Thursday, January 29, 2009

Objectivist Round Up

It's that time of the week again! Frequent Morality War commenter Burgess Laughlin hosts this week's Round Up at his blog, Making Progress.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Origins of altruism

Just watched an ARC video on YouTube - excerpted from the "Capitalism Without Guilt" lecture - Yaron Brook giving his thoughts on the possible origins of altruism.

Interesting that he specifically associates it with Christianity. If altruism rose and spread along with Christianity, that would mean that it was the early Christian philosophers who came up with the idea, which was spread by Rome's adoption of Christianity as the state religion - by Constantine - in 300-something.

Which raises the question, what was it about about altruism that early Christian leaders saw that made it not merely a "superior" morality - at least, in their eyes - but a more effective political strategy? I can see the idea of self-sacrifice being very appealing to someone like Constantine, who might have seen it as a way of consolidating the power of the state. But were the early Christian leaders a bunch of petty tyrants drunk on the adulation of worshippers eager to sacrifice themselves? I can see the possibility of this from what little I know about the early days of Christianity, and the way some bishops were willing to stir up their followers over doctrinal disputes, leading to accounts of enraged mobs tearing each other apart over whether a particular verse belonged in the bible, or whether God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit were actually one and the same, or some such.

Definitely not pretty. And, of course, when Constantine adopted Christianity, it - and altruism - doomed Rome to eventual destruction, ushering in the Dark Ages, during which the residents of Rome forgot even how to write, among other things.

Update: Well, looks like I need to do some more research on the early history of Christianity. On perusing Wikipedia I discovered that it was not Constantine, but Theodosius I who made Christianity the official state religion of Rome - on February 27th, 380, to be exact.

A better path to prosperity

Sean Paige makes some excellent points regarding government "incentives".
EXCERPTS:

"Let’s start from the premise that we all want a thriving economy in Colorado Springs. But before we seriously consider paying cash incentives to companies as a means of influencing business decisions -- which is wrong on principle and highly questionable in practice -- let's ask ourselves a few hard questions.

Have Colorado Springs and El Paso County done everything in their power to create an optimal business climate in the Pike’s Peak region, by reducing barriers to entry, minimizing the hassle factor, streamlining the regulatory and permitting process, overhauling antiquated codes and zoning laws, addressing infrastructure challenges, and educating the workforce of tomorrow? Do we consistently work as a community to serve as an incubator for entrepreneurship and opportunity, and strive to make Colorado Springs nationally-known as a great place to do business (and not because we are willing to pay bribes)? Is our tax and regulatory climate calibrated to attract and grow businesses? Are enough of our schools world class?

Until we can honestly answer “yes” to these questions – and we can’t -- the subject of paying cash incentives shouldn’t even be seriously debated, in my opinion. And paying incentives will be self-defeating unless we address those other business climate factors first, since they still matter more to most companies than cash payments do – and they still hold the key to long-term economic vitality."

. . .

"Instead of looking for ways to expand government’s role in economic development, let’s re-examine government’s role in hindering and impeding job creation, and redouble our efforts to clear away the barriers government sets in the path to long-term economic opportunity and prosperity. That’s a far more fruitful place to "invest" our effort and attention than the short-cuts offered by those who want to turn taxpayers into venture capitalists. Playing the incentives "game," as was pointed out Sunday and Monday, is the lazy city’s way to faux prosperity. It benefits a few companies, and empowers a lot of consultants and self-styled “deal-makers,” at the expense of the taxpayers. And we don’t need to go there if we look at the business climate issue candidly and start to work getting the fundamentals right."
Hat tip: Ari Armstrong

Read the stimulus

http://www.readthestimulus.org

(Via Cal Thomas in The Oklahoman)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Oklahoma's cut

Some great online comments already for a story in today's The Oklahoman: "Oklahoma in line for $2 billion from new economic stimulus bill in U.S. House".

Here's mine:
The only "vital service" we need from the government is the protection of our rights. It is the government's "stewardship" of our economy that has gotten us into this mess in the first place. This so-called stimulus money is nothing more than a bribe to keep the government in control. Shame on anyone who takes it!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Celebrating Darwin

WOW! According to a story in the latest Oklahoma Gazette , the University of Oklahoma is one of the few places on the planet where you will find a complete collection of first editions of the works of Charles Darwin!

OU is planning a year-long celebration of the bicentennial of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his On the Origins of Species.

Perfect timing

Almost in response, seemingly, to the "mobile creation museum" at Christ Church in Yukon comes “Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular” at the Ford Center here in Oklahoma City.

Brandy McDonnell's review appears in today's The Oklahoman.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Be afraid

Now that Barack Obama has officially been sworn in as the President of the United States of America, it's time to take the gloves off.
"Tuesday may be regarded by future historians as the beginning of the end for the United States of America….When a politician masquerades as a messiah, be very afraid."
That's Ed Cline quoting The Scotsman's Gerald Warner. Click here to read the rest of Ed's essay on our latest President.

Armstrong on the New Deal

Ari Armstrong has posted a series of entries over the past seven days exploring various aspects of the New Deal, "make work" programs and implications for Obama's economic policy at FreeColorado.com which I highly recommend.

Hell, no!

From today's The Oklahoman:

Do we really want another New Deal?
By Rich Lowry

Barack Obama’s lefty admirers are agitating for a new New Deal. We’ll know that we’ve achieved that blessed state when the government destroys 6 million baby pigs — turning many of them into grease and fertilizer (anything but food) — to prop up the price of pork. Or when it plows under a quarter of the South’s cotton and slaughters pregnant cows.

American agricultural policy remains perverse to this day, but nobody is calling for the willy-nilly destruction of American crops and livestock as a means of checking deflation and fostering economic recovery. New Deal nostalgics forget all the elements of Franklin Roosevelt’s program that were frankly absurd and economically ruinous.

Should we want Obama to propose a quasi-militaristic program to empower business cartels to set prices, on the model of FDR’s National Recovery Administration? Should he take his cue from FDR and prosecute businesses that discount their products, giving strapped consumers a break? Should he triple taxes, hiking excise taxes on common consumer goods and imposing an entirely new payroll tax on employment? Should he crib from FDR’s speeches and demonize business and investors? Should he create government make-work jobs and pay people to clear trails in the national parks and unemployed artists to paint murals in post offices?

Much discussed topic

The New Deal has been much discussed lately as the country has plunged into its worst financial crisis since the 1930s. And an amazing event has occurred: The left has admitted that the New Deal did not in fact — as all Americans learned in their schoolbooks — end the Great Depression.

In 1938, the unemployment rate was back to 19 percent, as the country swooned into "the depression within the depression.” FDR’s advocates say the problem was that, after economic gains, he pulled back too soon on his program of deficit spending. As Jim Powell, author of "FDR’s Folly,” points out, this concedes that FDR had failed to foster a business climate strong enough for recovery. (Have any of Obama’s boosters noticed, by the way, that a program of massive deficit spending that will be quickly rolled up as soon as the economy begins to recover is exactly what Obama is proposing now?)

The worst mistake of the New Deal was keeping wages and prices artificially high, thus suppressing employment and consumer demand. UCLA economists Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian calculate that FDR’s pro-labor policies kept wages and unemployment 25 percent above what they would have been otherwise. (The old saw was the Depression wasn’t so bad — if you had a job.) "Salaries and prices fall when unemployment is high,” Ohanian has explained. "By artificially inflating both, the New Deal policies short-circuited the market’s self-correcting forces.”

World War II ended Depression

Most analysts agree that World War II ended the Depression. The left tries to appropriate the war for the New Deal by characterizing it as simply a public-works program writ large — as if global cataclysm, with millions killed, countries overrun by invading armies and major cities reduced to rubble, is just the thing we need to get an economy moving again. During World War II, 12 million men were conscripted into the military, food was rationed, and people couldn’t buy consumer goods like cars and appliances. Suffice it to say, its utility as a model for economic recovery is quite limited.

FDR was a prodigious political talent, whose high spirits and well-chosen words inspired the public, and a man of great personal courage. He left his imprint forever on American government, for better or worse. He was an exceptional wartime leader. Much can be said in his favor — except he didn’t end the Great Depression. Barack Obama, take note.

Big Government, not Big Media, Threatens Free Speech

From the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights:

Big Government, not Big Media, Threatens Free Speech
Contrary to widespread cries that media consolidation threatens free speech, the real threat comes from laws regulating media ownership.

By Don Watkins

Self-appointed consumer watchdogs--including Obama’s recent pick for FCC chair, Julius Genachowski--have long complained about media consolidation. So it was no surprise that when the FCC recently loosened restrictions barring companies from owning a newspaper and TV station in the same city, these critics went apoplectic and are now urging the House to follow the Senate in blocking the measure.

Media consolidation supposedly threatens free speech. A few conglomerates, critics warn, have seized control of our media outlets, enabling these companies to shove a single “corporate-friendly” perspective down our throats. As Senator Byron Dorgan put it, “The free flow of information in this country is not accommodated by having fewer and fewer voices determine what is out there. . . . You have five or six corporate interests that determine what Americans can see, hear, and read.”

Leave aside that Dorgan’s comments are hard to take seriously in the age of the Internet: his position is still a fantasy. Media consolidation is no threat to free speech--it is the result of individuals exercising that right.

All speech requires control of material resources, whether by standing on a soapbox, starting a blog, running a newspaper ad, or buying a radio station. Media corporations simply do this on a larger scale.

Consider the critics’ favorite bogeyman, News Corp. When Rupert Murdoch launched the company, he and his fellow shareholders pooled their wealth to create a communications platform capable of reaching millions. They further expanded their ability to communicate through mergers and acquisitions--that is, through media consolidation. As News Corp.’s owners, shareholders were able to exercise their freedom of speech by deciding what views their private property would (and wouldn’t) be used to promote--the same way a blogger decides what ideas to champion on his blog. Like most other media companies, News Corp. even extended the use of its platforms to speakers from all over the ideological map--including opponents of media consolidation.

Do News Corp.’s resources give Murdoch an advantage when it comes to promoting his views? Absolutely. Free speech doesn’t guarantee that everyone will have equal airtime, any more than free trade guarantees that every business will have the same amount of goods to trade. What it does guarantee is that everyone has the right to use his own property to speak his mind.

Some of today’s most prominent voices, such as Matt Drudge, have succeeded without huge financial resources. But regardless of how large a media company grows, it can never--Dorgan’s complaints notwithstanding--determine what media Americans consume. It must continually earn its audience. Fox News may be the leading news channel today, but if it doesn’t produce shows people want to watch, it will have all the influence of ham radio. Just think of how newspapers and the big-three network news stations are losing audiences to Web-based sources.

Now consider the actual meaning of government restrictions on media ownership. The FCC is telling certain Americans that they cannot operate a printing press or its equivalent. Such restrictions cannot protect free speech--they are in fact violations of the right to free speech. There is no essential difference between smashing someone’s printing press and threatening to fine and jail him if he uses one; either way, he can’t use it to express his views.

What galls critics of media consolidation is not that News Corp. stops anyone from speaking--it’s that they don’t like the choices Americans make when free speech is protected. In the words of one critic: “[M]arket forces provide neither adequate incentives to produce the high quality media product, nor adequate incentives to distribute sufficient amounts of diverse content necessary to meet consumer and citizen needs.” Translation: Can you believe what those stupid consumers willingly pay for? If I got to decide what Americans watched, read, and listened to, things would be different.

In order to “correct” the choices Americans make, these critics demand that the FCC violate the free speech rights of some speakers in order to prop up other speakers who, absent such favors, would be unable to earn an audience. In short, they want a gun-wielding Uncle Sam--not the voluntary choices of free individuals--to determine who can speak and therefore who you can listen to.

The critics of media consolidation are frauds. They are not defenders of free speech--they are dangerous enemies of that freedom.

Don Watkins is a writer and research specialist at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. The Ayn Rand Center is a division of the Ayn Rand Institute and promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”

Copyright © 2009 Ayn Rand® Center for Individual Rights. All rights reserved.

Religion at OCON

Two sessions at this year's Objectivist Summer Conference will explore the influence of religion in America.

Onkar Ghate will present The Separation of Church and State:
With religion on the rise in America, maintaining the separation of church and state is now a pressing issue. This talk will examine some of the history behind, as well as the arguments for and against, the principle of separating religion from government. It will consider contemporary ways in which the principle is being attacked and why even well-meaning Americans are increasingly unable to mount a defense. Finally, it will define what a proper, philosophical argument for the need to separate church from state looks like.
Eric Daniels will present Religion in American History:
Despite the secular basis of our government and the constitutional separation of church and state, religion has exerted enormous influence on American life from the importation of Puritan theocracy in the seventeenth century to the growing influence of evangelical religion in the twenty-first century.

This course investigates the historical development of religion in America. It examines the influence of religion as an institution, and religious ideas in the culture. By assessing the impact of religion on American politics and law, it highlights throughout how religion has acted to erode both capitalism and political freedom. The course evaluates the claims that America’s Founders were religious and that religious ideas helped ameliorate various social ills.

Without an understanding of how religion has featured in American life historically, one cannot fully defend America today from those who would revive a religious government or, worse, a modern theocracy.
The conference takes place July 3rd - 11th in Boston.

Religious bills in OK legislature

Vic Hutchison reports:

[The first bill introduced in the current session of the OK Legislature was HB 1001, the same 'Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act' vetoed by Governor Henry last session. This bill was discussed on an earlier post. For a complete analysis of this unconstitutional legislation view the item 'Analysis of HB 1001' in the left column of the OESE web site.

Also Senate Joint Resolution 8 was discussed earlier. This is another unconstitutional item that would place religious prayers into many aspects of public schools, but would require a vote of the people to change the Oklahoma Constitution which now has a very strong statement supporting church/state separation.

Now Senate Bill 320 ("Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act") was the first bill of this type filed this year in the U.S. It is essentially the same as the one in Louisiana that was signed into law there last year. This is continuation of a national movement of creationists to insert religion into science courses. As pointed out earlier by many scientific organizations this is just another attempt to place religion into public schools. It directly mentions evolution, climate warming, cloning, etc. as items where 'strengths and weaknesses' are to be covered; these are simply code buzz words used to attack science.
From Vic's OKLAHOMA EVOLUTION LIST SERVE newsletter of January 9th. OESE is Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education.

The 2009 session of the Oklahoma legislature opens February 2nd.

Dominionists converging on Oklahoma

Theocrats will descend on Oklahoma City on January 23rd & 24th for something called "Clouds Over America". As far as I can tell, this thing is being put together by a group called Reclaiming Oklahoma For Christ along with the John Birch Society, with the infamous Sally Kern taking part as well.

Creationism in Oklahoma

Local blogger ERV recently posted on creationist activity here in Oklahoma:
In case of the Apocalypse, Id like to be in Oklahoma. We make our own food, weve got our own oil, nice climate, everybody has guns, and we have a bountiful supply of Young Earth Creationists!
The post focuses on a certain G. Thomas Sharp, who also happens to have his own "mobile creationism museum" - and also is visiting Oklahoma this week.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pragmatism and principle

I ran across an op-ed entitled "Principles and Pragmatism" on the NY Times site today.

It quotes Senator Clinton as saying - during her confirmation hearing to become Obama’s secretary of state - that her approach to foreign policy would be based on
"principles and pragmatism, not rigid ideology; on facts and evidence, not emotion or prejudice."
So I submitted the following comment:
If Senator Clinton is offering "principles and pragmatism", she doesn't know what either of them are, since pragmatism is the rejection of principles.
It is currently awaiting moderation.

Update: My comment has been posted. It's #140. It's even gotten a recommendation from another reader!

LTEs in The Oklahoman

I've noticed a fair number of letters-to-the-editor in The Oklahoman that are supportive of free markets and opposed to government intervention. Letters in the Tulsa World don't seem quite as supportive - however, I have not been studying the World as closely as I have the Oklahoman.

I've been thinking about posting a number of the recent LTEs in The Oklahoman to give some idea of the kind of support Capitalism seems to have here in central Oklahoma - and comparing those with LTEs in the Tulsa World.

Recently, The Oklahoman has cut back on the number and frequency of LTEs - probably reflecting recent belt-tightening at the paper itself.

Here's a good one from today's The Oklahoman:
Once upon a time ...

Bernie Madoff is headed for jail for running a Ponzi scheme. If I understand this correctly, the scheme involves taking money from investors today to pay yesterday’s investors. Sound familiar? I paid into Social Security yesterday and it’s paying me today from money it takes from people it promises to pay tomorrow. I’m told the financial industry collapse was caused by lending money to homebuyers whose payments were more than their income. So the federal government, which already owes three times more than the gross national product, is borrowing money to give to banks that loaned money to people who owed more than their income. To stimulate the economy, the government is going to hire people to do jobs and pay them from money that it takes from people who don’t have government jobs.

We can all breathe a sigh of relief because only Madoff is headed for jail and everybody else can live happily ever after.

Tommie L. Matthews, Yukon

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Local Jewish community supports Israel

From today's The Oklahoman:
Oklahoma City Jewish community backs Israel
BY CARLA HINTON

The Oklahoma City Jewish faith community came together Monday to show support for Israel in its latest war.

The event, held at Temple B’nai Israel, 4901 N Pennsylvania, brought together representatives of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, Chabad Community Center, Emanuel Synagogue, Temple B’nai and the Hillel Foundation at the University of Oklahoma.

About 300 people attended the event and leaders said they gathered to support the state of Israel’s decision to defend itself against the violence of Hamas militants.

"We are gathering tonight as one community to join the hundreds of voices across the country expressing our concern for all the victims of terror in Israel and Gaza, and to pray for just and lasting peace,” Marcy Price, the Jewish Federation’s program director, said Monday night.

"We assemble with one message, one voice and one heart together for Israel and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against continuous violence towards its citizens.”

‘No other way’

Asher Yarden, Israel consul general of the southwest, traveled from Houston to share his thoughts with those gathered. He said Israeli government officials felt they had no choice but to fire on Gaza after almost eight years of violent attacks by Hamas militants.

Price said the Jewish faith community is concerned about the loss of Palestinian lives "but we see no other way for Israel to protect itself.”

Yarden agreed.

"They (Hamas) are very clear the only way to establish an Islamic state is through jihad. They don’t care about human life. For us, every human life is important,” Yarden said.

Yarden said Israel has the support of many congressional leaders.

In a statement read at Monday’s gathering, U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Oklahoma City, said Israel had "every right” to respond to terrorists.

Edie Roodman, the Jewish Federation’s executive director, has a daughter, Erielle, 25, who moved to Israel last year.

"I really believe Israel is doing what it has do,” she said. "No civilized country can leave its citizens unprotected.”

Monday, January 12, 2009

Aviation bailout?

Clark Lindsey at HobbySpace has this to say about the bailout:
The Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) legislation can accomplish a two-fer: it will bailout firms that made bad decisions and also help drive the business aviation industry into needing a bailout of its own: ‘TARP’ Language on Business Aviation Will Fuel General Aviation Job Losses - National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) - Jan.9.09 (via a reader). By requiring "divestment of private aircraft or leases", it will reduce direct demand for new biz-av vehicles and also dump used planes on the market, which reduces demand for new ones even further.

This response to the symbolism of automaker CEOs requesting bailout funds after flying to DC on their private jets might provide some temporary emotional satisfaction, but it is counter-productive for US manufacturing in the long run. General aviation, after all, is one of the areas where the country is still extremely competitive worldwide.
Check out the comments, too.

How to Stop the Next Madoff

Yaron Brook goes straight to the heart of the matter in this Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights press release:
How to Stop the Next Madoff
January 12, 2009

Washington, D.C.--“Want to stop the next Madoff? Gut the SEC,” says Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.

“Part of the reason Madoff’s misdeeds went undetected is that the Securities and Exchange Commission spends most of its time doing things the government has no business doing. The only legitimate job of a securities law enforcement division is to protect investors against the specific crimes of theft, fraud, and breach of contract.

“But the SEC plays a much different role. Its mandate is to attempt to make investing ‘safe’ by controlling every aspect of financial markets, from dictating the composition of mutual fund boards to mandating public release of executive compensation numbers that shareholders want kept private to determining when executives are allowed to sell stock--‘insider trade’--instead of leaving that to the discretion of a company’s owners.

“In pretending to guarantee to investors that their investments are sound, which is impossible, the SEC encourages the kind of blind group-think that characterized the Madoff investors. And with the SEC devoting itself to a sprawling array of elaborate witch-hunts, such as the ‘insider trading’ case against Mark Cuban, what time or attention does it have for real fraud?

“The answer--as is clear from the fact that a 29-point, 17-page report on Madoff, submitted in 1999, 2001, and 2005, entitled The World’s Largest Hedge Fund is a Fraud slipped through its cracks--is none.”

### ### ###

Yaron Brook is executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. He is a contributing editor of The Objective Standard and his articles have been featured in major publications such as Forbes.com, USA Today, the Houston Chronicle, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Providence Journal and the Orange County Register. Dr. Brook is often interviewed on radio and is a frequent guest on a variety of national TV shows, having appeared in the new Fox Business Network, FOX News Channel, CNN, CNBC, and C-SPAN. Dr. Brook, a former finance professor, lectures on Objectivism, capitalism, business and foreign policy at college campuses, community groups and corporations across America and throughout the world.

. . .

For more information on Objectivism’s unique point of view, go to ARC’s Web site. The Ayn Rand Center is a division of the Ayn Rand Institute and promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”

. . .

Copyright © 2009 Ayn Rand® Center for Individual Rights. All rights reserved.

Watch and Learn from Hugo Chavez

Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights press release:

Watch and Learn from Hugo Chavez
January 12, 2009

Washington, D.C.--Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez has halted construction of a private shopping mall in downtown Caracas as a first step toward confiscation. “We’re going to expropriate that and turn it into a hospital--I don’t know--a school, a university,” said Chavez on his weekly radio show.

“Americans can learn an important lesson from the spread of socialism in Venezuela,” said Thomas Bowden, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. “What is Chavez counting on when he grabs a private building and vows to make it into a hospital, school, or university? He’s counting on his listeners to excuse the seizure of private property because a higher moral purpose is supposedly being served.

“Chavez is relying on the fact that socialism embodies the world’s moral ideal of individual sacrifice for the ‘common good.’ History has taught him that no opponent will denounce that ideal. And so he climbs to the moral high ground, turning his back on socialism’s dismal historical record of economic decline, lost freedoms, and human misery.

“As long as the moral ideal of self-sacrifice remains unchallenged, socialism will continue to spread--not only in the third world, but in America as well.

“There is a rational alternative. It’s laissez-faire capitalism, which upholds the individual’s moral right to live and work for his own sake, not society’s. But to establish freedom we must dig up the moral roots that continue to nourish socialism worldwide.”

########

Mr. Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, focusing on legal issues. A former lawyer and law school instructor, who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore, Maryland, his op-eds have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Daily News, and many other newspapers. Mr. Bowden has given dozens of radio interviews and has appeared on Fox News Channel’s Hannity & Colmes.

. . .

For more information on Objectivism’s unique point of view, go to ARC’s Web site. The Ayn Rand Center promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”

. . .

Copyright © 2009 Ayn Rand® Center for Individual Rights. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Either-or

Jerry Brown gets it: his willingness to assert the principle that the majority cannot vote to take away the rights of the minority as the official policy of his office as California's attorney general may be the single most important political development I've seen in some time.

The pure collectivism espoused by the conservative supporters of Proposition 8 - who now openly declare that the will of the majority supercedes individual rights - shows that they have now completed their transition away from any pretense of a concern for limiting government. For decades now the Republicans have been me-too-ing the Democrats. Now, explicitly, there is no longer any fundamental difference between the two parties - though some might say that Brown represents a flip-flop: a Democrat who upholds the idea of a republic based on individual rights, as opposed to the Republicans who now stand for unbridled majority rule, which is what democracy really is.

And it is genuinely bizarre for Proposition 8 supporter Kenneth Starr to claim that Brown has invented "a completely new theory". Um, excuse me, Mr. Starr, have you not heard of the Bill of Rights?

Do you even know which country you're in?

According to the San Francisco Chronicle,
Brown's reasoning would confer upon the state Supreme Court power it has never had, attorneys Kenneth Starr and Andrew Pugno said in their response to the attorney general's December brief.

Brown "is inviting this court to declare a constitutional revolution," the attorneys argued in the 29-page response. "His extra-constitutional vision is one of unprecedented judicial hegemony, a sweeping power vested in the least-democratic branch that overrides the precious right of the people to determine how they will be governed."
No, Mr. Starr, I'm afraid you have it backwards. Mr. Brown is simply upholding the Constitution and Bill of Rights, which uphold the rights of the individual against the tyranny of the majority.

It is you, Mr. Starr, and others like you, who have declared a "constitutional revolution", a revolution to sweep aside the Constitution and its protection of the individual, allowing the individual to be trampled under the feet of the masses of the majority anytime that majority so chooses. Conservatives used to have a word for that: communism.

Mr. Brown is doing his job, and deserves to be commended by every freedom-loving individual in this country.