Top Ten Things Putin Said to Obama about Ukraine

While Barack Obama’s recent telephone conversation with Russian president Vladimir Putin about the Crimean standoff has been widely reported, the exact substance of the discussion has remained a mystery.

That is, until now.

Owing to highly placed confidential sources, I’m pleased to report that I have become privy to some of the details of their talk. What follows are the top ten things Putin said to Obama:

10.  Look, the Ukrainians have a country; they didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.
9.  I’m just fulfilling the dreams from my father.
8.  I can’t help myself; I’m a typical white person.
7.  For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of your country.
6.  Yes, we can.
5.  No, you can’t.
4.  No matter how this turns out, Barry, I’ll R-S-P-E-C-T you in the morning.
3.  I promise never to threaten any of your 58 states.
2.  If I had a new province, it would look like Ukraine.

And number 1…

If you like your foreign policy, you can keep your foreign policy.

The president reportedly was somewhat befuddled after the conversation and told an aide, “When does persuasion become invasion? I don’t know, that’s above my pay grade.”

Meanwhile, Putin is said to have explained to a close advisor, “I figured that after his election, I’d have more flexibility.”

Allen West: Remember when presidents stood up to Russia?

Thirty-five years ago I was finishing up my senior year of high school and heading to my first year at the University of Tennessee. Something also happened that year — the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and began the 10 year Soviet-Afghan War. If anyone had told me in 1979 that one day, 26 years later, I would be landing at the Kabul Airport in Afghanistan, I would have thought them crazy. However, history does indeed repeat itself for those who fail to learn from it.

So here we are in 2014 with a weak president, just as 35 years ago, watching another invasion. Once again we have a president who has diminished our military capacity. Once again we have a president who is limiting our energy security advancement in favor of radical environmentalists.

There are so many parallels between the tenures of presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama some postulate this is what a second Carter presidency would have resembled.

This past week, President Obama was in Europe displaying his failure to comprehend strategic level geopolitics. Europe has always been a battleground between East and West, between liberty and tyranny. The difference now is that we do not have resolute leadership such as President John F. Kennedy who went to West Berlin and stated, “Ich bin ein Berliner” meaning to say he was a citizen of Berlin (not a “Berliner” jelly-filled doughnut). And young Kennedy was indeed challenged by the brutish belligerence of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev by way of the Cuban missile crisis. Yet he stood his ground.

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Years later it would be another American president, Ronald Reagan, standing at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin demanding, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” And indeed the wall did. It was Reagan who clearly defined his Cold War strategy, “We win; they lose.”

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So when our current president makes weak, stumbling, incoherent statements such as, “this is not some zero-sum game” referring to Ukraine and Russia, he evidences his ignorance and cowardice to belligerents worldwide — and worse, to our allies. It is a zero-sum game and as Kennedy stated in his 1961 inaugural address:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge —- and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do—for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder….We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

And so we sit back and watch history all over again as weakness becomes the enticing elixir drunk by dictators, autocrats, theocrats, and despots. There is only one way to meet evil: head on. It is not about being a “warmonger” but rather a guardian of liberty and freedom — and a guardian of the republic for which we stand.

RELATED STORY: Putin thinks globally, while Obama acts locally

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com. 

Los Angeles: “Only one ethnic group being promoted: the Arab American group. We don’t have a Little Mexico or a Little Korea.”

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Little Arabia, Los Angeles, CA. Photo courtesy of Jihad Watch.

Esther Wallace, chairwoman of the West Anaheim Neighborhood Development Council, said she objects to Little Arabia garnering an official designation. ‘There’s only one ethnic group that’s being promoted and that’s the Arab American group,’ Wallace said. ‘We don’t have a Little Mexico or a Little Korea. All the pressure seems to be on putting a Little Arabia out here, and I don’t see why.’” I do. Even though most Muslims are not Arabs and most Arabic-speaking people in the U.S. are not Muslims (though that is changing rapidly due to Obama’s immigration policies), and the problem of jihad terror is not (contrary to constant government and media assertion) one of race or ethnicity, the two groups — Muslim and Arab — are still closely related in the public mind. This effort to establish “Little Arabia” in the Los Angeles area is part of a larger ongoing effort to make Muslims a regular feature of daily American life, thus helping to normalize the constant demands for special accommodation and the extra security measures that are increasingly common.

“In Los Angeles, Arabs put ‘Little Arabia’ on the map,” from Al Arabiya, March 22 (thanks to Lookmann):

Only a few miles from California’s Disneyland sits a string of Middle Eastern restaurants and shops backed by the state’s Arab American community affectionately called, “Little Arabia.”

Activists and business owners that support “Little Arabia” are campaigning for the strip to be recognized as a destination by tourism officials, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

“The most important thing to us is saying, ‘We are part of Anaheim,’” said Rida Hamida, director and co-founder of the Arab American Civic Council. “You have Disney, the Honda Centre, the Angels, and you also have Little Arabia.”

The push has already yieded [sic] positive results. The Anaheim/Orange County Visit and Convention Bureau agreed to put Little Arabia on its visitors guide.

“What I’ve seen of it, it has some great restaurants that I got to enjoy and a community that’s trying to build something there, so that’s exciting to see,” said Jay Burress, president and chief executive of the convention bureau, after his visit to Little Arabia last month.

The civic council is also preparing a new website and brochure to attract visitors.

The community’s biggest goal is to put in place an official designation for Little Arabia and an accompanying sign on the free-way.

The group’s efforts, however, are receiving some back lash.

Some residents complain that the special designation would hurt other ethnic pockets in the county’s largest city of Anaheim.

Esther Wallace, chairwoman of the West Anaheim Neighborhood Development Council, said she objects to Little Arabia garnering an official designation.

“There’s only one ethnic group that’s being promoted and that’s the Arab American group,” Wallace said. “We don’t have a Little Mexico or a Little Korea. All the pressure seems to be on putting a Little Arabia out here, and I don’t see why.”

Other complaints revolve around the influx of hookah lounges.

Some critics believe the area isn’t developed enough yet to be a tourist destination.

“We’re not ready to do a grand opening yet for Little Arabia because it’s not ready,” Ahmad Alam, owner of Arab World Newspaper and local property owner told Gulf News.

Alam said Little Arabia lacks cohesion and has fallen short of the place he imagined: an ethnic community that would “make everything available for the new generation, to know about their history and heritage.”

Asem Abusir, who last year opened Knafeh Cafe, which specializes in a generations-old pastry recipe from Nablus in the West Bank, said “Some are reluctant, but it takes some educating about what is the vision. It’s going to take some education both internally and externally.”

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is the flag of the City of Los Angeles by Mysid. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Putin thinks globally, while Obama acts locally

putin 2

Russian President Vladimir Putin

There have been hundreds of columns written about the rise of a new “Red Dawn” under Russian President Vladimir Putin. Europe is a twitter (not the social media site) with concern about the Russian bear. President Obama is finishing up a trip to Europe and has called for sanctions against Russia for its actions in Crimea.

The world is waiting with baited breath for Putin’s next chess move perhaps into Ukraine. Gas prices are spiking, global fear is rising and America is cutting its military forces to pre-World War II levels. Those old enough to remember know what happens when America is weak and its eventual cost in blood and treasure. Talk of WW III abound.

Diplomacy is designed to prevent war. It is useless once the war has started. All war presupposes human weakness and seeks to exploit it. Prussian General and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz wrote:

Kind-hearted people might of course think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat the enemy without too much bloodshed, and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war. Pleasant as it sounds, it is a fallacy that must be exposed: War is such a dangerous business that mistakes that come from kindness are the very worst. War is merely the continuation of policy by other means.

President Obama is a kind hearted person, President Putin is not.

Raphael Israeli in his book “Defeat, Trauma, Lesson: Israel Between Life and Extinction”, writes, “All too often we celebrate our rare victories in slow motion, play and replay endlessly their every detail so as to savor them  as if they were the natural state of affairs, but we tend to push our defeats to the corner, belittle and forget them.”

Israeli notes, “Winston Churchill  has become the hero and icon of the Allied resistance in spite of his association with war, death and destruction, and Neville Chamberlain, his predecessor, has been encrusted in the pages of history as the defeatist and naïve ‘peacenik’ who sought peace at any price, but in his search of peace and honor ended up forfeiting both.”

Who will history view as today’s Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill?

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President Barack Obama

President Obama has, since his election in 2008, had multiple bites at the apple to stand with peoples seeking liberty over repressive regimes. A second bite at the apple is defined as, “A second chance at an argument or negotiation previously lost.” President Obama may have a third bite at the apple of freedom if he decides to support the people of the Ukraine in their efforts to achieve liberty and independence from Russia. He has failed twice to make a strong argument against tyrannical regimes during his administration. As people died Obama remained silent.

The first failure was in 2009 during the Green Revolution in Iran. President Obama materially did nothing and the Green Revolution was put down violently by the Iranian regime. The winners: Russia and Iran. Loser: United States.

The second failure was in 2013 during the mass demonstrations against and overthrow of the Morsi regime in Egypt. President Obama materially did nothing and the people of Egypt prevailed. The winners: Egypt and Russia. Loser: United States.

Today President Obama is faced with yet another revolution but this time in the heart of Eastern Europe – the Ukraine.

As Clausewitz wrote, “Everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult. If the mind is to emerge unscathed from this relentless struggle with the unforeseen, two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead.”

Who is following the faint light – Obama or Putin?

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Krauthammer: Obama vs. Putin – The Mismatch

Warfare Three Ways

Michelle Recalls Surviving American Death Camps

Speaking to a group of awestruck Chinese citizens, Michelle Obama recounted her years of oppression as a victim of racism and how she survived the American extermination camps.

“There were laws in America that discriminated against people like me because of the color of our skin,” said Michelle. A sharp inward gasp was heard as the interpreter finished her comment in Mandarin.

Still haunted by laws that were no longer in effect when she was born, Michelle outlined her plight as she endured racism in Princeton University, and narrowly escaped death at Harvard Law School. Tears were seen streaming down the cheeks of some of the visibly moved Chinese citizens.

Michelle_Obama_Princeton_Prison.jpgWomen in her audience especially were deeply touched as the First Lady revealed how she had to live paycheck to paycheck as a hospital administrator with a meager six digit income.

“Sometimes we had to say no to caviar, or no to a really expensive Italian sports car because we just couldn’t afford it,” Michelle Obama recalled, her voice breaking, as one Chinese woman fainted and another one began sobbing uncontrollably.

However, when Michelle recalled the glorious day when her husband was chosen as the Democrat Party candidate for president – the day when she was proud of her country for the first time in her adult life – triumphant cheers broke out and she received a standing ovation.

Audience interviews showed just how significantly impressed the Chinese people were with the story of the First Lady’s painful ordeal. One young woman said, “Michelle give me hope that someday I make something of self. I not know how many opportunity I have in China until I hear how bad America be to black women.”

Another woman, who attended with her daughter, wiped away tears as she admitted, “I wish my other two children be with me to hear inspiring speech by so great woman, but number two child and number three child aborted by state. Still, I not know how good I have it until I hear how she suffer so big.”

An elderly man, who was leaning on an off-brand cane, also wished more could have been present. “If only more than eleven of my village survive Great Leap Forward, then more could hear elegant speech. I so happy state let me live to hear how bad America, and now I can die.”

After a brief time of handshakes, hugs, and selfies, Michelle Obama went on to continue her tour and spread her message of hope, made possible by statism.

I’ll Fly Away by Sarah Skwire

About two years ago blogger Will Wilkinson confessed that when he runs out to the market to pick up bok choi, he tends to listen to country music in the car. He seems mildly perturbed by his own choice of radio stations, because he considers country music to be, “A bulwark against cultural change, a reminder that ‘what you see is what you get,’ a means of keeping the charge of enchantment in ‘the little things’ that make up the texture of the every day, and a way of literally broadcasting the emotional and cultural centrality of the conventional big-ticket experiences that make a life a life.” Country music, he argues, “is culture war, but it’s more bomb shelter than bomb.”

It turns out that I have been mildly irritated by that blog post for two years. So I thought I’d tell you why I listen to country music in the car, and why I am not perturbed at all by that choice.

The country music that attracts me is the music that contains exactly the same push for cultural change and the same aspirational goals that Wilkinson doesn’t hear in the genre. Explicitly religious country songs often request that the listener give up the desire to “get adjusted to this world” and focus on the moment when “Hallelujah, bye and bye, I’ll fly away” to heaven. The more secular side of country music can take that same call to “plant my feet on higher ground” and turn it into a call to shake the small town dust off your shoes and head for the possibility of the big city. That’s why I listen to it.

I listen because in songs like “Suds in the Bucket” by Sara Evans and “Bye Bye, Baby” by JoDee Messina, romance (either a new one, or a broken one) is a spur for moving on. Evans contrasts the static, “biddies in the beauty shop gossip goin’ non-stop/Sippin’ on pink lemonade” with the young woman who heads out of town with a handsome man and a convertible, leaving “the suds in the bucket/and the clothes hangin’ out on the line” as she heads for a more enticing future. Messina, inspired by a broken heart, simply puts a “lead foot down on my accelerator and the rearview mirror torn off/I ain’t never lookin’ back.” These women don’t seem as afraid to “buck conventional norms” as Wilkinson suggests, or all that committed to the tired Tammy Wynette stereotype of “standing by your man.”

I listen to country music for songs like Toby Keith’s “How Do You Like Me Now” where the former small town loser turned big country star comes back from the big city to get revenge.

When I took off to Tennessee
I heard that you made fun of me
Never imagined I’d make it this far
… How do you like me now,
Now that I’m on my way?
Do you still think I’m crazy
Standin’ here today?

And in the same vein, I listen for Taylor Swift’s song “Mean,” which is unapologetic about its ambitions to get out of town and do better.

Someday I’ll be living in a big ol’ city
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.

The video for the song shows us young people saving for education, working at their passions for music and design, and succeeding. I’ll sing those lyrics, loudly, any time that my kids and I are in the car.

I sing just as loudly for songs like “Big Star” by Kenny Chesney and “Love, Your Baby Girl” by Sugarland, both of which tell the stories of small town musicians making it in the big city. And their success doesn’t come by magic or by good luck. It comes because “if you work hard to get where you are it feels good in the hot spotlight.” The waitress who features in Jason Aldean’s “Wide Open” has less of a meteoric rise, but is still focused on aspiration and change, balanced by the desire to hang on to her core values while she moves forward.

The corner cafe,
She scrapes some quarters off the table,
Says “Thanks yeah now maybe I’ll be able,
To get that black Mercedes,
I’ve been saving for.”
The other girls say,
“You oughta undo a couple buttons,
Start showing off a little something.”
She says, “Naw you go ahead,
Think I’d rather stay poor,
See I’m just making rent.”
She said. “This ain’t where my road ends.”

The people in the stories told by country songs are often—not always—moving, and changing, and working to make their lives better. They are even, in Brad Paisley’s “American Saturday Night,” possessed of an Adam Smith-like understanding of the wonders of international trade that make it possible for them to have:

…Brazilian leather boots on the pedal of her German car
Listen to the Beatles singing back in the USSR
…Canadian bacon on their pizza pie
They’ve got a cooler full of cold Coronas and Amstel light
It’s like were all livin’ in a big ol’ cup
Just fire up the blender, mix it all up

Admittedly, the songs mentioned so far are the kind of bubbly “upbeat and conventional” music that Wilkinson criticizes. They aren’t breaking a whole lot of musical or lyrical new ground. But it’s not particularly fair to country music to pretend that these tropes of aspiration and success, of heading for bright lights and new futures, don’t exist.

And when you go even slightly farther afield in the genre, you find similar tropes expressed in more complicated ways. The assembly line worker in Johnny Cash’s “One Piece at a Time” so desires one of the Cadillacs he builds, but can’t afford to buy, that he steals one, a piece at a time, from the factory. It may be illegal and rebellious (after all, it’s Johnny Cash), but it’s certainly a lot of hard work put into getting something better. And Brandy Clark’s album 12 Stories is filled with narratives of people who longing to get out of their small towns and struggling to find a way to do it. Some of them get high or take pills to dull down their sense of being trapped. Others “pray to Jesus and play the Lotto/Because there ain’t but two ways/We can change tomorrow.”

None of this sounds to me like music written by a culture that fears change. It sounds, instead, like music written by a culture that is dying for it, celebrating when it finds it, and grieving when it cannot.

20121127_sarahskwire (1)ABOUT SARAH SKWIRE

Sarah Skwire is a fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc. She is a poet and author of the writing textbook Writing with a Thesis.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Effectively Irrational: 30 common fallacies used against libertarians by Max Borders

By now you have probably heard of Bryan Caplan’s “rational irrationality.” The idea is that if the cost of holding irrational beliefs is low enough, there may be more irrationality demanded. Indeed, if holding an irrational view makes someone feel better about himself or keep membership in some in-group—but holding the view doesn’t directly harm the holder—she may very well stick with that view.

Caplan contrasts this with the idea of “rational ignorance,” which is more familiar to our readers. That simply means the cost of acquiring enough information to have a truly informed opinion about some issue is generally high, so people remain ignorant.

Both of these behaviors certainly play a role in the preponderance of dumb policies and dumb views. But are there corollaries in debate tactics?

Most libertarians find they’re arguing in social media these days. So they’re not only finding new people on whom to test their ideas, they’re finding new fallacies in response. And sometimes these fallacies work, despite being fallacious, which is probably why they’re so commonplace. This is especially true on social media, where one can quickly learn that the real point of these exchanges is to play to the audience, to provide them with an excuse to withdraw into whatever biases they already hold. Still, maybe it’s possible to raise the costs of employing these fallacies—at least a little.

We’ve decided to offer you a fun list of them, which you can use as a handy guide in the process of engaging in well-mannered, reasoned discourse online.

  1. Argument ad KochBrotherium: This fallacy is a cousin to the genetic fallacy and guilt by association. The twist, of course, is that anything that the Koch Brothers ever say, said, fund, funded, might fund, came close to funding, could have funded, will fund, walked by, looked at, support, think about, or mention is invalid by virtue of, well, “Koch Brothers! Boo!”
  2. The Unicorn: You’ll recognize this fallacy from the question, “Why does no libertarian country exist anywhere in the world?” Embedded in the question is the assumption that libertarian countries don’t exist because they are fantastic creatures, like unicorns. Of course, just because something doesn’t exist yet does not mean it can’t exist. Indeed, the Internet in 1990 and the American Republic in 1775 beg to differ. And the unicorn fallacy fundamentally confuses the libertarian worldview with some “L”ibertarian platform that might be the product of some electoral processes—processes most libertarians reject. Michael Lind and E. J. Dionne have brandished this fallacy rather shamelessly, and have had it parried rather effectively by better minds.
  3. Nut-Picking: This fallacy has nothing to do with Jimmy Carter. In this style of argument, the arguer finds the kookiest or most insane person who self-identifies as libertarian and then ascribes all of that person’s beliefs or claims to all libertarians. (This one could also be called the Alex Jones fallacy.) This is a tough one to counter simply because there are plenty of nuts to pick from, and plenty of them use the L-word.
  4. Must Be Scared/Have No Answer: This one’s pretty simple really, and a unique creature of “debate” via social media. The libertarian leaves his computer or signs off for a while and the opponent accuses the libertarian of not being able to answer his or her Facebook claims, which the libertarian simply never saw or had no time to answer.
  5. The Tin Man: This fallacy was identified and named by Cole James Gentles (here), who inspired this article. With the tin man the arguer either concludes or falsely assumes that the libertarian “has no heart” because she argues against some favored policy. This cousin of the straw man (scarecrow) fallacy assumes a direct line between sympathies and outcomes. Any failure to support some means amounts to a failure to support the wished-for end.
    The tin man fallacy is rooted in the assumption that one’s opponent, often a libertarian, has no heart. Unlike the straw man fallacy, in which the debater needs to mischaracterize their opponent’s position, the tin man fallacy allows the debater to build a sturdy-looking, if hollow, general facsimile of their opponent’s position (“You are against state mandated universal health care?”), but not give him a heart (“Then you don’t care about poor people who don’t have access to affordable, quality insurance, or people with pre-existing conditions!! You heartless monster! WHY DO YOU HATE THE POOR?!” Heard that one before?)

    The frightening part of this fallacy is that its wielder usually thinks exitus acta probat.

  6. Availability Cascade: Something big and bloody happens on the news (or goes viral), so the arguer implies or concludes that it’s a widespread occurrence. Example: A mass shooting has occurred, which points to an epidemic of gun violence. It’s not clear that if gun violence is at a multidecadal low point, the incident reflects an “epidemic.” The ready availability of some story leads one to conclude that a problem is widespread and demands a drastic response. Cass Sunstein, known for his work on “nudging,” gets credit along with Timur Kuran for identifying this phenomenon. (An availability cascade doesn’t always have to involve specious reasoning, but it very often does.)
  7. Man on the Moon: Remember Rachel Maddow standing in front of the Hoover Dam? She’s trying to convince her viewers that the government (which she calls “the country”) must tax and build some major make-work project in order to revive the economy (or whatever). Maddow is employing a form of the man on the moon fallacy, which takes the form, “If we can put a man on the moon, we can do X.” But it misconstrues any reservations about big, awe-inspiring State projects as doubts about “America’s” ability to do big things. It’s just assumed that anything requiring extensive collaboration must be done via State power for it to count. Questions of the value, cost, or feasibility (or some combination thereof) of any particular project are sealed off from the word “if.” And of course “we” is never carefully unpacked.
  8. The Gap: I wrote a whole book about why the following involves fallacious thinking. The fallacy goes something like this: “The free market widens the gap between rich and poor.” Now, strictly speaking that claim might be correct. But so what? I’ll pass over the problem that the “free market” has probably already been attacked with the unicorn fallacy at some prior point in the same hypothetical conversation. In any case, because economies are dynamic, the “rich” and “poor” change from day to day, and measured in quintiles, we don’t know whether the “gap” will be greater or smaller from one day to the next, even assuming a free market. The real problem with such reasoning is the built-in assumption that a gap itself is a bad thing. Suppose a really tall man moves into my neighborhood. Apart from my suddenly wishing I were taller, does the presence of the tall man make me worse off somehow? Of course not. The existence of the rich person doesn’t make me worse off, either, unless he got rich by using political means to transfer money from my pocket to his. This happens all the time. But such transfers have nothing whatsoever to do with free markets.Measuring an asset gap in and of itself tells us little. Indeed, without the functional story of how any gap came to be—stories, not snapshots matter here—we can’t make any judgments about it whatsoever. “Gap” talk is just a fetish that ignores how much better off the poor are thanks to the existence of innovators and entrepreneurs who got rich by creating value. And the unstated assumption is that if any group of people has more wealth at any particular point, the people with less are somehow being wronged simply because the other group has more. The gap fallacy is also meant to preempt debate, usually in the service of another agenda (which is rarely more than reinforcing the opponent’s opinion of himself as a good guy).
  9. The Two-Step: Some opponents will simply change the subject in the middle of a discussion, leaving the original claim by the wayside. Usually neither party notices the two-step. For example, the opponent may refuse to answer the libertarian’s direct question and instead respond with another question. Or the debater may slide into one or another irrelevant point that has no bearing on the original point at issue. This process can go on for a while unless the libertarian rigorously brings the opponent back to the original point. The red herring, ad hoc, and non sequitur are similar enough fallacies, so the two-step may also be classified as an evasive tactic.
  10. Panglossian Fallacy: Because the military-industrial complex was somehow involved in developing aspects of what later became the commercialized Internet, it follows that government funding is indispensable for such wonderful things to appear—and that all the things that go along with the funding (and revenue-collection) apparatus are therefore also acceptable. This variation of the post hoc fallacy is seductive particularly because we can never know what would have happened in the counterfactual private sector. Form: If it happened, it must be the best of all possible worlds. (See also the “The Government R&D Canard.”)
  11. Your Side: Also known as tarring with the same brush, this fallacy has a couple of related forms (see No. 1 and No. 3). An opponent may accuse the libertarian of being a Republican or Tea Party conservative because he or she happens to agree with a majority of Republicans on some particular issue. One hears: “Your side thinks . . . ” when in actuality the libertarian doesn’t have a “side” per se. It works even better as a tactic if there is really no connection at all apart from being something the opponent’s “side” would never say. The “your side” fallacy allows the opponent to appeal directly to tribal biases, which are more immediate and powerful than any argument. When it’s intentional, this rhetorical maneuver is meant to appeal to others who may be watching—the hope being that they’ll swerve into the ditch that is their own biases.
  12. The We/Society Fallacy: This common form of hypostatization occurs when the user ascribes rational individual agency to “society” and conflates or confuses society with the State. Both usually happen immediately, or somewhere hidden, before the opponent even speaks. The opponent wants his moral position or emotional state to be reflected somehow in the organization of society. Although “we” or “society” is a useful ersatz word that appears to confer legitimacy on some aspect of the opponent’s claim, it is almost always an intellectual sleight-of-hand. Only individuals can act. Groups must work through processes of either collaboration or coercion. (Note: “The market” is often misused this way by both supporters and detractors.)
  13. Deus ex Machina/Market Failure: People is people. And yet opponents sometimes think that it’s enough to argue that governments, by dint of largess and force, have the power to fix certain kinds of problems, which they label “market failures” because they happened outside the purview of State action. Note that this only works in one direction: Problems in any area covered by the State are usually chalked up to being problems merely of execution, whereas “market failures” allegedly reflect an inherent deficiency. Even if one agrees that one set of people working in voluntary cooperation cannot solve some problem (or at least haven’t yet), it does not follow that another group of people—“the government”—can. Indeed, greats like James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock have given us very good reasons why government is not likely to solve problems and will likely make matters worse.
  14. The Organic Fallacy: Such arguments take the form, “It’s organic, therefore it’s good or good for you.” Or similarly, “It’s not organic, therefore it’s bad or bad for you.” One hears this rationale to demand regulations and food labeling. And while there may be independent reasons to justify such regulations or labeling, these are not justified by the organic fallacy. It’s not clear that Socrates would argue for the health benefits of natural hemlock, nor would people with thyroidectomies argue they should go without Synthroid. I would add that, until there is more evidence to the contrary, there are plenty of GMOs that are good for me. (Note: Plenty of libertarians commit this fallacy too. Just because Monsanto is a rent-seeker doesn’t mean all its products are bad.)
  15. Nobel Fallacy: You may recognize the form “X has a Nobel Prize in economics, who are you to argue against his claims?” I don’t care whether Krugman or Stiglitz has a Nobel Prize, they’re wrong about just about everything. And the truth or falsity of one’s claim doesn’t depend on his credentials. (Meanwhile Nobel Laureates James Buchanan, Vernon Smith, Elinor Ostrom, Douglass North, Milton Friedman, and Friedrich Hayek are mostly always right. I mean, that’s like 6–2 for the good guys. [*rimshot*])
  16. No Parks for You: Snarkier opponents of libertarianism rhetorically ask why libertarians avail themselves of all the goods and services government happens to provide. “If you’re going to live by your principles, you can’t use X or Y” (insert: state universities or public roads). Of course, it does not follow that one should not avail himself of some good or service he thinks should be provided by other means. Indeed, one could argue that he is more than justified in consuming some good or service he has been forced to pay for against his will.
  17. The Self-Exile Fallacy: Snarkier still is the opponent who argues that “If you don’t like it, why don’t you just leave?” Implicit in this question is the suggestion that there is some positive duty for one to leave a condition he doesn’t like and/or that by one’s staying, he his implicitly consenting to whatever the system is. By this “logic,” if you have just bought a house with an ‘80s bathroom, instead of improving, changing, or upgrading it, you should just take a bath in the kitchen sink.
  18. Somalia: Opponents love to tell you that Somalia must be a “libertarian paradise.” Everyone laughs. If you respond with a phrase like “comparative institutional analysis,” everyone’s eyes glaze over and you lose, despite being correct. Somalia has been better off on most dimensions without a central government than it was under a brutal, centralized regime—warlordism notwithstanding.
  19. Social Contract: Rousseau left a terrible intellectual legacy. And progressives use his “social contract” to justify anything under the statist’s sun. Of course, there could be a real social contract, but libertarian opponents prefer the one that allows them to justify anything under . . .
  20. Start Somewhere: You’ve slogged through the data. You’ve offered a completely rational response. You’ve explained the ins and outs of why your opponent’s policy X won’t work and why it may even make things worse. The response? “We’ve got to start somewhere.” The idea here is that it’s better to do, well, anything—even if it might result in calamity. And, of course, the State must do that potentially calamitous thing. (See also No. 23.)
  21. Social Darwinism: “The free market is just social Darwinism!” This is actually a pretty old meme. It was used by progressive academics in the 1940s to smear the work of Herbert Spencer. Spencer was a biological Darwinist to be sure. And he also thought the market and social phenomena like institutions and ideas would be subjected to analogous evolutionary forces. But the unit of survival in markets is the business, not the individual. In other words, businesses that fail to create value for customers die. But advocating for free people to engage in voluntary exchange is not advocating that people leave the weak, poor, or vulnerable to suffer. Quite the contrary. Most advocates of the free market believe a robust philanthropy sector is part and parcel to a system of voluntary exchange. Herbert Spencer thought so too. He writes: “Of course, in so far as the severity of this process is mitigated by the spontaneous sympathy of men for each other, it is proper that it should be mitigated.”
  22. Argumentum Ad Googlum: This fallacy proceeds when the libertarian makes a good point or builds a stellar case, or asks a question the opponent can’t answer. The opponent disappears for a while, frantically Googling away. The opponent comes back with a series of links that stand in for argument. To be fair, this isn’t always a fallacy, as some will use links to support their claims. But often the tactic is used to thrust the burden of debate back onto the libertarian who is expected to read through the links and infer some point. At best, it’s bad form.
  23. We’ve Got to Do Something!: Related to the “start somewhere” fallacy, “We’ve got to do something!” is an argument that really means (a) the State has to do something, and (b) State action is preferable to both no action or private action. Numerous examples of this fallacy appear when opponents think any action riding on good intentions is good enough, consequences be damned. Often, however, it can be demonstrated that it is better for government to do nothing and to stop doing what it’s already doing. (Examples include stimulus spending, regulation, and other forms of intervention.) For government to do nothing is rarely presented as premise subject to debate and evaluation. Someone genuinely open to ideas would ask, “What should be done about this?” and “Who should do it?” Someone genuinely interested in answers would have the courtesy to make explicit what they already believe: “The government has to do something, which is beyond debate. Here’s what I think that something should be.”
  24. Empirical Fallacy: A familiar opponents’ refrain of late is: How do we know X isn’t going to work until we try it? We have to wait and see the empirical evidence before calling X a failure. With such reasoning we should let monkeys go to Washington and type randomly into a big machine that spits out statutes at random. Well, we already do this in a manner of speaking, but it might be a good idea to look at some well-established economic theory and economic thinking before sallying forth into legislative adventures that could have both predictably perverse and unintended consequences. More importantly, the opponent presumes it is the prerogative of the State—and, by extension, any governmental group within the State apparatus—to experiment on those under its auspices, and that it is the duty of the subjects in that jurisdiction to submit to the experimentation. (Also called the Pelosi Fallacy.)
  25. No True Libertarian: Ever heard of the no true Scotsman fallacy? Usually it’s applied by someone in a group to question another’s membership in that same group in terms of their ideological purity. Libertarians are famous for saying to each other, “If you think X, you’re no libertarian.” But libertarians’ opponents use a variation of this too. They’ll say something like, “Libertarians believe in X. If you don’t, you’re no libertarian.” (X might be natural rights, collective non-State action, a social safety net, etc.) The no true Libertarian fallacy is a way of trying to force the libertarian to choose between a subtle variation in his argument and his own doctrine. It implies the libertarian lacks credibility: “This clown doesn’t know what he thinks!” Of course, such a tack has no bearing on the truth or falsity of either party’s claims, or the validity of their arguments. Libertarianism is a diverse school of thought. It is not a monolith. One need only demonstrate the consistency of his argument.
  26. Fascist Ignorance: This one should be familiar: Libertarian opponents were outraged—OUTRAGED—when John Mackey pointed out quite correctly on NPR that Obamacare is a fascist policy. Fascism is, of course, a doctrine that calls for significant State control over private industries, to be carried out in the service of State ends. So the fallacy of fascist ignorance is a form of ad hominem in which a libertarian opponent refers to the libertarian or his views as “fascist” despite, strictly speaking, holding fascist views herself. (One might also refer to this as the “chicken calling the cow ‘poultry’” fallacy.) In the interests of good discourse, however, it’s probably not wise for anyone to evoke the power of the “F” word at all, given how much baggage it carries.
  27. Just One Life: The emotional appeal, grounded in nothing substantive, is meant to be a moralistic shutdown card. It goes “I’m sorry, but if we can save just one life with this policy, it’s worth it.” What does that even mean? Does it mean that every life has infinite value? Does it mean that saving lives at the expense of others and all other considerations is the purpose of government? Or does it mean that “worth it” is completely vague, but you just care a lot? It’s a heroic-sounding sentiment, but it demonstrates only the speaker’s commitment and earnestness—not any analysis of the policy itself.
  28. Consensus: This hybrid of the bandwagon and appeal to authority fallacies infects lots of discourse. It takes the form, “Lots of really smart and educated people believe X, therefore it’s true.” From the USDA food pyramid dieticians to macroeconomists, authorities are not always right. There are limits to any individual’s ability to understand all the nuances of a given issue. Prediction and forecast are even more difficult. Political decision-makers must confront the same cognitive limitations as mere mortals, which is why they, like libertarian debate opponents, rely far too heavily on expert “consensus.”
  29. Logo-phallo-euro-centric: Opponents accuse libertarianism of being hostile to women, minorities, homosexuals, and other marginalized groups. The fallacy lies in the idea that if your doctrine doesn’t acknowledge that groups deserve special, State-sanctioned treatment at the expense of other groups or individuals, it’s tantamount to some ism. Some even go as far as to say that if you use certain language some construe as racist, sexist, or homophobic, it invalidates libertarian doctrine. While many libertarians act like idiots and should probably not overreact to collectivist PC victim narratives with foul language, libertarian doctrine is at root a doctrine of anything peaceful—voluntary cooperation, decentralized power, and radical community formation. The heroes of libertarianism (of all races, sexes, and ethnic backgrounds) know that collectivism and Statism are interdependent world views: It takes evoking collectivism and inventing group rights (or wrongs) to justify most State actions, and the State has historically had the power systematically to prop up or tear down people by group.
  30. Who Will Build the Roads?: This familiar duck has a thousand variations, but the idea is that because the opponent has never seen it nor can imagine it being done without the State, it follows that it can’t. But of course, it (roadsaideducation, and the rest of it) can. (See also No. 13.)

I encourage readers to add more to the comments section below.

Note: huge credit to Cole James Gentles, Jeff Ellis, Sarah Skwire, and Zach Spencer for their assistance in compiling these fallacies. Thanks also to Michael Nolan for help in fleshing these out.

Max Borders

Max Borders

ABOUT MAX BORDERS

Max Borders is the editor of The Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also cofounder of the event experience Voice & Exit and author of Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor.

Libertarian Holism by Max Borders

[M]y position is not incompatible with urging that we try to extend our sense of “we” to people whom we have previously thought of as “they.” — Richard Rorty on solidarity.

One day, my son Sid and I were looking at the various rocks in his collection. He was about six at the time. I used to get frustrated at that bucket of rocks. He’d put any old rock in there and find a new one practically every day. The collection got heavy.

“We have rocks coming out of our ears,” I said. So I asked him about his collection, pointing out certain rocks to see why he liked them. Each time he would find some little detail—a color, or glint.

“You might not think this one is that great,” he said picking up a plain one, “but look at that peach color.” It really did have a beauty if you looked close enough.

“Alright,” I replied. “But what about this one? It’s boring.”

Then he looked at me and said, “You’re looking the wrong way, Dad. Don’t use your eyes.” He put it into my hand. It was the smoothest stone I’ve ever touched.

Starting Points

My son had taught me something important that day. His fresh look at the world had involved getting me to shed certain assumptions. As with rocks, so it is with people.

Most who read this publication self-identify as a freedom-lovers. If there is anything we have in common, it’s that. But what if we were to ask ourselves why we love freedom?

Some might claim their logic guided them from first principles to a place where they simply found their social-political orientation. This is the case for many in our community. They’ll say they reasoned, starting with some axiom like a principle of non-harm. If we start with non-harm, we can either move to consequences about peaceful states of affairs, or we can simply hang the axiom on some duty to respect people, a sacred and solemn duty of all. Fair enough.

Accepting all this for the sake of conversation, let us also suppose there are people who become freedom-lovers for very different reasons. It might seem to many that the only proper way to arrive at our worldview is via some reasoning process like the above. But let’s suppose there are other ways people come “into the light.”

Perhaps they started out with completely different set of concerns, what we might call personal or emotional values. Such might be a sense of fairness, concern for the poor or oppressed, a sense of possibility and promise, or some other emotional touchpoint. Maybe they learned that, despite what they’ve always been told by various well-intentioned statists, they discovered that our true liberalism—as a system—is the best route to satisfying those values they showed up with, that they all depend in some way on freedom. So, when asked, these freedom-lovers will report something like: “Hey, I used to think I was a rabid progressive, until I learned that international trade and open markets have lifted more human beings out of abject poverty than any other system we’ve ever seen.” Their starting point was a deep desire to lift people out of poverty.

Suppose also there is some other group who arrives through talk of being excellent and/or realizing one’s concept of happiness. These eudaimonaic types sound more like Aristotle than John Stuart Mill, and their emotional values have to do with people realizing their own dreams, or being the best they can be. Such sentiments might attach to religious teachings about divine plans, or they might be freestanding emotions that terminate in the sense that we only get one shot at this life, and that it’s just not cool to let others squander our lives for us for someone else’s righteous cause. After all, we have our own righteous causes. We can find overlaps with others who have the similar causes. We can collaborate. Together or apart, we can pursue our ideas of happiness and the good. And we can become the heroic beings we admire.

There may even be more seemingly bizarre emotional starting points—bizarre, that is, from someone else’s point of view. Buddhist writings lead one to think of the sacredness and interconnection of all life, which prescribes a peaceful orientation towards others. (One can see strands of this in the writings of FEE founder Leonard Read.) Yet another starting point might be that a man falls in love with a freedom-loving woman and simply wants to accommodate her worldview and so eventually adopts it as his own. Remember: These are starting points. It could be that someone reads a Robert Heinlein book (or Ayn Rand, or Tolkein, or the Illuminatus Trilogy) book, finds it resonates emotionally for reasons he can’t explain, and reads more.

Limbictarianism

For many, I’d speculate, the emotional value centers are already there (inborn) and a mentor, a book, or a life-event activates these centers and the person starts to build an intellectual latticework around them. As E. O. Wilson writes of Rawls and Nozick in On Human Nature,

Like everyone else, philosophers measure their personal emotional responses to various alternatives as though consulting a hidden oracle.

That oracle resides in the deep emotional centers of the brain, most probably with the limbic system, a complex array of neurons and hormone-secreting cells located just beneath the “thinking” portion of the cerebral cortex. Human emotional responses and the more general ethical practices based on them have been programmed to a substantial degree by natural selection over thousands of generations.

How’s that for an axiom?

Now, for the sake of discussion, can we safely agree these emotional values can indeed be starting points? I think so. However we might admire the first quarter of Mises’s Human Action, we can pretty safely admit that reading it is not the only starting point. Whether we like it or not, there are multiple entry points, and thus a diverse set of paths from which people can arrive.

Here We Are

Here’s where things get really important: Freedom-lovers want the world to be a freer and better place. Can we also admit that the world would be freer and better if more people were loved freedom? I think so. I hope you do too. If you don’t care whether more freedom-lovers are in the world, you can stop reading now. This is not to insult anyone, it’s simply not useful for you to read on.

Now, accepting that you want more people to be freedom-lovers, the question becomes: Which do you care more about? How people arrive? Or that they arrive at all? If you care only about the former, you might be a one-trick pony. That is, your only approach to persuasion might be to tell people to readHuman Action. And there is nothing wrong with that per se. I’ve suggested Mises to manyBut I also realize that to get people to our picnic, a lot of people might not be willing to take such a long detour through Vienna—and that’s assuming they’re curious about our ideas at all.

That means it may be time to expand outward from single starting points. Your liberalism or mine works great when we can agree on a starting point. But we must first acknowledge that people don’t always start from the same point. In fact, if you believe Jonathan Haidt in The Righteous Mind, that can be quite rare.

“Morality binds and blinds,” writes Haidt. “It binds us into ideological teams that fight each other as though the fate of the world depended on our side winning each battle. It blinds us to the fact that each team is composed of good people who have something important to say.”

It doesn’t matter if you think that people have inalienable natural rights, or that the consequences of this ruleset or that will be positive, or that dispositions to the classical virtues provide the bases of our worldview. What matters is that those who are listening will come into any contact with you carrying certain ideological baggage. They will be disposed differently. To bring them around to your way of seeing things is to understand them, to empathize with them—at least in part. It requires pulling them into solidarity with you by helping them to reweave their web of beliefs.

Masters of Persuasion

The masters of persuasion are libertarian holists. Holists are fluent in multiple value languages. It’s not easy. Even the most accomplished people might not be fluent across such languages. It doesn’t matter how smart some economics professor is, for example. The breadth and depth of his thinking may be constrained by his specialization or by his starting points. He may be an accomplished scribe in a long tradition of economists, but have only a rudimentary grasp of concepts like virtue, deontology, and rhetoric. Likewise, the philosopher may make great stepwise syllogisms, but he may not have the gift of gab, exude the charm, or shake the brightest feathers that can pull an intellectually curious person into our orbit. True masters of libertarian holism are rare. But they are vital.

Solipsism

I hesitate to introduce yet another dichotomy (thick or thin, brutalist or humanitarian) but I would suggest that the other end of the continuum from the holist is the solipsist. This person is content in the echo chamber, sometimes even being alone with his principles. Solipsists can be valuable stalwarts for movement solidarity, because even though they operate in the echo chamber, they can help hold it together. A healthy libertarian solipsist will remind you in a reasonable way when you might be straying too far from the reservation. And they are good at finding other proto-solipsists, i.e. those who share their particular starting points. But an unhealthy solipsist is strident, rabid, axiom-obsessed, dogmatic or linear. Many are simply enamored with the idea of being in an exclusive club.

So, I would argue more of us should either aspire to be libertarian holists, or at the very least respect those who are going about skinning this cat in different ways. Because after a certain point, libertarian solipsism is only good for indulging some adolescent urge to get attention. Anyone who wants to win—to persuade a critical mass of human souls—has to be prepared to diversify, to think across multiple perspectives, and to understand the values of those who start at different points. Those who can do that will rise to the soaring heights of our movement.

Two Forces

It takes a lot more effort to have a conversation across great ideological gulfs than to fire missiles across them. But we have to make the effort. Because there are certain, though perhaps unsettling, human truths we all have to face. First, there are only two forces of social change in this world that matter: persuasion and coercion. One can have all the principles and axioms she likes but the people with the jails, the guns and the jackboots may not care about your principles. Second, those committed to peaceful means of social change have only persuasion at their disposal. So if we think using violence is wrong, we’d better become master persuaders—libertarian holists—willing to stare through other lenses and find a way to connect with their values before the people with the guns, jails and jackboots do.

With all this, libertarian solipsists may accuse me of being a relativist. But those who do will be missing the point. We are only effective to the degree we can grow our ranks, lock our arms and build our free world in parallel with the crumbling power hierarchies of the twentieth century.

Being a holist is about searching for all the reasons people ought to love freedom, celebrating them and sharing them. This more complete, multifaceted movement will be more powerful than any state one day. Because the people it comprises will be able to open others’ eyes to subtler colors and smoother surfaces.

Max Borders

Max Borders

ABOUT MAX BORDERS

Max Borders is the editor of The Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also cofounder of the event experience Voice & Exit and author of Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor.

EDITORS NOTE: The features image of rocks is provided by FEE and Shutterstock.

Keystone XL: Who benefits? Who loses?

Last Thursday, 20 March, the Washington Post published an amazing article by Juliet Eilperin, their Environment reporter, claiming the Koch brothers are the major owners of Canadian “tar sands” – the source of oil to be shipped through the Keystone XL . Specifically the article said:

“The biggest leaseholder in Canada’s oil sands isn’t Exxon Mobil or Chevron. It’s the Koch brothers.”

In doing so, Eilperin and the Post relied on a recently issued report from a far-left outfit called the International Forum on Globalization (IFG).

Ms. Eilperin is a longtime advocate of action to save the earth from “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” (CAGW), the old name before it became “climate change” or “carbon pollution.” It is not terribly surprising that Eilperin opposes the pipeline, whoever is invested in it. The surprise is that Eilperin rushed so quickly and gullibly into an obvious hoax.

The recent IFG report is a supplement to one issued in October, 2013, which became a laughingstock when John Hinderaker of Powerline blog tore it apart, noting that even IFG admits Keystone XL would provide competition for Koch oil sales in the American Midwest, costing them about $120 billion. In addition, Koch Industries has never lobbied for the Keystone XL. Also, one does not just drive up to a Keystone XL terminal – assuming one ever exists – and pour in a truckload of oil. A would-be user has to pay, in advance, for a quota of oil to be shipped, an allowance of a portion to be used (of a total 830,000 bbl/day). Koch Industries hasn’t bought a quota. Needless to say, Hinderaker had a lot of fun ripping the WaPo and Eilperin.

A wise journalist – or, at least, an honest one – would have issued a retraction and an apology to the readers. Eilperin and the Post have done neither. Nor has the Post’s Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, the man who issues “Pinocchio” awards to liars, said anything about the article.

pinocchio_4

Pinocchios courtesy of the Washington Post.

This lie ought to get Eilperin four pinocchios.

So, what did Eilperin offer in response? She said:

The Powerline article itself, and its tone, is strong evidence that issues surrounding the Koch brothers’ political and business interests will stir and inflame public debate in this election year. That’s why we wrote the piece.

Oh. The fact that someone – not even Koch Industries – tried to rebut a complete lie is justification for printing the lie in the first place – since it “stirs and inflames public debate.”

But wait, as the TV salesmen say, there’s more.

Juliet Eilperin is married to Andrew Light, who formulates environmental policy for John Podesta’s Center for American Progress (CAP). Light is also a member of the Obama Administration, as a Senior Advisor to the Special Envoy on Climate Change in the State Department. As you remember, Climate Change is the most important issue facing the world – according to the Secretary of State, John “A Child Could Understand This” Kerry. Today President Obama is in Europe, discussing with NATO and the leaders of the European Union, what we can do to blunt the Russian control of the EU energy supply.

As you probably remember, John Podesta was recently made a “special advisor” to Obama – and specifically to advise on climate for the guy who once promised to make your electricity costs “skyrocket.” Mr. Podesta strongly and unequivocally opposes the construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals. He wants more study – as has been done for Keystone XL pipeline, for five years.

Who benefits if the Keystone pipeline goes ahead? Millions of Americans who will see gasoline prices decrease. Millions of Canadians who will see taxes flow into their national treasury. Thousands of Americans and Canadian workers. American energy independence, a priority since the 1970’s. Certainly not Koch Industries.

Who benefits if Keystone is not approved?

Tom Steyer, hedge fund billionaire and major Democratic Party contributor. Steyer is offering $100 million to Democrats in 2014 who oppose Keystone. Prior to the Democratic Senators’ talkathon, the leaders visited Steyer’s home in New York. Does anyone believe Mr. Steyer cares for the environment and global warming $100 million worth?

The feature image is a picture of Brad Johnson, a staff writer for Podesta’s Center for American Progress, admonishing the Washington Post against telling lies – when the Post dared print a column by Charles Krauthammer that suggested climate science is not “settled science.”

The American Physical Society (APS) recently appointed a panel of members, including three prominent sceptics, to review its previous endorsement of global warming as a matter of concern. Sounds pretty unsettled. I don’t often agree with Johnson or the rest of Podesta’s gang, but I also wish the Washington Post and its environment writer, Eilperin, would stop telling lies.

RELATED STORY: Keystone XL is Proof Obama Opposes U.S. Economic Growth

Should GOP Conservatives Adjust Their Message for Blacks?

Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote an article stating that the only way for conservatives to reach black voters is to drop their color blind idealism.

Dougherty wrote, “Conservatives in the GOP like to assail identity politics and tout their own ideology as one of color blindness. Sometimes this is stupidly marketed to black voters as a selling point for Republicans. “We don’t categorize you by race,” brags a Republican. The black audience hears: “We don’t take the most salient part of your American political identity seriously.”

I am a real-live black person. When I hear Republicans say “We don’t categorize you by race”, I think, “Thank you for respecting my intelligence enough not to pander to me.” Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, a Republican, dreamed of a day when Americans would focus on principles such as character rather than skin-color (race).

Civil rights leaders and Democrats have abandoned Dr King’s vision of a colorblind America. Especially since Obama, the exploitation of race is the Democrats’ super weapon to win every political battle. Anyone daring to oppose the black president’s socialist/progressive agenda is bombarded with accusations of racism. Checkmate!

Dougherty appears to suggest that we conservatives can not simply stand up for what is right and true. We must adjust our message to fit the Democrats’ false accusations and false assumptions.

For example. Dougherty thinks the GOP should back-off from their push for voter I-D laws because it looks like they are attempting to suppress the black vote. Mr. Dougherty, as a black conservative, I find the concept that blacks are too incompetent to find their way to acquire a photo I-D extremely insulting, demeaning and offensive. Democrats are fighting voter I-D because they seek to steal elections via voter fraud. Will Republicans waving the white flag on this issue win them black votes? I think not.

Dougherty thinks America’s history of racial injustice causes blacks to deal with the issue of race every day. I beg to differ. Neither myself nor my black family, friends and associates deal with racial issues every day.

Despicably, liberals and Democrats strive to make race an issue, polarizing Americans; keeping the fires of racial tensions burning bright for political gain.

I reject Mr Dougherty’s call for conservatives to abandon colorblind politicking. Why must we always allow Democrats and their media buddies to determine the rules of engagement?

We are all Americans and should be dealt with accordingly, rather than doing what the Democrats do; divide Americans into supposed victimized voting blocs and pandering to each group for political exploitation.

In the 1980s, as a young black kid clueless about politics, Ronald Reagan’s one-size-fits-all conservative message of American exceptional-ism spoke to me. Reagan inspired me to be all I could be. His speeches made me feel good about myself and my country.

Admittedly, Conservatism will not resonate with everyone. Some people are born leeches and lazy; always looking for a free ride. These types feel entitled to the fruits of other folk’s labors. Democrats love to pander to them.

But I believe in the character and goodness of a majority of the American people. When presented unfiltered by liberals, conservatism will find a lot of Americans eager to embrace it. Why? Because Conservatism is in-sync with the human spirit.

Please understand. Packaging the conservative message to appeal to various audiences is an excellent idea. However, watering down our principles or choosing not to challenge the Democrats’ false narratives is foolish and wrong.

Certain principles have a universal appeal. Such principles bridge racial divides.

In the 1970s, I was a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art. My fellow black students at the mostly white college were extremely militant and anti-whitey. A group of them demanded that the Black Panthers be allowed to rally on campus.

I was stunned when these same black students approached me extremely excited about this awesome movie, “Rocky”, the Italian stallion. It was remarkable to witness these particular black students so passionately embracing a white boy. The magic ingredient was the “colorblind” principles espoused in that movie which spoke to the humanity in us all.

Mr Dougherty, I respectfully disagree with your article. As an American who happens to be black, I do not desire a “black version” of Conservatism which is rooted in true compassion and common sense.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo montage was created by Soldieranabi. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Fig Pastors: Revelations’ Last Message to the Seven Churches and the End Times

Barren_fig_tree

The BarrenThe fig tree in Matthew 21:19 represented the Jewish nation in the time of Christ, but could also represent America now. The message to the last church in Revelation is addressed to the preachers. America’s condition today may largely be the responsibility of a failed ministry.

Speaking of when the end-time would suddenly come into view, Christ said, now learn a parable of the fig tree. As His own end-time began, the last week of Christ’s life finds Him walking from Bethany, hospitable home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, to Jerusalem where He sees a fig tree in full leaf with promise of figs. But searching it, He finds only leaves, no fruit.

Christ cursed the fig tree as an acted parable. The barren tree with its pretentious foliage was a symbol of the Jewish nation. The Savior desired to make plain to His disciples the cause and the certainty of Israel’s doom. The Jews were ahead of other nations, professing allegiance to God. Though specially favored by God, they were corrupted by the love of the world and the greed of gain.

In saying, Learn a parable of a fig tree (Matthew 24:32), Christ was implying a lesson for us at the end of time. More than any other nation now, America has been blessed with a knowledge of truth that was responsible for its prosperity, but corrupted also by greed of gain the the love of the world, America is about to wither as the fig tree in Matthew 21:19.

From a gardening standpoint, fruit trees can become unmanageable and unproductive in a few years. Fruit appears on new growth, but if the tree is allowed to grow without pruning it, too many branches and blossoms mean not enough support for the fruit.

This is a commentary on religion in America. Lots of fig leaves, which was also what Adam and Eve used to cover their nakedness in Genesis 3:7. Preachers are offering smooth things to not offend any in their large congregations. It may be a gospel of prosperity, or false hope of salvation, but there is not much that people are getting from the Word of God that should prepare us for all issues in life.

God understood this about 2000 years ago when the apostle John was given a letter to the aggelos, the messenger or preacher for the last of seven churches–lukewarm with materialism, not unlike the Jewish nation at the time of Christ’s fig tree parable.

“To whom much is given, of him much is required,” Luke 12:48. This sounds like God will hold preachers accountable for what’s happening (or not happening) as a result of their smooth messages.

“The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple…but who may abide…He is like a refiner’s fire, and He shall purify the sons of Levi [religious leaders]” Malachi 3:1-3.

Readiness for what’s coming [end-times] results from an understanding of the Apocalypse—the book of Revelation. Tragically, most western Christians have little understanding of this book that pronounces a blessing on those who read and keep those things written in it, Revelation 1:3.

Too many Christians have been taught that they will be raptured! Why should they try to understand the book of Revelation? On the other hand, we could have a serious loss in destiny if there’s no rapture and we don’t understand the visions that John penned for us. Most pastors don’t even see America in prophecy.

RELATED STORY: Book “The Harbinger” asks: What will you do on the Day of Judgement?

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo titled “Old Fig Tree” is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Democrats can be racists, too

Two weeks ago, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) set off a firestorm of controversy by saying on the syndicated radio talk show of Bill Bennett: “…we have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities, in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work; and so there’s a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with…”

To read the unedited interview, go to: http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/article/2014/mar/14/context-paul-ryans-poverty-comments-racial-attack/

This made up controversy about Ryan is a bunch of garbage. People need to be much more judicious in labeling someone as a “racist.” It is a very damning term that should only be used under the most extreme of circumstances.

What Ryan said was stupid, but not racist. In the 80s, Jesse Jackson referred to New York City as “Hymietown.” Like Ryan, it was stupid but doesn’t make Jackson anti-Semitic. Professional athletes using the word fa**ot in the locker room doesn’t necessarily make them homophobic, but it may be stupid to use in today’s PC climate.

We, who are in public life or have a media platform, all say stupid things at some point in our lives. But our lives should not be destroyed by the mistakes we make. Rather, our lives should be affirmed by the totality of the contributions we make to society. By this standard, Ryan is definitely a good guy.

Not surprisingly, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) sharply criticized Ryan. Strangely, they never direct similar anger at President Obama, even after he for willfully disrespected them and ignored them for five years and counting. Republicans are constantly accused of ignoring the Black community because they are racists. So does that also make Obama a racist? Just asking.

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), former head of the CBC, called Ryan’s comments a “thinly veiled racial attack.” House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) spokesman called his remarks “shameful and wrong.”

If you only go by the media coverage, a person can only be a racist if they are a White Republican. So, allow me to give you a little Democratic history.

During the Democratic primary of 2008, our “real” first Black president, Bill Clinton had this to say about Obama’s campaign, “Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.” The response from the CBC and white Democrats? Crickets! Nothing. Laryngitis.

The morning after Obama’s 28-point blowout of Hillary in South Carolina, Bill Clinton called Obama another Jesse Jackson (meant in a negative way). Of course, who could forget Bill Clinton’s Sista Soulja moment from the 1992 campaign? Again, Crickets! Nothing. Laryngitis.

I could go on forever with examples of Democrats doing the same thing that Ryan is accused of, but you get the point.

There is also the issue of what I call “White Republicanitis.” I have warned Ryan about this issue, but he didn’t get it. Bob Woodson, founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, has been taking Ryan all across the country to meet with inner city Blacks to discuss possible policy solutions to deal with some of the issues they deem important.

Ryan refused to do any media surrounding this personal initiative with him and Woodson because he’s doing it because he cares, not because he wants media attention.” Paul, they are not mutually exclusive; it’s not either or, but both and.

This is what I call “White Republicanitis:” doing the right thing but in the wrong way. If Ryan had followed my counsel, then he would have some goodwill in the bank to draw down from during his moment of crises.

I have done several media interviews about this Ryan flap and in every instance the comment was made that maybe Ryan needs to go into the Black community and talk with a few Blacks before he opens his mouth. When I shared with the interviewer/host what Woodson was doing with Ryan, they all indicated that they had no knowledge of this. Most looked shocked, as though they couldn’t reconcile the idea of a White Republican going into the Black community because that is the antithesis of their view of a Republican.

Maybe now Ryan will start engaging with the Black media.

But, it’s not just Ryan. I have had similar conversations with the House and Senate leadership about this same issue to no avail.
As far as this feigned outrage from members of the CBC and Pelosi, weak people take strong positions on weak issues.

The Green Scam of “Endangered Species”

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal took note of what has occurred since the 1990s when some three dozen gray wolves were captured in Canada and transferred to the wilderness of Idaho. According to federal biologists, this was necessary to restore the ecological balance in a region teeming with elk and other creatures on the gray wolf food chain.

The article noted that more than 650 wolves roam the state today according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game which has been hearing a lot of complaints that the wolves “are wreaking havoc on Idaho’s prized elk and livestock, and prompted the governor’s office to embark on an effort to wipe out three-quarters or more of the population.”

So the federal biologists bring in the wolves and a few years later the governor’s office says kill them. Why? Because the elk population has fallen about 15% since the wolves arrived, along with 2,589 sheep, 610 cows, and 72 dogs.

Take a moment on contemplate how arrogant and unconscionably stupid it is to take gray wolves from Canada and put them in Idaho in the name of “ecological balance.” The only balance achieved was a significant imbalance in the elk population and witless destruction of sheep and cows which represent a livelihood to ranchers and dinner to the rest of us.

Throughout America we are all paying for the environmental notion of “endangered species” and the quest to “save” some from extinction. The problem with that conceit is that 95% of all the species on Earth have gone extinct over hundreds of millions of years. One paper on this noted that “Mass extinction of biological species has occurred several times in the history of our planet.”

The Endangered Species Act became law on December 28, 1973, just over forty years ago. It’s not about saving species. It’s about providing a vehicle to environmental groups to shut off access to vast areas of the nation in order to prevent drilling for oil and natural gas or mining them for coal and other minerals.

In a December 2013 Wall Street Journal article, Damien Schiff and Julie MacDonald reported that “A law intended to conserve species and habitat has brought about the recovery of only a fraction—less than 2%–of the approximately 2,100 species listed as endangered or threatened since 1973.”

“Meanwhile, the law has endangered the economic health of many communities—which creating a cottage industry of litigation that does more to enrich environmental activist groups than benefit the environment.”

“One reason the Endangered Species Act has spun out of control is that the federal agencies that decide whether to list a species—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—no longer based decisions on what the law calls for: data. Instead they invent squishy standards like ‘best professional judgment.’”

The result of that can be seen in California’s San Joaquin Valley where much of the nation’s almonds, broccoli, onions, watermelons, lettuce and tomatoes have been grown. About 13% of all agricultural production in the nation takes place in the region where some 250 different crops are grown. That is, until the Natural Resources Defense Council won a lawsuit against California’s water-delivery system that they claimed was endangering Delta smelt, on the Endangered Species list since 1994. The result was a manmade drought for the valley’s farmers and ranchers. If you wonder why the cost of everything in the vegetable section of your supermarket costs more, you can thank the NRDC.

Polar Bears (2)Lying about animal species is so much a part of the environmental movement that polar bears have become a fund-raising symbol over the years despite the fact that polar bear populations, said to be threatened by melting Arctic ice, have been thriving since the 1970s. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are between 20,000 and 25,000 polar bears worldwide, living in Canada, Greenland, the northern Russian coast, islands of the Norwegian coast and the northwest Alaska coast. Hunting them was banned in the U.S. and worldwide with the exception of Alaskan Natives for tribal needs.

Currently almost half the land west of the Mississippi river belongs to the federal government and environmentalists want to expand on that to prevent the nation’s booming oil and gas development. That development could make the U.S. energy independent, create many jobs, and its revenues could significantly reduce the tremendous national debt. At the heart of the environmental movement is an intent to destroy capitalism and reduce the U.S. among other nations to an era before fossil fuels improved life for everyone.

One way to do that is to increase the endangered list by a record 757 new species by 2018. Two species with the greatest impact on private development are range birds, the greater sage grouse and the lesser prairie chicken. Among the environmental groups who specialize in using the Endangered Species Act are the Wildlife Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity who have been party to more than one thousands lawsuits between 1900 and the present. The Center has made no secret of wanting to end fossil-fuel production in the U.S.

The Endangered Species Act should be repealed because it has a pathetic record regarding its goal over the past forty years and because it threatens the economic development of the nation. Unless or until this occurs, environmentalists will continue their assault on America.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Manly Obama pictures released to counter shirtless Putin

In order to help toughen President Obama’s image on the international arena, the White House released photographs of a shirtless, muscular U.S. President engaged in various manly activities. Barack Obama appears in these pictures playing golf, riding his daughter’s bicycle, throwing a baseball, and negotiating with Russian President Putin, who seems dismayed by the U.S. President’s superior physique.

The White House stated that previously released pictures of shirtless Vladimir Putin riding a horse or holding a rifle are no match to the new masculine image projected by Barack Obama in these photos, which until now had been kept from the public due to the U.S. President’s famously humble disposition.

America’s progressive satirists and Photoshop jockeys are now expected to use these pictures in creating a new series of viral “Obama vs. Putin” infographics, to counter the existing pictorial comparisons portraying the U.S. president as an emasculated lightweight.

obama golf shirtless

obama shirtless bike

obama shirtless baseball

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Why Government Does Not Function

Do you have the feeling that we no longer have government from the federal to the local level that is able to function because of vast volumes of laws and regulations that have made it impossible to do anything from build a bridge to run a nursing home? If so, you’re right. The nation is falling behind others who do a better job by permitting elected and appointed officials to actually make decisions. We are living in a nation where lawsuits follow every decision to accomplish anything.

Cover - The Rule of NobodyThis is the message of Philip K. Howard in a book that everyone concerned for the future of America should read; “The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government”.

It explains why we can elect a Representative or Senator, send him or her to Washington, D.C. and still see no progress. Instead, we get the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—that began as a 2,700-page law that has already metastasized into regulations that, stacked up, stand seven feet tall! And more on the way. It has destroyed the healthcare insurance industry and is destroying the U.S. healthcare system.

“The missing element in American government could hardly be more basic. No official has authority to make a decision. Law has crowded out the ability to be practical or fair,” says Howard. “It’s a progressive disease. As law grows to fill the vacuum, the wheels of government go slower every year.”

Howard points to a variety of problems that nation is encountering. “America’s electrical grid is out of date—transformers, on average, are about forty years old, and not digitized.” As vital and essential as the grid is to all life in America, “there’s no active plan to rebuild America’s electrical grid. The main reason is that government cannot make the decisions needed to approve it.”

Citing proposals that would allow the Bayonne Bridge to permit the new generation of large container ships clearance that would enable the Port of Newark to remain competitive, it took three years for environmental reviews to clear the project, but as Howard notes, “the average length of environmental review for highway projects, according to a study by the Regional Plan Association, is over eight years.” Eight years!

“Government on legal autopilot,” says Howard, “doesn’t have a chance of achieving solvency. In 2010, 70 percent of federal tax revenue was consumed by three entitlement programs—Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security—that don’t even come up for annual congressional authorization.”

Americans are in general agreement that Big Government is a big problem, but did you know that more than twenty million people work for federal, state and local government—or one in seven workers in America. Their salaries and benefits total more than $1.5 trillion of taxpayer funding each year or about ten percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Cities in America are declaring bankruptcy because they cannot afford the retirement and other benefits that their employees receive. State budgets are comparably weighed down.

We read about the often incomprehensible results and costs of the legal system affecting all levels of government. “Up and down the chain of social responsibility, responsible people do not feel free to make sensible decisions,” says Howard. “Everything is too complicated: rules in the workplace, rights in the classroom, and machinations in government. We’re bogged down in bureaucracy, pushed around by lawsuits, and unable to steer out of economic and cultural storms.”

“The point of regulation, we seem to have forgotten, is to make sure things work in a crowded society.”

What is forgotten or never learned is that there are elements of risk in everything we do. Trying to legislate risk out of our lives only leaves us with millions of rules that make it impossible to function intelligently in business, in schools, in hospitals and nursing homes, and everywhere else. It eliminates swings and seesaws from playgrounds out of fear of lawsuits.

“America is losing its soul,” says Howard. “Instead of creating legal structures that support our values, Americans are abandoning our values in deference to the bureaucratic structures.” Too often, decisions made by elected officials or reflected referendums voted upon by the public have been taken over by the court system in which judges now feel free to decide these matters. The response was a growing objection to “judicial activism.” Now even the judges are distrusted.

Howard’s book explains why America is in trouble and offers recommendations to put it on the right path again. If it is ignored, the America into which I was born more than seven decades ago will not be around or livable for the next generation or two of Americans.

© Alan Caruba, 2014