Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Glenn Beck and Ron Paul

On Tuesday, December 18, 2007, libertarian Presidential candidate Ron Paul accepted a challenge by CNN's Glenn Beck to appear on his television program and field the "tough questions." It turns out that the tone presented by this interview would be a little different than the one Beck had been promising during his many months of uncompromising sarcastic criticism. The theme had mysteriously transformed into one of "Honest Questions."

The significance of this interview is that it represents a total reversal of Glenn Beck's nasty attitude and consistent mischaracterization of Ron Paul and his political views.

Prior to this interview, Beck took every opportunity, on radio and television, to harshly criticize, and even childishly ridicule, Ron Paul with sneers and innuendo.

This edition of Glenn Beck's television program on CNN, however, was a love-fest (Beck even said that he would wet-kiss Ron Paul). Glenn Beck tripped over himself trying to backtrack on his position on Paul. This was a complete, gushing about-face.

I anticipated that Beck would capitulate by moderating his tone somewhat and treating this Presidential contender with respect; especially in light of his having broken all single-day fundraising records by raking in over six million dollars in one day. But this turnabout went further that I expected. It was surprising, humorous, and even embarrassing to see Beck proclaiming his philosophical brotherhood with the candidate he so consistently and unfairly berated as a marginal kook with just enough entertainment value to boost himself in the ratings.

Other critics will have to take note of Beck's soft-ball, love-fest interview and perhaps begin a similar journey back to reasonableness. Let's hope they have the same good sense exhibited by Glenn Beck and get off their petty, short-sighted and over-the-top anti-Paul jag.

The bottom line is that Beck is a smart guy. He's smart enough to know when his betters have called his schoolyard bluffs and smart enough to make the appropriate course correction with aplomb and dignity.

Bravo Beck.



FURTHER READING

"Ron Paul on War" By John Stossel, December 19, 2007.

"Confessions of a Defecting Democrat -- Why Ron Paul is the Perfect Candidate, and How Left Media Will be USED to Attack" By Bill Douglas, December 19, 2007.

VIDEO

Ron Paul and Internet Politics, "NOW" Weekly News Magazine, PBS, December 14, 2007.

Neil Cavuto Interviews Ron Paul, Fox News, December, 19, 2007.

Ron Paul on Meet The Press, 12-23-07:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Thursday, December 06, 2007

War Is Over!

In connection to the proposed poem for the Asheville Veteran Memorial, my good friend Bill Fishburne stated on the Matt Mittan radio program that "the veteran has earned the right of free speech."

I'm sorry, but no individual has to do anything to earn their individual rights.

Every person who has ever been born has earned all the rights that are due to sovereign individuals: the right of free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, the right to vote, and so on.

Regarding the proposed poem, it appears to pit military service members against the individual with fallacious assertions.

It is the VETERAN, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion
It is the VETERAN, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press
It is the VETERAN, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech
It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble
It is the VETERAN, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote
It is the VETERAN
Who salutes the flag
Who serves under the flag
Whose coffin is draped by the flag.
Thank you Veterans.


It's as though the implied opening assertion is: "Contrary to what everybody has been saying..."

I object to this poem, in any version, being permanently inscribed on a veteran memorial; primarily because it is defensive and reactionary. It mysteriously refers to claims that have not been made and attempts to answer them angrily.

This is not how I think of veterans. I think of veterans as a noble class of warriors who have volunteered to defend their nation and it's values; regardless of the folly in to which service they are pressed.

Unfortunately, very few military engagements can claim a legitimate national defense purpose. The current war in Iraq is only the most current example.

As the great anti-war activist John Lennon used to say: War is over, if you want it.



FURTHER READING

"Veterans withdraw controversial poem, propose new inscription" by David Forbes, Mountain Xpress, 12/21/2007.

PODCAST

Ron Paul on the Stephanie Miller Radio Show, December 6, 2007.

Monday, November 26, 2007

War: An Exchange

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Craig Young
To: asheville-politics@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Sunday, November 25, 2007 2:21:58 AM
Subject: Re: [asheville-politics] 'ITS THE WAR, STUPID'

Marsha,

You know that I love you dearly. But I have a major challenge with your Anti-War rhetoric.

The only long-term peace between countries has never existed because of "diplomacy". When one country wins a decisive war, the others fall in place.

Because there is war: there is peace.

Do I like this situation: Hell No!!! We are still the hairless apes in a world filled with other apes like us. Sooner or later, we should develop into a people that espouses brotherhood among all nations. I'm afraid that this will not happen in our time.

Craig

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Tim Peck
To: asheville-politics@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Sunday, November 25, 2007 8:17:00 AM
Subject: Re: [asheville-politics] 'ITS THE WAR, STUPID'

From: Craig Young

> The only long-term peace between countries has never
> existed because of "diplomacy". When one country wins
> a decisive war, the others fall in place. Because there is
> war: there is peace.

I agree that the path to peace is often through the violent elimination of a foreign threat. I view the atomic bombing of Japan in WW2 as a necessary step toward achieving peace.

But I have serious misgivings about our current engagements in the Middle East. Here are some questions I am struggling with:

-- Did the country of Iraq declare or engage in a war against America that precipitated our military invasion?

-- Is the country of Iraq presently at war with America necessitating continued military engagement?

-- What national defense purpose is fulfilled by our continued military occupation of Iraq?

-- Is nation-building and law enforcement the proper role of the U.S. military?

-- Why has the U.S. circumvented the Constitution to prosecute a war in a specific country without a formal declaration?

-- What will a victory in a "decisive war" look like once it has been achieved in Iraq?

If you can disabuse me of the notion that our current military engagement in Iraq is folly, please do so and lift me from my ignorance.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Jerry Orr
To: asheville-politics@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Sunday, November 25, 2007 3:17:28 PM
Subject: Re: [asheville-politics] 'ITS THE WAR, STUPID'

Tim-

I don't expect you comprehend this time any more than the last dozen, but for the sake of others who might be puzzled, let me take your points in order.

1) Iraq under Saddam invaded a neighboring country and fellow UN member. Under terms of the UN Charter (a treaty ratified by the Senate and therefore a part of the "supreme law of the land" of the US) the US and other countries sought to punish Iraq for its aggression. Under terms of a cease fire, signed by Iraq, the US (and UK) was given certain military tasks to perform to assure that Iraq would live up to its agreement. During the following decade, Iraq broke many of the terms of the cease fire agreement, including engaging and firing missiles at our aircraft. Firing missiles at aircraft is generally considered an act of war. In retaliation, the US (Clinton) launched missiles at Iraq. Firing missiles at a country is usually considered an act of war. After 9/11, with Saddam openly financing terrorism, and the economic sanctions on the verge of collapse, Bush decided to stop the tit-for-tat and get rid of Saddam once and for all.

The '03 invasion of Iraq was a continuation of the hostilities that began with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The action also fit Bush's strategy that a country that openly supported international terrorism was to be considered a declared enemy of the US.

2) In case you haven't noticed, "the country of Iraq" is now represented by an elected government with Maliki as president. We are working WITH that government, and WITH the security forces of that government to stabilize the country and mop up the primarily outside forces known as Al Queda in Iraq.

3) "Occupation" generally implies control with a monopoly of force. Once we recognized the elected government we no longer had that status. We are assisting them in defending against our common enemy, AQI, in what Bin Laden has declared to be the central theater in our war against international terrorists. We are no more "occupying" Iraq than we are Germany, Italy, South Korea, or any other country in which we have forces stationed.

4) Military Civil Affairs as well as combat and police elements are useful in that assistance. They are also easier to deploy and manage than civilian (e.g., Foreign Service) or contractor assets.

5) As Congress has not issued a declaration of war, we can be said to be in a "War in Iraq" only in the sense that we have a War on Drugs and a War on Poverty. We are using force, including military force, in a state short of all-out war, as we have numerous times in response to treaty obligations, and to defend our citizens and interests. Those who claim this is not in accordance with the Constitution are ignorant of both the Constitution and history.

6) We have already achieved substantial "victory" in that the government of Iraq is no longer financing and supporting international terrorists, but is instead assisting us in eliminating the remnants of the international terrorist organization, our common enemy, in their country. The Iraq theater may not be "decisive" in our attempt to eliminate the terrorist threat to our country, but a stable, anti-terrorist, Iraq will be a substantial contribution to that cause, especially if it can serve as an object lesson to terror-supporting nations of the fate of their course.

Jerry

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Tim Peck
To: asheville-politics@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Sunday, November 25, 2007 6:53:11 PM
Subject: Re: [asheville-politics] 'ITS THE WAR, STUPID'

From: Jerry Orr

> I don't expect you comprehend this time any more than
> the last dozen, but for the sake of others who might be
> puzzled, let me take your points in order.

Your insults do not, I suspect, endear you to your readers.

> Iraq under Saddam invaded a neighboring country and
> fellow UN member. Under terms of the UN Charter (a
> treaty ratified by the Senate and therefore a part of
> the "supreme law of the land" of the US) the US and
> other countries sought to punish Iraq for its aggression.

We should not be punishing Iraq for aggression. We should not be signing U.N. treaties. We should not be enforcing U.N. resolutions. If another country poses a threat to America we should follow the Constitution, declare war, proceed to eliminate the threat with overwhelming force, and return home at the earliest opportunity.

> In case you haven't noticed, "the country of Iraq" is now
> represented by an elected government with Maliki as president.
> We are working WITH that government, and WITH the security
> forces of that government to stabilize the country and mop up
> the primarily outside forces known as Al Queda in Iraq.

We shouldn't be doing any "mopping up." We shouldn't have done anything to mop up. This is a self-sacrificial war to help a primitive culture at the expense of our own service members and tax dollars. That is immoral. Only a self-interested war of national defense is moral.

> "Occupation" generally implies control with a monopoly of force.
> Once we recognized the elected government we no longer had
> that status. We are assisting them in defending against our
> common enemy, AQI, in what Bin Laden has declared to be the
> central theater in our war against international terrorists. We
> are no more "occupying" Iraq than we are Germany, Italy, South
> Korea, or any other country in which we have forces stationed.

We shouldn't be "assisting them." We shouldn't have done anything to necessitate assisting. Their internal conflict should not have become our war.

We certainly should no longer have any presence in Germany, Italy or South Korea. Pointing to other errors does not justify new ones.

> We have already achieved substantial "victory"

If we are presently in a state of victory then we should leave a war that should never have been prosecuted.

I'm sorry you have wasted your time . . . again.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Bobby Coggins
To: asheville-politics@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Monday, November 26, 2007 3:16:08 AM
Subject: Re: [asheville-politics] 'ITS THE WAR, STUPID'

Surely, you are being obstinate! No greater disrespect for the people who laid down their lives to topple Saddam is possible than to walk away before the job is complete!

Pay attention to the words I write! We. cannot. leave. until. the. Iraqi. Government. is. capable, of. defending. itself. from. enemies. foreign. and. domestic. Even the plethora of foreign fighters from Saudi Arabia...who by all rights should be one of our next targets.

As to the oil in America...the very people you have allied yourself with in the anti-war movement have a vested interest in keeping that oil in the ground.

Surely you are aware of the firestorm of protest they conducted just for tiny little ANWR...imagine what they will do when we start exploit that resource under the Green River Formation?

The President should declare it a matter of National Security, and open it up for exploitation.

Tim, I don't know what planet you have moved to, and perhaps you weren't paying attention. Even the Democrat Candidates will not abandon the area..and even famously refused to do so (at least the ones with any chance at the nomination) by even the end of the first or even second terms. To remove our troops from the area would signal the world that a new dark age was upon us. It would be Jimmy Carter all over again!

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Tim Peck
To: asheville-politics@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Monday, November 26, 2007 6:39:00 AM
Subject: Re: [asheville-politics] 'ITS THE WAR, STUPID'

From: Bobby Coggins

> Surely, you are being obstinate!

Oh, of course. I could not have a rational, principled position if I disagree with you.

> No greater disrespect for the people who laid down their
> lives to topple Saddam is possible than to walk away
> before the job is complete!

Wrong. The greatest disrespect being paid to those "laying down their lives" is to send them into a self-sacrificial non-defensive immoral war.

> Pay attention to the words I write!

I often pay attention to the words you write. When I do, I am often dismayed.

> As to the oil in America...the very people you have allied
> yourself with in the anti-war movement have a vested
> interest in keeping that oil in the ground.

I beg your pardon. The people who have allied themselves with me are libertarian in the classical liberal tradition of the Founders. We believe in limited government, individual rights and free markets -- something conservatives would do well to investigate.

I and my "allies" support increasing domestic production of oil and new nuclear energy production as well as free-market innovation in the alternative energy industry.

> Tim, I don't know what planet you have moved to,
> and perhaps you weren't paying attention.

More insults. Charming. This will really bolster your anemic arguments.

> Even the Democrat Candidates will not abandon the area.

I won't be voting for any pro-war Democrat candidates either.

Ron Paul: Restore The Republic



----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Bobby Coggins
To: Asheville Politics ; Tim Peck
Sent: Monday, November 26, 2007 12:24:52 PM
Subject: [asheville-politics] An Apology for Tim

Tim, I mistook you for bernard...in that last dustup. He asked an almost identical set of questions on one of my blogs, and you got part of my frustration that should have been more properly aimed at him.

I apologize for that.

However, you are still wrong.

Bobby

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ron Paul on Leno

Libertarian congressman (R-Texas) and Presidential candidate Ron Paul on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, October 30, 2007.


FURTHER READING

"The Tonight Show: Heeeere's....Ron Paul" by Andrew Malcolm, Baltimore Sun Blog, October 30, 2007.

"Paul Refuses To Hold Back In Candid Q-And-A" By: Chris Freind, Philadelphia Bulletin, 11/09/2007.

"The Upper Left Awakens" By: Carl Milsted, Asheville Daily Planet, 11/27/2007.

VIDEO

Ron Paul: Restore The Republic

Ron Paul on the Morton Downey, Jr. Show, 1988:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Judge Andrew Napalitano on "Civil Liberties in Wartime" at The Future Freedom Foundation's "Restoring the Republic: Foreign Policy & Civil Liberties" conference, June 3, 2007, at the Hyatt Regency Reston, in Reston, Virginia. 4 part video:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

CNN: Ron Paul's Revolution.

Ron Paul Highway Blogging in Asheville, NC 12/2/07.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Objectivist Seminar

From Greg:

Truly living well calls for engaging fundamental philosophical ideas and integrating their use into our everyday lives, our everyday actions, our way of being—into our souls. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to get busy with all the urgent things around us, and we can drift, distracted and disintegrated. For those of us who want an ongoing practice in such engagement (and those who want to explore the need for that in the first place), we have created The Objectivism Seminar.

The Objectivism Seminar is a weekly online conference call to systematically work through the philosophy of Ayn Rand via the books of prominent Rand scholars. These moderated, one-hour sessions will be recorded and podcast to allow review, catch-up, and even disconnected participation. The idea is to give people—new and experienced alike—a forum to chew through key Objectivist works and tour the complete system, further clarifying, integrating, and grounding their grasp of the ideas.

Because it is an ongoing seminar, we will have incentive to keep up with the steady schedule of study and stay equipped to consider fresh angles, concretizations, challenges, and applications from other participants. And because life is so full for many of us, We are purposefully keeping the reading load light and the method of participation unobtrusive. The plan is that we will spend almost as much time discussing the ideas as reading about them. Study like this is productive for both experienced students of Objectivism and those new to Rand's ideas: I've read all of these books, some several times, and We would expect to get at least as much out of this as someone going through them for the first time.

If you are interested, please look over the FAQ below and head over to www.ObjectivismSeminar.com to sign up!

The Objectivism Seminar FAQ:

Q: What is The Objectivism Seminar?
A: The Objectivism Seminar is a weekly online conference call to systematically work through the philosophy of Ayn Rand via the books of prominent Rand scholars. These moderated one-hour sessions will be recorded and podcast to allow review, catch-up, and even disconnected participation.

Q: How much does it cost?
A: The cost is $15 per person per book to participate in or access the recordings of the sessions (and it is refundable in full for any reason whatsoever in your first five sessions). But Objectivist luminaries who have or might produce the sorts of substantive books, articles, and lectures we are studying are only allowed to participate for free.

Q: Do We have to be an Objectivist to participate?
A: No. The purpose of the seminar is to give people a means to critically engage Objectivism and improve their understanding of the philosophy. Anybody who is polite and honest in this effort is welcome; anybody who disrupts others in that endeavor is not. (The process of examining ideas can be challenging enough that we certainly don't need to have someone being rude or beating us up psychologically while we do it!)

Q: What are the books we'll be working through?
A: Here are the books and the order in which we'll study them:

  1. Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist by Dr. Tara Smith

  2. Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Dr. Leonard Peikoff

  3. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology by Ayn Rand

  4. (to be determined)

Q: How much material will we cover per week? (How heavy is the work load?)
A: We all have busy lives, so this is designed to be a slow-and-steady project. We hope we can work through a chapter every two weeks, but depending on the material and peoples' needs and interests, that will vary. In raw numbers, the expected load will be an average of 15 pages of reading and one hour of discussion per week.


Q: When, where, and how do we meet?
A: Sunday evenings 8:00-9:00 Mountain, we'll meet in an online conference call so people from anywhere can join in. For those who miss a meeting (and those who want to join in halfway through a book), we'll have recordings of the sessions archived on the www.ObjectivismSeminar.com website. The website will also host links to any diagrams drawn in the sessions, and there will be a discussion forum where people can work out issues during the week to bring to the sessions.


Q: What tools will We need?
A: You will need to download and install Skype (and hopefully get a headset for your PC). The sessions will actually be Skypecasts (free Skype conference calls that can include up to 100 people), and we'll use Skype Public Chats to type written asides to each other, to get the moderator's attention, and to share URLs or whatever. Any "whiteboard" drawings can be sketched with the Gliffy web-based drawing tool, and the resulting images can be shared easily during the meeting. (Gliffy also allows for collaborative drawing, if we need it.)


Q: Conference calls can be pretty chaotic and noisy, especially if you have a lot of people on the line...
A: These will not be anything-goes bull sessions—We will moderate the sessions to keep us on track with the agenda and in alignment with the purpose of the seminar. And we'll try to hold the Skypecast noise and conversational chaos to a minimum by keeping everybody muted except for those actively talking. Our Skype Public Chat will allow anyone to signal that they would like to speak (and by giving a hint of what they want to talk about, they'll also help make the session more focused and productive).


Q: What will the structure of the sessions be like?
A: We'll always be trying to improve how we run things, but let's begin with this basic plan:

  • Up to 5 or 10 minutes of follow-up discussion around any past material (good for raising that issue that hit you in the shower after the previous week's discussion, as well as a chance for those who participate by only listening to the podcasts to raise their issues for comment via email to the moderator).

  • Introduction of the current material with the leader's quick sketch of the highlights (good for reminding people of the scope of the discussion and prompting their observations, questions, etc.).

  • Extended discussion of the current material, with people 'raising hands' in the Skype Public Chat to be unmuted (the Chat lets participants give a hint of what they want to raise or follow up on, as well as to second what someone else wants to raise, both of which will let the leader better organize the session). The leader will usually address what is raised, but may also defer to others who can better address it, further clarify what has already been said, or (best of all) correct a confused response.


Q: How did you select the books and their order?
A: The goal is to work through the entire system, and Peikoff's book is the definitive single-volume systematic presentation of Rand's philosophy. Ethics is where the philosophical rubber meets the road in our lives, and Smith's book is the most thorough and enlightening presentation of the substance of Rand's ethics that exists. And Rand's monograph on concept formation is important because understanding the core of her epistemology will strengthen our understanding of her distinctive methodology and the character of her entire system. As for the order, there's a great reason for that, and we're glad you'll ask about it in the first session!


Q: What's the fine print?
A: Here are the details We could think of to keep The Objectivism Seminar sailing as smoothly as possible; other wrinkles will be addressed as they arise.

  • GOVERNANCE: To put it simply, this is not a democracy. The Objectivism Seminar is a benevolent dictatorship. We will work for openness and consensus, and entertain suggestions about how to make this a fun and productive adventure for all—and when there are difficulties We will do our best to be patient and fair (I'm not without experience in this, and also not without room to grow). Ultimately, though, our call will constitute the final word on the forum.

  • REFUNDS: The fee is fully refundable for any reason whatsoever in your first five sessions; after that, refunds will only happen for our failure to similarly conduct the ongoing sessions, and they will be pro-rated by the percentage of the book not yet discussed. (In all cases, Seminar refunds will exclude the cut PayPal took when you made payment.) Potential causes of pro-rated refunds would include: infrastructure difficulties making production of the Seminar too painful to continue, changes in our life that make conducting future sessions infeasible, our changing these terms in a way you don't like, our choosing to exclude you from the Seminar, etc.

  • MEETING TIMES: The regular meeting time may shift to another day or time as life requires, and there will need to be occasional weeks off for holidays, vacation, hospitalization, etc. (Because we don't have the luxury of listening to the podcast and following up at the next session or via written questions.

  • RECORDINGS: Please keep in mind that the session recordings will belong to me and may not be shared, transferred, or distributed in any way without our explicit permission. Also, the recordings may be edited at our discretion to remove segments with, say, disturbing or distracting misbehavior. (Or, if you bribe me well enough, to remove that comment you made and can't bear to have people hearing in ten years.)


[Thanks to Greg Perkins]

FURTHER READING

The Ayn Rand Lexicon

Sunday, October 21, 2007

End of America

Fascism in 10 Easy Steps

By Naomi Wolf
The Guardian
April 24, 2007

Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.

They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.

As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognize the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realize.

Conason eloquently warned of the danger of American authoritarianism. I am arguing that we need also to look at the lessons of European and other kinds of fascism to understand the potential seriousness of the events we see unfolding in the US.

The ten steps:
  1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.

  2. Create secret prisons where torture takes place.

  3. Develop a thug caste or paramilitary force not answerable to citizens.

  4. Set up an internal surveillance system.

  5. Harass citizens' groups.

  6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release.

  7. Target key individuals.

  8. Control the press.

  9. Declare all dissent to be treason.

  10. Suspend the rule of law.

VIDEO

Talk by Naomi Wolf - The End of America



FURTHER READING

"Finally, Action! Ron Paul Introduces Bill to Defend Constitution!" by Naomi Wolf, October 18, 2007.

The American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007.

American Freedom Campaign.

"The Ominous Parallels" by Leonard Peikoff.

"Road to Serfdom in Cartoons" Look Magazine, Reproduced from a booklet published by General Motors in the "Thought Starter" series (no. 118).

Alan Watt: Revolutions, Flashmobs and Brain Chips.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

WNCW

From the Bluegrass Blog:

North Carolina public radio station WNCW celebrates its 18th year broadcasting today, having signed on for the first time on October 13, 1989. Popular WNCW bluegrass show Goin' Across The Mountain will close out their big day, running from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. (ET).

Show host Dennis Jones noted with pride in a recent email that in the most recent ratings period, more than twice as many listeners tuned in during Goin' Across The Mountain than at any other time during the week. Like so many other FM broadcasters, WNCW also streams their signal live online, so anyone, anywhere with an Internet connection can listen in.

Dennis also asked that everyone who listens to bluegrass programming on public or community-supported radio make a point to indicate their support for the music they love.

It is important that everyone at this Fall Fundraising season across the US be aware that it's the support of each person that keeps bluegrass on the air, and will even add hours in some cases. So they should call their local public stations and make their voices heard.


He also mentioned a premium offering for supporter of WNCW this year - a two CD collection of live recordings made at the station called Crowd Around The Mic. It isn't all bluegrass, but does include tracks from The Infamous Stringdusters, Randy Kohrs and the Lites, Uncle Earl and Sam Bush.

Property and Community

When it comes to controversial development projects, such as The Ellington Hotel, there is a breed of "free-marketeers" who will reflexively claim, "It's their property and their money. Let them do what they want with it. Read the Constitution."

Yes, it's fairly plain: it certainly is their money and their property.

But it is also our city.

We give Asheville it's value. Developers want to build here to take advantage of the value our presence gives to this city. The community at large has a stake in Asheville's development. We should not become docile, passive players in the exploitation of the value we have created.

Rights, including property rights, are important; even paramount. Their recognition and protection are imperative. But rights are not unlimited.

In a free and pluralistic society, rights conflict. These conflicts are resolved in the law; law that should not prefer one party's rights over another's.

In the simple case I gave above, private developers have the right to purchase and develop properties they regard worthwhile in exchange for their efforts and capital investment. However, the members of that community (that make this investment worthwhile) also have rights: The right of self-determination. And the right to not be herded around like cattle by every moneyed interest that takes a fancy to our city with their eyes on the value we have given it by our very presence and human activity.

We can assert those rights, not by outbidding the developers at every turn or turning to violence, but by enacting reasonable laws that restrict unsavory and predatory practices that run the risk of actually destroying value and which aim at preserving and promoting value as we see it.

All of this takes place within the context of the mutual respecting of rights; rather than the survival of the biggest, the riches, the most connected, the most thuggish -- or even the most well-read.

Some questions for discussion:
  1. Shall a community have any measure of self-determination afforded them in the law?

  2. To whom does the Earth, and its riches, belong?

  3. Do moneyed interests absolutely trump the individual rights of paupers and the unlanded in all times, in all places and in every case?

FURTHER READING

Geolibertarianism from Wikipedia.

"Libertarianism and Georgism - The Philosophical and Practical Relationship" by Harold Kyriazi.

"Earth Rights Institute articles" by Alanna Hartzok.

"Progress and Poverty" by Henry George.

"What Is Geolibertarianism?"

Monday, October 08, 2007

Ideal Candidate

Some of the registered voters in Asheville will go to the polls Tuesday, October 9th, to determine which of 14 candidates for city council will go on to the General Election.

The question on their minds will be: Who are the three best candidates to represent the citizens of Asheville on our seven-member city council. We think we have found the ideal candidate.

The Asheville Citizen-Times posed a series of questions to all of the candidates and published their answers. Sadly, this ideal candidate's answers were not included. You can read them here:


Asheville City Council Candidates




[Thanks to Leslee K. for carefully crafting the ideal answers.]

Friday, October 05, 2007

President 2008

How and why to register with the Republican party now!



FURTHER READING

"Operation Republican Takeover" by Tim Peck, Aug 2007.

Racial Politics

A forum was held last night for all 15 Asheville city council candidates at the Brown Temple CME Church and was sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and League of Women Voters.

This forum was thoroughly worthless. The sponsors invited them there to talk about race, race, and race. The questions went “round-robin” style so each candidate got to answer about two random questions; all of which were the same: How do you plan to use government to pander to Blacks?

I didn’t learn anything new about the candidates; except that Donna whats-its is more out-to-lunch than Brother Chris.

Anyway, I had already voted the day before. Still, I wanted to see what kind of political forum would be conducted in a Christian church…

[b-b-b-b-oring!]

…and I was interested in hearing the oh-so-smooth, political answers to the same reformulated question.

  1. Donna whats-its (D) uses a wheelchair. She's mad about down-ramps. Not racial.
  2. Steve Bledsoe (U) announced that he also belongs to a minority: He’s gay. His tortured, pandering answers were so bizarre that I winced on several occasions; e.g. He suggested that customers should all pay the same amount at the different stores downtown (huh?) and suggested that there is no race problem which prompted a dressing-down from Sullivan. (Bledsoe loses this round.)
  3. Dwight Butner (U) was pretty good but off his game. He touted his business acumen.
  4. Christopher Chiaromonte (U) was a no show, no call. He's homeless. I drove around Pritchard Park and Haywood looking for Brother Christopher, thinking he might need a ride, but I couldn’t find him.
  5. Jan Davis (D) had good answers to a lot of bad questions. He got a pass. He always does.
  6. Bryan Freeborn (D) thought Black Christians would be impressed with his stand on buses. I take it they were not.
  7. Matt Hebb (R) was nervous but affable. He scored points for reminding us that he runs a 24-hour business downtown and hears from the public on a variety of issues. Good listening skills could help close the loop.
  8. Bobby Johnston (R) was a no show. He must be relieved.
  9. Elaine Lite (D) did a good job but this was not her crowd. She has little to offer a church group obsessed with race. The environment? - not race. Growth and Development? - not race. She was merely tolerated.
  10. William Meredith (U) answered all questions correctly. Except when he said he could fire police officers.
  11. Brownie Newman (D) was typically warm and unflappable and handled the occasion with aplomb. He’s a seasoned pol and made no mis-steps. His answers were knowledgeable and he didn’t laugh at the other candidates who don’t understand the role of city council. And he had notes. (Newman ties for first in this round.)
  12. Bill Russell (R) made no memorable comments. His style is unassuming, kindly and ‘everyman’ — which leaves a blank space where a candidate should be.
  13. Lindsey Simerly (U) connected with the audience. She stands out from the others as an oddball with a heart of gold. She’s honest and approachable and has a winning delivery. She’s smart and principled but does need to bone up on some broader issues. And she’s so left-leaning that she needs a reinforced walker.
  14. Selina Sullivan (R) is a Black female Republican. A curiosity for this crowd. Sullivan made it clear that she's a church-going faithful. She gets a pass.
    [UPDATE 10/5, 04:38 PM: Sullivan drops out.]
    [UPDATE 10/8, 1:45 pm: Sullivan is back in the race.
  15. Dee Williams (U) wowed the crowd. She’s a strong speaker and an impressive character. Her delivery is confident and animated; hiking her suit, shifting and cocking her head to punctuate her points. She took unapologetic pains to point out that she’s an accomplished Black female. She told me personally that if she doesn’t make the cut this time she’ll be back. I believe her. I believe her. (Williams ties with Newman in this round.)


This pale circus ended with an advertisement for the NAACP and an impassioned ‘appeal to emotion’ regarding racial injustice accompanied by the requisite “Alelueah’s” from the audience.

I miss the real debates of times past.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Federal Reserve Hoax

"Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson understood 'The Monster.' But to most Americans today, Federal Reserve is just a name on the dollar bill. They have no idea of what the central bank does to the economy, or to their own economic lives; of how and why it was founded and operates; or of the sound money and banking that could end the statism, inflation, and business cycles that the Fed generates. Dedicated to Murray N. Rothbard, steeped in American history and Austrian economics, and featuring Ron Paul, Joseph Salerno, Hans Hoppe, and Lew Rockwell, this extraordinary new film is the clearest, most compelling explanation ever offered of the Fed, and why curbing it must be our first priority. Alan Greenspan is not, we're told, happy about this 42-minute blockbuster. Watch it, and you'll understand why. This is economics and history as they are meant to be: fascinating, informative, and motivating."

Money, Banking and the Federal Reserve


RELATED VIDEO

America: Freedom to Fascism

Money as Debt

The Money Masters - How International Bankers Gained Control of America

Fiat Empire: Why the Federal Reserve Violates the U.S. Constitution

FURTHER READING

"The Housing Bubble and the Credit Crunch" by George Reisman, August 10, 2007.

"Credit Expansion, Economic Inequality, and Stagnant Wages" by George Reisman, January 12, 2008.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Intellectual Giant

Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism
by Jorg Guido Hulsmann

The Ludwig von Mises Institute has just published a "magisterial book for today and the ages, one that inspires awe for both the subject and the author who accomplished the seemingly impossible: a sweeping intellectual biography, constructed from original sources, of the 20th century's most astonishing dissident intellectual. It has the apparatus of a great scholarly work but the drama of a classic novel."

This book is available from Amazon.com. You can read the preface to the book at the von Mises website.

VIDEO


Author Jörg Guido Hülsmann discussing the life of Ludwig von Mises and sharing excerpts from his master treatise on Mises's life and work.


Liberty and Economics: Mises was the twentieth century's foremost economist, and one of its most important champions of Liberty.


Reason Magazine Senior Editor Brian Doherty discusses his book "Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement." April 15, 2007, Cody's Book Store, Berkeley, CA.

FURTHER READING

Human Action by Ludwig von Mises, 1949.

"Life of a Hero" by Warren Gibson, Liberty Magazine, March 2008.

PODCAST

"Mises and Austrian Economics: A Personal View" by Ron Paul. Full text online:

Friday, September 28, 2007

Is Corporatism Capitalist?

Gordon Smith: "The media is not 'to the left.' It's pushing a corporatist agenda which values consumption and political apathy."

Bobby Coggins: "It's called Capitalism, and far superior to any other economic engine ever tried. Capitalism is the ultimate meritocracy, where a fool and his/her money are soon parted, and all benefit by a rising tide of success."

Gordon Smith: "You agree then that the media is corporatist?"

Just for clarification...

Corporatism is not a form of capitalism. Capitalism, particularly 'laissez faire' capitalism, is the social system of freedom based on the recognition of individual rights; whereas corporatism seeks protections administered by the government; which is a mischievous circumvention of individual rights. Individual freedom and government interference in the marketplace are antithetical.

Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries.” -Ayn Rand, "For the New Intellectual"


Corporatism is, rather, a modern form of fascism; where the special interests of corporations influence and guide the content and direction of government. This is not government of the people, but government in contradistinction to the interests and liberties of the people.

What is corporatism? In a (somewhat inaccurate) phrase: Socialism for the bourgeois. It has the outward form of capitalism in that it preserves private ownership and private management, but with a crucial difference: as under socialism, government guarantees the flow of material goods, which under true capitalism it does not. In classical capitalism, what has been called the "night-watchman" state, government's role in the economy is simply to prevent force or fraud from disrupting the autonomous operation of the free market. The market is trusted to provide. Under corporatism, it is not, instead being systematically manipulated to deliver goods to political constituencies. This now includes basically everyone from the economic elite to ordinary consumers. -Robert Locke, "What is American Corporatism?"


Corporations, on the other hand, are legitimate entities that inherit rights from their members, but which do not properly possess rights themselves. Corporations are granted legal authorities by the government that replicate the natural rights of the individual.

It is individuals, not corporations, that have a right to exist and freely assemble.

Individuals, not corporations, have the right to contract.

Individuals, not corporations, have a right to property.

Individuals, not corporations, are protected by the Constitution/Bill of Rights.

A corporation has no rights apart from those of the individuals that comprise them.

A corporation is a union of individual human beings in a voluntary, cooperative endeavor. It exemplifies the principle of free association. Any attributes which corporations have are attributes (or rights) which individuals have. A corporation has no mystical attributes, no attributes that do not go back to the rights of individuals, including the right of free association.

In a free society, the "rights" of any group are derived from the rights of its members through their voluntary, individual choice and contractual agreement, and are merely the application of these individual rights to a specific undertaking. Every legitimate (non-criminal) group undertaking is based on the participants' rights of free association and free trade.

FURTHER READING

"What is American Corporatism?" By Robert Locke, Front Page Magazine, September 13, 2002.

"The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire" by Andrew Bernstein, University Press of America, 2005).

"Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics" by George Reisman, Jameson Books, 1998.

Asheville-Politics
at Yahoo Groups.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

School Choice

Political progressives support government-run public schooling despite its enormous failures of waste, fraud and abuse. Political conservatives support fully dismantling public schooling in favor of private and home-school options.

Both the liberal and the conservative solutions to the American education crisis seek to tell other people what they can and cannot do; that is, to prescribe and limit choices. They offer either government-run monopoly and union control or abrupt abandonment to the free market and busy, overworked (and even indifferent, psychotic or religionist) parents.

One the one hand, you have coercive and unaccountable institutions based on the model of socialism -- which is unsustainable. On the other, you throw parents back on their own resources to find, fund and monitor appropriate alternatives -- easy for the rich, very hard for the poor.

The libertarian solution is to offer parents more choices, not force them into fewer; that is, to maximize liberty. School choice, or vouchers, is an idea long-championed by libertarian economist Milton Friedman (1912–2006):

"For many years [Friedman] argued that parents should be given more choice in how and where their children are schooled. The government, he said, should not spend money on their behalf, but should give them vouchers that they could spend on the education they thought best. Competition between schools would do more than any amount of bureaucratic direction to raise the often woeful standards of American primary and secondary education. This newspaper has long subscribed wholeheartedly to the idea of school vouchers. They are making headway, but too slowly, blocked by the teachers' unions (when did state-protected producers ever embrace competition?) and sometimes in court." -- The Economist

Vouchers allow parents to choose whether they send their children to public schools, private schools or home schools -- or possibly, some hybrid.

It creates and promotes the natural and beneficial condition of competition in the educational marketplace. Institutions and practices that perform well and excel will be rewarded by patronage. Both public and private institution would be compelled to raise their standards and cater to the market and a wider variety of superior schooling options would become available. This is good for parents and this is good for children.

When it comes to giving our children quality education, failure is not an option.

"School vouchers, or government-funded tuition payments, direct money that would otherwise have funded a public school education to a school that the student's family has chosen, whether private or parochial."

"Voucher programs serve a range of individuals. Some programs, such as those in Milwaukee and Cleveland, give priority to students from low-income families. Florida offers vouchers to special education students and to those who attend failing public schools. In Vermont and Maine, towns that don't have high schools provide vouchers to their residents."

"Like tax credits, vouchers promote competition among schools, improving performance. They encourage the creation of new private schools that cater to voucher recipients. Public schools also respond positively to increased competition from private schools by trimming bureaucracy, improving programs, and strengthening curricula."

"Voucher programs make schools, whether public or private, accountable to parents. When families have the power to remove children from schools that aren't working, administrators and teachers, at risk of losing their clients, must strive to provide the best educational experience for each child. This is a higher standard of accountability than public schools have to meet under the current system." -- Cato Institute

FURTHER READING

Education and Child Policy, Cato Institute

Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Talk Radio

I compose political and philosophical commentary for posting to mailing lists and web bulletin boards. I have a 90-minute live political and current affairs talk show on television every week. And I give public comment at government meetings. But every now and then I like to hear someone else talk.

Here's a round-up of my favorite talk radio programs. It's all I need.

Dennis Miller
DennisMillerRadio
Weekdays 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM (Eastern)
"Part libertarian, Objectivist, and conservative."

Tammy Bruce
Talk Radio Network
Weekdays 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM (Eastern)
"A chick with a gun and a microphone."

Neal Boortz
WSB 750-AM (Atlanta)
Weekdays 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM (Eastern)
"High priest of the painful truth."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sick in America

"Whose Body Is It, Anyway?! Sick in America"

by John Stossel
ABC News "20/20"
Aired Sept. 14, 2007, 10 p.m. EDT

Preview

Six-part video:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

FURTHER READING

"American Health Care in Critical Condition: The Case for Putting Individuals, Not Employers or Government, in Control of Health Care" By John Stossel and Andrew Sullivan, Sep 11, 2007.

"What Hunger Insurance Could Teach Us About Health Insurance" by Joseph Bast, Foundation for Economic Education, Nov 1993.

"Cuba Has Better Health Care than the United States?" by John Stossel, Sept 12, 2007.

"Socialized Medicine Is Broken and Can't Be Fixed" by John Stossel, Sept 19, 2007.

"Our Crazy Health-Insurance System" by John Stossel, Sept 25, 2007.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Asheville Bloggers Q&A

The Mountain Xpress recently asked local bloggers a series of questions for their upcoming local bloggers article. Here are their questions and my answers:

Q. How useful do you find the city and county government sites for information?

I find the newly revamped City of Asheville website to be very useful. It is simple, elegant and easy to use. It contains a wealth of information that is well-organized. And they now have archived video of council meetings; so, I can easily review portions of meetings without waiting for reruns on TV or getting clarification second-hand.

However, I would like to have access to committee meeting cancellation notices. Right now you have to sign up for an email distribution list, which is clumsy, inefficient and exclusive.

The county website needs work. It looks and feels old. Still, it is a valuable resource especially for meeting agendas and background documentation.

Q. How has technology changed the playing field when it comes to local news and covering local government (esp. YouTube and podcasts)?

Technology has made an enormous change in the circulation of news and information. I can announce an event or meeting on a mailing list, research the issues from local or worldwide sources, get feedback from others in the community who are knowledgeable, experienced or just opinionated, send questions or concerns to participants in advance, attend the meeting armed with notes compiled from emails, bloggers, and online media sources, film or photograph the event, place the pictures or film on the web when I get home (YouTube or BubbleShare), and then distribute notes, links, pictures and film to the community through emails, my blog or other blogs for their reaction. In this way, you can end up with a fairly full public record of activities all distributed before bedtime.

This is highly effective in keeping the community involved in and informed about hot issues while they're still hot. And the web helps keep important issues alive by providing documentation that persists beyond the immediate moment.

Q. What effects have blogs had on local government?

Blogs are not just disembodied web diaries. Blogs are maintained by people. Often, people who are more or less involved in local activities and political groups and have a stake in political and community outcomes. If local government is interested in what their constituents are thinking, doing and saying then they need to be listening to the bloggers. Often it is the bloggers and web-connected who are the touchstone for distributed and networked observation, research, and analysis and who have their fingers on the pulse of the community and make their outputs generally available in a common cyberspace.

Q. As a blogger who frequently covers local issues, what are the challenges you face?

I sometimes have too many things I could or should be doing and not enough time. In this case, another advantage of the web-connected community is that we can each cover material that others cannot and then report back in a reciprocal fashion. In this way, we unintentionally build up a considerable, transitory and developing body of knowledge that has a persisting substance we can reference, examine and appreciate over time.

Q. What do you gain from blogging?

What I get from blogging is the satisfaction of knowing that I always have a dependable and consistent means of self-expression. It's like having my own personal newspaper. I can take my knowledge, experiences and analysis and compose opinion pieces of whatever length is required and publish my product to the world on my own schedule.

Q. What do others gain?

I don't know what others gain from my blogging. I don't maintain a weblog for the gain of others. I have eliminated interactivity and it is simply an unmolested record of my thought.

First of all, although most weblogs allow comments, mine does not. It's the one place in cyberspace where I don't have to listen to the noise and cross-talk. Mine is not "the people's blog;" it is my blog and I don't like comments on my blog. I don't allow comments on my weblog because I don't have to. They are usually tedious, spurious or fallacious criticisms that have to be monitored, countered, and sometimes deleted for vulgar insults or personal attacks. I don't have time for it. I manage three newsgroups myself and participate in many online forums and mailing lists and I get my fill of stupid comments there. My weblog is the one place where I can express my opinion without having to field inane, anonymous drive-by comments from boobs who think they know something. Short answer: I don't have the time for it. Keep your comments to yourself. Start your own blog.

Secondly, I don't keep counters or any other statistics either. I am gloriously oblivious to how many hits my weblog has or where visitors came from. Don't know, don't care. If you like what's on my weblog, read it. If not, go away.

Also, I do not keep a blogroll; that is, links to other favorite weblogs.

I've been blogging for over seven years and I used to have a blog that had every possible feature that a blog could have. I have decided now to choose minimalism as my theme. It works for me.

Q. How does A'ville's small size affect your blog's personality?

There is no aspect of my possible audience that influences my blog's personality. I base my blog's personality on the image I choose to display. However, the size and character of Asheville does influence the content of my weblog. I sometimes comment on or cover activities that take place here and that is certainly a factor in the composition of my blog.

Q. Why keep at it?

I keep blogging because it keeps my thinking and writing skills sharp. I love language and the drama of human affairs and blogging helps me express my appreciation of both.

Q. What surprises have you encountered?

I'm surprised any time I learn that someone has read my blog.

Q. What do you consider the central theme to your blog?

The general theme of my weblog is me. My thoughts, my interests, my whimsy. It contains commentary or announcements that are meaningful to me and that I consider worthy of publishing. Quite often that content is political in nature. So, the central theme, I guess, is my political thought; particularly, libertarian political thought. (P.S. That is not capital-L Libertarian.)

Q. What sort of traffic do you get?

I don't know. I don't keep web traffic statistics.

FURTHER READING

"Digital citizenship: E-gov reshapes civic life" by David Forbes, Mountain Xpress, September 19, 2007.

"Blog wild: Local bloggers stir the virtual pot" by Brian Postelle, Mountain Xpress, September 19, 2007.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Faith-Based Foreign Policy

QUIZ

Which utterly confused, marble-mouthed war-mongering religionist world leader managed to utter the following intellectual gem yesterday?

"I believe in what God says. God says that those who walk in the path of righteousness will be victorious. What reason can you have for believing God will not keep this promise."

o    U.S. President Bush

o    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

--> Answer


FURTHER READING


Religion and Relativism: The Axis of Evil by Craig Biddle, Objectve Standard, September 23, 2007.

50 Bush Quotes on Religion

VIDEO

Let the Bodies Hit the Floor

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Anti-War

I was happy to participate in an anti-war vigil last night in Asheville in front of city hall that maintained a proper tone of solemnity (I could have done without the maudlin, roaming wooden flute player). There was an interesting mix of people there: Highway blogger Jonas Phillips, Swami Virato, Bill Bailey, one police guy, media photogs, and my favorite old-time mando-playing grey-haired chick.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that:

Some 150 people held a vigil Tuesday night at City-County Plaza, calling on Congress to end the war in Iraq by September. The event, sponsored by the Asheville chapter of MoveOn.org and other various peace groups, featured a reading of the names of soldiers killed in what the organization calls an “unwinnable religious civil war in Iraq.”

This nonsense -- the war -- has gone on long enough and no claims of "good news" or of success in this perpetuation of military adventurism can be declared valid.

In an apparent effort to shine light on neglected good news from Iraq, a recent viral email has been circulating which proudly touts this so-called "good news" in the war there:

  • Did you know that 47 countries have re-established their embassies in Iraq?
  • Did you know that 3,100 schools have been renovated, 364 schools are under rehabilitation, 263 new schools are now under construction and 38 new schools have been completed in Iraq?
  • Did you know that 25 Iraq students departed for the United States in January 2005 for the re-established Fulbright program?
  • Did you know that the Iraqi Navy is operational? They have 5 -100-foot patrol craft, 34 smaller vessels and a naval infantry regiment.
  • Did you know that the Iraqi Police Service has over 55,000 fully trained and equipped police officers?
  • Did you know there are more than 1100 building projects going on in Iraq ? They include 364 schools, 67 public clinics, 15 hospitals, 83 railroad stations, 22 oil facilities, 93 water facilities and 69 electrical facilities.
  • Did you know that 96% of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have received the first 2 series of polio vaccinations?

How can any of the above developments be considered success in our defense against Islamic Totalitarianism? They might, however, indicate success if our goal in that country were nation-building. But that was not, and should never be, the goal of military deployment.

Running counter to the so-called “good news,” we also have this information from the Washington Monthly that measures percent of change from Summer 2006 to Summer 2007. Did you know:

  • Iraqi Military and Police Killed - Up 23%
  • Multiple Fatality Bombings - Down 25%
  • # Killed in Mult. Fatality Bombings - Up 19%
  • U.S. Troop Fatalities - Up 80%
  • U.S. Troops Wounded - Up 45%
  • Size of Insurgency - Up approx. 250%
  • Attacks on Oil and Gas Pipelines - Up 75%
  • Diesel Fuel Available - Down 22%
  • Kerosene Available - Down 11%
  • Gasoline Available - Down 24%
  • Electricity Generated - Down 4%
  • Hours Electricity Per Day - Down approx. 14%

All claims of "success" must be placed into context.

We are engaged in a contrived, self-sacrificial, non-defensive war initiated under cloak of trickery. I fully support genuine defensive war. But what legitimate national defense purpose is being served by our continued presence in Iraq?

I don't think I have changed my position on the present war in Iraq. I have always been suspicious of America's ability to wage an actual aggressive war against the enemy instead of a politically-correct war. I think the enemy should be engaged with overwhelming military force. President Bush's problem is that he cannot properly identify the enemy and cannot even fight the wrong enemy correctly. The main source of Islamic Totalitarianism is Iran.

I have always thought it to be good that we claim some air space in the region and I applaud those times when we can disrupt terrorist networks and kill their leaders. If we would just do that, our presence in Iraq could be justified. To the extent that we are not doing that, which is considerable, I cannot pretend to be a cheerleader for military adventurism that serves no national defense purpose.

I differ from other anti-war types in that I am pro-American and carry no particular animus toward George Bush. He has simply failed at home and abroad. Why secure the borders of Iraq and neglect our own? Why bring majority-rule democracy to a nation that embraces primitive anti-Western principles?

President Bush started this engagement with a tough stance saying that if you're not with us you're against us, and that any nation that harbors a terrorist is a terrorist nation. Now we are nation-building, intervening in a sectarian shooting war, appeasing barbarians and building schools, etc. Bush supporters can point to so-called successes that bear no relationship to the goals of national defense. Success, in national defense terms, means eliminating the threat; not playing footsie with warring tribes while American service-members die.

This charade has gone on long enough. Either crap or get off the pot. It is George Bush who is strengthening both the enemy and his critics.

Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute deftly points out:

"President Bush has rejected the lessons of World War II and the goal of U.S. security. Instead of eliminating the threat from states that support the cause of Islamic totalitarianism—particularly its main sponsors in Iran and Saudi Arabia—he sent Americans on a mission to bring the vote to secular Iraq. Instead of crushing and demoralizing our enemies, Bush made our top priority protecting Iraqi civilians, Iraqi infrastructure, and Iraqi religious shrines—sacrificing American troops to that end. Instead of demanding that Iraqis embrace a pro-Western and, thus, non-threatening government, President Bush declared that they have the right to elect a government of their choosing—including a hostile, Islamic state." -Yaron Brook, ARI

VIDEO

WLOS News 13 news coverage of the anti-war vigil, City-County Plaza on August 28, 2007.

AUDIO

"No Substitute for Victory: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism" by John David Lewis, George Mason University, April 24, 2007

“Just War Theory vs. American Self-Defense" by Yaron Brook, National Press Club in Washington, D.C., March 14th, 2006.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Candidate Forum


Asheville City Council Candidates Forum
Country Club of Asheville
170 Windsor Road
August 23, 2007 at 12:25 p.m.

[Transcript provided by Asheville Citizen-Times]

The candidates are beginning with introductions.

Dee Williams is first up. She says she's an independent candidate, she says, and she's running because we need "principled leadership." The top issue is water, Williams says. We need to resolve the dispute with the county. The other big issue is taxes - they needed to be lowered, she said. She also wants an elected school board.

Selena Sullivan is next. She tells us she's a native and loves her city, but we've got problems. Taxes need to be lowered and fees are overburdening business owners and homeowners. Crime is taking over the city, she says. We also need to emphasize education and economic development.

Lindsey Simerly is running under a long slogan we didn't get, but which is focused on development and slowing it down. She says we need to control the growth here in Asheville. Independent businesses are the best sources of jobs, she says.

Bill Russell lives in north Asheville and owns a local State Farm insurance agency, he tells us. He's been in Asheville 10 years and says he's passionate about helping the city.

William Meredith, who describes himself as a Libertarian, says he's concerned about crumbling infrastructure of the city. He said he was drafted by his friends to run because he talks so much about local issues.

Matthew Hebb says he's running for city council because he thinks the city needs new leadership. He says that we all need to work together to take the city to the next level. It's all about leadership, Hebb says.

Bryan Freeborn, a member of city council, tells us that he's worked hard on the issues he's run on, such as real economic support for small businesses. He says he's reduced a fee for small businesses, and he notes that city property taxes have been slightly reduced in the year and a half since he's been in office. He says city council has worked aggressively on infrastructure, such as the civic center and old water lines.

Jan Davis tells us that CIBO is home, and he feels like small business has gained a greater voice in Asheville. Davis says he's been on city council for four years, and he notes mentors that have come from CIBO. Davis notes he has a kick-off party tonight at the Ritz at 5 p.m.

Dwight Butner says hello. He wants to talk about three big choices: how we're going to govern ourselves; how we're going to grow; and how are we going to treat each other.

Steve Bledsoe tells us that he's from Alabama, spent 33 years in industry in manufacturing and management. He wants to bring a different style, a clear vision and clear leadership. That's what he wants to bring to City Council.

Donna Bateman, who is in a wheelchair, says she is running for handicapped people and to push handicapped issues. She says downtown isn't handicapped accessible. She says she lives in Battery Park Apartments.

Complete Transcript

VIDEO

Asheville Citizen-Times video clips of each question


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Referendum Finalized

A date for the Special Election for the referendum on partisan elections has been set in a 6-1 vote in favor of the date corresponding to the General Election on November 6, 2007. (Jones dissenting.)

FLASHBACK

Public comment at Asheville City Council on May 22, 2007:

"A committee opposing partisan elections in Asheville has been formed to carry out the task of securing a valid petition that will force the city to hold a public referendum on this matter. That vote of the public, and not city council’s adoption of this resolution, will determine whether or not this proposed change to the city’s charter will indeed take effect." -Tim Peck


VIDEO

Asheville City Council, August 14, 2007. Complete meeting. Discussion and vote on referendum begins at time marker: 03:59:40. (Requires Windows Media 7 or higher. A broadband connection is highly recommended.)

Asheville City Council (excerpt), August 14, 2007. Video clip: Mumpower speaks, Cape walks.