The Objective Eye

"Every movement that seeks to enslave a country, every dictatorship or potential dictatorship, needs some minority group as a scapegoat which it can blame for the nation's troubles and use as a justification of its own demand for dictatorial powers. In Soviet Russia, the scapegoat was the bourgeoisie; in Nazi Germany, it was the Jewish people; in America, it is the businessmen."
- Ayn Rand, "America's Persecuted Minority: Big Business" (1961)

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Location: Los Angeles, United States

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

F. Thompson's Mooore Smackdown; GOP Debate II; Postal Tar Pit Nudge

Now Playing: Rush's Snakes & Arrows again - "Just ok," not great...I'll put it several notches above Vapor Trails (2002); on a rough par with Test For Echo (1996); a couple notches below the mixed-bag Counterparts (1993); several dozen below the timeless Roll The Bones (1991) - but it will likely grow on me... 'Mini-review! D'OH!

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Ok sporting fans, things got damn tasty in the political world today after leftwing video op-ed purveyor Michael Moore wrote a snotty letter to Presidential non-candidate Fred Thompson demanding that he help Moore get publicity via a debate. Thompson fired back with a true rarity among contemporary GOP "leaders": a quick, cool and acid response that succeeded in shoving Moore's transparent self-promo right back down his throat - yet with a masterful sense of style and understatement. Why can't the rest of the GOP machine get a grasp on this kind of basic competence in communication, rather than such dismal, horrid attempts at mass appeal as the Half Hour News Hour...

It is unfortunate that Thompson supported and voted for the McCain/Feingold/Shays/Meehan First Amendment Arsewipe-Transformation Act of 2002, something I consider despicable, unpardonable, and an instant disqualifier for any political office. The restoration of our Bill of Rights is a priority second only to national defense, and it is precisely McCain's atrocity that constitutes (pun if you want one,) the single most dangerous breach of that priceless document in America's history. To support such a breach is to confess an ignorance of essential principle that is nothing short of pathological.

Nice smackdown of the comically-mislabeled "progressive" Moore though...

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The second GOP primary "debate" in South Carolina starts in roughly a minute and a half - my appraisal to follow. Ummm... hopefully someone will ask these guys if they've seen Martin Durkin's film and what they'll do to defend industrial civilization against the "green al-Qaida"......



...3/4 of the way through, give or take, and the first thing that leaps to mind is a criticism I've had of every televised American debate in recent memory:

Dump the live audiences already!

"Televised" means: readily viewable by an audience potentially in the millions. Can somebody explain to me why a live audience is needed at all? It reminds me of that peculiar American fetish with ramming (usually rotten) music into our ears in literally every public place within America's borders. It's an assumption of something being needed, but nobody bothers to question exactly why.


What we do know is that the applause is a needless distraction, a waste of already-limited speaking time, and worst of all a motivation among the candidates to cheap crowd-pleasing rather than thoughtful, reasoned debate.

Several years ago - 'forget when, exactly - I saw a televised debate for Canadian Prime Minister. I remember it vividly because it was just the candidates, the moderators pitching the questions, and the camera crew - nobody else. That ought to be the standard format for American political debates. The level of discourse and depth of analysis were miles and miles above the "Jeopardy" format we're used to. We have to decide whether we're seeking cheap entertainment or vital, sober information about the candidates for the highest office in the semi-free world.

Secondly, though I haven't had a stopwatch handy I'm a little disgusted with the disproportionate amount of time that is being given to non-Republican McCain. Is it just my imagination or is that insufferable authoritarian-censor-pragmatist being given twice as frequent comment opportunities as any other candidate? Fortunately, there's an episode of Deadliest Catch playing on Discovery and my remote has a "last channel" button...


- The only question on eco-fascism and the "global warming" fraud was softballed to Sen. Brownback - who replied with a stale middle-of-the-road hash that began with lip service to drilling in ANWR, then blather about ethanol and biodiesel, then "conservation" as an energy option. Umm, Earth to Brownback: conservation is not a source of energy. Besides being a willful retreat from our standard of living as human beings, it is only a shift of energy use from one locale to another, as the great economist George Reisman identifies. "Conservation" is also: a cheap evasion.

Nowhere in Brownback's reply was any hint of eco-regulation repeal, and given that his was the single question of the entire debate in which the issue was even broached, this was the proverbial it. Again, I sense a level of disinterested complacency among the GOP "leadership" about the intentions of the anti-industrial movement, which is both revealing and alarming.

- Rep. Ron Paul was only asked questions on his stance on the Iraq war, presumably because the questioners knew it's the only issue on which he's seriously wrong, and presumably because his articulate, principled positions on other issues are too dangerous to be heard... Unfortunately for Paul, he is way wrong on foreign policy - and in terms of his campaign as a GOP candidate, terminally wrong.

- I have to give this one to Giuliani, narrowly. But oh! what a dismal lineup...

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Lastly, some words about the single most blatant textbook-definition monopoly in America, the United States Postal "Service." Ohhhboy...

Yesterday, Monday May 14, the dinosaur Americanus Postalisaurus Wrecks helped itself to another bump in its own already-bloated diet, a rate increase to 41 cents for a first class letter a scant year after its increase to 39 cents. It's instituted a gimmick called the "forever stamp" by way of an instant distraction from the fact, but the fact remains.

Q.: What do socialist Britain, bureaucratic Japan and even the theocratic dictatorship in Iran have in common?

A.: They've all privatized their government postal monopolies.

I haven't read reports on Iran's results; Japan's privatization is hampered by compromises that guarantee some government involvement; but Britain has seen predictable success in its privatization just over a year after the Royal Mail monopoly was ended.

Errmmm, couldn't our allegedly free-market nation do at least as well as Britain? Japan? Ahmad-in-a-jar's Iran?!?

So we grin and bear it while the one service we're forced to use for mail delivery jacks up its fee schedule a year after its last price hike, while local P.O. slugs freely delay, mangle and/or misdeliver items from political organizations with which said slugs disagree (a problem - or crime, really - I've experienced directly and repeatedly,) and while our political "leaders" remain meekly silent on the issue.

Time to rattle their cages, I think.

The United States Postal Monopoly is a massive, monolithic, expensive, inefficient, arrogant, unethically staffed and utterly corrupt political dinosaur that's too daft to find its way into the nearest tar pit.

I say the time to give it a nice, friendly nudge is long overdue.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

French Election Mumbling; GOP Debate Notes

Now Playing: Rush, "Snakes & Arrows" - hmmm....

Anyone else notice how abruptly American media fled the French PM election story after their hopeful - the vestigial socialist Segolene Royal - lost to the reportedly "conservative" and America-friendly Nicolas Sarkozy?

Yeah, that sounded a lot like a pin from this end too...

That election result has gotta just burn if you're on the staff of the New York Daily Socialist Worker (a.k.a. "Times") - 'considerably more encouraging to those of us who count ourselves among the civilized. The big question is whether Sarkozy can do much of anything in the direction of rationality and liberty, as head of a nation rooted in the intellectual goo that is Rousseau.

The instant rioting that followed Sarkozy's victory over Royal is not encouraging - though rioting has been a more or less constant feature of France regardless of who's running the show. At any rate, an about-face to enthusiastic pro-American, semi-free-market leadership is an unexpected shot in the arm from an ally that's traditionally been an antagonist. There may be hope for Western Civilization yet.

America's Presidential prospects, however... Well, last week we got a good preview of what the GOP has to offer and it's a mixed bag at best. The only one who approached the Reaganism to which they all paid lip service was Ron Paul, who made some now-unheard-of admonishments to Constitutional reference for all government activity. The man clearly possesses sincere conviction on that point - unfortunately, he's stuck in a kind of Kantian quicksand on the subject of national security. Echoing the most disastrous of Libertarianism's flaws, Paul embraces what he calls "non-interventionism" as a kind of categorical imperative on foreign policy, to be adhered to regardless of context.

In terms of consequence it doesn't matter whether his advocacy of retreat and Ostrich Mode is based on his reading of Founding principles or the Left's emotionalist pacifism. On 21st century Earth it's tantamount to suicide, or more precisely, "victim-assisted homicide." Isolationism was only practicable when crossing an ocean was a matter of months rather than hours - the only issue for which the passage of time and development of technology have changed the equation.

'Most unfortunate that Paul is most solidly wrong on the one most vital issue: National security and the defense of Western Civilization. His eloquent, often passionate articulation of first principles in nearly every other area relegated the rest of the rostrum to the status of maleducated teenagers. The contrast was unexpected and stunning:

- Giuliani's most valuable assets are limited to a.) his status as "most likely landslide material" given his potential to pull from Democrat moderates and b.) his palpable commitment to the fight against terrorism, wherever that may end up being. Beyond that he's perhaps the King of All Mixed Bags;

- Romney takes the prize for slickest telegenic presence, also for most readily-identifiable RINO - but then we had his record as Governor of Massachusetts as proof of that;

- the rest of the pack are studies in mixed premises, destined as also-rans;

- and lastly, Constitution-shredder McCain remains embarrassingly confused as to the location of the Democrat-Socialist debate.

Speaking of Demo-Socialists, they continue their slide into blind rage and de facto neo-Nazism, which is only disturbing - as opposed to merely pathetic - if the GOP leaders on the "do" end of Edmund Burke's famous quote do...what Burke described, yet again.

Stay tuned...