Monday, April 17, 2006

Completely slipped my mind...

...but last friday, April 14, marked my Two Year Anniversary as a blogger!

Thanks to all my readers and friends who visit. This is a great venue and one I hope is left free to operate without government oversight.

OK, now I really am outta here!

Sunday, April 16, 2006


I'm headed on vacation early this week and probably won't even get online, let alone post here. Be back on or around May 1.

See ya!

Monday, April 10, 2006

A new breed of paternalists is seeking to promote virtue and wisdom by default. Be wary.

The latest issue of The Economist has, as its cover story, The 'Soft Paternalism' of the state. Those who want to oversee our health and virtue!
Here's an excerpt:

But a new breed of policy wonk is having second thoughts. On some of the biggest decisions in their lives, people succumb to inertia, ignorance or irresolution. Their private failings—obesity, smoking, boozing, profligacy—are now big political questions. And the wonks think they have an ingenious new answer—a guiding but not illiberal state.

What they propose is “soft paternalism” (see article). Thanks to years of patient observation of people's behaviour, they have come to understand your weaknesses and blindspots better than you might know them yourself. Now they hope to turn them to your advantage. They are paternalists, because they want to help you make the choices you would make for yourself—if only you had the strength of will and the sharpness of mind. But unlike “hard” paternalists, who ban some things and mandate others, the softer kind aim only to skew your decisions, without infringing greatly on your freedom of choice. Technocrats, itching to perfect society, find it irresistible. What should the supposed beneficiaries think?

The Link:

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Islamist Challenge to the U.S. Constitution

From the Middle East Quarterly:

The Islamist Challenge to the U.S. Constitution
by David Kennedy Houck


The Internal Muslim Enclave

The internal Muslim enclave proposed by the Islamic Center for Human Excellence in Arkansas represents a new direction for Islam in the United States. The group seeks to transform a loosely organized Muslim population into a tangible community presence. The group has foreign financial support: it falls under the umbrella of a much larger Islamic group, "Islam 4 the World," an organization sponsored by Sharjah, one of the constituent emirates of the United Arab Emirates.[5] While the Islamic Center for Human Excellence has yet to articulate detailed plans for its Little Rock enclave, the group's reliance on foreign funding is troublesome. Past investments by the United Arab Emirates' rulers and institutions have promoted radical interpretations of Islam. [6]

The Islamic Center for Human Excellence may seek to segregate schools and offices by gender. The enclave might also exercise broad control upon commerce within its boundaries—provided the economic restrictions did not discriminate against out-of-state interests or create an undue burden upon interstate commerce. But most critically, the enclave could promulgate every internal law—from enforcing strict religious dress codes to banning alcohol possession and music; it could even enforce limits upon religious and political tolerance. Although such concepts are antithetical to a free society, U.S. democracy allows the internal enclave to function beyond the established boundaries of our constitutional framework. At the very least, the permissible parameters of an Islamist enclave are ill defined.

The greater American Muslim community's unapologetic and public manifestation of belief in a separate but equal ideology does not bode well. In September 2004, the New Jersey branch of the Islamic Circle of North America rented Six Flags Adventure Park in New Jersey for "The Great Muslim Adventure Day." The advertisement announcing the event stated: "The entire park for Muslims only." While legal—and perhaps analogous to corporate or other non-religious groups renting facilities, the advertisement expressly implied a mindset that a proof of faith was required for admission to the park. In his weblog, commentator Daniel Pipes raises a relevant and troubling question about the event: because it is designated for Muslims only, "Need one recite the shahada to enter the fairgrounds?"[7]

Here's the link to the full article:

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Happenstance II

Dateline Sunday April 2, 2006 3:50pm EST.

Went to Barnes and Noble to buy a couple of books for a friend that I thought I'd lost contact with, who recently sent me a letter, and that's a good thing. [A four year absence].
While at the bookstore, I just happened to be in the aisle that Rand's books were opposite where I was looking, when a tall drink of blonde fox stepped in the aisle as the clerk showed her where Miss Rand's books were. I didn't catch it till I turned around and she had the trade edition paperback of The Fountainhead in her hand and was speaking to her mother about it. I waited for a break and said, "that's a great novel. You won't regret reading it". She smiled and continued looking thought it and talking to her mom about it. As they read the back cover,her mom cooed about 'the romantic angle'. As they left with book in hand, she turned back to me and I said, "Good luck with it" and smiled. She smiled and went on her way.

Just another day in the life...

I'm thinking about changing my name to Rand's Babe Magnet. Whaddya think? Heh.

Hooray for me! ;-)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

ARI: The Fear To Speak Comes To America's Shores

Europeans are all too well acquainted with the fear of criticizing Islam.

To cite just a few of depressingly many examples: a painter, Rashid Ben Ali, is forced into hiding after one of his shows "featured satirical work critical of Islamic militant's violence"; a politician, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, must go underground after it becomes known that she has renounced her Islamic faith; and a film director, Theo van Gogh, is savagely stabbed to death for making a film critical of Islamic oppression of women. And most recently, of course, there were the Danish cartoons. When the Jyllands-Posten, in order to expose and challenge this climate of intimidation, printed an article and accompanying cartoons, some of which portrayed Mohammed in a negative light, the response was torched embassies, cries for government censorship, and death threats.

It appears that we should now begin to get used to a similar climate in America.

Borders and Waldenbooks stores have just announced that they will not stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because the issue reprints some of the cartoons. Is the decision based on disagreement with the content of the magazine? No, not according to Borders Group Inc. spokeswoman Beth Bingham. "For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority."

Borders Group's capitulation to Islamic thugs is understandable given the pathetic response of our and other Western governments.

Has any Western government declared that an individual's freedom of speech is sacrosanct, no matter who screams offense at his ideas? No. Has any Western government proclaimed each individual's right to life and pledged to hunt down anyone, anywhere, who abets the murder of one of its citizens for having had the effrontery to speak? No--as they did not when the fatwa against Rushdie was issued, American bookstores were firebombed, and Rushdie's translators were attacked and murdered.

On the contrary, our government went out of its way to say that it shares "the offence that Muslims have taken at these images," and even hinted that they should not be published. The British police, Douglas Murray reports, told the editor of a London magazine that they could not protect him, his staff, or his offices from attack--so the magazine removed the cartoons from its website. (A few days later, Murray notes, "the police provided 500 officers to protect a 'peaceful' Muslim protest in Trafalgar Square.")

In the face of such outrages, we must demand that the U.S. government reverse its disgraceful stand and fulfill is obligation to protect our right to free speech.

Freedom of speech means the right to express one's ideas without danger of physical coercion from anyone. This freedom includes the right to make movies, write books, draw pictures, voice political opinions--and satirize religion. This right flows from the right to think: the right to observe, to follow the evidence, to reach the conclusions you judge the facts warrant--and then to convey your thoughts to others.

In a free society, anyone angered by someone else's ideas has a simple and powerful recourse: don't buy his books, watch his movies, or read his newspapers. If one judges his ideas dangerous, argue against them. The purveyor of evil ideas is no threat to those who remain free to counter them with rational ones.

But the moment someone decides to answer those he finds offensive with a knife or a homemade explosive, not an argument, he removes himself from civilized society.

Against such a threat to our rights, our government must respond with force. If it fails to do so, it fails to fulfill its reason for being: "to secure these rights," Jefferson wrote, "Governments are instituted among Men." And if it fails to do so, we the people must hold it to account.

We must vociferously demand that our government declare publicly that, from this day forward, it will defend by force any American who receives death threats for criticizing Islam--or religion--or any other idea. We must demand that the government protect the stores and employees of Borders, of Waldenbooks, and of any other organization that reprints the cartoons.

We must demand this, because nothing less will prevent America's climate of freedom from disintegrating into Europe's climate of fear.

Copyright © 2006 Ayn Rand® Institute. All rights reserved.

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