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Monday, October 18, 2004 - 1:24amSanction this postReply
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The article Mr Machan has linked to below is a must-read. Unfortunately, the end section seems to have dropped off, and it stops at the very graf which has already shot to instant internet fame:

(Ron Suskind writes)
>In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do..."

(end quote)

- Daniel




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Post 1

Monday, October 18, 2004 - 7:42amSanction this postReply
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Daniel - Ron Suskind is a Democratic partisan who is never troubled by the concepts of reportorial accuracy or objective reality.

Adam- If I had a less busy day, I would write a more detailed critique of your article, but please just allow me a few quick observations:
1) First off, relying on the word of Leonard Peikoff on something two (undoubted "divine revelation") Objectivists told him about something an FDA official said that some Bush executive told him is..well, charitably put... insane.
2) With all due respect, I have seldomly seen a more perfect example of screwed-up political priorities and misinformation than what you have presented in this article. Where do I start?
a) To put forth the Democratic party as the defender of some sort of Neo Liberalism requires an almost admirable ability to ignore facts. The only reason welfare reform, balanced budgets and other positive developments occurred in the 90's is the coming together of the Republican sweep in 1994 and the fact that Bill Clinton has no defining political principle other than the election of candidates whose name is Clinton.
b) I am not a fan of Mr. Bush's religion, but do you honestly think that the next four years are going to result in a fundamentalist Christian takeover of America? Adam, you have to put your pen down and get out into the world more often.
c) Can you seriously tell me that you don't side with Bush's belief that America must lead the War on Terror vs. Kerry's belief that the United Nations should direct a police action against terrorists, unless, of course, they are trying to bring down the corrupt state of Israel?
d) Do you really think that the cause of Neo Liberalism will be better advanced by a man who has sworn to "tax the rich", fight any effort to privatize anything, and plans a 1.5 trillion socialist medicare program, rather than a man who has cut taxes three times and plans a tax overhaul and believes in an ownership society where private elements are introduced into social security and medical care?
ADAM!



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Monday, October 18, 2004 - 7:46amSanction this postReply
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Deleted by author
(Edited by Irfan Khawaja on 10/19, 3:42pm)




Post 3

Monday, October 18, 2004 - 10:20amSanction this postReply
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Mr. Reed is the master of parody. Very funny – I enjoyed it. I especially like the credit given to Mr. Clinton. But the best punch line is: “Kerry's political concepts belong to modernity and the enlightenment.” Paging Dr. Kelley!



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Monday, October 18, 2004 - 10:31amSanction this postReply
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James,

Yes, I do "get out into the world" quite often, and Bush's theocratic regime has already had an enormously tragic impact on persons whom I value. I've limited myself, in my article, to similar events that have been openly reported on the Web, in order to respect the privacy of those close to me. Please follow the links.

Leonard Peikoff has a better record of accuracy, than some participants in this website whom you have endorsed. In the light of what happened to Plan B - a product that is known to be, with objective certainty, completely safe and effective, banned from the open market by Bush's FDA on theocratic whim - I find Peikoff's report 100% credible.

I am aware of Kerry's campaign statements, which are identical to those Clinton made in the analogous context. I also remember what happened to "Hilarycare" and so on after the election. Reality, James.

As for your allegation that Bush "cut taxes three times" - that is, to re-use what Searle said about Derrida, "the kind of bullshit that gives bullshit a bad name." Financing pork with deficits robs the taxpayer thrice: first by removing capital from productive investment, second by debasing the currency, and third by eventually repaying, or more likely defaulting on, the "National Debt." To call it "tax cuts" is an exercise in post-modernism.

And, when it comes from a purveyor of such post-modern bullshit, to be called "screwed-up" and "insane" is a positive compliment.

JAMES!

(Edited by Adam Reed on 10/18, 11:19am)




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Monday, October 18, 2004 - 10:38amSanction this postReply
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To Rick Zuma:

I again disclaim the serious-humorous dichotomy.



Post 6

Monday, October 18, 2004 - 10:41amSanction this postReply
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Well, I enjoyed your article Adam. I have no love for Kerry or Bush, and have yet to vote for a major party candidate. This year I'll vote for Kerry. The congress will likely remain in Republican hands, which will put them at odds with most of Kerry's socialist BS, much the same as it did with Clinton's. Ensuing gridlock will prevent outrageous spending. Here's to more government shut-downs!



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Monday, October 18, 2004 - 11:13amSanction this postReply
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Irfan,

Re Korea, you ask me, "what policies do you mean in the first sentence?" Bush's tariff on South Korean steel, as I wrote in the rest of the paragraph. That is why it was the first sentence. I know that you are pressed for time, but if you have time to respond you should first have time to read what you are responding to.

Re Iraq, I was not writing about Kerry's campaign posture, but about what Kerry would probably do if he won. Kerry, unlike Bush, listens to professionals who may know more than he does, and changes his mind on evidence. I agree that Iraq, even if fifth on the list of threats, could have been a useful first step if it were used to bring down the rest. But this requires repudiation of Saddam's debt, and privatizing Iraq's economy. And Bush, beholden as he is to the Saudi theocracy, can't do that. Kerry could. I wrote how.
(Edited by Adam Reed on 10/18, 11:16am)




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Monday, October 18, 2004 - 6:15amSanction this postReply
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Adam there is much I can't follow in this commentary.


Adam: "While still paying a quota of lip service to limited government at election time, in practice the Republican administration of George W. Bush has returned to the religious and national-collectivist roots of the nineteenth-century conservative opponents of classical liberalism."

Me: Strong words, Adam. Apart from stating his faith, (which any vote hungry presidential candidate will do), what evidence is there for this in the actions of the admin?

Adam: "One horrid but predictable Bush intervention into medicine is based directly on the Christianist idea that suffering is a gift from God, and must be accepted as a sign of grace."

Me: Again Adam where is the evidence for this? It sounds like a good soundbite but where is that statement of yours evidenced?

Adam: "In the most egregious case Dr Thomas Butler, whose invention of oral rehydration therapy for diarrhea in the 1970s saved literally millions of lives, was sentenced to federal prison on charges that amounted to checking the wrong box on a shipping form. His family - wife Elisabeth and four children, including a five-year-old son - are broke from the cost of his defense. He has lost his job and his lab, and turned 62 in prison. Other, less distinguished scientists have been effectively silenced by example."

Me: Butler is NOT in prison "on charges that amounted to checking the wrong box on a shipping form." He has been charged on numerous counts ranging from smuggling of plague bacteria (which subsequently "disappeared"), to fraud. To hold him up as an example of Bush threat to science is either an error, or a deliberate dishonesty. I personally don't care that he is 62, or that he has a five year old, what matters is did he do what he is charged of doing?

Adam, I enjoy your writing but couldn't disagree more with the content and logic of this one. I still don't know, after reading this, what your concrete reasons for voting for Kerry are.

John



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Monday, October 18, 2004 - 12:43pmSanction this postReply
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John,

Please click on the links for the evidence.



Post 10

Monday, October 18, 2004 - 12:49pmSanction this postReply
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As has become the norm in SOLO debates involving Bush and Iraq, I at least partly disagree with pretty much everyone :-)

On Iraq and indeed US foreign policy in general, I embrace most of Chris Sciabarra's powerful critique and thought Saddam would have been better dealt with by means other than invasion (and lest I be misunderstood yet again let me make clear that now that western troops are in Iraq, I am of course fully behind them in their efforts to crush the insurgency). Nevertheless I believe President Bush to be the best of the two candidates in the current US presidential race. Whatever my disagreement with his handling of that element of the present crisis, he has shown tremendous leadership and resolve since the barbaric attacks on the US in 2001, whereas Kerry (as others have pointed out) has rather consistently wavered in his pronouncements, to the point that his foreign policy, such as it is, seems utterly contradictory.

As to President Bush's domestic agenda, though not an American I am in complete agreement with those who've argued in this discussion and elsewhere that concerns of a Christian theocracy are overblown to say the least.While there may be some instances of Christian-inspired idiocy, I have heard stories from friends in Texas (where I studied as an exchange student in 2002) that suggest the wider social picture is more complex. Specifically a young rape victim was refused the morning after pill by some Christian pharmacists. The prescription was subsequently filled at another pharmacy and more to the point, the individuals who worked in the first pharmacy were fired. As for Bush himself, I suspect his stances on legislating moral issues are essentially platitudes to his Christian supporters, he knows there is little prospect of an outright abortion ban or establishing an official religious etc.

MH




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Monday, October 18, 2004 - 3:36pmSanction this postReply
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deleted by author

(Edited by Irfan Khawaja on 10/19, 3:43pm)




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Post 12

Monday, October 18, 2004 - 4:21pmSanction this postReply
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Adam,

Unfortunately, I don't have time to respond to this in full. I will merely add some anecdotal evidence, since the whole of your reasoning is based more on symbolism than anything else. Reading your article, one would think that George Bush is running against Milton Friedman. How you can possibly think that Kerry, who wants to hand control of Iraq (and our foreign policy) over to the socialist (at best) smorgasbord of the United Nations is going to privatize its economy, is beyond me. But back to your symbolism for a moment.

George Bush:
Here's a fact, not a been-through-twenty-ears Peikoff report. Up through 1999, in every one of his speeches Bush would say: "I am a capitalist!" This is from Karen Hughes's mouth to my ears, as well as the ears of everyone else in the audience when she spoke at Santa Barbara. She tried to persuade him to stop saying it, and his first reaction was an angered "Why? Aren't you a capitalist?" She eventually succeeded in persuading him that it wasn't good politics to say it, because it implied he was above the audience, and he reluctantly eventually agreed.  

John Kerry:
He was a Communist stooge in the 70s, and he is proud of it today.

But of course, at least members of the Vietcong didn't go to church, and as far as symbols go, nothing is more frightening than the cross, I suppose.

It may also help if you mention exactly who the "Keynesians" in Bush's economic advisory committee are (Cato Senior Fellow Stephen Moore?), as well as exactly who the free-marketers in Clinton's committee were (Richard Reich?), that will now magically appear on 2.2-trillion-in-new-spending libertarian Kerry's team.

Alec




Post 13

Monday, October 18, 2004 - 7:22pmSanction this postReply
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Alec,

All the links about Bush in my article were to what Bush has done since becoming President; most are from the last few months. When the best thing you can say about Bush comes from before he first ran for the Presidency, and the worst about Kerry what he did 33 years ago, the timeline speaks for itself.



Post 14

Monday, October 18, 2004 - 7:55pmSanction this postReply
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Adam,

Timelines hardly speak for themselves. There are many terrible things I can--and have--said about Kerry. Nothing can ever be worse than what he did 33 years ago--except perhaps his everlasting pride in it.

The 2.2 trillion dollars in new spending? Oh, he'll have to be president before he could do that.

For all your links about Bush--of which there are plenty, since Bush has far from been an ideal president--you have provided none in support of Kerry. You have provided no evidence of how someone who was rated the most liberal senator, who has declared allegiance to the UN, who has declared that America should pass "global tests", who has proposed 2.2 trillion in new spending and a massive federal healthcare takeover, who has been unable to take any decisive action in his life, is going to be the great, liberty-spreading, free-market icon you have described him as.

Bringing up bad things about Bush is not novel. Nobody on this site (or anywhere) supports all his actions, and four years of such a presidency are sure to yield plenty of hyperlinks. The point is that, for all his many faults, he is far better than Kerry in some fundamental and obvious ways.

You have not provided one iota of evidence as to why Kerry isn't the wretched weasel that his own senate record, character, and words on the campaign trail have indicated that he is.




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Monday, October 18, 2004 - 8:07pmSanction this postReply
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This is an unexpected and outstanding article by Adam Reed.

"True believer" conservatives like Bush talk a lot about socio-economic freedom but don't actually believe in it -- except in some slight, mindless, maniacal-ideological, impotent, counterproductive way. Banal tiresome progressives like Kerry employ scary socialist type rhetoric, but when they actually get in power they then apply their brains to the various political issues and problems -- not merely have faith in mechanical ideology. Leftists nowadays then generally realize that freedom is morally and practically right and welfare statism is wrong, and thus act accordingly. Just as Clinton was decidedly more libertarian than Bush Sr., so too Kerry is decidedly more libertarian than Bush Jr.

Still, both are welfare statist vermin and no-one who loves or respects freedom should vote for Kerry. "The lesser of two evils" is still evil and a vote for Kerry is a vote for tyranny. Then the problem in the world and the supporter of the evil world political system isn't the hapless Bush or Kerry who honestly don't know any better -- the problem is YOU.




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Monday, October 18, 2004 - 9:17pmSanction this postReply
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Alec,

It is not possible to predict, on the basis of stands taken decades ago, what will be done today by a man who changes his mind with age and evidence, as Kerry does. Kerry's voting record tells us little: most bills are unprincipled package deals; in a bicameral legislature a legislator may vote pre-emptively for an extreme version of a bill he opposes, making it more likely for the other house to defeat. Electoral promises are also more often strategic than principled. I see Kerry's "Hilarycare II" as an unavoidable response to Bush's prescription drug entitlement - but with the House of Representatives firmly in the hands of Republicans, it can only follow the trajectory of Hillarycare I.

Indeed, as I wrote in the article, I see in the previous Democratic presidency the best predictor of the next one. And I think that a near-copy of Clinton, but one richer with military experience in a real war, could be very good for America, and much, much better than Bush. The next best predictor of what a Democratic administration is likely to do here is what Social-Democratic parties are doing in other countries. And, as with the Clinton administration here, for more than a decade every Social-Democratic government in Europe has made its country freer and more prosperous than it had been. As a scientist, I've learned that the best predictor of reality is reality.

(Edited by Adam Reed on 10/18, 9:25pm)




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Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 1:03amSanction this postReply
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Adam,

 for more than a decade every Social-Democratic government in Europe has made its country freer and more prosperous than it had been
Speaking as a British "eurosceptic" (i.e. person opposed to further European Union centralisation), I'd be interested to see some evidence for the above claim.

I'm finding this discussion somewhat ironic - a number of SOLOists who supported Bush over Iraq now want to let Kerry put the UN in charge of US foreign policy; meanwhile I, a foreigner who opposed going into Iraq, am nevertheless supporting the US' right to control their own foreign policy.

MH




Post 18

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 5:23pmSanction this postReply
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Matthew,

This is something I found when looking at productivity figures (GNP/worker.)  Productivity growth is the best joint measure of freedom+prosperity:

Freedom -> innovation -> productivity

+

Prosperity -> investment -> productivity

I don't remember the URLs, but I'm sure you can find them with Google.  I was particularly impressed with productivity growth in Spain and Poland under SD governments (and US under Clinton.)

As for "Kerry putting the UN in charge of US foreign policy," that's a Carl Rove spin.  The "global test" that Kerry proposes is that a US administration must be able to make a cogent and honest defense of its policy to the world - not that the world must agree.  At the time of the Iraq invasion, I wrote that even an Objectivist President would have invaded Iraq, but that an Objectivist President would not have lied about his reasons.  That is still my position.  What I oppose on Iraq is not the original liberation but the aftermath:  Bush's failure to repudiate Saddam's odious debt;  Bush's failure to privatize Iraq's command economy;  Bush's promotion of Saudi and Iranian theocratic influence in Iraqi politics, and so on.




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Post 19

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 7:18pmSanction this postReply
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Andre, you wrote: "Leftists nowadays then generally realize that freedom is morally and practically right and welfare statism is wrong, and thus act accordingly."

Give my regards to your fellow Martians when you return home.

Barbara



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