted to silence his critics with intimidation from lawyers and his followers.

In today's Chicago Tribune, the Obama camp responds to nitpicky concerns about their attempts to shut down radio shows that might say things they don't like, via their "Obama Action Wires":

"The Action Wire serves as a means of arming our supporters with the facts to take on those who spread lies about Barack Obama and respond forcefully with the truth, whether it's an author passing off fiction as biography, a Web site spreading baseless conspiracy theories or a TV station airing an ad that makes demonstrably false claims," said Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt.

Having listened to the previous Milt Rosenberg show with Stanley Kurtz that got "Action-Wired" (which is available here), I can tell you what this translates to:

"We'll provide a page of talking points for you to spout at the host and his guest. Just read it from your screen. Unfortunately, we're unable to provide you with the necessary brainpower to keep up when the host asks you to explain the reasoning behind 'your' opinion, or poses any other question that isn't found in our script.

"But that isn't the point anyway. We just want to tie up their phone lines with thousands of angry calls, both to intimidate them and to prevent people with legitimate questions from getting through. Yes We Can... Shout Down All Blasphemers."

(Bold in original.)

Robert Tracinski in his latest TIA Daily traces the left's problem back to the 1930's:

The modern left was born from America's "Red Decade," in which the intelligentsia embraced collectivism and dictatorship and hailed the bloodthirsty Soviet regime as a noble experiment. The left was born out of a conscious act of treason, not just to America, but to the principles it stands for.


The root of the American left's fundamental sympathy with the Soviet Union—and with dictatorship in general—is that they share the basic political outlook of the Soviets: a belief in rule by force. This infects every element of the left and explains why the left tends to inject thug tactics into political campaigns...

If the party has been rotten for 70 years -- and I think it got really bad with the ascent of the New Left in the '60s -- it is remarkable they have not done more damage to America's tradition of freedom by now. I have to think America dodged a bullet by electing only two Democrat presidents in the last 40 years.

I have argued that Obama, as one who prides himself in being a "blank screen" on which others see what they want to see, reflects the unexceptional, generic Democrat Party. He is not one to forge a new ideological path within the party. He senses the accepted, majority opinion and goes along. But this same man shows the totalitarian tendencies described above. Those tendencies are very much a part of the nature of the Democrat Party today. This is who they are. This is how low they have fallen.

Harry Binswanger asks an interesting question on HBList. After he had the nomination in the bag, Obama moved to the center, adopting Republican positions on various issues (to the point of advocating more war in Afghanistan), and yet, the left has complained little. They are staying silent about Obama's positions.

Why? What do they understand about Obama that the rest of us don't?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Abortion and Eugenics

The immensely popular conservative blog, Hot Air, put up a link that read, Objectivist writer: It’s very morally important to abort social burdens like Trig Palin. The link is to a post at Newsbusters criticizing this post by Nicholas Provenzo at Rule of Reason. I believe Lew Rockwell also linked to it.

The fur is flying in the comments section to Mr. Provenzo's post. I've read the post carefully twice to see what he wrote that is so controversial, but I can find nothing to disagree with. Despite Hot Air's mockery implying that Provenzo is a moron ("very morally"), the piece argues intelligently that it is rational and perfectly moral for a woman to abort a fetus she knows will be defective.

The post brings up a major argument by opponents of such abortions:

...the anti-abortion zealots try to attach a dirty little slur to these abortions, labeling them a form of eugenics. For example, in 2005, as he condemned those who opposed federal legislation that would have attempted to dissuade women carrying fetuses diagnosed with severe disabilities from having abortions, conservative pundit George Will wrote:

If it is not unobjectionable, let's identify the objectors, who probably favor the pernicious quest -- today's "respectable" eugenics -- for a disability-free society.

Eugenics is the opposite of a proper defense of a woman's right to abortion. Eugenics is collectivist. It is the idea that a race must be protected by weeding out the weak and making sure they do not breed. Eugenics holds that individuals must sacrifice for the good of the race.

A woman's right to an abortion has nothing to do with the good of any collective; it is only a matter of her individual rights. For her own selfish happiness, she has the right to abort a child that will be mentally retarded.

The comments to Provenzo's post, 108 comments long as I write, are mostly a cesspool of mysticism. The anti-abortionists assert, as they always do, that abortion is killing a baby. A fetus is not an actual baby, but a potential one, just as an acorn is not an actual oak tree. I believe it is the idea that God inserts a soul into the fetus at conception that confuses the believers.

I didn't notice any liberals attacking Provenzo, which figures, considering where the links came from, and considering that liberals are pro-choice. Those comments confirm my suspicion that America will never be destroyed by the nihilist left, but by conservatives and libertarians who pose as defenders of liberty but are in fact its enemies.

Around the World Wide Web 78

1. When McCain beats Obama in a landslide in November, you can think of it as job security for Tina Fey.

2. What's the Matter With Canada? subtitled, "How the world's nicest country turned mean," is actually a story about what is right with Canada. The liberal writer of this piece does not understand freedom and equates socialism with morality, and is therefore baffled by the conservatives in Canada.

Canada was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the fight against climate change, and as recently as 2005 it was the Canadian environment minister who helped broker an agreement to extend the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012. Then last December, at a U.N. conference in Bali to negotiate a successor to Kyoto, Canada executed a neat 180-degree turn, trying to block an agreement that set a target for future cuts to greenhouse-gas emissions. Of the 190 countries at the conference, only Russia supported Canada's position.

Thank you, Canada and Russia! (And what does it say when Russia is saving us from environmentalist regulations?)

...Canada is now the only Western country that still has one of its citizens held in Guantanamo, but Ottawa has refused to press for his release.

Imagine that -- Canada is letting a terrorist rot in Guantanamo. Oh, the humanity.

The Conservative Party, formed five years ago in a merger of the country's two right-wing parties, is Canada's first experience with an anti-government, socially conservative party in the mold of Reagan-Bush Republicans. Its leader, Stephen Harper, who is now the prime minister, once called Canada "a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term."

Man, that really is mean. If they keep this up, where will America's Democrats threaten to move if Republicans win an election?

3. How can conservatives listen to Sarah Palin and think she is on the side of freedom? She is every bit as ignorant of economics and every bit the statist nightmare that John McCain is. Watch her speak in Colorado as she promises to continues the trend of expanding regulations and persecuting CEO's. Because management has not run companies "responsibly," this fascist wants to stop "multi-million dollar payouts and golden parachutes to CEO's who break the public trust." She is promising non-objective law and greater intervention in the economy. Her ideas will not solve the problem, which is too much government regulations in the first place.

The coming McCain/Palin administration will be bad for America. Four years from now we will all be a little more enslaved than we are now.

4. Obama meddled in Iraq.

The Obama campaign spent more than five hours on Monday attempting to figure out the best refutation of the explosive New York Post report that quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as saying that Barack Obama during his July visit to Baghdad demanded that Iraq not negotiate with the Bush Administration on the withdrawal of American troops. Instead, he asked that they delay such negotiations until after the presidential handover at the end of January.

The three problems, according to campaign sources: The report was true, there were at least three other people in the room with Obama and Zebari to confirm the conversation, and there was concern that there were enough aggressive reporters based in Baghdad with the sources to confirm the conversation that to deny the comments would create a bigger problem.

Maybe if Obama ignores it long enough the MSM will move on.

As to the original meddling, I think so little Obama's intelligence and his grip on reality that I doubt he understood he was doing anything wrong.

5. Some of Obama's coworkers from the '80s dispute Obama's version of what he did while working at a newsletter publisher. For instance, he says he had a secretary when in reality he did not.

We're not holding our breath until Andrew Sullivan and the Kossacks jump up and down and shriek that Obama is a "LIAR!"

6. McCain would rather attack businessmen and undermine capitalism than attack Democrats:

John McCain was interviewed this morning on CNBC's Sqawk Box program about the Wall Street crisis by the lone conservative anchor, Joe Kernan. Kernan, doing everything he could to point McCain in the right direction, fought an uphill battle as McCain was blaming most of the problem on CEO's who had "broken the public trust" and on "unfettered capitalism" in the spirit of "Teddy Roosevelt."

McCain managed to blame both parties equally in the mess, refusing to acknowledge that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Lehman Brothers are all much more aligned with Democrats in congress than with Republicans. The Arizona Senator mentioned that he was willing to "reach across the aisle" to help solve these problems and "restore Americans' faith in government."

You know what this is recipe for? BUSINESS AS USUAL IN WASHINGTON, D.C. Both Obama's promise of change and McCain's promise of reform are two steaming piles of horseshit. All we will get is more and more government intervention in the economy until someday it all collapses. America will then be ready for a dictator who promises order amid the chaos.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Season of Mud

In an election year, the time between Labor Day and the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is Mud-Slinging Season. Both parties are in the spirit of the season.

The Democrats, traumatized by the Swiftboat campaign against Kerry in 2004, have been assuring their base since the primaries that they won't let it happen this year. This year, we hear over and over, they will give as well as they get. In reality they always have given as well as gotten, but as altruists their self-image is so wrapped up in the idea that they are nice, benevolent people that they evade their own mudslinging. Their moments of victimization at the hands of the beastly Republicans (Swiftboat! Swiftboat!) are seared into their memory, but they forget that they invented Borking.

Obama has been reeling since McCain chose Palin as his Vice-President -- and whether you like McCain or not (I do not), you have to admit that his choice was brilliant, simply because it stole the spotlight from The One. (Picking a VP has always been about helping a candidate win an election. JFK is reported to have loathed Johnson, but he needed Texas so LBJ was his man.)

So what do Democrats want Obama to do now? What else? Get dirty:

According to NBC and the New York Times, Democrats have put enormous pressure on Barack Obama to start hitting John McCain in a more personal manner and to get his momentum back in this race. Team Obama says that the “bed-wetting” will not knock them off their game plan, but according to Andrea Mitchell, that may change.

Obama has taken some mockery because he has announced three or four times that he will take off the gloves.

Wham! You do that again and the gloves are off. Wham! You must not have heard what I said. One more time and the gloves are coming off... Wham! Okay. Okay, that hurt. It is bare knuckle time, baby. Wham! You are about to ANGER ME. I shall doff these expensive gloves. And I am just crazy enough to do it. Wham! What the hell is wrong with y... Wham!

The geniuses at Obama Central came up with an ad criticizing McCain for not using email. (That is some bare-knuckle brawling, man.) It turns out that McCain can't type because of his injuries from being tortured. Obama's attack succeeded only in reminding people that McCain is a war hero and that Obama's campaign is too incompetent to use google. Over the weekend the Obama camp decided to attack McCain because he is old.

Mickey Kaus is unimpressed by Obama's negative campaigning against McCain's supposed lack of honesty.

The current lib blog-MSM-campaign tack--getting outraged by McCain's "lies"--is a total loser strategy. Why?

a) MSM outrage doesn't sway voters anymore. It didn't even back in 1988, when the press tried to make a stink about George H.W. Bush's use of "flag factories," etc. After this year's failed MSM Palin assault, it certainly won't work;

b) When Dems get outraged at unfairness they look weak. How can they stand up to Putin if they start whining when confronted with Steve Schmidt? McCain's camp can fake umbrage all it wants--the latest is that an Atlantic photographer took some nasty photos that the mag didn't run!--and nobody will accuse MCain of being weak. That's so unfair. A double standard. Dems can learn to live with it or complain about the unfairness for another 4 years. Their choice.

c) It's almost always impossible to prove that a Republican attack is a 100% lie. Either there's a germ of truth (Kerry did hype his wartime heroism at least a bit) or the truth is indeterminate (i.e., there's no way of knowing what Obama meant by "lipstick"--just because he and McCain used the word earlier doesn't mean he didn't think using it now, after Palin's speech, didn't add a witty resonance).

d) Lecturing the public on what's 'true" and what's a "lie" (when the truth isn't 100% clear) plays into some of the worst stereotypes about liberals--that they are preachy know-it-alls hiding their political motives behind a veneer of objectivity and respectability.

e) Inevitably the people being outraged on Obama's behalf will phrase their arguments in ways well-designed to appeal to their friends--and turn off the unconverted. ('This is just what they did to John Kerry and Michael Dukakis!' As if the public yearns for the lost Kerry and Dukakis Presidencies. 'Today's kindergarteners need some sex education. Just because Republicans are old fashioned ...' etc. Or 'These are Karl Rove tactics,' which signifies little to non-Dem voters except a partisan rancor they'd like to put behind them.)

As always with liberals, there is a weird disconnect from reality. All their huffing and puffing about going negative should not be necessary because they have the MSM to do their mud-slinging for them. For the last two weeks we have seen the most remarkable attempt, both extensive and intensive, at character assassination at least since Clarence Thomas or Dan Quayle. The media have been desperate to define Sarah Palin as stupid, inexperienced, strange and nasty. They have employed outright lies, such as that Trig Palin is not really Sarah's son, but her daughter's son. Leftist radio host Randi Rhodes has suggested that Palin molests teenage boys. It has been observed that in two days Palin underwent more investigation from the media than Obama has suffered in 18 months. Charlie Martin is keeping track of the rumors about Palin; he is up to 71 now.

The left side of the blogosphere believes its mission is to sling the mud that is beneath Obama to sling. Andrew Sullivan hyperventilates:

I intend to be relentless for the next six weeks, morning, noon and night, weeks and weekdays, exposing the lies of the McCain-Palin campaign and showing their unfitness - in terms of competence, decency, intelligence, and experience - to become president and vice-president of the US. I will be making arguments and presenting facts in ways I do not expect and do not want Obama himself to engage him.

But these last two weeks - and this absurd, insulting pick for veep - has roused me. As I know it has roused many. McCain needs to be more than defeated. He needs to be exposed as the dishonest, despicable, desperate and dishonorable cynic he has become.

Let's hope he wiped the foam from his mouth when he finished writing that.

(Sullivan, just to provide context, happily publicized the unfounded rumor about Trig Palin's parentage. When the rumor became a joke because of pictures of Sarah Palin in full pregnancy, and testimonies from eye witnesses in Alaska, Sullivan was still demanding that the McCain campaign prove the arbitrary lie was not true.)

McCain has slammed Obama with some effective ads. He belittled Obama as a celebrity, likening him to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. He mocked Obama's messianic pretensions. He attacked Obama for wanting to teach sex education to kindergartners. He hit Obama about his use of the phrase "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," which ad managed to dominate two or three news cycles.

McCain's ads have been effective at defining Obama because Obama is an oddly undefined man. There is something shadowy and obscure about him. Who really is Obama? Charles Krauthammer has observed,

Eerily missing at the Democratic convention this year were people of stature who were seriously involved at some point in Obama's life standing up to say: I know Barack Obama. I've been with Barack Obama. We've toiled/endured together. You can trust him. I do.

An undefined man is vulnerable to hostile definition. By contrast, earlier this year the Obama campaign quietly trotted out a series of prominent Democrats to belittle McCain's military service. (Another smear campaign Democrats evade as they keep telling themselves, "We're the nice guys! We're the nice guys!") This campaign failed because voters know who John McCain is. Democrat sniping at his military experience was a loser that only reflexive, anti-American leftists could entertain as a good idea.

I would submit that Republican negative campaigns have been quite effective for over three decades now. This is not, as Democrats believe, because Republicans are naturally mean-spirited and Democrats are these wide-eyed Bambis who must force themselves to attack their fellow man. It is because Democrats cannot be honest with the American people about their socialism; if they were, the party would go the way of the Whigs in two weeks. This sets them up like bowling pins to be knocked down by a few ads pointing to the facts of a candidate's liberalism.

John McCain promised "to take the high road," then immediately went negative against Obama. Despite protestations of high-mindedness on both sides, they both have gone negative, as candidates have since the birth of the Republic. They do it because it works. When mud-slinging stops working, then the slinging of mud will stop.

Neither side can afford to run just positive ads because both parties are essentially the same: they are welfare state parties. They are two gangs fighting over power so they can spend the taxpayers' money the way their pressure groups want it spent. Neither party stands for real political values such as individual rights and liberty. Neither side has ideals worth advertising.

When you have two parties dedicated to expanding government power in a country that once believed, long ago, in the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then it is best to say as little as possible about your true intentions. It is much safer to attack the other party and keep the focus on them -- attack, attack, attack. Rush Limbaugh has made a career mocking liberals, but you'll notice he says little positive about Republicans these days. What is there to say? "The Republicans will destroy your freedom only half as much as the Democrats"? Not many votes in that message.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Blank Screen President

In May of 2007 Barack Obama made an odd gaffe:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Barack Obama, caught up in the fervor of a campaign speech Tuesday, drastically overstated the Kansas tornadoes death toll, saying 10,000 had died.

The death toll was 12.

"In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died—an entire town destroyed," the Democratic presidential candidate said in a speech to 500 people packed into a sweltering Richmond art studio for a fundraiser.

He blamed the error on being tired, but ask yourself: at your weakest moment, would you mistakenly exaggerate a death toll of 12 to 10,000?

There is a deeper explanation. Barack Obama's habitual way of thinking does not focus first on the facts, but on other people's emotional reaction to what he is saying. He was so focused on the effect of his story that, like a fiction writer, he made up the fact he needed for that effect.

He has described himself variously as a "rorschach test" and a "blank screen" on which people project what they want to see. Always with Obama his primary focus is on what other people think. The reactions of other people guide him as he speaks -- and facts are malleable things that can be made to fit the needs of the moment.

Obama is greatly feared on the right as a crypto-socialist who is acting moderate to gain power. This is possible, but I don't think it is the fundamental explanation of his character. His radicalism in the past has been the result of being surrounded by radicals. In liberal Chicago, he did what was needed to rise in the Chicago political machine. He reflects back to people what they want to see. If anything, Obama's far-left positions show how far the Democrats in general have moved to the left.

He has shown an astonishing ability to flip-flop on his positions. On issue after issue, he has changed his mind, as if his principles and positions are of secondary importance to what the voters want to hear. Recently, he even admitted that the surge had worked.

Look at the way he soaks up adoration when he speaks before large crowds. For a social metaphysician like Obama, in which metaphysical importance lies not primarily in the facts of reality but in what other people think, the adoration of the masses must be something like a peak experience. It doesn't get better than that.

His speaking technique has been shaped by his psychological orientation to reality. He speaks in sonorous, idealistic phrases -- that have no substance. His empty rhetoric about change we can believe in is meant to emotionally move the crowd of the moment without further meaning.

I suspect that Obama's epistemology -- and his popularity among the young -- is the product of American educational theory. John Dewey's progressive education seeks to socialize students. It emphasizes getting along. It produces people who are not independent thinkers, but who want to go along with the crowd. But Obama's thinking could be just the way he developed himself, regardless of schooling. Man is a being of self-made soul, after all.

It looks like the Democrat primary voters chose Obama because he is capable of inspiring oratory and because he is black. Had the media "vetted" Obama the way they do Republicans, he never would have survived the primaries. But the media, being on Democrats' side, have not done them a favor by going easy on Obama in the primaries. The presidential campaign is a long endurance trial, and with talk radio and the internet, the Democrat is bound to be tested even if the MSM favor him.

Here is the greatest irony about Obama. If he were elected, his administration would change nothing. The word he campaigned on would be his last consideration. What does a blank screen reflect when he is inside the beltway? He reflects the inside of the beltway. Business as usual would be the theme of Obama's presidency. The conventional wisdom at the State Department would be his foreign policy. The conventional wisdom among Democrat economists would be his domestic policy. Obama would be a servant, enacting policies others tell him to do.

But Obama would also try to appease and go along with Republicans -- who are, despite what the moonbats might think, people too. An Obama presidency could very well end up like Bill Clinton's: an initial push for socialism and big government, disastrous failure by mid-term, then being pushed around by Republicans for the rest of his time in office. This, folks, is the best-case scenario.

Of course, the world is a dangerous place, and the next presidency will likely be shaped by events from abroad. Militant Islam is at war with us, Russia is aggressive, and there are many others enemies around the world just waiting for a sign of American weakness before they make their move. With Obama, the question to ask is not, "How would Obama react," but "How would the Democrat foreign policy establishment react?" The establishment would tell Obama how to react.

Really, in electing Obama we are electing the generic Democrat. In this case the generic has a name; it has little else.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 77

I have driven up to the beautiful state of Oregon many times. I love Oregon! Of course, to a Shakespearean actor like me, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a kind of heaven on Earth.

Once back in the '80s, as I crossed the border I saw an official sign that read something like, "Welcome to Oregon -- just don't stay here."

How is that for hospitality? I guess Oregonians have a dim view of Californians. They think it's okay if we go up there to spend money, but they don't want us moving up there.

1. What the world has been waiting for: Barbra Streisand speaks out on McCain choosing Palin as his VP:

Maybe he was sick of the lack of media attention…maybe he had enough of the late night talk show hosts poking fun at his age…maybe he realized that belonging to a party that has been associated with rich, white men was not going to connect with voters in this historical election year. Or maybe he was just ready to take back some of the spotlight that has shined so brightly on Barack Obama and the Democrats since the beginning of the Democratic convention. Desperation can motivate people to make some pretty cynical and hypocritical decisions. Whatever the reason, John McCain’s Hail Mary-- in the form of Vice Presidential pick Governor Sarah Palin--sent a very clear message to America about how he views female voters. Women, he thinks, will vote another woman into office regardless of the candidate's values, experience and political positions.

Palin shored up McCain's conservative base and she appeals to independent women voters. She even appeals to some moderate Democrats, as Gallup reports McCains support among Democrats has risen from 9% to 14% since the convention. I don't think McCain could have picked another person in America who would have helped him so much as Palin.

2. John Hawkins has decided to vote for McCain for a similar reason to why I used to vote Republican.

...it may have been Barack's inability to do the job that had me rethinking my non-vote for McCain, but it has been the Left's treatment of Sarah Palin that put me over the top.


Andrew Sullivan, the Daily Kos, and the rest of the slime merchants drug everyone from Palin's baby to her husband through the mud. Then the same mainstream media that spent weeks protecting John Edwards immediately launched countless attacks at Palin's family. Do a search on Sarah Palin's name and you'll find more disproved rumors and outright lies than facts -- and it's meant to send a bullying message to other conservative women.

"If you oppose the Left, we won't just lie about you and try to destroy your reputation, we'll come after your children, too. So, you just keep your mouth shut and stay out of the spotlight."

The only way the Left can be persuaded not to continue these tactics is to defeat them. If the McCain/Palin ticket goes to the White House, the lies and attacks on Palin's children will be considered to be a failure, and the Left will back off. If not -- if they win -- you will see even more attacks on the families of conservatives. In other words, it's sad to say, but the only way to protect the families of conservatives is to hit the Left in the only place that really hurts them -- at the ballot box.

Hawkins is wrong. The left will not learn a lesson about smearing if they lose the election. Being liberal means never having to learn from your mistakes. They will continue to smear because they believe in force, not reason.

3. With the radicalization of the Democrat Party and the advent of Borking, the Dems have become dependent on "October Surprises" to win elections. An October Surprise is the late release of dirt about an opponent that hurts him in the election.

Today we hear that the Obama campaign has 30 people in Wasilla, Alaska digging for dirt on Palin.

...Democrats have airdropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators and opposition researchers into Anchorage, the state capital Juneau and Mrs. Palin’s hometown of Wasilla to dig into her record and background. My sources report the first wave arrived in Anchorage less than 24 hours after John McCain selected her on August 29.

Well, good luck, Dems. If you people were half as knowledgeable about economics as you are about character assassination, all of our problems would be solved.

Any Governor who sells the private jet because she thinks it wasteful is probably honest. The Democrats had best find a blockbuster or do nothing at all, otherwise the world will laugh at them.

4. Gallup shows the convention bounce.

You can't blame the Democrats for not seeing Palin coming. Conventional wisdom says people don't vote for Vice-Presidents. In Palin's case, however, people are voting for McCain/Palin because of Palin. It has been said that Palin is the biggest thing since Reagan entered politics 44 years ago. Actually, she is bigger than that. I don't think any Vice-Presidential candidate has made such a difference in American history.

I hope the Democrats spare us the usual excuses when they lose: the Republicans are Godzilla, the Democrats are Bambi; the media have a right-wing bias, the people are hypnotized by corporate America, America is racist, Diebold, etc. Sometimes you just get hit by something unprecedented. (Doubtless, the religious right will explain Palin as the will of God. She is America's Joan of Arc!)

5. Obama is tight with the religious left.

At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Obama tapped Wallis to oversee the drafting of the faith-based plank of the party platform (which, by the way, champions outreach programs for "ex-offenders").

"This is a very faith-friendly convention," Wallis said. "I think Democrats have really gone through an important change." But their newfound faith is not one most mainline Christians would even recognize, let alone embrace.

Like Wright and Obama, Wallis believes that biblical faith compels radical social action. Their political ministry is called the "social gospel," but it's really just socialism dressed up in a cheap tunic. They refuse to separate personal faith from political activism, whether at home or abroad.


Wallis agrees with Obama that American racism and capitalism are to blame for inner-city poverty, and echoes his oft-repeated call for "economic justice." They share a spread-the-wealth vision, including subsidizing the working poor beyond expanded tax credits and minimum-wage hikes.

Everything about Obama is scary -- except that he seems to be an incompetent mediocrity with a slow mind. I find all those traits oddly reassuring.

6. Afro Ninja. Because you need a laugh.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Party First, Country Second, Liberty Never

I listened to Hugh Hewitt as I drove to the post office today. Hewitt was at his worst.

His caller was a Democrat woman who is voting for "Sarah and John." (Apparently, John is an afterthought to Sarah voters.)

Why is she voting for Sarah? Because this woman had a special needs child of her own and she doesn't want other women to go through what she went through.

In other words, she is voting for Sarah for what used to be Democrat reasons. This woman is a member of a pressure group and she expects Sarah to throw taxpayers money at her cause. She expects Sarah to expand the nanny state and destroy a little more of our freedom -- in the name of helping mental retards. Excuse me, "special needs babies."

And Palin is supposed to be the one on the ticket that wants small government! What a joke!

Hewitt, of course, was delighted. He doesn't give a damn about freedom or any other principles conservatives were once supposed to hold dear. Hewitt wants electoral success, and anything the Republicans have to do to win is fine by him.

This is the death of the Republican Party. It is now just another welfare state party, a gang grasping for power so they can spend the money you make.

I do not see how I can ever again give this party my vote.

The Ruling Class Sneers

In all the hysteria, smears and sheer, unhinged hatred among the precincts of the left in reaction to Sarah Palin, Martin Peretz earns special distinction with his blog post called Please God, Do Bless America and Rescue Us From These Swilly People!

Just a few lowlights:

...I am still reeling from last night's malign hysteria at the Republican convention. This is a rotten crowd, even the pious Christian Huckabee and certainly Mayor Guiliani and the aspiring vice president, Sarah Palin.


If Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi had been decked out like soccer mom Sarah last night the G.O.P. would have called them tramps. Why, a hem two inches below the knee! So risque! I giver her her due: she is pretty like a cosmetics saleswoman at Macy's.

Let's face the truth: If Bristol were Joe Biden's daughter or, worse yet, Barcak Obama's, the epithet "slut" would be on everyone's tongue in St. Paul. But since she is Palin's daughter she has been treated as if she were a saint...

Peretz has a strange idea of how the average Republican acts. 50 years ago there might have been some sniffing at Palin's dress, but today? Please. She was dressed like your average professional woman. No one would think twice about it -- no one, that is, but Martin Peretz, stewing in his fear and loathing of the right.

Behind Peretz's condescension lies something people don't talk much about in America: class hatred. Peretz is among the ruling class, the elite; Palin is firmly rooted in the great American middle class. Leftists usually hide their disgust at the bourgeoisie, but Peretz lost control and let his snobbery free for the world to see. It's not a pretty sight.

The enemies of capitalism, from the very first ones, the conservatives of the early 19th century, have strived to recreate the society of rigid class distinctions the west had in feudalism. In feudalism, everyone knew his place; in capitalism, as they say, a family can go "from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations." Capitalism is fluid. The potential for the individual is limited only by his talent and his will.

Charles M. Schwab is a spectacular example of the kind of opportunity society America was in the 19th century. He started out as a stake driver working for Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie didn't care about family connections or education, he was on the lookout for one thing only: competence. He saw it in Schwab, and gave him more and more responsibilities. By the age of 35, Schwab was the President of Carnegie Steel Company. (Charles M. Schwab is not to be confused with Charles R. Schwab, the founder of the brokerage firm.)

Since that time, the state has grown massively in America. Statists think America was all wrong in the 19th century and they're working reform society. To statists, the masses are full of hapless souls who must depend on the state to survive. With the growth of big government, society divides into two broad classes: those dependent on the state and the state. In communist countries the classes are the proletariat and the nomenklatura.

Those who depend on the state lose power to the state. When the state helps the dependent masses, it gains power over them. It's a nice deal for the state.

Peretz betrayed the ruling class's contempt for one who, though also part of the state, is too much imbued with middle class sensibilities for the elite. One look at Sarah Palin and they know she is not one of them. (I say give her time; if anything can corrupt her, a term as Vice-President should do it.)

Don't take this post as an endorsement in any way for McCain/Palin. I don't see me voting for McCain. I'm just pointing out that part of the intense emotions on the left about Palin come from the elite's secret view of itself as the ruling class. They see crass, rural, Wal-Mart-shopping hockey moms like Palin as an affront to their good taste. Palin's greatest crime turns out to be that she did not know her place.

Rule of Thumb

A common idea in science fiction is dumb animals -- cats, dogs, pigs, dolphins, etc. -- evolving so that they have conceptual consciousness. I don't think it will ever happen in reality.

First, it would be cruel if an animal like a cat had concepts. They don't have opposable thumbs. They can't manipulate tools. They could use a computer keyboard only laboriously, tapping out letters with their two front paws. Even then, they would constantly be hitting the wrong keys. I do it often enough, and I have these superior fingers.

Worse, they can't talk. It would be difficult for them to learn concepts and even more difficult to communicate concepts.

And cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves. Licking themselves. How fast would that get old if they had half a brain? They would bore of it, or be embarrassed by it, and stop doing it. Then they would begin to stink.

Every aspect of a cat's life, from purring when petted to eating food from a bowl would be a source of humiliation to a creature with intelligence.

It would be worse for dolphins, who must live in water. Try reading a newspaper under water. To be condemned to an existence of endless swimming and eating live fish and making idiotic noises -- it would be a cruel fate to wish on a creature that could think.

Humans would be at a terrible disadvantage without the thumb. Which raises the question: How is it that humans evolved conveniently with conceptual consciousness AND the ability to speak words AND opposable thumbs? Is it a coincidence? Is it an argument for God? Wouldn't such perfection of form demand a designer?

I have a wild-ass guess as to why humans evolved with thumb, speech and a mind. I won't honor my guess by calling it a theory or a hypothesis; I won't pretend to be a scientist.

My guess is that the thumb and speech came first and then accelerated the evolution of consciousness. The pre-human creatures with thumbs would have been able to use their thumbs in countless ways with crude tools. Existence with a thumb would have rewarded the most intelligent of these humanoids. The one who first figured out he could pick up a rock and dash out the brains of his neighbor would have survived longer and had more children.

The ability to speak would also have accelerated the evolution of consciousness, as these pre-humans would have been able to give their concepts the auditory symbols of language. Without the ability to speak words, their minds would have remained in a state of chaos and percepts. Later they would write down their language with the help of those invaluable thumbs.

So that is why dumb animals with paws, hooves or flippers will never evolve conceptual consciousness. Without a thumb and speech, intelligence has no survival value.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Twilight of the West

Exhausted from working all night, one morning seven years ago, I crawled into bed. Just as I was slipping into sleep, the telephone rang. I groaned.

"Turn on the TV," my friend said. "America is under attack."

Like most Americans, I didn't get much sleep that day.

I fell into a deep funk, perhaps even a depression, in the weeks following September 11, 2001. To me we were in a war we did not have the will to win.

My reasoning went like this: In World War II we faced a totalitarian ideology that wanted to destroy the west. We went toe to toe with fascism and destroyed it instead. In the Cold War we faced another totalitarian ideology that wanted to destroy the west: communism. Although we were undermined by pragmatism on the right and anti-Americanism on the left, we managed to win in the long run because of the weakness of communism.

Now we face yet another totalitarian ideology that wants to destroy the west, Islam -- or Islamofascism, militant Islam, Islamicism, whatever (the fact that we still have not settled on a name for the enemy is symbolic of the mess we are in). Unlike fascism and communism, which are based on the idiotic economic fantasies of Karl Marx, Islam is more dangerous because it is based on religious fantasies that cannot be easily disproved in this world -- at least, not to those who place faith above reason. Our enemies are willing to blow themselves up to get to heaven.

The rise of the New Left, specifically of multiculturalism, has weakened, if not destroyed, our ability to fight and win. We cannot fight the Islamic threat because our intellectuals no longer believe America deserves to win. These were my thoughts in 2001, and seven years later I still think so.

We should have wiped all terrorist states off the face of the Earth within days of September 11, 2001. Every dictator in the Middle East should have been urinating in his bed at night, wondering if the next bomb would fall on him.

We didn't do that. If we had, we would have been asserting America's national self-interest. Altruism will not let us do that. Altruism demands that America sacrifice its self-interest for the rest of the world. Instead we bent over backward to form a coalition and to get the UN to support us in our fight against totalitarians who want to destroy us. We most timidly ensured the world that we will not strike out on our own in our self-defense. Absurdly, the left to this day criticizes Bush for going it alone, not using diplomacy and losing the world's respect. No amount of sacrifice and appeasement will satisfy the anti-American left.

Take the Iraq War, setting aside the fact that Iraq was the wrong country to attack and we should have gone after Iran. For years the Bush administration has undergone constant criticism because their reason for attacking Iraq was weapons of mass destruction -- stockpiles of which were never found.

But why did the Bush administration make weapons of mass destruction their cassus belli? Because they wanted the UN to support the invasion and that was the only possible pretext they could use to get UN backing. Bush could not say what he should have said, "We have the right to destroy any dictatorship that threatens us," because the UN is filled with dictatorships. Such an assertion of America's national self-interest is impossible in a world ruled by altruism.

Since then, the left has been using the failure to find stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to weaken America's will to wage further war. At this point, any widening of the war is probably impossible -- until we suffer another atrocity like September 11.

Because we have not fought the war seriously, as we did in WWII, our enemy still believes they can win. All they have to do is last long enough while our anti-American left destroys from within our will to wage war. It worked in Vietnam and Somalia; why shouldn't it work now?

According to Long War Journal,

Al Qaeda has reformed the notorious 055 Brigade, the Arab legion of al Qaeda fighters that was destroyed during the initial US assault in Afghanistan in late 2001.

The enemy is right: if they stick it out long enough, they will win. America no longer has the will to fight.

Tragically, we are waging a half-battle, and though our troops are doing a superb job, they are undermined by their leaders in Washington, D.C. When our warriors have to check with lawyers on the battlefield to get permission to escalate the level of force, that is not a serious war. When troops must stop at the Pakistan border and watch the enemy get away, that is not serious war. (Can you imagine Patton stopping at the border of, say, Yugoslavia because some State Department hand-wringers don't want to upset the rest of the world?)

The pragmatists, appeasers and anti-American leftists in Washington, D.C. would rather sacrifice American troops on the battlefield than anger the French.

Since 2001, the west's appeasement of Islam has made me more certain I am right in my pessimism. Bush refused to name the enemy. He called Islam a "religion of peace," a term that has become a joke on the internet. The cartoon controversy and the restrictions on free speech in Europe and Canada only show too well that the New Leftist west will commit suicide before it fights back seriously against Islam.

In the long-long run, I am more optimistic. A culture-wide change in philosophy -- a renaissance of reason -- will roll back the anti-industrial revolution on the left and the mysticism on the right. Once we regain the will to fight, the war will be easily won.

But until then, things will get worse before they get better.

(This post was written by request of Nick Provenzo, who wants this week's Objectivist Carnival to center around the theme of September 11.)

Mitt Romney's Last Speech

This is old news now, but lets look at Mitt Romney's poorly written speech at the Republican National Convention. Although he makes some good points, the biggest problem is that his speech sounds like it was written in 1986, or 1994 at the latest. He does not understand that conservatives have embraced big government since 1995.

Is government spending - excluding inflation - liberal or conservative if it doubles since 1980? -- It's liberal!

Since 1980 there have been three Republican presidents and one Democrat, and government spending grew the least under the Democrat. I'm sorry, but the facts are that government spending is conservative.

Is a Supreme Court liberal or conservative that awards Guantanamo terrorists with constitution rights? It's liberal!

The Supreme Court is split. It has four conservatives (Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito), four liberals (Stevens, Ginsburg, Souter, Breyer) and Kennedy, who according to Wikipedia is a swing vote:

Appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan, he acts as the Court's swing vote on social issues in some cases and has consequently held special prominence in some politically-charged 5–4 decisions.

Sometimes the court is liberal, sometimes it is not.

Examine Romney's paragraph on foreign trade:

Our economy is under attack. China is acting like Adam Smith on steroids, buying oil from the world's worst, and selling nuclear technology. Russia and the oil states are siphoning more than 500 billion dollars a year from us in what could become the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history. This is no time for timid, liberal empty gestures.

Our economy is under attack? What does that mean? And what the hell does he mean by calling China's selling nuclear technology to our enemies "Adam Smith on steroids"? Does that make any sense? And if Russia sells us oil, that is not a "transfer of economic wealth," it's called trade. Russia gives us oil, we give Russia money.

And look at how strained and weird his opening metaphor is:

For decades, the Washington sun has been rising in the east - Washington has been looking to the eastern elites, to the editorial pages of the Times and the Post, and to the broadcasters from the coast.

If America really wants change, it's time to look for the sun in the west, cause it's about to rise and shine from Arizona and Alaska!

I understand what he is saying, but if one actually looks for the sun to rise in the west, that would be a sign of insanity. His image does not really help what he is saying.

But here is where Romney's words stray farthest from reality:

The right course is the one championed by Ronald Reagan 30 years ago, and by John McCain today. It is to rein in government spending and to lower taxes, for taking a weed-whacker to excessive regulation and mandates, for putting a stop to tort windfalls, and to stand up to the Tyrannosaurus appetite of government unions!

If conservatives think McCain is anything like Reagan, they are deluding themselves. Reagan actually read Hayek and Friedman. You can argue that his understanding was not deep and that his presidency was flawed, but at least he came from the old days, when Republicans took free market ideas sort of seriously. They actually talked about liberty at cocktail parties back in the 1960's. (And even with Reagan's exposure to the right ideas, when he actually governed as president, government spending doubled during his administration and he appeased our enemies in the disastrous Iran-Contra scheme.)

McCain doesn't know Mises from Moses. As Craig Biddle writes:

On the domestic front, McCain promises to “take on” the drug companies, as if those who produce and market the medicines that improve and save human lives must be fought; he promises to ration energy by means of a cap-and-trade scheme, as if the government has a moral or constitutional right to dictate how much energy a company may purchase or use; he promises to “battle” big oil, as if those who produce and deliver the lifeblood of civilization need to be defeated; he promises to “reform” Wall Street, as if those who finance the businesses that produce the goods and services on which our lives depend are thereby degenerate; he seeks to uphold the ban on drilling in ANWR, as if the government has a moral or constitutional right to prevent Americans from reshaping nature to suit their needs; and so on.

If McCain is conservative, then conservatism is now fascism. This is not "taking a weed-whacker to excessive regulation and mandates."

Maybe Romney had to support McCain, therefore he wrote a speech out of touch with reality. He should not have tried to defend McCain in old school terms. Times have changed. The Republican Party has changed. Conservatives like Romney are still trying to pretend the "old religion" of smaller government has anything to do with the reality of Washington, D.C. today. Talking about small government and freedom are something Republicans still do because they are terrified to let go of dead ideals.

Romney has said this week that he is done with politics. It's a good thing, because he does not have what it takes. In his last hurrah he resembled nothing so much as someone standing in the darkness at 5am, facing west to see the sun rise.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A War Story

My niece in the USAF returned from her first tour of duty in Afghanistan. She'll have to go back before her four years is done.

She tells the story of a little Afghani girl who was blown up by a land mine. The girl lost limbs -- whether legs or arms, I don't know, but either way it's horrific. Her life was saved by first-rate care from American doctors on base.

When the girl recovered she was released to her family. The minute the family got outside the gate of the base, the father pulled out a gun and shot the girl dead in the dirt. In her disfigured condition, you see, that girl would not have been able to find a husband.

My niece has a low opinion of the natives in Afghanistan.

Friday, September 05, 2008

THIS is a Speech

Instead of wasting time on John McCain's forgettable speech, I bring you a masterpiece of American rhetoric that Harry Binswanger of HBList pointed out.

Below is the transcript of Barry Goldwater's speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination in 1964.

Note how abstract and intellectual it is compared to today's speeches. At one point Goldwater actually talks about the metaphysical nature of man. Note how much he talks about freedom, something politicians today don't understand and don't think is terribly important. Note that he actually says, "enlightened self-interest will be our guide." I suspect that this speech was influenced by the then new philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Note that Goldwater's vision of heroes is "the sort of men and women who, unafraid and undaunted, pursue the truth, strive to cure disease, subdue and make fruitful our natural environment and produce the inventive engines of production, science, and technology." It is not McCain's tragic vision of people who sacrifice themselves for their country. This is a vision of heroes that live on Earth, an ideal for those who wish to pursue their happiness. (Also note that his line about subduing the environment would sadly be controversial today.)

Finally, note that the pragmatist Rockefeller Republicans, who sneered at Goldwater as an "extremist," and whom Goldwater answers in the most famous line near the end of the speech, took over the party long ago. The Goldwater wing, which understood the principles of liberty, is dead. It is a distant, fading memory of an America now gone.

Read this speech carefully, my friends, then compare it to the concrete-bound mediocrity we have heard over the last two weeks. Then weep at how far we have fallen in 44 years.

Take pride that America was once a land in which such a speech was possible.


My good friend and great Republican, Dick Nixon, and your charming wife, Pat; my running mate, that wonderful Republican who has served us so well for so long, Bill Miller and his wife, Stephanie; to Thurston Morton who's done such a commendable job in chairmaning this Convention; to Mr. Herbert Hoover, who I hope is watching; and to that -- that great American and his wife, General and Mrs. Eisenhower; to my own wife, my family, and to all of my fellow Republicans here assembled, and Americans across this great Nation.

From this moment, united and determined, we will go forward together, dedicated to the ultimate and undeniable greatness of the whole man. Together -- Together we will win.

I accept your nomination with a deep sense of humility. I accept, too, the responsibility that goes with it, and I seek your continued help and your continued guidance. My fellow Republicans, our cause is too great for any man to feel worthy of it. Our task would be too great for any man, did he not have with him the hearts and the hands of this great Republican Party, and I promise you tonight that every fiber of my being is consecrated to our cause; that nothing shall be lacking from the struggle that can be brought to it by enthusiasm, by devotion, and plain hard work.

In this world no person, no Party can guarantee anything, but what we can do and what we shall do is to deserve victory, and victory will be ours.

The good Lord raised this mighty Republic to be a home for the brave and to flourish as the land of the free -- not to stagnate in the swampland of collectivism, not to cringe before the bullying of communism.

Now, my fellow Americans, the tide has been running against freedom. Our people have followed false prophets. We must, and we shall, return to proven ways -- not because they are old, but because they are true. We must, and we shall, set the tides running again in the cause of freedom. And this party, with its every action, every word, every breath, and every heartbeat, has but a single resolve, and that is freedom -- freedom made orderly for this Nation by our constitutional government; freedom under a government limited by the laws of nature and of nature's God; freedom balanced so that order lacking liberty [sic] will not become the slavery of the prison shell [cell]; balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the license of the mob and of the jungle.

Now, we Americans understand freedom. We have earned it; we have lived for it, and we have died for it. This Nation and its people are freedom's model in a searching world. We can be freedom's missionaries in a doubting world. But, ladies and gentlemen, first we must renew freedom's mission in our own hearts and in our own homes.

During four futile years, the administration which we shall replace has -- has distorted and lost that vision. It has talked and talked and talked and talked the words of freedom, but it has failed and failed and failed in the works of freedom.

Now, failures cement the wall of shame in Berlin. Failures blot the sands of shame at the Bay of Pigs. Failures mark the slow death of freedom in Laos. Failures infest the jungles of Vietnam. And failures haunt the houses of our once great alliances and undermine the greatest bulwark ever erected by free nations -- the NATO community. Failures proclaim lost leadership, obscure purpose, weakening will, and the risk of inciting our sworn enemies to new aggressions and to new excesses.

And because of this administration we are tonight a world divided; we are a Nation becalmed. We have lost the brisk pace of diversity and the genius of individual creativity. We are plodding along at a pace set by centralized planning, red tape, rules without responsibility, and regimentation without recourse.

Rather than useful jobs in our country, our people have been offered bureaucratic "make work"; rather than moral leadership, they have been given bread and circuses. They have been given spectacles, and, yes, they've even been given scandals.

Tonight, there is violence in our streets, corruption in our highest offices, aimlessness amongst our youth, anxiety among our elders, and there's a virtual despair among the many who look beyond material success for the inner meaning of their lives. And where examples of morality should be set, the opposite is seen. Small men, seeking great wealth or power, have too often and too long turned even the highest levels of public service into mere personal opportunity.

Now, certainly, simple honesty is not too much to demand of men in government. We find it in most. Republicans demand it from everyone. They demand it from everyone no matter how exalted or protected his position might be. Now the -- the growing menace in our country tonight, to personal safety, to life, to limb and property, in homes, in churches, on the playgrounds, and places of business, particularly in our great cities, is the mounting concern, or should be, of every thoughtful citizen in the United States.

Security from domestic violence, no less than from foreign aggression, is the most elementary and fundamental purpose of any government, and a government that cannot fulfill this purpose is one that cannot long command the loyalty of its citizens.

History shows us -- it demonstrates that nothing, nothing prepares the way for tyranny more than the failure of public officials to keep the streets safe from bullies and marauders.

Now, we Republicans see all this as more, much more, than the result of mere political differences or mere political mistakes. We see this as the result of a fundamentally and absolutely wrong view of man, his nature, and his destiny. Those who seek to live your lives for you, to take your liberties in return for relieving you of yours, those who elevate the state and downgrade the citizen must see ultimately a world in which earthly power can be substituted for Divine Will, and this Nation was founded upon the rejection of that notion and upon the acceptance of God as the author of freedom.

Now those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. They -- and let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions, ladies and gentlemen, of equality. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.

Fellow Republicans, it is the cause of Republicanism to resist concentrations of power, private or public, which -- which enforce such conformity and inflict such despotism. It is the cause of Republicanism to ensure that power remains in the hands of the people. And, so help us God, that is exactly what a Republican President will do with the help of a Republican Congress.

It is further the cause of Republicanism to restore a clear understanding of the tyranny of man over man in the world at large. It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression -- and this is hogwash.

It is further the cause of Republicanism to remind ourselves, and the world, that only the strong can remain free, that only the strong can keep the peace.

Now, I needn't remind you, or my fellow Americans regardless of party, that Republicans have shouldered this hard responsibility and marched in this cause before. It was Republican leadership under Dwight Eisenhower that kept the peace, and passed along to this administration the mightiest arsenal for defense the world has ever known. And I needn't remind you that it was the strength and the [un]believable will of the Eisenhower years that kept the peace by using our strength, by using it in the Formosa Straits and in Lebanon and by showing it courageously at all times.

It was during those Republican years that the thrust of Communist imperialism was blunted. It was during those years of Republican leadership that this world moved closer, not to war, but closer to peace, than at any other time in the last three decades.

And I needn't remind you -- but I will -- that it's been during Democratic years that our strength to deter war has stood still, and even gone into a planned decline. It has been during Democratic years that we have weakly stumbled into conflict, timidly refusing to draw our own lines against aggression, deceitfully refusing to tell even our people of our full participation, and tragically, letting our finest men die on battlefields, unmarked by purpose, unmarked by pride or the prospect of victory.

Yesterday, it was Korea. Tonight, it is Vietnam. Make no bones of this. Don't try to sweep this under the rug. We are at war in Vietnam. And yet the President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of our forces, refuses to say -- refuses to say, mind you, whether or not the objective over there is victory. And his Secretary of Defense continues to mislead and misinform the American people, and enough of it has gone by.

And I needn't remind you -- but I will -- it has been during Democratic years that a billion persons were cast into Communist captivity and their fate cynically sealed.

Today -- Today in our beloved country we have an administration which seems eager to deal with communism in every coin known -- from gold to wheat, from consulates to confidences, and even human freedom itself.

Now the Republican cause demands that we brand communism as the principal disturber of peace in the world today. Indeed, we should brand it as the only significant disturber of the peace, and we must make clear that until its goals of conquest are absolutely renounced and its relations with all nations tempered, communism and the governments it now controls are enemies of every man on earth who is or wants to be free.

Now, we here in America can keep the peace only if we remain vigilant and only if we remain strong. Only if we keep our eyes open and keep our guard up can we prevent war. And I want to make this abundantly clear: I don't intend to let peace or freedom be torn from our grasp because of lack of strength or lack of will -- and that I promise you, Americans.

I believe that we must look beyond the defense of freedom today to its extension tomorrow. I believe that the communism which boasts it will bury us will, instead, give way to the forces of freedom. And I can see in the distant and yet recognizable future the outlines of a world worthy of our dedication, our every risk, our every effort, our every sacrifice along the way. Yes, a world that will redeem the suffering of those who will be liberated from tyranny. I can see -- and I suggest that all thoughtful men must contemplate -- the flowering of an Atlantic civilization, the whole of Europe reunified and freed, trading openly across its borders, communicating openly across the world.

Now, this is a goal far, far more meaningful than a moon shot.

It's a -- It's a truly inspiring goal for all free men to set for themselves during the latter half of the twentieth century.

I can also see -- and all free men must thrill to -- the events of this Atlantic civilization joined by its great ocean highway to the United States. What a destiny! What a destiny can be ours to stand as a great central pillar linking Europe, the Americas, and the venerable and vital peoples and cultures of the Pacific. I can see a day when all the Americas, North and South, will be linked in a mighty system, a system in which the errors and misunderstandings of the past will be submerged one by one in a rising tide of prosperity and interdependence. We know that the misunderstandings of centuries are not to be wiped away in a day or wiped away in an hour. But we pledge, we pledge that human sympathy -- what our neighbors to the South call an attitude of "simpatico" -- no less than enlightened self-interest will be our guide.

And I can see this Atlantic civilization galvanizing and guiding emergent nations everywhere.

Now I know this freedom is not the fruit of every soil. I know that our own freedom was achieved through centuries, by unremitting efforts of brave and wise men. And I know that the road to freedom is a long and a challenging road. And I know also that some men may walk away from it, that some men resist challenge, accepting the false security of governmental paternalism.

And I -- And I pledge that the America I envision in the years ahead will extend its hand in health, in teaching and in cultivation, so that all new nations will be at least encouraged -- encouraged! -- to go our way, so that they will not wander down the dark alleys of tyranny or the dead-end streets of collectivism.

My fellow Republicans, we do no man a service by hiding freedom's light under a bushel of mistaken humility.

I seek an America proud of its past, proud of its ways, proud of its dreams, and determined actively to proclaim them. But our example to the world must, like charity, begin at home.

In our vision of a good and decent future, free and peaceful, there must be room, room for deliberation of the energy and the talent of the individual; otherwise our vision is blind at the outset.

We must assure a society here which, while never abandoning the needy or forsaking the helpless, nurtures incentives and opportunities for the creative and the productive. We must know the whole good is the product of many single contributions.

And I cherish a day when our children once again will restore as heroes the sort of men and women who, unafraid and undaunted, pursue the truth, strive to cure disease, subdue and make fruitful our natural environment and produce the inventive engines of production, science, and technology.

This Nation, whose creative people have enhanced this entire span of history, should again thrive upon the greatness of all those things which we, we as individual citizens, can and should do. And during Republican years, this again will be a nation of men and women, of families proud of their role, jealous of their responsibilities, unlimited in their aspirations -- a Nation where all who can will be self-reliant.

We Republicans see in our constitutional form of government the great framework which assures the orderly but dynamic fulfillment of the whole man, and we see the whole man as the great reason for instituting orderly government in the first place.

We see -- We see in private property and in economy based upon and fostering private property, the one way to make government a durable ally of the whole man, rather than his determined enemy. We see in the sanctity of private property the only durable foundation for constitutional government in a free society. And -- And beyond that, we see, in cherished diversity of ways, diversity of thoughts, of motives and accomplishments. We don't seek to lead anyone's life for him. We only seek -- only seek to secure his rights, guarantee him opportunity -- guarantee him opportunity to strive, with government performing only those needed and constitutionally sanctioned tasks which cannot otherwise be performed.

We Republicans seek a government that attends to its inherent responsibilities of maintaining a stable monetary and fiscal climate, encouraging a free and a competitive economy and enforcing law and order. Thus, do we seek inventiveness, diversity, and creative difference within a stable order, for we Republicans define government's role where needed at many, many levels -- preferably, though, the one closest to the people involved.

Our towns and our cities, then our counties, then our states, then our regional compacts -- and only then, the national government. That, let me remind you, is the ladder of liberty, built by decentralized power. On it also we must have balance between the branches of government at every level.

Balance, diversity, creative difference: These are the elements of the Republican equation. Republicans agree -- Republicans agree heartily to disagree on many, many of their applications, but we have never disagreed on the basic fundamental issues of why you and I are Republicans.

This is a Party. This Republican Party is a Party for free men, not for blind followers, and not for conformists.

In fact, in 1858 Abraham Lincoln said this of the Republican party -- and I quote him, because he probably could have said it during the last week or so: "It was composed of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements" -- end of the quote -- in 1858. Yet -- Yet all of these elements agreed on one paramount objective: To arrest the progress of slavery, and place it in the course of ultimate extinction.

Today, as then, but more urgently and more broadly than then, the task of preserving and enlarging freedom at home and of safeguarding it from the forces of tyranny abroad is great enough to challenge all our resources and to require all our strength.

Anyone who joins us in all sincerity, we welcome. Those who do not care for our cause, we don't expect to enter our ranks in any case. And -- And let our Republicanism, so focused and so dedicated, not be made fuzzy and futile by unthinking and stupid labels.

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

(Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.)

And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

Why the beauty of the very system we Republicans are pledged to restore and revitalize, the beauty of this Federal system of ours is in its reconciliation of diversity with unity. We must not see malice in honest differences of opinion, and no matter how great, so long as they are not inconsistent with the pledges we have given to each other in and through our Constitution.

Our Republican cause is not to level out the world or make its people conform in computer regimented sameness. Our Republican cause is to free our people and light the way for liberty throughout the world.

Ours is a very human cause for very humane goals.

This Party, its good people, and its unquenchable devotion to freedom, will not fulfill the purposes of this campaign, which we launch here and now, until our cause has won the day, inspired the world, and shown the way to a tomorrow worthy of all our yesteryears.

I repeat, I accept your nomination with humbleness, with pride, and you and I are going to fight for the goodness of our land.

Thank you.