Deconstructing Liberal Theory and Practice

Time to make another entry to my “Very Short Blogroll” on the left-side column. I’m honored to introduce Keith Burgess-Jackson, JD, PhD. He’s a licensed attorney in both Michigan and Arizona, and currently a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas. I’ve been reading his blog, on and off, for a few months and I find his depth on the general subject matter of philosophy, politics, and ethics to be noteworthy. He comes up with some very compelling and thought-provoking ideas. He’s a former liberal and socialist himself, and so speaks with some authority on what he considers wrong-headed with respect to liberal ideology. He’s also far more polite, charitable and patient in characterizing his philosophical opponents than am I. To wit, read here his post on liberal entitlement. Here’s an excerpt. Liberals think that the means to world peace is negotiation (conciliation, compromise). No conservative opposes world peace. But not all conflicts are resolvable through negotiation, for that requires rational, self-interested agents. Our enemies today—radical Muslims—are irrational, at least by Western standards. They value destruction of their enemies more than their own lives or the lives of their loved ones. How do you negotiate with someone who is...

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The Ambulance Chaser

In complete betrayal of the title to this post, this article gives a much more civil assessment of John Edward's "career" as a blood-sucking parasite than I ever could. (link via AnalPhilosopher)

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The Candidate for Vice-Hypocrite

Well, I’m behind. I should be posting about the other guy, but first things first. I was going to write a summary of Edward’s speech; then I realized that someone already wrote the Legend of Robin Hood—you know—the “virtue” of stealing from the rich to give to the poor. That will suffice. I will say that it must be ironic to all but zombies to listen to a speech themed on “Two Americas” (class envy and warfare, for those in need of a clue) and have it conclude by excoriating his opponent for engaging in divisive politics. Anyway, I caught wind of this gem, all facts easily verifiable, and it just so clearly illustrates the deep dishonesty and hypocrisy of the man. Is he the only one? No, certainly not; he’s just the one in my sights right now. But I also doubt there’s anyone more hypocritical. Some excerpts: Turns out the senior Tarheel senator is a double beneficiary of alleged drug-company misdemeanors. On the campaign trail he gets to bray about the injustice of it all, and back home he collects the dividends of "price gouging" and adds them to his considerable net worth. Edwards has been a fairly...

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A Point of Order

Just stop using the word “democratic” in an improper and loaded manner already. Next time someone says “democratic party,” ask them which one they mean, the Democrat Party or the Republican Party. When they talk about the “democratic convention,” inquire as to whether they are talking about the one being put on by the Democrats or the one to be put on by the Republicans. Listen, I’m no big fan of democracy. It’s just the tyranny of the majority over the minority rather than other forms of tyranny. Even still, words mean things, so use them properly. Out.

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Michael Moore vs. Bill O’Reilly

Well, this is what you get when you're a blowhard with no sound foundation. O'Reilly, sometimes entertaining as host of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, is shallow in terms of political philosophy. And that came out in spades during last night's interview with Michael Moore. He deserved to be embarrassed as he should be after that performance. Bill: when someone confronts you with a moral argument, the thing to do is examine the moral being appealed to and deal with that. You don't counter it with an even stupider moral argument. I saw only the last bit of the interview last night, but it was enough to see that O'Reilly was ill equipped. It was jaw dropping (close quotes): Moore: So, Bill, would you send your neighbor's children to secure Fallujah? O'Reilly: No, I'd send myself instead. Here is Moore making a fallacious moral argument, but a "good sounding" one to people inept at thinking in principles, but who think they can nonetheless. 1. They aren't Bill's "children" to send. 2. We don't enlist the service of children in the U.S. armed forces. Those who enlist or accept a commission do so of their own volition (which, incidentally, I did...

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Because We’re Fair & Balanced Too

Here, I essentially called Teresa Heinz Kerry, the candidate for First Lady, a whore. Look: she marries into money and when she finally inherits it, promptly goes about spending it in ways her Republican Senator husband John Heinz would not have approved*, and I don't mean closets full of shoes and clothes. She's giving it away to charities that espouse beliefs radically contrary to those of the one who left her the money. That's just trampling on his grave, as far as I'm concerned. And if that's not bad enough, she marries yet another Senator, but this time one who is the absolute farthest to the left of any Senator in office and now proceeds to use her inherited wealth, and the influence it buys, to go even farther against what her late husband would have wished for, making a mockery of him in front of the whole country. I think it's disgusting. I know nothing about John Heinz, only that his memory and reputation are irrevocably besmirched. Kim du Toit has a different take that showcases his South African heritage and is far more amusing than mine. * (He should have been more careful setting up the trusts.)

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Teresa, Tereas, Teresa

When married to Republican Senator John Heinz, heir to the Heinz fortune which she inherited, I believe that Teresa Heinz was speaking from her heart when she called Democrat politics “putrid” and Ted Kennedy a “perfect bastard.” But let’s get beyond the whoring. She’s not the first, nor will she be the last woman to spread her legs for the sake of power. To wit, Hillary spoke last evening. I’m actually sitting here watching her speech as I write this. She’s no dummy. That’s clear. She’s thoughtful. But that’s just it. She just spoke her bit about Galileo, Cassini, and Hubble, and other such things. Did anyone notice the silence and blank stares in the audience? I’ll leave it to readers to gather just why that is. And what was that bit about the Peace Corps, for Christ’s sake—while we have troops in conflict overseas?

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A Conciliatory Post

I thought that in view of how tough I normally am on the politicians, and it’s opening day of the Democrat Party Convention, I’d post the top ten reasons the Democrats give for ousting Bush. See how many you agree with. 1. Bush is destroying workers rights and outsourcing jobs instead of protecting the right to organize and creating new jobs rebuilding schools, bridges, roads and hospitals. 2. Bush is privatizing Medicare, Social Security and public education with phony reforms instead of enacting health care for all, protecting retirement funds and full funding for public education through college. 3. Bush is bankrupting the Federal Government with giant tax cuts for the very rich and super-funds to the military instead of securing the budget for human needs by taxing the rich and spending on human needs. 4. Bush is rolling back civil rights gains instead of enforcing and expanding affirmative action to end racism in all areas of life. 5. Bush is curtailing women's rights and choice by undermining Roe v. Wade instead of upholding the right to choice and ending the gender wage gap. 6. Bush is abusing immigrant workers in low-wage jobs instead of providing a clear path to...

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Tying up Loose Ends and Other Reflections on Values and Principles

My wife, Beatrice, and I are down here in Moreno Valley, CA, near Riverside visiting with her parents. A couple of years ago, I finally talked them into getting DSL (for not totally unselfish reasons). But; they love it. Yesterday, in another act not completely unselfish, I installed a wireless router. Now I can sit in their nice backyard and stay connected with the office VPN. I told them that there’s now one less excuse for any of their workaholic kids and grandkids not to visit. Just have them bring their wireless enabled notebook computers and they’ll be all set. So, we’re getting ready to go out to a movie last night and while waiting to go, I pop in and read this tidbit from Greg Swann. “Shit!” Now I just know that when non-libertarians read this, they’re going to think I’m advocating some new set of laws to enable those with concealed carry permits to carry a gun wherever they please. Anyone who’s a consistent advocate of freedom over politics and “sound public policy” can see that the NRA is stupid and foolish to engage in the kind demagoguery that the leftist, alphabet soup “advocacy groups” engage in; AARP,...

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Vive la Lance

Does everyone grasp what an accomplishment this is? Can anyone think of any other modern, world-class sporting event where a team or individual has prevailed not only six times, but six times consecutively? Amazing!

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You’re Fired

That was a week ago. Today at 3pm we reviewed the projects again in preparation for wrap-up meetings. Again I got some great feedback on my performance and for creating these great new opportunities, and then my boss's boss came in and said "I'm sorry, we're going to have to let you go". He in fact wanted to have me escorted off the premises immediately. He actually looked frightened of me and left the room quickly. My boss said he would stay with me while I copied my personal files and cleaned out my stuff. We talked for a good hour about what had happened. He confessed to me, again off the record, unofficial etc... that his boss has been afraid of me for months, and when the decision had been made etc... He said that his boss was honestly afraid I would pull out a gun and shoot him. An excerpt from a reader’s email to Kim du Toit, explaining how he was fired from a company after it was discovered that he lawfully carries a concealed gun while off the job. Kim deals with this topic exhaustively. I’d just like to point out that at the company I...

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Jesus is Coming Again, and Man is He Pissed!

I must admit to complete ignorance of what I now learn are the top selling books in the country amongst adults, the "Left Behind" series of evangelical thrillers. My, oh my; what a frightful world we live in. At any rate, Virginia Postrel, the former editor of Reason Magazine has an apt analysis, I think. In all these ways, Kristof is indeed unfair. But his outsider's eye does raise a serious question that evangelicals seem never to ask themselves: Why would you worship such a God? What makes you think a deity who would consign righteous unbelievers (or even bad guys) to never-ending torture--a bully who makes the most vicious dictator look like a nice guy--deserves adoration and praise? Do you really believe this stuff? Would you believe it if you hadn't heard it all your life? Indeed.

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I Stand Accused

Ok, after yesterday's post here, I stand accused of dislike and disgust of Democrats. If only it were that simple. While I despise what the Democrat party stands for in most cases, people are far more complex than their political parties—fortunately, I might add. I also think that the Republicans are stupid cowards who continually make needless compromises. How do I boil it down to its most essential form? You, and most others, believe that you have the authority to get yourselves together and decide how my life is going to be, and then enforce your edicts upon me, at gunpoint, if necessary. You're going to decide what sorts of values are appropriate and not appropriate for me, what relative priorities they will hold, and how much or how little I'm going to pay for them. You're going to tell me whom I can and can't do business with, and then, you're going to determine the terms of our contracts instead of we who are parties to those contracts. To top it off, you're going to compel me to pay for this little exercise of yours under threat of imprisonment. You call it government. I call it tyranny. The only...

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The Sweet Smell of Justice

Looks like washed-up singer Linda Ronstadt has been taught a lesson here, and here. Nice. Update: Greg Swann has exactly the right take on this.

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Carts Before Horses

I'm asked, in reference to this, if It's not just the economics of employee retention that causes me act as I do with reference to pay and benefits. I was just talking with my General Manager and Controller about this very thing this morning. It's both, really. There's the goodwill, plus the business economics that indicate it's usually the best strategy because turnover and training can be very costly as well. I've always believed that this business could be done with reasonable benefits to employees. I also recognize that all industries are different, and I don't suppose to second-guess the business requirements of others, which is a peripheral reason for why I'm against any form of regulatory control over offering benefits of any kind, minimum wages, or working conditions. The market is perfectly suited to determine these things--not to mention that the government telling me what I can and can't do with my business, or taxing my business, is theft--but that's another subject altogether. But none of this really addresses my original point either, from the post cited above. Philanthropists are always hailed as great benefactors of society, especially if they didn't earn the money themselves; like an heir who...

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Teresa Heinz Kerry Philanthropy

I received an email today extolling the virtues of Teresa Heinz Kerry's philanthropy, which I have no beef with, per se. She inherited the fortune, and it's hers to do with as she pleases. So, here's my retort: Isn't this whole philanthropic thing a bit overblown? I mean, I understand why it's done, which has a little to do with uplifting humanity and a lot to do with prestige, legacy, and in some cases, just something to keep one busy. If uplifting humanity were the only goal, then philanthropic giving is a pretty stupid way to do it, because you do far more good investing the money in the economy, such as stocks, bonds, venture capital, etc. That puts the money to work and keeps it growing and working, doing good. I wrote a check today for about $11,000 to our insurance company. It's to pay the medical coverage for our employees. That check goes out every month. There's another $10,000 that goes to Social Security benefits (employer contribution) each month. Payroll is about $130,000 each month. This provides a reasonable living for about 30 people or so, and their families. But I'm just a greedy profiteer, making my way...

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Umpteenth Annual Festival of Freeflight

Well, this is about 2 weeks late. I’d wanted to post something about my 4th of July weekend up in the high desert of Lakeview, Oregon. Out of the last six years, I’ve made it to the Festival five times and my wife has been with me four of those times. It’s truly a very enjoyable time. Never have we pre-arranged with anyone to be there at the same time, and yet, each year, we’ll always run into lots of old friends in the hang gliding world, some of whom we might have not crossed paths with in months or years. I don’t get to fly anywhere near as much as I used to, so I was both really looking forward to this, and apprehensive as well. As anyone who pilots any type of aircraft will tell you, frequent flying keeps you proficient. It had been about 8 months since my last flight. Foot launching a hang glider down the slope of a mountain is a very precise and completely unnatural skill to master. You must judge when the time is right, ensure that your wings are properly balanced with lift (assuming a wind up the slope), and commit. When...

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Bush V. NAACP

Below is a relavent exerpt from this link: On July 8, 2004, CNN ran the story that President Bush declined the NAACP offer to speak at its convention, becoming the first president since Herbert Hoover to do so. The President's team lamented the strained relationship between the president and the leadership of the NAACP. This is an understatement. While President Bush increased the Ryan White Care Act AIDS Drug Assistance Program funding 41% during his administration, which exponentially increased the number of impoverished Americans with AIDS to receive medical help...we heard nothing from the NAACP. When President Bush proposed a $450 million program to mentor urban middle school students and children of prisoners...we heard nothing from the NAACP. President Bush has appointed the first African American Secretary of State and National Security Advisor. Still nothing from the NAACP except scorn. What we have heard is vehemence unmatched in recent history by the NAACP spokesmen and leaders, against this president, against the Iraq war, and against this administration. The outrage in virtually every media outlet after the President declined the invitation was, for me, hypocritical. So, let me get this straight. Bush picks my pockets in a brazen effort to garner...

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Let’s Lynch Martha Stewart

Hey, Brian Sussman (filling in for Lee Rodgers), Melanie Morgan, and Officer Vic: Great job this morning on your KSFO 560 morning show. The way you all chortled with glee at Martha’s demise and ridiculed her every second of exposure before the cameras was in the highest tradition of lynch-mob “justice.” Good for you. Better than that, you really drove home the idea that Martha Stewart is nothing more than a greedy bitch who got to where she is only by riding on the productive yet exploited backs of others, and thus, so richly deserves everything she now has coming to her. It’s very good to know that we can count on you conservative republicans the next time the envy parade comes through town to sweep up the next mega jobs-&-values producer. Clearly, when that comes to pass, you’ll be no more surprised than I, but obviously for different reasons. You pipsqueaks and clowns are disgusting. This illustrates the sort of hypocrisy, stupidity, and cowardice republicans can be so famous for. How is it that you can seem to grasp the principle that morality trumps legality when it comes to your sacred texts, but you can’t grasp it when it...

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So, Whad’ya Think?

…About the new banner, up top? I was never really satisfied with the old one, nor with the tagline. Then, I recently came across the Da Vinci quote and just had to incorporate it, somehow. The background is actually a cropped section of a Da Vinci sketch, which I then subjected to Adobe Photoshop and messed around with the hue and saturation. No disrespect to Leonardo intended. You can see the original here, at the Metropolitan Museum’s website. It’s the one in the upper right corner, which you can click to enlarge. The caption reads: Cataclysmic Storm Striking a Landscape with a Cavalry. Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci, 1452–Cloux, 1519). Charcoal or soft black chalk reworked with pen and golden and dark brown ink, brush and brown wash, on cream-color paper smudged gray in many parts with charcoal; small traces of white gouache highlights on group at lower right; 266 x 409 mm (10 1/2 x 16 1/8 in.) maximum; lower left corner cropped. Lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Royal Library, Windsor Castle 12376. (Cat. no. 115). Well, since my blog deals in large part with the downright insanity in politics, culture, and civil society that I witness on...

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