Monday, April 30, 2007

Day By Day Today


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What Came First ---The Philosopher Or The Ideas?

The Glory Of Greece: Plato And Aristotle

I have emphasized cultural forces other than the direct influence of explicit philosophical ideas. I have done so because I think these factors explain what is going right in today's world.

However, I have not yet attempted to re-integrate these new observations with the question of the role of explicit philosophical ideas. A good place to start examining the role of those ideas in history is with the history of Ancient Greece, a history that produces results which might seem surprising.

A reader sent me the following recollection of a common Objectivist interpretation of the role of ideas in history, which gave me a sense of recognition:

Long time ago I recall seeing a poster created by an Objectivist depicting "the history of ideas in the world" (the actual title was more fancy). Time ran from left to right, spanning the Greek era to the present. In vertical bands were stacked intellectual disciplines: art, music, history, science, etc., with philosophy occupying the uppermost band. In tracing the connection of ideas, a striking, dominant pattern emerged. This was a downward, diagonal slant of influence. The layout was nicely executed and the message striking: fundamental ideas invariably shape the sciences and humanities, under time delay.

Philosophical ideas can have such an impact, and they have a crucial and irreplaceable role in history—but the question here is the exact nature of that role.

The problem with the view represented by the chart described above first struck me many years ago at a conference on Ancient Greece, when I first grasped a crucial aspect of the timeline of Greek intellectual development: the fact that this timeline is the opposite of the one presented in that chart with the diagonal lines of influence.

The development of Greek culture at its height did not go from the top left to the bottom right, from abstract philosophy down to art and the sciences. It went the other direction, from upper right to bottom left—and the most interesting part about the intellectual history of Ancient Greece is that the greatest Greek philosopher, Aristotle, comes last, after most of the important developments in Greek science, politics, literature, and art.

I won't attempt to create my own graphic representation of Greek history. A summary of some of the top achievements of Greek thought will do. Remember that all of the dates here are in years BC, which means that they go "backwards," with the higher numbers representing earlier dates.

In medicine, the key breakthrough was made by Hippocrates (c. 460–370 BC), whose essay "On the Sacred Disease," written about 400 BC, argued that diseases are not caused by gods or by supernatural forces but instead have natural causes.

In history, Thucydides (c. 460–400 BC, though the date of his death is not known for certain) wrote the first scientific work of history, the History of the Peloponnesian War, which used rigorous research and the comparison of first-hand accounts to separate fact from legend. This work was researched and written from 423 to 411 BC.
The Complete Article By Winston Smith

Secure Our Borders!


A Rally Not Covered By The Mainstream Media

Leftist Moonbats On The Warpath Against Nuts

Nuts In The Crosshair

Europe Has Become Anti-Jewish


Europe Has Become Anti-Semite

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Day By Day Today


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Another Scam Exposed On The Internet!


I am shocked....yes SHOCKED! There are scams going on using the Internet!


I'm pretty sure this is illegal.


I take that back; I'm absolutely sure this is illegal.


Cute. Funny. Clever and highly imaginative, but still illegal.


If you still want to do it, read on, but you really should pay for things.

To The Freedom Fighters Of The World: Freedom Isn't Free

"Attention American Soldiers: A Hand Salute To The French Freedom Fighters!"

Le blog drzz
"Le prix de la liberté, c'est la vigilance éternelle."
--- Thomas Jefferson

Meet The Fighting French

La Marseillaise was composed by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792 and was declared the French national anthem in 1795.

Let's go children of the fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny's
Bloody flag is raised! (repeat)
In the countryside, do you hear
The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
They come right to our arms
To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!
Refrain

Grab your weapons, citizens!
Form your batallions!
Let us march!
Let us march!
May impure blood

The Chinese Freedom Fighters Are Welcome At This Blog

The red, white and blue flag of Chinese Liberty and The Blue Revolution

Sergeant Ronbo would like to welcome the Chinese Freedom Fighters to this humble little homeland of counter terrorism: The Blue (Liberty) Revolution that is sweeping across the planet. I have noticed numerous hits on my Blog from the "People's Republic of China" like the one below that comes from the very nest of Chinese Communism -- The Capital city of Beijing. It is interesting that this individual Chinese is reading up on guns. This sounds so...well...revolutionary. China could use a 1776 style American Revolution led by Chinese Minutemen.

To the Chinese Patriots: "You have nothing to lose but your chains of Communist slavery."

Domain Name

(Unknown)
IP Address

222.211.218.# (CHINANET Sichuan province network)
ISP

CHINANET Sichuan province network
Location

Continent
:
Asia
Country
:
China (Facts)
State/Region
:
Beijing
City
:
Beijing
Lat/Long
:
39.9289, 116.3883 (Map)
Language

Chinese (China)zh-cn
Operating System

Microsoft WinXP
Browser

Internet Explorer 6.0Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1)
Javascript

version 1.3
Monitor

Resolution
:
1024 x 768
Color Depth
:
32 bits
Time of Visit

Apr 29 2007 2:11:52 am
Last Page View

Apr 29 2007 2:11:52 am
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0 seconds
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1
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http://www.google.cn/search?q=america
Search Engine
google.cn
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america gun culture
Visit Entry Page

http://ronbosoldier.blogspot.com/2007/04/strange-american-gun-culture.html
Visit Exit Page

http://ronbosoldier.blogspot.com/2007/04/strange-american-gun-culture.html

Israeli PM Joins McCain In, "Bomb, Bomb...Iran"

Magazine retracts PM quotes on Iran
Mark Weiss, THE JERUSALEM POST
Apr. 28, 2007

Following angry denials by officials in the Prime Minister's Office of a report in the German magazine Focus that quoted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as saying, "It would take about 10 days and 1,000 Tomahawk missiles to severely damage the [Iranian nuclear] program," the interviewer himself denied writing any of the content.

Focus journalist Amir Taheri contacted Olmert spokeswoman Miri Eisen late Saturday and told her that Focus had agreed to remove the material in question from its Web site after the Prime Minister's Office complained, and after he disclaimed the article.

Eisen confirmed that Taheri had met with the prime minister earlier this month for about half an hour, and that officials in the Prime Minister's Office had taped the conversation.

"This was not even an interview. The reporter did not tape the conversation or even take notes," Eisen explained. "The prime minister simply did not say the things attributed to him."

Present at the background briefing, in addition to Eisen, were Olmert spokesman Yaakov Galanti and the prime minister's adviser on Iranian affairs, Uri Lubrani.

Taheri also said he had been unaware that his meeting with Olmert was a briefing. He said he had understood that it was a regular interview.

Focus had said Olmert conceded that military action would not come without severe consequences that would have to be carefully considered.

"Perhaps it's not possible to destroy the entire nuclear program, but it's possible to damage it to the extent that it would be set back years," Olmert reportedly said.

"We must ask ourselves if the use of military force would not make the entire Iranian people our enemy and...bring other Muslim nations against us, thereby creating even more problems," Olmert was quoted as saying.

Focus further quoted Olmert as saying UN sanctions should be given a chance before military action was considered.

"We must give the UN process time to take effect. We have no intention of attacking Iran at the moment," he added.

Olmert doubted whether Iran's nuclear program was as advanced as Teheran claimed, as the International Atomic Energy Agency has reported on the country's nuclear abilities.

"I don't think Iran is about to cross the nuclear technology threshold, as its leaders claim. We still have time to stop them," Olmert reportedly went on to say.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The World Triumph Of The Good

In order to understand why the absence of a civilizational collapse is such a big story, it is important to remember the first half of the 20th century. During those years, civilization was collapsing. It was collapsing culturally, with such trends as the rise of incomprehensible, non-representational Modernist art, unintelligible Modernist literature, and the screeching dissonance of Modernist music—all of it a precipitous collapse from the high achievements of 19th-century art and literature. But most of all, it was a political and economic collapse, with two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the rise to power of two totalitarian movements, Fascism and Communism.

So it should be no surprise that writers and intellectuals of the era were pre-occupied with the threat of a general collapse into war, dictatorship, poverty, and mass death. You can see this reflected in such famous dystopian literature as George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Wikipedia provides an extensive list of dystopian literature, and you will notice that Ayn Rand wrote two of the novels listed. Her 1937 novella Anthem projects life under a perfectly consistent collectivist society, while her 1957 masterwork Atlas Shrugged depicts the collapse of the American economy under a statist political system.

Depictions like this were not alarmist. They were a straightforward projection of the trend of current events, including, in Ayn Rand's case, her own experiences in Soviet Russia in the 1920s and her observations of the political atmosphere of the Great Depression in America in the 1930s.

For some decades into the second half of the 20th century, the same trend seemed to be continuing. In the 1960s, the rise of the New Left and the "counter-culture" rebellion against civilization, logically accompanied by race riots in the inner cities and violence on university campuses, confirmed a sense of cultural decay and collapse. Meanwhile, the Soviet dictatorship seemed to be on the offensive, expanding its influence into Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, while America floundered in a period of malaise and retreat following the Vietnam War. An observer might still have been justified in fearing that America was following the same path as the Roman Empire before it—that our society was decaying from within and was about to be overrun by a new barbarian invasion.

This conclusion would have been reinforced, not just by an observation of historical trends, but by an examination of the basic cultural causes at work. All of the ideas that had made possible the rise of the West—reason, individualism, the subordination of government to individual rights—were under attack by the most prominent intellectuals of the era. If these intellectuals were the ones steering the culture and setting the direction for the future, then we were doomed.

Then something remarkable happened: civilization did not collapse.

From about 1980 to today—a period of a quarter century, too long to be a mere blip or historical detour—it was the enemies of civilization who collapsed. And more: civilization has not merely avoided a collapse. It has grown and expanded. It is thriving.

The evidence for this began to appear in earnest in the 1980s, as both Britain and America pulled back from their headlong plunge into socialism, adopted moderately more pro-free-market policies, and were rewarded with an enormous economic boom and unprecedented progress in the development of high technology.

In retrospect, however, we can observe that the trend had its beginnings even earlier, in the post-World War II establishment of representative governments and free-market economies in nations like West Germany and Japan; in the post-war trend toward free international trade; in the slow but steady spread of free markets and free societies across Southeast Asia, in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea—all of the "Asian Tigers."

But it was in the 1990s that the trend became truly global and its full significance began to be noticed. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, war has collapsed: the number of armed conflicts across the globe, and the number of people killed in them, has dramatically decreased—even taking the War on Terrorism into account.

The nations of Eastern Europe moved rapidly toward political freedom and have continued to move steadily toward relative economic freedom. The move toward political freedom culminated in the past few years with rebellions against corrupt semi-authoritarian systems in the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine. The trend toward economic freedom reached a kind of high point recently when the former Soviet vassal state of Latvia was rated by the Wall Street Journal as the fourth freest economy in the world, ranking well above the United States.

Over the past thirty years, Communism has undergone a slow-motion collapse in China. By a complex series of ideological evasions, the Communist Party gutted Marxism as a philosophical foundation for its political rule. I have been following this trend closely, China now has the four largest shopping malls in the world; the Chinese government recently awarded the "workers vanguard" medal to NBA star Yao Ming, along with a collection of Chinese businessman; the Chinese leadership has been debating over a sweeping reform that would formally recognized property rights in Chinese law; and a growing number of courageous Chinese lawyers, judges, and intellectuals are beginning to argue for free speech, individual rights, and the rule of law.
And the trend keeps on going. The "Asian Tigers" were followed by the "Celtic Tiger," as Ireland liberalized its economy and experienced a prolonged period of rapid economic growth. The same thing has happened in Chile, the freest economy in South America.

The latest sensation—and it is a big one—is India, which is finally experiencing an Industrial Revolution, at the same time that its large population of engineers and computer programmers takes advantage of the information age. This is the result of a process of economic liberalization that began in the summer of 1991, when India responded to a fiscal crisis—and to the collapse of the Soviet Union—by sweeping aside much of the "license raj," a Byzantine system of business licensing laws that sought to impose centralized economic planning.

There is now a new culture beginning to rise in India, whose symbol in my mind is a young man described by pro-free-market columnist Gurcharan Das in his 2001 book India Unbound:

The commercial spirit is not limited to the cities. The smallest village has found it. On a visit to Pondicherry from Madras a few years ago, I stopped at a roadside village café where fourteen-year-old Raju was hustling between the tables. He served us good south Indian coffee and vadas. Raju told us that this was his summer job and it paid $11.50 a month—enough to pay for computer lessons in the evenings in the neighboring village. For the next summer, his aunt in Madras has arranged a job for him in a computer company.

"What will you do when you grow up?" I asked. "I am going to run a software company," said Raju. He had decided this when "I saw it in TV, where this man Bilgay has a software company, and he is the richest man in the world."

By my count, somewhere on the order of three billion people—about half the world's population—are currently on a path toward political and economic liberty, and toward enjoying all of the things that liberty makes possible: a vibrant, innovative culture, a "First World" lifestyle of opulent wealth, and the benevolent sense that success and happiness are the hallmarks of a "normal life," so that a fourteen-year-old boy in rural India can reasonably believe it is possible for him to become the next Bill Gates.

In short, it is not just that civilization did not collapse. It is the vision of civilization as being on the verge of collapse that has collapsed—or at least, it ought to have collapsed.

The problem is that our intellectuals, who ought to be in the best position to observe and explain this phenomenon, have generally not done a good job of recognizing the non-collapse of civilization. For the most part, they are still too busy worrying over the imminent collapse of civilization to notice, study, or explain the actual trends in the other direction.

For as long as I can remember, the typical final paragraph of any review of the state of the world by an writer or speaker has gone something like this—which was aptly paraphrased in a recent note from a reader who had noticed the same pattern: "Western civilization as it exists today is doomed to destruction; I only hope I don't live to see its fall." Over the years, the pattern has become so reinforced that I see it everywhere and in letters like the one I received recently from another reader, who lamented that:

Twenty-first century America is still riding on the historical momentum of the Enlightenment, which rested on a strong (though flawed)…foundation. What is the health of that foundation today?...

What happens to a society over time as its leading intellectuals and, in consequence, the general public, increasingly abandon reason and respect for reality? My answer, gleaned from the literature of Objectivism, is as follows. Faith and force inevitably fill the void that reality and reason should have occupied…. Faith and force, united together, become the ruling doctrine of the society (which then collapses altogether if or when it runs out of subservient producers to sustain it).

I grant you that there is room for debate as to how far down that path America has come. But I find the trend ominous, particularly so in other countries.

To gauge the state of those societies, consider a recent article with the ominous title "Communist Retro Sweeps Eastern Europe." It turns out that this article describes, not a political movement, but rather a kind of middle-aged nostalgia among Eastern Europeans for the state-manufactured brand names and soft drinks of their youth—all of which are now produced for profit by private companies.

I don't blame intellectuals for not seeing the signs of these more positive trends, because the impending collapse of civilization was the trend of the first half of the 20th century, and it is only in the past few decades that an opposite trend has clearly emerged. But it is important to begin to recognize that this new trend does exist, and to ask what makes it possible.

The current global spread of free markets, political freedom, and an industrial-technological civilization is too large a phenomenon to be explained as the mere "inertia" of a previous, better era. Indeed, the cultural "momentum" of the second half of the 20th century was the momentum of the era immediately preceding it, an era whose predominant direction was toward chaos and destruction. The story of the last fifty years has been the story of a reversal of cultural momentum.

I do not mean to imply that this trend is permanent and inevitable. I do not deny that there are ideological and political forces, such as the Muslim world's rebellion against civilization, that threaten to slow down and even reverse the recent progress that has been made in the world. But precisely for that reason, I think it is imperative for us to discover what is causing the good things that are happening in the world.

The most urgent question of our era is: what went right?

I will put forward my own preliminary answers to this question, but the first step is simply to recognize that the question has to be asked, and that new evidence may require new answers and new theories about the role of ideas in history.

The Implosion of the Population Bomb

Let us begin with just one example of recent political and cultural progress.

Recently I covered the reaction to the news that the 300 millionth American had been born, and he noted the general implosion of the "population bomb" hysteria. For the most part, the 300 millionth American was celebrated as a sign of our healthy growth as a nation, not as a sign of impending scarcity and privation, as the doomsayers of "overpopulation" have been warning for many decades.

I attributed this cultural change to the influence of the late economist Julian Simon, whose work on this subject was implicit in numerous articles and commentaries on the latest population milestone. Jack linked to one such article, but an even better example appeared a few days later in the Wall Street Journal arguing that "more people means more prosperity."

At bottom, the debate over population revolves around a single question: Are human beings a burden, or a resource?... [P]eople don't just consume things. They make them too. More bodies means more minds, more innovation, more dynamism, and more progress. The history of the world as America went from 100 million or 200 million to 300 million lends a lot more support to the humans-as-resource view than the humans-as-burden view.

This editorial nowhere mentions Julian Simon's name—but it relies entirely on his ideas. Such is often the fate of an intellectual who succeeds in injecting an important new idea into the culture.
The idea of people as a "resource" and especially of the mind as an economic resource is the central breakthrough of Simon's 1981 book The Ultimate Resource, whose thesis is accurately summed up in its Amazon.com review:

In the contest between resource scarcity and human ingenuity, Simon bets the farm on the ability of intelligent people to overcome their problems…. The key to progress is not state-run conservation programs, he says, but economic and political freedom. Only then can talented minds properly apply themselves to our earthly dilemmas.

This has proven to be an enormously influential idea, providing pro-free-market thinkers and economists a profound argument for liberty. Here, for example, is just one example of the influence of this idea, from an important November 2003 speech by President Bush:

[T]he prosperity and social vitality and technological progress of a people are directly determined by the extent of their liberty. Freedom honors and unleashes human creativity—and creativity determines the strength and wealth of nations…. But…there are governments that still fear and repress independent thought and creativity and private enterprise—the human qualities that make for strong and successful societies. Even when these nations have vast natural resources, they do not respect or develop their greatest resources: the talent and energy of men and women working and living in freedom.

A nation's "greatest" resource is the creativity of its people, which is more important than any natural resource? Where do you suppose that idea came from? Obviously, President Bush has been influenced by the arguments of Julian Simon.

The most interesting thing, is that Julian Simon's argument is nearly identical to the central theme of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. What Simon demonstrated in economics and demographics, Ayn Rand identified in philosophical terms: that reason is man's means of survival and that man's mind is the source of all of his values, including all of his wealth.

I used to think of Julian Simon's work as the application to the special sciences of Ayn Rand's idea. But then I realized that it was not an "application." Simon did not start out with Ayn Rand's ideas and derive his theories from them. He induced his theory from his own observations and from his knowledge of his specialty. He started out as an economist who accepted the conventional wisdom about "overpopulation," until he began to realize that it was not actually supported by the data and by the science of economics. This process led him to a crucial moment at which he made his breakthrough. Here is how he describes the origin of his theory:

On a spring day about 1969 I visited the AID office in Washington to discuss a project intended to lower fertility in less-developed countries. I arrived early for my appointment, so I strolled outside in the warm sunshine. Below the building's plaza I noticed a sign that said "Iwo Jima Highway." I remembered reading about a eulogy delivered by a Jewish chaplain over the dead on the battlefield at Iwo Jima, saying something like, "How many who would have been a Mozart or a Michelangelo or an Einstein have we buried here?" And then I thought, Have I gone crazy? What business do I have trying to help arrange it that fewer human beings will be born, each one of whom might be a Mozart or a Michelangelo or an Einstein…?

To my knowledge Simon was not significantly influenced by Ayn Rand, though I presume he must have known about her at some point in his career, especially since so many fans of her work were also fans of his. His integration and Ayn Rand's integration stand as companion ideas. Simon integrated knowledge he had discovered within his own field, and his integration goes beyond Ayn Rand's in one respect: the detail with which he is able to demonstrate the role of man's mind as a fount of wealth-creation. And Ayn Rand's integration goes beyond Simon's in another crucial respect: the scope on which she applies it. The mind as the source of all values is a principle that goes far beyond economics, and Ayn Rand is able to draw implications from it in art, morality, politics.

Julian Simon's achievement was important, but it is not the only example of an economist who has pushed forward the cause of human liberty by advancing the state of knowledge in his own field.

In August, I linked to a review of a book titled Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations, which recounts a late 20th-century development in the science of economics, in which (according to this review), "knowledge" was recognized as one of the basic factors of economic production, and growth in knowledge was identified as the primary source of economic growth.

Thus instead of land, labor, and capital—the traditional inputs of economic theory—it was "people, ideas, and things" that mattered, driving technological change and entrepreneurial creativity…. More and more, economists came to see that it was knowledge that made the difference in modern societies—e.g., in software, drugs, industrial processes, biotechnology, and other parts of the economy where the upfront costs were large, the payoffs enormous, and the benefits widespread. Economists inevitably turned their attention to the institutions or invisible structures—constitutions, customs, property rights, cultural sentiments (like trust)—that help to generate knowledge and sustain its effects.

At the time I criticized the author of the review for naming several previous thinkers who had put forward the same ideas (he mentions Friedrich Hayek), without mentioning Ayn Rand, who should be well known to anyone on the political right. But it is also important to recognize that, as with Julian Simon's theory, the economic theory that ideas and knowledge are engines of production is more than just an "application" of the philosophical principle that reason is man's means of survival. Even if it was inspired by Ayn Rand, either directly or indirectly, such an economic theory would also have to be a first-hand inductive integration on the part of the economists who develop it, who would have to base the theory on the full range of data and observations available to them within their specialty.
It is important to recognize that those ideas also have a real efficacy in human affairs, even when they are not accompanied by a wider and deeper philosophical explanation. They have a real efficacy, because they constitute real knowledge, a genuine integration built up from observation, and thus a real advance in the mind of anyone who accepts them.

As a demonstration of this fact, let us consider the career of an economist who was working on an even less theoretical level than the ones we have just described, but who had a far greater practical effect.

In his book India Unbound, Gurcharan Das describes an economic fad of the 1960s called "dependency theory," which argued that free trade was harmful to Third World economies. He then notes that "There was a mild, noncombative student of economics in Cambridge, England,…who argued for greater openness of trade and for a less controlled economy…. He went on to rebut the prevailing pessimistic view about the poor countries' export prospects by detailed empirical data." Later on, Das informs us that this same Cambridge-educated Indian economist became a civil servant in the bureaucracy of India's finance ministry and by 1991 "he had made a serious effort to understand the East Asian miracle. That is when he realized that India had to abandon many of its old and foolish policies."

In June of 1991, a new prime minister came to office in India vowing to deal swiftly with a massive fiscal crisis. He chose this economist as his Minister of Finance, and with the cooperation of the new Minister of Commerce, the three inaugurated a bold burst of reforms that eliminated the "license raj," a complex network of business licensing requirements that had been used to impose central government planning on the Indian economy. This "Golden Summer of 1991," as Das calls it, was the beginning of India's current economic rise.

The soft-spoken economist of this story is Manmohan Singh, who also happens to be the current prime minister of India.

For our purposes, the most important thing to note is that neither Manmohan Singh nor Julian Simon, nor any of the other pro-free-market economists involved here are Objectivists, nor is there any evidence that they were influenced by Objectivism in any fundamental way. In fact, many of them hold philosophical ideas that are not consistent with Objectivism and even antithetical to it in some respects.

And yet they are demonstrably helping to save the world.

This creates something of a paradox for the prevailing view of the role of ideas in history.
Here is how Ayn Rand put it:

There is only one power that determines the course of history, just as it determines the course of every individual life: the power of man's rational faculty—the power of ideas.

But this has been widely interpreted to mean that only fundamental philosophical ideas have efficacy, that they directly and necessarily render irrelevant all other knowledge in a man's mind, so that the wrong explicit convictions in epistemology, for example, render irrelevant good ideas in the special science of economics.

I see this quite frequently when it comes to judging the actions of a political leader or intellectual who has mixed philosophical premises, with some elements of bad ideas and some elements of good ideas. There is a certain temptation to declare that the bad ideas cancel out and make irrelevant the good ideas. The temptation is to take a man, for example, who holds a mixture of American individualism and Christian altruism, and to construct an argument to demonstrate that he is really a consistent altruist. He has to be an altruist, and the individualist elements must be mere window dressing, the argument goes, because the man must necessarily be consistent to his fundamental philosophical ideas.

As with an individual, so with a culture. This view tends to regard the universities as the only significant institution for disseminating ideas and thus for shaping the culture and therefore to project the state of the world based on the dominant trends in academic philosophy—which is always a grim projection.

Given that the philosophy of Capitalism has not swept the university philosophy departments and that it demonstrably has not taken over the culture (although I believe it is growing, slowly but surely, in its influence), this view of the role of ideas in history is only capable of explaining the collapse of civilization. It is only capable of supporting a series of prognostications of imminent chaos and dictatorship, whether fascist or socialist or theocratic. The destination may change, but the direction is always the same: downward.

But this approach cannot explain the non-collapse of civilization. It cannot answer the question: what went right?

The examples we have just examined provide some clues to the answer to that question. We can say that at least part of what went right was the valid, honest, first-hand integrations made by men like Julian Simon and Manmohan Singh—men who did good intellectual work, not on the philosophical level, but within the specialized sciences.

The evidence of the current state of the world tells us that every thinking man who does honest work in his own field is our ally and is helping to move civilization forward. The work of such men is not mere cultural "momentum" from a previous era, but an active addition to human knowledge and achievement. And whatever their philosophical errors, in their professional work these men are creating valid and important ideas that do change the course of events.

I do not mean to deny the crucial importance of fundamental philosophical ideas, but to suggest that the relationship between philosophical ideas and all other ideas, and the means by which ideas are propagated in a culture, is more complex than we have recognized. We must look in more detail at the role of fundamental philosophical ideas, their relationship to the achievements of the special sciences, and their relationship to the other intellectual factors that we can see at work in the world today.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Frank Amodeo and Mirabilis: "The Evil Empire Strikes Back"

*Colonel Lewis "Bayonet" Millett, Congressional Medal Of Honor Winner and Freedom Fighter

One of the tried and true techniques of defense against the truth is by attacking the character and motives of the truth tellers and ignore their arguments. We see this happening every day in politics, for example, the Democrat Party has become nothing more than a sorry collection of debunked socialist theories and the homeland of the defeatist factions who bow before any type of collectivist theory and preach surrender. This political orientation is likely to gain few votes, so the Democrats mask their defeatism, anti-Americanism and collectivism behind the smoke screen of the character assassination of Republican politicians like President George W. Bush who has become an anti-Christ in the twisted Democrat view of the world simply on the basis of his political philosophy and able leadership in what many are calling, "The Third World War."

The same thing has happened in the discussion of what many are calling, "The Mirabilis Scam," the opposition party, in this case the party of fraudster Frank Amodeo cannot answer the truth presented about Mirabilis in the Mainstream Media and in the Blogs, therefore they can only attack the character and the motives of those speaking the truth. These individuals are seen by the Mirabilis apologists as being unpatriotic, semi literate, evil, twisted and out on the war path for personal motives of revenge.

In the words of one Mirabilis defender, "G. Michael Adkins," speaking on a Central Florida message board:

Tellitlikeit is, I can only say you are a heinous spiteful coward without the ability to put together a sentence properly. I assume you are still unemployed due to your ongoing incompetence.

The same can be said for posters on this thread. Your statements do not hold any credibility when you hide behind anonymity and spout such serious accusations. If you have proof and can speak honestly, then sign your name honestly like I will. I can assure you, I have not submitted an anonymous post, nor will I. Without standing behind your statement, there is no response earned. You are just another spineless coward without regard to whom you hurt. I guess you are worried your own name could be attacked without regard to fact or reality of accusations as you are doing. How ironic. Or, it would be discovered you are just an incompetent employee that was released and your statements are just hateful rhetoric.

This forum has been a steady disappointment of accusations without any documented support and I have witnessed outright character assassinations. Though some bloggers have actually submitted very frank and forthright statements, very few have had supporting factual documentation. Those that have supporting factual documentation is easily obtained on public records by anyone. They have just saved all of us a little research on already available data. Thanks. To all of you “Super Sleuths’” finding all this cool info, I sure wish you would have put the same effort into your jobs. Otherwise, I have noticed many posts happen during normal working hours. It is good to see you are screwing your present employer by implementing the same ethics of doing anything but your job. I am sure you will be on a new thread soon criticizing how horrible this new employer who laid you off is. I suspect this is a cycle for you.

Otherwise, there are the “Double Agent’s” who claim to have greatly helped in obtaining “confidential” information by stealing documents or copying proprietary information off of corporate computers. Normally, any Fortune 500 company would pull out all the stops to identify this type of theft and prosecute. Not only have you proven your argument is mute since you are thieves, but the entire chain of custody could be considered useless since stolen articles can be argued by a defense. Those who forget, our country was based on the premise of protection of civil rights. Law enforcement has to follow strict rules to obtain evidence. Will LEO’s bend and accept non legal evidence to follow a trail, no doubt. How can they turn that information into a subpoena? Well, they already have subpoenas, so, instead of impressing me, turn your “damning” evidence over to the proper authorities. Please ensure you sign the chain of custody receipt.

For some reason, people are stealing proprietary information and passing it on believing that it is 100% acceptable, with prodding from an older gentleman who is manipulative, lonely, attention starved, libelous without regard, an ex-con that has a documented history of attempting to assassinate the most prominent official of our country. A total and unequivocal disgrace of a soldier, definitely not your hero in shining armor. He has no right or need for this data. He is not a licensed investigator, a journalist, or law enforcement agent of any kind. Just a bitter old megalomaniac with an axe to grind wanting to destroy as many lives as he believes this was done to him, but you are ok with that. There are lawful agencies that prosecute illegalities and there are protective laws for whistle blowers’, even compensation.
They even might perform their duties in accordance with the law and the constitution.

What a concept.

I am not giving support to Frank Amodeo, nor will I castigate him, nor any other employee of MVI, or entities, as so many of you have done. I have no comment on any MVI activities, except to the appropriate investigating authorities asked as part of a relevant investigation.

My only comfort is that I am being recalled to Iraq for my second tour to face a terrorist regime where I can understand the threat of a group that has declared they want to kill me vs. the people I had pleasant conversation with who would put a knife in my back. I can only say, I am disgusted to have worked with some of you that have worked at the MVI companies that just spout anonymous unsubstantiated hate messages.Please before you respond, I have read all carefully and understood your message and who you are. When you try to be holier than thou, understand I know who actually left MVI voluntarily and those that were terminated. I can count on my hands those that resigned, and yes Happy, you were termed, not a righteous resignee, and for reasons that any respectable company would fire you. I do know the backgrounds of almost all, heck; I WAS the investigator when most of you were begging to be part of the MVI team. The stories of following people, getting dirt, pictures, going through desks, trash cans etc is all a fabrication from my experience with the company. Nothing further than standard Competive Intelligence investigations were completed. The entire concept of “spying”,“intimidation” etc is absolute rubbish to my knowledge. I was never instructed, asked or directed to go beyond standard investigations techniques in public research arenas. I never even performed investigations that required me to steal files, nor performed any corporate espionage activities. What I have witnessed is total paranoia by employees of the company. MVI did employ a standard CCTV and access control security system. In addition, all employees were informed of surveillance by printed signs on the walls that could be easily read, along with being able to physically see the surveillance item. Go from business to business in any city and country and you will see this employed on a routine basis. I know of companies that have cameras, search purses and make you empty your pockets when you exit a building, and they are well known and respected companies that employ thousands. Maybe MVI should have implemented this procedure from what I am reading here.

I will be activated and in a hostile country within a short period. I have no need or desire to impress any of you people. The worst you could do is anonymously spread lies about me in your blog. The worst Stratis could do is fire me. Either way, I just don’t feel the intimidation. Those of you that know me personally know that I am a little more harsh than the average person.

Please understand, I care less about your statements and perceived issues. My concerns are to take care of my staff and provide the best service I can to my customers. Helpful comments regarding COBRA and insurance have been appreciated. Otherwise, do not feel I want you to waste our time to email me for information or send me anything to support your conspiracy theory, nor am I trying to “root you out”; I just despise your methods. I will wait out the decisions from real investigators and courts to prove what has happened.

Sincerely,

"G. (Gordon) Michael Adkins"
DETAILS:

A Mirabilis critic responds to this personal attack on his character:

Based on new information, I withdraw my apology to "G. Michael Adkins" -- I did discover a profile for a "Gordon" M. Adkins -- but the information posted there is from the service member himself, which lists his rank as (E-6) in the Navy and a 20 year veteran with enough individual medals claimed to fill the chest of General Patton.

However....This is not an official DOD file as is the one posted about me. In the past Military Posers have used websites like this one to post all sorts of lies, disinformation and half truths, and in general, puffed up their military resume, especially in regards to combat operations they never took part in and medals of valor they never received:

DETAILS:

VIDEO:

I'm not saying this is true of "G. (Gordon) Michael Adkins" -- who may or may not be the individual cited in this very favorable article of his own creation, but recently I was involved in the case of a co-worker who claimed to have been a Navy SEAL: The truth was that this guy had never been in the Navy much less served as a Navy SEAL. This is a real problem in the business community, because Military Posers often use their alleged awards and combat experience to gain promotions that are not deserved.

I think "G. (Gordon) Michael Adkins" who has self described himself as "I am a little more harsh than the average person" owes this former professional soldier a very public apology for his character assassination that is little more than a rambling hate filled polemic attacking an individual he never met in person and speaks more to this own arrogance, irrational egotism and anger management problems. It is clear that for such an unbalanced individual who may be acting in a business relationship with Frank Amodeo, a convicted fraudster, may provide the motive for outburst of rage against an individual interested only in seeing justice done in the Mirabilis Affair.

The offensive passages once more:

For some reason, people are stealing proprietary information and passing it on believing that it is 100% acceptable, with prodding from an older gentleman who is manipulative, lonely, attention starved, libelous without regard, an ex-con that has a documented history of attempting to assassinate the most prominent official of our country. A total and unequivocal disgrace of a soldier, definitely not your hero in shining armor. He has no right or need for this data. He is not a licensed investigator, a journalist, or law enforcement agent of any kind. Just a bitter old megalomaniac with an axe to grind wanting to destroy as many lives as he believes this was done to him, but you are ok with that. There are lawful agencies that prosecute illegalities and there are protective laws for whistleblowers’, even compensation. They even might perform their duties in accordance with the law and the constitution.

......My only comfort is that I am being recalled to Iraq for my second tour to face a terrorist regime where I can understand the threat of a group that has declared they want to kill me vs. the people I had pleasant conversation with who would put a knife in my back. I can only say, I am disgusted to have worked with some of you that have worked at the MVI companies that just spout anonymous unsubstantiated hate messages......

I will be activated and in a hostile country within a short period. I have no need or desire to impress any of you people. The worst you could do is anonymously spread lies about me in your blog. The worst Stratis could do is fire me. Either way, I just don’t feel the intimidation. Those of you that know me personally know that I am a little more harsh than the average person.

One's military service, even if grand and glorious, does not give one the right to trash the honorable military service of other veterans of other branches of the Armed Forces who just may have seen more action than yourself, but are too modest to post puff pieces about it all over the Internet. One's military service, even if grand and glorious, does not give one the right to to bully persons, especially their fellow Countrymen, they consider to be their inferiors. Finally, one's military service, no matter how grand and glorious, is not used by an honorable veteran for the purpose of resume building, a ticket to a better position in private industry, or to defend persons the "grand & glorious war hero" may know little about, or feels obligated to do so because of a personal and/or business relationship.

The veteran must always keep in mind that service to the Republic is just that -- a service rendered to defend the ideals of the American Revolution. It is an HONOR simply to be allowed to serve in the ranks of any branch of the Armed Forces after an intense selection process at any level of pay and responsibility. The U.S. military is a team effort, and any position assigned to an individual soldier, sailor, marine or airman is a necessary task needed to support the "tip of spear" -- the infantry, artillery, armor, helicopters, planes and fighting ships to win the battle -- no American military campaign was won without a massive effort on the part of all its members. The Marine Corps have a saying, "Gung Ho" which translated into English from the Chinese means, "Team Effort."

I once knew a real war hero. This happened early in my Army career after graduating from the Electronic Warfare school at the U.S. Army Security Agency. I was detailed as a driver for Colonel Lewis Millett who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for leading the last bayonet charge in U.S. Army history during the Korean War. He was Post Commander at Ft. Devens at the time and my commanding officer. Millett was modest and a gentleman who treated a certain young Private First Class with the same respect he would have shown his son. No one who ever knew Colonel Lewis "Bayonet" Millett has ever described him as "rude and obnoxious" as so many have described, "G. Michael Adkins" and never read self serving articles written by Millett concerning his heroism under fire in three wars.

The real heroes are modest heroes.

I do not claim the title of war hero.

This is what I do say about my myself on the Internet:

I am a radical republican who thinks this country needs another American Revolution. In politics I'm a card carrying member of the Republican Party. In philosophy I study the teachings of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and Ayn Rand. In religion I am a Protestant and follower of a former Jewish carpenter. In a past life I was a professional soldier and non comissioned officer in the U.S. Army Security Agency. In education I hold a Bachelor's Degree from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.

My early military career at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts is described in a simple factual and modest manner by an individual, one of thousands, who was proud to been selected for service in an elite military command where only the top 10% mentally, morally and physically of capable young American soldiers were selected. Ft. Devens has been long closed as a U.S. Army base and the U.S. Army Security Agency is a distant memory, but we who served the Republic in scores of military bases located in literally every corner of the world for the thirty years of the USASA's existence will always remember our days of Service in the sacred cause of Liberty.

"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers..."

In case anyone wondered, I use the nickname of "Ronbo" not as a variation of "Rambo" the bitter Vietnam Veteran of book, legend and screen, or to puff up my military resume, but rather because I was given this nickname by the U.S. Secret Service while doing a tour of duty inside a federal prison as a political opponent of President Clinton.

DETAILS:

I continue to use this nickname of "Ronbo" as a mean of protest against a case of gross injustice that was in a manner of speaking done to all patriotic citizens of the United States, and as a means to continue to rub the noses of the responsible federal officials in the manure of my boundless contempt for the Federal Government's betrayal of its own Constitution in the case of, "The United States of America v. Ronald Gene Barbour," which is still open and may some day be resolved in my favor.

DETAILS:

"G. (Gordon) Michael Adkins" -- A War Hero, Patriot and One Awesome Modest Dude who will gladly tell you just how much a War Hero, Patriot and all around great guy he is....Look out John Wayne, the super sailor is out after your glory.

DETAILS:

UPDATE: May 2, 2007
Email response to G. Michael Adkins:
Sent: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 3:58 AM
Re. General Patton Redux
General G. Michael Adkins Patton:
What more can I say?
You're General Patton Reborn and One Awesome Dude!
.
..So good luck with the .50 caliber Brownings...Oh! When you clean them be careful with the bolt..if you don't do it right the firing pin can fly out and kill the nearest horse. We wouldn't want no horses killed, would we General?
Cheers, Ronbo
Mr. Barbour, I phoned you in confidence to thank you for acknowledging my service and perceived "Blue on Blue". Even through your exhaustive research, you failed ascertain my first name. I gave it to you so you could research better. In turn, you have published more incorrect and libelous statements about me. I now invite you to meet me, in person, at the David R. Wilson Reserve Center and freely peruse my service record to verify if it does indeed match my "non DOD" Military.com posting. Mr. Leusner, please feel free to join, I would love to have someone with credibility to substantiate the documentation.Your uneducated personal attacks without any research of any kind on my character and service cannot be tolerated. Apparently, confidence is not your better suit. Fine... Then public it is. I admit in the eyes of the world I broke protocol and showed weakness to try and express myself. I will not allow this to happen again.
Sincerely,
PS1(E-6) G. Michael Adkins.50 Gunner, Lead HMVEENMCB-14, Convoy Security Team(prior OIF II -Tactical Movement Team, 67 missons over 6k miles)Awarded (yes) five (5) Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals(plus whatever I put on the M.com thing)
PH: 407-484-2190
Mr. Barbour, I phoned you in confidence to thank you for acknowledging my service and perceived "Blue on Blue". Even through your exhaustive research, you failed ascertain my first name. I gave it to you so you could research better. In turn, you have published more incorrect and libelous statements about me. I now invite you to meet me, in person, at the David R. Wilson Reserve Center and freely peruse my service record to verify if it does indeed match my "non DOD" Military.com posting. Mr. Leusner, please feel free to join, I would love to have someone with credibility to substantiate the documentation.Your uneducated personal attacks without any research of any kind on my character and service cannot be tolerated. Apparently, confidence is not your better suit. Fine... Then public it is. I admit in the eyes of the world I broke protocol and showed weakness to try and express myself. I will not allow this to happen again.
Sincerely,
PS1(E-6) G. Michael Adkins.50 Gunner, Lead HMVEENMCB-14, Convoy Security Team(prior OIF II -Tactical Movement Team, 67 missons over 6k miles)Awarded (yes) five (5) Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals(plus whatever I put on the M.com thing)
PH: 407-484-2190
Thanks you very much General Patton...err... PS1 (E-6) G. Michael Adkins on the Reserve Navy of The United States of America...But I'm puzzled: How does this very impressive military resume relate to the Mirabilis Scam? Inquiring minds want to know where Frank Amodeo and his Mirabilis Pirate Crew laundered the dirty money. Some say in the People's Republic of China and others say in the Russian Federation. I'm sure as a Certified Iraqi War Hero of many campaigns, The Ulimate American Patriot, an extremely modest and rational citizen of our Great Republic and good buddy of Frank Amodeo, the Certified Scamster, you might have some information on this subject that readers of this Blog would find more interesting than "The Not So Secret History of G. Michael Adkin's Iraqi Campaign," or "How I Sent a 1,000 Jihadists To Mohammad."
Sincerely,
Ronald Gene Barbour..a.k.a. "Ronbo"
P.S. G. Michael Adkins, Certified Iraqi War Hero, how did you find out my cellphone number? It won't do you any good because my cellphone is in the name of another person, so don't bother to check for an address, as it won't be where I'm located. Oh! While I'm on the subject of cellphones: It's very bad form to leave angry messages on a person's voice mail that could be viewed as threats. I do believe making threats of physical violence are against the law. It is also bad form to send Emails with the details on the operation of the .50 caliber M2 Browning machine gun in conjunction with big talk of one's ability to engage enemy targets at long range, because it could people to wonder if the local Naval Reserve keeps their heavy machine guns under lock and key at the armory.

Day By Day Today


*CLICK TO ENLARGE

England's New King Henry The Fifth


For God, Harry, England and St. George!

If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will!
I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace!
I would not lose so great an honourAs one man more, methinks, would share from meFor the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it,
Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.
'Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Despite his "Prince Hal Act as a hell raising spoiled royal brat, this old soldier sees a man of courage and conviction taking shape in the person of Prince Harry of Wales, the first son of the "People's Princess, " the beloved Diana, who insists on leading his troops in battle.
Harry says he is not afraid to die, because of his own mother's tragic death, but he is very afraid for the soldiers fighting with him," said a confidant.

"He thinks that because he is so high profile, one of his men may end up being captured and held to ransom or even killed because of him.

"That's something he couldn't bear and knows he would be held to account for it for the rest of his life.

"He also fears the brickbats that he knows will be thrown at him about not being up to the job if one of the men under him is injured or killed."

According to insiders, Harry had threatened to resign from the Army if he were stopped from serving with his men.

Friends played down that possibility, and said he would accept the decision of his commanders "like a grown-up".

They acknowledged, however, that if he is barred from frontline operations he would be unlikely to seek a long-term future in the Army and could leave when his initial three-year term is up.

In an interview to mark his 21st birthday, the prince said: "There's no way I'm going to put myself through Sandhurst and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country.

"Yes, it would put pressure on the regiment but at the end of the day the decision will have to come down from my commanding officer.

"I do enjoy running down a ditch full of mud, firing bullets. It's the way I am. I love it."

The Daily Mail has learned the date when Harry is due to fly out to Iraq from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, but has agreed to keep the information secret to safeguard his security.

Eleven British soldiers have been killed in Iraq in the last month alone.

Two died last week performing exactly the role that Harry is set to undertake.

Corporal Ben Leaning, 24, and 27-year-old Trooper Kristen Turton of the Queen's Royal Lancers were patrolling the desert in a Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicle which was destroyed by a hidden roadside bomb.

Insurgents have issued chilling threats, claiming to have civilian informants working in British Army camps who will report Harry's precise movements around the country.

Groups also claim that his photograph has been circulated to snipers and bombers, while one militia leader has pledged to take the prince hostage and send him home to his grandmother "without his ears".

The Ministry of Defence said that Cornet Wales, as he is addressed in the Army, was still due to deploy to Iraq as an armoured reconnaissance troop commander, leading his team of 11 men trained to patrol and fight in four Scimitar light tanks.

Officials played down talk of a U-turn, although sources admitted that senior commanders ordered a thorough review earlier this week.

Until now they had hoped that the prince would be safe enough


THE COMPLETE ARTICLE:

The Bush Boom: A Triumph Of American Capitalism

Despite the best efforts of the environmentalists, the American economy somehow manages to continue to thrive. As a result, the stock market is hitting a whole series of new highs, with the Dow hitting 13,000 for the first time and the other indices about to recover to their previous highs and above.

In the article below, pro-free-market economist Jerry Bowyer engages in a little well-deserved gloating over these new landmarks, attributing them to a theory that "links growth and prosperity with low taxation and low regulation and free markets and a general environment of entrepreneurship."

He attributes this to "supply-side" economics—a relatively recent coinage—but he is more accurate in describing this as a "classical model," that is, the model of classical, pro-free-market economics.

"Dow 13,000," Jerry Bowyer, National Review Online, April 26 Markets are leadership evaluators. They assess the pronouncements of presidents and Fed chairmen. They appraise the decisions of CEOs. They prove or disprove the predictive power of financial forecasting models: Keynesian, Rubinomic, populist, Marxist, supply-side. Each model guessed at what was in store for investors and the economy all across the 2000-07 period. And only one model, the supply-side one that links growth and prosperity with low taxation and low regulation and free markets and a general environment of entrepreneurship and opportunity, consistently outperformed the rest.

I understand how hard it was for the optimists to hang in there. Four years ago, the received wisdom was so gloomy, that I had to take out a second mortgage in order to publish a book (The Bush Boom) that linked the fiscal policies of the current president with economic prosperity. But my optimism was borne of supply-side fundamentals, so I could take it to the bank….

The classical model now known as supply-side economics has consistently explained events in ways that other models have not. The stagflation of the 1970s was a mystery to establishment economists, but not to supply-siders Art Laffer and Bob Mundell. The turnaround of the 1980s was “impossible” according to many, but it happened anyway. And the 1990s proved that Reaganomics works even when it’s employed by a centrist, Southern Democrat.

And then there’s the Bush boom: maligned, denied, attacked. But, in the end, it was predictable.

The Great Carbon Credit Scam

The idea of comparing carbon dioxide "offsets" to the Medieval practice of buying "indulgences" from the church so that you can keep on sinning has caught on. And like the famously corrupt practice of indulgences, carbon credits are turning out—to no one's surprise, I hope—to be a scam, too. That's the upshot of the article linked to below:

"Industry Caught in Carbon 'Smokescreen'," Fiona Harvey and Stephen Fidler, Financial Times, April 25 A Financial Times investigation has uncovered widespread failings in the new markets for greenhouse gases, suggesting some organisations are paying for emissions reductions that do not take place.

Others are meanwhile making big profits from carbon trading for very small expenditure and in some cases for clean-ups that they would have made anyway.

The growing political salience of environmental politics has sparked a “green gold rush”, which has seen a dramatic expansion in the number of businesses offering both companies and individuals the chance to go “carbon neutral”, offsetting their own energy use by buying carbon credits that cancel out their contribution to global warming….

The FT has also found examples of companies setting up as carbon offsetters without appearing to have a clear idea of how the markets operate….
Blue Source, a US offsetting company, invites consumers to offset carbon emissions by investing in enhanced oil recovery, which pumps carbon dioxide into depleted oil wells to bring up the remaining oil. However, Blue Source said that because of the high price of oil, this process was often profitable in itself, meaning operators were making extra revenues from selling “carbon credits” for burying the carbon.

The Rotten System Of British Socialized Medicine

The British National Health Service continues to provide a standing argument against government control of medicine. According to the socialists, capitalism is "unfair" because it makes medical care available only to those who can afford to pay for it. Under British socialism, by contrast, medical care is rationed according to the "fair" method of a random "postcode lottery."

What, you may ask, is a "postcode lottery"? The postcode lottery is the term for the system under which one's postal code—assigned solely with the efficiency of mail delivery in mind—is used as the bureaucratic key which determines which "health trust" one belongs to in the National Health Service. And that, in turn, determines which procedures the NHS will pay for, the quality of one's care, and even one's chance of living or dying.

London's Telegraph has made it a crusade recently to expose the postcode lottery, with one article giving the statistics from a new study on variations among the health trusts, while the article linked to below—though written by something of an apologist for the NHS—gives a flavor for the whole rotten system.

"How to Be a Winner in the Postcode Lottery of Life," Roger Taylor, Telegraph, April 26 Doctors have often been accused of playing God. But the closest you can get to playing God in Britain today is not being a heart surgeon—it is being a primary care trust commissioner.
These are the people who decide how NHS money is spent on your behalf.

And who would envy them the job? If you had to decide where to put an extra £500,000 what would you chose: more services to end the misery of infertility for childless couples; better services to ease lives tormented by mental illness; new cancer drugs that would extend the lives of a few; or 1,000 more varicose vein operations to cut the waiting list?

The last of these may seem frivolous. But the truth is, with national waiting list targets, it could well be the preferred option.

Some primary care trusts (PCTs), faced with this sort of dilemma, have chosen to say that they are not going to pay for varicose vein operations any more.

It's easy to see how they come to that conclusion, but hard to see how they think they are going to be able to justify it to a public who will find out that people in one part of town can have the operation, while those on the other side are not so lucky. Unfair, they cry, it's a postcode lottery….

In the well-used lexicon for damning public service there is only one phrase used more often than "postcode lottery" and that is "faceless bureaucrat." The current commissioning of health services is a powerful example of how these twin horrors can be combined to maximum impact.

The problem with the postcode lottery is not that health spending decisions are taken locally. It is the fact that nobody knows who is making these decisions, why they are making them, and on whose behalf they think they are acting.

Whatever decisions your PCT has taken on your behalf, the chances are you don't know anything about it and won't know until the time comes that you find you can't get access to a treatment you need.

Rudy Giuliani: The Man Of The Hour

President Bush is largely a spent political force—mostly by his own doing, as a result of his hesitation to engage in a counter-insurgency war in Iraq and to confront the terror masters in Iran. By failing to stay sufficiently on the offensive, he lost the initiative in the war. So it is likely that we will have to look to a new political leader to save us from defeat and humiliation in the struggle against Islamofascism.

Can the Democrats provide such a leader? When you're done laughing, check out a particularly insightful op-ed by Joe Liberman, who declares that "when politicians here declare that Iraq is 'lost' in reaction to al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks and demand timetables for withdrawal, they are doing exactly what al-Qaeda hopes they will do." He then urges us "to stand, and fight, and win" in Iraq.

But in saying this, Lieberman is saying that "D" stands for "Defeat." He is so totally isolated within his own party that he has had to step half-way outside of it, calling himself an "Independent Democrat."

No, our savior—if we can find one—is going to have to come from the right.

Republican presidential contender Fred Thompson continues his excellent series of short Internet essays—the primary vehicle he has used to promote his nascent campaign—with a new entry on the cultural appeasement of Islam, which he ends by declaring: "It’s time for people who believe that they have a stake in Western civilization and its traditions to get a little backbone—even if it offends somebody."

But the man of the hour, who is increasingly basing his campaign on the promise to fight the War on Terrorism more vigorously, is Rudy Giuliani. His latest cantankerous statements are described in the article linked to below.

"Giuliani Broadens His Message on Terrorism," Marc Santora, New York Times, April 26 In his speech before Republicans here on Tuesday night, Mr. Giulani called the fight against terrorism “the defining conflict of our time.” If a Democrat were elected president, he said, they would “wave the white flag” in Iraq, cut back on surveillance of terrorists, restrict the ability of law enforcement officials to gather intelligence and limit interrogation techniques, curtailing their effectiveness.

“Make no mistake about it, the Democrats want to put us back on defense,” he said….

Here in New Hampshire, Mr. Giuliani’s statements about the Democrats were greeted enthusiastically, suggesting how his approach may resonate among Republican primary voters skeptical of withdrawal timetables for Iraq and wary of criticism of the administration….

“Here is the thing that the Democrats do not get and all these attacks and the things Harry Reid is doing and the presidential candidates indicate,” Mr. Giuliani said on “The Sean Hannity Show,” the syndicated radio program. “They do not seem to get the fact that there are people, terrorists in this world, really dangerous people that want to come here and kill us. That in fact they did come here and kill us twice and they got away with it because we were on defense because we weren’t alert enough to the dangers and the risks.”

The Democommie Reid Overplays The Defeat Card?

The best hope for avoiding a disastrous retreat from the War on Terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan is the hope that the Democrats will overplay their hand, as the Republicans did in the budget showdown of 1996. The hope is that, when people stop focusing on how much they dislike George Bush, they may start realizing how much they really dislike Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

There are some signs that this is happening. Just as Reid is set to celebrate his victory for defeatism, General Petraeus comes to Washington calling for a "long-term commitment" in Iraq, a clear rebuke of the Democrats from the top military commander in Iraq. Who isn't listening to the generals now?

We expect criticism of Reid from sources like the Weekly Standard, which uses the contrast to a good speech from McCain to paint Reid as a cynical political hack.

But there are also signs that some Democrats aren't eager to back Reid, and I was very interested to see a column today from venerable liberal journalist David Broder, who dismisses Reid as incompetent and says, of the evasions offered to explain away Reid's declaration of defeatism, "Not since Bill Clinton famously pondered the meaning of the word 'is' has a Democratic leader confused things as much as Harry Reid did with his inept discussion of the alternatives in Iraq."

He concludes: "The Democrats deserve better, and the country needs more, than Harry Reid has offered as Senate majority leader." No, the Democrats don't deserve better, but it's nice to see criticism of Reid from the left.

However, top billing today goes to Amir Taheri, whose critique of Reid is the most cutting because it offers this devastating challenge: "He must tell Americans to whom they wish their army to surrender in Iraq."

"Iraq: Who's Winning, Harry?" Amir Taheri, New York Post, April 26 Without meaning to do so, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pushed the debate on Iraq in a new direction.
Reid claims that the war is lost and that the United States has already been defeated.

By advancing the claim, Reid has moved the debate away from the initial antiwar obsession with the legal and diplomatic controversies that preceded it….

Because all wars have winners and losers, Reid, having identified America as the loser, is required to name the winner. This Reid cannot do.

The reason is that, whichever way one looks at the situation, America and its Iraqi allies remain the only objective victors in this war.

Reid cannot name al Qaeda as the winner, because the terror organization has failed to achieve any of its objectives…. In military terms, al Qaeda hasn't won any territory and has lost the control it briefly exercised in such places as Fallujah and Samarra….

[Reid] must tell Americans to whom they wish their army to surrender in Iraq….

The terrorists, the insurgents, the criminal gangs and the chauvinists of all ilk are still killing many people. But they cannot translate those killings into political gains. Their constituencies are shrinking, and the pockets of territory where they hide are becoming increasingly exposed. They certainly cannot drive the Americans out. No power on earth can. Unless, of course, Harry Reid does it for them.