Two Contrasting Views on Trump’s Immigration Executive Order

Is Trump’s recent immigration executive order a Muslim ban or a temporary halt on immigration from Jihadist regions?

Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare sees it as “the symbolic politics of bashing Islam” in his essay Malevolence Tempered by Incompetence: Trump’s Horrifying Executive Order on Refugees and Visas:

Section 1. Purpose. The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States. […]

Color me skeptical that this is the real purpose. After all, if this is the real purpose, then the document is both wildly over-inclusive and wildly under-inclusive. On the over-inclusive side, it will keep tens of thousands of innocent refugees who have been subject to unspeakable violence outside of the protection of the United States on the vanishingly small chance that these people might be terrorists—indeed, to make it impossible for them even to apply for refugee admission if they are Syrian. It will prevent untold numbers of people about whom there is no whiff of suspicion from coming here as students, as professionals, as tourists. It overtly treats members of a particular religion differently from other people.

On the underinclusive side, the order wouldn’t have blocked the entry of many of the people responsible for the worst recent terrorist attacks. […] The 9/11 hijackers, after all, didn’t come from Somalia or Syria or Iran; they came from Saudi Arabia and Egypt and a few other countries not affected by the order. […] But come now, how could Pakistan not be on a list guided by current threat perception?

[…] I have trouble imagining any reason to raise questions about whether green card holders who have lived here for years can leave the country and then return. Yes, it’s temporary, and that may lessen the costs (or it may not, depending on the outcome of the policy review the order mandates), but temporarily irrational is still irrational.

Put simply, I don’t believe that the stated purpose is the real purpose. […]

When do you do these things? You do these things when you’re elevating the symbolic politics of bashing Islam over any actual security interest. […] It will cause hardship and misery for tens or hundreds of thousands of people because that is precisely what it is intended to do.

For a contrasting opinion read Trump’s Executive Order on Refugees — Separating Fact from Hysteria over at National Review:

So, what did Trump do? Did he implement his promised Muslim ban? No, far from it. He backed down dramatically from his campaign promises and instead signed an executive order dominated mainly by moderate refugee restrictions and temporary provisions aimed directly at limiting immigration from jihadist conflict zones.

Third, Trump’s order also puts an indefinite hold on admission of Syrian refugees to the United States “until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.” This is perhaps the least consequential aspect of his order — and is largely a return to the Obama administration’s practices from 2011 to 2014. For all the Democrats’ wailing and gnashing of teeth, until 2016 the Obama administration had already largely slammed the door on Syrian-refugee admissions. The Syrian Civil War touched off in 2011.

[…]  While the Syrian Civil War was raging, ISIS was rising, and refugees were swamping Syria’s neighbors and surging into Europe, the Obama administration let in less than a trickle of refugees. Only in the closing days of his administration did President Obama reverse course — in numbers insufficient to make a dent in the overall crisis, by the way — and now the Democrats have the audacity to tweet out pictures of bleeding Syrian children? It’s particularly gross to see this display when the Obama administration’s deliberate decision to leave a yawning power vacuum — in part through its Iraq withdrawal and in part through its dithering throughout the Syrian Civil War — exacerbated the refugee crisis in the first place. There was a genocide on Obama’s watch, and his tiny trickle of Syrian refugees hardly makes up for the grotesque negligence of abandoning Iraq and his years-long mishandling of the emerging Syrian crisis.

[…]  Fourth, there is a puzzling amount of outrage over Trump’s directive to “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” In other words, once refugee admissions resume, members of minority religions may well go to the front of the line. In some countries, this means Christians and Yazidis. In others, it can well mean Muslims. Sadly, during the Obama administration it seems that Christians and other minorities may well have ended up in the back of the line.

[…] you can read the entire executive order from start to finish, reread it, then read it again, and you will not find a Muslim ban. It’s not there. Nowhere. At its most draconian, it temporarily halts entry from jihadist regions. In other words, Trump’s executive order is a dramatic climb-down from his worst campaign rhetoric.

Both articles are worth a read.

You can also read the actual text of the order here: Trump’s Immigration Executive Order

Immigration: Trump’s Controversial Executive Order

Here is the full text of Trump’s EXECUTIVE ORDER “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States“:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Purpose.  The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States.  Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans.  And while the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks to better detect would-be terrorists from receiving visas, these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.

Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program. Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States.  The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.

In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles.  The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.  In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Sec. 2.  Policy.  It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.

Sec. 3.  Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern.  (a)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.

(b)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the President a report on the results of the review described in subsection (a) of this section, including the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination of the information needed for adjudications and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information, within 30 days of the date of this order.  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide a copy of the report to the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence.

(c)  To temporarily reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies during the review period described in subsection (a) of this section, to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals, pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas). [Related: State Sponsors of Terrorism]

(d)  Immediately upon receipt of the report described in subsection (b) of this section regarding the information needed for adjudications, the Secretary of State shall request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.

(e)  After the 60-day period described in subsection (d) of this section expires, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas) from countries that do not provide the information requested pursuant to subsection (d) of this section until compliance occurs.

(f)  At any point after submitting the list described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security may submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment.

(g)  Notwithstanding a suspension pursuant to subsection (c) of this section or pursuant to a Presidential proclamation described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.

(h)  The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall submit to the President a joint report on the progress in implementing this order within 30 days of the date of this order, a second report within 60 days of the date of this order, a third report within 90 days of the date of this order, and a fourth report within 120 days of the date of this order.

Sec. 4.  Implementing Uniform Screening Standards for All Immigration Programs.  (a)  The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation shall implement a program, as part of the adjudication process for immigration benefits, to identify individuals seeking to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis with the intent to cause harm, or who are at risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission. This program will include the development of a uniform screening standard and procedure, such as in-person interviews; a database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants; amended application forms that include questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent; a mechanism to ensure that the applicant is who the applicant claims to be; a process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest; and a mechanism to assess whether or not the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States.

(b)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Secretary of State, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shall submit to the President an initial report on the progress of this directive within 60 days of the date of this order, a second report within 100 days of the date of this order, and a third report within 200 days of the date of this order.

Sec. 5.  Realignment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for Fiscal Year 2017(a)  The Secretary of State shall suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days.  During the 120-day period, the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Homeland Security and in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, shall review the USRAP application and adjudication process to determine what additional procedures should be taken to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States, and shall implement such additional procedures.  Refugee applicants who are already in the USRAP process may be admitted upon the initiation and completion of these revised procedures.  Upon the date that is 120 days after the date of this order, the Secretary of State shall resume USRAP admissions only for nationals of countries for which the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Director of National Intelligence have jointly determined that such additional procedures are adequate to ensure the security and welfare of the United States.

(b)  Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.  Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.

(c)  Pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.

(d)  Pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the entry of more than 50,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017 would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I determine that additional admissions would be in the national interest.

(e)  Notwithstanding the temporary suspension imposed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may jointly determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the admission of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest — including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution, when admitting the person would enable the United States to conform its conduct to a preexisting international agreement, or when the person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship — and it would not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States.

(f)  The Secretary of State shall submit to the President an initial report on the progress of the directive in subsection (b) of this section regarding prioritization of claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution within 100 days of the date of this order and shall submit a second report within 200 days of the date of this order.

(g)  It is the policy of the executive branch that, to the extent permitted by law and as practicable, State and local jurisdictions be granted a role in the process of determining the placement or settlement in their jurisdictions of aliens eligible to be admitted to the United States as refugees.  To that end, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall examine existing law to determine the extent to which, consistent with applicable law, State and local jurisdictions may have greater involvement in the process of determining the placement or resettlement of refugees in their jurisdictions, and shall devise a proposal to lawfully promote such involvement.

Sec. 6.  Rescission of Exercise of Authority Relating to the Terrorism Grounds of Inadmissibility The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall, in consultation with the Attorney General, consider rescinding the exercises of authority in section 212 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182, relating to the terrorism grounds of inadmissibility, as well as any related implementing memoranda.

Sec. 7.  Expedited Completion of the Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System.  (a)  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States, as recommended by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

(b)  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit to the President periodic reports on the progress of the directive contained in subsection (a) of this section.  The initial report shall be submitted within 100 days of the date of this order, a second report shall be submitted within 200 days of the date of this order, and a third report shall be submitted within 365 days of the date of this order.  Further, the Secretary shall submit a report every 180 days thereafter until the system is fully deployed and operational.

Sec. 8.  Visa Interview Security.  (a)  The Secretary of State shall immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program and ensure compliance with section 222 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1222, which requires that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions.

(b)  To the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, the Secretary of State shall immediately expand the Consular Fellows Program, including by substantially increasing the number of Fellows, lengthening or making permanent the period of service, and making language training at the Foreign Service Institute available to Fellows for assignment to posts outside of their area of core linguistic ability, to ensure that non-immigrant visa-interview wait times are not unduly affected.

Sec. 9.  Visa Validity Reciprocity.  The Secretary of State shall review all nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are, with respect to each visa classification, truly reciprocal insofar as practicable with respect to validity period and fees, as required by sections 221(c) and 281 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1201(c) and 1351, and other treatment.  If a country does not treat United States nationals seeking nonimmigrant visas in a reciprocal manner, the Secretary of State shall adjust the visa validity period, fee schedule, or other treatment to match the treatment of United States nationals by the foreign country, to the extent practicable.

Sec. 10.  Transparency and Data Collection(a)  To be more transparent with the American people, and to more effectively implement policies and practices that serve the national interest, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, shall, consistent with applicable law and national security, collect and make publicly available within 180 days, and every 180 days thereafter:

(i)   information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; convicted of terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; or removed from the United States based on terrorism-related activity, affiliation, or material support to a terrorism-related organization, or any other national security reasons since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later;

(ii)   information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been radicalized after entry into the United States and engaged in terrorism-related acts, or who have provided material support to terrorism-related organizations in countries that pose a threat to the United States, since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later; and

(iii)  information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including honor killings, in the United States by foreign nationals, since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later; and

(iv)   any other information relevant to public safety and security as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General, including information on the immigration status of foreign nationals charged with major offenses.

(b)  The Secretary of State shall, within one year of the date of this order, provide a report on the estimated long-term costs of the USRAP at the Federal, State, and local levels.

Sec. 11.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

 

Update: January 29, 2017

The NY Times reports that:

On Saturday night, a federal judge in Brooklyn blocked part of Mr. Trump’s order, saying that refugees and others being held at airports across the United States should not be sent back to their home countries. But the judge stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s actions. Federal judges in three states — Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington — soon issued similar rulings to stop the government from removing refugees and others with valid visas. The judge in Massachusetts also said the government could not detain the travelers.

On Sunday morning, the Department of Homeland Security said it would comply with the rulings while it continued to enforce all of the president’s executive orders. “Prohibited travel will remain prohibited,” it said in a statement.

Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, said on Sunday that green card holders from the seven banned countries would not be prevented from returning to the United States “going forward.” That appeared to be a reversal from one of the order’s key components.

Mr. Priebus also said that border agents had “discretionary authority” to subject any travelers, including American citizens, to additional questioning and scrutiny if they had been to any of the seven countries mentioned in the executive order. [Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration: What We Know and What We Don’t – The New York Times]

Yaron Brook’s “Four Separations”

Dr. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute lists four things he would amend if he “had the opportunity to rewrite the Constitution.”

From Glenn Has Incredible Interview About Economic Freedom With Yaron Brook – Glenn Beck:

Well, I have four separations that I would put into the Constitution: Separation of state from ideas. I don’t think government should be in the business of ideas. Religion is one set of ideas. I think it should be separate. But I think generally the government is there to protect our rights. Period. Full stop. That’s it.

If you want to be a communist under a free society, that’s okay. Get your friends together, go start a commune, be pathetic and miserable in that commune, to each according to his — from each according to his ability, each according to his means. As long as you’re not opposing it on people, you can do your own thing in a free society. That’s the beauty of freedom.

Separation of state from economics. The government has no economic policy. There shouldn’t be a Treasury Department, in the sense that there is today. Economic advisers. Central planning doesn’t work. It doesn’t work big. It doesn’t work small. It just doesn’t work, and it’s immoral. It’s wrong for the government to impose their values on us as individuals. So it’s morally offensive, and it’s economically stupid.

Separation of state from education. State has no role in education. And the reason our educational system is breaking down is, as corrupt and awful as it is, particularly in the inner cities, particularly for poor people — everybody is always concerned. When they say privatize education, what will happen with the poor kids? Well, it can’t be worse than it is today with these poor kids, right? Think about the educational quality they’re getting from a public educational system. So I’d like to privatize the whole system and get the government out of it. One of my disagreements with Thomas Jefferson is over the University of Virginia and the idea that the state should be involved in education.

And fourth is separation of state from science. Let’s get the state out of science so that we can have scientists unincentivized by government grants and politics and all of that, decide about global warming, about stem cells. Left and right, when government intervenes in science, it corrupts the science.

Read the whole interview at Glenn Beck.

America Cannot Become Great Again By “Protectionism”

America Cannot Become Great Again By “Protectionism”

George F. Will highlights two important principles on productivity and protectionism, in A plan to make America 1953 again – The Washington Post:

1. Productivity Improvements Mean Less Workers Are Necessary

Since 1900, the portion of the U.S. workforce in agriculture has declined from 41 percent to less than 2 percent. Output per remaining farmer and per acre has soared since millions of agricultural workers made the modernization trek from farms to more productive employment in city factories. Was this trek regrettable?

[…] According to a Ball State University study, of the 5.6 million manufacturing jobs lost between 2000 and 2010, trade accounted for 13 percent of job losses and productivity improvements accounted for more than 85 percent: “Had we kept 2000-levels of productivity and applied them to 2010-levels of production, we would have required 20.9 million manufacturing workers [in 2010]. Instead, we employed only 12.1 million.” Is this regrettable? China, too, is shedding manufacturing jobs because of productivity improvements.

2. “Protecting” Particular Companies From More Efficient Producers Decreases Jobs In Unprotected Industries (Shifts Unemployment)

Levinson notes that Ronald Reagan imposed “voluntary restraints” on Japanese automobile exports, thereby creating 44,100 U.S. jobs. But the cost to consumers was $8.5 billion in higher prices, or $193,000 per job created, six times the average annual pay of a U.S. autoworker. And there were job losses in sectors of the economy into which the $8.5 billion of consumer spending could not flow.

[…] In 2012, Barack Obama boasted that “over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires.” But this cost about $900,000 per job, paid by American purchasers of vehicles and tires. And the Peterson Institute for International Economics says that this money taken from consumers reduced their spending on other retail goods, bringing the net job loss from the job-saving tire tariffs to about 2,500. And this was before China imposed retaliatory duties on U.S. chicken parts, costing the U.S. industry $1 billion in sales. Imports of low-end tires from Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico and elsewhere largely replaced Chinese imports.

In the long run, the best way to create real jobs, that raise the standard of living, is a free-market.

“Protecting” particular domestic sectors from foreign competition ends up punishing other Americans on the whole with higher prices, less jobs and a reduced standard of living.

The Syrian War Condensed

Interesting analysis: The Syrian War Condensed: A More Rigorous Way to Look at the Conflict.

The author compares the Assad Syrian Baathist regime to the alternative of the “moderate Rebel’s” anything-but-moderate Islamofascism, and wonders how the Regressive Left that is “mourning the defeat of the rebels in Aleppo” can be “that stupid?”

The Assad regime is by no means benign, but cheering the overthrow of it with something worse is no solution.

Central Dictatorship vs. Individual Planning

Brian Phillips has an excellent post on Houston’s success because of its’ lack of zoning. Writes Phillips in Planning Versus the Central Planner:

What they are really denouncing is the fact that Houston has developed without a central planner. […]Houston’s development has been guided by millions of plans and visions. Each individual has his own plan and vision. Through the lack of zoning, Houston has protected the freedom of its residents to pursue their personal plans and visions. The critics resent the fact that Houstonians have this freedom.

The entire post is worth a read.

Ayn Rand Is Not Coming to the White House, but Donald Trump Sure Could Use Her

IRVINE, Calif., Dec. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Washington Post recently stated that several of Donald Trump’s appointees are fans of Ayn Rand, the novelist-philosopher most famous for her 1957 best-seller Atlas Shrugged.

“It’s a testament to Ayn Rand’s impact that a president can’t fill a cabinet with successful business leaders without including people who’ve been inspired and influenced by Rand’s heroic depiction of entrepreneurs and innovators,” says Ayn Rand Institute senior fellow Onkar Ghate, author of the essay “One Small Step for Dictatorship: The Significance of Donald Trump’s Election.”

Ghate goes on to note that it’s important to keep in mind that none of Trump’s picks claim to be adherents of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. “Rand called herself a radical for capitalism. A cabinet filled with appointees who embraced her worldview would have a very different agenda than this administration is likely to have.”

What would an Ayn Rand agenda look like? According to Ghate: “One thing you can be sure of: it wouldn’t focus merely on rolling back some of the controls and redistribution programs of the Obama era. It would focus on liberating us from the regulatory-welfare state and moving America forward—toward a government devoted to safeguarding individual rights.”

Obama’s Autocratic Parting “Gifts” For The Trump Aministration

Writes Kimberley A. Strassel on Obama’s Midnight Regulation Express – WSJ:

1. Obama Administration is “actively working to undermine a Donald Trump presidency.”

Unnamed administration sources whisper stories about Russian hackers to delegitimize Mr. Trump’s election. […] Trump transition-team members report how Obama officials are providing them with skewed or incomplete information […] Sen. Ron Johnson recently sent a letter to President Obama voicing alarm over “burrowing,” in which political appointees, late in an administration, convert to career bureaucrats and become obstacles to the new political appointees.

2. Obama Administration is issuing a “final flurry” of midnight regulations (“one issued between Election Day and the inauguration of a new president.”)

This past week we learned of several sweeping new rules from the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, including regs on methane on public lands (cost: $2.4 billion); a new anti-coal rule related to streams ($1.2 billion) and renewable fuel standards ($1.5 billion). This follows Mr. Obama’s extraordinary announcement that he will invoke a dusty old law to place nearly all of the Arctic Ocean, and much of the Atlantic Ocean, off limits to oil or gas drilling. This follows his highly politicized move to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota. And it comes amid reports the administration is rushing to implement last-minute rules on commodities speculation, immigrant workers and for-profit colleges—among others.

3. Trump Administration should repeal every “midnight regulation.”

Trump is No Ayn Rand Hero

Trump is No Ayn Rand Hero

The writers at The Washington Post would have us believe that Donald Trump’s cabinet picks resemble heroes from the pages of Ayn Rand’s novels (“The Daily 202: Ayn Rand-acolyte Donald Trump stacks his cabinet with fellow objectivists“).

As a best-selling novelist and philosopher, Ayn Rand authored both fiction (Atlas Shrugged, We The Living, and The Fountainhead) and non-fiction (Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Philosophy: Who Needs It, and The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism) books. If one actually reads Ayn Rand’s books one discovers that Trump would be a villain (perhaps a minor villain, but a villain none the less).

Most people are aware of Trump’s beliefs, but, what of Ayn Rand’s?

 

What did Ayn Rand believe?

Observe:

  • Ayn Rand was an advocate of free trade between free countries (unilateral if necessary). Quoting Rand: “The essence of capitalism’s foreign policy is free trade—i.e., the abolition of trade barriers, of protective tariffs, of special privileges—the opening of the world’s trade routes to free international exchange and competition among the private citizens of all countries dealing directly with one another.” In her view, countries to not trade, but actual people do.
  • Ayn Rand was for liberal immigration, especially for productive individuals (she would have no limits on H-1B visas). As an immigrant, under Trump’s policies, she would probably have died in a Socialist Russia concentration camp rather than coming to the U.S.
  • Ayn Rand was a principled defender of free speech for both corporations speaking against statist policies, and misguided college students burning flags, as neither are violating the rights of anyone. Quoting Rand: “The communists and the Nazis are merely two variants of the same evil notion: collectivism. But both should be free to speak—evil ideas are dangerous only by default of men advocating better ideas.”
  • Ayn Rand was a fiery opponent of racism which she regarded as a species of collectivism, that — like fascism and communism — unjustly benefits the chosen group at the expense of individual rights.
  • Ayn Rand was an uncompromising defender of a women’s right to abortion who would make feminists blush. Quoting Rand: “Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?”
  • Ayn Rand was a non-militant atheist, who was philosophically for reason as opposed to religious faith (“blind belief, belief unsupported by, or contrary to, the facts of reality and the conclusions of reason”) which she regarded as the “negation of reason.”
  • Ayn Rand was an advocate of the separation of church and state.
  • Ayn Rand was an advocate of voluntary trade for mutual gain and benefit in both material and spiritual values. Quoting from Atlas Shrugged: “The principle of trade is the only rational ethical principle for all human relationships, personal and social, private and public, spiritual and material. It is the principle of justice.” She correctly observed that such a voluntary trade is a win-win situation.
  • Ayn Rand was for the sanctity of property rights and would have nothing but contempt for Trump’s securing property via eminent domain. Quoting Ayn Rand: “The right to life is the source of all rights—and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.”
  • Ayn Rand was a radical for laissez-faire capitalism. She even published a non-fiction book of essays on the subject called Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Quoting Rand: “Capitalism has created the highest standard of living ever known on earth. The evidence is incontrovertible. The contrast between West and East Berlin is the latest demonstration, like a laboratory experiment for all to see. Yet those who are loudest in proclaiming their desire to eliminate poverty are loudest in denouncing capitalism. Man’s well-being is not their goal.”

The Post piece does mention these views occasionally, but takes no time to explore them and “connect the dots.” At other times The Post makes patently false claims, such as, “Roark, the character Trump says he identifies with, rapes a woman in The Fountainhead,” when in fact, Ayn Rand described that scene as a “rape by engraved invitation,” i.e., consensual sex.

 

Ayn Rand was a philosopher advocating the supremacy of reason

Today Ayn Rand is recognized as the philosopher who revolutionized Aristotle’s nature based, egoistic philosophy for life in the 20th century. (Those interested in a comprehensive academic treatment of Rand’s corpus should peruse A Companion to Ayn Rand (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy.)

Ayn Rand named her philosophy Objectivism and she described it as follows: “My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that…”

  1. Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
  2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
  3. Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
  4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

Ayn Rand did not view individual rights as self-evident; rather, the concept of individual rights flowed from the fact that one’s survival and flourishing (life) in a social context requires the equal freedom to act by one’s mind (reason). Or, in her words:

“I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows. This—the supremacy of reason—was, is and will be the primary concern of my work, and the essence of Objectivism.”

 

Ayn Rand was the 20th century’s greatest advocate of freedom

In Rand’s view, there are only two ways people can deal with each other: by force (physical coercion) or reason (peaceful persuasion). The job of government is to use the first to protect the second. Rand regarded individual rights not as permissions to be regulated at government whim, but as inalienable. Government’s role is to protect individual rights by banning the initiation (starting) of physical force (which is the only way rights can be violated).

Ayn Rand’s opposition to government coercion is why those associated with the Alt-Right, and the equally bigoted Regressive-Left, despise and defame Ayn Rand: their vision of a government regulated world requires the threat and initiation of physical force by the state. Both the Alt-Right and the Regressive-Left regard rights as alienable privileges to be violated and dispensed with as their ideology sees fit. To the Alt-Right and Regressive Left, Ayn Rand is a mortal enemy.

 

Objectivists would regard Trump’s ideology as perverting his “good” policy positions

This is not to say that Rand, would oppose all of Trump’s policy positions, but it is enough to show that Trump’s cabinet is not Objectivist.

Writes resident philosopher at the Ayn Rand Institute Onkar Ghate on Trump’s victory in his essay, “One Small Step for Dictatorship“:

“A Trump administration, if viewed out of the full context, may even enact some measures others and I would regard as positive, including improvements to the tax code and replacement of Obamacare with something less harmful. But it will be in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons. And even at this concrete level of policy, the Republican control of the presidency, the House and the Senate should give anyone pause who is concerned about, say, the campaign’s demonization of immigrants and of trade or the attempt to impose a Christian variant of Sharia law.”

 

Being an Atlas Shrugged fan does not make one an Objectivist

Reading Atlas Shrugged does not make one an Objectivist any more than reading the Koran makes one a radical for Islam. How the Washington Post conflates Donald Trump’s anti-freedom policies with Ayn Rand’s philosophy boggles the mind. In their list of Trump cabinet picks, there is one real Ayn Rand hero — former BB&T CEO John Allison — whom Trump rejected.

If one wishes to know what an actual Objectivist thinks of Trump’s electoral victory study Dr. Ghate’s essay; and if one wants to grasp Ayn Rand’s ideas in their totality there is no better book then Leonard Peikoff’s Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. One does not have to agree with the arguments in Dr. Peikoff’s book, but at least one will not be attacking a straw man. Only then can an honest, intelligent discussion of Ayn Rand’s benevolent, life-enhancing, human “philosophy for living on earth” begin.

 

What Freedom Sounds Like: Pence on “Hamilton Gate”

Pence attended the hit Broadway show Hamilton on Friday. He received a mixed reception from the audience that included some booing, and during the curtain call the cast had a message for him saying, “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.” Donald Trump was upset and tweeted that the cast should apologize, but Pence told Wallace he loved the show and “wasn’t offended by what was said.” He acknowledged the booing mixed in with the cheering when he arrived, but said his reaction at the time was to tell his daughter, “That’s what freedom sounds like.”

We may not be Pence fans, and don’t agree with many of his views, but Pence acted Presidential.

Hopefully the President elect can learn from this.

Radicals for Capitalism

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