Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Truth About Cars and Trucks

Holman Jenkins spells out America's actual auto policy in the WSJ.

Abortion and slavery

Ari Armstrong writes about the prospects of religious-right candidates in Colorado following Marilyn Musgrave to defeat.

He also examines the misrepresentation of a statement by Dawn Johnsen, former NARAL counsel and nominee for the head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, who once wrote that forcing a woman to bear a child was "disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude". Opponents of abortion, including Musgrave, have implied that Johnsen's statement means she believes that all pregnancy - whether chosen or forced - is equivalent to slavery.

Forcing a woman to bear a child she does not want is more than merely suggestive of slavery.

Slavery is obviously not a word that applies to a woman who freely chooses to carry a child, give birth to it and raise it because that is what she genuinely desires.

Thug Rule in Washington

Rituparna Basu blogs at The Undercurrent on Ken Lewis' testimony about Bank of America.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Of Conservatism, Ayn Rand and Tea Parties

In his latest post at Rule of Reason, Ed Cline contrasts conservatives' reactions to the publication of Atlas Shrugged 50 years ago with criticism by today's conservative idealogues of the Tea Parties.

Cline quotes William R. Hawkins:
"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.

Cline reminds us that Ayn Rand was "neither an anarchist nor a libertarian".

Free Speech, the Supreme Court and the FCC

The WSJ, in its report on the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the FCC's authority to punish broadcasters over expletives, quotes Justice Antonin Scalia as writing, in the majority's decision,
"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.

Here's Don Watkins' blog post on this at Voices for Reason.

And thanks to bigpuzy for this tweet:
Dear SCOTUS: your ruling today is a "fleeting expletive." The mere existence of the FCC violates the 1st Amendment.

Health on the fast track

Paul Hsieh of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine has the details about Obama's plan to ramrod his health-care legislation through Congress.

Now is the time for Americans to contact their Democratic Senators and Representatives and tell them to vote NO on Obama's health-care plan.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Inhofe objects to judge following constitution

According to a blog post by Bruce Prescott, former president of the Oklahoma Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Senator Jim Inhofe has threatened to filibuster Obama judicial nominee David Hamilton.

Why? According to Prescott:
Inhofe objects to a ruling by Hamilton that required the Indiana State legislature to abide by the disestablishment clause of the First Amendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion . . ."
Prescott cites a post on a blog called Overruled, which says that Inhofe announced his intentions on the Senate floor on April 20th.

Apparently, Inhofe is upset with Hamilton
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 proceedings
So, 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?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Must-see TV

The Ayn Rand Center's Yaron Brook is now a regular on Pajamas TV and will be appearing at least every Friday to discuss current events with host Allen Barton and Terry Jones, associate editor of Investors Business Daily.

In the latest edition of PJTV's Economy and Financial Review, the topic is "Obama's First 100 Days": the staggering growth in government power is examined and possibilities for the next 100 days of the Obama administration are considered.

You might not want to watch this one too late at night. The picture that emerges is not a pretty one - and the indications that Obama may be setting his sights on the health care industry and environmentalism - in the form of carbon trading - are frightening when one considers the possibility of the government extending its power over what could amount to twenty percent - one-fifth - of the country's economy.

The situation is made worse because there is no effective opposition from Republicans on these issues. As Brook points out, the Republicans concede the basic premises of the Democrats on health care and the environment and publicly espouse the same goals in slightly diluted form.

And THAT is the real danger.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tea Party radio

Oklahoma City Tea Party organizer Alan Webb will be hosting his own radio show LIVE at 5:30PM Oklahoma time today.

He even has a call-in number!


Brook: Rand on greed, more

Voices for Reason points to an interview with Yaron Brook that I don't think I've seen before. Brook discusses Rand's views on greed and sales of Atlas Shrugged, among other things.

Tulsans oppose Ten Commandments monument

Here's a report on a forum in Tulsa to discuss Mike Ritze's proposed Ten Commandments monument on the State Capitol grounds.
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!

Chambers lobby against stem-cell bill

I usually find myself disagreeing - rather vehemently - with the overt promotion of corporate welfare conducted by the Tulsa and Oklahoma City Chambers of Commerce.

However, I am delighted to find myself agreeing with the Chambers in their opposition to the stem-cell research bill vetoed by Governor Henry. It takes a lot for organizations like them to stick their necks out on an issue like this in a place like Oklahoma. I hope they will speak out in support of the separation of church and state in the future.
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!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by Rational Jenn.

Stem-cell veto sustained

The Oklahoma legislature has failed to override a veto by Governor Henry of a bill that would outlaw embryonic stem-cell research in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoman published an editorial today by opponents of the bill, asking legislators to sustain the governor's veto:
Research is pro-life and pro-cure

More John Lewis

Here's a link to the complete text of the speech given by Dr. John Lewis at the Charlotte, NC Tax Day Tea Party.

AND here are a couple excerpts:
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.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A reminder

Where there is no carbon footprint, there is no life.
On April 22, Celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Give that man a medal!

The Oklahoma Constitution, Article II, Section 5, specifically forbids the use of state funds and property for any religious purpose whatsoever.
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.

Not so for state Senator Jim Wilson, Democrat from Tahlequah, who is now on record for acknowledging it in the Tulsa World:
Wilson said the state constitution bans spending money on religious items.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Ayn Rand Renaissance

Yaron Brook has an entry on the Fox News blog:
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.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Judge refers to Rand

WOW! Now here's some real news! According to the ARC blog, Voices for Reason, a judge in Montana included a reference to Ayn Rand, her works and her ideas in his written opinion in a case before the Montana Supreme Court!


Now I know it's too early to "go John Galt"!

Don't like the way a business is run? Start your own!

In her letter in today's The Oklahoman, Cheryl Carlton makes a point that I have long held myself: if you don't like the way somebody runs their business, start your own! Don't just run to the government demanding that they force everybody else to run their businesses differently. In a free market, no one is forcing you to patronize any specific establishment. If you don't like the way one establishment is run, go somewhere else. Start your own business. Buy a different product.
Market effects?

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

Brogdon to announce for governor

Oklahoma state Senator Randy Brogdon, a false friend of freedom who is every bit as theocratic as Sally Kern, will officially announce his candidacy for governor at the state convention of the Oklahoma Republican Party today, according to this story in The Oklahoman.

Friday, April 17, 2009

More Yaron Brook!

Yaron Brook is in a new segment of Pajamas TV, discussing the possibility of a recovery of the economy.

According to the Ayn Rand Center, Brook is now a regular on Pajamas TV, so keep an eye out for upcoming appearances!

OK GOP platform

The Oklahoma Republican Party holds its state convention this weekend - one of the events that is scheduled to take place is a vote on the state party's platform.

I have seen an advance copy of a draft of the proposed platform - officially the "Report of the Oklahoma Republican Party Platform Committee 2009" - for the party that is supposed to stand for smaller government: it is 29 pages long! I suppose that should be considered an improvement over the inches-thick monstrosity the party adopted several years ago.

If anyone is laboring under the illusion that the OK GOP does not want to micro-manage the lives of individual Oklahomans every bit as much as - if not more than - the Democrats - this document goes a long way toward smashing that idea.

The document also makes it very clear what the motivation for that micro-management is: Religion. It should come as no surprise that the chairs of the platform committee are well-known theocrats: Randy Brogdon and Kevin Calvey.

Here are some highlights:
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.

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.
" . . . each individual should be treated with dignity and compassion." Does that include Gays and Lesbians?
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.

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.
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.
F. General
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.
Anyone who opposes the elimination of sodomy laws cannot claim to support the principle of individual rights.
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.
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.
I'd watch out for those "critical thinking skills" if I were you. They can turn around and bite you.
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.

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.
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?
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:
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.
I guess prisoners don't deserve any religious freedom.
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.
Hmmm . . . 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 whole document begins with this statement:
"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.

And I damn them for it.

I have just one thing to say to the Republicans of Oklahoma: Marilyn Musgrave. Don't think it can't happen here.

OKC Tea Pary organizer's speech

Here's a link to the speech made by Oklahoma City Tax Day Tea Party organizer Alan Webb on the South Steps of the State Capitol on Wednesday.

John Lewis

Diana Hsieh passes along John Lewis's experience at a Tea Party in Charlotte, NC - including video!

"autonomous individuals with independent minds" - I like that!

Yaron Brook on the Tea Parties

The Ayn Rand Center's Yaron Brook spoke about the need of the Tea Party movement for an intellectual foundation in this interview at PajamasTV.

You'll need to register - it's free - to view it.

Today's LTE's

While I can admire the emotions expressed in at least a couple of the letters in today's The Oklahoman, specifically those by Wayne Hess and Dickie Betts, I note that they are unable or unwilling to consider the deeper, philosophical causes of the situations they are so justifiably frustrated with.

Were they to do so, they would at least discover why they are justified in their frustration.

They would also discover why Steve Byas is maintaining a contradiction when he declares that Tom Tancredo and Mitt Romney are proponents of individual liberty - when they are both, in fact, theocrats who advocate laws based on religious dogma.

This, to me, is evidence of the correctness of those who say that the spirit of the Tea Party movement cannot be maintained without an intellectual foundation.

And further, that it cannot be maintained without a positive focus. It is not enough merely to fight against higher taxes and government expansion. We must fight for the thing that gives meaning to the fight against higher taxes and government expansion: Liberty.

To do so, we must fight for the thing that gives Liberty meaning: the absolute right of an individual to live his own life for his own sake.

The Oklahoman on the Tea Parties

Today's The Oklahoman has an editorial on Wednesday's Tax Day Tea Parties:
Rallies reveal widespread, bipartisan frustration

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Oklahoman: veto research ban

The Oklahoman published an editorial today calling on Governor Henry to veto a bill which would ban embryonic stem cell research in Oklahoma:
Legislature overreaching in stem cell research ban

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by Tito's Blog.

Quoting the Partyers

When I attended the Tax Day Tea Party here in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, I was standing across the street from the State Capitol building amongst a crowd of people that overflowed the South Steps and spilled across the street into the parking lot south of the Capitol. The sound system used by the organizers was just barely adequate for such a turnout: while I was able to hear much of what was said by the speakers, there was a fair amount that was lost in the crowd noise, people on cell phones behind me and news helicopters flying overhead. Even if I had moved closer I think I still would have missed some of it - not just from the crowd noise but from allowing myself to be distracted by my desire to observe goings-on away from the podium.

According to a commenter to my previous post on the event, I may not have got the gist of what one speaker was saying correctly. I did not record the speeches, nor did I take notes, and my remarks concerning what was said were based on what I remembered after the fact.

I think the organizers would really help their case if they would post transcripts of the speeches that were made yesterday. Until then, Michael McNutt's report for The Oklahoman contains a few quotes from some of the speeches.

Objectivists at the Tea Parties

Someone started a blog devoted to the experiences of supporters of Ayn Rand at yesterday's Tax Day Tea Parties.
Ayn Rand Tea Party

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Partying in Oklahoma City

A few notes on today's Tax Day Tea Party at the State Capitol:

As I was coming down 23rd Street on my way to the Capitol, I noticed traffic backing up. At first I thought it might be part of the noon rush, but then it occurred to me that some of it might be people going to the Capitol for the rally.

I think some of it was: since returning home and checking online reports, I've seen estimates of between 2000 and 8000 people in the crowd. Capitol police officers reportedly estimated 4000.

There were a LOT of Gadsden flags flying (that's the one with the snake and "DON'T TREAD ON ME") - at least a dozen.

A lot of good signs: a few big ones with the names of the members of the Oklahoma Congressional delegation who voted for the original bailout bill - which was ALL of them, except for Inhofe, if I remember correctly. One sign said "I (heart) Capitalism". A tea themed sign: "I prefer sweet tea to koolaid".

I wore my ARI Ayn Rand Centenary T-Shirt. One young man with a group weaving their way through the crowd noticed my shirt as he went by and flipped his sign over to reveal the message, "Who is John Galt?"

The speeches were a mixed bag. Most of the speakers focused on taxes. One of them mentioned Daniel Hannan - I had posted his video on the OKC Tea Party Facebook page, along with some Ayn Rand Center links. Much was made of the popular dissatisfaction with government. There were a couple references to God. I was glad to hear the words "freedom" and "liberty" mentioned several times but I was also very disappointed when one speaker at the end - it may have been Mark Shannon - brought up a social-conservative laundry list of issues including abortion, gay rights and immigration that were completely beside the point - anti-freedom, in fact.

I have to admit it was very refreshing to see a crowd of that size in front of the Capitol and see NO politicians at the microphone!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tea Party coverage

Just noticed this story on
Rallies planned at Capitol, across Oklahoma
I'm planning to be at the OKC Tea Party at the State Capitol & will try to post on it when I get back.

Rational selfishness

The Oklahoman published my LTE today:
The rational egotist

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
The 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.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Is America a Christian nation?

As a commenter to Ari Armstrong's post, Giles's Guile, points out, America's Founding Fathers had every opportunity to create a theocracy in this country.

But they didn't.

This suggests to me that whether America is or is not a "Christian nation" is beside the point. America is not a theocracy.

That is the point.
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.

Armstrong elaborates on the distinction between the principles of Christianity and the principles of American government in his post
Bill of Rights Versus Ten Commandments

Oklahoma Tea Parties

I'm listening to the organizers of the Oklahoma City Tax Day Tea Party and one of them just mentioned that there will be 33 Tea Parties in Oklahoma on Wednesday!


Ayn Rand Center on the Tea Parties

The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights has created a new page of resources about the "Tea Party" phenomenon. The page includes links to material created specifically in response to this phenomenon, such as this video:

Tech industry and immigration

Today's NY Times also has a story about the impact of immigration restrictions on the tech industry:
Tech Recruiting Clashes With Immigration Rules

Bailout brain drain

Bankers respond to conditions imposed by the government as part of the bailout by leaving for firms that did not accept bailout money:
NY Times: Crisis Altering Wall St. As Stars Begin to Scatter

Friday, April 10, 2009


Adam Reed has returned to blogging (YAY! and FINALLY!) with a typically fantastic post that bears close study and reflection. Here's an excerpt:

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.

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.
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 Some liberals in Oklahoma, as elsewhere, have chosen to follow social conservatives into this religious quagmire.

On that site I declare my own basic principles, as well as my past experience with liberal and libertarian groups in Oklahoma - which I no longer work with. I have decided to conduct my own personal activism on an ad hoc, case-by-case basis focused on specific principles rather than groups. My current activism remains focused on this blog, which has contributed greatly to the development of my ability to express my understanding of the principles of Objectivism.

The campaign for Objectivism and freedom remains - at this time - a primarily moral one rather than a political one.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Oklahoma horse owners pursue liberty

"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.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Permanent bailout?

WSJ, April 4th, Stuart Varney:
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.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tea Parties and morality

Craig Biddle of The Objective Standard has created a flyer for people to print and hand out at the Tax Day Tea parties that are being planned around the nation on April 15th. Unfortunately, the organizers of the Oklahoma City Tea Party have chosen not to allow any outside literature to be distributed at their event at noon at the State Capitol.

So in lieu of handing it out there, I am posting the text here:
A Tea Party Without Egoism Is like a Republic Without a Chance

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.
I will also post it on the OKC Tea Party Facebook page.

The mob wants to live your life for you

Our country is transforming itself into the Twentieth Century Motor Company, according to a chilling new op-ed by Peter Schwartz, "Mob Rule Comes to Washington", issued today by the Ayn Rand Center for Indivdual Rights:
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.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Press release

News Release
For Immediate Release: April 3, 2008
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal: 515-281-3901
House Speaker Pat Murphy: 515-281-0817

Iowa continues to be a leader in guaranteeing civil rights

This is a joint statement from Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy on today's Supreme Court decision:

"Thanks to today's decision, Iowa continues to be a leader in guaranteeing all of our citizens' equal rights.

"The court has ruled today that when two Iowans promise to share their lives together, state law will respect that commitment, regardless of whether the couple is gay or straight.

"When all is said and done, we believe the only lasting question about today's events will be why it took us so long. It is a tough question to answer because treating everyone fairly is really a matter of Iowa common sense and Iowa common decency.

"Today, the Iowa Supreme Court has reaffirmed those Iowa values by ruling that gay and lesbian Iowans have all the same rights and responsibilities of citizenship as any other Iowan.

"Iowa has always been a leader in the area of civil rights.

"In 1839, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected slavery in a decision that found that a slave named Ralph became free when he stepped on Iowa soil, 26 years before the end of the Civil War decided the issue.

"In 1868, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that racially segregated "separate but equal" schools had no place in Iowa, 85 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.

"In 1873, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against racial discrimination in public accommodations, 91 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.

"In 1869, Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law.

"In the case of recognizing loving relationships between two adults, the Iowa Supreme Court is once again taking a leadership position on civil rights.

"Today, we congratulate the thousands of Iowans who now can express their love for each other and have it recognized by our laws."

Friday, April 3, 2009

The proper role of government

Contrary to those who are sure to bash the Iowa Supreme Court for going against "the will of the majority", the court's ruling to uphold same-gender marriage is, in fact, a demonstration of the proper function of government, which is to uphold individual rights.

We live in a republic, not a democracy, and individual rights - if they are to have any meaning at all - must be inviolable. To allow the rights of the individual to be subject to the whim of the majority is to enforce a tyranny of the majority.

The only way to guarantee the freedom of every citizen is to guarantee the rights of every citizen.

Those who complain about judges going against "the will of the people" are enemies of freedom who are attacking judges for performing precisely the function which a republic based on individual rights demands of them.

Dear President Obama

I don't usually have much use for Charles Krauthammer, but his op-ed in this morning's The Oklahoman contained something that I just had to respond to:
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!

Religious Left wants government power, too

Judging by this post from Bruce Prescott - a former president of the Oklahoma chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State - social conservatives are not the only ones lending their support to the blatantly un-Constitutional Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.
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.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by Rational Jenn.

Yes, it does

If your patience has been worn thin lately by the puerile irrationalism of those who bash Capitalism, Freedom and Ayn Rand, I've got just the thing for you: nip on over to BusinessWeek's Debate Room, where the current topic is:
The Economy Needs Ayn Rand
Onkar Ghate faces off against Christina Patterson and wipes the floor with her.

But the real treat is the comments: example after example of how to respond to the kind of "argument" against Rand that makes some of us cringe and want to retreat into our ivory towers. The imagination and variety evident in the collected demonstrations of rationality and rectitude are heartening, to say the least. Here is a treasure trove of enough intellectual ammunition to bolster anyone's objectivity.

(Hat tip: NoodleFood)