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:: The Rule of Reason ::

:: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 ::

DC Area Event: Andrew Bernstein on Selfishness in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead 

:: Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 4:49 PM

What: Andrew Bernstein on Selfishness in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead

When: Thursday, May 1st, 8pm
Where: University of Maryland, College Park, ASY (Art-Sociology) room 2309

In her novel The Fountainhead, novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand fully dramatizes the moral theory of rational egoism - the theory which holds that it is each person's responsibility to choose his goals and values by use of his independent reasoning mind; and that it is his right to pursue these goals in quest of his own selfish, personal happiness. Dr. Andrew Bernstein explores how the plot and conflict of The Fountainhead convey this theme, including a detailed, in-depth analysis of the five major characters in the story.

The talk is sponsored by the Terrapin Objectivists and admission is free to the general public.

Campus Map: http://transportation.umd.edu/visitor/campusmap.html

:: Permalink | 0 Comments ::

 

:: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 ::

State Department Goodthink 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 12:03 PM

The Associated Press on April 24, under the headline, "'Jihadist' booted from government lexicon," announced that,

"The Bush administration has launched a new front in the war on terrorism, this time targeting language.

"Federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center, are telling their people not to describe Islamic extremists as 'jihadists' or 'mujahedeen,' according to documents obtained by [or "leaked" to] The Associated Press. Lingo like 'Islamofascism' is out, too."
So, here is another damning legacy being bequeathed to us by President Bush. He has claimed from the beginning that Islamic terrorism is perpetrated by people who have "hijacked" a "great religion." But he himself has now hijacked and sabotaged language.

The "new front" is in reality a craven retreat from the old one, which is a costly, futile hit-or-miss campaign to capture or kill individuals responsible for terrorism, and not a campaign against states that sponsor terrorism. In this new development, the State Department, certainly with the sanction of the Bush Administration, will allow the Islamists or Islamofascists to advance and take more ground in their campaign to subjugate the West, and in particular, America.

The AP article claims that one document, "originally prepared in March by the Extremist Messaging Branch of the National Counter Terrorism Center [called "Words that Work and Words that Don't: A Guide for Counterterrorism Communication"], was approved for diplomatic use this week by the State Department, which plans to distribute a version to all U.S. embassies, officials said."

What is the rationale for adopting a policy of surrender by expunging "offensive" terms from the nuance-sensitive pragmatist's Newspeak lexicon? According to Matthew Lee, author of the AP article,

"Such words may actually boost support for radicals among Arab and Muslim audiences by giving them a veneer of religious credibility or by causing offense to moderates.

"For example, while Americans may understand 'jihad' to mean 'holy war,' it is in fact a broader concept of the struggle to do good, says the guidance prepared for diplomats and other officials tasked with explaining the war on terror to the public. Similarly, 'mujahedeen,' which means those engaged in jihad, must be seen in its broader context.'"
A Homeland Security report, called "Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims," claims that

"U.S. officials may be 'unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers or spokesmen for ordinary Muslims.'"


Let us parse some of these statements in the memo and examine the terms they employ. I cannot determine from Matthew Lee's report whether or not he is sympathetic to the report, so any criticisms here are meant for the report's language and not his account of it.

"Such words may actually boost support for radicals among Arab and Muslim audiences by giving them a veneer of religious credibility or by causing offense to moderates."
Islam is radical. It means submission, specifically, to Allah's will. It is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year creed, with no allowance for slackers or sabbaticals from it. Every Muslim is either a passive, rank-and-file adherent, or an active one engaged in applying Islam's tenets in one of two ways: in Arab societies or in insinuating Sharia in Western or non-Muslim societies - or by bomb. The radical activists already have a veneer of moral and religious credibility, which is based on the religion itself. They possess such credibility in the eyes and minds of all Muslims.

There are no moderates in Islam. One accepts the creed in toto, or one abandons or rejects it; there is no halfway agreement or technical dissension within Islam. Its clerics and scholars do not allow it, nor does the Koran condone it. Anyone who attempts to "reform" Islam risks being chopped by its most consistent practitioners.

Conclusion: One federal agency and one cabinet-level bureaucracy propose to "protect" the U.S. by blanking out reality and not identifying our enemies.

"It's not what you say," the AP article quotes from the memorandum, "but what they hear." In other words, reality is what is in other people's minds, not in what you might inadvertently be referring to out there in reality. A "jihadist" is merely someone who is "struggling" to "do good" and to "be good" in Allah's eyes, and not an "extremist" who really isn't practicing his beliefs, but who is "hijacking" a religion and giving it bad name.

The memo urges officials not to "take the bait" by actually saying, "A is A" when Osama bin Laden or al-Qada "affiliates" speak. Never mind that half the world's 1.4 billion Muslims cheered when the Twin Towers were destroyed on 9/11 and bin Laden took credit for it, while the other half silently approved.

"We should offer only minimal, if any, response to their messages. When we respond loudly, we raise their prestige in the Muslim world."
Which means that instead of expressing moral condemnation of terrorists and their murderous acts, we should whimper quietly in a corner, perhaps in the company of a grief counselor. The enhanced "prestige" of the jihadists and Islamofascists is guaranteed if that is to be our "response" to terrorist acts.

The Associated Press goes on to note that Homeland Security's Orwellian Newspeak report treats definitions and meanings as irrelevant.

"Regarding 'jihad,' even if it is accurate to reference the term, it may not be strategic because it glamorizes terrorism, imbues terrorists with religious authority they do not have and damages relations with Muslims around the world."


Which means that accuracy is optional but basically undesirable and potentially embarrassing. Feelings might be hurt. The most astounding imputation is that using the terms "jihad" and "jihadist" (or any other possibly "offensive" defining term) glamorizes terrorism. The author (or authors, the report is very likely the product of a committee) of that document is someone who believes that "glamorizing" Bonnie and Clyde or Al Capone or Adolf Hitler or Yasir Arafat is wrong, not because these killers were evil and undeserving of any suggestion of good, but because it is impractical. After all, we want other bank robbers, gang leaders, dictators and terrorists to like us, or at least not hate us, and calling these killers killers would damage our relations with all the fools who admire them and who would emulate them if they could. What has morality to do with it?

Steven Emerson, commenting on the Homeland Security report on his Investigative Project on Terrorism site on April 25, noted that

"Apparently the report does not say which American Muslims offered the recommendations. But it is virtually identical to a long campaign by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other Islamist groups....So the U.S. government is taking its cues from a group that emanated from a secret Muslim Brotherhood operation in America, one with a stated goal of being 'a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions.'"
"'Don't compromise our credibility,'" quotes the AP article from the Counter Terrorism Center memo, "by using words and phrases that may ascribe benign motives to terrorists."

Given the gelatin principles and marshmallow ethics that govern the fantasy world of the White House, State Department and our foreign policy, what credibility is left to compromise? And who on earth ever ascribed benign motives to al-Qada, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban, or Ahmadinejad's Iran? These are not branches of Rotary International.

The Counter Terrorism Center memo, reports the AP, contains these pointers:

"Never use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahedeen' in conversation to describe the terrorists...Calling our enemies 'jihadis' and their movement a global 'jihad' unintentionally legitimizes their actions....Use the terms 'violent extremist' or 'terrorist.' Both are widely understood terms that define our enemies appropriately and simultaneously deny them any level of legitimacy." [Note that the term 'violent extremist" implicitly concedes that Islamic terrorists are acting in the name of Islam, in its most "extreme" interpretation. Apparently the term is widely understood by everyone but the State Department and Homeland Security.]


So, our concern is not with defeating our enemies, but with denying them any "legitimacy" in the eyes of their passive co-religionists, not with destroying those who would destroy us, but with mentally segregating them from Islam. No such thing as a global jihad exists; it's just a lot of bad guys with guns and bombs who claim they are obeying the will of Allah, but we don't need to believe that. Not to worry.

One consequence of adopting this evasive anti-language policy is that it will enable our policymakers to dodge the issue of state-sponsored terrorism. It will permit them to negotiate with Islamic regimes that call for our destruction, not eradicate them. What it will not do is change reality.

One unsung hero who summed up the cause and consequence of that policy is Major Steven Coughlin, U.S. Army Reserve, Military Intelligence, author of a paper, "To Our Great Detriment: Ignoring What Extremists Say About Jihad," submitted in July 2007 to the National Defense Intelligence College. In it, he establishes the crucial links:

"Accepting assurances from moderate Muslims that Islam had nothing to do with the events of 11 September 2001, President Bush made policy statements holding Islam harmless for the actions done by 'extremists.'...As it turns out, the jihadis are able to find a doctrinal basis for their notions of jihad in Islamic law....This legal definition of jihad remains consistent through the 1,400 year span that incorporates the contributions of the authorities relied on in the thesis....Because of our inability to understand the enemy stems from a decision not to know him, this thesis recommends the return to a threat analysis process as the methodology to analyze the enemy's stated doctrine...." [Italics mine, to underscore the epistemological corruption of our policymakers]
One thing that will be learned if that doctrine is ever analyzed is that Islam is a pernicious, evil ideology that cannot be "reformed" without rendering it something other than Islam. Another thing that will be learned is that it must be defeated root and branch, militarily with retaliatory force, and philosophically, through reason.

:: Permalink | 4 Comments ::

 

:: Friday, April 25, 2008 ::

The New Pyramid Builders II 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 11:40 AM

If you thought the cosmology of the Koran was absurdly irrational and a kind of parody of the Bible's, a meeting of Muslim scientists and clerics recently claimed that the Koran contains scientific proofs, among them that Mecca is the center of the earth. As a consequence, reported BBC News on April 21, they "have called for the adoption of Mecca time to replace GMT."

"Mecca is the direction all Muslims face when they perform their daily prayers. The call was issued at a conference held in the Gulf state of Qatar under the title: Mecca, the Center of the Earth, Theory and Practice. One geologist argued that unlike other longitudes, Mecca's was in perfect alignment to magnetic north. He said the English had imposed GMT on the rest of the world by force when Britain was a big colonial power, and it was about time that changed.

"The underlying belief is that scientific truths were also revealed in the Muslim holy book, and it is the work of scholars to unearth and publicize the textual evidence."
Just as their fundamentalist Christian opposite numbers are "unearthing" and publicizing Biblical explanations for everything, from the true age of the universe to the fate of the dinosaurs to the squirms of bacteria. Actually, Greenwich Mean Time was adopted by international agreement and refined in the 1920s by astronomical scientists from around the world. Force had nothing to do with it. But perhaps the most bizarre news from Qatar is the announcement of a special Muslim watch.

"The meeting also reviewed what has been described as a Mecca watch, the brainchild of a French Muslim. The watch is said to rotate anti-clockwise and is supposed to help Muslims determine the direction of Mecca from any point on Earth."
This must earn a special reward for sheer irrationality. But, the "scientific" conference of Muslims is evidence of the hubris Islamists are experiencing as they throttle and subjugate the West. Christians are not the only mystics who wish to make science the servant of religion.

Moving from backward-running Muslim watches and the Koran as the foundation of the Periodic Table of Elements to another species of bizarre but real behavior, Walter Williams of George Mason University, in an April 16th Townhall column, "Foreign Trade Angst," wrote

"The United States is the world's largest recipient of foreign direct investment. According to the Economic Report of the President, in 2004, foreigners owned $5.5 trillion in U.S. assets and had $2.3 trillion in sales. They produced $515 billion of goods and services....According to the Congressional Research Service, in 2006 alone, foreign investors spent $184 billion investing in U.S. businesses and real estate, the highest amount foreign investors have spent since 2000...."
Williams can be forgiven for not noting it - his focus was on the anti-free trade sentiment in the U.S. - but many of those "foreign investors" are Mideast potentates of the Persian Gulf who control what are called "sovereign wealth funds" (SWFs), which total over $1 trillion. An April 12th article on the MoneyNews site, "Mideast Wealth Funds Rescue Developers," notes that

"Flush with cash and looking for better-than-modest returns, several Middle East sovereign wealth funds are putting money into carefully selected U.S. real estate ventures.

"The funds, controlled by their governments of origin, have already pumped billions of investment dollars into U.S. companies and enterprises, but cash allocations to real estate ventures is a relatively new phenomenon." (Italics mine.)
Note that the term "sovereign" means "government" - and the term includes the so-called "personal wealth" of about 50,000 royal family members spread between Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, their particular family heads being the government. As for the real meaning of the term "wealth," in the context of OPEC and Arab medievalists, it means "loot." The "loot" is the revenue generated by private Western oil properties which Western governments, particularly those of the U.S., Britain, and France, should never have allowed the Arabs to nationalize or otherwise expropriate from the oil companies. The oil companies, for their part, seeing that their properties were not going to be protected by their respective governments, pragmatically entered into "partnerships" with the tribalist ruling cliques in that region, over the decades expanding and improving the properties and cementing their survival on those partnerships.

Apparently, no Ellis Wyatts or Francisco d'Anconias were in charge in the 1950's to destroy those seized properties.

Someone might object: All those billions being invested in this country represent money, which, although extorted from us, is being put to legitimately productive use. It's unfortunate that it went to sustain tyrannical and religious regimes, but it is coming back.

However, it is irrelevant that the medievalists are assuming the role of risk takers. The money the medievalists are putting into U.S. companies is money that hypothetically should have gone directly to them without being first diverted to the Mideast. That money would have gone to reward risk-taking stockholders and not to the medievalists to allow them to erect their new pyramids.

The concept of "risk" cannot apply to the medievalists for as long as they have a stranglehold on the West. Regardless of the losses they may experience in their portfolios of government instruments, Treasury notes, private stocks, bonds, and the like, and regardless of the failure or poor performance of companies they may have controlling interests in, their fabulous oil revenues will always be guaranteed - provided the West's economy does not first collapse.

On March 18, WorldNetDaily carried an article by Jerome R. Corsi, "U.S. Treasury fears Islamic strings on investments."

"The U.S. Treasury is struggling with how to handle any political or Islamic ramifications as Persian Gulf sovereign wealth funds look to make substantial investments in capital-poor American banks and securities firms.

"WND previously reported sovereign wealth funds in six Persian Gulf countries, including Kuwait, the U.A.E. and Qatar, have now amassed $1.7 trillion, positioning them for attempts to control major banks and securities firms in the U.S.

"Since the beginning of the year, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, two of the largest U.A.E. states, have been in discussions with the U.S. Treasury, offering reassurances that their investments in U.S. bank and security firms would not impose restrictions usually dictated by Islamic law, commonly known as Sharia."
SWF investments in the genuinely productive Western economies are tantamount to our own federal government buying controlling or minimal interests in private corporations, which technically would be fascism. What does the infusion of SWFs in private corporations portend?

  • The redirection and/or redistribution of private wealth through taxation. In this instance, the "tax" is the artificially high price of oil charged by OPEC (aside from actual federal and state taxes), which has a near monopoly on oil production as a result of Western-sanctioned expropriations and Western environmental policies. This should be obvious from the news reports that OPEC has refused to increase oil production. The Arabs know they have the West cornered.

  • It perpetuates the medievalists' wealth-consuming welfare state, which exists only because of irrational, pragmatic Western policies.

  • It perpetuates Western dependency on the medievalists' whims.

  • It facilitates the incursion of Islamic jihad, both the "soft" kind through financial and political manipulation, and the "hard" kind of Islamofascist violence, which is funded by especially Mideast money from all the Persian Gulf states. (Therefore, we are subsidizing our own decline and ultimate destruction. What did Ayn Rand have to say about the "sanction of the victim?" The principle applies to civilizations as well as to individuals.)


  • SWFs will not be invested in Exxon's or in any of the other major Western oil companies' exploration and drilling projects in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, or on the West Coast, provided they are ever approved by Washington, not unless they can buy controlling interests in such projects, the better to control oil production.

    Do not forget that "trade" with the medievalists is not trade in the normal sense, in which values are exchanged to no party's loss. SWFs are loot, and the looting has lasted as long as it has because of especially American energy and foreign policies. One might speculate on the number of congressmen who are in thrall to the medievalists and who block any proposal to allow oil exploration and drilling in areas that are now environmentally "off limits." It is certain that the sheiks, princes and emirs of the Mideast chuckle or gloat over every victory of the environmentalists in Congress and the White House. They must have danced in the streets when ethanol was mandated by the government, and cheered heartily over the biofuel and "clean energy" programs.

    Thus, the looters are encouraged by the West's irrational policies. They, like any other criminals or gangs, are counting on the absence of reason and self-assertion in their victims. This is not to say, however, that the medievalists are aware of these concepts in any explicit form; nor is it to claim that the victims are conscious of the crucial, necessary role they play in their survival. The evidence, based on the pragmatic, short-range policies of Western governments, suggests that they are either ignorant or disdainful of such concepts. They are unable or unwilling to learn that, given the bind in which they have placed their countries, the "practical" is inevitably and inarguably impractical.

    Overlooked in virtually every discussion of the phenomenon is the political leverage the medievalists can acquire in the West by the redirection of their "wealth." As the Treasury Department article above indicates, even American officials see the potential threat of especially Saudi influence on the character and course of American foreign policy and are meekly asking for assurances from the medievalists that they will not, for example, arm-twist the U.S. into abandoning Israel, or recognize Hamas as a legitimate political party, impose censorship on critics of Islam, or even replace Greenwich Mean Time with Mecca Mean Time.

    (Notwithstanding our arms sales to it, the U.S. is not much of an ally of Israel since our current policy is to compel Israel to compromise with its mortal enemies and to "cooperate" and help negotiate the formation of a hostile Palestinian state. The U.S. arms deal with the Saudis is bigger by many more billions of dollars. For the nature of the Saudi threat to the U.S., see my commentary of December 13, 2006, "Our Saudi Foes.")

    It is interesting to learn that after 9/11, according to an article on the Saudi-American Forum site in September 2003, "The United States Must Not Neglect Saudi Arabian Investment," between that infamous date and the spring of 2002, some $200 billion of Saudi SWFs fled the U.S. In 2003, when the Saudis and other Persian Gulf medievalists saw that the U.S. was not only fighting the wrong enemies, Iraq and Afghanistan, but was going out of its way to assure them that they were not perceived as the true enemies, SWFs began to flow back into the country.

    Peppered throughout the article, however, are complaints about "discriminatory" actions taken by Americans objecting to Arab investments, together with cautious warnings and admonitions to the U.S. that unless America does something about individuals and organizations that implicate the Saudis with 9/11 and terrorism in general, not to mention Saudi-funded political activism through front organizations such as CAIR, then the Saudis will withdraw their investments and place them elsewhere.

    The author of the article writes that

    "...Recently thwarted FDI [foreign direct investment] projects in the United States reveal that organized interest groups have sought to target and derail Saudi investments. Locals who objected to Saudi Arabian investment into their community have made a comparison of legitimate Saudi investments to suspect illegal organizations. One project failed as a small group of activists launched a media campaign accusing [sic, alleging?] terrorist ties.

    "Many Saudi investors are also concerned about becoming victims of lawsuits. Saudi and other foreign investors with no complicity whatsoever with 9/11 or links to terrorism nevertheless perceive the aggressive efforts of an army of U.S. lawyers and entrenched interest groups to 'link and accuse' foreigners in a broad net of litigation. The threat of becoming ensnared in such lawsuits has been reason enough to avoid long-term investments in U.S. markets. If plaintiff efforts to freeze and tie up investments in advance of any evidence of guilt succeed, foreign faith in U.S. financial markets will suffer." [Italics mine to underscore one of the veiled threats.]
    The author, Tanya C. Hsu, protesteth too much, very likely under the instructions of her Saudi employers. Note that the Saudis group themselves with other "foreigners," as though they were in the same class with private British, French, or other non-governmental foreign risk takers who have invested money in American companies. Note also that the Saudis pose as "victims" of actions taken by Americans who fear an economic takeover of the U.S. by powers hostile to its republican character, without mentioning proven Saudi complicity in funding terrorism, or Saudi-funded political activist groups such as CAIR, or Saudi "libel tourists" who sue authors and publishers to suppress publication of books that demonstrate the links between Saudi money and terrorist activities.

    Gag your citizens, demand the Saudis, scrap the First Amendment, forget 9/11, or we will see to it that you suffer your just desserts.

    A Washington Post article of February 11, 2002, "Enormous Wealth Spilled Into American Coffers," briefly touches on the political connections between Saudi money and government officials.

    "One American financial institution that has attracted Saudi investments is the Washington-based Carlyle Group, whose principal officers include several members of the Saudis' favorite American government of modern times, the first Bush administration. Its principals, who have made millions of dollars from the firm, include former Office of Management and Budget director Richard Darman, former secretary of state [and now defense secretary] James A. Baker III. Former president George H.W. Bush is also a well-paid advisor to Carlyle. Bush has traveled to Saudi Arabia on Carlyle's behalf." [Carlyle, incidentally, failed at the same time as Bear Sterns in the government-caused sub-prime mortgage debacle.]
    No doubt Bush Senior has often visited Saudi Arabia with his $100 million buddy, Bill Clinton, whose presidential library in Arkansas received $10 million in donations from the Saudis and untold millions from other Persian Gulf billionaires. Clinton's own Arab connections are probably greater than what has filtered through the media sieve.

    However, The New York Sun, in a November 22, 2004 article, "Saudis, Arabs Funneled Millions to President Clinton's Library," provides some details, but not the whole picture, of the Clinton-Arab connection.

    "President Clinton's new $165 million library was funded in part by gifts of $1 million or more each from the Saudi royal family and three Saudi businessmen. The governments of Dubai, Kuwait, and Qatar and the deputy prime minister of Lebanon all also appear to have donated $1 million or more for the archive and museum that opened last week."
    In exchange for what? For practicing grand scale political chicanery to enfeeble America and deliver it in a state of dhimmitude to its destroyers.

    The Sun article also mentions that George H. W. Bush's presidential library received significant Saudi donations, as well. When his son, George W. Bush, begins planning his own presidential library, doubtless it will receive generous Saudi and Persian Gulf donations, especially given his "special" handholding relationship with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. But, being bought off by the medievalists is not an exclusively Republican venality, as the Democrats like to claim.

    How can the medievalists exercise political power over the U.S.? By having politicians like the Bushes and the Clintons in their pockets, in the White House and outside of it.

    What will be the end, the dreadful climax? We can put ourselves in Dagny Taggart's place in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, as she listens to another set of looters express their own ambitions, and imagine the same thing with the appropriate substitutions:

    "Then she saw the answer; she saw the secret premise behind their words. With all of their noisy devotion to the age of science, their hysterically technological jargon, their cyclotrons, their sound rays, these men were moved forward, not by the image of an industrial skyline, but by the vision of that form of existence which the industrialists had swept away - the vision of a fat, unhygienic rajah of India, with vacant eyes staring in indolent stupor out of stagnant layers of flesh, with nothing to do but run precious gems through his fingers and, once in a while, stick a knife into the body of a starved, toil-dazed, germ-eaten creature, as a claim to a few grains of the creature's rice, then claim it from hundreds of millions of such creatures and thus let the rice grains gather into gems." (p. 948, hardcover)
    Or into pyramids in the Mideast deserts. Are Americans willing to starve and toil as environmentally acceptable germ-eaten creatures to help the Islamic rajahs of the Persian Gulf build them? For that is the secret means and end of the wielders of SWFs. It remains to be seen.

    But Americans are getting no guidance on the matter from the presidential candidates, none of whom dares raise the subject. The depth of their moral depravity is as great as Jimmy Carter's, who recently laid a wreath of roses on the grave of Yasir Arafat.

    :: Permalink | 5 Comments ::

     

    :: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 ::

    The Earth Day Alternative 

    :: Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 10:16 AM

    I wrote this op-ed for the Atlanta Journal Constitution for Earth Day 2002. The message applies equally today. NP

    The Earth is Mankind's Garden

    If the welfare of human life was the standard by which we judged industry and technology, there would be no reason to have a day like "Earth Day." Rather than the environmentalists parading their assault on anything and everything that is a mark of human existence on the planet, we would instead celebrate industry and technology as the very means by which mankind has moved into an era of happiness, health and prosperity.

    Looking at a figure as basic as life expectancy, it is obvious that people today live a lot longer than they did in the pre-industrialized world of 200 years ago. Today we enjoy such an abundance of foods, medicines and a whole host of labor-saving technologies that if a person from 200 years ago could see us now, he would be amazed that it is even possible that so many human beings can live together for so long and in such splendor.

    Yet, the environmentalists tell us the sky is falling. Turning the popular trail mantra "leave no footprint" against all of humanity, the environmentalists say our farms threaten the ecosystem, our cars are destroying the atmosphere and "sprawl" will consume the wilderness. On Earth Day, every aspect of human life and human consumption represents a threat to the Earth.

    Notice, for example, that there is not an existing, practical method of energy production that the environmentalists support. Environmentalists oppose gas, coal, nuclear and hydro power. If the environmentalists were honest, they should love nuclear power, for it clearly has the least ecological impact of all the practical means of generating power.

    Yet it is nuclear power that the environmentalists despise the most. Consider the argument that the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the 1970's is proof that man cannot properly harvest the power of the atom. In fact, the accident showed just the opposite. Three Mile Island showed that man could build a reactor that could survive a near total failure, including a hydrogen gas explosion within the reactor core and still have no impact on the surrounding environment. While Three Mile Island was still a costly accident, it showed the strength of our science and technology, not its shortcomings.

    Yet the environmentalists still cry "foul." Why? Because the real premise behind Earth Day is that mankind is an unnatural despoiler and a threat to the earth. Of all the creatures that live on the planet, it is rational, tool-making, resource exploiting man that doesn't quite fit.

    There is an alternative to the environmentalist argument. It is one that says the Earth is man's garden and that man's mind as fully competent to meet the challenges of living in his garden, whatever those challenges may be. It is an argument that recognizes that the ultimate resource is not oil, coal, caribou or even the energy of the atom. It is an argument that recognizes that the ultimate resource is a free, unfettered human mind.

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    :: Thursday, April 17, 2008 ::

    'Liberation' Ideology II 

    :: Posted by Edward Cline at 9:48 AM

    While searching the Internet for what else presidential candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain were up to in the Senate, I came upon what Obama had to say in the Senate on March 15, 2007, about the riots, killings and repression in Zimbabwe over a year ago. His statement was obviously intended for the record and not as a point of vigorous debate. It is an interesting trail mix of truths, gaffes, and glosses.

    The occasion was Robert Mugabe's reaction to protests by the chief opposition to him during a prayer meeting, during which participants were beaten and jailed. Morgan Tsvangiral, head of the Movement for Democratic Change and a presidential contender, was severely beaten, and scores of followers imprisoned. One protester was shot and killed.

    Of course, Obama expresses his plastic outrage over the events - as plastic as Hillary's smile and McCain's grin - and urged the United States, the United Nations and the European Union to more stringently oppose Mugabe's government.

    "Mr. President, the United States must continue to stand strongly against the Mugabe government's abuses of power in Zimbabwe. We must join with our European allies, the United Nations, and - most importantly - the countries and institutions of the region to press for positive change in Zimbabwe. That means a peaceful democratic transition in 2008, and support for economic growth and opportunity - including the lifting of sanctions - once the dark cloud of Mugabe's rule is lifted, and Zimbabweans are able again to reach for the new horizon they deserve.

    "I call on President Mugabe to immediately release all political detainees and repeal the ban on political rallies, to end the use of violence and torture in the jails, permit a free media and abide by the rule of law...."
    This was transparently a statement meant for press and public consumption. But if it were a sincere statement, did Obama really expect a murderous dictator to heed the urgings of a junior senator from Illinois? Does the statement reflect a genuine understanding of the true nature of collectivism, of tyranny, of power held for the sake of power? Does it reflect even a milligram of comprehension that Mugabe is a thug who has no "good side" to appeal to, that he is beyond reason? No, to all questions. But, then, Obama wants to negotiate with Iran, another dictatorship, a regime that wants to destroy this country.

    One thing Obama glossed over was the character of the "sanctions" imposed by the U.N. and the European Union. These were against any and all financial dealings with members of the government, designed to prevent Mugabe and his minions from profiting from any foreign aid or subsidies and moving the lucre to safer havens abroad. They were not directed against the country's economy. If Zimbabwe's economy is in so dire a condition that it is practically nonexistent, it is a consequence of Mugabe's policy of looting, skimming, and redistributing the chaff and the scraps to hangers-on and the "public." That's Marxism in practice, sanctions or no sanctions. A cursory study of the Soviet Union, Red China, or Cuba ought to have driven that lesson home for Obama - provided his collectivist sympathies permitted him to search for the truth.

    Obama also demonstrated his ignorance of history. In his Senate statement, he claimed that

    "When Robert Mugabe became president over a quarter century ago, there was great hope. {There's that "hope" again.] Zimbabwe had emerged from British rule, claiming its freedom and its future for itself."
    Well, no. Zimbabwe did not emerge from "British rule." It emerged from Rhodesian rule. Ian Smith declared Rhodesia independent in 1965 and withdrew it from the British Commonwealth. What followed was a brutal guerilla war led by Marxist nationalists Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, a war which Smith might have won had his government not been pressured to negotiate with Mugabe and his allies by Britain and the United States for the sake of "black majority rule."

    Smith himself advocated white supremacist rule in Rhodesia, and while there can be no legitimate argument for that policy, either, it is likely that blacks would have fared far better under Smith's rule - Rhodesia prospered under greater economic sanctions in this period than Zimbabwe has under far milder restrictions - than they have under the total racist collectivism of Mugabe.

    Obama does not mention or even allude to in his Senate statement the plight and fate of the whites in Zimbabwe under Mugabe. They are invisible to him. Presumably, under Reverend Jeremiah Wright's tutelage, he thinks that they got what they deserved. Nor does he mention or allude to the fact that Mugabe is a killer whose political "career" began as a butcher of defenseless whites and blacks during the struggle for "liberation." In Obama's universe of moral equivalence, one man's killer is another man's "freedom fighter."

    The question is: Does Obama believe that a "freedom fighter" is one who fights, not against tyranny and oppression, but against freedom? Listen to his campaign rhetoric, and judge for yourself.

    For the full transcript of Obama's Senate speech, click here.

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    :: Monday, April 14, 2008 ::

    'Liberation' Ideology in Practice 

    :: Posted by Edward Cline at 9:10 AM

    Scant news coverage has been devoted to the continuing chaos and brutality in Zimbabwe, once the "breadbasket" of Africa when it was known as Rhodesia (and for a few years after its "liberation" from white rule). It is now a destitute, starving nation whose citizens choose flight to neighboring states in search of food and employment. Nearly a third of the country's 12 million population has fled.

    The life expectancy of males has dropped from 60 years to 37, and for women, to 34 years. Unemployment stands at over 80 percent. In 2005, the government decided to embark on a program of "urban renewal," and demolished the shantytowns and black markets that had sprung up around Harare (formerly Salisbury) and other towns and cities as a consequence of the systematic impoverishment of farm workers and city dwellers by the government. New housing was promised but never built.

    Private schools were marked for extinction through the regulation of tuition, and government-run schools, when they are open, are worse than even the worst American public schools. Over more than a generation, since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, adult literacy has fallen from 90 percent to about 40 percent.

    Occasionally one will see brief reports on the morning or evening news of the arrest and beatings of opposition leaders, of journalists, of long queues of people waiting to buy scarce commodities from the bare shelves of stores. Inflation is currently measured at 150,000 percent and climbing (after the issue of new paper currency, it is a "mere" 1,700 percent, but that does not disguise the true inflation rate); it takes a wheelbarrow of paper money to buy a small bag of flour, when it is available.

    President Robert Mugabe's Marxist government has banned foreign journalists, and the few who have ventured into the country have broadcast their reports with hidden cellphones. BBC News, Sky News, and CNN have been banned from the country. Independent newspapers were bombed and not permitted to reopen. The government controls the television and radio stations and its remaining newspaper is state-run.

    It is interesting to note that Mugabe's party, Zanu-PF, originated decades ago as a solely Marxist rival to other "black power" guerilla factions. After a short flirtation with "free trade" when it came to power, the party returned to its founding ideology, one of whose goals was to redistribute white-owned farmland to the black poor. This campaign began in violent earnest in 2000, when mobs of squatters and "war veterans" (who purportedly fought in the guerilla war against Ian Smith's Rhodesia) invaded white-owned farms. Whites were murdered, raped, beaten, driven from their homes. Paramilitary patrols of whites attempted to protect lives and property rights and to ensure the safety of the farms. But a Marxist government determined to impose racial "justice" (or any kind of collectivist "justice") is inherently lawless and renders such efforts hopelessly doomed to fail.

    The production and export of the chief crops of tobacco, soya, and maize plummeted dramatically after the farms were expropriated by government-supported squatters and cronies of Mugabe's.

    The economy followed suit. Once second only to South Africa as the most prosperous economy in Africa, Mugabe has reduced Zimbabwe to a condition only a slightly better than the Darfur region of the Sudan.

    A presidential election was held on March 29, and in spite of the best efforts of Mugabe's party to rig another "unanimous reelection," all indications are that he lost it, just as he did in 2000. Several Western newspapers prematurely wondered how he would make his exit after this defeat, where he would settle, and how much he would take with him. The Zimbabwean court, doubtless under pressure from Mugabe, has postponed revealing the election results.

    Several election officials were arrested and charged, reported the Daily Telegraph of April 8, with "under-counting votes cast for Mr. Mugabe." An election run-off is scheduled for April 19. Whether or not it will occur is a matter of speculation. Voters suspected of casting ballots for Mugabe's political opponents - whose solutions for turning the country around are not much better than the policies that are destroying it - have been accosted by soldiers and youth gangs and beaten up, or have been threatened with death if they vote against Mugabe in the run-off.

    To distract attention from his apparent loss, Mugabe, reports the Daily Telegraph, in an attempt to extend his 28-year rule, has dispatched new gangs to invade and expropriate the country's remaining 200 white-owned farms. Once there were 1,500 of them. He also blames "British imperialism" (Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are imperialists? British imperialism is dead, and Britain itself is under siege by the European Union), United Nations sanctions, foreign bankers and other external factors for the country's state.

    The original plan was to buy the farms with foreign aid under a "willing buyer-willing seller" land reform program, the "willing buyer" being the government. But when the money never materialized to buy the farms, or when farmers were not willing to sell, Mugabe's solution was simply to resort to force.

    Recall the government's staged riot to justify the "nationalization" of Readen Steel in Atlas Shrugged, or its expropriation of Ellis Wyatt's oil property in Colorado. It is as though Mugabe and his government were following a playbook of the novel with the express purpose of destroying the country. That, however, would be giving Mugabe and his cronies too much credit. In the face of the destruction of the country with policies that do not "work," they still "believe" in the efficacy and justice of collectivism.

    So do the Western critics of Mugabe, who believe that the idea is noble and feasible, but that he was the wrong man to apply the idea. This is the same rationalization that many Western communist and socialist intellectuals made when they saw the consequences and horrors of collectivism in Soviet Russia, Red China, and other communist regimes.

    Western and African politicians have little to say about what is happening in Zimbabwe. "Zimbabwe situation 'embarrassing' - AU [African Union] chief," reads a Reuters headline from March 14. They are more or less mute. What is "embarrassing" is that their collectivist dreams are being exposed for what they are: prescriptions for destruction, collapse, death and near civil war.

    However, it is not as though Mugabe were looking for answers to why the country is in a state of economic, political and social free-fall. He is a psychopathic tyrant; reality is his enemy, and his answer to it is force. "Liberation,' in any political sense, is basically theft, by legerdemain or by naked force.

    The chief subject here is the racist nature of this brand of collectivism. Before being "colonized" by mostly British whites (under the aegis of Cecil Rhodes in the 19th century), the region was just another African backwater populated by people who had no drive, reason or imagination to exploit the region's potential. Their cultural glory, such as it was, lay centuries in the past. It is not as though blacks there were inherently unable to generate Western ideas and reason and profit by them. The historical fact is that those values originated and thrived in the West. Conversely, whites are not inherently susceptible to those values; Nazi Germany and other disastrous and costly European collectivist movements explode that myth, as well. Reason and rational, pro-life values are a matter of choice, of volition. Race is not a determinant of anyone's character or the contents of his mind.

    Mugabe's own "liberation" ideology is fundamentally the same as that of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's spiritual guide and mentor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, which is to make whites "pay" for "exploiting" blacks. It is surprising that Wright has not made a pilgrimage to Zimbabwe to see his malicious ideology in action. He might observe that it is chiefly blacks who are suffering, starving, and dying under Mugabe's regime. Perhaps if he did travel there, his mind would be shaken and he would emulate Eldridge Cleaver, who, as a fugitive, lived in a few "third world" countries, but returned to America a changed man.

    But, having watched Wright's performance as a rabble-rousing, emotionalist preacher, I doubt that his fundamental malignancy could undergo an epiphany. I believe his mind is so poisonously venomous that he is beyond correction. He consciously appeals to looters, thugs, and killers. He appeals to a desire for the unearned. He appeals to racism.

    Kyle-Anne Shiver, in an article in American Thinker, "Obama's Politics of Collective Redemption" on February 11, observed that

    "Little has been made in the mainstream press of the brand of black liberation theology preached by Obama's pastor and spiritual mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr., who holds a master's degree on world religions with a focus on Islam, and who has traveled to Middle East countries in the company of Louis Farrakhan. Rev. Wright created and presides over the Center for African Biblical Studies, whose mission is African-centered Bible studies: "We are an African people, and we remain true to our native land, the mother continent, the cradle of civilization."
    In short, Wright contends that blacks are born with certain uncorrectable attitudes and dispositions and should remain loyal to them. Blacks who reject racism, who wish to act as individuals and to be treated as individuals, are the equivalent of Muslim apostates, to be despised, reviled and ostracized. Note how prominent pro-reason, "conservative" black intellectuals, thinkers, teachers and columnists are shut out of any kind of 'discourse' about race, how they are treated as non-persons by the liberal/left black establishment. Reason, rationality and self-respect as individuals in blacks are deemed corrupting instruments of "black exploitation" in a "white" culture.

    Do Obama's undefined notions of "change" and "hope" and "bitterness" differ in essence from any from Hitler's notions of them? Hitler's chief siren song was how the "pride" of Germans and Germany was injured by the Versailles Treaty, how Germans, as a race, were "victimized" by a conspiracy of international bankers and financiers, all controlled by the Jews, to keep Germany poor and dependent.

    Wright, for his part, is as much a racist as was Hitler. The hysterical shrillness of his speaking style is reminiscent of the Fuhrer's. Obama, as a member of Wright's church, must have witnessed this vociferous brand of religious/political demagoguery countless times, and read the racist propaganda that appeared in the church publication.

    Barack Obama is a much more soft-spoken and articulate public speaker. His smooth sophistry has charmed and inspired the unwary and the unthinking; it is no less calculated than is Wright's to appeal to emotions, not minds. If he wins the White House in November, soon after his swearing in - but not before that -- we should expect to hear again calls for "black reparations." Never mind the fact that the blacks who lived in slavery are long dead, as well as their enslavers; never mind the fact that no American black has lived in slavery for generations, and that, logically, living blacks today cannot be "owed" anything by any living white (nor by Americans of Asian, Latinos, or European descent). Reason is not his oracle, not his guide, not on the issue of racism nor on any of his other policy positions.

    Fact-based logic is the enemy of racial or collectivist "logic." As the sins of white ancestors are "inherited" by living whites, regardless of whether or not they are descendents of slave owners, the suffering and injustices endured by black ancestors are likewise inexplicably transmitted to or "inherited" by living blacks, regardless of whether or not they are descendents of slaves. Ergo, they must be "compensated." That is a form of Hitler's demand for lebensraum, that is a yearning for liberation from reality.

    For this reason alone - aside from whatever other irrationality he is the symbol of - because Obama has not publicly and without qualification repudiated that brand of ideology, but merely papered it over with sentimental, excuse-laden apologies, he cannot be absolved of complicity in its advocacy by the likes of Jeremiah Wright, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan - and Robert Mugabe.

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    :: Sunday, April 13, 2008 ::

    The latest weapon to keep Ayn Rand out of the classroom: intimidation 

    :: Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 12:37 PM

    Craig Biddle does an excellent job demolishing Wall Street Journal blogger Heidi N. Moore's smear in the form of a question at Principles in Practice. There Biddle writes:

    On the website of the Wall Street Journal, under the heading "Capitalism Shrugged: Should Ayn Rand Be Required Reading?"-and after stating a few uncontroversial facts, several inaccuracies, and some inconsequential fluff-Heidi Moore gets to her point:

    Rand has a bit of a reputation problem among those who have not drunk the Kool-Aid. . . . Deal Journal readers, we put the question to you: Should there be more Ayn Rand to instruct young, impressionable minds? Or is the problem with capitalism today too much Rand already?
    Gosh, Ms. Moore, since you put it that way, how could readers of the Wall Street Journal possibly answer in the affirmative? How could self-respecting, independent thinkers bear the prospect of being regarded as Kool-Aid-drinking cultists for holding that reality, reason, self-interest, individual rights, freedom, and the like deserve the attention of college students?
    Click here to read all of Biddle's post.

    In reading through Moore's post myself, I thought that it was telling that she relies on Oliver Stone's Wall Street as one of her sources to describe Rand's ideas in action. She quotes the character of Gordon Gecko, Wall Street's representation of the preeminent cooperate raider as he gives a speech at the annual meeting of a company he aims to take over:

    "I am not the destroyer of companies; I am a liberator of them. The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed--you mark my words--will not only save Telidar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."
    Gecko's use of the word "greed' in his speech can not be equated to its use by the advocates of ethical egoism; the characterization of vicious businessman named after a reptile cannot be mistaken for a spokesman for self-interest. After all, nowhere in the real world of 1980's investment was there a real Gordon Gecko. The parallel that Stone seeks to establish in Gecko is to men such as Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky, yet this parallel falls flat upon proper analyses.

    Why? Because in contrast to Wall Street's portrayal of the workings of the market, the corporate raider phenomena of the 1980s was driven largely by underperforming management teams that failed to deliver the best possible use of a firm's resources. The idea that the raider loots a firm, while the existing management protects the firm's interests under a saintly cloak is absurd. A productive enterprise has value and it is the right of its owners to see that they get the most return on that value. A corporate raider simply uses his knowledge of the market to determine a company's full potential for profit and identifies new courses of action for firms that under-perform.

    Yet by equating self-interest with a synonym for avarice, Wall Street communicates little more than the view that self-interest is immoral. Judging by her article, Ms. Moore thinks that any ideas Ayn Rand might have to offer in opposition is "Kool-Aid" taken in self-suicide. Perhaps Moore should examine her own ideas; after all, she attacks Ayn Rand under the masthead of a paper that is ostensibly dedicated to covering capitalists and their productive exploits in the marketplace, not smearing them.

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    :: Friday, April 11, 2008 ::

    The end of Founders College at Berry Hill, Pt. II 

    :: Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 8:27 PM

    Reading though the many comments to my last blog post, I see that I have brought out the finest people (albeit all operating under the cloak of anonymity, save for Ed and me).

    I have no problem with people speaking freely about the issue at bar here, provided that they remain objective. That said, bleating "J'Accuse . . ." though anonymous comments smacks me as a bit much.

    But since we do have the finest people visiting here and at least one of them thinks that I should feel guilty because I supported the school and thus some may have acted based upon my support, let me say that I am in no way burdened. I know all the people who acted upon my advice. We've talked, and believe me, they're cool about it. Similar to me, they liked what they initially saw in the college and they chose accordingly.

    For example, when I heard Gary Hull speak at an open house about Founders' educational philosophy, I was struck with his command over the issue, as was everyone else in attendance. Everything that he said and every question he answered reflected the mind of someone with an expert's knowledge of both Objectivism and the philosophy of education. In contrast with the claims of some, there certainly was nothing to indicate that Founders was a half-baked endeavor.

    "Well, you obviously don't know as much about education as we do," I imagine my critics will say. Perhaps, but I've read your commentary too. You didn't persuade me; he did.

    * * *

    At the same time, later on, I did serve a week at Founders as an unpaid intern with nontransferable college credit (heh) and I was able to see what I consider to be a telling side of the operation. I was still hopeful at the time, but I was not impressed.

    I'll share with you an example: I keep on mentioning how brilliant Gary Hull's speech was, but I didn't take notes, because I never would have imagined that would have been the end of it. It was. You know how I can say this? Because I had to do things like explain to the marketing director non-trivial points like "Founders is not classical education" or "Founders is not great books." The intern. With non-transferable college credit. And Gary Hull was simply nowhere to be found.

    In my view, Founders needed Gary Hull on site to communicate Founders' differentiating message in the way the chief visionary of a start-up must. Let there be no doubt about it: this was his baby. The project needed a person with his level of expertise and acumen to be able to broadcast the message with the precision demanded. Without that guiding force (and without some sort of written manifesto that I alluded in my initial post) I think the marketing (and the college) suffered accordingly.

    I confronted Tamara Fuller with Hull's inexplicable absence at the opening celebration. I asked her point blank why Hull withdrew from the project. She looked me dead in the eye and said "I wish I knew. Why don't you go ask him."

    Perhaps I should have asked him. On a slim-to-none chance, as outside supporter, that could have been one of the interventions the project needed to help get it back on its legs. I can't say, but coupled with Fuller's well-documented management style that did not engender either initiative or confidence in her subordinates, I think it was part of the caustic mix that killed the concept and I'll sign my name to it.

    The faculty was up to the task and they did the job asked of them. The few students they had were any professor's dream. The location was exquisite. All I can say now is that I feel deeply for all who have suffered as a result of this meltdown.

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    :: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 ::

    The end of Founders College at Berry Hill 

    :: Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 10:21 AM

    The Gazette Virginian reports the following on Founders College:

    Founders Land Company has assumed management at the Berry Hill hotel and resort property, according to a Monday press release issued by John E. Powell, director of marketing.

    "The Berry Hill Estate is under new management," according to the press release. "On April 3 the lease to Founders College Education ended. On that date the owner of the property, Founders Land Company, assumed direction of management."

    "The exclusive focus of new management will be on hotel operations rather than the college," continuted (sic) the press release. "Its goal is to develop this historic local treasure to its full potential as a destination hotel, resort and center for important events in the South Boston community."
    As someone who thought that the Berry Hill property was an exquisite setting for the college, this news comes as a disappointment. In fact, all of the news to come out of Founders College of late has been a disappointment.

    So what went wrong? My frustration rests in that the project was never truly able to communicate its intellectual distinctiveness in a way that resonated with college-bound students and their parents. Yet when I talk to members of Founders' faculty, it becomes clear to me that the actual idea of Founders as a center for hierarchal and integrated learning was sound.

    For example, one professor friend of mine in economics talked about how the professors from other disciplines sat in on his classes and vice versa and how this participation upped the quality of the presentation. In the extended after-class sessions that took place at the on-site tavern, each professor would integrate their disciplines with each other over dinner. Students, who of course tagged along, got to sit in as various experts in their fields talked with one another about how seemingly disparate ideas drew upon a common source and integrated together toward a common end. My friend relayed that he had never experienced anything quite like it in his long career and that the experience was quite enriching (and from what I heard, the students got a lot out of it too).

    For me, this anecdotal story was revealing. Out of the simple expectation that Founders professors were to be aware of what their colleagues were teaching and expected to look for commonalities, this emergent property developed in a way that you don't typically see elsewhere. That's important. But was this story and other important stories successfully conveyed to the public? Not that I can see, and perhaps that is one reason why Founders lost its campus so quickly.

    Since hindsight is twenty-twenty, if I am ever fortunate enough to be in a position to launch a college, I would not do it until there was some sort of intellectual manifesto that fleshed out the ambitions of the movement behind the launch. The progressives had the works of John Dewey to inspire them and rally behind; my own paternal grandparents were both part of that movement, with one working in public education and the other working at a private progressive grade school that was founded in the 1920's for the sole purpose of carrying out Dewey's educational program. Founders' need for its own intellectual justification and rally point was little different, but Founders never had such a manifesto, at least not in an explicit and easily packaged form that could have been easily shared with the public. In hindsight (and added to all the management and financial woes) that absence was a key defect because it allowed critics to dismiss Founder's promises as mere marketing hype and not the underpinnings of a great sea-change in education.

    Founders could have been. Founders should have been. But in the end, it wasn't. I think that is a deep tragedy, but like all tragedies, there is a lot that can be learned from it--and we should. The core problems in education that made an idea like Founders even worth considering in the first place will continue to plague us until those inspired by Ayn Rand's ideas can apply her philosophy to the practical problem of education--and apply it in a marketable, profitable and economically sustainable program.

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    :: Thursday, April 03, 2008 ::

    The New Pyramid Builders 

    :: Posted by Edward Cline at 11:58 PM

    A mile-high tower will rise in a desert port town, and Americans will be helping to finance its £5 billion construction cost. It will rise in the town Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, halfway up the length of the Red Sea.

    At 5,250 feet, it will be twice the height of another tower being erected in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on the Persian Gulf. A few miles north up the Sea from Jeddah is Rabigh, where about 40,000 workers are constructing the world's largest petrochemical plant as part of King Abdullah Economic City, itself part of a $500 billion plan to turn Saudi Arabia into a "powerhouse" industrial giant. Other massive construction projects are underway in Kuwait and other Persian Gulf countries.

    "By the end of the year," reported The New York Times in an article, "The Construction Site Called Saudi Arabia," on January 20,

    "this massive city of steel at the edge of the Red Sea will take its place as a cog of globalization: plastics produced here will be used to make televisions in Japan, cellphones in China and thousands of other products to be sold in the United States and Europe. Construction costs at the plant, which spreads over eight square miles, have doubled to $10 billion because of shortages in materials and labor. The amount of steel being used is 10 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower."
    The Times article also reports that,

    "Abu Dhabi is planning to spend close to $1 billion for a new museum with the help of the Louvre, in Paris. Dubai's latest grandiose idea is to build a small-scale replica of the French city of Lyon, complete with residential housing, a museum, a culinary school and a soccer club."
    Americans will be helping to finance these and other massive projects in Saudi Arabia and in the Persian Gulf fiefdoms through their gas and heating oil prices. One important thing to remember about these projects is that they are not strictly "private" undertakings; every one of them is a government project. Strictly speaking, neither Saudi Arabia nor any of the other medieval kingdoms or satrapies in the Mideast has a "government," representative or otherwise.

    Their legislative bodies are purely artificial fictions beholden to ruling families. The only persons who have billions to invest in these new pyramids are those related or closely connected to those ruling families. Michael Corleone's Mafia crime family pales in comparison to these Middle East oil oligarchies, which have their own tribal codes of loyalty, justice and silence, a morality that boasts its own "whacking" policy against Muslims who "rat" on Mohammed or take Allah's name in vain, or who abandon the tribe completely, and an inbred contempt for and mistrust of all non-Muslim outsiders.

    A similar arrangement exists in Mainland China, in which most of the cadres of the ruling Communist Party own and control the "private enterprises" behind China's own economic boom. That arrangement is by definition fascist, and accounts for the censorship, brutal repression, and absence of any civil liberties there. In Saudi Arabia and its Islamic neighbors, the arrangement is much more primitive, and intractably religious.

    Such as Prince al-Walid bin Talal, planner of the mile-high tower, who bought the prestigious Savoy Hotel in London for £1.25 billion in 2005, reports the London Daily Mail of March 31. Bin Talal is the Saudi who offered former Mayor Rudy Giuliani a $10 million check after the World Trade Center was destroyed by fellow Saudis in 2001. Giuliani promptly returned the check. Bin Talal also is an enabler of Islam in the West, building dozens of mosques in it every year and giving $20 million to Harvard and Georgetown Universities to establish schools of "Islamic studies."

    One can imagine bin Talal's mile-high tower is his extravagant way of giving a Bronx cheer to the U.S., the World Trade Center, and all those who died in the attack. Two British firms, Hyder Consulting and Arup, will tackle the tower project in a joint venture with bin Talal's firm, Kingdom Holdings. One supposes that is a kind of reward to the British for wanting to de-emphasize the Holocaust and the Crusades, or not teach the subjects at all, in history lessons in the presence of British Muslim students, for allowing Islamic Sharia law to creep up to equivalence with British secular law, and for many other concessions to Muslim "sensibilities."

    Saudi Arabia is the world's biggest oil exporter. "The Persian Gulf countries reaped "$1.5 trillion in oil revenue from 2002 to 2006," reports the Times article. Saudi Arabia and its religious/political rival, Iran, another oil exporter, together are the chief enablers of Islamic jihad against the West.

    But vertical pyramids and other vanity projects are not the sole means employed by billionaire Arabs to engineer a hostile takeover of the West. The Times article reports that,

    "Last year...a fund controlled by the government of Abu Dhabi bought a stake in Citigroup for $7.5 billion, while another run by Dubai's ruler bought a large share in Sony, the Japanese consumer electronics giant. Sabie, a major Saudi petrochemical company, bought the plastics division of General Electric for $11.6 billion, and the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation bought half of Dow Chemical's commodity-plastics unit for $9.5 billion....In recent weeks, other big banks plagued by losses from the mortgage crisis, like Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, have raised tens of billions of dollars from a variety of Middle Eastern and Asian funds, including ones from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia."
    The American Congress for Truth reports an April 1st Human Events article, in "America for Sale to Sharia Sovereign Wealth Funds," that

    "In December 2007, Bourse Dubai, the world's first and largest Islamic equity exchange, bought 20% of NASDAQ, the biggest U.S. electronic stock market, and 'rebranded' it as part of Dubai's company. The Bourse also got NASDAQ's 28% of the London Stock Exchange (LSE). In addition, Qatar acquired a 24% LSE stake, giving the two Gulf nations control over nearly 52% of the London exchange. On March 15 [2008], Iran, which now dominates the leading 100 Islamic banks - followed by Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and the UAE - announced plans to list a $90 billion energy holding company on the Dubai International Financial Exchange, which is wholly owned by Bourse Dubai."
    This article, incidentally, was co-authored by Rachel Ehrenfeld, an American, who was sued in a British court by Saudi billionaire Khalid Salim bin Mahfouz for writing a book, Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It, which, among other things, revealed Mahfouz's role in promoting the Islamic conquest of Britain and Europe. The British court ordered her to pay "$225,000 in damages and legal fees to Mahfouz, as well as apologize and destroy existing copies of her books," according to ACT for America on April 1st. Mahfouz is a professional libel "tourist," or terrorist who prefers to extinguish his victims with costly litigation instead of with planes or bombs on vests or in backpacks.

    New York State's Court of Appeals declined to protect her from the alleged defamation suit, claiming it did not have jurisdiction over suits originating overseas, thus jeopardizing the efficacy of First Amendment freedom of speech guarantees in the U.S., while implicitly conceding that Americans could be subject to the libel and defamation laws of other nations. On March 31, the New York State legislature unanimously passed the Libel Terrorism Protection Act, which deemed foreign defamation judgments null and void in New York, home of many publishers and writers. Governor David Paterson is expected to sign it into law.

    Mahfouz, however, has already made significant inroads by practicing censorship by lawsuit. The most notorious instance to date was his 2007 suit against Cambridge University Press for publishing Alms for Jihad, by J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins, also Americans, who detailed how Islamic charities are simply money laundering fronts for terrorists. CUP, as a defendant under British libel law, had to refute the accusations and also limit itself in terms of what evidence it could employ in its defense. Rather than face a sea of Saudi petro-pounds in court costs and legal expenses, which it would probably have been ordered to reimburse Mahfouz, CUP caved in to him, withdrew the book from sale and circulation, agreed to shred all existing copies of it, asked libraries to return their copies to be destroyed, and apologized to Mahfouz.

    That whole shameful episode of censorship by lawsuit by Islamic billionaires is reminiscent of the John Wilkes affair of 1763, when Wilkes, a member of the House of Commons, said that the king indeed could do wrong, and was promptly charged with libel by the government and expelled from Parliament. He fought back, however, eventually won over his enemies, and his name became synonymous with freedom of the press.

    But, to return to the pyramids and the financial subornation of Western capitalism, what must be understood is that these chunks of ownership cannot be likened to investments by the Al Capone crime syndicate, nor even to a Michael Corleone-style ruse of investing a gang's takings in "legitimate" business (see "The Godfather, Part II," for that tactic), although the root causes are similar. These are aggressive moves by a united political/religious bloc, Islam, to influence the course of Western civilization by acquiring financial leverage over banks, lending institutions, major corporations and investors, and finally over Western political institutions, solely and ultimately to advance the Islamization of the West.

    And, as statist regulations and controls foster the growth of organized crime at home and abroad (resulting in such programs the U.S.-directed "war" against the drug cartel in Colombia and tribal poppy-growing enterprises in Afghanistan), irrational foreign policies have fostered the growth of regimes and tyrannies fundamentally hostile to the West. Western policies permitted Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members to seize private oil producing property, and, in conjunction with that inaction, the West at home established prohibitive controls on the development of oil producing resources as part of environmental and "conservation" policies. This has resulted in the West's perilous dependency on the production whims of OPEC and the transfer of enormous wealth to those regimes and tyrannies.

    As Nikita Khrushchev once promised that the Soviet Union would 'bury" the U.S. as an industrial power, Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf neighbors are promising to bury the U.S. as a global competitor. Instead of demanding that it acknowledge the "superiority" of communism, they will require that the U.S. become a deferential handmaiden of Islam, if not an Islamic province itself.

    Of course, all those billion dollar projects are undertaken on the premise that the U.S. and the West will not commit economic suicide by "going green" or by becoming fascist, that they will remain viable, productive realms. If the U.S experiences an economic collapse, the Treasury notes, mutual funds and other government instruments held by Mideast financiers will be as worthless as the ones owned by private American investors and speculators.

    Ancient Egyptian kings and pharaohs built over ninety pyramids to house them at death. The new pyramid builders seek to bury the corpse of the West in their own. No one should doubt that Islam - including its kings, emirs, princes, mullahs, imams, its billionaires, its countless mind-stunted manqués, and its homicidal killers - wishes to eviscerate the West, and especially the U.S.

    The U.S. and the West should act now to ensure that those mile-high towers, high- rises, and plants remain empty monuments to larcenous vanity, by rediscovering the necessary virtues of self-preservation and self-interest.

    :: Permalink | 4 Comments ::

     

    Welcome to the Objectivist Round Up! 

    :: Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 12:01 AM

    Welcome to the April 3rd, 2008 edition of the Objectivist Round Up--it's our pleasure to be hosting this week's edition. This week's round-up presents some of the best insight and analyses written by authors who are animated by Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. According to Ayn Rand:

    My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

    "About the Author," Atlas Shrugged, Appendix.

    So without any further adieu (and in no particular order), here's this week's round-up:

    Ari Armstrong presents The Republican Schism posted at FreeColorado.com. Ari says, "at a recent event in Denver, conservatives and libertarians debated the future of "fusionism," the alliance of the religious right and fiscal conservatives. I argue that fusionism is destined to fail."

    Gideon Reich presents We continue to refuse to win posted at Armchair Intellectual. His post is on the continuing refusal of our government to fight the present war to a victorious conclusion.

    Rational Jenn presents Return To The Dark Ages posted at Rational Jenn. "Like many others," Jenn says, "I wrote about the absurdity of "Earth Hour" and why we lit our house up like Christmas that evening!"

    Myrhaf presents Notes On Acting posted at Myrhaf. Myrhaf says, "here are some insights into acting that I have come to from decades of theatre experience, going back to my first performance in -- egad! -- 1972."

    Ergo presents The Nature of Emergencies posted at Leitmotif. Ergo writes, "A significant number of people in the world actually do face emergency situations on a daily basis. Does this mean that human life qua life is essentially always in a chronically anxious and uncertain mode. Are we always in an emergency situation? And a philosophy that does not address emergency situations would be irrelevant to the vast number of people in impoverished conditions who seem to face life-boat scenarios everyday."

    Kim presents Copyright and Cost posted at Kim's Play Place. Kim writes that in this post, she "evaluates how much my stinginess might effect some creative soul's bottom line."

    Martin Lindeskog presents EGO: Scott Powell History: Lecture One posted at EGO.

    John presents Goodkind and Mises posted at Try Reason!. John writes that his post is on "short reviews of the books I'm currently reading - one by a self described Objectivist fantasy writer and the other by none-other than economist Ludwig von Mises."

    Gus Van Horn presents Gushers Come from Somewhere posted at Gus Van Horn. Gus says that "there is an interesting book that recently came out on alternative fuels. Too bad its author didn't ask the obvious question: "Where are all these lies gushing FROM?""

    Damon Payne presents Device Drivers and Ethics posted at Damon Payne.

    C. August presents Economist refutes rationality, proves own stupidity posted at Titanic Deck Chairs. C. August writes on "bad ideas and suspect motives, passed off as science. Though perhaps, according to this guy, since we are all irrevocably irrational I really have no valid way of coming to that conclusion. Hmm..."

    Craig Ceely presents Tiggers and Eeyores, Messiahs and Jihadists: Check Your Premises posted at The Anger of Compassion. Craig ponders "what can we learn from Fitna, from illusionist Derren Brown, and from Dr. Randy Pausch's Last Lecture? The importance of checking your premises -- and of letting your kids paint their walls."

    And last (but hardly least), Kendall J presents Dumb, and Dumber (and Dumbest): Bernake, Paulson and Bush neck and neck (and neck)... posted at The Crucible & Column. In a post after my own heart, Kendall J writes, "Nick said to get fired up about this week's carnival and so I am. Admittedly a rant, but I'm just incredulous watching the supposed friends of the free market betray it so during this most recent economic crisis. With friends like these and this much damage done, we don't need enemies for the next several decades and we'll still be behind."

    :: Permalink | 1 Comments ::

     

    :: Tuesday, April 01, 2008 ::

    Something of a setback . . . 

    :: Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 4:23 PM

    I report on it here. Don't worry though; I'm fine.

    :: Permalink | 5 Comments ::

     

    If Wafa Sultan is not free, I am not free 

    :: Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 10:56 AM

    Wafa Sultan, the indomitable defender of the West against the savagery of Islamic coercion has been forced into hiding in response to a fatwa issued against her by an Islamic scholar (HT: Noodlefood, LGF). From the report I read, it is not clear just who issued the threat or what country he or she lives in, but if this threat is confirmed, I think America's response should be plain. Either this person is arrested and punished for issuing a death threat by his home government, or our government should bomb that nation until it submits.

    Ms. Sultan is an American citizen and no one has a right to threaten her life for any reason; it is our government's mission to protect her and anyone else's right to speak openly and freely about any subject they choose, including the depravity of Islam. A foreign power that permits death edicts against the lives of Americans is committing an act of war and it is the duty of our government to treat these acts as such.

    If Wafa Sultan is not free to speak her mind, than neither you nor I are free to speak ours. None of us can tolerate this encroachment upon our ability to communicate our ideas. It will be telling to see just what our government's response to this outrage will be, and I suspect we will have to fight long and hard to compel it to take the proper steps in defense of our liberty.

    :: Permalink | 2 Comments ::

     

     

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