Michael O. Powell
Recent Posts From Michael O. Powell
I am in regular contact with an old friend and frequent reader of United Liberty, who also happens to be what is popularly termed these days as a “progressive.” He likes Barack Obama, thinks Hillary Clinton is wonderful and, like most lefties, slumps all non-progressives together as “thieves” and similar terms.
He’s a good guy, but because of my libertarian rhetoric and his progressiveness, I often get the feeling that he doesn’t comprehend what I’m saying. That’s not an insult to intelligence, but more of a testament to the limited comprehension of political thought that is pervasive in today’s America. (I personally blame the onslaught into politics of social issues, which do alot to dumb down and simply discourse and amplify the irrelevant.) I find this most common amongst progressives, who generally don’t get libertarians. Because they see that libertarians are generally laissez faire on social issues, they often disregard libertarians as contrarians who have been brainwashed or caught up with right wing thieves and fascists.
Conservatives, unlike progressives, seem to (for the most part) at least get us. Conservatives have a good share of difference with us (just take a look at the 2008 Republican Presidential Debates to see what I mean) but they at least aren’t inherently hostile to our core ideas.
What is a libertarian?
At the Cato Institute, David Boaz relays the Saudi sentencing to death of a man for the “crime” of astrology:
A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a Lebanese television host to death for the crime of “sorcery.” Apparently Ali Hussein Sibat was recognized by Saudi religious police as he made a pilgrimage to Mecca. On his show, he gave advice to callers and made predictions about their future. He could be executed any day now.
It’s disputable how significant the portion of the Islamic faith is that follows the line of thinking that led to Ali Hussein Sibat’s sentencing, but it is very clear, from countless constant and widespread terror attacks to similar backward sentencing occurring throughout the Islamic world (and in supposedly “democratic” regimes such as Afghanistan), that it is not a small phenomenon.
In a speech following the attempt by Nigerian terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to kill Americans on a flight from Detroit to Amsterdam, President Obama said this:
Finally, the American people should remain vigilant, but also be confident. Those plotting against us seek not only to undermine our security, but also the open society and the values that we cherish as Americans. This incident, like several that have preceded it, demonstrates that an alert and courageous citizenry are far more resilient than an isolated extremist.
That sentence baffles in many ways. First, Obama is having us swallow an image of an incident which is similar to others perpetrated before it but is perpetrated by an “isolated” extremist. Huh? Second, this “isolated extremist” was warned of by his own father, who had spoken with the CIA and the US Embassy in Abuja to warn that he believed his son was a jihadist training in Yemen.
In June 2009, Barack Obama delivered a speech in Egypt in which he said the following:
So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
After an attempt to blow up an American airliner, it’s worth pointing out a cold, hard fact: After 9/11, George W. Bush presided over seven years without one terrorist attack on American soil. Barack Obama has been president for a year and we have been subject to two.
This is really serious. Alot of moderate and independent people voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because he appeared as an intelligent, eloquent alternative to the unprepared Republican ticket. This included many foreign policy hawks such as Francis Fukuyama and Christopher Hitchens. If it becomes further evident that American security has weakened under Obama, however, Obama may find himself with a large loss of support in 2012.
(This article is an amended version of an earlier essay on Ayn Rand.)
I first heard about Ayn Rand earlier this year while reading a copy of the brilliant magazine Liberty. Curious about why libertarians were so ga-ga over this novelist, I picked up a copy of We the Living. From the plot of that book, I expected her to be a libertarian George Orwell, illustrating the horrors of dictatorship and tyranny by way of dramatization.
We the Living is a great book. I think it should be assigned reading for any course on communism. Rand did a brilliant job of illustrating how weak in authority the Soviets initially were and how their power eventually became omnipotent. There was even quite a bit of nostalgia for her mother country in many parts of the book, which clashes with the harsh criticisms of Russian society that Rand made in interviews.
Thinking I had found another great author, I plowed through Anthem, which detailed a collectivist dystopia in which all aspects of individualism had been wiped from existence. Another great book and far more compact than her others. I went through a little bit of The Early Ayn Rand, which publishes some of her earlier fiction work for magazines.
While spending the holiday season in my hometown of Seattle, I came across an article about an independent bookstore that is outmaneuvering the larger competition:
Verano pushes a few buttons and the device sets to work. First, the cover is printed, and then the Kyocera starts spitting the pages of the book inside the transparent chamber. Once the interiors have been printed, a glue pot, which has been heating up and churning to life as the pages have printed, lines the inside spine of the cover with a viscous brown glue, and the pages get pressed into place. A whirring saw-blade arm sizes the book down, and the whole thing is dumped—ker-CHUNK—into a vending slot on the side of the machine. Besides the generic cover (just the title, author’s name, and the name of the bookstore, in aqua blue), the finished copy of the book is virtually indistinguishable from any other paperback in the bookstore. It’s still warm, and it smells of ink. Total time, from inception to completion: 15 minutes. Like all the other public-domain Google Books, the cover price is $8. The store is working on creating a widget for its website in the next few weeks that will enable customers to browse and order books. There will also be a dedicated computer for that purpose available to customers in the bookstore.
Printing out-of-print books is pretty neat, and so is the fact that the bookstore now has almost-immediate access to 800,000 contemporary print-on-demand titles (likeThe Tooth Fairy and A Frolic of His Own) that would normally take four to six weeks for a brick-and-mortar bookstore to acquire (the EBM exponentially increases Third Place’s stock from 200,000 titles to millions), but it’s not the device’s major selling point.
Ralph Nader has apparently gone off and written a novel. The effort, called Only The Rich Can Save Us!, is an antithetical retort to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (which I’m sure more have read than ever voted for Nader in his myriad presidential efforts) depicting a group of rich celebrities who save the word by embracing altruism.
One of the best elements of a political satire is the creative effort of the author to mask who they are satirizing. Christopher Buckley, William F. Buckley’s son and the author of Thank You For Smoking!, was a master of this, as was Michael Crichton. The overtly political storyline of Revenge of the Sith led interviewers to ask if the character of Palpatine represents George W. Bush, as he had never overtly spelled it out. There is apparently no such subtlety in Nader’s work:
Even the character names Nader invents are mostly sophomoric wheezes on other notables. There is a bloated right-wing blabbermouth named Bush Bimbaugh, identified as the king of shout radio; another broadcaster is called Pawn Vanity. When there is nobody in particular to lampoon, the names are often tritely alliterative: Lancelot Lobo, Michelle Mirables, Roland Revelie, Wardman Wise. The chairman of the House Transportation Committee is Harry Horizon. There is a CEO named Cumbersome and a senator named Crabgrass, bringing to mind a postmodern Pilgrim’s Progress.
The names he came up to resemble the real political world sound like I’m tuning into Michael Savage’s radio show. Apparently writing is not what Nader was intended to do. It would be wise to suggest he stick to - well - whatever is he has been doing up to now.
A recent Rasmussen poll revealed substantial support for small government amongst Americans:
Sixty-six percent (66%) of U.S. voters prefer a smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes over a more active government with more services and higher taxes.
Even if they prefer a small government, Americans are faced with a country in which the federal government is the largest employer and the pay afforded its employees dwarfs that of a private worker:
While many workers in the private sector have despaired of a pay increase in the past few years, Congress takes care of federal employees with annual raises, awarding 3.9 percent in 2009, 3.5 percent in 2008 and 2.7 percent in 2007.
The average pay for the nation’s 1.9 million federal workers is a little over $71,000, with the 372,041 federal workers in the Washington area earning an average of $94,047. The average salary for the nation’s 108 million private-sector workers is $50,028.
Government employees are often unionized and have infrastructure built to keep them from being fired even if they fail to perform their job functions. They tend to vote Democratic and their unions are among the biggest contributors to the Democratic Party. Is it any wonder then that the average American continues to face a vacant job market while a Democratic Congress provides increasing raises for federal employees?
It looks like all the climate change propaganda isn’t working as planned.
Back in 2007, when I was writing for the Pacific Publishing Company in Seattle, Washington, I wrote an article on climate change called “Fear Tactics Continue.” From disaster movies that showed a snow-covered New York City to the over-the-top documentary An Inconvenient Truth, I pointed out that there was a concerted effort to make climate change accepted in the popular consciousness (and thus push critics out of the mainstream) by scaring the crap out of people.
That effort is falling apart at the seams because it was built on a foundation of lies and half-truths.
First, one of the very scientists that Al Gore quoted has been backing away from the use of his data by Gore:
In his speech, Mr Gore told the conference: “These figures are fresh. Some of the models suggest to Dr [Wieslav] Maslowski that there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years.”
However, the climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast.
“It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,” Dr Maslowski said. “I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.”
Mr Gore’s office later admitted that the 75 per cent figure was one used by Dr Maslowksi as a “ballpark figure” several years ago in a conversation with Mr Gore.
From the same people who brought you the bailouts, stimulus and the deficit, comes the soda tax:
Charging a few more cents for a soft drink, legislators claim, will not only refresh exhausted state and federal revenues; it will make us thinner.
Several versions of this year’s health care bills included a soda tax to help offset new costs. In a September interview with Men’s Health, President Barack Obama called it ‘‘an idea that we should be exploring” because “our kids drink way too much soda.” The idea had been dropped from the health care legislation at press time but is expected to resurface next year.
The proposal is perennially popular on the state and local levels too. Thirty-three states tax the sale of soft drinks, at an average rate of 5.2 percent, and politicians in other jurisdictions are eager to jump on the bandwagon. After New York Gov. David A. Patterson floated the idea of a soda tax in December 2008, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched his own campaign to tax sugary drinks. “All the studies show that young kids drink an enormous amount of soda, and if they drink the sodas with all the sugar in it, it adds a great deal of weight to them,” Bloomberg said in April.
This all seems quite silly from the onset, but let’s dive in deeper.