Monday, December 25, 2006

Moral Values Without Religion

I had to take time out of my holiday celebrations to celebrate this great editorial by Peter Schwartz. Found at Capitalism Magazine.

Moral Values Without Religion
by Peter Schwartz (December 25, 2006)

Does morality depend upon religion? Most people believe it does, which is a major reason behind the appeal of the religious right. People believe that without faith in a supernatural authority, we can have no moral values--no moral absolutes, no black-and-white distinctions, no firm demarcation between good and evil--in life or in politics. This is the assumption underlying Justice Antonin Scalia's assertion that "government derives its authority from God," since only religious faith can supposedly provide moral constraints on human action.

There is indeed morality without religion--a morality, not of dogmatic commands, but of rational values and of unbreached respect for the life of the individual.

Full editorial found here:

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I'm gonna lay low till after the new year.

My best thoughts to all fellow bloggers and to my readers for a great Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Back in Action

I don't know if other bloggers have noticed and already commented on it, but Ian of Banana Oil fame, is back to blogging from China. He seemed to have dissapeared for a few months and he isn't discussing what happened, but he's back!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Conservative Hack Criticizes Article in The Objective Standard

Orrin Judd of The Brothers Judd, attacks Objectivism, Rand and Brad Thompson's article.

Nick Provenzo @ The Rule of Reason responds to criticism of the essay, The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism, by Brad Thompson.
Read it here:

I also must add my two cents worth of criticism toward the Brothers Judd.

Citing, in his comments, that 8 or 9 of 10 Americans believe in God, is not proof that the supernatural exists. Neither sheer numbers, nor one's belief, should be the standard of proof on a subject so important to everyone. It is merely the product of a sloppy mental process, or more accurately, of 'feeling' that something is true.

Man's reasoning mind, studying the nature of reality, of existence, is the proof I seek.

Be sure to follow the links that Nick's article provides, to get both 'sides'.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The folly and deceptiveness of Gun-Control

A great article found at The American Daily [HT:Classical Values]

Excerpted here, but read the whole thing at:

There's No Such Thing As Sensible Gun Laws
By John Longenecker (12/02/06)

First of all, very first of all, when it comes to guns, there is no governing to be, with the exception of protection of the Bill of Rights. Since the right to bear arms is absolute, there is no governing over it. There can be only protection; you protect the rights of the people on that and that is your oath. Simple. Anything else is an attack.

Refusal to understand this not only reflects a poor understanding of the law and practical values in America, but reveals a hidden agenda to overthrow us all. All of us, not just those who support rights, but all of us. That would include Mr. Helmke, himself, unless he wishes to own a gun secretly.

In fact, if any anti-gun activist owns positively any sort of weapon in the home for self-defense And I don't care if it is a baseball bat! - he/she supports self-defense and the use of up to lethal force. Or, don't they realize what they are saying and doing? Most anti-gun nuts do in fact own weapons. Right, Rosie? N'cest pa, Dianne?

Monday, November 20, 2006



Another of our small group of Objectivists here in Connecticut has discovered blogging. I encourage you to scroll down my blogroll and find his blog. Give it a whirl. His positive outlook is contagious and his most recent post on Thanksgiving is inspiring.

Congratulations Dennis!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

#1 BABY!

Yesterday's victory over a fine Michigan team cemented Ohio State's status as #1 in the land.



Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Director General: MI5

On November 9th, DAME ELIZA MANNINGHAM-BULLER, gave a speech to the British nation [one assumes] and had some startling things to say. I post the "highlights" of this, with a link to the entire speech at the end.

" I have been Director General of the Security Service (MI5) since 2002. Before that I was Deputy Director General for five years. During that time, and before, I have witnessed a steady increase in the terrorist threat to the UK. It has been the subject of much comment and controversy. I rarely speak in public. I prefer to avoid the limelight and get on with my job. But today, I want to set out my views on the realities of the terrorist threat facing the UK in 2006; what motivates those who pose that threat; and what my Service is doing, with others, to counter it."

"Five years on from 9/11, where are we? Speaking in August, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, the head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch of the Metropolitan Police, described the threat to the UK from Al-Qaida-related terrorism as "real, here, deadly and enduring". Only last week the Home Secretary said the threat will be "enduring - the struggle will be long and wide and deep." Let me describe more fully why I think they said that."

" What I can say is that today, my officers and the police are working to contend with some 200 groupings or networks, totalling over 1600 identified individuals (and there will be many we don't know) who are actively engaged in plotting, or facilitating, terrorist acts here and overseas. The extremists are motivated by a sense of grievance and injustice driven by their interpretation of the history between the West and the Muslim world. This view is shared, in some degree, by a far wider constituency. If the opinion polls conducted in the UK since July 2005 are only broadly accurate, over 100,000 of our citizens consider that the July 2005 attacks in London were justified."



Friday, November 10, 2006

Dr Hurd on Whores

"Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us. "

--P. J. O'Rourke

Speak for yourself, P.J.!

Regrettably, he has a point -- in terms of government as we know it. The United States was formed, originally, to above all protect the rights of the individual. Today, the individual is sacrificed in the political warfare of competing pressure groups. Some pressure groups want money. They go after the most productive, through taxes. Other pressure groups want your mind, or what they call your "soul." They go after you by attempting to impose rules of personal behavior on you that they fail to practice themselves.

There's a solution to all of this, and it's neither liberalism nor conservatism; neither Democrats nor Republicans.

The solution is freedom. The implementation of freedom implies the right of the individual to be free from the coercion of groups of individuals ... including the pressure groups who now comprise the United States government.

Yet that's not how it works anymore. Our "Republicrats" are whores, only much worse than a whore. An actual prostitute doesn't take your money (or your soul) at gunpoint. Politicians do.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Noumenal Self

...discusses his thoughts on Tuesday's election, with a promise of more to come.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A New Book on Fourth Generation Warfare

I do not agree with this author's basic premise, that the West [America] can't defeat terrorism, but he offers interesting arguments on other factors. I only here publish the synopsis of the book as food for thought.

Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization
John Robb
ISBN: 0-471-78079-0


Terrorism has become global, and incredibly complex, because it exists inside a social and economic system that's become global and complex. Globalization, unfortunately, has planted the seeds of its own destruction. Every new technology for improving the world system, is also a tool for undoing it. The question John Robb is most concerned about boils down to: will terrorism, in the end, be able to destroy the current system? The tragedy of 9/11 represents the pinnacle--and finale--of terrorism the old way. The goal was to inflict psychic damage, and nothing will ever top that--but they don't need to. Most forward thinking military strategists understand that we've entered the age of "fourth generation warfare." The first three "generations" of strategy revolved around the best way for one state's large army to inflict massive casualties on the other state's army. Political scientists are moving away from state against state thinking, to thinking about non-state actors. Our enemies are now much smaller than that: small, ad-hoc bands of like-minded insurgents, organized less like bees in a hive than like the millions of users for Wikipedia, each with its own competing, but complementary agenda.

As Brave New War explains, system disruption lies at the heart of the agenda. Instead of symbolic, or deadly attacks, we should be on the lookout for economically devastating attacks. Our enemy will be looking for gaps in the system where a small, cheap action--say, on an oil pipeline--will generate a tremendous return. It may not even make the evening news, except as a report on spiraling gas prices. Because of the open source nature of the enemy, they don't all need to be smart. In fact, none of them need to be smart. They'll just keep trying random acts until one really works, and then they'll all copy it. That doesn't take genius, just flexibility. Is this all just theoretical? No, it's exactly what we're seeing in Iraq, as their IEDs improve, their targeting abilities expand, and their networks become more invisible. But isn't Iraq sui generis? Hardly. From Nigeria to Saudi Arabia to Chechnya and beyond, it's spreading. Right now, the West is not prepared for it, and worse, we never can be truly prepared. No one can predict what the next catastrophic attack will be, because even now it's beyond the imagining of those who will perpetrate it.

What's the solution? What Robb refers to as deep resilience. We need to make our economic and communication systems more decentralized. If we can't stop an attack in advance, we can mitigate it. Right now, we've left ourselves too open to attack, with all our resources too concentrated. A simple, successful attack in Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, or New York could shut down the world's oil, high-tech, or financial markets, costing millions. We have too few energy sources, too few shipping routes, too few companies making the components for all the things we need. Until Americans start seeing the world as John Robb does, we'll spend all our resources preventing the last attack, rather than the next one.

Friday, October 27, 2006

New Streaming Videos from The Ayn Rand Institute

[Hat tip: Principles in Practice]

1] Quick registration required @ ARI

2] Permalink:

ALSO: A belated Happy Birtday to gus van horn, who's [whose?] blog turned two recently! [You can tell I just got up a bit ago. Brain isn't in gear yet;-)]

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Is it a Miracle? ;-)

My 85 year old mother-in-law is reading 'Atlas Shrugged' for the first time. She and I have had more than a few conversations about relgion and morality, so I view this as a great event.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

New Banner!

While cruising the blogsphere, I noticed The Objective Standard offers bloggers a banner to place on their site. I have done so. Scroll down to the bottom of the left column and check it out. Cool.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Poem--for the ages??

Andy Clarkson wrote this himself. My thanks to The Charlotte Capitalist.

I Live Here On Earth and Worship The Mind

I flew to Paris to see Aga Khan
And his beautiful carpets from Somewhere-a-stan
We sipped tea with our pinkies out
I asked him if he ever had a doubt
About the source of all his splendor
He replied, "Never mind that. When will the West surrender?
Come join us my friend and do as we do
And I can offer you a virgin or seventy-two"

Hey Aga, thanks for the chat
But, sorry sir, that's not where I'm at
You don't fool me and I am not blind
I live here on Earth and can use my mind

I then took the train to Rome to see the Pope
To understand all his talk of faith and hope
We spoke quietly in The Holy See
I asked him what I should do about me
And if I fit into The City of God
He replied reverently with a gentle nod
"Come join us my son into the realm of passivity
And I can offer you blessed eternity"

Hey, Your Holiness, thanks for the chat
But, sorry sir, that's not where I'm at
You don't fool me and I am not blind
I live here on Earth and can use my mind

Well as fast as I could, I blew out of Rome
Went to pay a visit to ancient Noam
We sat in his office at MIT
I asked him if we would ever be free
And if he could help clear up all this confusion
He replied, "Don't worry, its all just an illusion.
Come join us my brother into the world of skepticism
And stay away from the certainty of Objectivism"

Hey, professor, thanks for the chat
But, sorry sir, that's not where I'm at
You don't fool me and I am not blind
I live here on Earth and can use my mind

Copyright 2006 Andy Clarkson. All rights reserved.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Battle of Our Era

by Harry Binswanger [Hat Tip: Capitalism Magazine]


Whether the enemy bombs the World Trade Center, abortion clinics, logging equipment, or medical research labs, the target is the same: reason--the use of reason to produce material values.

Hostility to global trade, to nuclear power, to DDT, to "urban sprawl," to Wal-Mart--it all comes from the same root and has the same meaning: antagonism towards man's life as a rational animal. Reason is man's basic means of survival. The life- giving power of reason is sensed by those who rail against the technological-industrial achievements of the West and particularly of America. Whether environmentalist or Islamist, they cannot abide the success of America. It stands as an unbearable reproach. It's America or their own irrational way of functioning, which they would rather blow themselves up than challenge and change.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Good News

Amazon emailed me today and told me that 'The Fountainhead' is now available on DVD. At $14.99 I hope it is quality merchandise.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Movie recommendation

'Finding Home' is a film set in Maine. Beautiful Maine. A state I've come to admire for its scenic and glorious waterways and mountain vista's.
A young woman who works in New York City, is estranged from her grandmother [Louise Fletcher] because of her mother's interfering ways, is called to her funeral and discovers she is left with the Inn her grandmother's family owned and ran for decades. The story unfolds of her 'finding home' and discovering, or rather rediscovering, a life she loved as a child but was torn from by her mother.
I give it four out of five stars.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

October's reading...

Fiction: The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson. This is the first story in the 'Repairman Jack' series.

Non-Fiction: The Objective Standard. Volume 1 # 3

Monday, September 25, 2006

In Our Self-Interest: America Must Decide on Immigration

Legalize The American Dream: Immigration is in America's Self-Interest
by Rebecca Knapp


The arguments can be confusing. Anti-immigration groups ask us to consider our self-interest as Americans, claiming that illegal immigrants are stealing jobs and benefits from citizens. Pro-immigration groups, by default, concede the question of self-interest to their opponents. They ask Americans to consider the broken homes deported immigrants leave behind and the tragedy of those who die crossing the desert from Mexico. So which is it? Should we protect our jobs and our taxes, or be moved by the plight of those who seek refuge while we allow our country to be overrun?

It’s a trick question.

In one respect, the anti-immigration groups are correct: Americans should consider their self-interest when deciding where they stand on immigration. But they are wrong that illegal immigrants are a drain or a scourge. Immigrants, illegal or otherwise, are a boon to the United States.

Consider the arguments to the contrary. The claim that illegal immigrants hurt the economy boils down to two allegations. The first is that immigrants steal jobs from Americans. The second is that they suck up welfare or benefits without paying enough taxes to cover themselves.

It is true that immigrants work when they get to America. They get jobs as soon as they can, and yes, they’re willing to work cheaply. But they don’t steal jobs. If you’re paying the teenager who baby-sits your children $15 an hour, and the girl across the street comes along and says, “I’ll do it for $10,” has the new girl stolen anything when you hire her? Of course not. It’s your money. You have no obligation to pay a higher price, if you can get the labor for a lower one. That doesn’t change when the nationality of the cheaper babysitter happens to be Mexican. As long as the money that you worked for still belongs to you, you get to choose what to do with it.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bush Lied! / Our Military-Secret Service Destroyed the WTC! / It's All America's Fault!

Are you a member of the Tinfoil Brigade?

Sad. Truly sad.

Friday, September 22, 2006

If I were President

I've long held the fantasy of "if I were President, what would I do?". I'm sure many of us has had that dream every once in awhile. A recurring fantasy of mine is this: surrounding the United Nations building with troops, grabbing a bull-horn and saying, "Come out with your hands up! You are under arrest for crimes against the United States. Come out peacefully, or we come in and take you out."
Oh well, guess some people are real lucky I'm not the Prez ;-)

Along those lines, here's a wonderful letter from the Ayn Rand Institute.

Dear Editor:

Last week a rag-tag group of anti-American countries held their annual "club" meeting in Cuba as they have for the last 30 years. Nobody paid them too much attention and rightly so.

This week, another rag-tag group of anti-American countries, including some that attended the Cuba meeting, held their latest "club" meeting at the United Nations. This time everyone is paying attention to them and they have the world stage.

The United Nations is one of the world's most corrupt organizations. It allowed the Iranian president, who has called for the destruction of the United States and Israel, an opportunity to address its members. It allowed the Venezualean president to call for the world to unite against America.

That such a meeting occurs on American soil, that our U.N. "ambassador" remains present throughout these speeches, that our President chooses to speak on the same stage, and that we go to this group for "approval" when it comes to defending ourselves, is disgusting.

Debi Ghate
Vice President, Academic Programs
Ayn Rand Institute

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

Monday, September 18, 2006

Government Censorship is Here

This is a few weeks old, but Scott Holleran of BoxOfficeMojo comments on Disney's caving to Senatorial bullies on their show, The Path to 9/11. Here's an excerpt or two, then the link:

September 8, 2006

At issue is a made for television movie called The Path to 9/11, a documentary-like dramatization of the Islamic terrorist attack. Like most docudramas, it contains elements of truth and fiction in a selective depiction of the event. Apparently, among these is the assertion that the Clinton administration chose not to respond militarily against the Islamic terrorist responsible for attacks on the United States. The manner in which the point is portrayed caused the censorship.

None of that matters now—the movie is under siege and every freedom-loving American must defend Disney's right to air it. By sending the letter, these government officials—who ought to be censured and removed from the Senate—are using the authority of the state, i.e., the power of law enforcement, to violate free speech.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Health Care at Risk

Press Release

"Universal" Health Care Is Immoral
September 13, 2006

Irvine, CA--"Governor Schwarzenegger should be commended for his commitment to veto the California Health Reliability Act, which seeks to eliminate private medical insurance and establish a state-run health insurance system in California," said Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. "But the basic issue is not, as the governor indicated, that the system would be too expensive. 'Universal' health care is immoral.

"Health care is not a right. The fact that someone cannot afford the latest medical test or treatment does not entitle him to force others to pay for it--just as he is not entitled to a free gym membership on the grounds it would improve his health.

"There is a crisis in health care, but its cause is government interference in the health care system. The solution is to leave doctors, patients and insurance companies free to deal with each other on whatever terms they choose--not to socialize American medicine."

### ### ###

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

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Movie Review

I went to see "The Illusionist" yesterday. A smart film well crafted and a beautiful 'period piece' of old Vienna. The film is a love story about a magician who finds love as a young boy. Loses it. Travels the world looking for mystery and returned to Vienna only to see his lost love about to marry an aristocrat who is a woman-beater and basically insane with power. I'll let you discover the rest of the story.

This is a wonderful film, superbly photographed and intelligent. Go.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Is the U.S. Bankrupt?

I have to admit up front that I only caught bits and pieces of an interview on CNBC with Boston U economics professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff. The topic was the fiscal bankruptcy of the United States, via Social Security and Medicare programs. He took issue with a [very] recent [today?] editorial in the WSJ on the alleged "robustness" of our economy and its "fiscal soundness".
He pointed to an article on his website called "Benefits Without Bankruptcy--The New New Deal" written in August of last year.
I don't know Prof. Kotlikoff's economic stance nor do I know his underlying philosophic outlook, but here are excerpts of that particular article and the link to his website.

"First the demographics. According to U.N. projections, male life expectancy in the United States will rise from 75 to 80 between now and 2050...The share of the American population that is 65 or over is set to rise form 12.3 percent to 20.6 percent.
In 25 years when almost all 77 million members of the baby-boomer cohort have retired, we'll have twice the number of elderly, but only 18 percent more workers to pay their benefits..
...this is bound to put a major strain on the systems designed in the distant days of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.
...Today, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits total $21,000 per retiree. Multiply that by the current 36 million elderly, and you see why these programs account for nearly half of the federal tax revenue. Over the past four years the Medicare benefits per beneficiary have grown 16 times faster than the real wages of the workers paying those benefits. Medicaid benefits per head have grown almost as fast. [And this is BEFORE Bush's mandate of the perscription drug benefit!!!-Blair]

That's just a taste of what this economist has to say.

As Objectivist's, we know it is only a matter of time unitl financial bankruptcy catches up to the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of altruism's philosophic practice. One thing we can all do to stem this tide, is to donate--or increase our donations-- to The Ayn Rand Institute. In the long-term, Ayn Rand's ideas, applied to every field of endeavor, are the only thing that can save us, and advance the cause of individual rights and freedom.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Harry Potter = "King of Darkness"

Pope Benedict XVI's chief exorcist, Rev. Gabriele Amorth, has called fictional wizard-in-training Harry Potter the "king of darkness, the devil."

I won't embarrass the Church by pointing out that when religion ruled the earth, unopposed, that period of time is known today as the Dark Ages.
I won't embarrass the Church by pointing out the serious problems they face of ignoring the pedophiles in their midst.
I won't embarrass religionists by pointing out the utter incompatibility of their pathetic faith with successful human life - on earth - while we are living.
I won't mention the global threat from an undiluted, medieval Islam, while they are throwing a piss fit over a fictional character.

Speaking for myself, I prefer this interpretation of the Harry Potter series, as quoted in a letter from Dianne Durante of The Ayn Rand Institute:

"Fiction books aren't textbooks. The purpose of literature isn't to teach concretes but to show a broad view of The Way Things Work. Does good or evil prevail in the world? Do people think and act in accord with their own will, or are they helpless puppets? The enormous appeal of the Harry Potter series comes from the fact that Rowling presents characters who do think and act, and who repeatedly triumph over evil."

I think it is the above sentiment, that these books show children thinking and acting on their own judgement. This is the 'real' threat to the Church. Their followers, and sadly, most of the world's populace, are too stupid to see that for themselves and will blindly listen to the "chief exorcist" instead. Therein lies the tragedy today.

[Edited this a bit. My thanks to noumenalself and to Gus Van Horn for posting this on their blogs].

September Reads

My two books for September are:

Fiction- Numbered Account by Christopher Reich

N-Fiction- Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera by Fred Plotkin
[This book is excellent. I am very impressed with this writer's ease of style in taking a complex subject, like Opera, and making it accessible. Recommended.]

Friday, September 01, 2006

How to Solve America's Terrorism Problem in 5 Easy Steps

by Craig Biddle

[from the Principles in Practice blog]

Here is how America could solve her terrorism problem in 5 easy steps:

1] Stop sacrificing American soldiers to bring "freedom" to savages in Iraq. Pull our soldiers out of that hell hole, and let the savages have their civil war. ( Iraq is not and never was the main source of terrorism against America. Iran and Saudi Arabia are.)

2] Declare war on Iran.

3] Obliterate, from high altitude and long distance, all known Iranian military assets, all Iranian government buildings, all Iranian mosques and madrassahs, and the residences of all Iranian leaders, imams, clerics, and government officials. Hit these targets when they are most likely to be occupied (e.g., mosques during the day and residences at night). Do not send soldiers in on foot, except as necessary to identify targets or gather intelligence. We do not need to send soldiers in on foot to fight, and it would be immoral to do so. We have many big missiles, fast planes, and good bombs, and we should use these liberally while building bigger, faster, and better ones. (As to innocent non-Americans, such as Iranian children, who would be killed in such a campaign, they are not properly the concern of our government. Nor would their deaths be the fault of our government. Such deaths are always the fault of the force-initiating regime—and of those who in any way support or enable it—whose actions necessitate such retaliatory measures.)

4] Airdrop leaflets across the Middle East explaining: "From now on, this is how America will respond to any and all threats to her citizens or allies. We look forward to the time when you decide to civilize yourselves, stop taking religion seriously, renounce the initiation of physical force, recognize the principle of individual rights, establish rule of law, and join the free world. Until then, we will be watching you from way up in the sky—higher even than Allah, by means of technology He cannot fathom—and if we see anything that we so much as feel might conceivably pose even a remote threat either to America or to our allies, we will annihilate it and everything in its proximity without further warning."

5] Notify the regime in Saudi Arabia that it got lucky and has the option of not being obliterated; that we are prepared instead to seize "its" oil fields and sell them to private industry, in part to pay for the campaign against Iran, and in part to return the fields to private industry where they belong; that it has 24 hours to turn the fields over to our agents; and that if it fails to comply or ignites the fields or does anything to thwart our program, its leaders, like those of Iran, will meet Allah sooner than later.

If we took these (or similar) measures, our terrorism problem would be solved. Sure, there would still be a few isolated instances of terrorism here and there in months and years to come; this much is inevitable given how long we have permitted the Islamists to plan and plot and establish cells. But, so long as we follow through as indicated above and immediately destroy anything that we think looks even remotely threatening, state sponsorship of terrorism against America would be over; the major threat to our lives would be gone.

Of course, we will not take such measures any time soon. Altruism will not let us. We will not take such measures until there is widespread understanding of the moral rightness of doing so—that is, until a substantial number of Americans understand that self-interest is moral and self-sacrifice is evil—and we are a long way from that. But such measures are morally correct—they are what we should do—and everyone who understands that they are should say so loudly and clearly. By placing such actions on the table for discussion, we create an opportunity to explain why they are morally correct—and that is what Americans (and westerners in general) most desperately need to learn.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Color Me Skeptical

From the New York Times [Hat Tip: Marginal Revolution]

Turks Knock on Europe’s Door With Evidence That Islam and Capitalism Can Coexist


“In European countries, workers take a 15-minute smoking break; here we take a 15-minute prayer break,” said Ahmet Herdem, the mayor of Hacilar, a town of 20,000 people in central Anatolia, a deeply religious and socially conservative region which has produced some of the best-known Turkish companies. “During this time, you are in front of God, and you can ask him to help improve business and this is good for morale.”

The region’s mix of Muslim values, hard work and raging capitalism has even prompted sociologists to coin a new term to describe the phenomenon: Calvinist Islam.

[I rest my case. Blair]


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wit and Wisdom

Although I've yet to add Alexander Marriot's blog to my blogroll, I check it out often. He has two new posts that are worthy of your immediate attention. One on the uselessness of conspiracy theories and the pain they can cause. Another on Gary Kasparov's leaving the chess world to become a politician in Russia. Both are on the money.

Monday, August 21, 2006

How About a War on Taxes????

My initial thoughts on this article are that I don't like what it means for the unabated growth of the federal government. I don't like the fact that the article support's the IRS's job of tax enforcement, nor do I like the conservatives idea of outsourcing tax collection to collection agencies, i.e., using our tax dollars to enrich collection agencies, thereby extending federal control to that industry/business.

Here are the two articles in question:


The I.R.S. admits that external collection is far more expensive than internal collection. Johnston cites current I.R.S. commissioner Mark Everson as saying so, as well as former commissioner Charles O. Rossotti, who told Congress that if the I.R.S. hired more agents, it “could collect more than $9 billion each year and spend only $296 million—or about three cents on the dollar—to do so,” according to Johnston.

Even if Rossotti was exaggerating by a factor of 5, the U.S. Govt. would still be getting a better deal by hiring more agents than by contracting to a third party that takes a 22% cut. But Congress, which oversees the I.R.S. budget, is famously reluctant to give the agency more resources to do its job. We touched on this subject in a column we wrote a few months back.

Here's one article the author is quoting from the NY Times writer David Cay Johnston:


Within two weeks, the I.R.S. will turn over data on 12,500 taxpayers — each of whom owes $25,000 or less in back taxes — to three collection agencies. Larger debtors will continue to be pursued by I.R.S. officers.

The move, an initiative of the Bush administration, represents the first step in a broader plan to outsource the collection of smaller tax debts to private companies over time. Although I.R.S. officials acknowledge that this will be much more expensive than doing it internally, they say that Congress has forced their hand by refusing to let them hire more revenue officers, who could pull in a lot of easy-to-collect money

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Movie Review

With all the news about Cuba and Castro lately, I wanted to plug a very good film I got through Netflix, [also seen at Blockbuster] called 'The Lost City', featuring Andy Garcia.
This film portrays a Cuban family torn apart by the 'revolution'. Set in Batista's reign, it details the trials of one Fico, [Garcia] a nightclub owner whose family of sons are divided by both the disgust of Batista's failed government and the 'promise' of Castro's revolution. The oldest brother joins a anti-Batista 'gang'[for lack of a better word] and storms Batista's government palace, only to be killed. The youngest, heads off to the Cuban wilderness, seeking out Castro's forces, to join. Garcia plays the capitalist and is forced to deal with these issues and more.
Filmed in the Dominican Republic, this film is lush with beautiful cinematography and great acting, from almost every character, although I have no idea why Bill Murray is in this film. Apparently his character is supposed to provide 'comic relief' but fails completely. I guess I'm not hip enough to 'get it'. [Fine with me!]

In my view, this film is not to be missed.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

P.S. Another great Garcia film is, 'For Love or Country' about a talented and famous musician who flees Cuba. Get it.

Ford Hall Forum--Boston

ARI has announced that Yaron Brook will speak at Ford Hall on October 22. His talk will be,

Democracy vs. Victory: The Forward Strategy of Freedom and How It Had To Fail.

I'm there!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

So, who is Ned Lamont?

Well, the whole world knows that Senator Joseph Lieberman [D-CT] has been booted aside in favor of the 'star power' and the new 'face' of Ned Lamont. All I know of Lamont is he is a multi-millionaire who is, apparently, an opportunist seeking power. His sole campaign was that he was 'against the war in Iraq'. That's it.
I did not hear one--not one--positive idea come from the lips of the newly annointed Lamont. He is the first candidate that I'm aware of, who was supported by the "blogsphere". [I'm probably behind the curve on that one].
The nation was also privy to seeing who was on stage behind Lamont both last night and today. None other than those intellectual giants: Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

I have nothing further to say.

Monday, August 07, 2006

When it rains... pours.

I was involved in an accident this morning coming home from work. Roads were slick with rain--truck in front of me stopped unexpectedly, due to another driver in front of her...BAM!!! I couldn't stop in time. I had my seat-belt on [thanks Diana]. No injuries, except to my truck, which is undrivable right now.

I can't decide if I'm more dissapointed, than depressed. Perhaps its an equal share of both. First time in more than 25 years I've had to deal with this.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Books for August

My selections for August include the following:

Fiction: The Devil's Garden by Ralph Peters (yes, that Ralph Peters)

Non-fiction: Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz by Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird

Not holding my breath on the math book, but I'll give it a try, just the same. Just about anything Mr. Peters writes is recommended here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Two more threats against our freedom.

This story, if true, is quite disturbing, to say the least...

Air Marshals: Innocent People Placed On 'Watch List' To Meet Quota


DENVER -- You could be on a secret government database or watch list for simply taking a picture on an airplane. Some federal air marshals say they're reporting your actions to meet a quota, even though some top officials deny it.

The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they're required to submit at least one report a month. If they don't, there's no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments.

"Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft ... and they did nothing wrong," said one federal air marshal.

The Link:

Our Electoral College under widespread attack...


(07-24) 04:00 PDT Sacramento -- A Stanford University computer science professor has come up with an idea to circumvent the more than 200-year-old Electoral College system and institute a national popular vote to elect the president of the United States.

The proposal by John Koza, who also invented the scratch-off lottery ticket, is receiving serious consideration by lawmakers in several states. Legislators in California, New York, Colorado, Illinois and Missouri have sponsored bills to enact such a plan.

Koza's scheme calls for an interstate compact that would require states to throw all of their electoral votes behind the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of which candidate wins in each state. The plan doesn't require all 50 states to join, but a combination of states that represent a majority (at least 270) of the electoral votes. If the largest states join in the agreement, only 11 would be needed. [Holy S**T! [Ed.]

Proponents say Koza's proposal is ingenious because it would avoid the immensely difficult task of trying to get rid of the Electoral College system by amending the U.S. Constitution.

Koza, who co-wrote a 620-page book detailing why it's time to change the system and how his plan would work, said his goal for this year was to let his ideas germinate with hopes of catching the attention of some state lawmakers. But the proposal caught on faster than expected.

Read the whole thing:

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Convenient Lie?

John Stossel hammers Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth at Real Clear Politics


When he was in college, atmospheric-science professor John Christy was told, "it was a certainty that by the year 2000, the world would be starving and out of energy."

That prediction has gone the way of so many others. But environmentalists continue to warn us that we face environmental disaster if we don't accept the economic disaster called the Kyoto treaty. Lawyers from the Natural Resources Defense Council (another environmental group with more lawyers than scientists) explain: "Sea levels will rise, flooding coastal areas." And Al Gore's new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," depicts a future in which cities are submerged by rising sea levels.


But many scientists laugh at the panic.

Christy says, "Doomsday prophecies grabbed headlines but have proven to be completely false. Similar pronouncements today about catastrophes due to human-induced climate change sound all too familiar."

But the media can't get enough of doomsday.

Here's the linkup:

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Today is my Birthday!!!

Happy Birthday to Me! HEH.

I Thought Conservatives Detested Suicide?

Then why pursue these suicidal policies against our enemies?

From ARI:

The U.S.-Israeli Suicide Pact

By Elan Journo

The Iran-Hamas-Hezbollah axis is fully responsible for initiating the war on Israel, but the Islamists' aggression is the logical product of U.S.-Israeli policy. The longstanding commitment of Israel and America to "diplomatic engagement" with Palestinians and Islamists--a euphemism for appeasement--is suicidal.

For decades America has urged Israel to placate and surrender to our common enemy. The U.S.-endorsed "Road Map to Peace," like the "Peace Process" and sundry initiatives before it, rationalized Palestinian terrorism as the result of a legitimate grievance. If only the Palestinians' wish for a civilized, peaceful state were fulfilled--Washington deluded itself into believing--terrorism would end. And fulfilling this wish requires not smashing their terrorist infrastructure, but showering them with land and loot.

But the majority of Palestinians actually seek the destruction of Israel, and the slaughter of its people. Because they embrace this vicious goal, hordes of Palestinians idolized arch terrorist Yasser Arafat for waging a terrorist war to wipe out Israel and establish a nationalist dictatorship. They abetted Arafat's terrorism and celebrated his atrocities. They served as cheerleaders or recruits for terrorist groups--and when they had the chance, they embraced the even more militant religious zealots of Hamas. It is no surprise that, according to a recent poll, 77 percent of Palestinians support their government's kidnapping of an Israeli soldier and that 60 percent support the continued rocket fire from Gaza into Israel.

But even as Palestinians mounted more attacks, Washington pressed Israel for more concessions--and bolstered the terrorist-sponsoring Palestinian Authority with millions of dollars in aid. The U.S. forbade Israel from laying a finger on Arafat, and extended this tender solicitude to Hamas leaders. Washington actually whitewashed the blood-stained Arafat and his crony Abbas as peace-loving statesmen and invited them to the White House. And when Hezbollah now fires rockets at major cities in northern Israel, President Bush demands that Israel show "restraint."

Depressingly, Israel has continually relented to American pressure to appease our common enemy. It has prostrated itself before the Palestinians, with flamboyantly self-sacrificial offers of land-for-peace; it has withdrawn from southern Lebanon, ceding ground necessary to its self-defense; it has withdrawn from Gaza, leaving its southern cities at the mercy of rocket fire from the Hamas-run territory.

Such U.S.-endorsed appeasement by Israel, across decades, has enabled Hezbollah and Hamas to mount their current attacks. Yet America remains undeterred in its commitment to appeasement.

The U.S. is now trying to woo Iran with endless offers of economic "incentives," if only Iran promises to stop chasing nuclear weapons. Evading Iran's lust to "wipe Israel off the map," evading its funding of Hezbollah and Hamas, evading its avowed enmity to America, evading its decades of fomenting and orchestrating a proxy terror war against American civilians--evading all of this, Washington deludes itself into believing that paying Iran off will, somehow, wipe out its hostility.

Inevitably, this encourages Iran to continue its aggressive support for terrorists and its fervent quest for nuclear weapons. Merely by prolonging the negotiations endlessly, Iran gains time to acquire a weapon to wield against its neighbors, to provide to Hamas and Hezbollah or to other proxies to use against the United States. And were Iran eventually to accept some deal, American aid would merely be sustaining Iran's regime--and, inexorably, a covert nuclear program.

We are teaching the Islamic totalitarians in Gaza, Lebanon and Iran that their goal of destroying us is legitimate; that aggression is practical; that the more aggressive they are, the more we will surrender. U.S.-Israeli policy has demonstrated that we lack the intellectual self-confidence to name, let alone condemn, our enemies--and that we lack the will to deal with threats mercilessly. It vindicates the Islamists' premise that their religious worldview can bring a scientific, technologically advanced West to its knees.

To protect the lives of our citizens, America and Israel must stop evading the nature of the enemy's cause: our complete destruction. We must stop appeasing our common enemy--and embrace self-defense as a matter of intransigent principle. To put an end to the current rocket attacks from Lebanon and Gaza, America should urge Israel to annihilate the annihilators: Hamas and Hezbollah. And to thwart Iran's nuclear ambition, America must use as much military force as is necessary to dispose of that catastrophic threat and the regime responsible for it.

Elan Journo is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute ( in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand--author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead." Contact the writer at

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

There is No Need for Endless Global Conflict

From ARI---

Dear Editor:

Islamic totalitarians have explicitly stated their goal: to
forcibly impose Islamic law around the world. To succeed, they will
continue to attack those parts of the world that oppose
their "divine mission." The United States, Israel, Canada,
England, India, and any other country that places the least bit of
value on freedom and progress, will continue to be targets.

The freer nations need to recognize the real nature of this
enemy: an ideology that demands complete submission to Allah,
either voluntarily or at the point of a knife. Do you wait for the
knife to slit your throat or do you fight back and defend yourself?

The combined military strength of the freer countries is more than
enough to eliminate decisively and definitively the assorted
collection of murderous terrorists and the governments that support
them financially or ideologically. There is no need for an
endless global conflict. What there is a need for is a
recognition that those of us living in freer countries have the right
to take any necessary actions to defend ourselves--and that our
lives are at stake.

Debi Ghate
Vice President, Academic Programs

Copyright (c) 2006 Ayn Rand(R) Institute. All rights reserved.

To which I, personally, add, why hasn't Israel used nuclear weapons against Damascus, Tehran, and hell, ALL of Lebanon? The reason? The corrupt immoral morality of altruism.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Short Notes

This I found somewhere on the net. The runner-up to the annual Bad Writing contest. Hilarious!!

"I know what you're thinking, punk," hissed Wordy Harry to his new editor, "you're thinking, 'Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?' - and to tell the truth, I forgot myself in all this excitement; but being as this is English, the most powerful language in the world, whose subtle nuances will blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel loquacious?' - well do you, punk?"

I'll do more research to credit the actual author of the above, and the site/blog where I found it.

[1:46pm] Found it. The "blog" is The writer, and runner-up, is, Stuart Vasepuru Edinburgh, Scotland

2nd Note:

Serious pet peeve of mine...

The abuse of language, philosophy, morality and politics in equating/calling dictatorships "sovereign nations". If this is not a moral obsenity, I don't know what is.

Democracy as applied to everything, or, Using the Net to destroy the Net.

This editorial sums up my position, exactly.
Thank you, Alex.

Net Neutrality vs. Internet Freedom
by Alex Epstein
Posted by ARI Media at 2:27 PM

America's leading Internet service providers (ISPs) have spent many years and billions upgrading their transcontinental networks, which constitute the backbone of the Internet. Now they are eager to profit by offering new, compelling services. One plan is to give certain websites high priority on their data, so as to guarantee "quality of service"—the speed, frequency, and reliability with which data is delivered. This would enable content providers to offer high-quality live TV and videoconferencing or advanced remote medical monitoring, without the delays and unreliability that plague the Internet today. Unfortunately, data prioritization is fiercely opposed by advocates of "Net Neutrality," who claim paradoxically that freedom and innovation demand that companies not be free to make this innovation.

Net neutrality is the idea that ISPs should not be able to favor some types of data over others; their networks must be "neutral" among all the data they carry. Net-neutrality supporters claim that if ISPs are free to give preferential treatment to certain websites' data, they might drastically slow down un-favored or less-wealthy websites, diminishing their ability to offer content and make innovations. A prominent net-neutrality coalition cautions: "If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, you may be impeded from providing the 'next big thing' on the Internet."

But such scenarios are nonsensical. For any of the nation's competing ISPs to offer customers slow, patchy, let alone nonexistent access to the websites they seek to visit, would be commercial suicide. As for innovation, websites are free to continue using standard, non-prioritized Internet service. The fact that this would be slower than premium service does not mean that it would be slow, just as UPS's decision to offer overnight delivery did not lead them to suddenly degrade their Ground shipping. Premium Internet services would enable, not stifle, innovation, by giving websites creative options they did not have before.

The specter of ISPs offering glacial access to certain websites is a smokescreen, designed to obscure the net-neutrality movement's goal: preventing anyone from having superior, unequal access to customers. In the minds of net-neutrality advocates, the Internet is a collectively owned entity, to which all websites have an equal claim and are entitled "equal access." As the title of a leading net-neutrality group proclaims: "It's our Net."

But it isn't.

The Internet is not a collectivist commune; it is a free, voluntary, and private association of individuals and corporations harmoniously pursuing their individual goals. (While it began as a government-funded project, the Internet's ultra-advanced state today is the achievement of private network builders, hardware companies, content providers, and customers.) Because the Internet is based on voluntary association, no one can properly compel others for their ad space, bandwidth, publicity—or data prioritization. Those who create these values have the right to use and profit from them as they see fit. Google has no more right to demand that Verizon be "neutral" with its network than Verizon has a right to demand that Google be "neutral" with its coveted advertising space.

The only thing equal about the participants on the Internet is that all have equal freedom to deal with others voluntarily. This means they are equally free to compete for the bandwidth, dollars, and talents of others—but not entitled to an unearned, equal portion of them.

It is the freedom of participants on the Internet to offer and profit from whatever products, services, or content they choose that has made it such a phenomenal source of content and innovation. Net neutrality would deny ISPs that freedom. It would deny their right to engage in creative, innovative, and profitable activity with those networks—in the name of those who demand their bandwidth, but are unable or unwilling to earn it in a free market.

The widespread support for net neutrality among successful Internet companies—including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, and Amazon—is short-sighted and contemptible. These companies, which have benefited greatly from the unimpeded freedom of the Internet, are now trying to deny the same freedom to innovative ISPs and ambitious competitors under the egalitarian banner of "equal access." This is an invitation for any clever moocher to demand "equal access" to their hard-earned resources; indeed, Google is already being sued because its proprietary search engine allegedly gives "unfair" rankings to certain companies.

The Internet is one of the great bastions of freedom and innovation in our civilization. Let us keep it that way by rejecting "net neutrality."

Alex Epstein is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, CA. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand—author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Another Salem?

Here in the States, we're hearing more and more about how Christians are the persecuted minority "the world over". [But especially in America]. This message is being broadcast by an extremely well-funded PR machine, no doubt. Perhaps that machine is in use to cover-up stories like this one from Oklahoma, where we see just who is persecuting who--if it can be believed. I, personally, have no doubts about it.

Here are some excerpts:

Just Another Salem: Christian Persecution of Atheists in the American Heartland

Not long ago I wrote about the experiences of Charles Smalkowski and his family in Oklahoma. Falsely charged with assault, Smalkowski was offered the chance to leave the state and not file suit against the school district because of their official Christian prayers and persecution of his daughter. He resisted, the charges were increased to a felony, and his family suffered. In the end, he won.

Here's Mr. Smalkowski himself, writing in American Atheist...
"The loving Christians brought their children to hear the verdict. They brought the town. They brought ministers. I even saw another Judge in the back of the room. The Judge who in an earlier hearing while slapping an inch thick stack of papers on his bench saying with a list of witnesses this big you had better be a good boy. It was lies then, it was lies now and the DA knew it! (She was later forced to hand over a written statement she denied for over a year existed!) People prayed openly for a conviction."

So many people attended... but for some reason, neither the so-called victim of Smalkowki's alleged assault nor the assistant district attorney bothered to show up. Why? Perhaps they had a good idea that the case wasn't going to go there way.

Here's the links. Go. Now.

Here's the American Atheist link:

SecFox note: I don't necessarily support the American Atheist organization. They are merely against God. Against theism. Which leaves wide open what the do believe in, usually a 'secular' or 'liberal' version of mysticism/religion, such as Humanism or Unitarianism. I reject both of these as variants of the same bankrupt altruist coin.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Reparations for slavery going "Mainstream" into Culture

This article points out that although quiet for a while, the reparations for slavery movement is gaining traction again in America.[Perhaps its gaining only in the American Left and is not in the mainstream yet. Ed]


Advocates who say black Americans should be compensated for slavery and its Jim Crow aftermath are quietly chalking up victories and gaining momentum.

Fueled by the work of scholars and lawyers, their campaign has morphed in recent years from a fringe-group rallying cry into sophisticated, mainstream movement. Most recently, a pair of churches apologized for their part in the slave trade, and one is studying ways to repay black church members.

"This matter is growing in significance rather than declining," said Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor and a leading reparations activist. "It has more vigor and vitality in the 21st century than it's had in the history of the reparations movement."

Here's the link for the rest of the story, with apologies to Paul Harvey.

What is worrisome to me, is that "conservatives" have no fundamental opposition to this idea and will put up a bravely brief front, but succumb to it due to their own altruistic faults, namely that "we are our brothers keeper".

The Ayn Rand Institute provides some needed intellectual ammunition against the above here: [Copy and paste the whole link].

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Spiritual Fuel

Got back from the free event at the Objectivist Conference in Boston shortly after 1am this morning. Inspiring is all I can say. The event was a panel discussion on the state of Objectivism in academia and prospects for future growth. I can say that things are looking good and are getting better each academic year. Yes, there's still opposition, but it is waning. Dr. Brook also publicly paid tribute to four graduates of the OAC [Objectivist Academic Center] that have been accepted into major university graduate programs in philosophy. All in all, this was an inspirational talk and did provide spiritual fuel to those in attendance.

After that event, the Anthem Foundation held a party celebrating its fifth birthday. Here I got to meet Tara Smith, Debi Ghate, John Lewis [whom I had met previously, a few years ago, and who remembered me from that visit][!]. C. Brad Thompson of Clemson, Rob Tarr of the Thrutch blog, Paul and Diana Hsieh of Noodle Food fame. Betsy Speicher and I renewed our acquaintance from years ago. There were other heavyweights there, but I didn't get the chance to thank them and speak to them. Darn it!

Note to ARI's conference co-ordinator---have more conferences on the east coast!!!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Two recent stories show that Faith and Force are Corollaries

In Delaware, Christian/religious school board flexes its muscle--against Jewish student(s)...

Although no force is exhibited in this article, a Slate writer offers tribute to the faith of Democratic Senator Barack Obama, whom I predict will be the unanimous choice for Vice-President on the Democratic ticket in 2008. [You heard it here first].

Revisions done 7/8/06

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

America, 'Tis of thee I sing!

Various quotes from two of my favorite people:

"Since the golden age of Greece, there has been only one era of reason in twenty-three centuries of Western philosophy. During the final decades of that era, the United States of America was created as an independent nation. This is the key to the country--to its nature, its development, and its uniqueness: the United States is the nation of the Enlightenment.

Leonard Peikoff, from his book, 'The Ominous Parallels'

"The basic premise of the Founding Fathers was man's right to his own life, to his own liberty, to the pursuit of his own happiness--which means: man's right to exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; and that the political implementation of this right is a society where men deal with one another as traders, by voluntary exchange to mutual benefit."

Ayn Rand, 'For the New Intellectual'

"The difference between an exchange of ideas and an exchange of blows is self-evident. The line of demarcation between freedom of speech and freedom of action is established by the ban on the initiation of physical force."

Ayn Rand 'Capitalism:The Unknown Ideal'

"Every argument for God and every attribute ascribed to Him rests on a false metaphysical premise. None can survive for a moment on a correct metaphysics.
For instance, God is infinite. Nothing can be infinite, according to the Law of Identity. Everything is what it is, and nothing else. It is limited in its qualities and in its quantity: it is This much and no more. "Infinite" as applied to quantity does not mean "very large": it means "larger than any specific quantity." That means: no specific quantity--i.e., a quantity without identity. This is prohibited by the Law of Identity.
Is God the creator of the universe? There can be no creation of something out of nothing. There is no nothing.
Is God omnipotent? Can he do anything? Entities can act only in accordance with their natures; nothing can make them violate their natures...
"God" as traditionally defined is a systematic contradiction of every valid metaphysical principle. The point is wider than just the Judeo-Christian concept of God. No argument will get you from this world to a supernatural world. No reason will lead you to a world contradicting this one. No method of inference will enable you to leap from existence to a "super-existence."

Leonard Peikoff 'The Philosophy of Objectivism" lecture series.

"Mankind is not an entity, an organism, or a coral bush. The entity involved in production and trade is Man. It is with the study of man--not of the loose aggregate known as "community"--that any science of the humanities has to begin...
A great deal may be learned about society by studying man; but this process cannot be reversed: nothing can be learned about man by studying society-by studying the inter-relationships of entities one has never identified or defined."

Ayn Rand 'What is Capitalism?'

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Book'em Dan-o

July's reading selections:

Fiction: A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva

Non-F: The Computer Privacy Handbook by Andre' Bacard

"Death" is Silva's fourth installment in the Gabriel Allon espionage series. Overall the series is an excellent read if you like spies and treachery.

Bacard's book is about PGP [Pretty Good Privacy] encryption and a few other things concerning privacy in the information age. Poorly written, you have to sift through fits of the authors paranoia to get to the good stuff.

Slightly revised 7/8/06

Superman Revisited

I went to see the new Superman movie yesterday and I want my money back. The one glaring fact about this new version of Superman is the obvious hatred of dogs by the scriptwriters.

I've no trouble with Routh, who plays Superman. He did his best with a bad script. A script that leans heavily on the mystical/religious side of things.

James Marsden stands out [but not too far], in an otherwise dreadful selection of cast members, who show their complete lack of acting abilities in every scene. Parker Posey, whom I loathe on principle, plays her usual role of the slut. Kevin Spacey is unconvincing as arch-nemesis Lex Luthor. Spacey is an actor so overrated I'm sure he laughs all the way to the bank, and back home again. I cannot think of a single role of his where he deserves even the slightest praise.

A telling moment in the movie is when we hear that astronomers have discovered remnants of Superman's home planet [or, where it might have been], and he leaves the world to travel there to see for himself. Apparently this was way too selfish on his part and why Lois Lane is pissed, confused and pathetic. In Metropolis, as well as in real-life, any thought of self is hailed as all-encomassing evil.

This movie deserves no more than a D+ or C-.

Don't take my word for it, see for yourself.

[Slightly revised 7/8/06]

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Quote of the Day

"All people, Jews or gentiles, who dare not defend themselves when they know they are in the right, who submit to punishment not because of what they have done but because of who they are, are already dead by their own decision; and whether or not they survive physically depends on chance. If circumstances are not favorable, they end up in gas chambers."
— Bruno Bettelheim, "Freud's Vienna and Other Essays"

My thanks to Gideon @ Armchair Intellectual for pointing out the article where the above quote was taken. Here's the link to the article:

The above quote also reminds me of the importance of both Free Speech and the recognition of what that particular moral principle [and all authentic moral principles] rests on---reason. Here's a related, crucial article in that regard, from the Objective Standard.[Registration or subscription required]

Friday, June 23, 2006

Laugh your *** off

Monty Python [and YouTube] present:

drumroll please.....

The International Philosophy Soccer Match!!!!!

Hilarious is all I can say, between bouts of laughter.

Go. Now.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Myrhaf has returned...

...albeit for a brief message at his blog ;-)

Go check him out and wish him well.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Flying in the face of reality

As Objectivists, we know how crucial fundamental ideas are, for good or ill. Apparently, we're the only ones, as this article about Afghanistan shows. The Taliban is increasing its presence there due in part to what they conceive as a weakness in America's position. This Washington Post article has a 'money quote' that just can't be overlooked, and I highlight it here.

"The Taliban are opportunists," said John Stuart Blackton, a retired U.S. diplomat who consults on Afghan issues with the National Intelligence Council, which produces government intelligence forecasts. "They have no deep ideology and no deep theory that informs what they are doing. . . . In other words, they are better understood as being like a crime family in New Jersey."

The rest of the article should be read, as well. Here's the link:

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Truth Meter

...pegged once again by Ed Cline over @ The Rule of Reason. His target this time is the suicides at Gitmo.


All right. Two Saudis and one Yemeni committed suicide at the Guantanamo Bay prison. And? As one correspondent of mine remarked: "Since Muslims are committing suicide on a daily basis all over the world -- and killing as many others as is possible with themselves -- what is so hard to believe about three suicides in a jail?" Remember that every one of the 460 detainees at Gitmo was either taken in combat against U.S. forces in Afghanistan or Iraq or elsewhere, or taken as a suspect with terrorist or Taliban connections, and scheduled to be tried by a tribunal.

It is hard to believe if reality does not conform to one's wishes.

Remember that these are not "rockin'" fans of the Dixie Chicks or gentle Bono groupies or twittering sycophants of Muslim-patronizing Prince Charles of Britain, spirited away from Pennsylvania Avenue or the Strand and unlawfully incarcerated without charge. These are men who would just as soon as cut the throats of American civilians with box-cutters, hijack another planeload of them and smash it into the U.S. Capitol in an act of suicidal jihad. Or at least stockpile bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer to grow more piles of Western bodies and rubble.

Go. Read it all.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

"Nuance" or Whitewash, anyone? What's your definition of definition?

From the International Herald Tribune, we have the following headline:

Iran's Leader and Israel: What did he say, and what did he mean?

Ever since he spoke at an anti-Zionism conference in Tehran last October, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has been known for one statement above all. As translated by news agencies at the time, it was that Israel "should be wiped off the map."


For months, a debate among Iran specialists over both questions has been intensifying. It starts as a dispute over translating Persian, but quickly turns on whether the United States (with help from Israel) is doing to Iran what some believe it did to Iraq - building a case for military action predicated on a faulty premise.

...still more...

"Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map, because no such idiom exists in Persian," remarked Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist at the University of Michigan and a critic of U.S. policy who has argued that the Iranian president was misquoted.

"He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse." Since Iran has not "attacked another country aggressively for over a century," he said If Steele and Cole are right, not one word of the quotation - Israel should bBut translators in Tehran who work for the president's office and the Foreign Ministry disagree with them. All official translations of Ahmadinejad's statement, including a description of it on his Web site,, refer to wiping Israel away.
e wiped off the map - is accurate.

...the hook...

If Steele and Cole are right, not one word of the quotation - Israel should be wiped off the map - is accurate.

But translators in Tehran who work for the president's office and the Foreign Ministry disagree with them. All official translations of Ahmadinejad's statement, including a description of it on his Web site,, refer to wiping Israel away.

Sohrab Mahdavi, one of the most prominent Iranian translators, and Siamak Namazi, managing director of a Tehran consulting firm, who is bilingual, both say "wipe off" or "wipe away" is more accurate than "vanish" because the Persian verb is active and transitive.

Full story:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

June reading

I'm starting a new trend here at SecFox HQ. Instead of having a dozen--or more-- half-read books stacked all around the house, I'm picking one fiction and one non-fiction book to read, per month.
June selections:

Fiction: The Exile by Alan Folsom

Non-Fiction: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Toronto & Homegrown Terrorists [Global Guerrillas]

The story of the 17 arrests in Toronto has been out for a few days now. I've discovered a website/blog that deals with 'systems disruption' and many other issues concerning the new face of war in the 21st century.
John Robb is a former Air Force officer and Department of Defense Counter-terrorism expert who now has a website dedicated to reporting on 'open-source warfare' and other issues affecting economics. He has an article devoted to what the discovery of these homegrown [for now, alleged] terrorists means to all of us in the West.

Do not fail to copy and paste this link in your browser. Agree or disagree with him, he provides plenty of food-for-thought. Read his 'About' page,too.

Here's a snippet:


Like London, the Toronto cell came together in a familiar pattern of community formation (for more see the brief on emergent communities dedicated to war). This community formation is a classic indicator of open source warfare, since the group didn't need to have any direct connection with al Qaeda in order to form. However, in one area it appears the group fell short. It appears that the group absorbed very little of the innovation developed in other theaters (fortunately):
Symbolic terrorism. The attacks were planned against hard government targets.
These targets required large quantities of explosives and a large team.
The large team and extensive provisioning required for these attacks made it possible to catch them.

Here's what this means

In no particular order:

The incident in Toronto is yet another demonstration that globalization has melted the map. The old boundaries that used to protect us are both ineffective and of little consequence in a world where ideas and people can flow without much restriction.
It also demonstrates that the call of primary loyalties can emerge even within the relative prosperity of a western nation. We are fragmenting, and this is a demonstration of that. As things continue to heat up in the Middle East, particularly when Iran is attacked, we will see an acceleration of fragmentation.
Finally, the errors and failures of this group will likely serve as further reinforcement among prospective actors towards the adoption of systems disruption (which we are seeing emerge globally). We won't be so lucky in the future. Those groups that have adopted this approach are demonstrating that it is possible to remain small and undetectable, reduce provisioning to household items and still achieve massive impact, and survive.

Here's the link and I'm adding Global Guerrillas to my Blogroll.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Huge Hat Tip our soldiers, and veterans. Happy Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

America's Future...

...belongs to her best and brightest. Dr. Hurd explains:

A recent MSNBC story discusses the sad state of American public schools. Surprise, surprise; President Bush's (and Ted Kennedy's) "No Child Left Behind" act has only led public schools to scramble more to make it LOOK like they're doing better. In actual practice, according to the study, there are more inexperienced teachers than ever; fewer and fewer children are grasping the facts and principles of basic science; and textbooks are being left to do the work while psychologists, claiming that now a near-majority of kids suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder, ensure that most children can be excused from the ability to read textbooks since they "can't pay attention."

The story goes on to ask, "Can America compete?"

My answer is an overwhelming yes. Why? Because it isn't the majority of adults (who are presently school-age kids) who will lift the society in the future. It's the brightest, most innovative and most hard-working few who accomplish out of proportion to the rest. They build the businesses, create the jobs, and make the discoveries. These few will rise above the mediocre public school system, as well as the inadequacies that most (but not all) private schools possess. Many innovative geniuses, upon whom we all depend whether we know it or not, do poorly in school, and it's no wonder given the awful state of schools, past and present.

I don't mean to minimize the problem. I don't mean to deny that education, properly done, is profoundly important. I don't mean to back away from my own ongoing position that public schools be phased out, dollars be returned to taxpayers and parents be put in charge of finding education for their kids in the marketplace. What I do mean to suggest is that the best and brightest can rise above a lot of things, so long as they live in freedom. It's worse than futile to think that public schools can do anything to educate kids at all; they're nothing more than babysitting services designed to herd kids together and go through the motions of "socializing" them. Even mediocre schools can usually manage to help kids learn to more or less read and write; but you can forget independent thinking and, according to the MSNBC story, you can forget about math and science skills.

Those who want to think will think, through it all. The public school system will never be good. If you care about the future, and the present, fight for the preservation and expansion of individual freedom. Individual freedom is for everyone, but it protects and nourishes the best, the brightest and the most innovative among us. And that's still the greatest hope for our future. It always has been.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Apple vs. Bloggers

Wired Magazine reports on a court case that Apple brought against two Blog sites that reported on, at the time, [2004] future Apple products. Here's and excerpt:

A California appeals court has smacked down Apple's legal assault on bloggers and their sources, finding that the company's efforts to subpoena e-mail received by the publishers of Apple Insider and runs contrary to federal law, California's reporter's shield law, and the state Constitution.

Read the rest...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Blog Addition

I'm adding Principles in Practice, the blog of The Objective Standard, to my blogroll. Doing some housecleaning there, also.

A Case of Envy and Jealousy, me thinks.

"Art Critics" blast Dan Brown and DaVinci Code.

Here's the juicy bits...

..."With its flat prose, stick-figure characters, wooden dialogue, perfunctory scene-setting and an unfortunate tendency to interrupt the action with momentum-killing lectures, the novel is in some ways the unlikeliest of best sellers. Many Chicago writers, critics, scholars and book-industry insiders are flummoxed by the book's success."

...Author James McManus, who teaches creative writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and writes about poker for the New York Times, had a similar experience with The Da Vinci Code. "It's painful to read stuff like that," he says. "Give me some Novocain."

"He's telling you the story and then telling you what to think about the story," says Donna Seaman, associate editor of Booklist, a review journal published by the American Library Association. "He's always preaching."

"There's no interest in psychological complexity, depth, growth, development," says Barbara Newman, a professor of English, religion and classics at Northwestern University. "And I want to say this also: The two villains in the book turn out to be an albino and a cripple, which I think is regressive and prejudicial in a very nasty, stereotypical kind of way. The beautiful people are good; the people who have distorted bodies also have distorted souls. A book that prides itself on being so progressive should have a more enlightened consciousness about disability."

Here's the clincher!

But McManus, for one, argues that the Da Vinci Code phenomenon isn't good for the cause of literature in a broader sense.

"As a person who knows a lot of talented people who write wonderful books and can't get them published, as well as published writers with only a tiny audience, I regret the herd mentality in which everyone needs to read one particular book, leaving so much strong work unread," he says. "It's an unfortunate aspect of human nature that there's so little independence of mind about choosing one's reading material. People are such lemmings, and it's pathetic."

[Gee, I don't think I'm a lemming. Ed.]

Link to full article:

Puff piece on Chavez in the Guardian

He's the new hero of the left - a socialist leader who is tackling poverty in Venezuela while leading the Latin American backlash against 'the empire' of George Bush. But what is Hugo Chávez really like? And how does he feel about being portrayed as a dictator by much of the British press? Jonathan Steele and Duncan Campbell meet him.

Chávez's critics have also made their voices heard. An anti-Chávez website,, has also been running lengthy attacks on the visit, accusing him of human rights abuses, of locking up political opponents, and making a weapon out of la lista (the list) of the several million people who signed petitions calling for a referendum to recall him from power in 2004. They claim signatories suffer discrimination now. There has also been some dissent from people who support what he is trying to achieve. Nicaragua-born Bianca Jagger, for instance, criticised Chávez for supporting the Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega, even though Ortega has made what she sees as an unholy alliance with the rightwing in his country in this autumn's elections.

[I have stopped buying any Citgo product, years ago. A small protest I know, but nonetheless...Editor]

Full article's link:,,329481171-111259,00.html

Monday, May 08, 2006

Follow-up to May 1 story on Government snooping in data retention...

Here's the latest endorsement, by more Republican's, of government snooping of the ISP records...

WASHINGTON--A key Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives plans to find a way to force Internet providers to keep records of their customers' activities, an aide said Friday.

The aide said Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who chairs the House committee responsible for writing Internet and telecommunications law, has pledged to work on legislation related to mandatory data retention--a concept recently endorsed by the Bush administration as a way to crack down on child pornographers.

"We have made a commitment with the congresswoman to address that issue," David Cavicke, general counsel to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said at the Computers, Freedom & Privacy conference here. Cavicke was referring to Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, who has drafted legislation making it unlawful for an Internet provider to delete certain types of customer information.

The Link:

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Via Nick at The Rule of Reason, here's my map of states visited, so far. I've only been to one foreign country, Bermuda.
32 and counting...

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

Friday, May 05, 2006

Special Treatment....again

WASHINGTON - Rep. Patrick Kennedy (news, bio, voting record) says he'd taken a prescription anti-nausea drug that can cause drowsiness, but consumed no alcohol, before crashing his car near the Capitol.

In a statement, Kennedy, D-R.I., said the attending physician for Congress had prescribed Phenergan to treat Kennedy's gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.

Louis P. Cannon, president of the Washington chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, who was not on the scene, said the congressman had appeared intoxicated when he crashed his Ford Mustang into a barrier on Capitol Hill.

Cannon said the officers involved in the accident were instructed by an official "above the rank of patrolman" to take Kennedy home and no sobriety tests were conducted at the scene. [Italics mine.(If this were you or me, I can hear those handcuffs clicking on our wrists as I write this...)]

Kennedy said that after working Wednesday evening he went home and took "prescribed" amounts of Phenergan and Ambien, another drug that he sometimes takes to fall asleep.

In his statement, Kennedy said he was apparently disoriented from the drugs when he got up a little before 3 a.m. Thursday and drove to the Capitol thinking he needed to be present for a vote.

"At no time before the incident did I consume any alcohol," he said.

A letter written by a Capitol Police officer to Acting Chief Christopher McGaffin said Kennedy appeared to be staggering when he left the vehicle after the crash about 3 a.m. The letter was first reported by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

Kennedy reportedly told the police he was late for a vote, but the final vote of the night had taken place some six hours earlier.

The Capitol Police did not return phone calls for comment.

Kennedy spent time at a drug rehabilitation clinic before he went to Providence College. He has been open about mental health issues, including being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

New Hampshire can stop the coming federal police state

Has anyone heard the outcome of the Senate vote in NH?


THE NEW HAMPSHIRE Senate will soon vote on what might be the most important bill to protect our freedoms in many years. House Bill 1582, which the House overwhelmingly passed last month, would preclude New Hampshire from participating in the REAL ID Act, a federal law passed last year establishing a de facto national ID card.

The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 as a part of a "must-pass" military appropriations bill, though it had nothing whatsoever to do with the military. It requires that all states comply with certain federal requirements in the creation of driver's licenses, and would likely include a microchip containing information such as a digital photo, Social Security number and digital biometric information like the fingerprint or retinal scan of the license holder. It would force the repeal of several important privacy protections currently in New Hampshire law.

If a state doesn't comply with REAL ID, its residents risk being forced to purchase passports just to drive in other states or enter federal facilities. Thus, it reveals itself to be a Soviet-style internal passport.

History has shown that national identification systems are one of the critical pieces of infrastructure needed to foist complete tyranny upon a nation. They are used as the basis for tracking movements, purchases and monitoring activities

Full Article:

Monday, May 01, 2006

Feds set 'cover' for possible government invasion of ISP records


Last week, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a Republican, gave a speech saying that data retention by Internet service providers is an "issue that must be addressed." Child pornography investigations have been "hampered" because data may be routinely deleted, Gonzales warned.

Now, in a demonstration of bipartisan unity, a Democratic member of the Congressional Internet Caucus is preparing to introduce an amendment--perhaps during a U.S. House of Representatives floor vote next week--that would make such data deletion illegal.

Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette's proposal (click for PDF) says that any Internet service that "enables users to access content" must permanently retain records that would permit police to identify each user. The records could not be discarded until at least one year after the user's account was closed.

Here's the whole story:

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.

Op-eds, press releases and letters to the editor produced by the Ayn Rand Institute are submitted to hundreds of newspapers, radio stations and Web sites across the United States and abroad, and are made possible thanks to voluntary contributions.

Friday, March 31, 2006

How to Call the Police [True Story]


George Phillips of Meridian, Mississippi
was going up to bed when
his wife told him that he'd left the
light on in the garden shed,
which she could see from the bedroom
window. George opened the back
door to go turn off the light, but saw
that there were people in the
shed stealing things.

He phoned the police, who asked "Is
someone in your house?" and he
said no. Then they said that all
patrols were busy, and that he
should simply lock his door and an
officer would be along when
available. George said "Okay," hung up,
counted to 30, and phoned
the police again.
"Hello. I just called you a few seconds
ago because there were
people in my shed. Well, you don't have
to worry about them now
hung up.
Within five minutes, three police cars,
an Armed Response unit, and
an ambulance showed up at the Phillips'
residence. Of course, the
police caught the burglars red-handed.
One of the policemen said to George: "I
thought you said that you'd
shot them!"
George said, "I thought you said there
was nobody available!"