Archive for April, 2009

“Close Achievement Gaps”

Yesterday evening, Obama held a press conference marking his first 100 days as President. But I want to comment on this statement he made yesterday morning at a Town Hall in Arnold, Missouri:

We’re going to continue to help our schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps.

The notion of ‘closing achievement gaps’ has persisted among public school employees for decades, and it remains a big effort. In a 110-page document entitled Closing Achievement Gaps: An Association Guide The National Education Association (NEA), a labor union, proclaims, “NEA has created a Web site specifically focused on closing the achievement gaps: www.achievementgaps.org.” The document also states (p.2),

The causes of the achievement gaps are multiple and interrelated. They include the effects of poverty, home and community learning opportunities, discrimination, access to health care, and issues of housing and mobility. Education plays an important—but far from solo—role in closing achievement gaps.

What are the achievement gaps? Achievement gaps exist when groups of students with relatively equal ability do not achieve in school at the same levels; in fact, one group often far exceeds the achievement levels of others. Gaps in achievement exist across the nation and can be found based upon race/ethnicity, income levels, language background, disability status, and gender.

The notion of ‘closing achievement gaps’ is monstrous. It implies that turning high achievers into mediocre achievers would be a good thing. The fact that a high-achieving, wealthy, loving parent living in an affluent neighborhood can have a positive effect on his own child is, according to this monstrous notion, a bad thing. Carrying this notion to its logical conclusion, the solution is to take all children away from parents at birth and have them all raised at monolithic, state-run camps.

Obama has explained repeatedly how his policy on education is central to his entire policy on governing. At yesterday evening’s press conference, for instance, he said this:

We have to lay a new foundation for growth, a foundation that will strengthen our economy and help us compete in the 21st century. And that’s exactly what this budget begins to do. It contains new investments in education that will equip our workers with the right skills and training …

Observe where Obama wants to take America. He wants to do more than “spread the wealth around.” He wants to spread the achievement around. For Obama, the problem is not merely than some people have too much wealth, but that some people have earned too much wealth. Ideally, according to Obama, he would not need to redistribute wealth or income; he would not need to enact “tax cuts for working families as opposed to the wealthiest” (as if “the wealthiest” don’t work); ideally, everyone would just turn out to be equally productive. And that ideal is Obama’s goal.

Some might say that the ‘gap closers’ still recognize differences in ability based on genetics from one person to the next. But if one is against differing levels of achievement based on environment, then one should also be against differing levels of achievement based on genetics. And so such differences should be balanced out: a genetically gifted child should be given less beneficial treatment in the state-run camps; the best teachers and most nurturing care-givers should be devoted to the least gifted children.

***

Obama often says that his economic policy is designed to “level the playing field.” Metaphors from sports applied to politics can be dangerous enough due to vagueness, imprecision, and a basic difference between the fields: sports deal strictly with voluntary associations, while politics deals with coercion. Life is not a game. A ‘level playing field’ is not a good standard for a free society. But Obama’s metaphor is worse than vague and imprecise: it is dishonest.

What about ‘players’ who have a better work ethic than others? What about individuals who choose, every minute of every day, to use their minds, to study, to plan a career, to make their own judgments in doing their jobs, who stand by their own judgments when co-workers are against them, who risk their own time and money on a new business? Where is the judge and jury that investigates these questions before deciding how much money to tax a person, instead of simply assuming that Person A’s wealth compared to Person B’s poverty must be due to differences of race or environment?

Obama does not want to ‘level the playing field’ in any meaningful sense of that vague metaphor. Obama wants to level the scoreboard.

But there is an even better metaphor, in keeping with this notion of ‘closing achievement gaps’. Obama wants to level the players.

As Obama’s educational policy is central to his entire policy of governing, so is his drive to “close achievement gaps”—among children, among Americans, and among nations.

Similarity and Difference

Much has been written, in the past few weeks, on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s report entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” Some bloggers, including me, held off on writing about this news immediately because the report is so irrational that it seemed like a spoof or hoax. I am writing about it now in order to make a point that I have not seen in the news.

Here is a statement from the Department of Homeland Security’s report:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.

What kind of mentality lumps racists together with individuals who are “anti-government”? According to this mentality, an extreme racist such as Hitler and an extreme advocate of individual rights and limited government such as Thomas Jefferson both belong under the same category: “rightwing extremist.”

It should be basic common sense that socialists, communists, fascists, Nazis, monarchists, and religious fanatics (including Islamists, animistic environmentalists, and “I-am-my-brother’s keeper” Christians) all belong on the same side of the political spectrum—call that side the Left—and that capitalists, who advocate individual rights and limited government solely for the protection of those rights, belong on the other side. Ayn Rand made this identification many times back in the 1960s. See, for example, her lecture, “The Fascist New Frontier” (describing the Kennedy Administration) and her essay, “The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus” (based on a 1965 lecture and reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal). Ayn’s Rand’s long-time student and associate Leonard Peikoff wrote an entire book (The Ominous Parallels) on the subject. I reiterated a few of their identifications here and here. Yet what should be common sense is very uncommon.

Here is my summary of the argument:

In metaphysics, the Left claims the existence of something—the collective conscience, the whole of the human race, the planet, the whole of nature, God, god, the black race, the white race, the chosen people, some economic class—that is higher and/or more real than the individual. In epistemology, the Left claims that reason is impotent and any individual’s claim to knowledge is a fraud, that ‘truth’ is what you feel (from your Christian faith or Aryan blood or socialist heart), as long as you belong to a big enough group that feels the same way. Since no individual can claim knowledge, any individual’s success or failure is a matter of luck or abuse. In ethics, accordingly, the Left calls for sacrifice by the individual to the higher whole. In politics, accordingly, the Left calls for sacrifice of the individual to the higher whole.

What I will call the absolute extreme Right, the opposite of the Left, is epitomized by Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, which she once described “on one foot” as follows:

1. Metaphysics Objective Reality
2. Epistemology Reason
3. Ethics Self-interest
4. Politics Capitalism

The initial Leftist propagandists who lumped fascists and Nazis with capitalists could not have been honest; the facts, summarized above, are just too glaring to have missed. But what has enabled this fraud to continue for so long? As Ayn Rand has written often (see, for example, The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution) the post-Kantian epistemology underlying the Left—and, more broadly, underlying the professions of philosophy and education—has eroded many individuals’ ability to think conceptually. The Kant-dominated universities and public schools are perpetrating a self-fulfilling prophecy, turning individuals into the Leftist model of human beings incapable of independent, rational, efficacious thought.

Many professional philosophers have become bloggers. Here are names of some of their popular blogs:

Matters of Substance
Honest Toil
Logic Matters
Epistemic Value
Logic and Rational Interaction

And here are names of other such blogs:

It’s Only A Theory
Certain Doubts
Nothing of Consequence
Obscure and Confused Ideas
Possibly Philosophy
fragments of consciousness
Lemmings
There is Some Truth in That
Antimeta
Probably Possible
This is the Name of This Blog
Just ‘because’
Brain Pains
Go Grue!
Perhaps
Snow is White
So. There’s That.
The Splintered Mind
Theories n things

“It’s Only a Theory” is a group blog in the philosophy of science; its list of contributors consists of more than 40 of the leading professionals in the field.

Of course, many of these names must be intended as self-deprecating (and, in my judgment, self-demeaning) humor; but the humor is humorous because it contains a strong element of truth, as any college student in a philosophy class can confirm.

Many philosophers, I hope, do sincerely want to see the big problems of philosophy solved, and sincerely want to see non-philosophers use their theories in order to make advances in other fields; but many also seem to accept—with resignation—that what they have been doing has not been working. And skepticism and resignation in epistemology leads inexorably to Leftist politics. The intellectual Leftist concludes in effect, “I cannot figure out what’s true or what’s right. Neither can anyone else. But if we bring everyone together and talk it out in a group, maybe the Group will figure it out. At least, the Group will decide.”

“And the only man who is evil is the one who thinks he knows.”

One epistemological notion underlying Leftist politics is the doctrine of ‘nominalism’, which holds (in its extreme form) that all concepts are no more than arbitrary names or labels with arbitrary definitions; that the way we group things under names such as ‘table’ or ‘chair’ or ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘Left’ or ‘Right’ is arbitrary because every thing is different from every other thing in every way, and so there is no objective basis for saying that two things are similar to each other. Capitalism, socialism, and fascism are all different from each other in every respect, so we can group capitalism with fascism and call them both ‘rightwing’ if we feel like it.

It is through notions such as nominalism (among too many other anti-conceptual notions), undercutting the objectivity of the most basic conceptual building blocks such as similarity and difference, that common sense has been replaced by an anti-conceptual mentality among ‘intellectuals’ and even among the general public. (After all, almost everyone is implicitly taught these notions in college if not sooner.) Now it will take nothing short of a genius such as Ayn Rand to restore that common sense.

Here is a small taste of one aspect of how Ayn Rand deals with similarity and difference. (For more, see Ayn Rand’s Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Expanded Second Edition, especially the first two chapters and the first two sections of the Appendix.) Consider two sticks, one of which is 10 inches long and the other 11 inches long. If all you perceived were these two sticks, you would perceive them as different from each other. But now add to your perceptual field a third stick that is five feet long. Now you perceive the first two sticks as similar to each other and different from the third. And there is an objective basis for that perception. The measurable difference between the first two sticks (in length) is much less than the difference between each of them and the third.

While ‘difference’ entails a comparison of at least two things, similarity entails a comparison among at least three things. ‘Similarity’ is ‘less difference’, by some objective measure.

Thus, if you consider only fascism and socialism (or only Catholicism and Protestantism), you see two social systems that seem to differ in every respect. But now consider capitalism (or atheism) as well. If you measure the differences among all three systems along axes of essential characteristics (such as the degree of political freedom or of property rights), you will see that the differences between socialism and fascism are very small compared to the differences between capitalism and either of the other two systems. (What qualifies as an ‘essential’ characteristic is another epistemological issue; in this case, the essential characteristics would be the ones measured to be the most pivotal for the sustaining of human life.)

I found on the Internet an excellent essay that incorporates Ayn Rand’s theory of similarity in the very treatment of capitalism vs. socialism and fascism, but I could not find the author’s name.

Memo to philosophers: There is much more to Ayn Rand than her ethics and politics. If you want to get out of your post-Kantian rut, study her epistemology.

Happy Shakespeare’s Birthday

Since my favorite Shakespeare sonnet (#29, “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes”) is so well known, here instead is my second favorite (#76):

Why is my verse so barren of new pride
So far from variation or quick change?
Why with the time do I not glance aside
To new-found methods and to compounds strange?
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Showing their birth, and where they did proceed?
O! know, sweet love, I always write of you,
And you and love are still my argument;
So all my best is dressing old words new,
Spending again what is already spent:
For as the sun is daily new and old,
So is my love still telling what is told.

Happy Shakespeare’s Birthday.

Environmentalism vs. Reason

On the occasion of “Earth Day” (April 22), it is instructive to remind ourselves of the ideology underlying environmentalism. This post is from a page that has been on my Web site since September 2007.

This is the third from the last paragraph of Al Gore’s book, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, originally published in 1993, when Gore was Vice President of the United States:

If it is possible to steer one’s own course—and I do believe it is—then I am convinced that the place to start is with faith, which for me is akin to a kind of spiritual gyroscope that spins in its own circumference in a stabilizing harmony with what is inside and what is out. Of course, faith is just a word unless it is invested with personal meaning; my own faith is rooted in the unshakeable belief in God as creator and sustainer, a deeply personal interpretation of and relationship with Christ, and an awareness of a constant and holy spiritual presence in all people, all life, and all things. But I also want to affirm what people of faith from long ago apparently knew and that our civilization has obscured: that there is revelatory power in the world. This is the essence of faith: to make a surrendering decision to invest belief in a spiritual reality larger than ourselves. And I believe that faith is the primary force that enables us to choose meaning and direction and then hold to it despite all the buffeting chaos in life.
—Al Gore, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit (New York: Plume, 1993), p. 368.

Thus we have Gore’s animistic premise for environmentalism: Every thing—including every rock and piece of dirt—is alive and has a spirit.

Gore reveals himself to be an utter mystic, more mystical than the bible-thumping religious fundamentalists whom the political Left ridicules and despises.

How are we to know that the holy spirit in the piece of dirt would rather sting us in the eye than be included in a cement wall of a nuclear power plant? How does the holy spirit communicate to us? Through what medium does the piece of dirt dictate its commandments on how we should surrender our reason, our pursuit of happiness, and our lives to it? Through the priest of environmentalism, Al Gore. Al Gore knows what dirt wants, and he will tell the rest of us.

For the best analysis of the monstrous evil of environmentalism, read Ayn Rand’s anthology of essays, The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution. Here is an excerpt from one of those essays, “The Anti-Industrial Revolution,” originally published in 1971:

Now observe that in all the propaganda of the ecologists—amidst all their appeals to nature and pleas for “harmony with nature”—there is no discussion of man’s needs and the requirements of his survival. Man is treated as if he were an unnatural phenomenon. Man cannot survive in the kind of state of nature that the ecologists envision—i.e., on the level of sea urchins or polar bears. In that sense, man is the weakest of animals: he is born naked and unarmed, without fangs, claws, horns or “instinctual” knowledge. Physically, he would fall an easy prey, not only to the higher animals, but also to the lowest bacteria: he is the most complex organism and, in a contest of brute force, extremely fragile and vulnerable. His only weapon—his basic means of survival—is his mind.

In order to survive, man has to discover and produce everything he needs, which means that he has to alter his background and adapt it to his needs. Nature has not equipped him for adapting himself to his background in the manner of animals. From the most primitive cultures to the most advanced civilizations, man has had to manufacture things; his well-being depends on his success at production. The lowest human tribe cannot survive without that alleged source of pollution: fire. It is not merely symbolic that fire was the property of the gods which Prometheus brought to man. The ecologists are the new vultures swarming to extinguish that fire.

TEA Party Americans

On April 15, I attended a TEA Party (Taxed Enough Already), one of the 300 such TEA Parties nationwide, in El Segundo (South Bay), California.

There were many American flags, and many protesters carried signs that showed a far better understanding of American principles than is held by most of America’s politicians. Some of my favorites were this and these:

Instead of carrying a sign, I carried a large exercise ball with a message on each side. One side read, “Atlas Will Shrug,” with the front cover of my paperback copy of Atlas Shrugged taped alongside the message. The other side (thanks to the suggestion of my friend Scott McConnell) read, “I Am NOT My Brother’s Keeper.”

Organizers estimate that about 1,200–1,500 people were at the TEA Party I attended. Being there reminded me concretely that I live in America with many Americans—real Americans, who love America not because they were born here, but because America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Some speakers were, in my judgment, better than others. Unfortunately, one speaker invoked God heavily in his defense of individual rights and railed against “greed”; another attacked “special interests” (a Leftist smear-term for individual rights) and argued mostly for a shift in taxes away from the poor and middle class (and, by implication, to the already-overtaxed wealthy). For the most part, however, the speakers were not asking for tax relief for their own group. Indeed, though the event’s name was “Taxed Enough Already,” the speakers and attendees were more principled than that. They understood that more fundamental than high taxes is the government’s outlandish spending and regulation of the economy. Even better, they understood that this spending and regulation has been going on for a very long time, well before the Obama administration. And best of all, they understood that this spending and regulation is a violation of individual rights.

Are most of these protesters principled enough to call for the entire dismantling of the welfare state, including sacred cows such as Medicare, Social Security, and public schools? Probably not. But I would bet that the vast majority of these individuals have been net providers, not net consumers, of government funds throughout their lives; and they would not have it otherwise. Perhaps they are too willing to take on unjust burdens, but they are too principled to become burdens themselves. They will not be bought off by promises of lower taxes to themselves at the expense of “the other guy.”

These protesters are in stark contrast to those who attend Obama rallies. Obama supporters are always looking for another offer from the government: another way to get a house, another way to get out of paying for the house, another way to get health care, an education, a job, and another way for those not at Obama rallies to pay for all of it.

Such is the mentality of the “Obamatons,” who have abandoned their own capacity for independent thought and productiveness in favor of blind faith and “hope” in a leader—and a provider. Implicitly, those on the Left who fancy themselves more intellectual than the “masses”—the “masses” being those who are not professors, authors, journalists, etc.—seem to think that the Obamaton mentality is the only mentality that the “masses” are capable of. Witness the indignant reaction by CNN “reporter” Susan Roesgen when a man at a TEA Party rejects—on principle—a share of the welfare-state loot that she tells him has been offered by Obama.

Many have identified the cartoonish left-wing bias of the journalistic profession in its coverage of the TEA Parties. (See here for more examples—if you don’t mind seeing vulgar sexual insults made by CNN and MSNBC news anchors—and an excellent rebuttal by Greg Gutfeld.) But deeper than their bias is that the Leftist journalists seem to have no arguments. Their only recourse seems to be insult.

Once they realize that their insulting bribes and insulting attempts at ridicule won’t work, the more clever welfare-statists will play what they believe is their trump card, which has worked its poison against America since the Progressive Era more than a century ago: the ethics of altruism. They will claim that the TEA Party people are selfish, unwilling to sacrifice to those “less fortunate.”

When the altruism card is played, the TEA Party protesters will have to be even more principled than they have been to date. They will need to call on the ethical code implicit in the Declaration of Independence (most clearly in the phrase “pursuit of happiness”) and made explicit by Ayn Rand: the ethics of rational self-interest. They will need to answer that yes, they are selfish, and productive, and proud of it.

To the TEA Party Americans, I offer this tribute: You don’t owe anyone a give-away. Anyone who values the wealth that you have created should be honored just by the opportunity to trade with you, by mutual agreement to mutual benefit. Anyone should be profoundly thankful just for the example of your success. And if you choose to be charitable to a particular individual at a particular time, that is your choice, not someone else’s.

In the coming months, when you are attacked as cold and unfeeling and selfish, consider these words:

I came here to say that I do not recognize anyone’s right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy. Nor to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim, how large their number or how great their need.

I wished to come here and say that I am a man who does not exist for others.

It had to be said. The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing.

— Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand, 1943.

Happy Jefferson’s Birthday

Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, 1823:

We believed that men, enjoying in ease and security the full fruits of their own industry, enlisted by all their interests on the side of law and order, habituated to think for themselves and to follow their reason as their guide, would be more easily and safely governed than with minds nourished in error and vitiated and debased… by ignorance, indigence and oppression.
The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, (Memorial Edition) Lipscomb and Bergh, editors, 15:441.

Happy Jefferson’s Birthday.

Thank You, US Navy

Congratulations and thanks to the U.S. Navy and Capt. Richard Phillips for the successful rescue of Capt. Phillips and the killing and capture of the pirates.

When dealing with evil, deadly force is the answer.

If only our government had the principled, moral courage to unleash our awesome military might to destroy the pirates’ land bases.

Moral Courage

In a comment on my previous post (America’s Empty Foreign Policy: “What Our Enemies Must Understand is … ”) Burgess Laughlin of Making Progress raised interesting questions regarding “moral courage.”

To my pleasant surprise, Wikipedia describes moral courage fairly well:

“Physical courage” is courage in the face of physical pain, hardship, or threat of death, while “moral courage” is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, or discouragement.

In my judgment, most American and other Western politicians have terribly mixed premises: half-formed and half-acknowledge premises upholding the protection of the citizenry, and similarly half-baked premises in favor of altruism. When they appease evil nations, these politicians are also appeasing the altruists in their own nation. These politicians must know that, in so doing, they are betraying their premises upholding the protection of the citizenry. In this respect, they lack moral courage. Moreover, and more importantly, they must know that they hold contradictory premises. In this case, the deepest form of moral courage would be to face these contradictions and commit to resolving them by identifying and upholding the right principle.

Physical courage requires a certain degree of integrity, a willingness to bear the physical consequences and risks required to uphold the ideas and values that one has already accepted. Moral courage requires something deeper even than integrity: independence.

America’s Empty Foreign Policy: “What Our Enemies Must Understand is … ”

Ask an American politician, Democrat or Republican, what his foreign policy is, and you will rarely get an answer. He will not tell you what America will do, or what America should do. Instead, he will tell you what America’s enemies should do, or must do, or must understand.

Question to American Politician: “What should America do in response to the latest act of murder by Iran?”

Politician’s Answer: “Well, what Iran needs to understand is this. And North Korea must understand that. And Russia needs to do this. And we must persuade China to do that. ”

Sometimes, the politician will add the tough-sounding but actually very weak statement: “And if our enemies don’t understand this, then all options are on the table.” In other words: “My policy is that I’m not ruling out any policy. So, actually, I have no policy. If our enemies don’t understand, I don’t know what to do.”

Here are just a few examples, with some underlines added by me.

Secretary of State (under President Clinton) Warren Christopher, June 10, 1993:

Iran must understand that it cannot have normal commercial relations and acquire dual-use technologies on the one hand, while trying to develop weapons of mass destruction on the other.

Former US Secretary of State (under Presidents Nixon anf Ford) Henry Kissinger, October 2005:

Tactically speaking it would be unwise to rule out a military option. But every time someone says America should have this as an option, all hell breaks loose. It is important that we agree on the dangers of proliferation. And by this I don’t mean just having another meeting of foreign ministers. We should see what pressures and incentives we have at our disposal. But Iran must also understand that we all mean it seriously. Naturally nobody wants another crisis in this region.

Former White House political director (for President Reagan) Ed Rollins, March 30, 2007:

And sooner or later Iran has to understand that people are only going to tolerate so much and it may not be us, it may be someone else, but there’s a lot of forces out there that basically are getting very frustrated with this.

Former Senator John Edwards (D-NC), January 23, 2007:

Iran must know that the world won’t back down. The recent UN resolution ordering Iran to halt the enrichment of uranium was not enough. We need meaningful political and economic sanctions. We have muddled along for far too long. To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep ALL options on the table, Let me reiterate – ALL options must remain on the table.

As to what to do, we should not take anything off the table. More serious sanctions need to be undertaken, which cannot happen unless Russia and China are seriously on board, which has not happened up until now.

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), October 16, 2007:

Iran must conform to its nonproliferation obligations and must not be permitted to build or acquire nuclear weapons. If Iran does not comply with its own commitments and the will of the international community, all options must remain on the table.

We must persuade China to join global institutions and support international rules by building on areas where our interests converge and working to narrow our differences.

President George W. Bush, March 19, 2008:

[T]he people of Iran must understand that the conditions exist in large part because of either management by the government or isolation because of the government’s decisions on foreign policy matters — such as announcing they want to destroy countries with a nuclear weapon. It is irresponsible remarks like that which cause great credibility loss with the Iranian government, the actions of which are affecting the country.

Then there are other Western leaders …

French President Jacques Chirac, August 27, 2004:

Iran must understand that it must create the conditions for gaining the trust of the international community, especially in terms of living up to its commitment to suspend enrichment.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, November 13, 2006:

I had a very long conversation with the president [Bush] on this issue, and we are in complete agreement over the objectives. Iran must understand that there will be consequences for not agreeing to a compromise. I cannot say what the consequences will be, but I support the president’s huge efforts regarding the issue.

Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister and special Middle East envoy for the Quartet group, December 6, 2007:

What will diminish the risk of confrontation and increase the possibility of a rapprochement is that Iran realises that those of us in the Western World who have criticised it want a good relationship with it. But it has to be based on compliance with international regulations on the use of nuclear weapons and stopping support of terrorism. If a different attitude is emerging, I can assure you most western policymakers don’t want anything to do with a confrontation with Iran. On the other hand, Iran has to understand what people have been anxious about.

If one’s goal is for the enemy to understand, then one’s foreign policy will be to talk with that enemy—endlessly, until one is killed by that enemy.

Then there is President Obama (February 9, 2009), whose “change” in foreign policy is to increase the irrationality to even wilder levels:

There’s been a lot of mistrust [!] built up over the years, so it’s not going to happen overnight. And it’s important that even as we engage in this direct diplomacy, we are very clear about certain deep concerns [!] that we have as a country—that Iran understands that we find the funding of terrorist organizations unacceptable [!]; that we’re clear about the fact that a nuclear Iran could set off a nuclear arms race in the region that would be profoundly destabilizing.

Evidently, Obama “hopes” that Iranian President Ahmadinejad will say something like this: “You know, I always thought that murdering Americans, Israelis—anyone, really—was acceptable. But Barack and his friends made it so clear to me that such behavior is really unacceptable. No one ever took the time to explain this to me before. (Sniff, sniff.) Now I understand. Thank you, Barack. Shalom.”

Here is what Americans must understand.

America must not depend on what our enemies think, or on what they will do. We must not depend on evil rulers turning good. We must not depend on people who have allowed their own countries to be ruled by evil governments. We need a foreign policy that protects the rights of Americans no matter what our enemies think or do.

If America had a reputation for taking strong military action to defend Americans, perhaps the threat of force by America would be enough to make our enemies cower. But American leaders have earned a reputation for appeasement and a lack of moral courage. Therefore, the only way now to stop our enemies is to defeat them by force.

Obama criticizes the previous administration for not having talked with our enemies. Talking vs. not talking is not the issue. What previous administrations did wrong was that they did not take military action.

Bush’s forays into Afghanistan and Iraq were not wars; they were sacrificial police and welfare programs for Afghans and Iraqis. If we had fought a real, declared war against these countries—and against Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya, etc.—the war would have ended in a day.

Both Bush and Obama have acknowledged that Iran actively finances, trains, protects, and publicly praises and exhorts terrorist groups—including Hezbollah and killers of Americans in Iraq—that have repeatedly committed acts of mass murder against Americans and other civilized peoples. What more evidence do we need that we must destroy this enemy by physical force?

The longer America delays, the stronger Iran and its allies grow, and the more Americans will be murdered by this axis of evil.

Even a rat fights when cornered. But a man of reason and courage does not wait until his loved ones have been murdered and his own survival hangs by a thread. He fights well before it is almost too late.

In the 1930s, free Europe tolerated Nazi acts of terrorism, infiltration into governments, and conquest. Europe was avoiding World War II, and paid a terrible price for it. America must not avoid World War III. We must win it.

For my condemnation of the philosophic tradition behind Bush’s America-sacrificing foreign policy, see The Age of Invisible Virtue. For more of my own recommended policy toward America’s enemies, see Why and How to Conquer the Savages; here is an excerpt:

Our problem began when we Americans, failing to defend our rational self-interest, put wealth in the hands of savages by letting them rob our oil fields. It will end when we use our might, including our nuclear arsenal, to crush their evil governments, take back our property, and isolate, colonize, and settle the lands the savages now roam.

On a radio talk show years ago, a caller chided me for talking tough when I was not myself in the military. I still stand by my reply: I volunteer to pull the lever to drop the first nuclear bomb on Iran.

The Fraud of “Interdependence”

In his news conference following the London G20 Summit on April 2, Obama said this:

In terms of local politics, look, I’m the President of the United States. I’m not the President of China, I’m not the President of Japan, I’m not the President of the other participants here. And so I have a direct responsibility to my constituents to make their lives better. That’s why they put me in there. That accounts for some of the questions here, about how concretely does me being here help them find a job, pay for their home, send their kids to college, live what we call the American Dream. And I will be judged by my effectiveness in meeting their needs and concerns.

Observe how far down the road to socialism/fascism/Nazism America has come: Many Americans would find no fault with Obama’s paragraph above. Many Americans evade the fact that the government tries to help them find a job by forcing other Americans to provide such a job, helps them pay for a home by forcing others to pay for the home, and helps them send their kids to college by forcing others to pay for that college.

The real responsibility of an American President is to ensure that government protects Americans’ rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

Obama continued with these words:

But in an era of integration and interdependence, it is also my responsibility to lead America into recognizing that its interests, its fate is tied up with the larger world; that if we neglect or abandon those who are suffering in poverty, that not only are we depriving ourselves of potential opportunities for markets and economic growth, but ultimately that despair may turn to violence that turns on us; that unless we are concerned about the education of all children and not just our children, not only may we be depriving ourselves of the next great scientist who’s going to find the next new energy source that saves the planet, but we also may make people around the world much more vulnerable to anti-American propaganda.

Here Obama echoes British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s altruist/socialist/fascist call, delivered on March 4 to the joint US Congress, for American sacrifice to the world. (After all, echoing Obama in turn, much of America’s middle class is in the world’s wealthiest five per cent.) But Obama has added a couple of wrinkles to Brown’s altruist argument.

One wrinkle is a crass, cowardly—and common—argumentum ad baculum: If we don’t sacrifice for foreigners, they may commit violence against us. Indeed, Obama is insulting foreigners, in effect saying, “We will help you so that you don’t murder us.”

Is this the lesson you would teach your own children? “Johnny, remember those strangers who don’t give you a handout; when you grow up, you have an excuse to kill them.” This is the lesson that the self-proclaimed champion of better education is teaching to children in America. It is a lesson that Obama himself seems to have accepted.

Evidently, Obama believes that “anti-American propaganda” and even violence against Americans is excusable. After all, why help people, even children, who are so immoral that they would commit inexcusable acts of violence? Moreover, if consistent, Obama must believe that past terrorist acts committed against Americans by those in poor countries have been excusable. So much for our Commander in Chief.

Of course, Obama’s policy toward foreigners will make Americans less safe. By looting America’s rich to help the foreign poor, Obama will embolden evil foreigners to follow suit. Indeed, the explosive growth of the American welfare state, beginning in the 1960s, is the main cause of the higher crime rates (roughly three times what they had been previously) that America has suffered since.

Another added wrinkle is Obama’s invoking of the term “interdependence.” Secretary of State Clinton invoked this word too during her Nomination Hearing To Be Secretary of State, January 13, 2009:

By 1999, the rise of more democratic and open societies, the expanding reach of world markets, and the explosion of information technology had made “globalization” the word of the day. For most people, it had primarily an economic connotation, but in fact, we were already living in a profoundly interdependent world in which old rules and boundaries no longer held fast—one in which both the promise and the peril of the 21st century could not be contained by national borders or vast distances.

Economic growth has lifted more people out of poverty faster than at any time in history, but economic crises can sweep across the globe even more quickly. A coalition of nations stopped ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, but the conflict in the Middle East continues to inflame tensions from Asia to Africa. Non-state actors fight poverty, improve health, and expand education in the poorest parts of the world, while other non-state actors traffic in drugs, children, and women and kill innocent civilians across the globe.

Now, in 2009, the clear lesson of the last twenty years is that we must both combat the threats and seize the opportunities of our interdependence. And to be effective in doing so we must build a world with more partners and fewer adversaries.

America cannot solve the most pressing problems on our own, and the world cannot solve them without America. The best way to advance America’s interest in reducing global threats and seizing global opportunities is to design and implement global solutions. This isn’t a philosophical point. This is our reality.

The President-Elect and I believe that foreign policy must be based on a marriage of principles and pragmatism, not rigid ideology. On facts and evidence, not emotion or prejudice. Our security, our vitality, and our ability to lead in today’s world oblige us to recognize the overwhelming fact of our interdependence.

The pragmatist, anti-ideological—i.e. unprincipled—argument of Clinton and Obama amounts to this: When people are free, they benefit from trading with each other. Since they benefit from each other, they depend on each other. Since they depend on each other, they must not be left free. And since crime exists, that gives us even more of a right to deny freedom.

What Clinton and Obama evade is that free people are free to select their trading partners by mutual consent, to mutual benefit. They are not forced to trade with individuals whom they choose not to trade with. They are not forced to make trades that would harm them. They are not forced to give things away.

In a free, prosperous society, individuals offer and accept—and refuse—trades with other individuals according to their own, independent judgment.

The “interdependence” argument is equivalent to this: Sex is good; therefore, government-mandated rape is good.

In his weekly address yesterday, Obama explained where this worldwide rape scheme is going:

Ultimately, the only way out of a recession that is global in scope is with a response that is global in coordination. That is why I’m pleased that after two days of careful negotiation, the G20 nations have agreed on a series of unprecedented steps that I believe will be a turning point in our pursuit of a global economic recovery. All of us are now moving aggressively to get our banks lending again. All of us are working to spur growth and create jobs. And all of us have agreed on the most sweeping reform of our financial regulatory framework in a generation – reform that will help end the risky speculation and market abuses that have cost so many people so much.

The “risky speculation” that Obama refers to is the buying and insuring of securities created by the government sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The mistake that businesses made was to trust the government. (Would America’s economy be any better off if AIG had not sold insurance on the lousy mortgages created by government?)

Obama’s participation in the G20’s “most sweeping reform of our financial regulatory framework in a generation” is not a change in principle, but it is a significant extension of the socialist/fascist ideas that have taken hold of America (the world’s last holdout against these ideas) over the past century: more sacrifice by America to more people, and more sweeping control over all people.

Moreover, Obama’s acceptance of these “unprecedented steps” is a further step toward the surrendering of America’s sovereignty. Former President George W. Bush had already stepped far along that path in the realm of defense. In emergency situations, such as the conflicts between Israel and Hezbollah, Bush had adopted the practice of consulting with the UN before Congress. Now, in order to make it more difficult for businesses to escape the oppression of any one nation, Obama supports a single, global regulator.

Soon, we might as well allow all people around the world to vote in American elections.

It is very possible that Obama will be the last American President, as our former sovereign nation becomes a province of the global community.

Who will become the official leader of this global community? Look for power luster Bill Clinton to make a play for that office.