The Left Side of History

Once again, the political Left, a term increasingly synonymous with today’s Democrat Party, is on the wrong side of history. It’s nothing new. Whereas they're accustomed to winning micro-political battles, they have yet to prevail in a macro, geopolitical struggle. Their closest approach to victory was in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution with its Soviet Union and near worldwide spread of socialist and communist governments. You remember. The world was to be transformed into a worker’s paradise. There are still plenty of commies—mostly in the universities teaching your young adults—but now they lack the requisite political power. Both National Socialism (the Nazis) and Fascism were rooted in the labor movements that have always been the hallmark of the Left—the first and foremost seed they sow. But the Left downplayed Hitler’s atrocities until the tide was too strong to resist. They picketed the White House in opposition to our involvement in WWII. They opposed our crucial mission to keep the Korean peninsula free. They didn’t understand its import to world morale, of standing up to communists and their adventurous spread, or of keeping a growing and increasingly important partner in global freedom and trade (Japan) stable. They never got it....


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The Russian Rage

That's what Billy Beck sometimes calls her, especially when talking in code to those of us who know what it means. I'd recommend checking out Billy's post and the other two articles he links, first here, and then here. This is timely, because as you might note, my two previous entries on this blog have involved an old friend who accuses me thusly: This is a godless philosophy, a philosophy of atheism at its core. It says "who are you to tell me how to live?" as if there were no absolute higher than man's personal opinion to call on. This is nothing but the Market preaching in your ear. It is Ayn Rand atheism. Well, as you'll learn if you did the homework I gave you in the first paragraph, the phenomenon of people condemning Ayn Rand who've never actually read or studied her is legion. As you may have guessed, my friend is no exception. I finally had to tell him that I would no longer debate with him until he digs into Rand first hand. These debates always end up there, so it's just about time. He has agreed, so we'll see how that goes. Here's what...


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Not Even Golden Handcuffs

If you haven't already, or don't have it in mind, you ought to read my previous entry first, as what follows is the answer I received back. What you might keep in mind is that in that previous post, I merely pointed out that after all, what's being proposed is that some group of "chosen-elite" know what's best for all of us and will impose it. To add context and perspective, my interlocutor is an old and dear friend who's a published author (non-fiction) with a major publishing company. His second book, with another major publisher, will be out in a few months. I quote the reply in full, below, and then follow with my own reply. This is a godless philosophy, a philosophy of atheism at its core. It says "who are you to tell me how to live?" as if there were no absolute higher than man's personal opinion to call on. This is nothing but the Market preaching in your ear. It is Ayn Rand atheism. So we should inspire the Hitlers among us to think for themselves, even when they are quite capable of amassing millions of followers, each exercising their own wonderful sense of what...


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Sent Items

An old friend emailed yesterday to continue a long exchange about philosophy, religion, governance, etc. After a few exchanges, I get this, which I quote in full, and then dissect with comments: No, it's all system dynamics, a completely different paradigm. Capitalism is the philosophy that creates the market, the economy as a whole. this system operates upon us, but is not society itself. Society is full of other values--cultural, moral, familial, aesthetic, etc, all of which are facets of the good. market values are not good or evil, they are productive, and hence, perfectly amoral. This means that if we empower the market past a certain point it will begin to drown the values that make life worth living, and the system becomes oppressive. So we have to make sure that we educate people in the right values, because of course some are better than others. Just throwing up your hands and saying "let the market decide what values are right" means implicitly empowering that productive side of society which we need to moderate. We have a responsibility, a requirement, to exercise our moral judgment as a society, not just as individuals. That is why education is the buttress...


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Pipsqueaks and Clowns

Having served as a US Navy officer on the staff of the US Seventh Fleet, permanently embarked on its flagship, the USS Blue Ridge, and subsequently, on the flagship of the French Navy's Mediterranean Fleet, FNS Colbert, I had no small experience with lots of "dignitaries" looming about. As such, I've no reason to doubt a single word of this account of the tsunami relief effort being undertaken by the USS Abraham Lincoln. But you know what? I don't really care. We are who we are, and no parade of America-hating international functionaries is going to change that.


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Tell it to Someone Else

One reason commies and lefties (like there's much of a difference) don't like to talk to me very much is that I don't buy their lines: I'm against the war, but I support the troops. I'm against the U.S. presence in Iraq, but I hope it ends well. I'm against America's actions, but I'm a patriot. Don't question my patriotism. It's all rubbish. You can't be against a soldier's primary mission and support him at the same time. If you are against the war, you are against the troops fighting the war. Things are what they are. It's tautological. Here's a data point that shows how these people really "support the troops." I've suspected for months and months now, even amongst close friends and family, that a goodly number of those who have been against the mission in Iraq also want to see the U.S. utterly fail. These people are so politically motivated that they would give anything to see the tide change. Now I have evidence of the darkness of their hearts. The last one is the most subtle, yet the surest of all. In essence, their lack of patriotism for the essential defining characteristics of America is what's...


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Equilibrium

Speaking as an observer who has many friends with libertarian instincts, I would point out that terrorism is a much more formidable opponent of political liberty than government. Government acts almost as a recruiting station for libertarians. Anyone who pays taxes or has to fill out government paperwork develops libertarian impulses almost as a knee-jerk reaction. But terrorism acts as a recruiting station for statists. So it looks to me as though we are headed for a triangular system in which libertarians and statists and terrorists interact with each other in a way that I'm afraid might turn out to be quite stable. That's quoting Neal Stephenson, and it jumped right out at me as I was reading my hardcopy February issue of Reason Magazine on a flight from Chicago to San Jose, yesterday. They only web the magazine once the subsequent issue hits the mailboxes, so I can't direct you to the remainder of this most fascinating interview. I'll try to remember to reference the whole interview once February is available on the web. I'm not sure whether Stephenson is right, but after a double scotch, it sure seemed ponderable. Still does today, which I suppose is as good...


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I Went to Church This Moring

See the Psalm. Greg Swann and I have been collaborating, of sorts, since just before last Christmas, as documented in a few previous posts on his blog. I'll be writing more on that soon. This, his latest entry, really speaks to the very heart of the matter.


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Not Laissez Fair, But Not Bad, Either

While the new Airbus Industries A380 is quite an accomplishment by any standard, I nonetheless had to have a good laugh at the Q&O blog's dig at the Europeans on the topic. On the other hand, the guys and gals who drove the rivets on this project have every right to their immense pride. Well done.


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Note to Condi

With regard to this: "We can have this discussion in any way that you would like, but I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity," Rice told Boxer. "I really hope that you will not imply that I take the truth lightly." Now I'm convinced you'll make an excellent SecState. Only an accomplished diplomat could muster what it takes to maintain such poise in the face of an onslaught at the hands of such utter mediocrity.


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Through the Lens of History

Lately, one of my themes on this blog has been to shed light on what I believe to be a breathtaking lack of perspective on the part of most who believe we ought not be in Iraq, or, that we are making a mess of it and such is a shortcoming of president Bush. I say "breathtaking" for a number of reasons. First, their historical references never go farther back than Vietnam. Second, their references are either non-sequitur, or they get any relevant Vietnam parallels all wrong, typically. The fundamental reason things went wrong in Vietnam is that most Americans lost the will to see the job through. America lost the will mostly because of the political sabotage undertaken by the communist-sympathizing left and their hordes of ignorant hippies. Now this band of "luminaries" has the ignominious distinction of serving as the forefathers of today's anti-war hysteria. And they are busy trying to fulfill their own prophesy: that Iraq will be a failure. If they can succeed in driving American public support down far enough, Iraq will become a failure. Observe what an ugly thing, the desire and drive for political power at any cost--even at the expense of American...


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Sent Items

In response to my last Sent Items entry, I received email suggesting that I may not have read towards the end of the article citing Dr. Marcia Angell, former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, and that in a dispute between her views and mine, my emailer would have to side with her. So, I reply: Angell is a doctor, and now, a writer. She actually did good work when she wrote a book exposing what a complete and utter fraud the breast-implant fiasco was, from soup to nuts. It was about nothing other than putting a few billion into the pockets of trial lawyers, á la John Edwards. That book was: Science on Trial: The Clash of Medical Evidence and the Law in the Breast Implant Case. There, Dr. Angell was in her element, arguing about what she's knowledgeable about--science and the immutable logical process we undergo to determine scientific truth (to which medicine pertains). Juries don't decide scientific truth, and she was perfectly suited to make this claim. Now she's on my turf, business and economics, and it's clear she's out of her element. You're welcome to bank on anything you like, but if money or...


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Don’t Wanna Hear It

Thou dost protest too much "Muslims are part of the fabric of this great country and are working to build a better America." That very well may be, and I truly understand the difficulty one might have who is completely innocent (physically and spiritually), yet painted with a wide brush. On the other hand, it's just not a complaint I'm all that sympathetic to, and truth be told, I'm just not that interested in hearing about it. Muslims in general could do one hell of a lot more to alleviate my own suspicions that many of them, though physically peaceful, morally support the actions of the terrorists. To the extent they do, they are every bit the enemy that those carrying out physical attacks are. And yes, they have a moral duty to affirmatively condemn Islamic terrorism.


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That Pig-Headed FDR

One of my great amusements is in reading or seeing material from the left that essentially paints Bush as a pig-headed maverick in his prosecution of the war on radical Islam (which, make no mistake, is exactly what it is and must be). Bush doesnt' listen to our "allies" (by which they typically mean the French and Germans), prefering to go it alone. This may all be true, but it's nothing new, and unsurprisingly, most don't know or understand that. This typically signals someone who lacks historical perspective, for whatever reason. For instance, if I bring up the subject of the 1943 meeting in Casablanca, how many could tell me the names of the participants, what policy came out of that meeting, how it was viewed the world over, how it so affected things to come, and what parallel it has with today's goings on? Here's a brief historical analysis that covers the history of it. I disagree with the conclusion of the article. I think the policy was 100% dead on right for the long run necessity of what was going on, and what was to arise in the form of the USSR with nukes. And it's exactly the...


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Sent Items

Just one, this time, out in email (edited for even more sting). If ordinary Americans got the same sweet treatment from this administration as the great pharmaceutical houses, we'd all be in a much better place. Oh, how the left inspires. If only I could be just an "ordinary American." To be a victim in the eyes of the left; to be dependent upon them to set me in "a much better place" . . . how I long for such "splendor." And yet, each and every year, the average human life expectancy increases. Talk about biting the hand that feeds. Of course, that's nothing new for the lefties. It requires hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, and an average of seven years, to take a drug to market. Most proposed new drugs never even make it to market, so those total losses must be factored in as well. A state of double jeopardy now exists, in a sense. We make the drug companies jump through every conceivable hoop at great expense over years and years, imposed by the FDA. Then, when a drug finally gets the FDA stamp of approval, and later, if problems arise that even the...


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What’s so Funny?

Here's an idea. Let's decide the future path of human civilization on the basis of who can put together a better manifesto that's both funny and poignant. It would be the advocates of individualism and liberty vs. those of collectivism and socialism. For those of us who advocate individualism and liberty, we probably couldn't do better than this bit of Clinton-era wit on the part of P.J. O'Rourke, which I quote here in full. The Liberty Manifesto by P.J. O'Rourke P.J. O'Rourke is the Cato Institute's Mencken research fellow. He delivered these remarks at a May 6, 1993 gala dinner celebrating the opening of the Cato Institute's new headquarters in Washington. -- The Cato Institute has an unusual political cause -- which is no political cause whatsoever. We are here tonight to dedicate ourselves to that cause, to dedicate ourselves, in other words, to . . . nothing. We have no ideology, no agenda, no catechism, no dialectic, no plan for humanity. We have no "vision thing," as our ex-president would say, or, as our current president would say, we have no Hillary. All we have is the belief that people should do what people want to do, unless it...


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Fly Away

The men's world hang gliding championship (flex wing) is currently taking place in Hay, New South Wales, Australia. You can read all you want to about it and more in The Oz Report. Here below is a great photo of Alex Ploner of the French team during a 180 kilometer task. I'd say he's at least 2,000 ft. AGL. That protrusion from the right corner of the control frame is a GPS, altimeter, variometer, and flight computer all in one. Next is a photo of a typical "gaggle." Gaggles are normal in cross country competitions for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that when someone finds lift, others are quick to join. If you look at this photo carefully, you'll see the tow paddock below, with all the hang gliders lined up waiting for their turn for a tow. So, in this case the gaggle is for pilots waiting to take an appropriate start time to head out on the 180 Km task, which should take those who complete it about 3.5-4 hours. Yes, we carry emergency parachutes when we fly. It's rare to have to deploy one, and there are plenty of people I know...


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Salute

I bought my first PC in 1990, an x386. I've owned many, many of them since then, and in my company, I generally move up to the fastest thing every few months and hand down my old one. In a Windows Server 2003 domain as we maintain, network PCs are easy to swap out while maintaining all the user's settings and files. I've been running the same profile, moved from PC to PC in a few minutes over the LAN, for years and years. I know PCs, and to a reasonable extent, the whole server thing as well (I used to be our IT manager, along with everything else, so I had no choice). I don't know Macs so well, but I manage. My wife Bea has one of the original iMacs (the purple grape colored one), as well as a PowerBook from school that she brings home. We actually have a pretty good home network. Her two Macs, and my desktop PC and Notebook all connected together. Both my notebook and her PowerBook have built-in wireless, so we can roam the house, and all four machines share the same DSL to the internet. The laser printer is connected to...


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Live Well

A couple of entries ago, I said: Yet in spite of all of it; ALL of it, the average guy all over the world is far better off than he was 10 years ago, or 20, or 100, or 1000, or 5,000. In spite of all the evil, we do better and better. As an individual, the chances are ever greater that you will live a longer and more prosperous life than anyone who has come before you, and the father back you go to compare, the greater the chances and the greater the disparity. Today, Billy says: Nevermind the conceptual basis of freedom for protests that people ought to be left alone to attend their own affairs without the forcible interference of various imperiots. You're living better than a hundred or a thousand years ago, and all the Web-order catalogs prove it: you're free to buy anything you want with the productivity that you are permitted to dispose, and that's the thing that counts. John Maynard Keynes always had the right idea. So let me clarify, because if it wasn’t clear to Beck, then it likely wasn’t clear. Whether or not I’ve forgotten everything I ever learned from Hayek,...


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Critical Distinctions, Please

John Henke highlights several instances of torture or mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners. He concludes: But whenever I see supporters of the war glossing over--even praising--torture, indefinite detainment, efforts to avoid the law....and demanding no explanation from the people who authored and engaged in these things....? Well, I wonder whether some of us are becoming the amoral participants that we profess to fight? Now, I have no idea in the world whether any of the actions John cited actually took place, and if they did, under what circumstances or justification. I also don't doubt that there have been unjustified abuses during this war. But what I don't get is how people can, on the one hand, understand the moral justification for us dropping two atomic bombs and killing over 200,000 civilians, and far more than that during the space of our fire-bombing campaigns of Tokyo, and on the other, conceive of no instance where torture of a detainee is morally justified. Most people should not have to think very hard to come up with at least three instances where they would cheer for torture. How about your spouse, child or close relative being detained in an undisclosed location, in danger for...


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