Short notes on Iraq, Syria - A few brief comments on recent developments in the Middle East: Yes, Iraq is unraveling: “Now we know—and to be honest, the answer is hardly a surprise. ...
5 minutes ago
"More precise thought needs to be given to what the protests are about if effective reform is to result. The cry cannot simply be to oppose ‘government’ per se. In a major financial crisis like the current one, when comparisons to the Great Depression are not unwarranted, it is the responsibility of the Federal authorities to take action to stabilize the economy and lay the groundwork for recover."This reminds me of the rhetoric used by many members of Congress - including some from Oklahoma - to explain their support for the bailout.
"There are some propositions for which scant empirical evidence can be marshaled, and the harmful effect of broadcast profanity on children is one of them," . . .Surely this is empirical evidence that Scalia is a base hypocrite for claiming to be a strict consitutionalist. For surely a strict constitutionalist would strike down the very existence of the FCC as a gross violation of the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech rather than making some lame ruling about protecting the ears of the nation's children.
Dear SCOTUS: your ruling today is a "fleeting expletive." The mere existence of the FCC violates the 1st Amendment.
Inhofe objects to a ruling by Hamilton that required the Indiana State legislature to abide by the disestablishment clause of the First Amendment:Prescott cites a post on a blog called Overruled, which says that Inhofe announced his intentions on the Senate floor on April 20th."Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion . . ."
because of his 2005 decision as a Federal district court judge presiding over the case Hinrichs v. Bosmah, in which he enjoined the Speaker of Indiana’s House of Representatives from permitting “sectarian” prayers to be offered as part of that body’s official proceedingsSo, if I have this straight, Inhofe is offended because Hamilton actually upheld the letter of the Constitution. But isn't following the Constitution to the letter what people like Inhofe supposedly want?
EXCERPT: "All of the questioners in the audience, save one, was against the monument. (emphasis mine - Rob) Some of them were outright angry about it. Midway through the Q&A period, they stopped asking questions and simply spoke their minds. When Dr. Gray decried the hostility toward religion, and posited that those who do not believe in God are practicing a “faith of their own,” he was loudly booed by nearly the whole room. Leah Farish was taken to task for suggesting that a belief in a “higher power” would make legislators think twice before acting immorally. A woman from the audience resented the notion that we need the incentive of “reward and punishment, carrot and stick” in order to be moral. Thornton apologized if he had given any impression that atheists were not moral."Wow! Not exactly what I expected from Tulsa, which I had come to regard as something of a hotbed of theocracy. If that's changing, I'm overjoyed to see it!
Journal Record: Group lobbies against stem cell bill; legislators fail to override veto (registration required)The Chambers were joined in their lobbying efforts by the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, whose spokesman, Adam Cohen, provided my favorite quote from the Journal Record article:
"the most effective research takes place when scientists have free range to follow their intellect."Emphasis mine!
The government has, once again, become a ruling aristocracy, set up as our masters, disposing of our lives. . . .
This is an attempt to seize your life, to destroy your sense of self as an independent human being, and to replace it with a being with no self-esteem and no capacity for individual action — a being doomed to beg for sustenance from an all-powerful ruling elite.
No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.Just about every legislator seems to want go to just about any length to avoid acknowledging that. And the theocrats have been turning themselves into pretzels to push a bill to erect a monument to the Ten Commandments on State Capitol grounds.
Wilson said the state constitution bans spending money on religious items.THANK YOU SENATOR WILSON!!!!!
The Ayn Rand Renaissance
EXCERPTS: The U.S. economy is in shambles. Government intervention into the economy is increasing by the day. Americans are alarmed and desperate for answers: What caused the crisis? What is the solution? That might sound like a description of today’s world, but in fact it’s sketch of the world of Ayn Rand’s 1957 classic novel “Atlas Shrugged.”
The tea parties testify to the outrage that many Americans feel toward Washington’s explosive growth in the past few decades — especially under Presidents Bush and Obama. “Atlas Shrugged” not only gives voice to this outrage, it provides both a profound explanation of the cause of today’s crisis–and a positive solution to it.
. . . “Atlas Shrugged” provides a way out: it provides a defense of the individual’s moral right to pursue his own happiness, which is the precondition for upholding the individual’s political right to pursue his own happiness.
Regarding "Pawn shops face uncertain future; Measure would cap interest rates at 36%” (news feature, April 5): If groups ranging from the Consumers Union to the NAACP and the National Fair Housing Alliance want to control the interest rate charged on pawn shop and payday loans, why don’t they go into the business themselves? Unless there’s a law that dictates the minimum amount of interest charged on a loan, they could charge as little as they want. Or is the market setting the interest rate? Are there so many defaults that in order to make anything, a high rate has to be charged to those who do pay?
If the pawn shops and payday lenders are making so much money, why isn’t there more competition?
Cheryl Carlton, Ponca City
As Republicans we believe:
1. Our rights of life, liberty, and property are natural rights granted to us by God and protected by the Constitution.
4. God is the Author and Creator of life and that all human life, both born and unborn, should be protected.
5. In traditional marriage consisting of one man and one woman.
I. FAMILY" . . . each individual should be treated with dignity and compassion." Does that include Gays and Lesbians?
Traditional marriage, consisting of one man and one woman, is designed to provide for each family member’s physical, emotional, financial, spiritual, and social well-being. Both parents are needed to support and encourage happiness, health, and a good education for their children, creating the next generation of citizens who are constructive members of society. Multi-generational families foster mutual respect and cooperation while providing support for extended family members and forming enduring relationships. We believe God is the Author and Creator of human life and that each individual should be treated with dignity and compassion. We insist that any candidate receiving money and/or support from the Republican Party shall affirm and promote the Pro-Life concept.
2. We believe in the sanctity and value of human life from conception through natural death. We oppose abortion (including the use of RU-486 or other abortion-inducing drugs), partial-birth abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, mercy killings, embryonic stem-cell research, cloning, distribution of cloned parts, and the funding of such by the government. We believe that human embryos created by Invitro-Fertilization (IVF) are fully human and if not wanted by the genetic parents, should be preserved until adoption. We support a Constitutional Amendment protecting innocent human life.Please explain to me how individualism, Capitalism and the right to pursue happiness have anything to do with "traditional Judeo-Christian ethics and values". To assert that they do is an out-and-out lie.
D. Elderly and Vulnerable
1. We support the origin and sanctity of life as an inalienable right from God alone, and as being defined in the Constitution of the United States. This definition of life begins with conception and ends at natural death due to the failure of the body to survive it’s environment. We support the protection of those who cannot defend themselves including the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly.
E. Religious Freedom
1. Our Founding Fathers based our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and early laws on the Bible and on traditional Judeo-Christian ethics and values. We believe these documents are the basis for law, order, and behavior, allowing individuals, including government workers and officials, the freedom to involve God in all activities according to their conscience.
F. GeneralAnyone who opposes the elimination of sodomy laws cannot claim to support the principle of individual rights.
1. We oppose the promotion of homosexuality, the elimination of laws against sodomy, and the granting of minority protection or special status to any person based upon sexual preference or lifestyle choices.
2. We believe that homosexuality is not a genetic trait but a chosen lifestyle.
We call for individuals, families, churches, and private organizations to take responsibility in meeting the needs of the citizens of the community.Oh my, this does sound suspiciously like Obama's "community organizing" idea. In other words, you want everyone to meddle in everyone else's lives - that is, to be their brother's keeper (now there's a traditional Judeo-Christian value).
We encourage rigorous enforcement of all anti-pornography laws.So much for freedom of speech and press.
II. EDUCATIONI'd watch out for those "critical thinking skills" if I were you. They can turn around and bite you.
We acknowledge our dependence upon Almighty God and ask His blessings upon our students and their parents, teachers and nation. It is the right and responsibility of parents to direct their children’s upbringing and education whether public, private, charter, or home school, without interference, regulation, or penalty from the government.
The primary goal of public schools should be to teach proficiency in the basic subjects of phonicsbased reading, written and oral communication, mathematics, sciences, traditional history, including our founding documents, the Godly heritage of our nation, and critical thinking skills.
The traditional family unit, consisting of a (husband) man, (wife) woman and child(ren), is the foundation of our social structure. The Oklahoma Department of Education and various Boards of Regents should uphold and teach this definition of traditional family at all levels of public school and higher education.How is this going to do anything but confuse those who are developing their "critical thinking skills" when they see how much the Bill of Rights clashes with the Ten Commandments? Hmm?
The Ten Commandments should be posted in all public schools as a means of moral guidance along with our national motto “In God We Trust” and the Bill of Rights.
Public schools shall not prohibit the Judeo-Christian worldview upon which our country was founded. Public schools shall be prohibited from promoting other worldviews such as, but not limited to, secular Humanism, New Age philosophy, deep ecology, reincarnation,psychotherapy, channeling, transcendental meditation, altered states of consciousness or any occult practice.Oh really? I suppose that includes Objectivism and the works of Ayn Rand?
We believe that the scientific evidence supporting Intelligent Design and biblical creation should be included in the Oklahoma public school curricula, and where any evolution theory is taught, that both should receive equal funding, class time, and material. Teachers should have the freedom to cover creation science without fear of intimidation or reprimand.Why does this not surprise me?
Any mandated sex education shall hold to the following guidelines:I guess prisoners don't deserve any religious freedom.
a. Neither homosexual nor extramarital sexual activity shall be presented as safe, nor shall they be presented as morally or socially acceptable behaviors.
b. HIV shall be presented as incurable and fatal.
c. Abstinence or lifetime fidelity shall be presented as the only safe sexual practice.
9. We oppose the portrayal of homosexual or promiscuous behavior in a positive light in public schools.
A. Crime and Punishment
1. We believe that the final solution to all crime is a change of heart and support the utilization of Christian faith-based and privately-financed programs to reduce recidivism and for the treatment of drug offenders as an alternative to prison.
IV. FEDERALHmmm . . . they don't want "state-sponsored or preferred religion". But how do they feel about laws that promote the views of a specific religion?
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land and should be interpreted according to the original intent of the founding fathers. We call for reaffirmation of our God-given rights enumerated in the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights. Our founding fathers based the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and early laws on traditional Judeo-Christian Bible, ethics and values. We believe that these documents are the basis for law, order, and
behavior, allowing individuals, including government officials, the freedom to involve God in all activities according to their consciences.
D. Constitutional Issues
1. We affirm our right under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to exercise our freedom of speech including religious speech. We believe the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause was intended to prevent a state-sponsored or preferred religion, not to separate God from our government or to remove religion from public life.
"We believe in limited government, individual liberty, and personal moral responsibility."This is pure hypocrisy: anyone who genuinely believed that individuals were responsible for their own moral judgement would not do everything they could to prevent individuals from exercising their own moral judgement. Yet this proposed platform does just exactly that.
The rational egotistThe draft I sent in used "egoist" instead of "egotist" in some places. As Ayn Rand once noted, "egotist" is not the best word to describe the person who practices rational selfishness: "egoist" is better. But it's the word Rose used in his letter, and I think public confusion over the issue makes it a quibble in this instance.
Lee V. Rose (Your Views, April 4) is right to blame politicians for creating the current economic situation. But I disagree with Rose’s accusation of egotism. Altruism, not egotism, gives politicians the excuse they need to indulge their power lust. What better way to gain power over people than to tell them they must live everyone else’s lives for them? The idea of sacrifice is what enables altruists to demand that people attempt to live others’ lives for them rather than follow their own dreams. Altruists wrongly reject the idea that you can enjoy a successful and fulfilling life without sacrificing yourself to others and, more importantly, without sacrificing others to yourself.
The rational egotist knows it’s possible to get what he wants out of life without hurting anyone. So long as the conventional morality of altruism is accepted, situations like the current economic crisis will happen again and again. Until people learn the truth about rational egotism and decide to actually give it a chance, capitalism and freedom remain at risk.
Rob Abiera, Oklahoma City
Giles establishes that many of America's founders were Christian and promoted religion. But nobody doubts that fact. Nor does it make America a "Christian nation" in any non-trivial sense of the term. Like fellow columnist David Limbaugh, Giles makes no effort to show how the Bible supposedly laid the groundwork for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution -- because the Bible does no such thing.The Founding Fathers could have chosen to base America's government on explicitly Christian principles. But they didn't. That is what's important.
If you want to work against the culture of self-sacrifice, and for the Human's individual human right to pursue his own happiness on Earth, then, and especially in contexts where you find yourself on the same side of the barricade with people of mixed premises who on other issues advocate for evil, the advocate of individual rights must make sure that his own basic principles are clearly and openly defined. The alternative, of hiding principles in the name of collaboration, amounts in the long-term to philosophical and practical suicide. And to those who "cited" the exact opposite of what Ayn Rand wrote: if you venture to cite Ayn Rand, at least try first to grasp what she actually said.This is a huge issue here in Oklahoma due to the prevalence of social conservatives who seek to have religious dogma encoded into law and is one of the reasons why I created my new website at www.robabiera.com. Some liberals in Oklahoma, as elsewhere, have chosen to follow social conservatives into this religious quagmire.
Does this mean (thanks, to Al Brown, for asking in Comments) that Objectivists must refrain from any and all collaborations and alliances in our political activism? No, not at all. When a potential collaborator shares our basic basic principles, the most consistent among the allies - the Objectivist - has the most to win. It is only in collaboration with those, whose basic principles are different from ours, that Objectivists lose. In politics, those basic principles are:1. Individual human rights, the necessary preconditions for being able to live a life appropriate to a human, are facts of reality, objectively knowable from the evidence of the human senses, and neither arbitrary nor supernatural.
2. These pre-conditions include non-interference by others with one's life, liberty, and the pursuit of one's own happiness on Earth.
3. The only proper function of government is to secure these rights - by bringing the legitimate use of force among individuals under the control of objective law.
"The government needs to stay out of our business."That's Edye Lucas, as quoted in an article in The Journal Record, on efforts by Oklahoma horse owners to resist regulation by the government of equine dentistry. The owners are being assisted in their effort by the Institute for Justice, which also filed a lawsuit in Texas last year on behalf of equine dentistry practitioners.
EXCERPT: If the banks are forced to keep TARP cash -- which was often forced on them in the first place -- the Obama team can work its will on the financial system to unprecedented degree. That's what's happening right now.
Here's a true story first reported by my Fox News colleague Andrew Napolitano (with the names and some details obscured to prevent retaliation). Under the Bush team a prominent and profitable bank, under threat of a damaging public audit, was forced to accept less than $1 billion of TARP money. The government insisted on buying a new class of preferred stock which gave it a tiny, minority position. The money flowed to the bank. Arguably, back then, the Bush administration was acting for purely economic reasons. It wanted to recapitalize the banks to halt a financial panic.
Fast forward to today, and that same bank is begging to give the money back. The chairman offers to write a check, now, with interest. He's been sitting on the cash for months and has felt the dead hand of government threatening to run his business and dictate pay scales. He sees the writing on the wall and he wants out. But the Obama team says no, since unlike the smaller banks that gave their TARP money back, this bank is far more prominent. The bank has also been threatened with "adverse" consequences if its chairman persists. That's politics talking, not economics.
A Tea Party Without Egoism Is like a Republic Without a ChanceI will also post it on the OKC Tea Party Facebook page.
America was founded on the individual’s rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. But, contrary to the beliefs of many Americans, these rights are, by their very nature, egoistic. The freedom to live one’s life as one sees fit, to act on one’s judgment, to keep and use the product of one’s effort, and to pursue one’s happiness is the freedom to act in a consistently self-interested manner. The politics of freedom is the politics of self-interest — and it is entirely incompatible with the widely accepted notion that self-interest is morally wrong and self-sacrifice is morally right. This — Americans’ acceptance of the morality of self-sacrifice — is the fundamental reason we are losing our Republic.
Those who want to fight for a return to the Land of Liberty must embrace the morality on which liberty depends: the morality of egoism. And to do so, they must understand its nature and implications; they must grasp what egoism is, why it is true, and what it means in practice. The Objective Standard is a quarterly journal dedicated to elucidating the principles of egoism and applying them to the cultural and political issues of the day. Everyone concerned with the future should be reading this journal today.
Of course, once the mob-rule mentality takes hold, everyone becomes a potential target. If you obtain a mortgage or a college loan, the government may subject you too to “risk regulation.” You may be told that you can’t buy a plasma TV or take a vacation or quit your job, because the risk to your finances is “unacceptable.” But isn’t that a purely private decision?--you will indignantly demand. If government power keeps expanding, however, there may no longer be any private decisions.
If Obama has his way, the change that is coming is a new America: "fair,” leveled and social democratic. Obama didn’t get elected to warranty your muffler. He’s here to warranty your life.Here's the comment I left. I know a proper response requires much more, but that's territory that's already been covered by Ayn Rand. I think this sums up the way I feel:
Dear President Obama: Keep your damn hands off my life!
Campolo Diminishes Himself in Oklahoma
EXCERPTS: I went to Oklahoma City yesterday to hear Tony Campolo speak on "Volunteerism" in an event sponsored by the Oklahoma Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and its parent organization the Oklahoma Department of Human Services along with the United Way and the University of Oklahoma.
I used to be a big fan of Tony Campolo. Until yesterday, I thought his form of faith and mine were nearly identical. In times past, I've heard him speak as an advocate for separation of church and state. Yesterday, however, his actions did not match his previous rhetoric on that subject. . . .
Campolo's sermon was the first sermon I've ever heard from a moderate or progressive Baptist that was solicited, endorsed and introduced by an agent of the state acting in an official capacity and supported by funding from U.S. and/or State of Oklahoma tax dollars.