Rebirth of Reason

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Post 80

Monday, November 26, 2007 - 10:50amSanction this postReply
Teresa...brava for your post #66.

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Post 81

Monday, November 26, 2007 - 10:56amSanction this postReply
You're not making sense to me. Ron Paul did NOT say the 911 attacks were right; he said they were because we were "there." He never hinted nor implied that this justified the attacks; he merely noted the known motivation for them.

-Rocky Frisco

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Post 82

Monday, November 26, 2007 - 12:58pmSanction this postReply

Thanks for your comments in this thread, I have found alot of value in them, in particular your association between the liberal transference of guilt in regards to domestic criminal behavior and the transference of guilt in matters of foreign disputes. That was not a connection I had yet made. All I can say is, my god, now America (and implicitly capitalism and democracy) is the root of not only all the tyrannies of the world, but indeed its own internal violent conflicts! That is, *all* the suffering and pain in the world, amazingly, in these people's minds, is actually caused by our government and system. How truly atrocious.

I recently had the chance, as part of an organization I am member of, to meet with the Navy War College's Strategic Studies group.

I pitched strongly the notion of pushing for an alliance of constitutional liberal democracies and the need to identify and eliminate, through some form of '12 step' program, all the murderous tyrannies in the world. Not only because this is a decent thing to do as human beings, I argued, but because allowing these nations to get entrenched anywhere will always come back to bite us (as they are the root of all the democide and wars in the world) but also because our very existence as a civilization, and as intelligent life on this planet, depends on getting rid of these shitty nations as soon as possible, because, as John noted, with every passing year fewer resources are required to kill more and more people.

Eventually, either through a deliberate effort where malicious person (most of which come from these kinds of nations) may engineer an artificial virus or self replicating weapon that can target ethnicities or the whole human population, or through an accident where pathetic infrastructure and health systems of these nations promulgate pathogens which may wipe out enough of humanity to throw it into another dark age, or through their existence will serve as enough of a technological distraction and economic hindrance so as to make us vulnerable to future cataclysmic natural events: these nations will help reduce our chances of surviving the next century. It is very much in our self interest to get rid of these internationally sanctioned murder camps.

The SSG was attentive and asked alot of follow up questions, I got the impression this was not a line of reasoning they were familiar with. Though their influence is limited they are probably only a few steps removed from directly deciding the course of certain policies, and it was certainly the largest singular contribution I will probably ever have in foreign policy in my life.

(Edited by Michael F Dickey on 11/26, 1:02pm)

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Post 83

Monday, November 26, 2007 - 1:31pmSanction this postReply

I'd not propose anything quite that ambitious for a foreign policy. I'd wait until the various backwater despotisms grew at least to the level of posing a significant threat before taking military action, although I agree that coalitions of democratically oriented governments could put diplomatic, trade, and similar pressures to bear on such dictatorships before they reached that threat level.

A bit more perspective on Ron Paul...

Matt Drudge is pimping Pat Buchanan's forthcoming book DAY OF RECKONING: HOW HUBRIS, IDEOLOGY AND GREED ARE TEARING AMERICA APART. As I read the following summary by Drudge of Buchanan's recommendations, I laughed, because nativist, tribalist, paleo-conservative Pat Buchanan appears to be almost indistinguishable, policy-wise, from "libertarian" Ron Paul:
Buchanan’s Recommendations:

• A new foreign-defense policy that closes most of the 1000 bases overseas, reviews all alliances, and brings home U.S. troops

• A purge of neoconservative ideology and the “Cakewalk” crowd” from national power.

• To avert a second Cold War, the United States should “get out of Russia’s space and get out of Russia’s face,” and shut down all U.S. bases on the soil of the former Soviet Union

• To reach a cold peace in the culture war, Buchanan urges a return to federalism and the overthrow of our judicial dictatorship by Congressionally mandated restrictions on the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

• To end the trade deficits and save the dollar, Buchanan urges a Hamiltonian solution: a 20% Border Equity Tax on imports, with the $500 billion raised to be used to end taxation on American producers

• To prevent America becoming “a tangle of squabbling nationalities” Buchanan urges: No amnesty for the 12-20 million illegal aliens; a border fence from San Diego to Brownsville; Congressional declarations that children born to illegal aliens are not citizens and English is the language of the United States; and a “timeout” on all immigration.

About the only clear difference I can see between the two men might be over Buchanan's "border equity tax on imports." The difference is that Paul would allow foreign-produced goods to cross our borders, while (like Buchanan) he would keep out those goods' producers.

Does this not trouble self-defined defenders of reason, individualism, freedom, and capitalism? Does it not also trouble them that both Buchanan and Paul hang their (rhetorical) hats at the virulently anti-American website Anti-war.com?

Post 84

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 - 6:22amSanction this postReply
I doubt that I would vote for Ron Paul, as I have always voted Pro-Choice. But I was wondering if anyone here could tell us which way Rep. Paul voted on the following:

Public Law 107-40
107th Congress
                             Joint Resolution
     To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those 
     responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United 
           States. <<NOTE: Sept. 18, 2001 -  [S.J. Res. 23]>> 
Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were 
    committed against the United States and its citizens; and
Whereas, such acts render it both necessary and appropriate that the 
    United States exercise its rights to self-defense and to protect 
    United States citizens both at home and abroad; and
Whereas, in light of the threat to the national security and foreign 
    policy of the United States posed by these grave acts of violence; 
Whereas, such acts continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat 
    to the national security and foreign policy of the United States; 
Whereas, the President has authority under the Constitution to take 
    action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against 
    the United States: Now, therefore, be it
    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United 
States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Authorization for Use 
of Military Force. 50 USC 1541 note.>> 
    This joint resolution may be cited as the ``Authorization for Use of Military Force''.
    (a)  <<NOTE: President.>> In General.--That the President is 
authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those 
nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, 
committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 
2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any 
future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such 
nations, organizations or persons.
    (b) War Powers Resolution Requirements.--
            (1) Specific statutory authorization.--Consistent with 
        section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress 
        declares that this section is intended to constitute specific 
        statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of 
        the War Powers Resolution.
            (2) Applicability of other requirements.--Nothing in this 
        resolution supercedes any requirement of the War Powers 
    Approved September 18, 2001.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S.J. Res. 23 (H.J. Res. 64):
            Sept. 14, considered and passed Senate and House.
            Sept. 18, Presidential statement.

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Post 85

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 - 7:22amSanction this postReply

I saw some websites that said Ron Paul voted in favor of 107-40. The best evidence I found that he did is here: 
It passed the House 420-1, and the 1 nay was not Ron Paul.

Post 86

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 - 12:50pmSanction this postReply
When you kick someone and people accuse you of having done the wrong thing but someone says, "But he kicked because he was provoked," that means to be exculpatory. And that means the deed was innocent.

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Post 87

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 - 10:50pmSanction this postReply

Varieties of "Imperialism" [11/26/07]

Tibor R. Machan

        Imperialism is the policy one country has toward others when it is intent on ruling them. But these days the idea is also used to point to one country’s efforts to spread ideas and institutions outside of its borders, regardless of what those ideas and institutions are. So by some people’s account—evident often in the pages of The New York Review of Books, The Nation, and so forth, for example—whether one country aims to impose a system of slavery or servitude on others versus a system of liberty and the rule of law, the mere intent to spread any idea or institution beyond one’s borders qualifies as imperialist.

       Yet consider this: Suppose your neighbor is brutalizing his or her spouse or children and you go into the home and rescue the victims. Are you imposing your will on your neighbor? Are you engaging in the building of some sort of empire of your own? Or are you perhaps merely liberating the victims, saving them from the violence to which they are being subjected? Suppose once you have made sure that the victims are no longer being brutalized, you quickly leave and have nothing more to do with how your neighbors live. Is this an interventionist, aggressive approach toward your neighbor?

        In contrast, suppose you have a neighbor who happens to have some very fine china in the house and you decide to intrude and take the china for yourself. Moreover you make it clear that should your neighbor obtain other valued items that please you, you will not hesitate to come over and take them as well. And you will, furthermore, henceforth force your neighbor to do chores for you—clean your garage, mow your lawn, etc.

In both instances you are meddling in your neighbor’s affairs. Your approach to your neighbor can be deemed interventionist. But the quality of intervention differs drastically in the two cases.

       The same can be said of the foreign policies of different countries that embark upon interventionism. Indeed, calling both "imperialistic" is highly misleading since in the one case the objective is to force the other country to yield to the other’s oppression, to deprive the other of what the imperial power has no right to whatsoever, while in the other case the objective is to export elements of public policy that are liberating for the population.

       Of course, in many historical instances there is a mixture of these two forms of intervention. When the United States of America interferes abroad, not only does it routinely attempt to export some of its highly desirable, just principles and institutions; it also tries to secure some advantages that can be obtained. We hear this a lot when people talk about oil and other resources. Never mind that even in the case of trying to obtain such benefits as oil, a study of the relevant history often reveals that the oil abroad was actually discovered and its refinement cultivated by American or other foreign companies, so claiming flatly, as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and other governments which have nationalized oil companies have done, that the resource belongs to the people there is open to serious doubt.

       So the description of a country’s foreign policy as imperialistic or interventionist does not suffice to end the discussion of whether that policy should be approved. But there is another element to even the most benign form of intervention (or even imperialism) that needs to be kept in mind as one considers whether such policies have any merit. This is that government’s of free countries are not supposed to run around the globe rectifying all the wrongs outside their borders. Even when a country’s government intervenes so as to liberate the people in a corrupt or oppressive regime, even if this is done without embarking on seeking various advantages for the country but merely to do some good over there, there is still the objection to interventionism that such a policy in effect involves a government’s leaving its post, as it were. As the American Founders noted, "to secure these rights [namely, the rights of the country’s citizens], governments are instituted among men…." This is an obligation of the government of a free society and embarking on various foreign adventures, however well motivated, is in effect the violation of the oath of office of government.

        This is not the same issue as whether the government is imperialist in its foreign policy. But it is a woefully neglected point in most discussions about foreign affairs. It would be vital to keep the point in mind even as one has to admit that there are very different types of intervention--"imperialism"—that a country’s government can engage in and that not all of them are of the same quality.

Post 88

Thursday, November 29, 2007 - 8:35amSanction this postReply
Excellent analysis, Tibor. Sanctioned!

Because of its direct relevance, allow me to cross-post here what I've just posted on another thread: a reply to critics of my controversial blog post attacking Ron Paul's notion of "noninterventionism."

Today, I read a very interesting article, "The Logic of Torture," by philosopher Keith Burgess-Jackson.

Nominally, it's about the subject of torture; but really, it's about ethical differences—and how to think and argue effectively about all sorts of ethically charged controversies. Its lessons are relevant to the controversy I've raised about "interventionism."

While many of the disputes among libertarians and Objectivists about U.S. foreign policy are superficially about "the facts," the arguments are invariably freighted with tacit moral-philosophical assumptions that skew the interpretations of those facts, and the conclusions we draw.

The underlying, often unstated assumptions concerning the woozy notion of "noninterventionism" were my focus in the blog post about Ron Paul's brand of "noninterventionism." What, exactly, does this term actually and fully mean and imply?

Rather than come to grips with such philosophical questions, many proponents of noninterventionism understandably would prefer to divert the focus of debate to all the narrow, complicated factual questions that inevitably surround any historical event regarding U.S. foreign policy. They are trying to execute such a diversion now, regarding my analysis of "noninterventionism."

The noninterventionists' classic method of attack is as follows:

First, throw bumper-sticker terms like "noninterventionism," "neocon," and "blowback" at all questions of national security, with all the unexamined but implied philosophical freight that they carry -- thus setting the tacit moral premises of debate.

Second, cite complicated historical examples of U.S. foreign policy in action, cherry-picking the facts suitable to supporting those tacit moral premises.

Third, point to any bad event(s) that have subsequently arisen, even decades afterwards, as being necessarily caused by that preceding U.S. foreign policy.

This methodology -- smuggled-in moral premises, factual cherry-picking, and post hoc reasoning -- is nothing less than an effort to run a moral steamroller over opponents, while evading the basic philosophical premises that should govern U.S. foreign policy.

For instance, in my blog post, I raised the specific example of the history of U.S. policy toward Iran, often cited by Ron Paul as the cause of subsequent "blowback," such as Iran's hip-deep involvement in terrorism. In my response to Paul's account of that history, I did not intend to argue the merits of every decision made by the Eisenhower administration in its conduct toward Iran in 1953, as some critics have implied. I simply used this example -- Paul's example -- to illustrate how he had reduced the entire complexity of that situation to a sound bite about "blowback." He did so because his woozy notion of "noninterventionism," far from being a good moral guide to foreign policy, actually masks highly important ethical, political, and national-security considerations, and thus leads him to woefully superficial conclusions about complex events.

What considerations? Observe, for example, that in the very first Ron Paul quotation I cited, he says that "we [the U.S.] do not hesitate to support dictators and install puppet governments when it serves our interests." Did nobody but me observe the philosophical implication: that this prominent "noninterventionist" apparently thinks there is a conflict between a "moral" foreign policy, and one that serves American self-interest?

In fact, I am prepared to argue that the opposing of "morality" and "self-interest" actually is an inherent aspect of "noninterventionism," as a policy doctrine. This conflict occurs because "noninterventionism" is an intrinsicist approach to foreign policy, i.e., one based implicitly on deontological notions of "morality," inherent "rights," and an absolutist conception of "national sovereignty." Such intrinsicism explains, incidentally, why the doctrine of "noninterventionism" inexorably leads its proponents, such as Ron Paul, toward a de facto pacifism: If an abstraction, "nonintervention," is to trump "U.S. interests," where else could the doctrine take us? It's no accident that so many libertarian noninterventionists hang their hats at the "Anti-War.com" website.

Putting the facts about various historical events through the platonic interpretive filter of "noninterventionism" is like putting paper through a shredder: A mangled product will emerge from the other end.

So, rather than take the bait of various critics to joust over this or that event in the history of U.S. foreign policy (which I'm the first to admit is a checkered history), I prefer instead to focus public attention on their factual shredder: the platonic doctrine of "noninterventionism" itself.

As an Objectivist, I think it's about time that somebody did.

(Edited by Robert Bidinotto on 11/29, 8:40am)

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Post 89

Thursday, November 29, 2007 - 1:47pmSanction this postReply
Does U.S. support for puppet governments and dictators actually serve U.S. interests?  Who do you think Ron Paul was talking about when he used the terms "we" and "our"?  I would agree that "noninterventionism" is an overly simplistic term to use.  It means different things to different people and can mistakenly be associated with pacifism, cowardice, apathy, or any other disagreeable trait one can think of who happens to have different foreign policy mindset from Ron Paul.  Since presidents decide foreign policy for the the nation, and Ron Paul believes our foreign policy for the past 100 years or so has been seriously flawed, I would argue that what Paul meant was that previous administrations mistakenly believed U.S. support for dictators and puppet regimes served U.S. short-term "interests" (whatever they personally happened to believe them to be).  Ron Paul thinks in terms of moral principles and for the long term.  Since military intervention in foreign affairs usually entails the violation of some individuals' natural rights, either directly or indirectly in some way shape or form, such intervention seems inherently immoral (even when the rulers and subjects of those nations deny the existence of those rights).  It is not the role of the U.S. military to protect individual U.S. citizens or corporations from the risks associated with overseas travel and business and it is ironic that our military is fighting overseas against perceived threats to our "vital national interests"  while at the same time our individual natural rights are threatened by our own government.  Perhaps that realization is one reason why Ron Paul gets more monetary contributions from active and retired military personnel than any other presidential candidate. 

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Post 90

Thursday, November 29, 2007 - 2:32pmSanction this postReply
Cross posted:

Dr. Paul's foreign policy isn't the only problem with his views.

Ron Paul on Religion in Government
[Hat tip to Duncan Bayne of SOLO Passion]

Ron Paul on Christianity's role in government

"The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life."

Jefferson on Religion

Jefferson on Christianity

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State. [Emphasis added.]

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.

-Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

If we did a good act merely from love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? ...Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God.

-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814

Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.

-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Price, Jan. 8, 1789 (Richard Price had written to TJ on Oct. 26. about the harm done by religion and wrote "Would not Society be better without Such religions? Is Atheism less pernicious than Demonism?")

I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Hopkinson, March 13, 1789

Jefferson on Religion and Government

"Were the Pope, or his holy allies, to send in mission to us some thousands of Jesuit priests to convert us to their orthodoxy, I suspect that we should deem and treat it as a national aggression on our peace and faith." --Thomas Jefferson to Michael Megear, 1823. ME 15:434

"I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another." --Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1799. ME 10:78

"The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man." --Thomas Jefferson to Jeremiah Moor, 1800.

"I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this [i.e., the purchase of an apparent geological or astronomical work] can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offense against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? and are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule for what we are to read, and what we must believe? It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason. If [this] book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But, for God's sake, let us freely hear both sides, if we choose." --Thomas Jefferson to N. G. Dufief, 1814. ME 14:127

Post 91

Thursday, November 29, 2007 - 2:49pmSanction this postReply
and where is 'God' mentioned in the Constitution?

Post 92

Thursday, November 29, 2007 - 3:04pmSanction this postReply
Many interpret "..endowed by their creator..." to be a God reference.  I'm not sure how else to interpret it myself.  It isn't a very strong reference, and perhaps was made because not so much was known about human nature at the time.

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Post 93

Thursday, November 29, 2007 - 3:36pmSanction this postReply
It's painful to watch the ungainly kabuki dances of the paleo-libertarian folks at the Rockwell site, including Dr. Paul, as they try to maneuver around in the ill-fitting garb of Absolute Moral Principle, while simultaneously skipping and hopping around such trifles as Jefferson's "Wall of Separation" between church and state.

Reminds me of Disney's Fantasia and those hippos in tutus, doing ballet. Excruciating awkward -- but in that case, hilariously funny.

Post 94

Thursday, November 29, 2007 - 5:37pmSanction this postReply
Teresa - that is in the Declaration, NOT the Constitution.....  there is nothing in the Constitution saying 'god' - even the oath does NOT has 'so help me God' in it, as many believe...

It is a totally SECULAR document....

(Edited by robert malcom on 11/29, 5:37pm)

Post 95

Friday, November 30, 2007 - 3:05amSanction this postReply
I'm just sayin', Robert.  That's what people think!

Post 96

Friday, November 30, 2007 - 4:11amSanction this postReply
Quite agree many not know what is actually in their Constitution - is a shame, since is the legal document on which the rest follows [the Declaration being only a moral document, having no force of law].....

Post 97

Tuesday, December 4, 2007 - 5:38amSanction this postReply
Jeff, Re post 90, I'd recommend you read The rest of the article. Your single quote taken out of context does sound bad. But not with the rest of the article. Give me a break.

Post 98

Tuesday, December 4, 2007 - 7:37amSanction this postReply

See my reply on the other thread.

Post 99

Monday, December 10, 2007 - 7:34amSanction this postReply
"Endowed by their creator" means--I don't know what it was intended to mean--"explained by whatever led to the existence of it." This need not be God. It could be whatever the creative process happened to be. 

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