Friday, October 31, 2008

Gather Darkness

Recently I discussed the financial crisis with a Christian who has never read a book of economics. He began by denouncing the greedy CEO's on Wall Street. I argued that greed had nothing to do with the problem, but it was entirely the fault of government intervention in the economy. After all, how does it help a greedy CEO to bankrupt his company? He won't get another job if he does. How is it greedy to commit career suicide?

The Christian took my points several times. He is an honest man who wants to know the truth, and he accepted my arguments. Then a few minutes would pass and he would be back talking about greed. I was struck by how he would return to the point of greed even though he understood it was not really the issue. His morality and the premises he had automatized in his subconscious would not let him believe greed was not at fault.

I take this conversation as evidence that the entire political battle in America is really a battle of ethics. You can win economic arguments all day, but as long people think that morality is self-sacrifice, we will never make significant progress in rolling back the state. The 20th century is one long cautionary tale with a clear moral: socialism does not work. And yet both Republicans and Democrats are leaping over themselves to expand government control of the economy. Spending just keeps skyrocketing and liberals crow that the age of the free market is over. No more of that trickle down stuff for America! We're gonna take as much money from the rich as we want and shower in wealth!

Democrats know full well that the battle is moral. They never bother to make complicated economic arguments. In part this is from ignorance: somehow I don't think geniuses such as Henry Waxman or Robert Byrd have spent 10 minutes trying to understand Ludwig von Mises. But their ignorance is not the fruit of sloth. They don't care about economics because they know it's a waste of time. All they need do is mention obscene profits or greed, and conventional morality makes the rest of their case.


Those who pooh-pooh the fear that Republicans are becoming the party of religion are not paying attention. On my local right-wing talk radio station, part of Salem broadcasting, all the political ads are meant to appeal to the religious right. There are no ads for McCain (it's California), but there are ads about propositions. The two issues getting advertising are abortion and gay marriage (they're against both). Three of the stars on the Salem network are Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved and Dennis Prager -- all religious conservatives. (Hewitt and Medved, at least, are very much economic pragmatists who denounce "extremism" because they think moderates only can be elected these days. Limbaugh is better in this respect.)

Former baseball pitcher Frank Pastore, who sometimes fills in for Hewitt, has titled his latest column, The Christian Case Against Barack Obama. He does not give any reasons in the column, just advertises some videos in which he supposedly lays out his case. My point is that you see more stuff like this than you used to.

20 years ago we knew that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were part of the Republican Party, but it felt like they were confined to a ghetto within the party. They were the voice of the Bible Belt. I was amused or sometimes disgusted by them, but I never took them too seriously. Now the religion is more widespread. Prager and Medved, intellectual Jews, would not be mistaken by anyone for Southern Bible thumpers.

John McCain had to pick the very religious Sarah Palin in order to win the base of the Republican Party.

President Bush is the religious right's greatest success so far. His pathbreaking presidency has integrated religion with the welfare state. He calls it "faith based initiatives." Dr. Peikoff says George W. Bush is to the religious state as FDR was to the welfare state.

The question of how dangerous the religious right is compared to the socialist/nihilist left, in both the near and long term, is legitimate; however, it cannot be argued any more that the religious right is increasing its hold on the Republican Party. Perhaps it controls the party.


In the comments on the last post on this blog I dismissed the idea of trying to predict the future. That was before I read this quote Donald J. Boudreaux uses from the socialist Norman Thomas in the early 20th century:

"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened."

There is a man with a crystal ball.

We seem to be at the beginning of a new period in American history, a dark time of increasing state control. In such a moment people speculate a lot about the future. What will happen? Galileo Blogs thinks we will relive the '70s. (If so, can we do it without the bell bottom pants and leisure suits?) Arthur Laffer says the age of prosperity is over.

Those are educated guesses. We might live through something entirely unlike anything America has yet seen.

One event can change the world. World War I destroyed the benevolent and secure -- leftists would say smug and bourgeois -- culture of the 19th century. Things could never be quite the same after that cataclysm. As I have written several times on this blog, both Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises noted that no one who did not live before WWI can quite understand how positive and benevolent the west was then. The idea that fuels all of Joseph Roth's fiction is a longing for that era, a culture that would never live again. As another writer put it, you can't go home again.

The greatest world-changing event in history is Alaric and the Huns' sacking of Rome in 410 a.d. Until then the city of Rome had been accepted as a metaphysical fact of reality, like gravity or the sun rising in the east or the stars coming out at night. The sack of Rome shocked people throughout the Empire and destroyed their confidence. Augustine wrote City of God in response: all of man's creation on earth is impermanent; only the realm of God is permanent and real. The Roman Empire was over -- it was just a matter of time.

Could such an event happen in America? Yes, if there were a force in the world comparable to the barbarians in the 5th century. If, say, a religion wanted to destroy America and erect a worldwide theocracy -- a religion whose adherents believed God wanted them to kill infidels and who were willing to commit suicide in order to enjoy 72 virgins in paradise -- yes, there might be some danger if such a religion were at war with America. Fortunately, as we have been told, Islam is a religion of peace.

Besides, if such a totalitarian ideology were at war with us, we would quickly destroy all states that sponsored these warriors. We would wipe them out and demoralize their cause for all time. We would not make a half-hearted effort, swatting them down some, then appeasing this enemy and letting him survive to attack us another day. To take such a tremendous risk with America's security would be foolish and suicidal. Our leaders in Washington, D.C. are good and wise; why, they would sooner do something futile and senseless like socialize Wall Street than appease an enemy that wants to destroy us.

One suitcase nuke could change the world.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 80

1. George Reisman on the notion that laissez-faire capitalism is responsible for the latest economic crisis.

2. Renee Katz of Adventures In Existence has a You Tube page of her own. Somehow she survived 12 years of lower education with her ability to think independently intact. Maybe there's hope.

3. This magician/comedian is hilarious.

4. The most benevolent and revered One has been embarrassed recently by Joe the Plumber and the broadcast journalist Barbara West. Both people had the poor judgment to ask Obama or Biden tough questions. Now Joe the Plumber and Barbara West's husband are being investigated. This is what life under Obama will be -- anyone who does not toe the line will find himself subject to intimidation and character smears.

5. Interesting insight into the mind of Bill Ayers by Larry Grathwohl, an FBI informant who infiltrated the Weathermen.

If you read the whole interview, it becomes apparent that, at least to Grathwohl, Ayers is an egoist — but one who placed others at risk, counting on them to do much of the dirty work. Grathwohl notes that oftentimes Ayers left the heavy lifting to the women in the movement, while he himself wanted nothing more than to be in charge.

Power at all cost. Attack by proxy. A sense of entitlement. The arrogant notion that of course he should be in charge of the revolution and the refiguration of the country and all its citizens. A cadre of sycophants willing to follow his lead, oftentimes without question. A complete and utter disregard for the bourgeois rules of the “Establishment” — be it the law, the courts, or the principles upon which this country was founded.

Sounds to me like he built Obama into a polished, improved (in the Alinsky sense), multicultural likeness of himself — and has taught him to play the system and build his own army of political golems.

It remains to be seen just how radical Obama is, but if the worst fears of the right turn out to be justified (and if Obama wins next week), then we'll be living through the most remarkable political story our our time: a leftist radical gains the ultimate power in America in order to destroy capitalism. That's pretty damned dramatic.

6. Michael S. Malone is embarrassed to call himself a journalist.

If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography.

That isn't Sen. Obama's fault: His job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media's fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so.

Why is this happening?

Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you've spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power & only to discover that you're presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn't have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you'll lose your job before you cross that finish line, 10 years hence, of retirement and a pension.

In other words, you are facing career catastrophe -- and desperate times call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway -- all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.

And then the opportunity presents itself -- an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career.

With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived fairness doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it's all for the good of the country...

Journalists in the tank for Obama because of the self-interested desperation of a dying industry? Could be.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Savoring Ayn Rand's "Red Pawn"

Savoring Ayn Rand's "Red Pawn" by Dina Schein is an excellent literary analysis of a great story that is little known. It's one of the best stories I have ever read, which is remarkable because it is not a novel or a short story or a script, but a treatment Ayn Rand wrote to sell the story to Hollywood. It was her first sale.

The movie was never made because it takes place in Soviet Russia and, although politics is not the subject of the story, Rand portrays communism honestly. An honest movie about communism was not possible in the 1930's, Hollywood's "red decade." Almost 80 years later, the Soviet Union no longer exists, but the movie still has not been made. Now the problem is more likely to be that filmmakers in our present culture would not know what to do with a great romantic story. In the '30's MGM, with its stable of glamorous stars and great directors, might have done the story justice; one cringes at what today's Hollywood would do to this story.

It would be criminal to spoil the plot here, so I won't say a thing about it, except that it is great drama. Rand follows her own teaching in The Art of Fiction to create an intense value-conflict that builds to stunning climax. You can read the story in The Early Ayn Rand. Certainly, you should read it before you consider listening to Dina Schein's lectures.

Dr. Schein analyzes the plot, characters and theme of "Red Pawn." She looks at how to analyze fiction, so the listener learns not just about "Red Pawn," but also about how to think about fiction in general. The course is especially useful to fiction writers, as Dr. Schein looks at Ayn Rand's fiction writing process. There are also some excellent tips for screenwriters.

I sometimes think of Ayn Rand's teachings on fiction writing as my secret weapon that most writers know nothing about. After a century of naturalism, writers have forgotten how to use value-conflicts to build a suspenseful plot that culminates in a climax. They know about conflict, but they give it little thought beyond something like, "the bad guy wants to destroy the world and the good guy wants to stop him." And it would be the better ones, who want to write an exciting plot, who think that much. Without a conscious understanding of value-conflicts, it's easy for a plot writer to get bogged down in trivia or sidetracked by nonessential matters.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bureaucratizing Wall Street

I heard a radio morning show in which the DJ's and their callers were outraged over a Wall Street firm that received bailout money from the US government, then sent its executives to a posh spa for a retreat that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Everyone was outraged over this irresponsible behavior. To the people on this show, here was evidence of the fundamental cause behind the financial crisis: corporate greed. The fat cats only care about themselves and that's why America is in trouble.

My reaction is different. Let's say you give a man $10, and he spends it irresponsibly. He buys cheap wine and cigarettes and spends the night in foggy dissipation. It seems to me you can reach one of two conclusions:

1. I should not give this man any more money.

2. In the future I must watch this man carefully to make sure he spends the money I give him well.

Private individuals should choose #1. Once you give someone money, it is his property. You have no power to force him to do what you want with the money. If you continue to give money to someone who wastes it, whose fault is that?

The government always chooses #2. Unlike private individuals, the government has the power to force people to act as it wishes. Not only will it watch how Wall Street spends the money the government "invests," but it will pass laws dictating what can and cannot be done with the money. With the money will come regulation.

As Ludwig von Mises explains in his brilliant little book, Bureaucracy, government has to use regulation because it is not driven by the pursuit of profit.

In the private sector, everyone pursues one goal: make a profit. A chain store does not need a bookshelf full of regulations directing store managers on how to pursue profit. Within a few simple rules such as employee uniforms and corporate image, the individual store manager is left alone to solve the problem of making a profit.

In the public sector, however, functions such as police, courts and military are not motivated by the pursuit of profit. Thus the government must write books of regulations telling employees in detail what they must do in every situation.

To the extent to which government subsidizes the financial sector, that sector becomes a government agency. Its function becomes part private and part state. Wall Street firms that take government money will have two purposes: to make a profit and to do what the government wants.

Supposedly, the government is spending a trillion dollars to keep firms from going bankrupt. In theory all this money should go toward the pursuit of profit. But watch how this government involvement grows in the coming years. The government is not driven by the pursuit of profit, but by other concerns, such as altruism, collectivism and the public good -- not to mention giving money to pressure groups in order to buy votes. Government will force Wall Street to cater to its concerns, not just to pursue a profit.

Look for a big push in the coming years to turn corporations into mini-welfare states. This trend goes back to the 1940's, when employers sought to get around confiscatory income taxes by giving employees "free" health insurance. Tying insurance to work was a disastrous unintended consequence of high taxes.

Making corporations do welfare state functions is the fascist way to socialism. Mises, writing in 1944 when the Nazis still existed, describes the totalitarian end of turning entrepreneurs into bureaucrats:

The Nazis have succeeded in entirely eliminating the profit motive from the conduct of business. In Nazi Germany there is no longer any question of free enterprise. There are no more entrepreneurs. The former entrepreneurs have been reduced to the status of Betriebsführer (shop manager). They are not free in their operation; they are bound to obey unconditionally the orders issued by the Central Board of Production Management, the Reichswirtschaftsministerium, and its subordinate district and branch offices. The government not only determines the prices and interest rates to be paid and to be asked, the height of wages and salaries, the amount to be produced and the methods to be applied in production; it allots a definite income to every shop manager, thus virtually transforming him into a salaried civil servant. This system has, but for the use of some terms, nothing in common with capitalism and a market economy. It is simply socialism of the German pattern, Zwangswirtschaft. It differs from the Russian pattern of socialism, the system of outright nationalization of all plants, only in technical matters. And it is, of course, like the Russian system, a mode of social organization that is purely authoritarian.

It's hard to imagine America getting this bad, but according to Mises it's just a matter of time before interventionism ends in totalitarian control of the economy. Intervention leads to crisis, which leads to further intervention, which leads to further crisis, which leads to... you get the idea.

"Socialism of the German pattern" has an added, irresistible benefit to politicians: they evade responsibility. They dictate to corporations what welfare state programs they must enact, but when things go wrong, the politicians blame the greedy corporations. As long as the corporations are driven in part by the profit motive, they are immoral to altruists. With each new crisis, the capitalists, "blinded by greed," will always be blamed, as noble altruists such as Hillary Clinton and John McCain preen about how they just want to help the little guy.

But there will be other unintended consequences of forcing entrepreneurs to behave like bureaucrats -- so many that it would take a book to be comprehensive. To look at just one more, Mises writes,

To say to the entrepreneur of an enterprise with limited profit chances, “Behave as the conscientious bureaucrats do,” is tantamount to telling him to shun any reform. Nobody can be at the same time a correct bureaucrat and an innovator. Progress is precisely that which the rules and regulations did not foresee; it is necessarily outside the field of bureaucratic activities.

The virtue of the profit system is that it puts on improvements a premium high enough to act as an incentive to take high risks. If this premium is removed or seriously curtailed, there cannot be any question of progress.

The more capitalists are forced to follow regulations, the less progress and innovation we will have.

This trillion dollar bailout of Wall Street will prove to be more costly than just the money involved. The financiers should have declined the money, saying, "No thanks -- we can't afford it." The greatest cost will be our liberty.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Goodbye, GOP

I listened to a lot of talk radio yesterday. Both Rush Limbaugh and Hugh Hewitt emphasized Obama's pro-choice in abortion stand in hopes of motivating the religious right to vote. Hewitt spent his entire show taking calls only from Catholics in battleground states, hoping to use Cardinal Rigali's message to Pennsylvia Catholics to get out the vote on the religious right. Limbaugh even expressed the wish that those who support abortion leave the party.

There was nothing from them about the creeping fascism that economic interventionism is bringing us. Clearly, both men see the Republican Party as a party of religious values first. Economic liberty, which they would both say they support (Limbaugh especially, as Hewitt views free market "extremism" as an electoral loser), is a secondary consideration.

It was a depressing experience. Here we are, nearing election day, and the Republican propagandists are getting serious. Time to motivate the troops! And so, both Hewitt and Limbaugh end up talking about how Obama wants to "kill children in the womb." Yes, we should never vote for Democrats because they want to kill children.

As a farcical ending to a disgusting day, I listened to as much of Michael Savage as I could take. The man is a conspiracy theorist. When you step back and analyze what Michael Savage says, he sounds remarkably stupid. He brought up the militia movement of the '90s, which he thinks was a good thing, and told his listeners in ominous tones that the movement was destroyed by the government. He thinks the bailout came because of a secret agreement between the politicians and their friends on Wall Street to give them hundreds of billions of dollars stolen from Main Street.

Savage also is hot on the foolish story about Obama's birth certificate. Because the certificate is not the original, but a copy, Savage thinks it is fake and that Obama was actually born in Kenya and is thus not eligible to be President of the USA.

So what if Obama's birth certificate is a copy? That's all I have. I had to pay money to the county in Kansas where I was born to get the copy. It's good enough to get me a drivers license, passport and social security card.

So here are three of the most influential propagandists of the right, with two of them telling their listeners Obama is "against life" and the lunatic third one screaming that Obama was born in Africa. Is it any wonder this country is going down the drain?

I intend to respect Rush Limbaugh's desire and leave the Republican Party. I will reregister as an Independent. It's not the party I joined 20 years ago. As Reagan once said about the Democrats, I didn't leave the party, the party left me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Message to Young People

If you're not like totally into politics? I mean, if you can't like name both the Vice-Presidential candidates, or if you can't name even the Presidential candidates, or if you're uncertain as to what I'm talking about here, don't worry about it. It's totally cool. Only geeks keep track of that stuff anyway. But here's the really cool part: you should not worry about it. Forget about it, man. Play video games and watch TV. And when the voting day comes -- I won't bother you with the date, because it's better you remain vague about it -- just stay in bed. Don't worry about voting. It's cool. You can leave that to other people. Who cares?

Don't listen to those self-righteous poseurs who tell you that you have a responsibility to vote. You don't have to vote if you don't want to. It's called freedom. And forget that stuff about how you won't have the right to speak out for the next two years if you don't vote today. You can say whatever you want, but mostly you have better things to talk about anyway, so blow off those idiots.

Don't let any of those clowns make you feel guilty for not voting. The opposite of what they say is true: if you don't vote, you are serving your country. You are helping America if you don't vote, because only informed citizens should vote. You don't want all that hassle of learning about the candidates and the issues. There's nothing wrong with that. Really. Just stay home, put on some tunes and fire up the bong. Fuck voting.

This has been a public service announcement.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another Blow to My Male Ego

I went to the doctor yesterday. I have to get a hearing aid. It will cost me $2,300. Insurance does not cover it because they figure you can live without a hearing aid. And indeed, you can -- if you want to spend the rest of your life saying, "What? Could you repeat that? Once more, and enunciate, please."

How will I ever attract another woman with a piece of plastic in my ear? My life is over...

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Myrhaf Endorsement: Abstain

Interventionism (or the mixed economy or the welfare state), with bipartisan support, has America in bad shape right now. The government just voted a $1 trillion bailout of Wall Street, money to be handed out per Treasury Secretary Paulson's discretion, making him in effect America's economic dictator. Social Security is heading toward a crisis.

Look for the government to inflate the hell out of the dollar in an attempt to manage this crisis without cutting spending or raising taxes. Inflation is a hidden tax, the politicians' favorite tax. Due to widespread ignorance of economics, Americans don't understand that inflation is created by the government printing more dollars. People feel the pinch of rising prices in their wallets and they blame those greedy capitalists who keep raising prices because they are unpatriotic and just in business for their own good. This popular anger at capitalists is music to the socialists' ears.

We are very much in the position of the Weimar Republic right now. Government intervention is causing crises, yet Democrats such as Barney Frank are saying, "The private sector got us into this mess. The government has to get us out of it." The crises will expand and intensify as the government pours gasoline on the fire. America is setting itself up for that which followed the Weimar Republic: a fascist dictatorship.

Since America is the richest and most powerful nation in the world, it would likely drag the rest of the world into dark times with it. If you think depression would devastate America, a nation in which poor children's number one health problem is obesity, imagine how hard times would hit poor countries. We could be on the edge of worldwide starvation, war and the other horsemen of the apocalypse. Parts of Africa could go medieval.

This is the context as we Americans ponder how we should vote. Here is my explanation of how I will vote.

Recently, John Lewis sent an email to the Obloggers group containing this information:

In July the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which details their plan to force Americans to reduce emissions of CO2 and other so-called “greenhouse gases.” This follows on an Executive Order signed by President Bush, which was made possible by a U.S. Supreme Court decisions ruling that CO2 is a “pollutant.” (!)

This plan will strip the American people of their freedom, and place them under the control of a single, all-powerful, federal agency. Industrial permits, furnace regulations, auto emissions testing, building permits, transportation, and food production—all will fall under the boot of the EPA. Environmentalists will use lawsuits to pressure the EPA to tighten an ever-shrinking noose around the neck of every American.

This is the first and only time I have heard about this Executive Order signed by the Republican Bush. The statutory framework now exists for the EPA to dictate to every American how much CO2 he can emit. Such a broad Executive Order gives the EPA the power to control virtually every aspect of our lives, from how much we produce to how much we travel to our heating and air conditioning to our very exhalations of breath. The limits on the EPA's power will be determined by what they think they can get away with before people revolt. Using the time-tested frog-cooking method, they will start modestly and ratchet up the controls a notch at a time.

I submit that if Bush were a Democrat president, we would have heard about this totalitarian Executive Order from right-wing radio talk shows, right-wing bloggers and Fox News. The Republicans would be screaming that leftists want to destroy our freedom -- and they would be right. But Bush is a Republican, so we hear nothing. The Democrats have no reason to publicize this Executive Order because they support it; government control of every aspect of every citizen's life is The Way Things Ought To Be. Republicans have no interest in attacking Bush because it weakens their party. Talkers such as Limbaugh and Hewitt focus like a laser beam on the Democrats and, with occasional exceptions designed to counter criticism like this, they ignore Republican folly.

Gus Van Horn has detailed Bush's Statist Legacy. The first two items alone would be enough to vilify him among Republicans, were Bush a Democrat:

  • Sixty-eight per cent. That is how much total federal spending rose under Bush. That is more than double the growth in federal spending over the eight years of Bill Clinton's presidency.
  • Bush was aided and abetted by a Congress dominated by Republicans until 2006. Juicy spending bills were passed on everything from farm subsidies to health (up 44 per cent) and education (up 47 per cent). After all, Bush had run as a "compassionate conservative"; he introduced the largest new entitlement since the Great Society programs of the 1960s: a prescription drug benefit for seniors that will add a US$1.2-trillion liability over 10 years.

And don't forget that Bush, a Republican, outlawed the incandescent light bulb, a dictatorial law that is richly symbolic. I like to think that 100 years from now Bush will be remembered as the man who outlawed the light bulb.

The Ayn Rand Institute calls the recent bailout of Wall Street The Road to Fascism:

The government has announced that it plans to use $250 billion to buy ownership stakes in various U.S. financial institutions. According to the New York Times, nine major U.S. banks have already been forced into the program....

According to Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, “In herding banking executives into a room and making them an offer they couldn’t refuse, the Paulson regime took its latest and most disturbing step yet on the path to state control of the economy.

“If fascism means coercive state control over nominally private property, then there is no more chilling sign of creeping fascism in America than government’s encroachment on the lifeblood of the U.S. economy—its financial institutions. While the government assures us it will be a ‘passive investor,’ merely funneling cash into the banking system rather than dictating how banks function, this is a lie. Not only does the money come with strings attached--such as restrictions on executive compensation, dividend payments, and the types of investments banks can make—but politicians are already promising a web of further controls. As John McCain recently noted, ‘We will not merely inject billions of dollars into companies and walk away hoping for the best. We will require that those companies be reformed and restructured until they are sound assets again, and can be sold at no loss—or perhaps even a profit—to the taxpayers of America.’

Note that Paulson, Bush and McCain are all Republicans. Republicans, not Democrats, are driving this fascist power grab of America's financial institutions.

This is the most important reason we should not vote for a Republican for president: When Republicans expand state intervention in the economy, no one cares. Poor, hapless Democrats! When they try to get away with a fraction of what Republicans can get away with, those same Republicans scream bloody murder. Yes, the Republicans are laughable hypocrites -- but their hypocrisy is the only thing that stops Democrats from erecting a socialist tyranny. That's the way partisan politics works in America.

Republican presidents do more damage than Democrat presidents. Among the last four presidents, the only one that did not expand government spending was the Democrat, Bill Clinton. The Republicans all spent money like drunken sailors in a Texan whore house.

This year the Republican candidate is John McCain. He gives us even more reasons not to vote Republican. Craig Biddle writes,

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

And on foreign policy,

McCain promises to “respect the collective will of our democratic allies,” as if America has no moral right to defend her citizens according to her own best judgment; and he promises to finish the “mission” of making Iraq “a functioning democracy” even if it takes “one hundred years,” as if the U.S. government has a moral or constitutional right to sacrifice American soldiers to spread democracy abroad.

Ryan Calhoun at The Dirty Kuffar reminds us that McCain is willing to reinstate the draft.

McCain has stated time and again that the only time he would support a draft would be "if World War III broke out".

As bad as Republicans are these days, McCain is even worse. He is an ideological nationalist and collectivist. He disdains the free market. He sneers at the pursuit of profit. He believes the essence of morality lies in the individual sacrificing for something greater than himself.

Another reason it would be preferable to have a Democrat president is clarity. When Republicans like Bush expand government, we do not get clarity. Instead, Democrats blame the free market rhetoric of the Republicans for the latest crisis. Thus we get talk about Reagan's "trickle down econonmics" as the cause of the meltdown in September. Under a Democrat president, the destructive policies of government intervention become clear.

By the logic of my argument I should be endorsing Obama here because Democrats are not as effective at destroying liberty in America as Republicans. I can't do it. I've never voted for a Democrat in my life, and I'll be damned if the first one I vote for is a far left radical who has allied himself with anti-Americans and then lied about it when his alliances became politically inconvenient.

Obama, a social metaphysician who prides himself on being a "blank screen" on which others can project what they want to see, is not a fringe character in the Democrat Party. He is the party. He represents most of the base. The entire party leadership has been as radicalized as Obama. If the "Reagan Democrats" understood how far left the party is (if they did not depend on the MSM for their news), they would run from the party.

It is possible that Obama, like McCain, is worse than the average politician in his party. There is the possibility that Obama is an ideological radical who -- with full, explicit consciousness -- is hiding his true intentions in order to gain power and then use the presidency to advance socialism in America. I don't think he can get far without a mandate, but I can't entirely dismiss this suspicion. But if this is true, it makes Obama only a more exaggerated version of all Democrat candidates, for every one of them since the landslide defeat of McGovern in 1972 has lied about how far left he is.

But even if we go just by what he has promised, which would add another trillion dollars to the federal budget, that alone makes him unworthy of our vote.

In voting for the lesser of two evils, there is only so much evil a voter should be asked to swallow. I will feel better about myself not voting for either Obama or McCain. Whichever one is elected, things will get worse. There are arguments for and against both men; they come out to a wash. Who knows which candidate would end up marginally worse than the other?

More important than the presidential vote is your Senate and House vote. It is important that we get Republicans in the legislature. They're the only ones that would slow down an Obama presidency. Perhaps they would moderate McCain's worst statist excesses.

I realize there is risk in my thinking. It depends on the Republicans maintaining their role as a vigorous opposition party. Fewer Republicans have the stomach for fighting every year. At some point, the party might conclude, "We're all socialists now." If so, we'll get to dictatorship a little faster than otherwise. Right now their opposition to Democrat presidents is our last hope.

Go to the polls on November 4th. Vote Republican in everything but president. Don't vote for president. Perhaps a large bloc of abstaining voters will send a message that our two major parties need to give us better candidates for whom to vote.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that on election day I will be sending $100 to the Ayn Rand Institute. With this I will know I am actually doing something to bring about change instead of just casting a meaningless vote.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Who Is Barack Obama?

We know that young Barack Obama came under the influence of the ideas of Saul Alinsky. Alinsky was a communist who taught, as I understand it, that socialists should become part of the capitalist power structure in order to destroy it from within.

(I have my doubts as to how effective this theory is. Once you become part of the power structure, and your livelihood, your mortgage payments, your future and your children's future all depend on that structure, would you want to destroy it? The system changes radicals before they can change it. Gaining power in our mixed economy would turn communists into fascists. At worst, socialists would work to destroy everything but their power and their 401k's.)

The still unanswered question about Obama is: what does he want? Does he secretly intend to destroy capitalism from within? Or does he want power to further the welfare state like your garden variety Democrat? How radical is he?

We know one disturbing thing about Obama. He is willing to lie in order to gain power. He said Ayers was just a guy in his neighborhood. That was a lie. He said he did not know Jeremiah Wright was an anti-American radical. Larry Elder writes,

In "Dreams from My Father," Obama talks of attending the "Audacity of Hope Sermon" (pages 292-293). There is an audio book in Obama's own voice reading this passage. Obama hears Wright speak of Hiroshima and Sharpeville as examples of acts of injustice....

What is Sharpeville? In 1960, the South African apartheid government shot down unarmed protestors, killing 69 black men, women and children. Most of the dead were shot in the back, and nearly 200 more were wounded.

Obama felt no sense of outrage to hear Hiroshima and Sharpeville mentioned in the same breath. Indeed, he was so inspired by the sermon that he uses the sermon's title -- "Audacity of Hope" -- for his second book, and as the theme of his campaign!

I would have run from Wright. Only an anti-American radical would liken Hiroshima to Sharpeville. Obama forged an alliance with the man, then lied about it when Wright became politically inconvenient.

Rush Limbaugh made an interesting observation of Obama yesterday. Obama is being praised for keeping his cool in the debates. Rush said Obama is not cool, he is cold. This is true. He keeps his emotions so controlled that he comes off passionless and reserved. It makes him hard to read. He seems to have made a conscious decision to create a persona of "presidential temperament," which is a front intended to reassure voters that he is no wild-eyed radical. It makes me more suspicious that he is hiding his true intentions -- which brings us back to my original question. What does he want?

I've linked to this several times, but we would do well to remember it:

His mild-mannered style has thrown off even some angry black radicals, who want him to speak out more forcefully about the legacy of U.S. racism and economic inequality.

One is Princeton professor Cornel West, a militant black and self-described socialist. Reportedly, West was reluctant to join the refined Obama's presidential campaign until Obama took him aside and explained to him that he had to walk a rhetorical tightrope to reassure whites. West is now solidly on board his campaign as an adviser.

Another thing worries me. We have seen in Obama's campaign a brazen new approach to political success that seems to be working (Obama's election as President will be the fruit of this new approach). Here's how it works. Obama will lie and depend on the MSM to let the lie rest uncontested. Then he will accuse his opponents of lying, which is taken up by the MSM and the left side of the blogosphere. Finally, Obama's opponents are smeared as racists or full of hatred if they stand in the Messiah's way.

The lies and smears are part of the totalitarian contempt for reason on the left that has been around a long time, but never before have we seen a candidate so willing to lie (and so good at it) coupled with a media so willing to make his lies the accepted "narrative." The left believes that the truth is irrevelant; politics is the conflict to establish your narrative over your opponent's narrative. The next step will be shutting up conservative talk radio and developing a brown shirt force to use force and intimidation against all those capitalists too blinded by greed to understand that they exist as sheep to be sacrificed to the state.

(The foolish George W. Bush has given statist Presidents a new tool to use in any ginned up "crisis":

On October 17, 2006, President Bush signed into law the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007. The new law allows the President to declare a “public emergency” at his own discretion, and place federal troops anywhere throughout the United States. Under this law, the President also now has the authority to federalize National Guard troops without the consent of Governors, in order to restore “public order.” The President can now deploy federal troops to U.S. cities, which eliminates the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act. In short, Bush can now declare Martial Law anytime he pleases.)

Another troubling trend has been the collapse of the conservatives. As altruists they are intellectually helpless against any expansion of state power framed as helping the needy among us. Every year fewer conservatives bother to oppose big government. The more voters depend on government handouts, the harder it is for politicians to advocate any cut in spending.

The trends on the left and the right indicate that we are entering a new period in America. This new period will see the spread of state power and the death of our freedoms, one by one.

Whether or not Obama consciously wants to destroy freedom in America -- and I think that as a "blank screen" he has become more a mixed economy Democrat than any communist -- the welfare state is doing it anyway, crisis by crisis.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Typical American Voters?

Ben Smith received this email from a Republican consultant who ran a focus group that watched an ad attacking Obama:

Reagan Dems and Independents. Call them blue-collar plus. Slightly more Target than Walmart.

Yes, the spot worked. Yes, they believed the charges against Obama. Yes, they actually think he's too liberal, consorts with bad people and WON'T BE A GOOD PRESIDENT...but they STILL don't give a f***. They said right out, "He won't do anything better than McCain" but they're STILL voting for Obama.

The two most unreal moments of my professional life of watching focus groups:

54 year-old white male, voted Kerry '04, Bush '00, Dole '96, hunter, NASCAR fan...hard for Obama said: "I'm gonna hate him the minute I vote for him. He's gonna be a bad president. But I won't ever vote for another god-damn Republican. I want the government to take over all of Wall Street and bankers and the car companies and Wal-Mart run this county like we used to when Reagan was President."

The next was a woman, late 50s, Democrat but strongly pro-life. Loved B. and H. Clinton, loved Bush in 2000. "Well, I don't know much about this terrorist group Barack used to be in with that Weather guy but I'm sick of paying for health insurance at work and that's why I'm supporting Barack."

I felt like I was taking crazy pills.  I sat on the other side of the glass and realized...this really is the Apocalypse. The Seventh Seal is broken and its time for eight years of pure, delicious crazy....

If these people are at all representative of the thinking among the American electorate at large...

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Scenes from the Decline of Freedom in America

1. In the November 1968 issue of The Objectivist, Joan Blumenthal writes in "Art For Power's Sake" that the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1942:

"It is hardly lack of due process for the Government to regulate that which it subsidizes."

I bring this up to note that the government "investing" $750 billion -- and that's just the starting figure -- will likely bring a disastrous increase of government power over Wall Street. The state regulated through the SEC and laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley before they were invested. Imagine what they will do now that the government is subsidizing Wall Street. For instance, until now they have "jawboned" CEO's about "golden parachutes," huge bonuses, etc. Do you think lawmakers will be content from now on with just complaining?

2. Whichever candidate is elected, we will likely see a vast welfare state program in which young people do "service" to the government in exchange for a college education. This will be the beginning of a program that eventually forces every young person to serve the state for two years, either in the military or some make-work program. It will be spirit crushing drudgery that will be hardest to bear by the best, most independent thinking young minds.

3. Barack Obama is the first presidential nominee to use legal and mob intimidation to shut up his opponents. Obama said,

"I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors," Barack Obama told a crowd in Elko, Nev. "I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face."

Look for a big push for a return to the Fairness Doctrine if he is elected. If his coattails bring along a lot of Democrat Senators and Congressmen, watch out. We could be heading for Canada-like laws against "hate speech" -- that is, politically incorrect speech, or speech that is inegalitarian. Statists the people have the right to say what they want -- as long as they say what the state approves.

Obama's disdain for the right to free speech is troubling because we desperately need to spread a rational philosophy in order to change the culture. It is freedom's last hope.

4. In his latest TIA Daily Robert Tracinski reminds us of a stunning speech by Al Gore in September in which he called for mob violence, though he did not use those words, of course.

"If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration," Gore told the Clinton Global Initiative gathering to loud applause.

Tracinski observes that civil disobedience is supposed to be aimed at government. Against private industries, it is mob violence. He also observes that there are no commercial-level businesses that use "capture and sequestration" because costs would increase by 50%. In other words, Gore is calling for mob action against just about every business with a smoke stack.

Here are two of the most prominent Democrats, the present presidential nominee and a former one, urging people to use force. These calls are the beginning of what will develop into a brown shirt force on the left. Already people know not to put Republican stickers on a car in certain neighborhoods, such as college towns. This climate of fear is what the left wants throughout America, and the nascent brown shirt force implicit in Obama's and Gore's calls for intimidation and mob violence will be the agents of force. People will learn to think twice before they speak out against the left. The left wants people living in fear.

We are heading into the most dangerous and challenging period in American history. Yes, Americans have faced huge challenges before -- wars, depressions and riots, among others -- but never before has America been so philosophically and culturally rotten; never before has state power been so advanced. We are likely to lose a lot of freedom in the time of evil we are entering. How we respond to the next 10-20 years should tell us if the rest of the 21st century will further the decline.

UPDATE: The Dougout has a clip of Obama calling for the creation of a "civilian national security force." This force would serve as an American KGB.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Week of TIA Daily


There will be no TIA Daily post today, as I stubbed my toe over the weekend. The actual pain lasted only a few minutes, but it threw my sense of life out of whack. I never post when my view of the universe is less than benevolent.


There will be no TIA Daily post today in honor of the holiday. Today is National Processed Cheese Day, and I have always considered processed cheese a triumph of American capitalism. Think of me when you eat your grilled cheese sandwich made with Velveeta!


There will be no TIA Daily post today because we're focusing on our next print issue. We would like to increase production of our print issues to, well, at least more than one issue every three years.


There will be no TIA Daily post today or tomorrow because I am traveling to a convention of conservatives. I need to network in order to get a good gig and fame, because I don't know if this TIA Daily thing is going anywhere.


Your subscription is about to expire. Please pay $74 now or you might miss a day of our penetrating commentary that you cannot get anywhere else.

(This post is gentle satire. I respect Robert Tracinski and find his writing of great value. He has a talent for observations that everyone else misses. I expect to resubscribe to TIA Daily when the time comes.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Sports broadcaster Tim McCarver called Manny Ramirez "despicable" for some of the things he did in Boston.

I have a lot of respect for McCarver. Having grown up in Southern California, I was spoiled by the dulcet tones of Vin Scully, the smoothest baseball announcer ever. When I moved to New York in the '80s I was surprised to hear Phil Rizzuto (Yankees TV color commentator), Bob Murphy (Mets radio play by play) and Ralph Kiner (Mets TV play by play). All three were strange. Rizzuto was the ultimate homer who would start rambling about cannolis in the middle of a comment, then ask his partner what he should have been talking about and end by screaming "home run!" when a Yankee hit a pop-up to shallow left; Murphy had the weirdest sing-song cadence you'll ever hear; and Kiner would make my night trying to say "sponsored by Mitsubishi." Sponsored by Mitsubishi, Ralph, sponsored by Mitsubishi. Come on, you can say it tonight! After listening to Scully all my life, I felt I had moved to some cowtown in Nebraska, not New York City.

McCarver (Mets TV color commentator), however, was always interesting. He had insights into the game of baseball that others missed. Sitting behind the plate for 21 years as a catcher, he had studied the game from an excellent vantage point. Moreover, his passion for the game made viewers love the game more. That is a rare talent for a broadcaster.

Now, I don't know a thing about what Ramirez did in Boston. I'm glad he's on the Dodgers, because without him the boys in blue would not have made the playoffs. (As I write they are down 0-2 to the Phillies, so they might not be in the playoffs for long.) I gather he was unhappy at Boston and stopped playing hard. This forced Boston to trade him.

Despicable doesn't seem like the right word to use in this case. The word carries with it a moral judgment. You could call a liar, a vicious criminal or a child molester despicable.

It sounds to me like Ramirez lost his motivation in Boston. When that happens, it is easy not to work hard. You might call it unfortunate, regrettable or wrong, but despicable?

(Also, Andrew Sullivan has used the word lately to describe John McCain. In his case it just makes me think of Sylvester the Cat. DithPICKable!)

Tim McCarver cares about the integrity of the game of baseball. As I noted above, his love of the game makes watching it more fascinating. He gets angry when he sees modern players phone it in, and I can see his point. When a man puts on the uniform, he should play hard. When a player becomes unhappy with an organization or thinks he has not been treated fairly, the reality is that he might deliver less than 100% effort. The word despicable in this context sounds hysterical.

I'm not disputing McCarver's judgment. I just wonder if despicable is le mot juste.

UPDATE: Slight revision.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Republican Anger

Here's the latest silliness among the reality based community. From Devilstower at Daily Kos:

There's something happening here, and what it is, is all too clear. McCain - Palin rallies over the last few days have disintegrated into festivals of hate, and the two candidates at the center of this are encouraging it.


McCain and Palin are soaking in the crowd's anger, amplifying it, and feeding it back.


The language McCain and Palin are using: "radical," "palling around with terrorists," "willing co-conspirators" is growing more heated by the day. It's language that's compounded by the "dangerous" commercials McCain is running across the country. It's the kind of language that you use in describing an enemy in wartime. It's the kind of language that not only excuses violence, but encourages it. More and more it sounds as if McCain has inhaled the ghost of Joseph McCarthy and is exhaling the fevered rancor of Charles Coughlin.


Whatever it is, it's ugly. And getting uglier. Any decent candidate -- any decent human being -- would be working now to tamp down that ire, not raise it.

Hunter at Daily Kos then takes up the theme, speculating that McCain is losing his sanity.

I'm honestly beginning to think that McCain is... unhinged. Not by a lot, but by enough. ...I can't help but look at the McCain/Palin campaign's sudden, apparently random focus on Obama and Ayers -- in the middle of a complete economic meltdown, no less -- and think, what the hell?


I also think you have to be more than a little nuts -- or at least very, very bitter -- to be egging on crowds to the extent that both Palin and McCain have been. The last week has seen Republican rallies turn into screaming hate-fests, celebrations of the notion that the other candidate is a terrorist, or is anti-American, or is a danger to the nation or the like: stuff that the Secret Service really, really dislikes, and would generally put a stop to if it wasn't their own damn charges leading the rhetoric. From Palin, I'd expect it. She's proven herself at this point to be dumb as a f--king rock, and has a history of being bitterly, viciously mean in service of whatever it is she wants. She probably thinks the rallies are a hoot.

By the time Kagro X throws in his (or her) two cents, the Kossacks are hallucinating "incitements to domestic terrorism."

It's clearly the right thing to do to demand that John McCain and Sarah Palin's sick incitements to domestic terrorism must stop.

But it's not going to. This is how they do things. When Republicans are in power, as they are now, they use the mechanisms of government to do their political violence to the constitutional order, as they've done by "normalizing" the existence of the surveillance state, of secret government, and even of nationalization of entire economic sectors.

It's when Republicans fall out of power, or fear falling out of power, that the violence they do to what used to be our system of government threatens to turn physical. And it's the fear of being overwhelmingly rejected at the ballot box that's bringing it out in them now.

It's no coincidence that the traditional media is noticing a disturbing uptick in violent rhetoric at McCain/Palin events, both inside and out, and from both the candidates and the crowds. It had to happen. Sarah Palin's entire political career is steeped in the same wingnut "black helicopter" militia insanity that manifested itself in the Oklahoma City massacre and other infamous explosions of blood-spattered, far-right paranoia like Ruby Ridge and Waco. Wading in up to their hips right at the peak of it all, though admittedly at the far-flung fringes of it all, were Sarah Palin and the man whose bizarre personal vendettas she lives to prosecute: Todd Palin.

The madness inspires Andrew Sullivan to a stirring post that needs to be set to music by Wagner.

The McCain-Rove fusion ticket has spent seven days spewing 100 percent negative advertizing, roiling angry mobs, deploying Palin to call Obama a traitor and a terrorist, pushing Fox News propaganda - and they have indeed succeeded in capping Obama's national rise at just under 50 percent. But McCain's numbers keep sliding and are lower on Friday than they were on Monday: 41.8 percent on Pollster; 42.9 on RCP; and a projection of 347 electoral votes on 538. Can you lose an election and your soul? McCain is testing the premise. It's a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions - because McCain did it to himself.

Angry Republicans! Is it the end of freedom in America?

Leftists have antennae finely attuned to catch any whiff of negative emotion on the right. It sets them apondering strenuously, as we saw above. But to the constant barrage of anger, hatred and fear from the left for Chimpy McBushnazi, they can't be bothered even to yawn.

Need I remind the reader what we have seen on the left for the last eight years? Calls for Bush and Cheney to be tried as war criminals? Accusations of genocide? Calling Republicans Nazis? The hatred and anger on the left has been unrelenting. Michelle Malkin wrote a book about it called Unhinged. Unlike the angry Republicans, when leftists get angry, some of them do commit violence.

I'm angry myself because I have a lot of questions about Barack Obama that I would like answered, but the MSM have decided not to press Obama to answer any questions that might embarrass him. It's outrageous how the media are coddling and boosting Obama.

I'm not sure if the Kossacks (and the very strange Andrew Sullivan) honestly fear that the angry Republicans are a danger to become violent mobs. I picture in my imagination a bunch of country club Republicans throwing trash cans through the window of a Starbucks, then texting their broker to see if their Starbucks stock is still okay. Yes, a Republican mob is something to fear.

I suspect that what they really fear is that McCain will use this emotion to motivate Republicans to vote. And fear this they should, for attacking the other party is all that either major party has in our time. Fear, anger and hatred of the other party is the way both parties rouse their base because neither party has anything positive to offer America. We live in a welfare state in which two gangs -- Democrats and Republicans -- fight over power so that they can control who gets to dole out the loot to pressure groups in hopes that the money will buy more votes in the future.

Every two years we see this spectacle of these two gangs reviling one another, hoping to make voters fear and loathe the other side more than they fear their side. Sometimes the attacks are true, sometimes they are not. Sometimes the emotions are rational, sometimes they are not. Each party's base buys into the attacks from their gang; the independents, who have no emotional attachment to either party, tend to be disgusted by the negativity.

If a party stood for liberty and individual rights, then perhaps it could motivate voters to vote for them out of admiration for their values, not just fear and loathing of the other gang. Such a party does not exist in America.

"It's earlier than you think." --Ayn Rand, 1964

Is It Socialism?

Rick Moran of Right Wing Nut House argues that Obama is not a a socialist. (Right Wing Nut House is meant to be an ironic name, as Moran is actually a pragmatist Republican, the type that has plagued the party at least since WWII. In the 1960's, Moran would have been a Rockefeller Republican calling Goldwater an "extremist.")

Calling Obama a “socialist” simply isn’t logical. He doesn’t share the belief that industries should be nationalized by the government or even taken over by the workers as many American Marxists espouse. He may not be as wedded to the free market as a conservative but he doesn’t want to get rid of it. He wants to regulate it. He wants “capitalism with a human face.” He wants to mitigate some of the effects of the market when people lose. This is boilerplate Democratic party liberalism not radical socialism.

I detest conservatives throwing around the words “socialism” and “Marxism” when it comes to Obama as much as I get angry when idiot liberals toss around the word “fascist” when describing conservatives. I’m sorry but this is ignorant. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge of what socialism and communism represent as well as an ignorance of simple definitions. Obama will not set up a government agency to plan the economy. He will not as president, require businesses to meet targets for production. He will not outlaw profit. He will not put workers in charge of companies (unless it is negotiated between unions and management. It is not unheard of in this country and the practice may become more common in these perilous economic times.).

An Obama presidency will have more regulation, more “oversight,” more interference from government agencies, more paperwork for business, less business creation, fewer jobs, fewer opportunities. It will be friendlier to unions, more protectionist, and will require higher taxes from corporations (who then will simply pass the tax bill on to us, their customers). But government won’t run the economy. And calling Obama a “socialist” simply ignores all of the above and substitutes irrationalism (or ignorance) for the reality of what an Obama presidency actually represents; a lurch to the left that will be detrimental to the economy, bad for business, but basically allow market forces to continue to dominate our economy.

Moran makes one mistake. He equates socialism with socialism on the communist plan. He forgets the fascist plan, which is what America is on. In the fascist plan of socialism, the means of production is left in the nominal ownership of private individuals. All government does is regulate it, along with all the other things Moran says Obama will do above.

The fascist plan is attractive to American politicians because it is deceptive. They can get away with dictating the economy without actually seizing ownership. Moreover, they avoid responsibility and blame when things go wrong -- as they are doing in the current crisis, which was caused by government intervention, but is blamed on deregulation. When things go bad, socialists on the fascist plan depend on pragmatists like Moran to assure the "extremists" that everything is fine and all we're in for is a little more regulation. We can live with a little more regulation, right?

Ultimately, the mixed economy is unstable. Government intervention creates crises which lead to greater government intervention, which creates new crises which lead to further government intervention until the economy is controlled by the government in a de facto, if not de jure dictatorship.

As the welfare state grows, we become more and more accustomed to the loss of liberty. A man 100 years ago would certainly think the level of government intervention in the economy today is dictatorship. Benjamin Franklin said, "It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part." Things have changed since the Enlightenment. We would now perceive a government that only taxed 10% of wages as almost laissez-faire.

As a piece in the UK's Telegraph, pointed out by Harry Binswanger on HBL, writes,

The maxim of the American writer and philosopher Ayn Rand came close to fulfilment before the denouement of Old Labour on May 3 1979: that the difference between a welfare state and a totalitarian state is a matter of time.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

On the Debate I Did Not Watch

I missed the debate last night. The Lakers had their first pre-season game. I'd rather watch the Lakers play a meaningless game than watch two idiots argue over how they plan to spend the money I make.

The Lakers look good. Their 20-year old center Andrew Bynum nailed his first three shots, several of which were 10-foot jump shots; he's not just a dunker like Shaq. Bynum is being tutored by the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and it shows.

But you don't come to this blog to read about sports.

Reaction to the debate on the right ranges from not enough to change things to disaster.

Not only does McCain approve of the bailout, but he wants to expand it by $300 billion! On a purely political level, setting aside whether or not bigger government is a good idea, this strikes me as a loser. It's not the way a Republican wins an election. Those who think bigger government is a good idea will vote for the Democrat. The rest will vote for McCain for other reasons, hoping he doesn't go too far in the pursuit of socialism. Some Republicans who might have voted for McCain will be demoralized by his socialism and stay home on November 4th.

I'm beginning to wonder if McCain believed his PR a bit too much during all those years when he was the media's pet Republican. He concluded that the way to success is to oppose the Republican base and court independents. This is looking like a loser strategy. October 8, 2008 is a hell of a time to figure this out. It might be too late for McCain to give himself up completely to his conservative advisers and follow Sarah Palin's lead to the White House.

I predict that if McCain loses in November he will instantly become the MSM's favorite Republican again. But he will also become the Republican most reviled by the right. Conservatives had to swallow a lot to support McCain. They did it because they want power. If McCain can't deliver power, he is useless. If a lot of Republicans are like me, they will want McCain to go away and never be heard from again.

UPDATE: Boortz complains about McCain's performance in last night's debate:

So many lost opportunities last night ... how in the world does someone light
a fire under this guy? There's not all that much time left.

It's too late. McCain is who he is -- and that is someone who is ignorant and contemptuous of free market economics. We are now seeing why he never should have won the nomination. It is not just that he is wrong, but he can't win. Statist Republicans can't beat Democrats at their own game.

Around the World Wide Web 79

I understand it is against military policy for our troops to call the enemy insensitive names such as camel jockey.

Imagine a Marine fighting in intense, hand to hand combat. He screams, "Die, you raghead son of a bitch!" Is this Marine now subject to military discipline because in the process of killing the enemy he called him a bad name?

And I ask again, is this any way seriously to fight a war?

1. Bernard Chapin has an excellent look at Obama's smear tactics.

Barack Obama’s tactics are totalitarian and un-American. They illustrate that, while we should reject him for a thousand reasons this November, none is more convincing than the palpable contempt he has shown for free speech.

Indeed, free speech is our most valuable right, if rights can be more valuable than one another. Spreading reason is our only chance of changing this culture, which is marching in ignorance toward the abyss of socialism. We desperately need to maintain free speech or all is lost. This is one area in which, so far, the left is clearly worse than the right.

2. The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights has set up a web page regarding the economic crisis.

3. Obama's plans to destroy freedom in America.

4. McCain is said to be grumpy about having to attack a Democrat.

After his first debate with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), both spectators in the hall and commentators on TV noted that McCain had deliberately avoided looking at his rival.

A close McCain friend said the reason is clear: McCain is miserable about having to run a campaign that’s antithetical to his persona.

“He is basically having to be somebody that he isn’t,” said the friend, who remains strongly supportive. “He is just not a guy that goes on the attack in public. For him to be on the attack constantly, attacking Obama’s character … McCain is uncomfortable with that, and it’s made him grumpy.”

How sad that Senator McCain is inconvenienced in this election, and must attack his ideological soulmate, a Democrat.

We should not be surprised by this. McCain achieved prominence by attacking Republicans and allying with Democrats. This is how he became the MSM's favorite Republican.

If McCain goes on to lose, it will be because, in a contest between a Democrat and a me too Republican, voters went with the more consistent Democrat.

5. Bolivia is on the brink of crisis.

Bolivia is synonymous with political and social strife. Long known for its deep social inequities and political turmoil, this country of 9 million people has increasingly been divided geographically, economically, and even culturally. Two groups now fight for control of the state: those in the lowlands, mostly capitalist mestizos (people of mixed European ancestry) who support globalization and benefit from Brazil's booming economy, versus the indigenous groups in the Andes, the anti-American Aymara and Quechua, who prefer state control of the economy.

This reminds me that if Obama is elected, every anti-American force in the world will think, "Now is the time to test America's strength."

6. Who is Obama? I have struggled with this question on this blog. I find it astonishing that on October 8, 2008, we still do not know. The man is a cipher. The big question: is he hiding radical leftist, anti-American plans?

A.M. Siriano asks the question the MSM are afraid to ask: What if Obama doesn't have America's best interest at heart?

We don't know the answer to that question. This is not hysteria or fear-mongering, but a rational question raised from what little we do know about Obama. He said he admired his father; the man turns out have been a hardline communist. He spends 20 years listening to a radical, anti-American preacher, then lies about it. He forges an alliance with an anti-American terrorist, then lies about it. When speaking to his fellow leftists in San Francisco he reveals a condescending, materialist view of Americans turning to God and guns because of economic hardship.

Who is Obama?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Ignorance of History

I was watching TV once with a young woman in her 20's. The show, on the History Channel, I think, mentioned the war in the Pacific in WWII. The girl asked me who won the war in the Pacific.

How does an American reach voting age still so ignorant of American history as not to know who won WWII?

Here are other examples of American ignorance of history.

When the state runs schools, its primary goal is not education but indoctrination. The communists wanted to create citizens loyal to communism. The Nazis wanted to create little Nazis. In America, the New Leftist welfare state wants to create New Leftist welfare statists.

Knowledge of American history does not advance the New Left's goal. In fact, knowledge of America's individualist heritage and history of freedom can only get in the way of their goal of creating little statists.

Moreover, a citizenry that is educated at all, not just in history, is not in the interest of the teachers unions and government run schools. Intelligent, independent thinkers might question the premise of socialized education. Why would teachers whose jobs and pensions are dependent on the perpetuation of the current system want to create independent thinkers who might take it all away from them? Better to create Americans who can be lied to and controlled. An ignorant populace is an obedient populace. Obedience is the ultimate goal of state indoctrination.

Americans will continue to be dumbed down as long as that is in the interest of those in charge of young minds.

Is It Over?

Robert Stacy McCain argues that the presidential race is over.

John McCain lost the election Sept. 24 and Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. Nothing that is likely to happen between now and Nov. 4 can change this outcome.

Since Sept. 24, polls have increasingly pointed toward a Democratic landslide. Obama not only has an outside-the-margin advantage in nearly every national poll, but leads strongly in enough battleground states that if the election were held today, the Electoral College vote would be 353 for the Democrat, 185 for the Republican. Even Karl Rove's electoral map now shows Obama winning.

R.C. McCain blames the bailout bill. McCain took a leadership role in passing a bill that most Americans did not like. In doing so he sided with Bush and cemented the impression Obama has been trying to sell that a McCain presidency would be Bush's third term.

If this argument is true, then there is some poetic justice to McCain losing because of his economic ignorance. This is precisely why he should lose. What kind of Republican can't even muster an attack against the Democrats for causing the mortgage crisis with their social engineering of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? The irony is that McCain will lose because he is too much of a liberal on economics. This is a lesson Republicans would do well to learn.

But there is also an exasperating side to all this. Why should Obama benefit? Do voters think Obama understands economics any more than McCain? Don't they know that he represents more of the big government policies that created the mess we're in?

It becomes theatre of the absurd when you consider what Obama did during the bailout. He did what always does: nothing. The guy is like the Peter Sellers character in Being There.

Apparently, being the emptiest suit is the path to victory in 2008. When you take a bold stand, you can get blamed for it when things go wrong. When you do nothing and remain a "blank screen" for voters to project their ideals upon, you can ride their fantasies all the way to the White House.

I am worried most right now about Obama's coattails. More important than the presidential vote this year is the Senate and House vote. We must elect Republicans in the legislative branch to oppose Obama. If Obama gets 60 Democrats in the Senate and more Democrats in the House, and the MSM inform us that the age of Reagan is over and that Obama has a mandate for socialism... watch out. I would say the sky's the limit for Obama, but he will be taking us down, not up. Hell's the limit.

UPDATE: I see that yesterday McCain did begin attacking Obama about the mortgage crisis. It's a good line of attack, if it does come a week late. By the way, with all the crazy twists and surprises we've seen this election year, it might be too soon to call this race over.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Premise of Power and the Power of Premises

I chatted with a liberal Democrat today. She denounced Sarah Palin as an idiot. Like a parrot she recited the impression of Palin the MSM have been working overtime to convey to voters. Palin is stupid, dangerous and unworthy of power.

And Obama and Biden are what? Geniuses?

Democrats never think Democrats are stupid or inferior. Democrats can smell the aura of power lust in their fellow party members, and this aroma -- an intoxicating blend to the left -- gives their side legitimacy and weight. If a politician has nothing else but the will to power, he has enough for the left. To want to control others -- to deprive them of their freedom and dictate how they should live their lives -- is the be all and the end all of leftist politics. It is their moral and political ideal.

Democrats can sense that Sarah Palin is not consumed with power lust. She is a typical middle class American, with values outside the quest for power that are as important to her as her political career. To the left she should be among the ruled, not the rulers; among the cattle, not the cowboys. Their outrage at her is like that of a slavemaster in the ante-bellum South toward a slave who wants to learn to read. This one is uppity. This one must be put back in her place.

This year we have seen the premise of power intensify on the left. For the first time, a major party candidate has taken on elements of a cult of personality usually seen in communist countries. Children sing mawkish songs praising the great Obama. Obama has used legal threats and intimidation to shut up those who would speak against him. The MSM act like Pravda in the old Soviet Union, self-censoring any news that makes their glorious leader look bad. On top of all this, the financial crisis has led to greater government intervention in the economy. Things are changing quickly for the worse in America.

Most people, I would submit, do not understand how bad things will get or how quickly we can lose our freedom. Many Americans, especially pragmatists, have a hard time understanding that principles tend to work for those who act most consistently by them. Philosophic premises follow logic to its extreme end, despite the denunciation of extremism by moderates.

Perhaps the greatest example of the logical working out of premises in history is the struggle between Augustine and Pelagius that climaxed at the Council of Orange in 529 a.d. Wikipedia explains:

Pelagianism is a theological theory named after Pelagius (ad. 354 – ad. 420/440). It is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature (which God called very good), and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid. Thus, Adam's sin was "to set a bad example" for his progeny, but his actions did not have the other consequences imputed to Original Sin. Pelagianism views the role of Jesus as "setting a good example" for the rest of humanity (thus counteracting Adam's bad example). In short, humanity has full control, and thus full responsibility, for its own salvation in addition to full responsibility for every sin (the latter insisted upon by both proponents and opponents of Pelagianism). According to Pelagian doctrine, because humanity does not require God's grace for salvation (beyond the creation of will),[1] Jesus' execution is devoid of the redemptive quality ascribed to it by orthodox Christian theology.


Pelagianism was opposed by Augustine of Hippo, who taught that a person's salvation comes solely through a free gift, the efficacious grace of God, and that no person could save himself by his works.

It would have been much better for Christianity and the west if Pelagianism had held sway and man had not been condemned with Original Sin. But the logic of Christianity's premises made Augustine's victory inevitable. Man was stripped of nobility and considered a worm, a helpless wretch entirely dependent on the grace of God for salvation. Life on Earth was belittled as an illusion; this was a place where one could be tempted by Satan. Augustine denounced science as "the lust of the eyes." This was the philosophic death blow to classical civilization.

The triumph of Augustinism resulted in the Dark Ages. Though the empiricist-minded love to cite 20 or 30 reasons that might have contributed to the Dark Ages, from weather patterns to barbaric migrations, those factors always existed. They had the power to devastate civilization in the 6th-10th centuries because the west was disarmed by philosophy. People were not taught to look at reality scientifically in order to find solutions that would improve human existence. What was the point? This world was an illusion. Only life after death had any meaning.

Doubtless, there were many upper class Romans in the fourth and fifth centuries who scoffed at the idea that Christians would take things to extremes. How could anyone without a suicidal death wish want to destroy their glorious classical civilization? Why would they let their institutions, their cosmopolitanism, their learning and their rule of law slip away and be forgotten? Rational people don't do such things.

And yet it happened. It had to happen because people would rather be moral than practical. In a conflict between the moral and the practical, people go with their morality. (A proper morality does not conflict with practicality, but the west does not follow a proper morality.) The premises of Christianity are at war with happy, productive life on Earth. Christians followed their premises into darkness and chaos.

Today the premises of altruism, statism and collectivism are leading America toward a fascist dictatorship. The left is more consistent with these premises and more committed to following them to their logical end. And that end -- make no mistake about it -- is totalitarian dictatorship. Many will scoff at this as those Roman patricians did, but we have already caught a glimpse this year in that list of trends noted above where the logical working out of our premises is taking us.

The lust for power is greatest on the left, but the right is catching up. The right is declining rapidly as it forgets its heritage of half-hearted mumblings about free markets and becomes a full-throated welfare state party. In the long run the right is more dangerous than the nihilist left because it brings with it that great destroyer of civilization, religion. People cannot live long with nihilism; they can, however, accept the destruction of values on Earth if they think they will be rewarded for eternity after death. Religionists will make hell on Earth for the promise of heaven in a supernatural realm.

Altruism, the idea that only sacrifice is moral, is a morality of death. It is opposed to the Enlightenment values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The premise of altruism is leading America toward the abyss. Our only hope is to change our philosophic premises.

For those who yearn for good news, I will say this: we are much better off than the west was in the 6th century a.d., for now we are philosophically armed. Now we have a defense of the morality of rational self-interest, the epistemology of reason and the metaphysics of reality. We have the philosophy of Ayn Rand. It's just a matter of spreading the news.

Until then, things will continue to get worse. Before this year I thought we had plenty of time to get the word out. Now I'm not so sure.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

An American Carol

I went to see An American Carol. It has some novelty value as a right-wing movie made by Hollywood. As Dr. Johnson said of a dog walking on two legs, the wonder is not that he does it well, but that he does it at all. Aside from the interest of watching a right-wing movie, which gets old pretty fast, the film has little of worth. Like most movies, it is idiotic and tedious.

I was the only patron in the theater at a 10:15pm screening on Friday night. I got up during the second half and stood for awhile to keep myself awake. I don't expect this movie to do much at the box office. (BTW, the ticket, a bottle of water, small popcorn and candy cost me $22. For a family of five we're talking $100. I would guess that's why they make DVD stores.)

Hollywood can make stupid left-wing movies, and now it has proved it can make stupid right-wing movies. Mostly it makes just stupid movies that don't aspire to any ideology. When Hollywood makes good, intelligent movies, I'll be impressed.

On the way home I heard "Since I've Been Loving You," by Led Zeppelin on the radio. What a great song. Both Page and Plant are at the top of their game on that recording. Page's guitar work is amazing.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Vice-President Debate

Man, that was boring.

The big question, of course, was how Sarah Palin would do. Would she be the bad bullshitter she was in recent interviews? Would she be the drooling moron the Kossacks so desperately want to smear her as?

She was poised, intelligent and confident. She passed the test easily. She also has a winning personality and charisma most politicians would sell their soul to have. Charisma has always been the CW about the Democrats' idol, President Kennedy. If the MSM were not functioning as the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party, the word charisma would be mentioned in every lead paragraph of every story written about Sarah Palin. Since she is a Republican, the story they tell instead is one of a stupid, unprepared woman. Americans saw tonight that the MSM's story has little to do with reality.

This is not to say Palin does not have a serious problem in that she has never been terribly interested in national issues and is not informed. When Couric asked her what Supreme Court decisions she disagreed with, she couldn't even come up with Kelo. This is a woman who has been far away in the arctic circle not paying a lot of attention to American politics.

Facts can be learned fairly fast, though. Can Obama ever learn the values of freedom and individualism? Can Obama unlearn a lifetime of being surrounded by anti-American radicals? I'm a lot more worried about the premises Obama brings to the White House (and his strange, nebulous character) than I am about Palin's preparedness to serve in the Oval Office if McCain should die as President.

Most of the debate can be dismissed as welfare state BS. Both Palin and Biden speak in platitudes designed to offend as few voters as possible. Obama talks about change and McCain talks about reform, but whoever gets elected will give us bigger government and business as usual.

Palin's biggest failing was to agree with her running mate -- something Vice-Presidents pretty much have to do -- that the problem on Wall Street is greed. Those darned financiers just wanted to make too much money, and somehow that created the current crisis. So Palin is rather stupid -- not in the way the Democrats think, but because she talks like a Democrat.

At one point, and I can't find a transcript of the debate to copy and paste from, Biden accused McCain of supporting deregulation. I believe Palin denied it. Deregulation did not cause the economic crisis; it is what we need to solve the problem and get the economy moving again. But on deregulation McCain/Palin side with the socialists. In their deep ignorance they have chosen to side with power over liberty, with darkness over light. History will not be kind to them.