Sunday, February 18, 2018

Happy Birthday, Frederick Douglass

In regard to people worthy of my admiration, there is a special place reserved for people who explicitly affirm or reaffirm America’s fundamental Founding principles in a big way. Obviously, the Founding Fathers fit that bill. So do Ayn Rand, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and Harvey Milk.

True, most of this group held political views that, to varying extent, that contradict their stated principles. But, though important, that is beside the larger point.

What point?

Practical politics is a shifting morass of short term swings. Political principles determine the long term trend. Keeping alive America’s principles—that all men, regardless of race, national origin, gender, and other factors, are created equal as individual beings of reason, and possessing of inalienable individual rights to life, liberty, earned property, and the pursuit of happiness—is America’s, and, really, mankind’s, only hope for freedom, prosperity, and civil society. That’s the point. .

Contradictions aside, keeping those principles alive is what puts these individuals in a class by themselves. And few are more deserving of being in the honor roll elite of that class than Frederick Douglass.

Douglass faced horrendous personal conditions. Right under the glow of the Declaration of Independence, which promised freedom and political equality for every man, Douglass was born into slavery, and only became free by breaking the law and escaping from his chains. If anybody had good reason to spit on America’s Declaration, it was Douglass.

And for awhile, he did. But Douglass was an intellectual. As he rose to become a leader in the Abolitionist Movement of the mid-19th Century, he took a serious new look at the Founding documents. What he found was that the fundamental principles of America did not fail. Instead, he concluded, America largely failed to fully live up to its own principles; principles that he came to realize were the best ally of the movement to abolish slavery in America. Often butting heads even with some prominent fellow Abolitionists, Douglass saw something great there: "Interpreted as it ought to be interpreted,” Douglass urged, “the Constitution is a glorious liberty document."

I’ve noticed that Douglass has been getting increased attention in recent years. That’s a wonderful thing. Douglass is believed to have been born sometime in the month of February, 1818. So, this month marks the 200th birthday of Frederick Douglass. It’s an interesting and fitting coincidence that Douglass was born in the same month as America’s first President, George Washington. Douglass deserves a place among the very biggest giants of American history.

I have chosen the occasion of the weekend of President’s Day to say:

Happy Birthday, Frederick Douglass.

Related Reading:

July 4, 1776: Words that Will Never Be Erased

When the Constitution Was 'At War With Itself,' Frederick Douglass Fought on the Side of Freedom—Damon Root

The Colorblind Constitution: Frederick Douglass on Race and America’s Founding—Hannah Sternberg

Lincoln and Race—Alexander V. Marriott

Friday, February 16, 2018

QUORA: Why is There a Need of Electors Choosing President in December?

QUORA: Why is there a need of electors choosing president in December in constitution when a candidate has already won majority of electoral votes in Nov?

Here is my answer:

The Electors are actual human beings, not an abstract formality. The Electors are pledged to vote a certain way. But they are not legally or constitutionally bound to honor their pledge. So an actual Electoral College vote is necessary to officially choose the president.

In 2016, Trump won the Electoral vote by 306-232 based on the popular voting. But in the Electoral College election in December, seven electors voted for people other than those they were pledged to, with Trump losing two votes and Clinton losing five, leaving a final tally 304-227 for Trump. The defections went to John Kasich [1], Ron Paul [1], Bernie Sanders [1], Colin Powell [3], and Faith Spotted Eagle [1].

Keep in mind that the popular vote is not binding. The state legislatures are constitutionally charged with the responsibility to choose the Electors. All state legislatures have chosen to have Electors allocated by popular vote. But the legislatures can and must step in to override the popular vote should there be a problem. After all, Article II of the constitution states that “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature there of may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress”

A state’s legislature can pick the Electors without any direct input from voters. This is fine, given that the legislators are themselves elected.

Related Reading:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Warning Signs of Impending Tyranny Begin in the Culture

A QUORA correspondent replying to my answer to the question “Why is Donald Trump able to get away with violating so many of our set standards of political correctness without even being required to submit formal apologies or acknowledging the fact of wrongdoings?” [post of 2/10/17] replied to my statement that “Political correctness is a form of self-censorship, a precursor to government censorship and the rise of totalitarianism” with; “hyperbole much?”

I answered:

Quite the opposite. I’m not suggesting tyranny is right around the corner in America. I’m saying that Political Correctness is a guidepost pointing down the road that leads to that outcome.

Politics doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Politics, and thus government and law, follows the culture. A culture is defined by the ideas that predominate among its people. Free people who fail to acknowledge the role of ideas in shaping the kind of government they get are impotent to defend against anti-liberty ideas, thus missing the warning signs threatening their freedom, and end up by helplessly asking “How could this happen?”


There are many bad signs beside Political Correctness” threatening free speech. Campaign finance “reform”; agitation for “hate speech” laws; the attempts at government control of internet content in the name of “net neutrality” or “fighting fake news”; prosecution of “climate deniers”; the growing tendency toward “safe spaces” and the like on college campuses—all of these are warning signs.

No dictatorship can consolidate its power or remain for long without crushing intellectual freedom. Threats to intellectual freedom are definitely the path to totalitarianism. Any threat to free speech and expression must be challenged in the strongest possible terms.

Related Reading:

The Tyranny of Silence by Flemming Rose

Related Viewing:


Monday, February 12, 2018

Note to Anti-Pipeline Activists: ‘Unsafe Bridges’ a Good Argument for Pipelines

The War on Pipelines is part of the Environmentalist’s War on Fossil Fuels (itself part of the War on Reliable Energy, including nuclear power). A key object of this assault is fracked oil and gas. Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, the miraculous process which has opened up vast new fossil fuel resources. Environmentalists view pipelines as a means of transporting fracked fossil fuels. So they’ve been waging their War on Pipelines under the logic that if you can’t transport fracked fuels, fracking can be restrained.

But where pipelines are lacking, producers have simply found other ways to transport their product—ways that are often less efficient and, more importantly, less safe. Not to be dissuaded, anti-fossil activists have launched a campaign to stop tanker trains from transporting fracked oil on the grounds that the bridges they cross are not safe. In Bridges used to carry combustible crude oil need repairs, activists say, Sara Jerde reported:

Combustible Bakken oil is too dangerous to be transported along Bergen County's aging bridges and rail ways, activists and environmentalists protested on Sunday.

Despite assurances from CSX, the railroad company, that bridges are regularly monitored and upgraded as necessary,

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, pointed to the potential of dangerous incidents, such as in Quebec, where a derailment of a train carrying oil -- dubbed a "bomb train" -- resulted in 47 people dying.

"Bakken oil is one of the most dangerous form of chemicals we can put on the rail lines," he said. "We're playing Russian roulette that can, one day, lead to a catastrophic tragedy."

This is the same Sierra Club that can regularly be observed leading anti-pipeline protests. If Tittel really cared about safety, wouldn’t he see that the answer to the dangers of transporting oil by rail is pipelines?   

I left these comments, edited for clarity:

This is a good argument for pipelines. As the Star-Ledger has noted, pipelines are a much safer way to transport oil. The trouble is, these anti-rail activists are the same activists who oppose pipelines on principle, including the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline which could alleviate the need to transport Bakken oil by rail and truck.

These activists are not primarily concerned with safety. They’re concerned with shutting down reliable, affordable energy production, the lifeblood of our industry and our standard of living. Their main target is fossil fuels, but also nuclear. Why? Because environmentalists are driven by the principle of minimizing human impact on raw nature, rather than maximizing human well-being by promoting reliable energy development while minimizing the impacts of the negative side-effects of industrialization. Put in simple terms, they’re not about solving problems. They’re about “throwing out the baby with the bath water.”

These activists have no credibility. They never recognize the enormous benefits that fossil fuels provide for humans. They shout “STOP, STOP, STOP” at every progressive energy project, if the energy is produced from fossil fuels. Rather than help figure out the safest way possible based on current technology to move the Bakken Oil, the result of the incredibly progressive technology of fracking, they oppose, oppose, oppose—without due respect for the benefits. (Never mind so-called “renewable” green energy. Every kilowatt of solar and wind generation needs backup from fossil, nuclear, and hydro sources. With today’s technology, no matter how many solar panels or wind turbines are built, we’ll still need the oil. We’ll need it, that is, from the perspective of human well-being, not “saving our planet,” as the moral standard of value.)

The activists may have a point about the safety of the bridges. But why should anyone believe them? They logically should be demanding approval for the much safer pipeline method. They’re not. How do we know that the bridge safety issue isn’t just another cover for their war on fossil fuels (They’ve just embraced a new strategy to halt pipelines—defending property owners again eminent domaine. But the pipeline opponents have a double standard, as I’ve pointed out, defending private property against taking when it suits their agenda, and supporting the taking when it when it does)? Will any infrastructure improvements ever be enough to satisfy Jeff Tittel and his ilk that “the potential of dangerous incidents” has been minimized enough to be able to say that the benefits outweigh the risks? I doubt it. But remember; no risk means no progress and no industrial civilization.

Related Reading:

Saturday, February 10, 2018

QUORA: 'Why is Donald Trump able to get away with violating so many of our set standards of political correctness?'

QUORA: Why is Donald Trump able to get away with violating so many of our set standards of political correctness without even being required to submit formal apologies or acknowledging the fact of wrongdoings?

I left this answer:

The idea that there are “set standards of political correctness,” and that speaking one’s mind in defiance of those alleged standards is to “get away” with something, is an indication of the growing threat to free speech. Political correctness is a form of self-censorship, a precursor to government censorship and the rise of totalitarianism.

Perhaps the question was asked facetiously or as an experiment to gauge the support for this kind of thinking. Whatever the reason, I have to say that the mere fact that this question is even seriously posed is politically frightening, and a bad sign for the future of intellectual freedom. It shows that there are people out there who believe that some people have the right and power to set public speech standards or dictate what ideas others are allowed to express or silence people whom they disagree with. Political Correctness is intended to fraudulently distort meanings and concepts, one-sidedly frame the debate, and destroy the ability to counter bad ideas with better ideas. It is intellectual authoritarianism and I reject it completely.

Trump or anyone else can properly be challenged for what they say, but never that they said it. I suggest the author of the question as well as anyone concerned with preserving their freedom to express themselves pick up a copy of The Tyranny of Silence by Flemming Rose.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Prager U’s ‘4 New Arguments’ for God: The Same Old Arguments from Ignorance

I like Dennis Prager and his Prager U. They have many informative and easy-to-understand videos. I find much convincing and easy to agree with. But this video, Does God Exist? 4 New Arguments, is puzzling. It purports to “prove” the existence of God—but forgets the rules of proof, which starts with providing actual evidence. It even mentions Aristotle—while forgetting Aristotle, the father of modern science.

Frank Pastore poses this question:

Science tells us that the universe came into being via The Big Bang. But how do you get from energy and matter to a self-aware human being? That takes three additional Big Bangs that science can't explain.

Pastore then presents four “Big Bang” arguments for God: the origin of the universe, the rise of life from inanimate matter, the diversity of life on Earth and the igniting of evolution, and the rise of intelligent life (the cosmological, the biological, the anthropological, and the psychological).

What this amounts to is nothing new: There is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of a supernatural God who created existence. Hence, many religionists trot out science’s inability (to date) to explain certain existential phenomena as proof that therefore the only logical explanation for such phenomena is that God did it.

The idea of proving the existence of God is the ultimate contradiction. The Christian God is believed to exist outside of nature; that is, in a supernatural realm. He is thought to be unknowable through mere reason. Man’s reason is “limited.” If that is so, then proof of God is logically impossible, for if God’s existence can be proved, it would by definition disprove the very existence of God, as conceived by Christianity. It would mean God is knowable and subject to the same laws of nature that everything existing in nature is subject to. He would not exist in a realm above nature—a supernatural realm. “Supernatural” implies beyond the laws of nature, and thus unprovable by definition.

The four “Big Bangs” may be arguments for God. Anybody can argue anything for any reason. But they don’t constitute proof. So, what’s the point? Pastore concludes, We must take God on faith—or, the only rational explanation for existence is faith in God!.

Religionists should give up trying to appeal to rationality in a vain attempt to prove the irrational—the existence of God. This video boils down to the argument from ignorance: we don’t know something yet, so God must have done it. But ignorance—we don’t know yet—does not prove God. It simply proves we don’t know everything yet (and probably never will). The four “Big Bangs” of “proof” in this video fail to prove anything but that there is more for science to discover and explain. Religionists could stick to faith if they want to. But forget proving God. The argument from ignorance is not an argument for God, new or otherwise.

Related Reading:

The Role of Religion in the Scientific Revolution—Frederick Seiler  for The Objective Standard

Dennis Prager’s False Alternative and Ayn Rand’s Philosophy of Life—Craig Biddle for The Objective Standard

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

"Give Back" is a Sinister Ploy to Guilt Achievers Into Giving Up What They Have Earned

I've never bought into the "Give Back" campaign. It's a sinister attempt by parasites and achievement-haters to guilt people into giving up their hard earned money and/or valuable time in "atonement" for making their lives the best they can be. There's nothing wrong with voluntarism, of course. But charitable activity is not a moral duty. It should be an act of good will toward something one believes in, not an unearned guilt-induced duty to "give back" what you haven't taken. The success you earned, no matter what the level of success, comes from providing a value to people willing to pay you for it. You've already given through the act of making money. You haven't taken anything.

In this regard, I want to single out a good article by Mark J. Perry titled How Can You "Give Back" Something that Wasn't First Taken? Published on FEE (the Foundation for Economic Education), Perry argues that "Creating and producing are not theft." This article was Reprinted from the American Enterprise Institute. It includes excerpts from other articles attacking the "Give Back" campaign.

Related Reading:

Society’s ‘Lottery Winners’ and ‘Give Back’ vs. Win-Win

Give Back? Yes, It's Time For The 99% To Give Back To The 1%—Harry Binswanger

'Give Back' Is One of the World's Most Impoverishing Commands—Yaron Brook and Don Watkins

QUORA: "How is becoming a billionaire even possible, chronologically?"

Peter Buffet: A Real Life Ivy Starnes?

THE GUILT PLEDGEDon Watkins and Yaron Brook