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Fading vs. Blanking Out

Tonight’s sparring contest at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, was another low point for the United States. The question is not who won or lost what’s falsely been billed as a debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama; what is usually meant by that question is who is perceived to have won or lost by others. The proper question is what was gained by the nation in the third and final presidential candidate exchange. The answer is not much, if anything. The more we learn about these two, the more we should realize that our nation is seriously off track and we should brace for impact.

Romney, whom I referred to over a year ago as Obamney, reverted to his moderate Mitt form, agreeing with Obama on nearly every foreign policy issue and failing to differentiate his candidacy from Obama’s rotten presidency. Romney played it safe, looked and sounded soft and, while he is measurably better than Obama – chiefly because he is not Obama – failed to take Obama to task for the outrage of this year’s Islamic terrorist 9/11 attack. Obama, looking at once tired, angry and petulant, smirked and swaggered in his seat, staring blankly at Romney, spewing rehearsed lies about everything from Israel – which he has done everything to undermine – to Iran, which he has done everything to appease. At one point even CBS News moderator Bob Schieffer slipped and mistakenly referred to “Obama bin Laden”. It’s not that Romney did not win, though he did not, it’s that he did not differentiate. Americans are ready for someone who will tell the truth about the lousy state of the union and commit to fixing it. Looking presidential and dodging traps and smears is not enough.

There are crucial issues at stake in this election and, one by one, Romney fumbled. Though he scored points when he more or less said that we can’t win the war against jihadists by picking off terrorists one at a time (as I wrote in my post on killing bin Laden, “Death of a Terrorist“), Romney agreed with Obama, who followed the disastrous Bush doctrine, on Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. But we know where Me-too Republicanism, personified by Romney’s father, George, leads: Me-first, New Left variations of fascism, first authored by John Kennedy and climaxing under Barack Obama, which is why we urgently need a distinction with a difference. Romney instead whiffed when Obama ludicrously claimed he’s kept Americans safe for four years – tell that to those who loved the soldiers and statesmen we lost to jihadists at Fort Hood and Benghazi – and said with a straight face that he has no regrets about making the Islamicization of north Africa possible. Or when Obama said we stand with Israel, another lie. Worst of all, Romney declined to mention that the Obama administration repeatedly attacked an American who made a movie as the cause of the newest 9/11 assault as against the jihadists who launched the strike and murdered our ambassador and three Americans. Romney chose to be politically correct and ignore Obama’s serious transgressions against the United States, including terrorist investigator Steven Emerson’s disturbing new report about jihadists in the White House.

As we head toward a darker future, facing the prospect of economic crisis, paralysis and collapse and the war against Islamic jihad, America needs a pro-American president who displays courage and resolve in defense of individual rights, from free speech to free markets. Mitt Romney showed us how far we are from electing such a president. Barack Obama reminded us how close we are to re-electing the eagerly exact opposite.

On Lance Armstrong

You probably know the key facts of bicyclist Lance Armstrong’s downfall: that the world champion athlete who had taken on cancer, cycling competitions and people (later, a sports bureaucracy) that constantly accused him of drugging his way to winning was recently the subject of a report with apparently conclusive evidence that he chronically took drugs – an assertion which Armstrong has long denied – and has been deprived of his titles, banned from his sport and fired by his sponsors.

This week, Lance Armstrong resigned as chairman of his cancer charity.

I’m not a cycling fan, so I don’t follow the sport and, beyond a general knowledge, I am not familiar with his record, controversies and victories. But I know that Armstrong, who made a comeback from his own cancer diagnosis to win seven Tour de France titles, founded a cancer charity in 1997 that became a huge enterprise which reportedly has raised $500 million for cancer patients. That’s good if it’s true and if the money went to the patients as promised by the charity. But if Armstrong can’t be trusted to engage in honest competition, and from what I know it seems clear that he can’t, why would anyone trust that the charity Armstrong founded is what he says it is and does what he says it does? The question goes to the problem I have had with Lance Armstrong.

Whenever people used to talk about him, they usually fawned over him, which is not the same as admiring him, and it rarely seemed driven by his athletic ability. Instead, people emphasized his cancer survival and acts of charity. His ability appeared to be an afterthought. I’d like to think that his charity seriously advances scientists toward a cure for cancer and I don’t know enough to say. I’m neither fazed nor impressed by outward signs of one’s charitable giving – not by Romney’s, not by anyone’s – including rubber bracelets. If people want to make an issue of charity and display a token of their cause, I figure they may have good reasons.

But when acts of charity and recovery overshadow the source for charity and the reason for recovery – living an honest, productive life with integrity – we should activate closer scrutiny, not feed a fixation. Lance Armstrong, because he apparently perpetuates a fraud, provides a lesson in why.

Space Shuttle Stuck in Los Angeles

The government’s Space Shuttle came to a premature stop tonight in Los Angeles, California. The gigantic rocket ship, part of a government program initiated by President Nixon that was always less inspiring than its predecessor, Apollo, blocked a major thoroughfare in the nation’s second largest city while a crowd of onlookers gawked and another crowd at the intended destination was repeatedly misinformed by government authorities about the arrival.

The spectacle is pathetic. The notion that a failed and shuttered government program – that lost nearly half of its fleet in earthbound crashes that could have killed thousands of people – would be celebrated in its demise as some sort of achievement is bad enough. As an admirer of manmade machines, looking at aircraft that no longer fly is a slightly sad spectacle to me, made easier to bear by the fact that the thing performed its function. Certainly there’s an argument that delivering payloads into space was a legitimate and productive goal. But the Space Shuttle program can hardly be considered a resounding success. The mixed-results, multi-billion dollar program coming to an end is causing more mixed results. It turns out that hauling a government space vehicle (named in a government school competition) through government-controlled streets to a government-sponsored museum is more complicated than government planners thought. Though they have cut down 400 trees, and also utility poles, traffic signals and street lights, the Shuttle Endeavour is literally stuck in the middle of L.A. at this writing.

The government’s failure to properly plan to move Endeavour, which was made with spare parts to replace the fallen Challenger, to the California Science Center has inconvenienced city residents for days with closed and disrupted infrastructure, routes and avenues, and the Shuttle shutdown potentially endangers the safety of thousands of people in Los Angeles. And to think that the left insists that society would fall apart without government controls. According to the Los Angeles Times, if and when Endeavour moves east on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on its final stretch, it will encounter more problems. A section of the street where tall pines were planted in honor of the slain civil rights leader will force Endeavour to zigzag to avoid the trees. Endeavour is running far behind schedule, the Times reports, and is estimated to reach its destination sometime on Sunday morning. That makes moving Endeavour an example of Big Government in action, reminding us of the enormous power the state has over our lives, controlling roads, museums, schools and rocket ships, which it can cut off and stop functioning like that. A $2 billion vehicle that was used 25 times for less than 20 years being stuck in the middle of an American city blocking traffic – being cheered by city residents – makes the government’s failure to finish its Endeavour the perfect snapshot of a civilization which, if the trend continues, will itself come to a grinding halt.

Today’s Movie Theater Massacre

News is still breaking about today’s attack in Aurora, Colorado, on a movie theater audience for The Dark Knight Rises. While I am saddened, I am neither shocked nor surprised. The latest American massacre (12 dead at this writing) is more evidence that the United States of America is in decline and dying. While movies matter and have the potential to bring us together, the assault demonstrates, especially to those who hate talking politics and avoid thinking about serious issues, that life can be wiped out in an instant by those who worship death. Today’s movie theater massacre reminds us that finding and applying the right philosophy is a matter of life and death. In my experience, many people turn the other cheek from the facts of reality by striving to make and see movies as an escape from reality – or they turn up their nose at political activism while perched in front of a television, from a comfortable place or detached from daily life in an intellectual ivory tower insisting that movies are “just movies” – and this bloody Friday shows that we are urgently running out of time. The president Obama, speaking this morning about the attack, says this act of mass murder is “beyond reason.” As usual, he – whose political philosophy is rooted in a death premise – is wrong. Today’s act, which is what it is, is perfectly accessible to the mind. Not only is the movie theater massacre open to our knowledge and understanding; life and happiness are only possible by choosing to think and live by a philosophy of reason, egoism and capitalism. In other words, Objectivism.

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The ObamaCare Ruling

Today is another sad day for our dying America: the Supreme Court has upheld ObamaCare, according to most reports. But it should not be a surprising day for Americans, not to those who choose to think. Anyone could have seen this coming.

Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative whom most on the right supported when he was appointed by President George W. Bush, joined the left-wing justices and voted to uphold the individual mandate as a tax. The leftists accepted the mandate as part of the commerce clause, as the Obama administration argued, and the other justices, including swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy, rejected the law in its entirety. Think back to Chief Justice Roberts’ nomination hearings in Congress. All anyone probably remembers is that his children and family were attractive. One of his cute kids acted up and everyone thought it was adorable – and it was – and the bland, conservative family man John Roberts somehow seemed acceptable as a judge on the nation’s highest court. Conservatives have never – never – argued on principle for reason, rights and capitalism. Conservatives totally reject the idea that one has a moral right to act in one’s self-interest. In fact, they vehemently oppose selfishness.

For the past three years, I have argued against ObamaCare on this blog and elsewhere, and I have argued, in this post, that conservatives are the enemies of individual rights and must be regarded as such until and unless – and to the extent – they prove otherwise as individual politicians. But, really, no one should be surprised by today’s decision; as with the Islamist attack on 9/11, there has been an unending series of facts and evidence that the worst (i.e., dictatorship) is in a sense an unavoidable climax to our once great republic, with one massive advancement toward government control after another, leading us toward total government control and economic collapse (and in foreign policy one appeasement after another, leading to a catastrophic enemy attack).

It is hard to live in today’s dark times among confused, conflicted people who control our lives and lead us toward our doom and, while it is sad that ObamaCare will take us there much, much faster, and there is a real sense in which I think we are doomed, the only thing one can do is address the question of what one can do about it – and do it for one’s own sake. That means accepting the fact that conservatives – such as Bush and the Heritage Foundation – gave us Obama and ObamaCare and continue to reaffirm their commitment to faith in the welfare state. We must move toward pure capitalism, which on a certain level means having a proper understanding of its moral premise, egoism. In other words, what we need is a philosophical revolution, starting with ourselves.

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