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Friday, February 24, 2006::

Truck-driving judge loses position due to bigamy 

File this under Friday goofiness:

A small-town judge with three wives was ordered removed from the bench by the Utah Supreme Court on Friday. The court unanimously agreed with the findings of the state's Judicial Conduct Commission, which recommended the removal of Judge Walter Steed for violating the state's bigamy law.

Steed has served for 25 years on the Justice Court in the polygamist community of Hildale in southern Utah, where he ruled on misdemeanor crimes such as drunken driving and domestic violence cases.

"[W]hen the law is violated or ignored by those charged by society with the fair and impartial enforcement of the law, the stability of our society is placed at undue risk," the court's ruling said.

Steed, who also works as a truck driver, scheduled a news conference for later Friday to discuss the ruling. He was paid a few hundred dollars monthly for serving in the part-time judicial position. [AP]
It’s like this: if a man wants more than one wife, he clearly seeks to suffer. Who am I to stand in his path? That said, I would like to fill the now-vacant judgeship position. I promise that I will take no more than one wife at any one time.

Unfortunately, I am not licensed to drive a commercial vehicle . . .

::: posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 4:41 PM | donate | link | |

South Dakota House Approves Abortion Ban Bill 

This just in from the AP:

The Legislature on Friday approved a ban on nearly all abortions in South Dakota, setting up a direct legal assault on Roe v. Wade.

Republican Gov. Mike Rounds said he was inclined to sign the bill, which would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless it was necessary to save the woman's life. The measure would make no exception in cases of rape or incest.

Many opponents and supporters of abortion rights believe the U.S. Supreme Court is more likely to overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion now that Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito are on the bench.

Planned Parenthood, which operates the only abortion clinic in South Dakota, has pledged to sue over the measure, which would become law July 1. The clinic does about 800 abortions a year.

The House passed the bill 50-18 on Friday. The Senate approved the measure 23-12 earlier this week.

Under the measure, doctors could get up to five years in prison for performing an illegal abortion.

The governor said he believes it would be better to eliminate abortion in a series of steps, but some abortion opponents want a court challenge that could wipe out abortion in one fell swoop.

"I've indicated I'm pro-life and I do believe abortion is wrong, and that we should do everything we can to save lives," Rounds said. "If this bill accomplishes that, then I am inclined to sign the bill into law."

During debate on the measure, lawmakers were told that an anonymous donor has pledged to give the state $1 million to defend the abortion ban in court. The Legislature is setting up a special account to accept donations for the legal fight.

"I can tell you first-hand we've had people stopping in our office trying to drop off checks to promote the defense of this legislation already," Rounds said.
And I sincerely hope that Objectivists will take the initiative and support the Center’s amicus program and not leave it to other voices to defend our fundamental freedoms.

If not, I don't know what we think we are fighting for.

::: posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 4:25 PM | donate | link | |

The scope of the conflict 

Gus Van Horn is following the West’s response to the real problem behind the Muslim cartoon riots—and notes the West’s unwillingness to forcefully stand up for individual rights:

While [Bush] sounds like he understands the importance of freedom of speech here, his failure to morally condemn the deadly rioting reeks of weakness to these animals. "What will this man do to us if he is afraid even to state his mind about what we are doing?" they will rightly ask.

The man in charge of protecting our sacred rights has no business walking on eggshells just because some followers of the religion that inspired the deaths of 3,000 Americans in a single morning claim to be "offended." Until terrorism, rioting, and murder committed in Allah's name become newsworthy again, no Moslem has a right to be offended about anything coming from a Westerner.
Indeed. After Gus examines a recent Vatican statement on the cartoon riots, he observes:

Both Washington and the Vatican have vigorously denounced acts against religion, but sound almost indifferent by comparison concerning acts against men. Moslems demonstrate so frequently with suicide bombings the consequences of placing a higher value on religion than on man's life that there is no excuse for a failure on anyone's part to appreciate the point. This makes the statements of both Bush and the Vatican completely unacceptable.
That's a crucial point--this conflict is not about religion--it is about individual rights.

::: posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 4:06 PM | donate | link | |

John Lewis to appear on WMFD regarding ports controversy 

I just received this note from John Lewis:

I was interviewed today by WMFD Television, Mansfield, Ohio. The subject was the Port Operations issue.

It will be broadcast ON THE WEB, at www.wmfd.com later today, probably around 5:00 PM and after.

It was done in my office. As always, I have no idea how well I did. I wanted to make three points:

1. This is an issue because fanatics with government support want to kill us, with nuclear bombs. Remember this context.

2. We cannot protect our borders, and to try is the wrong approach. Let the UAE have the port operations contract; this is minor.

3. The issue is the center of the insurgency, Iran. The real story is the growing power of Iran. Until we take out Iran, there is no security. Just last week Iran pressured the UAE to stop broadcasting radio programs that use offensive words, such as "freedom." Every country in the area will be forced to cave to Iranian demands, if we do not stand up to them. The result will be a catastrophe on America.
UPDATE: Online video here, and here's the blurb that appeared on WMFD describing Lewis's position:

Ashland Professor Examines U.S. Port Issue

Nationwide, Americans are worrying that the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) takeover of six major U.S. ports is opening the door to another terrorist attack. The Bush Administration now appears to be slowing down the process after overwhelming criticism. While many are focusing on the port issue in and of itself, Dr. John Lewis, Assistant History Professor at Ashland University, says America must not look at this issue apart from everything else going on in the world. He says our greatest concern should be the rising power of the Iranian Islamic state. He says Iran continues to gain more power, is a solid enemy and that problem needs to be ended if we are really going to be safe in America.
Sounds right to me--bravo, Dr. Lewis.

::: posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 12:32 PM | donate | link | |

A young Ellsworth Toohey? 

Do you remember Henry M. Bowles III, that kid I bloged about from Northwestern University who wrote in his campus paper that less intelligent people are better equipped for the military positions because they have "less to lose." Well, he's at it again, this time claiming Ayn Rand as an early influence--that is, before he turned on to religion and then on to postmodernism. [Hat Tip: Randex]

According to a wonderfully self-absorbed young Henry,

My sources were primitive-Internet news, think tank sites, Ayn Rand-and I argued in clumsy strokes. Still, I was the only political dissident at the school, and before long I was having nasty fights with the admissions director over affirmative action, and with just about everybody on abortion. Debate consumed my life.
That's of course before young Henry went to college and really learned how to think.

By the time I started at Northwestern, my interest [in evangelical Christianity] ceased to be purely academic, and I was experimenting routinely with these people: Bible studies, prayer groups, Campus Crusade for Christ, and the Evanston Bible Fellowship on Sunday mornings. However fascinating I found them, though, the appeal of radical Protestantism was ultimately limited. I like my religious experimentation best alone. I've only reached points of spiritual ecstasy in solitude and am more a mystic than anything else.
OK, so young Henry makes it up as he goes along. Despite his spiritual conflict, his conservative zenith was soon to be:

I had been elected president of the College Republicans at a time when campus conservatism was anemic. . . . [T]he only speakers that conservative groups would help bankroll were flaccid party insiders like Ken Starr and Ralph Reed.
OK, young Henry has read Ayn Rand, so is he going to figure out that conservatism is dead and instead turn to a rational philosophy. No!

If any principle underlies my attitude toward politics and, yes, sex, it is my rejection of the notion that identity is something that needs defining and resolution. Identity should be conflicted, fluid, and even painful-postmodern. And is there such a thing as a "postmodern conservative?" Of course not.
In short, young Henry is totally unprincipled, but nevertheless sought to be chairman of the College Republicans and lead his fellow students toward their political goals. Young Henry claimed Ayn Rand as a source of inspiration, yet he embraced mysticism and utterly rejected Rand's case for reason.

"Identity should be conflicted, fluid, and even painful-postmodern." Ah, identity should be non-identifiable. So while young Henry has a personal relationship with "spiritual ecstasy," he's not quite on speaking terms with verbs of being. And somewhere in the processes of young Henry's "conflicted, fluid, and even painful" brain, he insulted members of the armed forces and became notorious.

Ladies and gentleman, I think we might have the makings of a young Ellsworth Toohey. All our young friend need do is name his campus newspaper column "One Small Voice" to make his journey complete.

::: posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 12:10 PM | donate | link | |

Binswanger on the ports controversy 

Harry Binswanger gets to the heart of the issue:

[I] refuse to get embroiled in the discussion of the pros and cons of who operates our ports--as I refuse to get embroiled in the discussion of whether wire-tapping of phone calls is or isn't a legitimate means of "homeland defense." These things are a diversion of the issue.

You fear a nuclear bomb going off in New York Harbor? Then crush the enemy. End the mullahs regime in Iran. Crush Syria. Whip the Saudis into line. And tell the world that self-sacrifice is evil and religion is a lie. Which means: tell the world that man is an end in himself, that his life on this earth is the only thing that is sacred, that the individual has a right to exist for his own sake, and that reason, not faith or force, is man's only means of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

It's either/or. The forces of literal barbarism are rising around the world. And here in America, as well--on the left and the right. There is not much time left, but we have to act on the premise that there is still time to change the intellectual climate.
Exactly. And have I mentioned that you ought to subscribe to HBL recently?

::: posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 9:55 AM | donate | link | |

Thursday, February 23, 2006::

Carnival of the Objectivists! 

You know what Objectivist bloggers need: a blog carnival of their own. I propose the Rule of Reason host the first "Carnival of the Objectivists" Saturday, March 4th. After that, we can pass on the hosting to other Objectivist blogs, say once every two weeks or so.

Drop a line in the comments box if you want to include your blog or website and be a future host. Let's have some fun this--it's carnival-time!

Update: So here's the plan: participants (you) should let the host know (me) what's hot on your respective blogs. As host, I’ll put it all together in one article, add a festive atmosphere and publish it all on the 4th.

The only caveat: This carnival will be an Objectivist carnival, and Objectivishes are not allowed.

And if you want to sign up to host the next Objectivist carnival (every two weeks should be enough to encourage good content on the smaller blogs), let me know, and I'll administer that process as well (well, I’ll just put your blog on the list). Think the competition to be the host city for the Olympics, only with the bribery being heartily encouraged. :-P

That’s it. Let’s have some fun!

::: posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 3:29 PM | donate | link | |

University of Washington-Boyington Update 

This snip from the University of Washington campus newspaper . . .

After hearing from several students the night of the meeting, KVI-Seattle radio host Kirby Wilbur criticized the senate's decision on the air.

"As an alum, a member of the media, a taxpayer and a citizen, I had every right to get involved," Wilbur said in an e-mail. "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen, or stop making stupid comments."

As word spread about the Senate's vote, commentary appeared on hundreds of conservative Web sites bashing and threatening certain senate members.

The debate made it onto national television and news stations, including Fox News and MSNBC's Scarborough Country. More than 115 Marine Corps veterans signed a letter expressing their disapproval to the Board of Regents.

Criticism was primarily directed at ASUW Vice President Ashley Miller and sophomore Jill Edwards. Both said they received hundreds of hateful messages during the last two weeks.

Online blogs reported Miller said the UW already has enough memorials honoring rich, white men. The meeting minutes recorded "many monuments at the UW already commemorate rich white men."

"It's not that rich, white men don't deserve to be honored," Miller said yesterday. "We continue to overlook leaders of color and those who are women."
Like Pappy Boyington himself, who was of Sioux heritage--and as if a person's race or gender should ever be allowed to qualify or disqualify them for being recognized for their heroic deeds. Good to see that the open letter received a mention though.

This other snip from "Expose the Left" features a Scarborough Country interview with Nicholas Baptiste, a University of Washington student senator who opposed the memorial [Hat tip: The Dougout]. Baptiste comes off has virulently anti-American, arguing that US corporations were somehow to blame for Nazi fascism.

The disappointment I had with this piece was that Scarborough did not ask Baptiste if he would have been free to hold his position had the Axis powers prevailed and Baptiste was as critical of the Axis powers as he is of America. Even if an opponent's views are shocking and seemingly unconscionable on their face, I still think it is nevertheless critical to show that they are acting against their own self-interest in holding them. Rather then treat America and Boyington's legacy as a Platonic ideal, I would have preferred that Scarborough treat Boyington's legacy as something essential to Baptiste's own life. This way, Baptiste would not have been reveled as an unappreciative buffoon in a bad suit, he would have been reveled as a self-renouncing, unappreciative buffoon--and that's the only way the left can be defeated.

As a relativist, Baptiste simply holds that all things are equal (except the US, which is lower than low because its people consider themselves free and great). The end result is Baptiste and his ilk evade the need to recognize evil for what it is and act accordingly--and thus champion those who are instrumental in evil’s defeat. They demand America commit suicide, but (to paraphrase Harry Binswanger) the only life they have a right to take is their own.

::: posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 11:55 AM | donate | link | |

Wednesday, February 22, 2006::

United Arab Emirates port purchase to be blocked? 

So some folks from the United Arab Emirates want to buy six American ports. No big deal—unless the purchase is blocked by the government—and that looks quite threatening.

So here's my question to the anti-free ownership advocates (it’s a three-fer):

1.) What does American ownership of the ports give law enforcement that they don’t already have given that the ports are already foreign controlled? (The ports in question are owned by a British firm).

2.) If you support American-based ports being repatriated by law, what would your reaction be if a foreign government repatriated American-owned property that rest on its shores?

3.) Do you disagree with the claim that repatriating foreign-owned property would have negative economic implications for the US? Do you think foreigners would still feel secure investing capital in the US?

::: posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 4:43 PM | donate | link | |


From the brilliant brush of Cox and Forkum:


Who better to lead the charge against the Jihadists and their threats of brutal retaliation for Mohammad blasphemy then Cox and Forkum—the cleverest (and now the most courageous) editorial cartoonists in all America. Bravo!

::: posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 12:33 AM | donate | link | |

Tuesday, February 21, 2006::

Crunchy-Cons: the new face of conservatism 

This snip by George H. Nash in today's Wall Street Journal describes the "crunchy-cons," a new aspect to the conservative movement:

Rod Dreher, a columnist and editor at the Dallas Morning News, is a self-confessed member of the vast right-wing conspiracy. As a lapsed Protestant who converted to Roman Catholicism several years ago, he is an unabashed religious and social conservative. He has little use for the morally relativist and libertine tendencies of modern liberalism. Too often, he says, "the Democrats act like the Party of Lust."

But Mr. Dreher is also a passionate environmentalist, a devotee of organic farming and a proponent of the New Urbanism, an anti-sprawl movement aimed at making residential neighborhoods more like pre-suburban small towns. He dislikes industrial agriculture, shopping malls, television, McMansions and mass consumerism. Efficiency--the guiding principle of free markets--is an "idol," he says, that must be "smashed." Too often, he claims, Republicans act like "the Party of Greed."
Ready to punch in the wall? It gets better:

In Mr. Dreher's view, consumer-crazed capitalism makes a fetish of individual choice and, if left unchecked, "tends to pull families and communities apart." Thus consumerism and conservatism are, for him, incompatible, a fact that mainstream conservatives, he says, simply do not grasp. He warns that capitalism must be reined in by "the moral and spiritual energies of the people." It is not politics and economics that will save us, he declares. It is adherence to the "eternal moral norms" known as the Permanent Things.

And the most permanent thing of all is God. At the heart of Mr. Dreher's family-centered crunchy conservatism is an unwavering commitment to religious faith. And not just any religious faith but rigorous, old-fashioned orthodoxy. Only a firm grounding in religious commitment, he believes, can sustain crunchy conservatives in their struggle against the radical individualism and materialism he decries. Nearly all the crunchy cons he interviews are devoutly Christian or orthodox Jewish believers who are deliberately ordering their lives toward the ultimate end of "serving God, not the self"--often at considerable financial sacrifice.
What a hero, sacrificing himself to old-fashioned transcendent ideals and how brave the stand to "smash" the free market. I guess I should be all happy, because underneath these monstrous and wicked ideas stands the vibrant American sense of life.

Yet as the chestnut goes, with friends like these, who needs enemies? Will this new subset of the conservatives once and for all kill the notion that conservatives have anything to do with capitalism? I sure as hell hope so, because I for one get sick and tired of being even remotely lumped in with the likes of Mr. Rod Dreher.

::: posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 4:20 PM | donate | link | |

Monday, February 20, 2006::

A memorial . . . scholarship fund 

It seems the University of Washington has now created a special Gregory "Pappy" Boyington Memorial Scholarship Fund in answer to the recent outcry over UW student government's decision to squelch a memorial on campus. This from the university fundraising website:

[This] scholarship fund honor[s] World War II Fighter Pilot Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, a Congressional Medal of Honor winner and UW alumnus. Boyington was a 1934 UW aeronautics & astronautics engineering graduate. This fund provides scholarships to undergraduate students who are either a U.S Marine Corps veteran or are the child of a U.S Marine Corps veteran.
I have to hand it to the university. They have turned the controversy around into something that will bring them money. Still, the good news it that the funds will go to Marine veterans and their children, and not the kind of goofballs and mooks that sparked the outrage in the first place.

::: posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 10:30 PM | donate | link | |

The Capitalist's Amicus Curiae 

Since its inception, the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism has filed several amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs with American courts, including briefs on the Microsoft antitrust case, the Nike commercial speech case, the University of Michigan affirmative action cases and a case involving the application of the antitrust laws to the US Postal Service.

The reason that the Center elected to file the briefs is academic: the decisions of the US Supreme Court and lower courts affect the freedom and prosperity of every American. Additionally, as the most intellectual branch of our government, the courts are the realm where Objectivists are particularly well-suited toward having a positive impact.

Building upon CAC's groundbreaking legal advocacy, I propose a new effort to submit amicus curiae briefs on every key case before the Supreme Court that impacts the right of Americans to live for their own sake and to profit from their own work. I solicit the financial support of Objectivists who believe in fighting for their freedom—and who want to help to find and empower new Objectivists in the process.

My proposal and my call for financial support will be met with controversy by some. It will be argued that individual legal arguments alone cannot change the direction in which our nation is headed. Those who demand quick results often find easy disappointment.

Yet as a stream of principled answers to important questions of our day, coupled with law-review essays, newspaper op-eds, and other elements of a well-constructed campaign of Objectivist intellectual activism, CAC's legal advocacy will have a significant impact—if one is willing to think and fight for the long-term.

The principle governing my optimism is straightforward: to be heard by others, one must speak to their interests. To attract new adherents to our philosophy, I believe that one must constantly demonstrate that Objectivism provides practical answers to the problems that we face as a people and that Objectivism's proponents consistently act from a reasoned base. While spreading knowledge of Ayn Rand’s written works is the proper foundation of any campaign to advance Objectivism, it is not the only means of advancing Objectivism. Ayn Rand provided powerful analyses of the trials of her day—it is for us to analyze and answer the trials of ours.

Ayn Rand’s genius created a tool that will allow man to reach summits that today we can only imagine. Will you join me and help to expand her legacy? Will you help to support the Center and be a part of its new effort to expand the fight for reason, egoism and individual rights in our most important institutions?

::: posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 10:56 AM | donate | link | |


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