Archive | News RSS feed for this section

(Un) American Crackdown

Back in October of 2010, with Greek unrest and riots in France, I forecast that lawlessness was likely to get worse throughout the West’s welfare states and we’ve seen this summer’s anarchy in Great Britain with widespread looting and rioting. In London, and here in America, we have also seen criminal flash mobs organizing through social media, converging upon certain pre-designated locations to loot, rob and destroy private property, as police across the country are imposing new curfews and crackdowns. Several new government restrictions have been imposed by the cities of Philadelphia and Chicago and in Maryland. This week, a new curfew is being considered in Kansas City and, as roving mobs, gangs, and anarchists continue to strike using social media, the city of San Francisco declared a total shutdown of cellular service in certain parts of the city, which had been targeted by protestors against the city’s government-controlled transportation system, during rush hour.

With reports of new outbursts of coordinated criminal activity popping up all over the country—from attacks on an Apple store in Connecticut and a Walgreens in Chicago to a 7-Eleven in Maryland and a local sheriff’s emergency communications system in Los Angeles County besieged by a rapper’s coordinated telephone attack—we can expect harsher measures from local, state, and federal government. This is the implosion of the welfare state; as government improperly expands its role into our lives, regulating light bulbs, plastic bags and every aspect of existence, government fails to perform its proper function, such as defense of the nation and private property through the courts, police, and military. Law and order breaks down while individual rights are wiped out. It’s not enough that the nation’s travel infrastructure has been turned into a government-controlled maze of dictates under a Department of Homeland Security bureaucracy known as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA); the entire country is heading toward some form of lockdown. The welfare state becomes the police state.

Curfews as a temporary measure while police investigate crimes are one thing and I don’t see why police shouldn’t monitor social media for evidence of criminal activity. Curfews as a permanent way of life are not consistent with a free society. Tyranny begins with restrictions on free travel and association and tyranny begins in earnest with censorship, including shutting down technology and cell phone service in certain places, at certain times, in certain contexts. From the President singling out a broadcaster for attack to dozens of examples of censorship in recent years, free speech, as with property rights, is under siege. Recently, a government school board banned a Sherlock Holmes book in Virginia on the grounds that author Arthur Conan Doyle offends religion. History shows that such violations of man’s rights end with people in chains—or worse.

Americans should not tolerate censorship, including shutdowns of cellular service. Americans should demand that police show zero tolerance for criminals who disrupt public safety and threaten lives and property. But by allowing government to control every aspect of their lives, Americans have put government in a position to shut down free speech, which is why we must demand that government end its monopolies on roads and transportation, education and the economy and let people make choices in a free market. We should not tolerate permanent curfews in our cities, towns and counties. But we should not have tolerated dictates from the Department of Homeland Security, with its obscene TSA, (or the Department of Education, et al) in the first place.

Crackdown by crackdown, while government types blame criminals for damaging their race when they should arrest them for damaging lives and property, freedom in America is coming to an end. With every crime wave and act of war, the government increases its controls and shuts down man’s rights. So, Americans must stop passively standing in line at the airport, Department of Motor Vehicles, and everywhere else that government does not belong and speak out against this incremental, permanent paralysis. We must speak out and insist upon a secular, capitalist republic based on individual rights. While we can.

The 2012 Republicans

With the 2012 presidential campaign well underway, I thought I’d size up each major contender from my perspective as an Objectivist. As for the President, Democrat Barack Obama, I think Leonard Peikoff is right that he’s an anti-American nihilist. Obama’s been a disaster for America. I took an early interest in his 2008 candidacy, long before his campaign took root, writing in my online column in February 2007 that he was worth watching, and I considered voting for him in this long post, which I amended a few weeks later (see postscript) when I gave my comments a second thought and totally rejected his candidacy.

I think it’s pretty clear, and I’ve stated many times, that religious fundamentalist President George W. Bush and his fellow Republicans for selfless war (Iraq, Afghanistan) and the welfare state (socialized medicine, TARP, bailouts) all but made Barack Obama inevitable and, with conservatives contaminating the Tea Party, the Obama administration’s nonstop assault on capitalism is making the spread of religious totalitarianism more likely, too. In his final public course last year in Las Vegas, which I wrote about here, Dr. Peikoff warned about some of these developments while addressing a cultural hypothesis which is the subject of his forthcoming book.

Here’s my take on the pathetic GOP field, including undeclared but often discussed possible candidates:

Obamney is a term that suits Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor and son of pragmatist Michigan Governor George Romney enacted socialized medicine, a mandatory scheme created by the conservative Heritage Foundation, which was the blueprint for ObamaCare. Dubbed ObamneyCare by an early 2012 opponent, Mormon faith-based Romney’s insistence on defending government-run medicine fits with his agenda for government-controlled private lives, making Mitt Romney unacceptable for advocates for individual rights.

The folksy Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is the worst of everything. Apparently, Rep. Bachmann believes that America was founded as a Christian theocracy and should become one again, and her views on everything from banning a woman’s right to an abortion to her work as an attorney for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) show that she seeks total government control of people’s lives. As a devout Christian, Bachmann, who campaigned for “born-again” Christian Democrat Jimmy Carter for president in 1976, stalked patients at abortion clinics. Whatever good positions she takes are taken as matters of faith and her entire approach is based on faith, not reason. Her campaign has been accused by CNN anchor Don Lemon of initiation of the use of force during the Iowa campaign, a charge which should be taken seriously, and Rep. Bachmann is the second most dangerous major candidate currently in the race.

Self-described Christian “champion of conservative principles” Rick Perry prays and fasts in the face of the worst economy since the 1930s depression. The Texas governor, a former Democrat who once worked for Al Gore, announced his candidacy for president with a wild-eyed look that suggests a lust for power. He opposes a woman’s right to an abortion, supports a Texas law, later struck down by the state’s Supreme Court, that criminalizes sex between consenting adults, and his first major foray into presidential politics, an utterly improper prayer event that mixed religion and state, is telling. Anti-capitalist former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani (non-candidate) is known chiefly for doing his job during the jihadist attack on September 11, 2001, and saying good things about America, and tough things about our enemies, in its aftermath. Before that, Mayor Giuliani was known for dabbling in fascism as he violated free speech rights and, previously, for crusading against capitalism in New York. He’s also anti-abortion. Sarah Palin (non-candidate) is, politically, a loser, quitter, and opportunist. The Christian conservative once reportedly sought to ban books and imposed a gag order on town departments as a village mayor. She was governor of Alaska for about a year and a half before she quit to be a full-time celebrity after losing by a wide margin in her campaign for the vice-presidency. Sarah Palin, who supported Bush’s bailouts, has since exploited her children and family repeatedly in public, in social media, and on her so-called reality television program, which was cancelled.

Ron Paul, an obstetrician who once ran for president as the nominee of the anarchist Libertarian Party, would stand by while the United States is attacked by jihadist Iran. The Texas congressman, whose son, Rand Paul, is a senator from Kentucky, is an anti-abortion Christian libertarian whom the media repeatedly, erroneously, and maliciously tries to link to Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, often through his son (see post here). Rep. Paul opposes any military action by the United States of America under any circumstances, unless the U.S. is physically attacked first. So, for example, Ron Paul would not pre-emptively attack Iran if he had knowledge that Iran was preparing to strike the United States with a nuclear missile. An American city would have to be nuked first before he would even consider striking back. In fact, Rep. Paul stated in a recent Iowa debate that Iran should be free to develop nuclear weapons; he is, practically speaking, pro-Iran. For this reason alone, and because he fraudulently claims to advocate man’s rights and capitalism, he is the most dangerous candidate for president.

Unfortunately, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, also a libertarian Republican, comes to the same conclusion as Ron Paul toward Iran; that the jihadist state is not a threat. The rest, including Newt Gingrich, one of the worst and most ineffective speakers of the House of Representatives, because he fraudulently claimed to advance capitalism and instead set it back years, possibly decades, seek more religion in government and/or more government in economics. Gingrich single-handedly sabotaged the 1994 Republican revolution, squandering the biggest electoral repudiation of the welfare state of the 20th century. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is not a candidate, as he proclaims loudly and often, which is good because he supports building a mosque in Manhattan near Ground Zero where jihadists attacked America.

This raises an interesting point; the influence of Islamism or jihadism in American politics and government. Amid various rumors or reports of jihadist or jihadist-allied connections to, or sponsorship of, certain candidates, such as Gov. Christie and Gov. Perry, it is important to remember that we are a nation at war with Islamic totalitarianism and its state sponsors. As an advocate for capitalism and individual rights, I support no one candidate at this stage of the campaign, for the above reasons, though, lacking a secular candidate to run against President Obama, who is destroying the United States of America, I am open to rational arguments. But our crippled country is especially vulnerable to jihadist Moslem infiltration and, just as Communist Soviets infiltrated our highest levels of government in the 20th century, it can happen again. Americans in the press, writing blogs, using social media and in the public should be vigilant about enemies within and this includes the GOP candidates and President Obama, his campaign and his administration. Religious soldiers of God blended into American culture ten years ago next month to launch the worst assault in U.S. history, still unavenged, and, because Bush and Obama failed to crush the enemy, jihadist Islam will almost certainly try to strike from within again. Because every major candidate opposes capitalism and individual rights, and seeks government control of our lives, and because Americans have allowed politicians to bring our nation closer to the brink of dictatorship, we should reject the ways of the past, demand a secular candidate who will roll back Obama’s fascist laws and respect separation of religion and state. And we should treat every candidate with suspicion.

Oregon Sen. Mark Hatfield, 1922-2011

Former Oregon Sen. Mark O. Hatfield, 89, died yesterday. The Portland Oregonian posted an excellent obituary about the World War 2 veteran’s long career. Read the article here. The piece by Jeff Mapes makes me realize me how influential the evangelical Christian Senator Hatfield, the son of two deeply religious Baptists, was in shaping conservative Republican politics. Hatfield was anti-war, deeply religious, and a serious advocate of environmentalism. In other words, he was an early trailblazer, pardon the Oregon pun, in fusing fundamentalist religion with a liberal, welfare-statist approach to government. Though he was considered a maverick, out-of-step liberal anomaly in Republican circles during most of his 30-year career in the United States Senate, and he had also served as Oregon’s governor, Mark Hatfield was a forerunner to today’s dogmatic Big Government advocates on the left and on the right. Mark Hatfield paved the way for faith-based liberals and Big Government conservatives. In a sad coincidence, according to the Oregonian obituary, Senator Hatfield’s grandson, a U.S. Marine who had served in Iraq also named Mark, died of an undisclosed cause in Connecticut at the age of 25 four weeks ago. I wrote about military suicides over two years ago, and I wonder if Sen. Hatfield’s grandson, like so many soldiers enlisted in America’s asinine wars of self-sacrifice, killed himself. While I disagreed with Sen. Hatfield on nearly every issue, when I met the late senator and his son Mark during a political campaign, I personally found both gentlemen to be as kind and cordial as the article suggests. He certainly made an impact on American government.

Death of a Toymaker

Today, as the nation reels from an historic debate about its astronomical debt, it seems proper to note that Hot Wheels creator Elliot Handler died this month. He was 95. If you’ve never heard of him, and I did not know his name until I read his obituary, you’ve very likely heard of what he made: besides the Hot Wheels toy cars, he made Mattel, which he founded as a home-based business, into America’s largest toy manufacturer. He was what those men and women in Washington cutting sleazy little deals over how to control our lives and punish us for being productive are not: he was a creator. Unlike Congress and the President, he made things of value.

According to USA Today, Handler started making dollhouse furniture and other wooden toys from scraps and among Mattel’s first hit products was a child-size ukulele, and I think I had one of those, or one of my siblings did, and a cap pistol. I used to play cowboys and Indians with those, too. As the paper’s obit has it, Mr. Handler’s Mattel put its entire net worth on the line, which at that time was $500,000, on sponsorship of a television program called The Mickey Mouse Club. Disney’s program for ABC was a success and the sponsorship made Mattel a household name, with annual sales growing from $5 million to $14 million in three years.

Mattel made cultural icons, such as the Barbie doll, named after his daughter (Ken was named for their son) and created by his wife, Ruth, in 1959. Later, Elliot Handler invented uniquely miniature die-cast metal vehicles with sporty designs. Mattel, based in southern California, branded them Hot Wheels and brought them to market in 1968. Hot Wheels caught on with boys and soon put the hugely popular die-cast metal Matchbox line of toy cars, a more realistic replica of motor vehicles which included ambulances, station wagons, trucks and farm vehicles, out of business. I strongly preferred Matchbox to Hot Wheels, but I used those yellowish-orange Hot Wheels tracks and loops to run my Matchbox cars all over the livingroom and I’m grateful for what Elliot Handler created. What he produced gave me hours of indulging my imagination and making up some of my first stories, which included plots from whatever I’d just read or watched on television, from spy missions to fending off Soviet attacks and Nazi counterstrikes. What he sadly leaves behind is a country in which his kind, the creator who makes money from what he creates, is no longer welcome.

Norway Attacked

According to news reports, Norway is under attack.

As far as I can tell, there are numerous strikes, which is almost certainly an act of war by Islamic terrorists, a possibility which of course is completely ignored or evaded by all Western states and the press. It appears that a gunman has attacked an island children’s summer camp, which apparently is the site of the Prime Minister’s speech scheduled for tomorrow, and bombs have exploded near or at the Prime Minister’s office and the nation’s oil ministry. Oslo’s downtown government center is heavily damaged and children are reportedly swimming away from the camp island and hiding in bushes. Several people have been killed in the children’s camp strike.

One Norwegian told a reporter: “We are the good guys; stuff like this doesn’t happen to us.” If I’m right that the attack is a jihadist act of war, “stuff like this” happens because you are good. The world is at war and has been for a long, long time and, whatever the facts of this attack’s origins, the war is between the jihadists and the West. America and the West, which have done nothing but appease the enemy and praise its professed philosophy, are in denial of reality. What’s happening in Norway today is another example.

[7/22 update: according to Norwegian national broadcaster NRK, an apparent suspect identified as 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik has been arrested. The New York Times, which had linked the attack to a claim of responsibility by a jihadist group in an earlier report, describes the suspect as a "right-wing extremist". Check back for updates.]

[7/23 update: From an Associated Press report by Bjoern Amland and Louise Nordstrom within the past hour: "Authorities say [the suspect] posted on Christian fundamentalist websites and reportedly held right-wing, anti-Muslim views. He was also once a member of the youth wing of a rightist party…[Norwegian] Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told reporters that the attacks, believed to be the work of a man who has posted on Christian fundamentalist websites, showed you can’t jump to conclusions about terror acts.” In this post, I did come to the conclusion that Islamic terrorists probably committed this heinous act, a risk one takes when posting about breaking news, and I still think the preponderance of available information when I wrote this leads to that same conclusion and that Islamic fundamentalists, and states such as Iran that sponsor them, pose the gravest threat to civilization. I should have added that Christian, or any other religious, fundamentalists pose the same risk to civilized man. Both are examples of irrational, faith-based fanaticism and irrationalism, whether the dogma is Islam, Judeo-Christianity, or some other faith, is spreading. The point of my comments is that it must be opposed, not sanctioned or appeased, and countered with reason.]

[7/24 update: According to this report by ABC News, part of the 1,500-page manifesto reportedly posted online by Anders Behring Breivik, the suspected attacker in the worst siege on Norway since World War 2, addresses, and later apparently rejects, the possibility of collaborating with Islamic jihadists. ABC News reports that, in his manifesto, Breivik wrote: "An Islamic Caliphate is a useful enemy to all Europeans as it will ensure European unity under Christian cultural conservative leadership...Hamas and several Jihadi groups have labs and they have the potential to provide [substances such as anthrax]. Their problem is finding suitable martyrs who can pass ‘screenings’ in Western Europe. This is where we come in.” He adds that “cultural conservatives” in Europe would carry out the attack, possibly in England, adding that, under such a plan, “Both groups win if the attacks are successful.”]