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. Sulivan 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.