Friday, January 29, 2010

From the Horse's Mouth: Barack Obama

"We need to rise above fear, hesitation, and partisan politics-to give the government all the power it needs to solve all our problems." -Barack Obama, State of the Union Address

DO YOU GET IT YET??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ya Know...

Ya know...Justice Scalia, I make the same face every time I hear the President speak...

So I says to myself...

"Self! How do I kick this up a notch?"

(mutter, mutter, mutter...)

Man Burns to Death for Animal Rights...Why?

From Portland Authorities Investigate Why Man Set Self Afire Near Fur Store": "Authorities are trying to figure out why the man, identified as 26-year old Daniel Shaull, would burn himself in such a terrifying manner. The incident occurred near a fur store that has been the subject of numerous protests."

"[O]bserve that in all the propaganda of the ecologists—amidst all their appeals to nature and pleas for "harmony with nature"—there is no discussion of man's needs and the requirements of his survival. Man is treated as if he were an unnatural phenomenon. Man cannot survive in the kind of state of nature that the ecologists envision—i.e., on the level of sea urchins or polar bears..."

For more answers to "Why?", there's a whole list at the Ayn Rand Center, under the heading Environmentalism and Animal Rights. Here are some of the animal-rights specific articles:

The Evil of Animal "Rights"

The Amazing Disappearing, Reappearing Arctic Ice Cap

Man: The Endangered Species

The Return of the Spotted Owl

Animal "Rights" Versus Human Rights

Animal "Rights" vs. Human Rights

Man vs. Nature

Paul McCartney Joins PETA's Attack on Human Rights

The Other State of the Union Address...

Obama has brought us a chest of pretty seashells...(hat tip to Ted Keer.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Song for the State of the Union

"Jam at Joe's Garage" will not air tonight. Instead, we will bring you this special song for the State of the Union Address: "Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Quote of the Day: Let It Be Asked...

"Let it be asked how any person wholly devoid of talent, skill, accomplishment, wit, beauty, charm, or even the practical ability to earn a living by routine labor, can conceivably become an object of flattering attention, greeted with applause and given a hearing for the feeblest inanities—obviously nothing will serve except political position." -Isabel Paterson, God of the Machine

Friday, January 22, 2010

Quote of the Day: Conan the Brave...or Conan the Naive?

“All I ask of you is one thing: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” -Conan O'Brien

It's my personal quote of the day because I was thinking yesterday about this; if one can be rational without being a rationalist, can one be justifiably cynical without being a cynic, if the object of the cynicism is deserving? And there is a part of me that wants to say that it's easy for Conan to say that; he is, after all, walking away with 30 million (well, before taxes, cough-cough.) Is it cynical for me to say that? If I believed that people are inherently dishonest, then yes. But I don't have a lantern, so don't call me Diogenes just yet...

Conan's a comedian, not a philosopher (and given that comedians are given to cynicism, good for him for breaking the mold.) He's right, in the sense of not just "giving up" or making excuses to not even try. But I think there needs to be an elaboration here, lest Conan come off as simply naive. I'm not a cynic; nor am I a Pollyanna optimist. I'm a romantic realist. That means accepting that people have free will, and can opt to do good or bad. What it requires is good faith and benevolence, but street sense as well. The Great Seal of the United States (check your dollar bills, y'all) sums it up best: olive branch and sword. What it requires is not an open mind, or a closed mind, but an active mind...and, as Conan certainly realizes, contract laws...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

An "Aryan" Ayn Rand?

James Valliant, during the Goddess of the Market symposium at SOLO, comments on comments about the "Aryan" Ayn Rand:

"The whole issue of Rand and race raised here is truly misplaced in my view...The ideas in her work intentionally cross ethnic barriers, but only so far as to not create still another issue which would need detailed attention and follow-up. Most importantly, her philosophy screams its opposition to racism in a hundred ways.

"Nor was Rand a "self-hating Jew" by failing to include an "ethnic" element from her own context. She would assert her "Jewishness" to the bigot, as Isabel Paterson herself learned, and her support for Israel was hardly shy.

"Before Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique, in the 1950s, no less, Rand was creating a female action-adventure hero in Dagny, as well as a competent corporate executive, flying her plane through electric screens and wielding a gun to free the hero from torture and death...

"Again, I must wonder: is it because Rand was a woman that she is subjected to criticisms none of her contemporaries are ever subjected to? (i.e. their love lives, etc.?)

"In any case, Rand's work is as trans-ethnic and trans-racial in its inspiration and intent as can be imagined, especially given their temporal context."


Hitler's Heartbreak

I usually don't indulge in schadenfreude, but today, I'll have a little taste of Pelosi's "humble pie":

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We Can Jam at Joe's Garage: "Hi Ho Silver Lining"

Not that I think the election in Massachusetts means that the storm has passed," but maybe...MAYBE it's a small, silver lining...not the election of a Republican, mind you, but in the dawning awareness that more government is the problem, not the solution...

Quote of the Day: "Not Yet"

"Only one thing is certain: a dictatorship cannot take hold in America today. This country, as yet, cannot be ruled–but it can explode. It can blow up into the helpless rage and blind violence of a civil war. It cannot be cowed into submission...Not yet." –Ayn Rand, "Don't Let It Go"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In Support of Geert Wilders

I've been pretty focused on "the war at home," but today, I'd like to focus attention "across the pond" and lend my support to an international "hero in exile," Geert Wilders.
(Image by Bosch Fawstin.)

From The Trial of Geert Wilders: A Symposium:
"Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders goes on trial in Amsterdam on Wednesday, January 20, on charges related to his political campaign to stop and reverse the Islamization of the Netherlands. The International Free Press Society has asked an array of legal experts, authors and journalists to reflect on this momentous event, and we present their comments below."

Who is Geert Wilders? You can get the full story at Wiki and elsewhere, but briefly stated, Wilders is a Dutch politician (and an atheist Libertarian) who has come under intense scrutiny and persecution for his opposition to Islam. Not "moderate Islam." Not "Islamic Terrorism." No, simply Islam, for what it is at its core.

So why is Wilders a hero? For having the courage to call Islam for what it is, at its core. And he's not been shy about it; Wilders has compared the Koran to Mein Kampf, stating: "The book incites hatred and killing and therefore has no place in our legal order." If only more people had stated the same about Hitler before the Holocaust. It's easy to denounce after the crime, it takes real courage to speak up against a popular atrocity.

Wilders is a hero who has put himself on the front lines, which has gotten him not only banned from entering the U.K. for a time, he is also on trial for "hate speech," referring to his movie Fitna (Arabic for "disagreement and division among people.) Wilders describes the short film as "a call to shake off the creeping tyranny of Islamization". Reactions ranged from boycotts to YouTube bans, as well as the aforementioned U.K. ban and current trial. (And let us not forget the violence, both threatened and real, over the "Mohammad cartoon" controversy.)

Wilders is a hero for putting his own life on the line to protect not just Dutch values, but American values, which are universal values. This is not just a free speech issue, it is a fight for individual rights against not just religious tyranny, but tyranny in general. This trial is an important one, and the outcome will set the tone of that fight for years to come. (For a more personal account, I invite you to visit someone with first-hand experience: Bosch Fawstin's The Infidel, not only for his comic book work, but for his essays like "Calling Islam 'Islam'")

Geert Wilders is the "hero of the day" in support of him at his trial tomorrow. If you ever wanted proof of a "hero in exile," this is it. If you support Geert Wilders and our fight (and if you value freedom, then this is your fight, too), you can make a donation to the Geert Wilders defense fund. Give what you can, if you can. But money is not the only option; you, like Wilders, can speak up and make a stand.

Fitna by Geert Wilders

Ya Know...Jim Cramer, Pragmatic Bastard

"This show is not about politics, it's about profits...what we care about is trying to help you profit off the front page of the newspaper... I don't care about what you do with your ballot, I care about what you do with your brokerage.

"It's not because I'm a laissez-faire ideologue...the simple fact is that a Brown win will make stocks go higher...If I thought a Coakley win would do that, then believe me, I'd be her biggest cheerleader." -Jim Cramer

Ya know, Jim...You cannot divorce principles from profit. Go read Atlas Shrugged, you shyster. I want to see John Stewart make you cry again.

Quote of the Day: A Nation of Laws

"The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced." –Frank Zappa

A Republic, If You Can Keep It...

"At the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 18, 1787, a Mrs. Powel anxiously awaited the results, and as Benjamin Franklin emerged from the long task now finished, asked him directly: "Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" "A republic, if you can keep it" responded Franklin." -Ron Paul, "A Republic, If You Can Keep It"
The obvious question to ask is: Did we keep it? The tougher question is, was it ever even possible?

Franklin's statement could be read to suggest that it's up to the people to keep what the Founding Fathers hammered out...or it could have been a warning about an inherent flaw in the foundation. As Leonard Peikoff explains in The Ominous Parallels, the problem is philosophical: "The result was a magnificent new country, with a built-in self-destructor." Since that book covers the abstract, I'd like to take a look at the one of the engineers of that philosophical time-bomb, which is now in the hands of Barack Obama...

The latter concern is suggested by what seems to be a sense of doubt coming from the Founding Fathers themselves, as if they were trying to tell us something that they couldn't say outright. Franklin said that ours was "a Republic, if you can keep it." He also said "He that lives on hope will die fasting." John Adams was less than hopeful, should that happen: "A constitution of Government, once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."

What about Thomas Jefferson? Surely he's got some sunshine to spare...
"The spirit of 1776 is not dead. It has only been stumbling. The body of the American people is substantially republican. But their virtuous feelings have been played on by some fact with more fiction; they have been the dupes of artful maneuvers, and made for a moment to be willing instruments in forging chains for themselves. But times and truth dissipated the delusion, and opened their eyes."
Jefferson's great object of hope was not the Federal Judiciary, or a single, consolidated government but in a rebellion, one maybe, oh, every twenty years or so...
"The Constitution they created could only be torn up by force of arms. And that is why the Founders left that power in the hands of the people, who together can never be cowed by relatively small numbers of thugs holding the only guns."
Well, Jefferson may get the best quotes, and a nice monument, but he's a grieving optimist. To quote George Will, "If you seek Hamilton's monument, look around. You are living it. We honor Jefferson, but live in Hamilton's country, a mighty industrial nation with a strong central government."

Now, Ayn Rand was not shy about her admiration for the Founding Founders, but then, she never met nor mentioned (to my knowledge) Alexander Hamilton. If Jefferson was Rand's favorite Founding Father, then Hamilton, as Jefferson's nemesis, would have to be her nemesis; Hamilton was the antithesis of everything Rand regarded highly in the Founding Fathers, or in her philosophy in general. And while Peikoff does touch on some of the philosophically fatal ideas held by even the more admirable founders, it is Hamilton who stands out the most. (It's my suspicion that the judge in Atlas Shrugged, who is shown at the end editing the Constitution, is un-doing the damage done by Hamilton.) He was not an optimistic romantic, but a cautious realist: "I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be." It was Hamilton, the Machiavellian, who made a role model out of Julius Caesar: "He had no hope in the Articles of Confederation, but opted to put his hope in a central bank, a national debt, and a corrupt government rather than a corrupt man." It was Hamilton, the Federalist, who proposed the idea of a permanent president; in essence, a monarch. And where Rand argued against taxation as theft, it was Hamilton, the Federalist, who argued for the "General Welfare" clause.

And yet, some claim that Hamilton would be shocked to see just how centralized our government has become, and defend him against claims made against him out of context. But people can hold contradictory views, even with the best of intentions. But we have to acknowledge that Hamilton, being versed in Machiavelli, may have been just as "prepared to be not good." (Just as he advised to George Washington.) When Hamilton says that the Americans should look "to precedent and history rather than lofty political theory," I think of the second-handers of The Fountainhead who held to the Renaissance as the final epoch. Yes, Hamilton claimed that "It's not tyranny we desire; it's a just, limited, federal government." And it was Hamilton that argued for a loose interpretation of the Constitution.

But even if I were to give Hamilton the benefit of having good intentions, this next comment shows where that paved road led to. Sure, it was Hamilton that said “A power to appropriate money with this latitude which is granted too in express terms would not carry a power to do any other thing, not authorized in the constitution, either expressly or by fair implication.” But if Hamilton truly believed that, this next comment shows where that paved road led:
"Jefferson was not entirely wrong to fear Hamilton's vision for the country, for we have always been in a constant balancing act between self-interest and community, market and democracy, the concentration of wealth and power and the opening up of opportunity." - Barack Obama
There are those who will argue that Barack Obama has nothing but the noblest of intentions: "I believe that when you share the wealth, it's good for everybody." But Obama is also a Machiavellian, by way of Saul Alinsky and his Rules for Radicals:
“You do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments.”

And now that Obama has nationalized the banks, the auto industry, and very possibly health care, the disconnect between word and deed cannot be denied. If Hamilton could see, then, what was currently being done in his name, then I can only picture screaming, from his grave, like James Taggart, "But I didn't mean it!" Hamilton's victory, if his intentions were noble, is a Pyrrhic one. It's time to stop extending the "benefit of the doubt," no matter how boldly one proclaims their good intentions. Machiavellians like Hamilton, Alinsky, and Obama knew and know how to employ those "artful maneuvers" Jefferson spoke of to "dupe" the trusting with "the unmitigated audacity of hope."

In regards to Franklin's "republic" comment, Leonard Peikoff ends The Ominous Parallels with the following: "He was not asked what is required to keep it, but the answer to that now would be: "A philosophy–if you can get one." I'd like to add to that: "A little less "hope" and a lot more street sense."