Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Quote of the day - Dick Morris

Hillary realizes, as Bill once told me, that any government entitlement for poor people can be easily repealed since they lack political power and practical voting strength. But middle class entitlements, once granted, last forever - see Social Security and Medicare and rent control in New York City.

So Hillary will pioneer entitlements and grants for middle class families, making them at once dependent on government aid, winning their political gratitude, and giving them a stake in benefit programs that also help the poor.

She will bring us much closer to the Swedish, French, and German model where everybody gets a check from the government, regardless of their wealth or income, making it impossible to criticize the program.

Dick Morris

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Quote of the day - Joe Sobran

One of the marks of sound constitutional law is that it doesn’t always give you what you want. A justice whose “interpretations” regularly coincide with his policy preferences is cheating.

Quote of the day - Joe Sobran

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Quote of the day - Ricardo Sanchez

“As I understand it, your measure of worth is how many front page stories you have written and unfortunately some of you will compromise your integrity and display questionable ethics as you seek to keep America informed.”

General Ricardo Sanchez

General Sanchez

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Quote of the day - Mark Steyn [Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Stark]

"Congressman Stark hit all the buzz words – "children," "illegal war," "$200 billion," "lies," etc. – and these days they're pretty much like modular furniture: You can say 'em in any order, and you'll still get a cheer from the crowd."

"Last Thursday, Nancy Pelosi, as is the fashion, used the phrase "the children" like some twitchy verbal tic, a kind of Democrat Tourette's syndrome."

Mark Steyn - 10-20-07

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Quote of the day - General Ricardo Sanchez

“Almost invariably, my perception is that the sensationalistic value of these assessments is what provided the edge that you [MSM] seek for self aggrandizement or to advance your individual quest for getting on the front page with your stories.”

General Sanchez

General Sanchez with Albanian troops

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Quote of the day - General Sanchez

“Unfortunately, I have issued ultimatums to some of you for unscrupulous reporting that was solely focused on supporting your agenda and preconceived notions of what our military had done.”

General Ricardo Sanchez

General Sanchez

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Quote of the day - Mark Steyn - multiculturalism

Why can't we do that [develop a consistent strategy for the war on terror similar to the U.S. cold war strategy] today?

Well, one reason is we're not really comfortable with ideology, either ours or anybody else's. Insofar as we have an ideology it's a belief in the virtues of "multiculturalism," "tolerance," "celebrate diversity" – a bumper-sticker ideology that is, in effect, an anti-ideology which explicitly rejects the very idea of drawing distinctions between your beliefs and anybody else's.

Mark Steyn - 10-12-07


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Friday, October 12, 2007

Classics of Conservatism - part XXI - Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand

Click here for a previous "Classic of Conservatism."

According to the New York Times, today is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Atlas Shrugged.

Written by Ayn Rand, the novel explores the philosophies of objectivism and liberty. It has been twenty years since I read my copy, but I remember what attracted me to it. Rand did not defend capitalism on the same grounds as modern day conservatives. She did not claim that capitalism was better for the poor or less evil than its critics claimed or acceptable only if properly regulated. Instead, Rand advocated man's happiness and success as values and virtues in and of themselves. Rand was among the first to say that profit is a virtue, while altruism is harmful and wrong. She correctly identified the totalitarian movements of the 20th century, at home and abroad, with the altruistic side of the philosophical ledger. Altruism is the philosophy that one's life is at the disposal and service of others. She draws the logical conclusion between altruism, theft and slavery.

The attack on altruism may shock and offend the average reader at first, but it stands to reason that there must be more to the story about this word [altruism] that we have taken for granted for so long and have repeated without comprehension so many times. Those who want to think will enjoy Rand's books, including Atlas Shrugged, for this reason alone.

Atlas Shrugged is the climax of the Randian novels. In previous years, she had written several novels, plays, short stories, etc. Atlas Shrugged was her masterpiece. The book contains the story of a railroad executive who struggles against the philosophy of not only altruism, but government enforced altruism. But the plot is about more than politics or business. The plot is also a great mystery story, as the reader gradually learns who is responsible for turning out the lights of world.

Paperback (Signet) edition from the 1980's

The story is broad in scope, as it takes the reader from one end of the country to other over the course of three years (with numerous flashbacks to the previous decade and beyond).

Ayn Rand always believed that "plot" was the most important element in any story. The plot of Atlas Shrugged was relatively complex and undoubtedly took much editing [and many years] to make it complete, consistent and integrated. The basic story involved a conflict between the main characters, all of whom are the "good guys." This theme of "good vs. good" was a recurring feature of Randian fiction, as she believed that evil was impotent to do harm in this world unless aided by the good. So she focused on the good and the way that good unknowingly helps evil. Another benefit of this plot style is that the end is much less predictable.

The basic story in this novel can be traced back through numerous novels of Ayn Rand, all the way to a short story named "Red Pawn" in the early 1930's. In the previous works, the plot may be almost unrecognizable as a precursor to Atlas Shrugged, but the similarity exists once the reader understands the "good vs. good" technique and how to match the characters in the early works with those in Atlas Shrugged.

The Times article focuses on the long term influence of Atlas Shrugged:
One of the most influential business books ever written is a 1,200-page novel published 50 years ago, on Oct. 12, 1957. It is still drawing readers; it ranks 388th on’s best-seller list.

. . . . .

But the book attracted a coterie of fans, some of them top corporate executives, who dared not speak of its impact except in private. When they read the book, often as college students, they now say, it gave form and substance to their inchoate thoughts, showing there is no conflict between private ambition and public benefit.

“I know from talking to a lot of Fortune 500 C.E.O.’s that ‘Atlas Shrugged’ has had a significant effect on their business decisions, even if they don’t agree with all of Ayn Rand’s ideas,” said John A. Allison, the chief executive of BB&T, one of the largest banks in the United States.

“It offers something other books don’t: the principles that apply to business and to life in general. I would call it complete,” he said.

The following that the book has attracted is often watered down with such references as "public benefit" etc.

I have often lamented that Rand did not write more books. But my reading has lead me to an author whose writings in the 1920's often foreshadowed the Randian works in haunting ways. Garet Garrett's novels have sufficient similarity with some of the storylines in Atlas Shrugged to make those novels almost equally enjoyable. Rand not only has left a great impression on future generations, but enjoys deep roots in prior literature.

Previous - Philosophy: Who Needs It

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Quote of the day - Ann Coulter

Decent people shun Clinton, but elected Republicans keep trying to rehabilitate him.

Ann Coulter

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Quote of the day - Joe Sobran

The Pope's [John Paul II] condemnation of stem-cell research on
human embryos was greeted by the usual derision,
sophisticated and otherwise. While the prestige news
media cited polls showing that even most Catholics favor
such research (see?), callers to C-SPAN emitted a
ceaseless flow of ignorantly anti-Catholic sentiment. You
had to hear it to believe it: the Pope has no moral
authority because other popes have had girlfriends and
taught that the earth was flat and failed to condemn the
Holocaust, so there. As Lewis Carroll's Humpty Dumpty
says, after a similar exercise in ratiocination, "That's
logic." It's also a reflection of American education,
state-run and, alas, Catholic.

Joe Sobran (2001)

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Monday, October 08, 2007

U.S. hospitality to Ahmadinejad demoralizes Iranian opposition

All of the arguments about whether to allow Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia University last month boil down to one factor - internal opposition within Iran. Ahmadinejad faces at least some opposition within his own country, as today's Breitbart article indicates:
An estimated 100 students staged a rare demonstration Monday against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calling him a "dictator" and scuffling with hardline students at Tehran University.
Ahmadinejad, who was giving a speech to a select group at the university to mark the beginning of the academic year, ignored the chants of "death to the dictator" and continued with his speech on the merits of science and the pitfalls of Western-style democracy, witnesses said.

The protesters scuffled with hardline students who were chanting "thank you president" while police looked on from outside the university gates. The protesters dispersed after the car carrying Ahmadinejad left the campus.

That opposition has now been shown film of Ahmadinejad being welcomed in the United States and at Columbia University. Iran's internal opposition knows only what the government wants them to know. The internal opposition now has the impression that they will receive no help from the U.S., that Ahmadinejad has bought respectability around the world and that they (the opposition) are isolated and without allies. No matter how much the crowd laughed at Ahmadinejad, his very presence in the U.S. among elite professionals and officials sent the worst possible message to his opponents.

Today's news provides all of the justification we need to keep Ahmadinejad out of this country and away from our crowds and institutions. We learned no new information from Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia. Ahmadinejad moderated none of his views upon listening to our students and academic officials.

There have been other protestors, such as rioters protesting gas prices or shortages. All such opposition will be demoralized by the American hospitality shown to Ahmadinejad.

Iranian gas riots - June 2007 - AP

Previous - B. Hussein Obama wants to meet with foreign dictators

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Quote of the day - Peg Noonan

. . . . Hillary Clinton and President Bush, both of whom often seem to be trying to remember the answer they'd agreed upon with staff. What's the phrase we use about education? Hit Search Function. Hit Open. Right-click. "Equity in education is essential, Tim . . ."

Peg Noonan 10-5-07

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

GM - UAW settlement

Liberal Quicksand speculates on the possibility that the recent GM-Union settlement will end up being paid for directly by the taxpayers:
GM gets a ‘going broke’ retirement plan off its responsibility list. They will pay the UAW now. It is the UAW’s ‘problem’ – not that they need to fear that at all.

The Democrat sheepeople ‘the very rank and defiled’ will whine like the spoiled brats – not if, but when the money is gone. I can see the MSPAM stories now of the ‘hard-working’ union man who can’t even afford his beer or lottery tickets anymore. They will be championed as victims. But they are victims of their own liberalism.

Think about all that money just sitting in a union trust fund. I know the union big bosses and the DNC are thinking about it.

Regardless of whether the taxpayers pay directly for this particular settlement, years of union activitiy have already cost us our industrial base.


Quote of the day - Mark Steyn [Bill Clinton as Benny Hill]

It's hard not to feel a sneaking sympathy for President Clinton as he tries to shake off Mrs Jones - the kind of sympathy one feels for Benny Hill in those speeded-up musical finales, when Benny, the leering predator-turned-prey, finds himself pursued by irate dolly birds and their menfolk. Substitute a high-speed Hail To The Chief on the soundtrack and a posse of ambitious lawyers, and that's the Clinton second term in a nutshell.

Mark Steyn - 10-19-97 [3 months prior to the beginning of the Lewinsky scandal].

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