Monday, March 31, 2008

The end of the end for Founders College?

I don't have any particular information, but this report today looks grim.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fitna the Movie: Geert Wilders' film about Islamic tyranny

Every human being on Earth who would dare to live a life free of Islamic coercion should watch this film.

North Korean support for 'Earth Hour' near universal

I have always been struck by the stark contrast presented by the two Koreas in this famous NASA mosaic of the Earth at night. And that got me thinking about "Earth Hour" . . .

Hey, who turned out the lights?

Next time this comes to the US, we'll need to rent some floodlights:

Sydney's iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge went dark Saturday night as the world's first major city turned off its lights for this year's Earth Hour, a global campaign to raise awareness of climate change.

A lightning show was the brightest part of Sydney's skyline during Earth Hour, which began at 8 p.m. when the lights were turned off at the city's landmarks. Most businesses and homes were already dark as Sydney residents embraced their second annual Earth Hour with candlelight dinners, beach bonfires and even a green-powered outdoor movie.

"This provides an extraordinary symbol and an indication that we can be part of the solution" to global warming, Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett told Sky News television, standing across the harbor from the dark silhouette of the Opera House.

[. . . ] Following Australia, lights will go out in major Asian cities including Manila and Bangkok before moving to Europe and North America as the clock ticks on. One of the last major cities to participate will be San Francisco — home to the soon-to-be dimmed Golden Gate Bridge.

[. . .] Even popular search engine Google put its support behind Earth Hour, with a completely black page and the words: "We've turned the lights out. Now it's your turn." [Tanalee Smith, Associated Press Writer]
That's right; it's our turn to point out that this effort is complete garbage. Here we have an attempt to meld a common sense position (don't waste energy) with little more than anti-human nihilism. The light bulb literally brings us out from the darkness and it has served as poignant symbol of human creativity and genius, yet here, the light bulb is turned into a symbol of depravity and destruction—and all on the basis of the environmentalist's creed that nature has an intrinsic value separate from man's life and the spectral claim of man-made doom.

I say that the next time the environmentalists attempt to darken an American monument as a symbol of their movement we should light it back up emblazoned with an appropriate counter-message. Industry and technology vastly improves the quality of our lives and this world-wide push toward darkness shows just how desperately these values need to be defended.

Friday, March 28, 2008

And when they invariably find them, who are they gonna call?

As a follow-up to my earlier post on the faith-based death of 11-year-old Madeline Neumann, there's now this absurdity out of the great state of Iowa:

[Johnson] County officials have given their informal OK for ghost hunters to check out a one-time insane asylum to see if any spirits are lurking about.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors took the initial action on the request from the Johnson County Historical Society, which gives tours of the 153-year-old building.

Brandon Cochran, museum operations assistant for the historical society, said there have never been reports of ghosts or bizarre happenings at the building and that bringing in a paranormal team is "kind of taking the pre-emptive approach.

He wants an Iowa-based paranormal investigative team to come in for one night. Cochran said he hopes they don't find any paranormal activity and the investigation can put to rest any speculation.

A four-person Carroll Area Paranormal Team will use thermal imaging equipment and voice recording systems, Cochran said. [AP]
Perhaps while they are at it, they could also secure footage of a man actually tipping over a sleeping cow, because that would be just as plausible. And notice that they don't even have a "ghost" problem; they just want to make sure that they don't have any ghosts, because, you know, you can't be too careful when it comes to ethereal beings from another dimension. I just hope they don't cross their energy streams, because as everyone knows, that would be "bad."

Comments on my Washington Post letter on Rent Control

I learned yesterday that the Washington Post allows reader comments on the letters to the editor that it prints, so I was interested to see what kind of response my recent letter defending landlords from rent control received. Most of the comments were favorable, but this unfavorable comment (from a landlord nonetheless) stuck out:

I own rental property in DC, though not enough to be covered by rent control laws. Frankly, if I were in a position to buy more rental property, I would do so. The article only hints at how active the rental property market is. No one buys rental property out of desperation, so I think those who advocate for totally unregulated a market need to explain why so many would "volunteer" for odious regulation.
I think that the author's use of scare quotes around the world "volunteer" is quite telling; the author knows that there nothing voluntary about the government's regulation of rents under the penalty of the law. And the reason why landlords stay or enter the rental business despite government regulation is easily explained simply by looking at a supply and demand graph. Price controls punish those whose costs are greater than the legally mandated price; they put some people out of business, but they don't put everyone out of business.

In the case of rent control, it's those landlords with the thinnest margins (perhaps by owning an older, more maintenance-heavy building) that are the most impacted. Other landlords, with more efficient buildings, may be able to operate under the regulatory caps with no ill effect, but this is hardly uniform and proof of the negative fallout that I claim is evidenced by the blight one sees in the typically older, less affluent neighborhoods.

Rather than serve the poor as the proponents of rent control assert, these regulations do little more than attack businessmen and women who absent rent control would be more than willing and able to provide housing to the poor—but at free market rates. Again, at root, you cannot build a house of cards where is possible to get something for nothing and not expect that house to come down.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Parents pick prayer over docs; girl dies

It is stories like this one that highlight the absolute horrors of mysticism in American life:

Police are investigating an 11-year-old girl's death from an undiagnosed, treatable form of diabetes after her parents chose to pray for her rather than take her to a doctor.

An autopsy showed Madeline Neumann died Sunday of diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that left too little insulin in her body, Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said.

She had probably been ill for about a month, suffering symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness, the chief said Wednesday, noting that he expects to complete the investigation by Friday and forward the results to the district attorney.

The girl's mother, Leilani Neumann, said that she and her family believe in the Bible and that healing comes from God, but that they do not belong to an organized religion or faith, are not fanatics and have nothing against doctors. [Robert Imrie, Associated Press Writer]
That is, Ms. Neumann has nothing against doctors except when it came to calling upon one to treat her daughter's plainly obvious and easily manageable condition. Yet consider for a moment just what evidence Neumann had to conclude that "healing comes from God." This claim is nothing more than unfounded faith, utterly devoid of any reason or proof. In contrast, modern medicine is nothing more than the scientific method applied to physical health—the process of systematically identifying and obeying nature so as to be able to properly command it. And here we have abundant proof that science makes human life better; after all, our entire modern civilization, from CAT Scans to iPhones, is built upon the practical benefits of this truth.

So how on earth could Madeline Neumann's parents conclude that God alone would save their daughter and that medical science was unneeded? Just how much evidence did they (and let's be honest, their daughter too) willfully choose to ignore in order to engage in their deadly flight of mystic fancy? And most importantly, what cultural forces led them to such a horrific conclusion, and why were they unwilling to act upon the proper (and seemingly obvious) alternative?

As this story develops, it will be interesting to learn just how Neumann's parents were able to internally rationalize such an outrage. In the mean time, we are faced with a very troubling truth: in a nation where the practical benefits of reason, science and technology surround us, seemingly everyday Americans are nevertheless willing to engage in Stone-age mysticism and irrationality—and do so at the price of precious human life. Even if there is tremendous outcry against these parents, I can't help but take the fact that this girl died in the first pace as a troubling sign.

DC Police Go Door-to-Door, Looking for Guns and Drugs

So much for the Fourth Amendment:

D.C. police are going door-to-door Monday in one of the city's crime-plagued neighborhoods, asking residents for permission to search their homes for guns and other illegal contraband.

The program, called the Safe Homes Initiative, will offer homeowners and renters limited amnesty for possessing any contraband found by police.

The program is aimed at removing guns and drugs kept by children and young adults in their parents' homes. The homeowners will be asked to sign a form, consenting to the search.

"I think that's good," said parent Brenda Freeman Jones, who worries that many parents aren't aware of what their kids are up to. "Look for the gun and drugs, sign the papers. Get stuff off the street."

Police plan to test any firearm that is recovered to see if it used in a crime. Weapons linked to shootings or murders will require an investigation, according to police, and could lead to charges. [WJLA News]
In reality, there is no such thing as a "courtesy" police search; this program is little more than naked coercion disguised as crime-fighting; after all, it seems pretty clear that it is designed so that the mere act of refusing to submit to the government's search casts you in a cloud of suspicion. This program is little more a disgusting assault on the individual's right to be free of government interference in his life absent probable cause.

The irony is that the District government has mandated that all motor vehicle license plates carry the quote "TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION," a plain dig at the fact that the District is not treated like a state by the federal government. I say that this claim is utterly disingenuous; in the realms of government that the District does control, it routinely and wantonly violates the rights of its citizens, be it the right to own a firearm for self-defense, the right to rent your property on the open market without the government setting the rate, or now the right to be secure in one's property without unreasonable search. In my view, "taxation without representation" is the least of the District's worries--a view evidenced all the more by this latest outrage.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Major Truths vs. “Minor Blips”

The latest laughable episode in Senator Hillary Clinton’s efforts to pad her “foreign policy experience” résumé as a qualification to be president is her outright lie about being “under fire” during a junket to Bosnia in March of 1996. Even the TV journalists who were with her at the time had to acknowledge it was a lie – or what she called a “misstatement.”

MSNBC quoted an Associated Press article of March 25, “Clinton ‘misspoke’ over sniper claims,” which reported her telling the Philadelphia Daily News:

“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”


“I went to eighty countries, you know. I gave contemporaneous accounts, I wrote about a lot of this in my book. You know, I think that, a minor blip, you know, if I said something that, you know, I say a lot of things – millions of words a day – so if I misspoke, it was a misstatement.”

I mean, you know, after all, what is the meaning of is? You know? I mean, I’m really inarticulate in this kind of bind, and I have a foggy memory of when exactly I was under sniper fire, or where. I traveled so much when First Lady as part of my experience. So when you catch me in a lie – I mean, a minor blip, a misstatement – it really rattles me, you know. But I’m sure I could think clearly if I got a call at 3 o’clock in the morning about an Iranian nuclear missile that incinerated Philadelphia, it wouldn’t rattle me at all, I mean, I have all that foreign policy experience. I actually touched the red phone in Bill’s office, and that counts as experience, doesn’t it?

All three major networks have run the clips of her pseudo-hazardous landing and reception in Bosnia. The videos could just as well have been made during a tour of Disney Land.

Watching the clip of her committing her latest gaffe about “snipers” in Bosnia, and with the knowledge of her actual record – Vince Foster, Ron Brown, TrooperGate, TravelGate, White Water, the commodities profits, and so on – one can see how comfortable she is in a state of congenital dissimilitude and how effortlessly “misstatements” come to her. It is one of many vices she has in common with her husband.

Still, why would anyone think that coming under “sniper attack” in any circumstances, even if there were a grain of truth to the assertion, qualifies one to be president? How does that constitute foreign policy “experience”? (For that matter, Senator John McCain’s experience as a POW hardly qualifies him for the presidency.)

What experience can she truthfully claim? As “co-president,” she was a tyrannical, unelected, foul-mouthed harridan browbeating, arm-twisting, favor-calling, and pressuring Congressmen to push through her socialist health care plan on the country. Aside from that, she went on numerous taxpayer-funded “good will” junkets around the world.

The Daily Telegraph of March 20, in an article, “Hillary Clinton papers sink experience claims,” reported,

“Hillary Clinton’s boasts that she gained major foreign policy experience as First Lady have been undermined after 11,046 pages of her White House schedules provided scant evidence to back up her claims….The documents were made public by the U.S. National Archives [and also by Bill Clinton’s presidential library in Arkansas] after pressure from her rival Barack Obama and freedom-of-information groups.

“Many details were redacted [edited] at the request of lawyers acting for former president Bill Clinton, citing privacy and national security concerns.”

So much for full disclosure. If the papers were edited, abridged or simply censored, can they be treated as the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

The Associated Press, in “Clinton releases first lady papers” on March 19, reported that,

“In all, 11,046 pages have been made available. Nearly 4,800 pages have parts blacked out. Archivists said that’s to protect the privacy of third parties….Her Democratic presidential campaign released a statement Wednesday saying the schedules spanning her two terms as first lady ‘illustrate the array of substantive issues she worked on’ and her travel to more than eighty countries ‘in pursuit of the administration’s domestic and foreign policy goals.’”

Who are those “third parties” whose identities and privacy must be protected? Parties to other scandals, crimes and misdemeanors?

And what were those “substantive” issues Hillary claims as “foreign policy experience”? Glad-handing prime ministers and their wives. Having countless pictures taken with them and groups of children. Attending state dinners. Making speeches to charity and public interest groups. Baby-kissing. Making courtesy calls. Autographing books and other mementoes.

In 1998, for example, during a visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland, according to the Daily Telegraph,

“…[S]he and Cherie Blair, then the prime minister’s wife, were to ‘proceed to the children’s play area, where children were creating playground models.’ They were then to ‘proceed down the path where they are joined by 25 children with balloons’ and go ‘to the top of the hill and release the balloons.’”

The Associated Press article reports that,

“…[I]n her January 1994 visit to Russia with her husband, her schedule is focused on events with political wives. She sat in on a birthing class at a hospital, toured a cathedral and joined prominent women in a lunch of blinis with caviar and salmon….The Clinton campaign said the schedules are merely a guide and don’t reflect all of her activities.”

You can bet they don’t. Very likely they have been “redacted” to protect the guilty and the complicit.

All three major news networks are now concerned that the “sniping” between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is damaging the Democrats’ chances of winning the White House in November.

And there we have it: Running for president is a habitual liar and a youngish, charismatic man whose “spiritual mentor and guide” is a ranting witch doctor and who is sounding more and more like Hitler. And we all thought that it could not get any worse than President George Bush, whose favorite philosopher is Jesus Christ and who formulates his own foreign policy on advice from God.

Speaking of Senator McCain, the Associated Press on March 24 reported, in “High Court rejects anti-Clinton movie appeal,” that the Supreme Court is not unfriendly to censorship and the strictures of McCain-Feingold.

“The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday from a conservative group that wants to promote its anti-Hillary Clinton movie without complying with campaign finance laws….The court’s decision leaves in place a lower court ruling that says the group, Citizens United, must attach a disclaimer and disclose its donors in order to run the ads….Campaign regulations prohibit corporations and unions from paying for ads that run close to elections and identify candidates….The case is Citizens United v. FEC 07-953 (Federal Election Committee).”

While Hillary got help from an unlikely source, a judiciary that does not hold the First Amendment as inviolate, it is doubtful that the Citizens United ads or the movie itself would discredit her any more than she and her husband are doing themselves.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

'The Child and the Invader'

This video is so outrageous that if I described it here, you would not believe me . . . just go to MEMRI and watch this video clip of an Iranian cartoon for children.

How to tell if a law is total garbage

What is one way to tell that a law is utterly non-objective and deserves to be repealed? When the enforcement of the exact same law can radically change from one political administration to another. Consider this report that quotes an antitrust lawyer warning businesses to announce their mergers now, lest they run afoul of a potentially Democratic antitrust enforcement apparatus.

Phillip Zane, who specializes in antitrust matters for the law firm Baker Donelson, said that a Democratic administration was likely to take a tougher line on merger reviews than the Bush team.

"If I had any sort of close deal, I'd rather have it go now," Zane said. "It may be that some of the airline deals are close deals." [Diane Bartz Reuters]
OK, that's probably true, but imagine if Mr. Phillip Zane esq. was a criminal attorney warning the public that a Democratic administration was likely to take a tougher line on murder. Most would recognize that different political administrations may seek more or less aggressive sentences for murder as punishment for having been convicted of committing it, but the actual definition of what constitutes murder under the law remains the same regardless of administration.

Such is not the case for antitrust enforcement; antitrust law is so vague that political administrations can and do diverge greatly over what constitutes "restraint of trade" or the "attempt to monopolize." Right then and there this wild divergence ought to signal that the law is utterly un-objective and unfair. How can one possibly hope to avoid running afoul of a law that changes with the political winds? And worse, why would one continue to tolerate it?

John Lewis on his recent talk at Georgia Tech

Historian John Lewis chronicles his experiences with questioners at a recent lecture he gave at Georgia Tech at Principles in Practice:

On March 13, I gave my talk "'No Substitute for Victory': The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism" to an audience of about forty at Georgia State Technical University . . . The onslaught began with the first "question," actually a monologue that lasted nearly fifteen minutes. The monologist claimed that: (1) there is a long history of separation of church and state in Islam; (2) Islamic law is good; (3) whenever imposed, Islamic law has brought peace; (4) jihad is a "wonderful idea" and does not mean war; (5) Islamic Totalitarianism poses no threat, since 500 million Muslims reject terrorism; (6) the tax leveled against subjugated peoples is just, because they are protected by Muslims in return; (7) I am "ignorant of history" if I do not acknowledge the "truth" of these claims.

I listened to him without interrupting-and even asked a legitimately annoyed member of the audience to allow him to finish-so that he could fully reveal himself. In answer, I re-read a series of quotes in which Islamic leaders-as well as a young girl on Lebanese television-call for jihad, war, and death; and I pointed out to the monologist that he must be quite angry at these Muslims for their incorrect view of jihad. But instead of being angry at those who give his presumably peaceful religion a bad name, he condemned me for reading their quotes. This is evasion par excellence-to condemn those who raise Islam's violent past and present rather than have to face the fact that the vision of idyllic peace that one associates with one's religion has no basis in reality.
Lewis goes on to report more of the same with other questioners with a notable exception:

[A man who described himself as a thirty-year emigré from Turkey] noted with pride that his homeland had a thoroughly secular government and he praised Kemal Ataturk for bringing Turkey into the modern age, for instance, by banning the headscarf. But today Turkey's secular government is being undercut-by Americans who describe its government as "moderate Islamic" and thereby blur the line between theocracy and secularism. This opens the door to the establishment of Islamic law. The man's message was this: There can be no compromise between theocracy and secular government; it is either-or. To accept "moderate Islam" into government is, in principle, to establish theocracy. I wonder if he realized that, by the standards of the brownshirt in my audience, he was a criminal for holding such a view.
Or worse, that an American president would dare to call the ideology that seeks to enslave Turkey and the rest of the world "a religion of peace."

Dr. Lewis definitely enters the lion's den when he gives his lectures in defense of secularism in government and victory in war; almost every itineration of his talk exposes him to savage hostility unprecedented (and unacceptable) in American education. As I observed last year, had there not been an overwhelming police presence at George Mason University when he presented his lecture before that audience, I believe that there would have been nothing to prevent the mob from assaulting him physically. It takes moral courage to face down such an adversary, and I certainly salute Dr. Lewis for his.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Dalai Lama: Dumb and dumber

In researching what a potential "free Tibet" would look like absent Chinese rule, I found the following quote which is attributed to Tenzin Gyatso, aka the 14th Dalai Lama and the head of Tibet's government in exile:

Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production. It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes--that is, the majority--as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and it seems fair. I just recently read an article in a paper where His Holiness the Pope also pointed out some positive aspects of Marxism.

As for the failure of the Marxist regimes, first of all I do not consider the former USSR, or China, or even Vietnam, to have been true Marxist regimes, for they were far more concerned with their narrow national interests than with the Workers' International; this is why there were conflicts, for example, between China and the USSR, or between China and Vietnam. If those three regimes had truly been based upon Marxist principles, those conflicts would never have occurred.

I think the major flaw of the Marxist regimes is that they have placed too much emphasis on the need to destroy the ruling class, on class struggle, and this causes them to encourage hatred and to neglect compassion. Although their initial aim might have been to serve the cause of the majority, when they try to implement it all their energy is deflected into destructive activities. Once the revolution is over and the ruling class is destroyed, there is not much left to offer the people; at this point the entire country is impoverished and unfortunately it is almost as if the initial aim were to become poor. I think that this is due to the lack of human solidarity and compassion. The principal disadvantage of such a regime is the insistence placed on hatred to the detriment of compassion.

The failure of the regime in the former Soviet Union was, for me, not the failure of Marxism but the failure of totalitarianism. For this reason I still think of myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist.
So here we have a leader who repeats the tired chestnut that Marxism is a noble ideal and implies that all Marxism needs is less coercion and more guilt. After all, if "Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis" that wealth won't just distribute itself—it will require a means of distribution. Since the Dali Lama says he eschews coercion, all that's left is guilt.

Yet what about those allegedly amoral businessmen who live by their own minds and for their own sake, feel no shame over their concern with "gain and profitability" and who think that an idle man's pointing his finger to his mouth is not an act of human solidarity? The Dalai Lama acknowledges that even Vietnam (a predominantly Buddhist country) was unable to implement the so-called Marxist ideal absent coercion. Why would a half-Marxist, half-Buddhist "free" Tibet be any different? After all, the Dali Lama doesn't acknowledge that capitalists' posses even a hint of morality. Why then would anyone assume that as leader of Tibet he would protect their moral right to their independent lives and private property?

Ultimately, there is a reason all Marxist states must resort to coercion: because men have free minds and not all willingly accept unearned guilt, the Marxist moral code demands that these men be destroyed. Being "half-Marxist and half-Buddhist" does not change this equation and even if Tenzin Gyatso personally disdains violence, there are plenty of Marxists who do not. For all of China's many faults, it is no longer a Marxist state. It seems clear that an ostensively "free" Tibet would be Marxist and if that's true, that horror would be far worse than anything the Chinese could hope to unleash.

Monday, March 17, 2008

China blocks YouTube over Tibet videos

The AP reports that the Chinese censorship apparatus is working overtime:

Internet users in China were blocked from seeing on Sunday after dozens of videos about protests in Tibet appeared on the popular U.S. video Web site.

The blocking added to the communist government's efforts to control what the public saw and heard about protests that erupted Friday in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, against Chinese rule.

Access to, usually readily available in China, was blocked after videos appeared on the site Saturday showing foreign news reports about the Lhasa demonstrations, montages of photos and scenes from Tibet-related protests abroad.

There were no protest scenes posted on China-based video Web sites such as, and
Invariably the discussion turns to the Olympic Games which are to be held in Beijing this summer. My view is if there will be no Olympic boycott (and at this stage I doubt their will be), let every athlete who medals wear a Tibetan flag on his lapel for the presentation of his medal or some other form of protest. The Chinese cannot fathom dissent and "disorder;" with these games that are supposed to symbolize their emergence as a world power, let them confront it everywhere they turn--and in a form they cannot squelch. It is high time the Chinese learn that it cannot be authoritarian and simultaneously embrace the rest of the world in friendship and sport.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Congressional Duplicity, or Treason?

I rarely write commentary from anger, preferring a properly objective, psuedo-dispassionate approach to a subject deserving my attention. But news of the details, nature and scope of pending legislation in the U.S. Senate has caused me to make an exception to that rule.

As though Americans were not already burdened with:

• Extortionate and confiscatory taxes wherever they turn on virtually everything they earn, purchase, or do, from the local level on up to the federal level;
• Myriad regulations, controls and arbitrary rules that hamper or obstruct their productivity and their lives;
• Footing the endless bills of earmarked pork barrel projects at home in the amount of billions;
• Footing the bill in the amount of the billions for bottomless altruist and "humanitarian" pork barrel projects abroad;
• Footing the bill for an ever-expanding and ever more costly welfare state to subsidize the ill, the retired, the aged, the young, etc.
• Being held hostage by, say, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and other hostile "oil-producing" countries, because our government has decided that snail darters, sea cows, and caribou have a greater right to live than have human beings;
• Paying more for food because mandated ethanol, which reports prove costs more in oil to produce than it "saves," in the gas they buy is taking more crop acreage out of production;
Congress is proposing, in Barack Obama's Global Poverty Act (S.2433, based on H.R. 1302, passed by the House September 25, 2007), that Americans be delivered into a state of indentured servitude as laborers for the United Nations. Perhaps "indentured servitude" is too kind a term, for as horrendous a condition as it is, there is usually a time limit to such servitude. Slavery would be the more accurate term in this instance, for what Congress is considering is servitude by Americans in perpetuity, in exchange for nothing but the privilege of laboring to "save" the world without thanks or reward, of filling the alleged needs of others, of performing unlimited "community service" for the offense of merely existing.

The not-so-peculiar and odd thing about H.R. 1302 was that it passed the House by voice vote. This is a stratagem adopted by legislators who fear that a bill is so outrageous that it is better that no record be kept of those who endorsed it. S.2433 was passed from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the same manner - by voice vote, without public hearings, to protect the identities of the guilty.

It will probably be introduced to the Senate for a similar, anonymous voice vote - by Harry Reid.

There is a double irony in this behavior. First, S.2433 is a bipartisan-sponsored bill. This underscores the fact that there is no fundamental difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties. Second, it is a piece of legislation which, given the altruist, collectivist premises behind it, one would have thought its creators should have trumpeted boastfully. But it is being handled by corrupt, guilty, fearful sneaks who haven't the courage of their own malice.

It reminds one of the scene in Atlas Shrugged, when James Taggart pulls down a window blind to obliterate the sight of the Washington Monument, just as he and government officials decide to decree a moratorium on brains.

The proper American response to this evil and to its sponsors and supporters, in Congress and in the U.N., should be Dagny Taggart's when she learns of it: "I won't work as a slave or as a slave-driver."

The bill's co-sponsor is Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. Its other co-sponsors are Senators Joseph Biden, Maria Cantwell, Chris Dodd, Dick Durbin, Russ Feingold, Dianne Feinstein, Charles Hagel, and Robert Mendez, all Democrats.

The bill was the subject of a strong editorial in Investor's Business Daily of February 28, 2008, "Obama's 0.7% Solution For Poverty Gets Pass from Senate Republicans." According to IBD, the bipartisan bill would require the president

"to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the U.S. foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day."
The "Millennium Development Goal" refers to a United Nations declaration adopted by the U.N. Millennium Assembly and Summit in 2000 that calls for "the eradication of poverty" by "redistribution (of) wealth and land," cancellation of "the debts of developing countries" and "a fair distribution of the earth's resources."

The IBD reports that

"The Millennium project is monitored by Jeffrey D. Sachs, a Columbia University economist. In 2005 he presented then-U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan with a 3,000-page report based on the research of 265 so-called poverty specialists.

"Sachs' document criticized the U.S. for giving only $16.5 billion a
year in global anti-poverty aid. He argued that we should spend an additional
$30 billion a year in order to reach the 0.7% target that the U.N. set for the
U.S. in 2000....Sachs said that the only way to force the U.S. to commit that much
money is by a global tax, such as a tax on fossil fuels [oil, coal, natural
The tax would be imposed not only on their production, but on their use, as well. Among other consequences, Americans would be impoverished for the purpose of reducing poverty abroad by 0.7 percent of the U.S.'s gross domestic product.

The Millennium declaration, reports IBD, also calls for a "currency transfer tax," a "tax on the rental value of land and natural resources," a "royalty on worldwide fossil energy production - oil, natural gas, coal," "fees for the commercial use of the oceans, fees for airplane use of the skies, fees for use of the electromagnetic spectrum, fees on foreign exchange transactions, and a tax on the carbon content of fuels."

The U.N. has assumed that it governs the earth, and wishes to penalize the most productive country on it for, well, being the most productive. If you never quite understood the nature and purpose of the "unification" and "global amity" plans described by Rand in Atlas Shrugged, this plan is its real world counterpart.

In practical terms, the Millennium declaration is a prescription for not only perpetuating the "global poverty" it purports to eradicate, but also for impoverishing everyone, and for perpetuating that condition, as well.

But the Obama bill does more than allow the U.N. to tax American citizens. It is more than a matter of legality or illegality. For all practical purposes, it surrenders U.S. political sovereignty and independence to the U.N., an organization most of whose members are actively hostile to the U.S.

Has the U.S. ever approved a tax on its citizens imposed by the U.N.? If it has, by what authority? Note that the wording of the Obama bill would require "the president to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy" - which assumes that the office of president is just another mode of tyranny or arbitrary power, no different from the "presidency" of any random tin pot dictatorship or regime.

There is some logic to their premise. After all, the U.S. has withheld moral judgment of every one of those countries. Long, long ago, the U.S. should have won World War II, but not participated in the formation of an organization that admitted dictatorships and other tyrannical regimes for the purpose of "peace." Long ago, the U.S. should have withdrawn from that organization, and evicted its headquarters from this country's soil.

But it maintains its sanction of that organization, and has paid the price for it every since.

Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution states: "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

It would be interesting to see if this definition could be applied to the actions of Senators Obama, Lugar, Reid and the rest of the supporters of S. 2433 (and also the sponsors and supporters of H.R. 1302). Given that the U.N. has never disguised its hostility for the U.S., and that the enemies of the U.S. are legion in the U.N.'s membership, would passage of this bill by Congress constitute giving "aid and comfort" to our enemies, and "adhering" to their purposes and ends? For that is what the bill amounts to: giving our enemies the right to conquer, loot, and subjugate this country and its citizens.

Are we not already burdened by our own lords and masters of "social policy" and "redistribution" in Washington and in every state capital, without inviting the depredations of a clique of international thugs and looters?

I urge those reading this to call or email his senator and urge that Barack Obama's S. 2433 be roundly defeated by a recorded roll call. If possible, communicate your outrage with the same moral indignation as Dagny Taggart's.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Daily Show Bodyslams Berkeley Hippies

Now this is funny:

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Immigration and Individual Rights

This excellent essay by Craig Biddle, Editor of The Objective Standard is definitely worth reading. It presents both the argument for open immigration and a trenchant polemic against the anti-immigration position.

Here's an excerpt from the opening paragraphs:

Every year, millions of people seek to immigrate to the United States, and with good reason: Opportunities to improve their lives abound here. Immigrants and would-be immigrants want to pursue the American dream. Whether or not they would put it in these terms, they want to be free to think and act on their best judgment; they want to produce wealth and keep and use it as they see fit; they want to make better lives for themselves and their families. In other words, foreigners want to come to America for the same reason the Founding Fathers established this republic: They want lives of liberty and happiness.

Immigration is the act of moving to a country with the intention of remaining there. Morally speaking, if a person rationally judges that immigrating to America would be good for his life, he should immigrate; a rational morality holds that one should always act on one’s best judgment. But does a foreigner have a right to move to America? And should America welcome him? Yes, he does—and yes, she should. Recognition of these facts was part and parcel of this country’s founding . . .
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Wafa Sultan strikes again

Wafa Sultan has yet again unleashed her wisdom against the brazenly thuggish. This time she debated Egyptian Islamist Tal’at Rmeih on an Al-Jazeera TV show broadcast this Tuesday (MEMRI translation here). It is worth viewing the whole video as it reveals the both the Islamist's utter hatred for the West and the powerful defiance of rational mind in opposition.

Censorship Àla Carte

Were you a dictator, or merely an appointed bureaucrat or official charged with preserving a status quo by abridging, repealing, policing, or suppressing the written and spoken word of your worshipping but delusional private citizens’ troublesome thoughts and deeds, you would have a gilt-edged menu from which to select the best, tried-and-true methods to preserve the peace – your own peace of mind or that of your master.

In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, it is simply a matter of creating an atmosphere of spine-dissolving fear and obedience and the passage of a law or two to make it “unpatriotic” to question or criticize federal policies. At hand are battalions of riot police and secret police to knock a few heads together, or to arrest loudmouths and sentence them to long spells in Soviet-style mental “hospitals.” Failing that, they can be shot in elevators or kidnapped from their offices or residences, never to be heard of again.

Unpatriotic Russians, such as Alexander Litvinenko, who defect to the decadent West from which to slander you and your government can be poisoned, murdered, or maimed with impunity. Remember Anna Politkovskaya? Weak-willed “democracies” are not likely to insist that you or your agents be hauled into court to face indictments or charges of murder committed in their own capitals.

In China, the same alternatives are available at nominal cost, with the added perk of having the assistance of Western companies, such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and others to police, detect, gag, and arrest troublemakers with an efficiency that would be the envy of Caligula, Hitler, and Stalin. The unpatriotic can be shipped to reeducation camps to labor for the good of the country and incidentally be “struggled” until they get their minds straight.

In Venezuela, you can gag the press and opposition simply by denying them access to newsprint and the airwaves. Those who insist on taking to the streets to express their ingratitude and dissatisfaction with your beneficent and humanitarian regime can be dealt with by your loyal supporters, the army, and the riot police.

In the Middle East, you own the airwaves and the press, so there would be little problem with blasphemers and other sinners. Those who speak out, or behave in any immodest or traitorous manner, can be lashed, stoned to death, have their hands cut off, and the like. It is a little known fact that the Nazis borrowed a page from Islam and beheaded persons they accused of treason. (The only thorn in your side would be Israel.)

A free press, and freedom of speech, after all, are not prescribed by Allah’s will, and are nowhere mentioned in the Koran or in Mohammad’s (bpbuh!) works. (And if you are a Christian dictator, there is nothing in the Bible about them, either.) In point of fact, as Islam’s learned scholars will tell you, they are proscribed by implication in the sacred texts. Such notions are the tools of infidels to suppress and offend Islam and to cast an unflattering light on one’s minions, who are insulted in their characterization of being helpless, mindless manqués.

Here, too, one can extend the range of one’s fidelity to Allah and his Prophet by becoming what the infidels, in their perverted amusement, call “libel tourists” to sue writers and speakers in their own countries for slandering in print your faithful and gentle jihadists. You will need mountains of petro-dollars to indulge in this pastime and the tacit approval of their oil-rich eminences the Royal Family, guardians of the faith. The principal aim is to bankrupt writers and publishers, or to instill fear in them of the possibility of bankruptcy. After all, Mohammad never insisted that Dar-al Harb must be a theater of blood, violence, looting and rapine. It can be conquered and their occupants made to submit by exploiting the infidels’ own laws and courts.

Britain is the chief resort and playground of such libel tourists. Of all the countries within Dar-al Harb, Britain is the most important after America. Italy, Germany, and Spain, for example, are “in the bag,” as is the European Union. Tremendous progress in the reconquest of the West is being made all over the British Isles. Its infidel jurists are beginning to accept that there is no “Bill of Rights” in Islam. The back is stiff but it is bending by measurable degrees in the direction of Mecca, not to mention in the direction of Brussels and the super-state of the European Union. (Allow one the pun of thanking its politics for “Labouring” diligently for its submission to Islam and to that super-state, which is a willing accomplice to Islamic ends.)

Even one of the prominent servants of Satan there, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has conceded the inevitability of Sharia law (and the poor dog was mercilessly beaten up on by other worshippers of false gods, but to no perceptible avail) that would somehow “coexist” with its atheistic secular law (which is rapidly deteriorating into police-state style law, which is fine with Islam, which thrives on such politics, viz., Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other repressive regimes). The press there no longer equates Islam with totalitarianism or thought control or violence; it has done you the favor of prohibiting inflammatory terminology, e.g., referring to suicide bombers and violent conspirators as merely “Islamic extremists,” and not “Islamists,” and if one flouts the prohibition, one can be charged with “insensitivity” and interviewed (what a quaint, misleading term for the “third degree”) by the authorities if enough Muslims complain.

(To beg a question, is Islam any less thoroughly “radical” or “extreme” than Christianity, if consistently practiced? Both creeds offer eternal personal salvation at the price of suspending one’s mind, denying the evidence of one’s senses, and heeding the authority of persons who have been dead for hundreds, or even thousands of years. If you are an ambitious Muslim dictator, Islam, of course, is the true faith, while Christianity, Judaism and other faiths are merely false and punishable digressions. But there’s no reason you and a Christian dictator can’t get along.)

One instance will illustrate how mushy a target Britain has become. A British broadcaster, Channel 4, aired a libelous and filthy “documentary” called “Underground Mosque,” produced by a mercenary company, Hardcash Productions. This “documentary” revealed that Islamophobic “journalists” infiltrated British mosques and recorded, without any leave, permission, or warning, the sermons and prayers of humble clerics as they addressed their congregations. The “documentary” claimed these faithful holy men preached blood and violence to their votaries, and predicted the ultimate conquest of Britain through fair means and foul.

Naturally, Muslims who viewed this program were offended, and complained to the Crown authorities, who investigated and made public their concerns. Channel 4 countered with a suit, citing libel. But, what chance has this colony of infidel insects against unlimited Saudi petro-dollars that brim from British-Muslim legal war chests? Furthermore, Muslims have “hate laws” on their side, passed by an obliging, compliant and very confused Parliament, and endorsed by such notable infidels as Prince Charles, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, and Ken Livingston.

You can bet that Channel 4 won’t be airing any more offensive programs!

Here is another choice and very funny morsel on the censor’s menu: In Malaysia, a poor, deluded woman, Kamariah Ali, chose apostasy over her faith and joined a lunatic cult called the “Sky Kingdom,” which held its services in a giant teapot and claimed a desire to “reach out” to Muslims in the name of peace. This is the woman’s second offense. Of course, the Koran and Mohammad prescribe death to anyone who is born into the Islamic faith but who abandons it for any reason. The Malaysian authorities were lenient the first time and simply jailed her for twenty months. The outcome of her new trial may not be so merciful. The teapot and its surrounding garden of icons and curious sculptures have been demolished.

Censorship in North America is making slow but observable progress. “Hate crime” laws have been passed in a number of the United States and in Canada, and present the dictator and bureaucratic preserver of public decency and sensitivity with numerous cocktails of suppression. For example, at New York City’s Pace University, in October and November of 2006, a student got into an argument with some Muslim students, and subsequently removed two copies of the Koran from the school library and put them in toilets. The Muslims considered that an act of desecration, and so Russian immigrant Stanislav Shmulevich was at first charged with a hate crime. The student later entered a plea of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to three hundred hours of “community service.”

It is interesting, and encouraging, that the first thing the authorities thought of was to charge Shmulevich with a hate crime, that is, with unlawfully expressing his contempt for Islam. In the “good old days” of freedom of expression, Shmulevich’s action would have been treated as petty larceny, and no formal, legal cogisance granted of the hurt feelings or offended esteem of Muslims. Some day, when the rot has eaten away at objective law far enough, people like Shmulevich will be faced with hate crime as a capital crime and certainly not allowed to plead “disorderly conduct.” They will have to answer to a Minister or Secretary of Public Piety.

Of course, “hate crime” legislation can favor not only Muslims, but homosexuals, Indians, women, the obese, the disabled and any other group whose members can collectively claim “offense” and “emotional distress” should someone publicly disagree in any form with a group’s claims to uniqueness. An ambitious dictator or moral bureaucrat would be wise to patronize these groups and get them on one’s side. They make great social blocs and fine street fighters.

Self-censorship by private individuals and organizations and the press will prove to be a boon to you in your quest for power, not to mention such bizarre laws that regulate and punish political action committees for overzealous money collection. There is a Constitution that may obstruct one’s means and goals, but no one in the U.S. seems to take it literally or seriously, or even to understand it anymore, especially the Supreme Court. So, don’t sweat the Constitution.

In Canada, censorship is making better progress than in its southern neighbor. There, the government subsidizes many film, book and sound production projects through tax credits awarded to companies whose films, books and recordings stress “Canadian” content. Such is the just fate of “freedom of speech” in a welfare state with touchy nationalist aspirations.

The government there, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail, is amending the income tax law to deny such credits to any material its “Heritage Minister” deems explicitly “sexual in nature, that denigrates a group, or is excessively violent without an educational value.” The Minister and his appointees and associates will be the sole judges of what is “contrary to public policy.” A Toronto lawyer said that the government “feels it must invest public funds wisely….They don’t view this as censorship because they say anyone is free to make the film or show or book, but not with their money.” Of course, no one in Canada has been sharp enough to issue the retort, “Whose money?” or even to question what the Canadian government is doing in the “angel” business.

It can only be hoped that Canada and its southern neighbor progress to the point that no one will be free or even able to produce a movie, book or recording without a government subsidy. That would save you statists much grief and anxiety; nothing could be said without your having said it first.

The menu of censorship is quite long. Take time making your selections from it. It is rich in practical, effective modes of action. And don’t worry about the prices. The bill will be footed by those it was necessary to silence.

And never forget your ultimate goal: to secure for you and your adherents the exclusive right to practice freedom of speech.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Yellow Footprints Day

It dosen't seem like it was all that long ago, but 20 years ago today I stood upon the yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

Wow, does time move by ever so quick . . .

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Philosophic Postmortem of William F. Buckley, Jr.

William F. Buckley, Jr. died in Connecticut on February 27. Most Western newspapers and news media have bid adieu to the intellectual major-domo of American conservatism with glowing, admiring salutations.

And every one of those salutations has missed the point: That Buckley was a vile man who rescued the Republican Party from the self-destruction of irrelevancy and a just demise. Because of him, the Party was saved the task of rethinking or at least remembering the meaning of its name, republican, that is, of the Party which in the late 18th and early 19th centuries struggled to preserve a government charged with protecting and upholding individual rights to life, liberty, property, and happiness.

The New York Times, in its February 28 article on Buckley's death, "William F. Buckley Jr., 82, Dies; Sesquipedalian Spark of Right," noted that

"Mr. Buckley's greatest achievement was making conservatism - not just electoral Republicanism, but conservatism as a system of ideas - respectable in liberal postwar America."
The Times does not say what ideas comprised that system. Further on it notes that

"The liberal primacy Mr. Buckley challenged had begun with the New Deal and so accelerated in the next generation that Lionel Trilling, one of America's leading intellectuals, wrote in 1950: 'In the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation.'"
The article is wrong that the liberalism Buckley opposed had begun with the New Deal; it began long before that, long before World War I. But Trilling, at least, was partly right; the dominant political ideas after World War II were liberal collectivist ones. Opposing them were "conservative" ideas, with the Republicans especially becoming vaguer and vaguer about what it was that they wished to "conserve." Their vision of a limited government republic was growing dimmer and hazier, and in light of their tepid opposition to (and in many instances, of their endorsement of) statist policies, their occasional harking back to the days of freedom, liberty and free enterprise was growing more and more hollow. They had no compelling answers to the liberal ideas.

Buckley saved their necks and provided them with a "system" of ideas they could feel at home with. He persuaded a spent and ideologically rudderless conservative movement to base its political philosophy on religion, altruism, and self-sacrifice as an alternative to the "atheistic" liberal welfare state of society, altruism and self-sacrifice. Individual rights were nothing to him if not "God-given." He was as much an enemy of freedom - and of freedom of speech - as any holy-roller Democrat. Fundamentally, there is no difference between the policies advocated by "atheistic" or secular collectivists and "religious" ones. Buckley never seriously challenged the "status quo" of controls, deficit spending, or the regulation of business and industry. He was one of the original advocates of volunteerism or mandatory public service.

The Daily Telegraph (London) of February 28 best summarized Buckley's influence on American politics:

"Buckley's aim was to turn the Right-wing movement in America into a recognizable, politically definable and powerful force, and to cleanse it of what some of its critics saw as leanings toward anti-Semitism and Fascism....Buckley was often credited with being the originator of the conservative thrust of the post-war years, which he saw as the antidote to the liberal philosophy which he believed had been dominant since the New Deal of President Franklin Roosevelt....[His] greatest moment, arguably, came when Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter for the presidency in 1980. The fall of Communism vindicated much of what he fought for for decades."
It was Reagan's tenure in the White House that legitimatised the religious character of Republican conservatism and gave it impetus, the results of which we are seeing today not only in President Bush's faith-based initiative and in his war policy, but also in a religious revival in America that straddles left and right.

Learned, glibly articulate with a penchant for obscure words and noted for a complex, obfuscating verbosity nearly as convoluted as Immanuel Kant's, a master of sardonic humor, often self-deprecatory, Buckley was the Ellsworth Toohey of the Right.

In the 1950's the country was ripe for a revolution in ideas against the collectivist and altruist ideas that were steering it by default in the direction of statism. William F. Buckley proposed that ideas were not necessary. Faith and tradition were enough to save the country.

But, we should let Ayn Rand, whom Buckley in his National Review and in various columns slandered and answered with snide, sophomoric, cowardly attacks (or allowed other writers to attack her in a similar style), never daring to tackle her positions with any kind of intellectual honesty, have the last word on Buckley and his conservatism. In answer to a question in the Playboy interview of March 1964 about why she considered National Review "the worst and most dangerous magazine in America," she explained that

"...[I]t ties capitalism to religion. The ideological position of National Review amounts, in effect, to the following: In order to accept freedom and capitalism, one has to believe in God or some form of religion, some form of supernatural mysticism. Which means that there are no rational grounds on which one can defend capitalism. Which amounts to an admission that reason is on the side of capitalism's enemies, that a slave society or a dictatorship is a rational system, and that only on the ground of mystic faith can one believe in freedom. Nothing more derogatory to capitalism could ever be alleged, and the exact opposite is true. Capitalism is the only system that can be defended and validated by reason."
In commentary in the New York Daily News of March 11, 1982, shortly after Rand's death, Buckley revealed a petulance that cloaked his malice for her and for reason:

"She was an eloquent and persuasive anti-statist, and if only she had left it at that, but no. She had to declare that God did not exist, that altruism was despicable, that only self-interest was good and noble."
In short, his animus for Rand was based essentially on her refusing to relegate reason in the role of handmaiden of theology, on her divorcing reality from mysticism, on her "anti-statist" integrating of an "eternal vigilance" against any tyranny over the mind of man as well as over his body. Let no one doubt that Buckley understood Rand's philosophy to the core, that he feared it, and chose as his weapon against it the Toohey-esqe tactic of snickering laughter. For that reason alone, he should be damned and no respectful esteem granted him.

Earlier in that article, he remarked that the "philosophy she sought to launch" is dead.

He was wrong about that philosophy. Objectivism, or a philosophy of reason, is making progress in the culture. It is alive and well, as William F. Buckley is not.