Slate, at least get your facts right….

November 9th, 2009

I’m sure it comes as a surprise to no one that I’m drawn to the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand. Last week, Johann Hari posted what claimed to be a review of two biographies of Ayn Rand at Slate.com. Not surprisingly, though, it was turned into an ill-informed (or ill-presented) slam against Objectivism and the like.

Reading through the article, it was clear that Hari either was completely confused about the basis for Objectivism or simply buys into the collectivist bent of modern Liberal thought that needs to push down any sort of outright individualist philosophy. It is also very clear that Hari is unable to divorce the philosophy from the philosopher, feeling a need to point out every fault of Rand as an indictment of Objectivism.

In his discussion of Atlas Shrugged, Hari makes the comment of “Her heroes are a cocktail of extreme self-love and extreme self-pity: They insist they need no one, yet they spend all their time fuming that the masses don’t bow down before their manifest superiority.” If Hari actually read the book and got this out of it, then he needs to go back and re-read it. There is no claim the masses should be bowing down to the protagonists. Instead, there is the claim that those who are attempting to use them, either through force or fraud (looters or moochers), should stop doing so and actually offer something in trade rather than expecting it to be given to them or just taking it by force.

Hari goes on to make the inference that Rand was endorsing only the rich should be in control, when that was never said or intended. The intention was that only those who are actual producers should have control. Those who contribute nothing themselves, only taking from others, should have no say. Otherwise, you end up with what we have in the current day and age where earmarks are voted in Congress to redistribute wealth from those who have actually earned it to those who have done nothing to earn it.

Yes, Ayn Rand had her failings as a person. To be honest, the character she most resembles from her books isn’t Dagny Taggart or Dominique Francon, but rather Gail Wynard. She fostered a cult of personality around her for her own personal power and ego stroking, leaving the path she laid down in her writing.

I will, however, fully admit that Rand contributed somewhat to this viewpoint of her work in her statements of having lived out her philosophies every day of her life. This leads people who are looking for something to attack to view anything she wrote through that filter rather than on the merits of the philosophy itself.

I understand that not everyone agrees with Rand and there are many people who actively dislike her. I’m more than willing to talk on Objectivism on the basis of what is actually written, removing the filter of Rand’s less than ideal personal adherence to it. Putting out an obviously slanted attack piece under the guise of a book review? Not so appropriate.

stranger Personal Thought

Online Gambling Reform

November 9th, 2009

Anyone that knows me is well aware that I’m a poker player. I tend to be about as rabid about the game as your standard rabid football fan (to the point I’ve started a second blog just about poker at http://mariettabull.strangeland.net). Unfortunately, I live in Atlanta, which is several hours from a casino and online betting is currently illegal in the United States (or, more to the point, will fully be so by December if action isn’t taken). There are a number of members of the House of Representatives, however, that are trying to take steps to remove these blocks and put regulations in place to govern online betting.

Now, all arguments aside of whether it should or should not be regulated, I’d much rather see it legal, taxed, and regulated than I would simply prohibited. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) has a position article posted at Rollcall.com regarding this issue, pointing out some of the dangers to consumers if the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) isn’t repelled and/or corrected.

At the end of the day, the UIGEA was yet another attempt at legislating morality. This is unacceptable, just like every other case of providing for the prosecution of victimless “crimes.” One of the few things for which I will applaud Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) is his push to clear the legality of online gambling in the United States.

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is continuing to lobby Congress on behalf of the poker industry, and I fully support them doing so. If I want to sit at home and play poker online for actual money, that’s my decision. I don’t need the Federal Government playing nanny with me and telling me what I can and can’t do online in this situation.

Obviously there are other issues out there of greater import at the moment, but I can always hope that if Congress can spend time on hearings about the BCS, they can take a day or so and correct the idiocy of the UIGEA.

stranger Uncategorized

Madame Speaker’s Hypocrisy

November 9th, 2009

As has been reported in a large number of places already, the House of Representatives passed a Health Care Reform bill Saturday night. It squeaked through after having provisions for it covering abortions were removed from the bill. There are a couple of things here that continue to show me that Speaker Pelosi is interested in nothing other than her own personal power.

First and foremost, there is no Constitutional authority for Congress to pass anything of this nature. Interstate Commerce, you say? If they were looking at further regulating the health insurance/care industry and were looking at the rules that chain companies to the overhead increasing policies requiring them to have different policies for each state in which they operate, I would completely agree that was within their authority. Wholesale requiring people to have insurance (and threatening them with several thousand dollar finds and/or multi-year prison terms if they don’t comply)? Not in the slightest bit within the Constitution scope of their authority. This, however, matters not a whit to a majority of the members of the House of Representatives (and, arguably, doesn’t matter a lick to most of the minority who voted against the bill).

The other big item of hypocrisy and frustration is Pelosi ignoring the promises of transparency and openness preached when President Obama took office. There had been a promise that any legislation would be posted on the Internet for 72 hours before a vote to allow constituents to read it. As with most other major legislation this year, this did not happen. At least in this case, unlike the stimulus bill, there was an actual written bill before the vote. Regardless, the final version was not available for public consumption for 72 hours before the vote.

At the moment, my only thought of saving grace are the fact that this bill is pretty much DOA when it hits the Senate. As well, there is much less wiggle room in the Senate to be able to get a bill passed to forward on to the President’s desk for a signature. Given this, I have hope the Senate will block this horrible version of healthcare reform from every making its way into law.

stranger Government Outrage, News