22 September 2011

An Interesting Omission

In a brief post called "Presidential Plagiarist?" Ira Stoll was sharp enough to notice that in Barack Obama's "jobs speech," the president made a point that he pretty clearly took from the new book by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum without giving any attribution to the authors. Now, considering that Mr. Obama is hell bent on destroying our country and the future of Americans, plagiarism is far from the greatest of his offenses, but what caught my eye is what the president did not lift from the passage.

Stoll quotes a paragraph from That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It invented and How We Can Come Back, in which Friedman and Mandelbaum make the following basic argument. (Below, I am paraphrasing and condensing the authors' statement to clarify the point I am going to make.)[1]

President Lincoln's administration passed several pieces of legislation to spur the transition from an agragrian to an industrial society:(1) the Homestead Act of 1862,(2) legislation related to the transcontinental railway,(3) the creation of the National Academy of Sciences, and(4) the establishment of land grant colleges.

In his speech, the President made nearly the identical statement. (Again, I am paraphrasing.)

President Lincoln's administration passed several pieces of legislation to spur the transition from an agragrian to an industrial society:(1) legislation related to the transcontinental railway,(2) the creation of the National Academy of Sciences, and(3) the establishment of land grant colleges.

Do you notice anything missing in the president's speech? Mr. Obama conspicuously dropped the Homestead Act from the items that Friedman and Mandelbaum had listed. Interesting, is it not? The Homestead Act is the one piece of legislation out of the four Friedman and Mandelbaum mentioned that does not constitute government meddling in the economy, science, or education--and Mr. Obama left it out.[2]
I can think of only two reasons why the president may have done so. Either he simply forgot it, being unable to mentally grasp or retain any freedom-respecting policies like the Homestead Act, or he deliberately omitted it because in his worldview, the purpose of government is to command and control individuals, not to set them free. Either way, it is interesting to see that Mr. Obama can't even get something right when he is copying others' work.


1. Ira Stoll, "Presidential Plagiarist?", Future of Capitalism, September 8, 2011, http://www.futureofcapitalism.com/2011/09/presidential-plagiarist.

2. The Homestead Act is a good example of government functioning properly.
In her essay, "The Property Status of Airwaves," Ayn Rand wrote, "A notable example of the proper method of establishing private ownership from scratch, in a previously ownerless area, is the Homestead Act of 1862, by which the government opened the western frontier for settlement and turned 'public land' over to private owners. The government offered a 160-acre farm to any adult citizen who would settle on it and cultivate it for five years, after which it would become his property. Although that land was originally regarded, in law, as 'public property,' the method of its allocation, in fact, followed the proper principle (in fact, but not in explicit ideological intention). The citizens did not have to pay the government as if it were an owner; ownership began with them, and they earned it by the method which is the source and root of the concept of 'property': by working on unused material resources, by turning a wilderness into a civilized settlement. Thus, the government, in this case, was acting not as the owner but as the custodian of ownerless resources who defines objectively impartial rules by which potential owners may acquire them.

This should have been the principle and pattern of the allocation of broadcasting frequencies." 

From Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (New York: Signet, 1967), p. 124.

15 September 2011

Attack Watch

I've seen some good responses from Americans who are not cowed by the latest snitch line that was established by Obama's minions--the "Obama for America" website, AttackWatch.

My favorite was from my wife:

Dear @attackwatch, I'd like report Reality and History: Both rail against Obama's central planning efforts. You should check them out.


12 September 2011

Faith and Sacrifice

In his recent Forbes article, Richard Salsman made an excellent point that I wish I had thought of when I was writing my last post. On the subject of the September 11 attacks, he wrote:

While 9/11 also exhibited the evils of religion, most U.S. politicians and citizens responded by becoming still more religious. Most people also extol the alleged "self-sacrifice" of "first responders," not realizing how that dishonors the responders' love of life and liberty -- and implies that the suicidal jihadist-hijackers also were morally noble.[1]

That is quite true. To remain logically consistent, those who extol faith and sacrifice would have to reserve special praise for the terrorists themselves, who exemplify faith and sacrifice far more than do the civilized innocents and heroes that they murdered. It is under the banners of faith and sacrifice, in both religious and secular forms, that the worst horrors of history have been perpetrated.

With all respect and sympathy for the family members and friends of the victims, who have endured unimaginable pain, turning toward religion in the mourning of loved ones serves the interests of their killers. Seeking succor in God--seeking everything in God--and rejecting reason is precisely what Islam demands.


1. Richard M. Salsman, "Why Washington Resists Victory in a Post-9/11 World," Forbes, Spetember 11, 2011, http://www.forbes.com/sites/richardsalsman/2011/09/11/why-washington-resists-victory-in-a-post-911-world/.

11 September 2011

Ten Years

Ten years ago, a band of Muslims attacked the United States of America. In the ten years since, the semi-free governments of the world have done exactly nothing about it except to surrender, yield, appease, and apologize. 

George W. Bush immediately (and correctly) called for retaliation against the regimes that harbor and support the killers--but he did it in speech only, not in action, then used his years in office to subvert it all by insisting that we are not a war with Islam and that it is a religion of peace. After this, Americans enthusiastically placed into office the most overtly un-American president in history, Barack Obama, a man who both figuratively[1] and literally bows to the leaders of Muslim nations (as did Mr. Bush). Ten years after the atrocity, we hear Tony Blair boast that he reads the Qur’an every day.[2] (Can one imagine Winston Churchill, ten years after the Blitz, boasting that he reads Mein Kampf every day?)

September 11th was not a tragedy; it was an atrocity. It was not a mass murder perpetrated by mere crazy people, disconnected from larger ideas, as the apologists would have us believe. It was an explicit attack of Islamists acting as Islamists upon the institutions of the West. Robert Spencer summarizes it well:

We were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, by Islamic jihadists who explained, in writings they left behind, that they were committing mass murder in the name of Islam, inspired by the teachings of Islam, and in defense, as they saw it, of Islam. They struck the United States in service of their hope of destroying it, and ultimately imposing upon the U.S., the West and the world an Islamic government that would rule according to Islamic law, which denies the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience and equality of rights for all people.[3]

The fact that mass murderers hijacked airplanes was all but forgotten amid the rush to insist that the murderers hijacked a religion--a “religion of peace.” 

Islam is indeed a religion of peace in one and only respect: When every human being on the planet has yielded to Sharia law, devout Muslim men will at last consent to leave the rest of us in peace . . . to be the subjects of their cruelties, superstitions, appetites, and perversions. Until then, their holy commandment is to “slay the idolators wherever you find them.”(Sura 9:5)

Unlike Westerners, who with few exceptions do not understand the nature and purpose of the enemy, the jihadists know exactly whom they are fighting. In order to make room for Sharia, in order to achieve universal obedience to Allah, in order to enslave the human race to the will of Mohammed and his followers, it is necessary to destroy the human mind. One could hardly have picked a better target than the World Trade Center in New York City. The Twin Towers are--or rather, were--the embodiment of human achievement, set in the capital city of human achievement. Skyscrapers soar skyward with foundations that rest upon science and technology, which in turn rest upon trade, which in turn rests upon freedom, which in turn rests upon reason. The Towers were the conspicuous monoliths of modern civilization--the twin pinnacles of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution--and it is precisely those values that the jihadists wish to knock down. Free men do not obey Allah; thus, freedom must be destroyed.

It is beside the point to cite the fact that America has not been attacked on our soil since that infamous day in 2001. It is no matter to the Islamists if they knock down our institutions or if we will save them the trouble and do it for them. If David Letterman cannot crack a joke without being threatened by killers who are confident that they can get away with their threats, then we are losing--or have already lost--the war. 

War, you may ask? What war? The “war on terror” is not a war. Only Congress can declare war, and our Congressmen lack the courage to do so, despite our enemy declaring war upon us at least as far back as the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. War cannot be declared upon a tactic, terrorism. War must be declared upon an enemy: the states that support Islamic totalitarianism.

In the aftermath of September 11, there was much talk about the failure to “connect the dots,” aimed largely at the intelligence agencies and politicians who “let this happen.” But it is absurd to blame intelligence agents for failing to “connect the dots” when the weight of the mainstream intellectual elite is overwhelming dedicated to disconnecting dots--which is to say, performing the mental contortions required to hold countless Muslim terrorist attacks as disparate and unconnected events, and evading the meaning of the explicit goals and intents of our enemies.

If there is such a thing as a history book in the future--which, in this self-loathing culture bent on submitting meekly to a multiculturalist elite, is no sure thing--the men who are still permitted to read books will be amazed at these inexplicable events of our time. They will see the United States of America, the most glorious product of the Enlightenment values of reason and freedom, being defeated by a marauding band of anachronistic barbarians. 

Why, future historians will wonder, was the strongest nation in the world militarily simultaneously the weakest morally? Stranger still, why was this so when the United States was objectively the most moral nation in history--the nation explicitly founded upon individual rights, the nation born of the idea that all men must be free to live their lives as they judge best? How could mobs of primitive, superstitious thugs who explicitly embrace death cause a population of civilized people who want to live and be happy to doubt themselves?

The answer is that thanks to the philosophical trends of the last century or so, Americans on the whole have lost the moral conviction that we are right--and have lost the moral courage to say so. 

But it must be said: The American way, by which I mean the explicit, constitutional enshrinement of individual rights as the law of the land, is superior in every possible respect to the Islamist way, by which I mean the enshrinement of Mohammedan commands as the will of Allah. Reason is superior to faith. Thinking is superior to believing. Freedom is superior to slavery. Life is superior to death. Trade is superior to murder. Self-interest is superior to sacrifice. Capitalism is superior to theocracy. Acting on one’s judgement is superior to obeying the Qur’an (or Bible, Torah, etc.). The freedom to speak one’s mind (including the freedom to offend someone) is superior to the fear of being beheaded for doing so. Respectfully holding a door open for a beautiful, bare-shouldered woman as she passes is superior to beating her to death for not covering her face.[4]

For holding these apparently controversial opinions, I would be condemned as a “bigot” by nearly every journalist, university professor, and self-proclaimed enlightened intellectual, and condemned to death by perhaps a billion people on the planet. 

As Daniel Pipes has accurately identified, Islamist terrorism does not constitute a clash of civilizations but a clash of civilization and barbarism. The barbarians cannot possibly defeat us militarily, but they can defeat us by default if we do not stand up for what is right. Ten years after the September 11th attacks, we as a nation have yet to do so.


[1] See, for example, Mr. Obama’s 2009 speech in Egypt, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-cairo-university-6-04-09.

[2] “I read the Holy Quran everyday: Tony Blair,” The Express Tribune, http://tribune.com.pk/story/188297/i-read-the-holy-quran-everyday-former-british-pm-tony-blair/.

[3] Robert Spencer, “A decade out, we’re losing,” Jihad Watch, September 11, 2011, http://www.jihadwatch.org/2011/09/a-decade-out-were-losing.html.

[4] I used the term “is superior” here in a terse series of sentences only to emphasize the point from the aspect of cultural evaluation--namely, that America is superior to her enemies. Every sentence actually understates the case. For instance, “reason is superior to faith” hardly captures the fact that reason is the only means of obtaining knowledge and faith is absolutely impotent. Faith is not merely inferior to reason; it is nothing.

02 September 2011

Happy Atlas Shrugged Day!

Cool! I extend a hat tip to The Objective Standard for reminding me that Ayn Rand started writing Atlas Shrugged on this day, September 2, sixty-five years ago.