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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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Le Monde Va de Lui Même: a.k.a. So...Where's the Economic Armageddon?

Now Playing: "Paper Money" by RonMon and... some singer

(Oh, those pesky - nay, infuriating - voids...)

Washington, D.C. (pAP) - In a development that wrought waves of apoplectic panic among scores of D.C. politicians and minor functionaries, the Economic Meltdown of 2008 rudely failed to show up today. The development sent deeply-cherished Visions of Discretionary Sugarplums and Bundles of Earmarks to evaporate in agonized shrieks. Rep. Barney Frank (S-MA) was rushed to an undisclosed Georgetown hospital today on complaints of drool-related dehydration complicated by a metastatizing guilt, and was assigned to a bed beside that of Senator Christopher Dodd (S-CT) who remains in critical condition with the same illness.

Seriously, with today's 485-point rebound from Monday's record plunge, haven't we all just seen a blatant, in-your-face, reality-based confirmation of the market's ability to take care of itself? Of the fact that the fervently-promoted $700B Mortgage Bailout is, in fact, not even pragmatically justifiable? (I mean "pragmatic" aside from the overriding need to pander.)


Call me deeply not-shocked-in-the-slightest, but every single major politician is getting this mortgage crisis wrong, most conspicuously - and stupidly - the Bush Administration and GOP Presidential candidate John McCain.

The Democrat-Socialists we can take as simple givens: They will advocate whatever is most likely to facilitate the destruction of America, and what is most thoroughly at odds with the facts of reality. The Demo-Socialists remain reliably constant.

But... what's the GOP's excuse?

First, some necessary background, in the form of three excellent and beleaguered video summations, posted at The Bidinotto Blog

If only Bush and/or McCain had a couple sane economic advisors - for the record, Dr. George Reisman and Dr. Walter E. Williams are at the top of the list - and listened to them, they would likely make a new announcement that this bailout is not needed (if it ever was.)

But Bush and McCain do not have sane economic advisors, nor apparently even competent political strategists. The no-brainer position on principle (look the word up, guys,) is staring them right in the face, yet they're consumed with an obsessive-compulsive devotion to this $700 Billion Congressional hog-wallow. A prime opportunity to divorce themselves from the Demo-Socialist Party's power-grab and realign themselves with the overwhelming wishes of the American people is also there for the taking. Can you imagine the looks on the faces of Pelosi, Frank, Obama and that pack of clowns if the Republicans left them standing alone in the cold with their mega-looting bill? So do you think Bush or McCain will spot the principled option and seize it? Naaaaahhh.

Wall Street nosedived yesterday, but... has the economy melted down? Or is this just a massive yet otherwise normal self-correction, much like the self-correction of the market following the implosion of the tech bubble ca. Winter 2000-2001? As of today, the market has gotten its legs back handily, with absolutely no help from the Federal Government. That's: All by its lonesome. Say it isn't so! As testimony to the embarrassment now afflicting the pack of looters who've been licking their chops for some of that fabled $700B, note the near-unanimity of condemnations...not of Washington's "Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac" corporativist scammers (BARNEYFrank! Ach...ach...CHRISDodd!! 'Sneeze, sorry,) but of Wall Street and its producers. Naturally.

Granted, some of that stock rebound may be attributable to Wall St.'s expectation that the government will eventually play Mega-Santa. But could it be that maybe, just maybe, Wall Street can indeed wean itself off of the government teat and walk on its own two feet? The fact that "economic armageddon" has not occurred, as predicted so hopefully by the Democrat-Socialist Party, argues that Wall Street can.

So... what should Bush, McCain and the GOP "leadership" be pushing for? I mean, What Would Ronald Reagan Do? I... have some suggestions, which I trust will be roughly the opposite of what those "leaders" will choose:

1. McCain prides himself on the label of "maverick," and just today made the ridiculous statement that "'bipartisanship' is a tough thing." To paraphrase Mr. Limbaugh: No, it isn't. What is a "tough thing" is sticking to one's principles in the face of withering, often barbaric criticism from an opposition Party that has lost the capacity for civilized behavior.

If Bush and McCain wanted to embrace proper principle for a change, one or both would schedule a press conference tomorrow morning to announce that, given Wall Street's Tuesday rebound and its indication of a resilient and self-correcting economy, that the GOP has now canceled its endorsement of and now opposes any government bailout. This on the sound principle that any market correction needs to happen, not to be prevented.

2. As a reassurance in keeping with the government's mission to protect, rather than violate, people's property rights, Bush and/or McCain could unveil a modest, temporary and strictly as-needed fund to bolster the FDIC - to protect the property of depositers in any bank failures not absorbed by buyouts by solvent banks. Period.

Prior to the mass intrusion of government controls into the private banking industry, banks deposits were not guaranteed by government - the "FDIC" did not exist. So how did people bank with confidence? Oh, however did anybody function without an omnipresent government nanny?

Simple: The natural mechanisms of the market provided all the security they needed. Banks, bereft of any outside "guarantees," had to earn the trust of customers over a long period and with a record of consistent security and trustworthiness. After the government jumped in, the door was opened to any and all, honest and dishonest, competent and incompetent alike, into the wonderful profession of banking.

What we are seeing today is the end result of (among many other things, also government-caused,) an artificial, blanket guarantee that removed from the banking industry any natural incentive to trustworthiness and competence. It's a directly-analogous repeat of the 20th-century Welfare State's removal of the incentive to responsible, self-reliant behavior - and the consequence of multiple-generation welfare junkies.

Which means that after this particular crisis has passed, principled lawmakers must also proceed with the abolition and dismantling of Federal Deposit Insurance, along with the entire edifice of government involvement with the banking industry, of which, all too obviously, it knows nothing.

A must-read on a longer-term fix for this government-engineered calamity is economist George Reisman's March 22 article Our Financial House of Cards and How to Start Replacing It With Solid Gold

And as always, if you're not in contact with your elected officious at least quarterly, you're a chump. So don't be a chump.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reporting a Void; Science as Frankenstein; Democrat-Socialists Gone Wild and McCain/Palin's First Gaffe

Now Playing: "This Room Is My Castle Of Quiet" by Billie May and his Orchestra, from Space Capades

Seven years ago today this happened. Please take a few minutes, if you haven't already, and watch the video footage again. Understandably, the passage of time has transformed the evil of that day into an abstraction - yet it is vital that we review the events of that day as a concrete reality, not just "September 11, 2001."

This is the first time I've watched it since that day, and what I feel now is anger. Anger at the animals - porcine, to be precise - that did this; at their fellow pigs who cheered them after the fact, both in the Middle East and in some of America's "colleges"; at the fools in American government who gutted our national defense and intelligence capabilities throughout the 1990s; at the King of the Fools, Jimmy Carter, the official midwife to these animals - via his craven cowardice and "diplomacy" in the face of blatant aggression ca. 1979; at Carter's present-day apprentices within the Democrat-Socialist Party, from Obama to Reid to Pelosi to the rest of that pack; and at the gutter-sludge that follow and feed in their wake, the Moores and Churchills and Penns and Baldwins and Sheehans and Code Pinkos and MorOn.orgs and plethora of random others who despise America to its core.

Fortunately, that human debris has been driven back by the good and the decent the world over, from President Bush and Vice President Cheney to Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the firemen and policemen of NYC, to all of those in Congress who have consistently stood up against the cake-eating pragmatists who lost their stomach for America's defense within mere months of that monstrous attack.

I will say without the slightest hesitation that a review of that awful day brings into stark relief the dangerous stew of shallowness, irresponsibility and scarcely-concealed contempt for Americanism that is the Obama-Biden ticket.

The last time the American voting population got complacent enough - complacent following the Reagan-engineered collapse of the Soviet empire - to elect an irresponsible charlatan as President, it led to eight years of criminal neglect of American national security. Wildly-popular and poll-friendly neglect, but...neglect. Can you say "Peace Dividend?"

Which in turn led directly to the atrocity we remember today.

Some "peace."

So, is it time to re-elect Jimmy Carter? Oyeah! HipHipHooray!

We would do so at our grave peril, for the world is a vastly more dangerous place, and America's place within it significantly more precarious, than it was thirty years ago. It is essential that we have someone in the White House with enough rudimentary intelligence to distinguish good from evil.

Obama, as part of that New/Old-Left trendiness steeped in "PC"-relativist muck, has shown evidence of disdain for the idea of moral distinctions per se. I guess moral distinctions might offend the evil and hurt their feelings.

=> An important truism of life is the difficulty that lies in getting people to appreciate a herculean job of preventing a mess - precisely because the mess has been...prevented.

The "mess" in this case is a pleasant metaphor for: another catastrophic attack on America. The man who's done the herculean job of preventing it, for seven full years, has not just had his successful work ignored, he's been the target of some of the most consistently vicious and personal attacks any American politician has had to endure, in many cases precisely for that effort. His name is President George W. Bush.

I have leveled some hefty - and valid - criticism of the Bush Administration myself over his two terms, but the one thing you cannot fault President Bush on is his record of keeping the United States of America safe.

Columnist Ann Coulter of all people, a caustic political commentator for whom I ordinarily have little use, has nevertheless proven herself to be capable of flashes of admirable insight. Her September 10 article "Bush 7, Terrorists 0," is one such example and a must-read in this context. An excerpt:

"As many have pointed out, the reason elected officials tend to neglect infrastructure projects, like reinforcing levees in New Orleans and bridges in Minneapolis, is that there's no glory when a bridge doesn't collapse. There are no round-the-clock news specials when the levees hold. You can't even name an overpass retrofitting project after yourself - it just looks too silly. But everyone's taxes go up to pay for the reinforcements.

Preventing another terrorist attack is like that. There is no media coverage when another 9/11 doesn't happen. We can thank God that President George Bush didn't care about doing the safe thing for himself; he cared about keeping Americans safe. And he has, for seven years...

[the leftists'] own standard, Bush's war on terrorism has been a smashing, unimaginable success.

A year after the 9/11 attack, The New York Times' Frank Rich was carping about Bush's national security plans, saying we could judge Bush's war on terror by whether there was a major al-Qaida attack in 2003, which - according to Rich - would have been on al-Qaida's normal schedule.

Rich wrote: 'Since major al-Qaida attacks are planned well in advance and have historically been separated by intervals of 12 to 24 months, we will find out how much we've been distracted soon enough.' ('Never Forget What?' New York Times, Sept. 14, 2002.)

There wasn't a major al-Qaida attack in 2003. Nor in 2004, 2005, 2006 or 2007. Manifestly, liberals thought there would be: They announced a standard of success that they expected Bush to fail.

As Bush has said, we have to be right 100 percent of the time, the terrorists only have to be right one time. Bush has been right 100 percent of the time for seven years - so much so that Americans have completely forgotten about the threat of Islamic terrorism.

So...go have a look at those horrific videos, ask yourself why we've had no such horrors since - and at the very least breathe a word of thanks that we've had a President who cares more about national security than maintaining high poll numbers or "creating a legacy."

Then ask yourself the implications of a President-wannabe's plan to have a series of cozy chats with, among a vertiable who's who of international tyrants, a militant Islamofascist regime that stands on the brink of producing nuclear weapons and which has openly vowed to obliterate America and its chief Mideast ally by any means available. In context of foreign policy, "popular" and "poll-friendly" can also be deadly.

_/ _/ _/ _/ \_ \_ \_ \_

Since we're on the subject of appreciating negations: You may have completely missed it, but the universe failed to disintegrate on Wednesday when physicists started up the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN facility in Switzerland.

I'm not a particle physicist, but the panicky hysteria surrounding that experiment was at once comical and disheartening. For many, including hysterical types within the scientific community itself, the torch and pitchfork are always close at hand, should Victor Frankenstein persist in his unholy experimentation which will surely Doom Us All.

For those of us who are not torch-wielding villagers, and despite the ethics of its funding, we can look with optimism at the LHC as another avenue to unlocking physics puzzles that currently seem insurmountable. The LHC is a state-of-the-art tool with the potential to propel technology to dramatic new heights, perhaps including development of new, cheaper sources of raw energy, and long-overdue improvements in space propulsion.

Another interesting article, from this side of the gothic horror tracks.

_/ _/ _/ _/ \_ \_ \_ \_

To move just briefly to the Presidential campaign: It should come as no surprise that the vestigial, recidivistic Left have devolved, immediately and as if on cue, to their standard-default, the ad hominem, in their frantic effort to regain verticality after McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his Veep candidate.

Again, Robert Bidinotto has done some extensive cataloging of the post-Palin mudslinging by apoplectic Leftists in his September 10, September 09 and previous posts.

As I've alluded previously, ad hominem slurs are ultimately the only tool Leftists have at their disposal in any kind of political debate, because their ideology is flatly indefensible - logically, ethically, politically, even pragmatically - much less promotable. The increasing vileness and barbarity of their attacks only underscores the intellectual vacuity of their position, and ought to be left as the wonderfully self-refuting comedy that it is. As the saying goes, never get in the way of an opponent who is busily self-destructing.

Most recently there's been the flap over Obama's "Lipstick on a pig" gaffe. As Bidinotto put it:

"For an allegedly glib guy of such supposedly superior intellect, Barack "57 States" Obama seems instead to be a one-man gaffe factory. Today's example of his chronic case of hoof-in-mouth disease is his inadvertently likening Sarah Palin to a pig... Now, of course he didn't mean it that way; but his cheering audience took it that way, which speaks volumes about what he's attracting. More to the point, the Great Orator's epic verbal stumbles are making George W. Bush seem like Demosthenes. Maybe he should take some public speaking tips from his running mate, Joe "Neil Kinnock" Biden. Or perhaps he should just humble himself and take solace in his Muslim faith. No, he meant Christian faith. Whatever."

The McCain/Palin camp, in its first major gaffe since the Palin pick, chose not to ignore the slur, but rather to demand an apology. In displaying the kind of glass-jawed fragility previously owned by the Obama camp, McCain/Palin have turned an instant Obama negative - which ought to have just lain there in the middle of the road, emitting its fetid stench - into a needless confession of weakness.

Ermm, bravo?


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Mr. Bidinotto nails it with "The McCain Gamble"

Now Playing: 'Giving another chance to "Presto" from Rush, an album I've never liked much musically - at the moment it's "Show Don't Tell," with some of my fave Objectiv-ish lyrics...

Objectivist author and publisher Robert Bidinotto has done an excellent analysis of McCain's antagonism toward individual rights with his recent post The McCain Gamble and numerous updates.

In analyzing the Hobson's Choice principled Americans face this election, Bidinotto argues that the choice ultimately is between a mixed bag that nonetheless contains the GOP's vital intellectual elements along with the toxins of "selflessness" and Rooseveltian "Progressivism" (McCain) - vs. an opponent who is 100% hostile to every significant element of American individualism and liberty (Obama.)

I'm not convinced I could ever vote for McCain in good conscience - but actually casting a vote for a vestigial, recidivistic Marxist and closet anti-American is unthinkable, while a vote for Barr or someone else as a write-in (Janice Rogers Brown, etc.,) can be nothing but a throwaway vote of extremely-limited symbolic value.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Back in Convention Monitor Mode

Now Playing: Again, the GOP Convention, via the only objective news source left on the tube, Fox News.

Rudy is in the middle of his speech, and for the very first time at this convention I'm hearing some of the fire, the guts and no-punches-pulled oratory that's been singularly lacking.

Zowie! The man - my first pick of the GOP primary crop, for the record - is hitting the ball right out of the park! This is one for the books, folks. Geez, can we swap Rudy for McCain? Even Fred Thompson's speech came across as tepid and listless, but Giuliani is showing the kind of energy and enthusiasm - as if he actually believes what he says is important - that's so far been missing in the extravaganza.

Just now he's making a point I've been waiting to hear someone make since Obama's "change" mantra first appeared: "Change" is never neutral, it is either change for the better or change for the worse.

Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

- "If I were Joe Biden, I'd want to get that VP thing in writing." LOL 8^D


- Quoting McCain on the Russian invasion of Georgia: "We are all Georgians." Excellent. Standing up to Putin's neo-totalitarianism? I am too, proudly. For more, read this amazing account, by one truly courageous journalist, Michael J. Totten.

Again, this is going to go down as one of the greatest Convention speeches ever. Rudy is just kicking arse! This guy needs a Cabinet post, at the very least. Rudy Giuliani, like Sarah Palin, grows in my estimation with nearly every word he utters. BRAVO!!

Am I raving? I think I'm raving. I've been advised that this is not advisable, but I'm not listening. Rudy has set a new tone for a convention that has, up to this point, been a flaccid, going-through-the-motions affair, perhaps as a result of having been preempted by Hurricane Gustav and craven self-abnegation.

At last, the Grand Old Party has a Convention!

Bravo, Mr. Mayor, and hats off to you!
_/_/_/_/_/_/ \_\_\_\_\_\_

On to future-Veep Palin:

I tuned in a little late - editing! Hey, she couldn't have asked for a better opening band...

Ok, "...two decades and five children later and he's still my guy." Straight talk from "one of us." I like this lady. Intensely refreshing - and the feverish buzz in that arena is palpable.

Wow - "...They grow our food, and fight our wars, and run our factories." An advocate of American industry in the position of Vice President? Umm, I think I'll come out in favor of that. 8^D

In terms of aggressiveness, Palin is cut from the same cloth as Rudy, clearly, though her speaking style is markedly different. It's always a major relief to see someone who is 100% comfortable in front of an audience likely running to the tens of millions. "I'm not going to Wasington to serve their opinions, I'm going to serve the people of this nation."


- Urp - " serve the common good, and leave the nation better than we found it." There's that circular concept "common good" again.

- "That luxury jet was over the top...I put it on Ebay." Heh-Heh.

- On to an affirmation of the Veto as a powerful tool against corruption. President Bush, are you listening?

- Facing off against Russia head-on? Compare Palin's straight talk to the nebulous fluff of BO-Biden.

- In her discussion of energy, she puts oil and nuclear first, then mentions clean coal and alternative sources. I like. I'm an Asimov nuclear enthusiast, which means that I, like future historians, look upon early the 21st Century's clinging to chemical energy sources as a primitive anachronism, to be overcome by embracing the untold promise of nuclear energy as man's logical next step in the evolution of power production technology.

- OOooo, Zingers: "...and those styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot..." 8^]

- She's citing the concrete example of her sister's business and the effects on it that Obama's massive tax burdens would present. Again, great stuff.

Whether you agree with her specific points or not, Palin's confidence and "coolness" under the spotlight is undeniable. After five days of vicious, caustic ad hominem assaults against Palin and her 17-year-old daughter by the vestigial and clueless Left, from the New York Daily Socialist Worker (a.k.a. the Times) to "US Weekly" to the vaunted National Enquirer, Palin's poise and unflappable self-discipline are truly admirable.

In a break from stale tradition, McCain himself has come out to salute Palin and her family. Despite his beliefs, you've similarly got to admire McCain's improvisational, unscripted, outside-the-box attitude.

Folks, there is a reason - rather, three of them - why the vestigial Left wing have latched themselves, wolf-pack-fashion, onto Palin the person and her innocent children:

#1. They simply do not have a persuasive argument against any given element of Palin's ideological position on any given subject, hence the vicious ad hominems;

#2. Palin's enormous and instantaneous popularity among vast swaths of the American public scares the hell out of them, as in "we are going to lose in November, badly, in the Presidential and Congressional arenas alike";

#3. Palin, as a woman and mother who is not a Leftist, represents the antithesis of everything the Left have strived - mostly successfully - to achieve in the nihilistic corrosion of American society ca. 1960-present. More on this in a bit.

Update: The McCain Acceptance Speech, Thursday Sept. 4

McCain's just finished his speech - I missed the "warmup" speeches this time - and I have to agree with Objectivist writer and publisher Robert Bidinotto, who asks, only partly in jest, whether we could possibly invert the ticket to read: Palin/McCain.

McCain's speech contained much to be enthused about: restoring the GOP to its roots; ending the spoiled-brats-in-the-toystore mentality that's gripped Congress and governments from Federal down to local levels; ending subsidies to "countries that don't like us very much" (a no-brainer, that); getting government the hell out of the way of Americans and returning it to the role of servant, not nanny and nursemaid; his Veto pledge "I will make them ['earmark' big-spenders] famous, and you will know their names."

But those positives are undercut by and contradicted at root by McCain's personal war against American individualism. As expected, he reaffirmed, in some of the most offensive language I've heard on the national stage, his irrational and profoundly mistaken hostility to what he calls "the shallowness of self" and "selfish individualism." Again, to the extent that he's directing that admonition at his fellow government officious, it can be an acceptable, even positive admonition - if locked within that limited context. Which of course it isn't.

McCain's sneering contempt for the concept of individualism and independence is also, clearly, directed at each of us, straight through to the core of America's unique ethics: the ethics of self-interest and self-sovereignty, the right of every individual to live his own life as he sees fit, for his own sake, as his inalienable right, first and foremost. It's the ethic that was woven into America's very foundation by the Founding Fathers: Every individual is a sovereign within himself, not an indentured servant to any king, tribe, church, government, collective, mob, tyrannical majority. Man is an end in himself; the role of government is to uphold and defend that fact and ethical sanction.

As a lifelong "Reagan Republican" and objectivist, McCain's attack on independence is a dissonance that offends me to the core of my being.

Obama, of course, remains exactly as Henry Mark Holtzer identified him in his September 1 article "Questions for Obama about Justice Thomas - a pompous, pretentious wannabe too dishonest even to admit his goose-stepping hard Left agenda to the world, much less his empty résumé - even as he trashes scholars of vastly superior intellect and integrity.

I truly do not believe America - and by extension Westen Civilization as a whole - would survive another Democrat-Socialist presidency. So I'm faced with the dilemma of casting an enthusiastic vote for what appears to be an American Margaret Thatcher in the making, while simultaneously holding my nose about the man who heads the ticket. Every time McCain opens his mouth and lets fly with another attack on America's ethical core - individualism - any such notion flees.

Though the debates remain to be won, even without my vote I think the Obama/Biden ticket is going to get its arse kicked resoundingly by McCain/Palin in November, perhaps as badly as Carter in '80, Mondale in '84, and Dukakis in '88. I remember in each of those cases the pollsters were gaga over the Democrat-Socialist candidates too - and their rosy stats were off by factors of ten. The two Clinton wins and the two Gore/Kerry squeakers were a function of weakness in, respectively, Bush I, Dole and Bush II as candidates, not any mythical strength of the Demo-Socialists.

As it stands today, and despite McCain's corrupt ethical inversion, McCain/Palin would have to screw up really, really badly to fail to walk away with this election with ease.

_/ _/ _/ _/ _/ LAISSEZ FAIRE \_ \_ \_ \_ \_


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"Country First?" Correction: LIBERTY First.

Now Playing: GOP Convention Coverage (finally,) on Fox News Channel

I had known that McCain is yet another of those politicians whose ethical credo is "self-sacrifice" (for self-sacrifice's sake,) but I hadn't expected it to become the official slogan of my Party's Presidential Convention. Silly me.

At the moment President Bush too is making paeans to "selflessness," and after yesterday's ostentatiously "selfless" postponement of the Convention for the sake of...umm... ........aah......... does anybody know what that was for? Or what, precisely, it accomplished? At any rate, I'm wondering if there's another American left who understands the core principles upon which this country was built, who understands to whom it is that those principles apply, who understands their relation to the Party called "Republican."

Those principles are, for the record (now listen up John): Reason, Self-Sovereignty, Individual Rights, and Liberty. To recap, the entities to whom they apply are: Individuals.


The negation of those principles can come in many forms, but the prime destroyer, both in philosophic theory and in existential practice, of individual rights and the individual lives that depend on them, is precisely: "selflessness."

I know, I know - the intended context of McCain's usage, presumably, is an admonition to his fellow politicians to do their jobs rather than to pander to future voters. It's also a call to attenuate some of the rancorous partisanship that's appeared in the wake of Gore's and Kerry's razor-thin defeats in 2000 and 2004. Fine - tell it to those militant Leftists who are the ones who need to hear it, though they're not likely to listen nor even to comprehend.

McCain's Mantra is also a kind of feelgood demand on the rest of us to pull together as a nation to solve its many problems. [Problems. Not "challenges." If there isn't a guy in frilly ruffles and a ridiculous hat throwing his glove at my feet and demanding that I meet him at dawn for a manly duel, it's not a "challenge." It's a problem. 'K? We're Republicans - can we drop that Leftwing "PC" lingo? Words are important. Thanks. We now return you to our regularly-scheduled programming.]

But partisanship, though amplified to a disturbing new nihilism by the Democrat-Socialist Left, has always been a part of free - or even semi-free - political discourse in America. America's problems are not caused by its people, they are caused by its government, and occasionally, by various & sundry international thugs.

Unfortunately, the "selfless sacrifice" mantra is also an appeal to the gutter busybody mentality among us that seeks to control the lives of others - because those others are just "too independent." It's that old biddie who phones the police every time a neighbor has a backyard barbeque - because other people's open enjoyment of life is an unintentional reproach to a stale, embittered life; those envy-ridden mentalities that spew blanket condemnations of Bill Gates, Sam Walton, Phil Knight and basically...anybody whose income is greater than theirs - for their heinous crime of... succeeding at the American Dream; it's that "Why, there oughtta be a law against thaaat!" pathology that's responsible in part for the cancerous growth of our leviathan regulatory state over the past century; it's the eco-fascist mentalities who seek to ram their standard of living, from the homes we live in to the cars we drive to the bathroom equipment available to us, down other people's throats by brute force.

At root, the demand for "selflessness" is a frontal assault on the right of each of us to the Life, the Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness that America's Founders placed explicitly at the heart of the American Revolution - as something inherent to our nature as rational beings, as something ethically inalienable. That enumeration of rights applies to each one of us as an individual - not as a collective - and not as a temporary "privilege," to be withdrawn at the whim of condescending politicians who've forgotten, or never knew in the first place, that the rights of individuals are not subordinate to any collective.

McCain's "Country First/Service" placards represent the triumph too of an erroneous and potentially catastrophic ethical-political credo: "My country, right or wrong." It's an elevation of a place and a government over the vital principles that define what kind of place and how just a government may be present there.

Rand identified the corrected formulation as "My country is right, therefore I love it" - assuming it is right. Love of country is not a primary, it's a secondary consequence of that country's first accepting and upholding the rights of individuals, something America was the first nation in history to do. Even Thoreau had it figured out in 1849:

"There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly."

Rand blew the issue wide open in her seminal lecture given on December 7, 1960 at Princeton University, titled "Conservatism: An Obituary":

"The American political system was based on a different moral principle: on the principle of man's inalienable right to his own life - which means: on the principle that man has the right to exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself, and that men must deal with one another as traders, by voluntary choice to mutual benefit...

The social system based on and consonant with the altruist morality - with the code of self-sacrifice - is socialism, in all or any of its variants: fascism, Nazism, communism. All of them treat man as a sacrificial animal to be immolated for the benefit of the group, the tribe, the society, the state.

To the extent to which he is demanding of his fellow politicians that they get their noses back to the grindstone and start doing what's best for the country - i.e., doing what's needed to re-establish and defend individual liberty - then McCain's "Country First/Service" slogan, while poorly chosen, is valid.

To the extent to which it's aimed at we the American individuals, it is a corrupt perversion of core Americanism, which needs to be rejected outright by all Republicans and all others who yet value their priceless freedoms.

...Ah, they've got former Republican Newt Gingrich on the tube, in an interview with a reporter. The same Newt Gingrich, mind you, who sold out to the Climate Armageddon Cult a year ago (in his pusillanimous "debate" with John F'n Kerry.)

'Think SpongeBob Squarepants is on - where's that remote...