From Peter Schwartz at The Huffington Post:
Conservatives largely oppose right-to-suicide laws. Many criticized Brittany Maynard’s decision. A Vatican official, Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, called it “an absurdity,” declaring that suicide “is a bad thing because it is saying no to life and to everything it means with respect to our mission in the world and towards those around us.” The National Right to Life organization quotes a woman condemning physician-assisted suicide because “it does not strengthen the common good, but only alienates, separates and dismantles us as a people who truly care for one another.”
Here’s a radical thought for conservatives: Brittany Maynard has a right to life — to her life. And a right to one’s life requires, as an inseparable corollary, the right to terminate it. What else is a right to some action if not the freedom to choose whether or not to engage in it?
Read the whole thing here.
Thomas Piketty’s latest book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” has had its fair share of criticisms. The political right continues to bludgeon the latest critique of capitalism by challenging the veracity of the book’s mathematics, formulas, and quantitative reasoning. But Harry Binswanger understands that the basis for every attack against capitalism is grounded in the idea that capitalism is inherently immoral. Therefore, any defense of capitalism cannot, and should not, be grounded in statistics, but must challenge the existing moral premises that permeate today’s society…
“Capital in the Twenty-First Century” offers up the same failed, blood-soaked doctrines as its forbearer, “Das Kapital.” But in our Twitterized culture, yesterday’s disgraced notions, now forgotten, can be re-Tweeted as revelations.
Evil cannot be combated by offering counter-statistics, as many conservatives are doing. No one is concerned with the statistics, only with the moral narrative. And the book’s opening epigraph gives us that, via a quote from France’s 1789 “Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen”:
“Social distinctions can be based only on common utility.”
In quiet, understated language, that statement lays down the formula for total collectivism. It cuts the ground out from under individual rights, substituting “common utility” as the standard for state action. It demands the yoking of the individual to the group.
M. Piketty doesn’t mention that four years after that ill-named Declaration of Rights came the Reign of Terror. The sequence is logical: the Declaration appealed to the raw envy of the mob, whose instrument became the guillotine.
The whole thing can be read here.
Bill Frezza revives the Gibson Guitars case in a piece published in Forbes. The whole affair stands as an appalling example of the law run amok. The owners believe they suffered heavy-handed treatment from the feds due to the “protectionist” interests of labor unions and environmentalists. But when the law can be warped to satisfy the whim of any bureaucrat or power-holder, that’s not protectionism, that’s tyranny. More specifically, the Gibson Guitars case epitomizes the tyranny of non-objective law.
While 30 men in SWAT attire dispatched from Homeland Security and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cart away about half a million dollars of wood and guitars, seven armed agents interrogate an employee without benefit of a lawyer. The next day Juszkiewicz receives a letter warning that he cannot touch any guitar left in the plant, under threat of being charged with a separate federal offense for each “violation,” punishable by a jail term.
Up until that point Gibson had not received so much as a postcard telling the company it might be doing something wrong. Thus began a five-year saga, extensively covered by the press, with reputation-destroying leaks and shady allegations that Gibson was illegally importing wood from endangered tree species. In the end, formal charges were never filed, but the disruption to Gibson’s business and the mounting legal fees and threat of imprisonment induced Juszkiewicz to settle for $250,000—with an additional $50,000 “donation” piled on to pay off an environmental activist group.
You can read the rest here.
Courtesy of Nick Gillespie at Reason.com:
The Daily Beast‘s Eli Lake reports that Libya, the site of an American-enabled kinetic-action-lead-from-behind-super-duper NATO triumph that somehow led to U.S. Amb. Chris Stevens being croaked by really irate YouTube consumers, is now packed with more domestic terrorists than your neighborhood Tea Party HQ:
In the nearly 20 months since the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks, al Qaeda operatives and allied terrorists have flocked to Libya, making the fragile North African country a hub for those seeking to wage jihad from north Africa, current and former U.S. counterterrorism officials tell The Daily Beast.
Not only does al Qaeda host Ansar al-Sharia, one of the militias responsible for the Benghazi attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. But U.S. intelligence now assesses that leaders from at least three regional al Qaeda affiliates—al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and members of the organization of Al-Mulathameen Brigade loyal to Algerian terrorist, Mokhtar BelMokhtar—have all established havens in the lawless regions of Libya outside the control of the central government.
One U.S. military contractor working on counter-terrorism in Africa summed up the situation in Libya today as simply, “Scumbag Woodstock.” The country has attracted that star-studded roster of notorious terrorists and fanatics seeking to wage war on the West.
The piece provides additional insight on how the events in Benghazi reveal the abysmal lack of a sound foreign policy. You can read the whole thing here.
The Wall Street Journal published a piece by Caleb Rossiter titled, “Sacrificing Africa for Climate Change.” The author, a self-admitted leftist, concedes that today’s environmental movement is no longer concerned with global warming…er…climate change, but rather de-industrialization at any cost. He notes the substantial role electricity and fossil fuels have played in making life on Earth happier, longer, and healthier, but the author also reveals the inherent contempt for humanity within the environmental movement. In this regard, Rossiter could not have picked a better title for the piece…
Every year environmental groups celebrate a night when institutions in developed countries (including my own university) turn off their lights as a protest against fossil fuels. They say their goal is to get America and Europe to look from space like Africa: dark, because of minimal energy use.
But that is the opposite of what’s desired by Africans I know. They want Africa at night to look like the developed world, with lights in every little village and with healthy people, living longer lives, sitting by those lights. Real years added to real lives should trump the minimal impact that African carbon emissions could have on a theoretical catastrophe.
You can read the whole thing here.
There is an almost unanimous consensus that, when it comes to Syria, the United States has a “duty” to do something. The arguments for intervention range from spreading democracy to stopping the slaughter of civilians. Unfortunately, few have provided cogent arguments for why American soldiers should be killed and maimed in a conflict that is inherently sectarian and that will likely produce an Islamist, anti-Western regime as the final outcome. Furthermore, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the United States will lose more than it gains, no matter who wins. If Assad manages to hold onto power, Iran will continue to have the land-bridge needed to supply Hezbollah and other Islamist terrorist organizations along the Mediterranean. However, if Assad’s regime falls, then the Western world could be facing an Islamic theocracy with a bountiful supply of chemical weapons. This new regime will be positioned almost directly next to the Islamic theocracy that nearly has a nuclear weapon!
To demonstrate how abysmal the dialogue is when it comes to the appropriate response to the civil war in Syria, the New York Times printed this garbage in its pages. Proponent of self-determination, Dov Ronen, argues that, instead of promoting and fighting for democracy, the United States should encourage states to be formed on the basis of whatever tribe or ethnic group can stamp-out and crush those who are incompatible; racially, ethnically, etc. As he puts it:
States, in most cases, are artificially bordered entities created around ethnic groups and nations mainly through wars and treaties. President Wilson understood that self-determination should not refer to states but to “people” who are attached to their hundreds or thousands of years of traditions and hence do not want to live in their states under the rule of those whom they consider to be ethnic or national “others.”
The end of the Cold War was an important historical turning point. But it was such not because it proved the universal applicability of American democracy and its political and economic institutions. The end of the Cold War was a major turning point because it began removing, everywhere in the world, the restraints and self-restraints that the Cold War’s 40-year ideological confrontation imposed on human beings who wished then to rebel against their own ideological camp.
It is this removal of restraints and self-restraints that planted the seeds of rebellion around the world. It brought about the breakup of the Soviet Union and of Yugoslavia, and sparked a revolution whose participants in many states around the world are fighting for self-determination — and for their own version of democracy.
The revolution is a thunderous storm that is changing the world and leading to a new global order.
The ideological campaign to spread democracy around the world should be stopped. Instead, there should be a commitment to the promotion of a new global order based on the exercise of the right of ethnic groups and nations to self-determination in politically autonomous entities, and to the true version of democracy: people’s rule.
There’s no question that democracy, in its most pure form, leads to collectivist barbarism but, what Ronen posits is the most vile, primitive form of collectivism. He is arguing for the right to dictatorship; essentially, morality and justice are subjective, only existing in the minds of those who hold power. The “revolution” to fight for “their own version of democracy” is tantamount to what happened at the end of the Weimar Republic–after all, Hitler was elected to high office. And what followed was a state that was determined to eradicate anything deemed “impure” to the racial health of Nazi Germany.
Ronen is the byproduct of a society that has forgotten and abandoned the notion of individualism. The notion that the individual is the keystone to civil society and that any legitimate government must be shaped to ensure the individual is free of coercion, free to think, free to act. As long as the individual is considered an insignificant appendage of the group, the tribe, or the collective, then the Western world can expect to look more like Syria in due time.
As expected, the White House is putting the Rahm Emanuel crisis playbook into full force after the horrific events in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Even if Congress is reluctant to pass any major piece of legislation on the matter, Vice President Joe Biden has already stated the White House is prepared to take nineteen executive actions in relation to gun control. Add this to the President’s proposals to limit the capacity of magazines to ten rounds and the implementation of a new assault weapons ban–not a reinstatement of the 1994 law. From whitehouse.gov:
Assault rifles have been used in several recent mass shootings. The shooters in Aurora and Newtown used the type of semiautomatic rifles that were the target of the assault weapons ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004. That ban was an important step, but manufacturers were able to circumvent the prohibition with cosmetic modifications to their weapons. Congress must reinstate and strengthen the prohibition on assault weapons.
In addition, President Obama is looking to enact further restrictions on the possession and transfer of amor piercing ammunition. While even the White House wholly abstains from connecting events like Tucson, Aurora, and Sandy Hook to this type of ammunition, it’s implied that if you’re in support of amor-piercing rounds then you’re in favor of police officers being exposed to increased levels of risk. The mentality of both the White House and the gun-ban left is inherently driven by an anti-freedom agenda.
First, it’s important to ask, “Why stop at ten rounds of ammunition per clip? Why not eight, or seven, maybe even six?” The killers of Aurora and Sandy Hook selected their targets because of an overwhelming certainty that their victims would put up a low level of resistance. In the former case, it was a dark and crowded movie theater. In the latter case, it was an elementary school. Regardless of what size magazines they used, they were determined to destroy and they chose those who were most vulnerable.
It’s also important to debunk the metaphysically impossible–the “assault weapon.” Basically, the American left would have all believe that a piece of machinery, an inanimate object, a weapon, a noun, has the attributes and capabilities of a volitional consciousness, the ability to assault, a verb. It’s perfectly legitimate to argue that these types of weapons are absurd for deer hunting but such weapons are vital for defense. Perhaps not from a typical criminal, but from government–the institution throughout history (especially the twentieth century) which has exercised the ability and willingness to slaughter millions–whether constricted by borders or not.
This same principle can be applied to armor piercing ammunition. In fact, the matter of ammunition is arguably more critical because of policies being implemented by the U.S. Air Force. Last summer, Judge Andrew Napolitano published a piece about unmanned drones flying and spying above private property as part of a new domestic surveillance program.
If gun rights advocates wish to continue to bear arms then they must stop insisting on gun rights and begin insisting on their individual rights. The second amendment is not an instrument to ensure longstanding hunting traditions, it’s to prevent a totalitarian government from rising to power. It’s to make sure that the first amendment stays firmly seated where it is in the Constitution. When speech is censored, the only means to communicate is through the muzzle of a gun.
Besides, if President Obama truly cared about gun violence, he would’ve gutted the Department of Justice after the Mexican government discovered that guns used in a birthday party massacre, in which the victims were mostly teenagers, were supplied courtesy of Eric Holder and the Fast and Furious program.
While the Department of Homeland Security is on the prowl for right-wingers and returning veterans, Iran has been assiduously plotting and executing a myriad of terrorist attacks. According to the State Department:
“We are increasingly concerned about Iran’s support for terrorism and Hezbollah’s activities,” said Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s counterterrorism chief, adding that both appear to have stepped up their terrorist activity in the past year and “are engaging in their most active and aggressive campaign since the 1990s.” The U.S. views Hezbollah of Lebanon as a proxy of Iran.
The U.S. has accused Iran’s elite Quds Force of plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington—Iran denied the charge—and the U.S. and other countries have accused Iran of backing recent plots against Western and Israeli targets in Azerbaijan, Thailand, India and Kenya. Israel has accused Hezbollah of a recent attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, though U.S. officials have only said the attack bore some hallmarks of Hezbollah.
Iran also has allowed al Qaeda members to move money and operatives through Iranian territory to South Asia, the report said. Iran has denied any connection with al Qaeda.
So much for engaging with the Mullahs…
If you haven’t read it already, Jeb Hensarling has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal lamenting the two year anniversary since the Dodd-Frank “reforms” were signed into law. Not only does the piece properly identify what caused the housing bubble and the 2008 financial crisis but it also states components of the law that institutionalize the “too big to fail” mentality and how Obama’s favorite pet, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, now has the authority to ration credit. The piece is as parsimonious as it is concise, making it great intellectual ammunition for the defense of free markets and damning government intervention in banking. Here’s a sample:
Perhaps most harmful, Dodd-Frank has codified into law a taxpayer-funded safety net for institutions deemed too big to fail—the Orderly Liquidation Authority, which the Congressional Budget Office predicts will cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. In downgrading the credit ratings of the nation’s largest banks last month, Moody’s explicitly stated that its ratings still reflect an assumption “about the very high likelihood of support from the U.S. government for bondholders or other creditors in the event that such support is required to prevent default.” So much for ending taxpayer-funded bailouts. And when we lose our ability to fail, we will soon lose our ability to succeed.
Click here to read the whole thing!
Jonathan Krohn first captured the national spotlight when he authored the book Defining Conservatism and delivered a speech at CPAC in 2009. He had accomplished all of these major feats when he was only 13 years old. At 17, he’s now making the necessary preparations to enroll at NYU. However, according to a recent Politico article, Krohn has made a massive ideological shift…backwards. In fact, Krohn will neither call himself a conservative or reject the ideology outright. As the article states, “Krohn won’t go so far as to say he’s liberal, in part because his move away from conservatism was a move away from ideological boxes in general.”
Krohn explains it this way:
“One of the first things that changed was that I stopped being a social conservative,” said Krohn. “It just didn’t seem right to me anymore. From there, it branched into other issues, everything from health care to economic issues.… I think I’ve changed a lot, and it’s not because I’ve become a liberal from being a conservative — it’s just that I thought about it more. The issues are so complex, you can’t just go with some ideological mantra for each substantive issue.”
Indeed, “conservatism” is quite similar to the concept of a mixed economy. Where a mixed economy is a volatile mix of freedoms and controls, conservatism is a slap-dashed conglomerate of free market principles and mysticism–or an appeal to the Dark Ages. Ayn Rand put it this way:
The most immoral contradiction—in the chaos of today’s anti-ideological groups—is that of the so-called “conservatives,” who posture as defenders of individual rights, particularly property rights, but uphold and advocate the draft. By what infernal evasion can they hope to justify the proposition that creatures who have no right to life, have the right to a bank account?
—Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 227
However, this doesn’t answer the fundamental question of why Krohn consciously decided to abandon the importance of principles altogether. What Krohn reveals is most disturbing:
“I started reflecting on a lot of what I wrote, just thinking about what I had said and what I had done and started reading a lot of other stuff, and not just political stuff,” Krohn said. “I started getting into philosophy — Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Kant and lots of other German philosophers. And then into present philosophers — Saul Kripke, David Chalmers. It was really reading philosophy that didn’t have anything to do with politics that gave me a breather and made me realize that a lot of what I said was ideological blather that really wasn’t meaningful.”
Of all the philosophers Krohn lists as important to him; the one who lived and wrote before the rest, and who remains a titan in the field is–Immanuel Kant. I’ll refer to Ayn Rand once more to elaborate why Kant is such a destructive force in the realm of philosophy:
The man who . . . closed the door of philosophy to reason, was Immanuel Kant. . . .
Kant’s expressly stated purpose was to save the morality of self-abnegation and self-sacrifice. He knew that it could not survive without a mystic base—and what it had to be saved from was reason.
Attila’s share of Kant’s universe includes this earth, physical reality, man’s senses, perceptions, reason and science, all of it labeled the “phenomenal” world. The Witch Doctor’s share is another, “higher,” reality, labeled the “noumenal” world, and a special manifestation, labeled the “categorical imperative,” which dictates to man the rules of morality and which makes itself known by means of afeeling, as a special sense of duty.
The “phenomenal” world, said Kant, is not real: reality, as perceived by man’s mind, is a distortion. The distorting mechanism is man’s conceptual faculty: man’s basic concepts (such as time, space, existence) are not derived from experience or reality, but come from an automatic system of filters in his consciousness (labeled “categories” and “forms of perception”) which impose their own design on his perception of the external world and make him incapable of perceiving it in any manner other than the one in which he does perceive it. This proves, said Kant, that man’s concepts are only a delusion, but a collective delusion which no one has the power to escape. Thus reason and science are “limited,” said Kant; they are valid only so long as they deal with this world, with a permanent, pre-determined collective delusion (and thus the criterion of reason’s validity was switched from theobjective to the collective), but they are impotent to deal with the fundamental, metaphysical issues of existence, which belong to the “noumenal” world. The “noumenal” world is unknowable; it is the world of “real” reality, “superior” truth and “things in themselves” or “things as they are”—which means: things as they are not perceived by man.
Even apart from the fact that Kant’s theory of the “categories” as the source of man’s concepts was a preposterous invention, his argument amounted to a negation, not only of man’s consciousness, but ofany consciousness, of consciousness as such. His argument, in essence, ran as follows: man islimited to a consciousness of a specific nature, which perceives by specific means and no others, therefore, his consciousness is not valid; man is blind, because he has eyes—deaf, because he has ears—deluded, because he has a mind—and the things he perceives do not exist, because he perceives them.
—For The New Intellectual, 30
And there you have it. The story of a young boy who embraced “conservatism,” with all its contradictions and logical loopholes, as a viable ideology only to discover that it’s not. Subsequently, he has gone on to learn that attempting to understand reality and existence is merely a futile effort due to the construction of the human brain–at least according to Kant. Krohn was right to reject “conservatism” but he has escaped flagrant contradictions only to fall for evasion (His exposure to the former helps explain his attraction to the latter as well). Here’s hoping Jonathan will read his way to Ayn Rand soon–before the NYU faculty gets to him.