Our Declaration of Independence

July 4, 2012

On this Independence Day, consider the virtue of independence in your own personal life.

Great American, and Russia-born, author Ayn Rand expressed the essence of independence at such a personal level, when she wrote in For the New Intellectual:

“Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it—that no substitute can do your thinking, as no pinch-hitter can live your life—that the vilest form of self-abasement and self-destruction is the subordination of your mind to the mind of another, the acceptance of an authority over your brain, the acceptance of his assertions as facts, his say-so as truth, his edicts as middle-man between your consciousness and your existence.” – “Galt’s Speech,” p. 128; via Lexicon.

In that context, including your life, and in light of the present conditions within the United States, listen again to The Declaration of Independence, and in particular the violations of individual rights committed by the English King.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETroXvRFoKY]

Reposted from Selfish Citizenship

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Three Suicides

February 7, 2012

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7TPAPiCNEE"]

In my life, there are been three suicides that have been personally meaningful to me.  While each offered particular evidence and insights regarding life, in sum they communicated life lessons to be heeded.

First, when I was about 10, my close relative committed a suicide most heinous.  In the moment, and with the aid of reflection and hindsight, my first experience with another’s death reflected poorly upon the philosophy of Christianity, and religion in general.  By her own confession, a belief in a false alternate supernatural dimension caused her to destroy actual life in actual reality, because she held the erroneous premise of a better alternate reality on the other side of death.  The revealed truths of her faith denied this abandoned wife of an adulterous husband the divorce needed to restart her life, and effectively made her guilty and punished for his sin.  While she was destitute, indebted, and abandoned, the charitable institutions of her hypocritical congregation and faith turned their backs upon her and denied her aid, promised by their moral code, because of their contempt for her family’s prior good fortune.

This case sensitized me to the plight of abandoned, or otherwise abused, wives and children who require legal protections of their individual rights…which did not exist then as they do today.

In the second case, Argentine Dr. Rene Favaloro, who had performed the world’s first heart bypass operation in 1967, committed suicide during a collapse of the Argentine economy and the financial failure of his own clinic.  Incensed by the suicide of a once tremendous achiever, I translated articles from Spanish to learn more about the cause of his death.  For a full summary of my finding, see my YT video couplet on my autopsy of Dr. Favaloro, which has been surprisingly popular in Argentina.  Cutting to the conclusion, I found that Favaloro was complicit in the economic collapse that led to his suicide, which was caused by his own altruism—literally otherism, or the moral doctrine of putting the welfare of strangers before that of yourself and those that you love.   By Favaloro’s own confession, which was published in the American Heart Association’s cardiatric  journal Circulation, it was his college that taught him the false altruistic ethical principles that led to his suicide and the economic collapse of his country.

From Dr. Favaloro’s suicide, I committed myself for my our selfish satisfaction to going back to school to finish my degree, to being more of an intellectual activist as a requirement of my life, and eventually to abandon my substantial contribution to financing higher education in the United States prior to our recent economic free fall.

The third case, which was particularly jarring to me, was the suicide of historian Iris Chang.  Perhaps, you know her from her books The Thread of the Silkworm, The Rape of Nanking, and The Chinese in America.  The abuse and death threats that she suffered from Japanese ultranationalists, over her exposing Japan’s WWII atrocities in China, demonstrated that she was a woman of admirable courage and integrity.  Frankly, if you have not read The Rape of Nanking, you cannot appreciate this woman’s capacity for facing the brutal facts of reality, no matter how utterly horrific; but to suggest a small taste, I will point to her reporting the Japanese having organized and official competitions to determine which of their soldiers could chop off the most heads of defenseless Chinese civilians with a sword.  Frankly, compared to the Japanese atrocities that she reported, the current crop of Muslim terrorists are pikers.  Her last and unfinished project was interviewing the brutalized survivors of the Bataan death march.

Reportedly, she suffered from serious mental health issues at the time of her suicide; however, my takeaway from her experience was the need to break away from a continuous focus on evil so as to appreciate the good in life.  At that time, of her death, I was already low from focusing on my study of incentive system within terrorist organizations (the topic of my thesis for a more effective counterterrorism strategy) and dealing with what I euphemistically called a “domestic terrorism” situation.  Recognizing the danger of focusing too much on evil, the weekend after her death, I went to the Corcoran Gallery to see Daniel Chester French’s sculpture “Immortal Love” to get fuel for my soul; art as a selective representation of reality and experiencing one’s struggles successfully achieved before they have been actually realized in reality.

In total, what lessons do these three suicides contribute?  Most importantly, life is a choice, and an affirmative one that I recommend to those NOT painfully suffering from irreversible terminal, or totally debilitating, illnesses.  Secondarily, those that commit suicide have negative fallout on those at they care about that is less significant than the positive contributions made by their lives.  Third, by choice, including the correction of false ideas, individuals, who see life as helpless, can change their lives for the better over time without death.

I choose life.  If you are thinking about choosing your own death, please consider re-evaluation for your own selfish sake, including your selfish consideration for those whom you love.  You have resources: friends and family who want to help, and who value you.  This is the only life that you get and in this country even that which seems impossible in a dark moment may be resolved by your choice and conscious effort over time so that you can pursue your own purpose and achieve your values.

Finally, ideas and philosophy are critical in human life and adhering to false ones leads directly to death, so be introspective and conscious of the ideas/philosophies that you have chosen to guide your life.

Related Posts

Death by Altruism – An Autopsy of Dr. Rene Favaloro
Immortal Love – Photos by art historian Lee Sandstead

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Democrat Liu Says Blacks Should Have to Earn American Citizenship?

February 4, 2012

Writing in the Atlantic, Eric Liu describes a reconception of American citizenship based upon duty (from the grave, the German grandfather of fascism and communism, Immanuel Kant gives him a high five).  A former Clinton speechwriter and domestic policy advisor, Liu marries his altruistic welfare statist collectivism to the neoconfederate attack on the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to our Constitution.

This duty based conservatism is a vile and dangerous misconception, as described in the piece.

Look at some of the concretes it supports, and in some cases recently advocated by Democratic legislators, that have been discontinued or opposed as a violation of individual rights in the context of an actual history of such abuses:  the military draft, disenfranchisement, compulsory community service, citizenship for an individual varying over time based upon the dictates of the party in power, and citizenship granted as process rights by the state as a reward for political obedience.

This is the kind of idea that could lead to civil war, and in fact it did; see Taney’s opinion in Dred Scott.

While Liu claims some jest in his gauche modest proposal, I see no humor in it and refuse to grant him the fig leaf as some of these violations of individual rights are truly advocated by him and leaders of his party.

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An Open Letter to Gary Johnson, Libertard for President

January 14, 2012

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw4o4wSbKxQ]

Mr. Johnson,

I write to explain how your quixotic presidential campaign could become consequential in American history.

To be clear, I did not support your Republican bid; I judged you to be too inexperienced. However, now that you have surrendered serious contention by running as a Libertarian, I offer some advice at the cost of you checking your premises about your potential role in this election. If you missed it, I recommend that you see or listen to C-SPAN’s recent series “The Contenders”; in which, historians discussed the long term historical impacts of failed presidential candidates.

First, I recommend that you take a page from the once almost viable Ross Perot by making the actual ending of deficit spending the focus of your campaign. To adapt Carville, the slogan would be “It’s the federal spending, Stupid!” Given popular disbelief that real spending cuts are possible in reality, you should promise to follow Jefferson’s example and appoint a modern Albert Gallatin (our nation’s longest serving Sec. of Treasury) to discipline federal spending with a focus upon eliminating programs and positions. Gallatin roots your program to historically proven debt reduction and ties it to the Revolution of 1800, a shift in national party power. A deficit focus draws in the Tea Party, the memory of the Reform movement, and deficit hawks from both parties, while giving you the opportunity to challenge bipartisan failure, out of control Congresses from both parties, and weak Presidents from both parties.

Second, following the examples of presidential contenders of consequence, you need to develop a populist message to challenge the status quo. Instead of past irrational emotionalism, I recommend that you appeal to morality and the American sense of life by naming and challenging political corruption. The term to use to brand your corrupt opponents is the “New Spoils System”, which will focus on how the major parties rob the federal Treasury to pay off their pet special interests for electoral financing and support, and how the parties use federal regulation and executive power as a protection racket for sale. I like the bipartisanship of the term as it invokes Jacksonian abuses and Garfield’s bloody shirt while modernizing the emphasis from patronage to appropriations, regulations, waivers, and an administrative process exempt from court review (see Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council).

Third, to have a significant and ongoing influence on our political discourse, you need to champion a differentiating idea that resolves the contradictions created by your opponents’ Gordian rhetoric. In the present context, that idea is the restoration of civil society in America. Americans identify the ongoing rancor in our polity, which results from 50% plus 1 attempting to impose intrusive uniform solutions by law in ever growing areas of our lives. The idea that “we” must do something has been misappropriated to mean that government must do something, which is advocated at the expense of freedom of association and civil society, the collection of non-governmental institutions and groups acting independently, freely, and organized to achieve specific shared goals. In our foreign policy, America champions the development of civil society as the cure to tyranny, but our leading parties vote and act to strangle civil society domestically.

Fourth, at the risk of sharing an idea that could help you actually win, you need to recognize the electoral support of our major parties as coalitions of conflicted interests, which is some cases champion the protection of individual rights and in others the use of government power to violate individual rights. To break the parties’ electoral stranglehold, you need to forge a new middle that focuses exclusively upon the government’s role of protecting individual rights; this not only puts you into a position to challenge for portions of their bases, but also allows you to be the beneficiary of the two major contenders’ attacks upon one another to disaffect their opponent’s base. Further, it potentially repositions your opponents as the fringe candidates by positioning them to speak in defense of the rights-violating fringe of their base (a.k.a. the religious right, the nativists, the progressives, the environmentalists). As an example of using concrete political issues to challenge for an opponent’s base, illustrate a broader theme, and influence future policy, I recommend the recent campaign of Ontario’s Freedom Party.

As a specific example of applying this tactic in this campaign by targeting a core of the Democrats’ new electoral coalition: “President Obama, a confessed user of illegal drugs, asks the young of this country for their votes while simultaneously acceding to federal policy to criminalize these franchised citizens drinking a beer. If this is your first election and you agree that you should be prosecuted and your future encumbered by sanctions for drinking a beer, then vote for President Obama. If you reject federal paternalism in your life choices, then vote for me.” Framed so that he cannot have it both ways, who is Obama going to throw under the bus, MADD or the youth vote? If he attempts to use his office to change the policy, then your campaign has directed the policy agenda.

Finally, while previous influential presidential contenders shaped the direction of their party and its agenda, you do not have a real party to influence. Thus, the focus of your influence should be shifting the positions of congressional candidates from both parties. One reason for using Perot’s deficit elimination as a core issue to your campaign is that he was able to attract a significant enough portion of the vote to influence the outcomes of congressional elections. To win, congressional candidates should be put into a position to require your supporters, in addition to those of their party’s standard bearer. In order to attract your supporters, they will need to take strong positions for restoring civil society, and against deficit spending and corruption, while running to the middle and away from the fringe factions of their party. Congress, and not the President, will set the path for reform or further decay after the next election; should that be a Congress guided by the values outlined above? Should the next President (one of your opponents), winning a plurality instead of a majority, be positioned to become a catalyst for these changes so as to avoid becoming an instant lame duck?

While you will not win the office, through the conduct of your campaign, you could still set the policy agenda and win the future for our American republic.

Sincerely,

Jim Woods

 

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The Occupation Issue and the Middle East

October 2, 2011

Let us get serious for a moment and discuss the Occupation that is destabilizing the Middle East. Since 1925, the House of Saud has been occupying the Hijaz, which is the region that includes the Islamic holy sites in Mecca and Medina.

The Saudis follow and propagate a deviate form of Islam (a reactionary form of Salafiyyah, and more specifically Wahhabism), which might be more generously labeled as heterodoxy. Consequently, Abul-Aziz ibn Saud’s violent conquest of the Hashemite ruler of the Hijaz has been controversial amongst Muslims. Thus, the conqueror (a religious crusader) and his sons, who subsequently ruled the kingdom, have attempted to legitimize their violent invasion and continued occupation of the Hijaz. Using the wealth created by western oil development, the Saudis have attempted to propagate their religious heterodoxy against modern Muslims, who seek improvement in the individual lives of themselves and their children in actual reality through western technology and values.

The militant lust for killing other Muslims of Abul-Aziz included unsuccessful invasions of Jordan and Yemen; however, there may be others that escape my memory. The new generation of leaders of small states in the Arabian Gulf allied themselves with the United States in the war against Saddam’s Iraq seeking a great power protection against the Saudi’s lust for their domains and the designs of Persian mullahs willing to kill Muslim Arabs in order to gain greater geopolitical power through state control of oil reserves.

As a distraction from this Muslim upon Muslim murder and violence, the House of Saud has deceived Muslims with a faux conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. While Israel seeks peace and statehood for the Palestinians, the Saudis and other ignorant Muslim depots, whom the Saudis have duped, fund a Palestinian leadership that undermines peace and Palestinian statehood in their every effort. Given the forbearance demonstrated by the Israelis, the casualties in that persistent televised conflict are exceeded by the Muslim upon Muslim violence in Algeria. Absent the financing of Palestinian extremists by the Saudis and their dupes (such as the Bush and Obama Administrations), a modern life embracing individual rights and the pursuit of happiness would be available to the Palestinians in trade with Israel and the West.

So while the despotic Muslim rulers and demagogues of the Middle East suggest that terrorism and other Muslim violence can only be solved by negotiations between their violent (Muslim killing) Palestinian stooges and the Israelis, let me suggest another occupation that the United States could focus upon in its diplomacy…the Saudi occupation of the Hijaz.

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The Panic of 1819 and Rothbard

October 1, 2011

My readings the biographies of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe sparked an interest in the Panic of 1819, America’s first depression following the adoption of our Constitution. This panic had parallels to our present economic problems in that it was caused by credit policies of the Second Bank of the United States, federal credit policies related to the sale of western land, and changes in world trade resulting from the end of the Napoleonic wars.

Searching for a book on the event, only one kept popped up: The Panic of 1819: Reactions and Policies by Murray N. Rothbard. Frankly, this set off my crap detector. I have never read any Rothbard, but reference to his name left a bad taste in my mouth. Doing a quick Google search to investigate my reaction, I found the he had something to do with Libertarianism and was a critic of Objectivism. Not a ringing endorsement for his judgment and knowledge.

Thus, I decided to find an alternate reference by reviewing the sources and footnotes of Dumas, Ketcham, and Ammon from the biographies of the above referenced Presidents. I was surprised to find that, in addition to volumes of primary sources, both Dumas and Ammon cited Rothbard’s book. Further, Ammon praised it in a footnote by saying, “See the excellent study by Murray N. Rothbard…” As potential alternative sources, Ammon lamented the lack of a scholarly biography of Sec. of Treasury William H. Crawford, which I understand to still be true; and, he suggested Smith’s Economic Aspects of the Second Bank of the United States (Harvard Press, 1953) as a source on the public sector operations of the bank.

Lacking a better focused and concise alternative, I purchased and will read Rothbard’s book. If I can critically read authors as vile as Marx, Foucault, and Fanon, then sorting the Rothbard errors from the facts should not be too difficult of a task. I understand that this book is founded in his dissertation, so perhaps there was sufficient oversight to prevent biased analysis and omission of relevant facts. Plus, I will be able to assess Rothbard’s cited sources, if need be. I plan future posts related to the book as I read it.

Note to self: perhaps the Miller Center at UVa should organize a panel on the Panic of 1819, as it has interesting impacts upon our Presidents: Jefferson and Madison as former Presidents, and Monroe as the acting President; I suspect the same to be true of John Q. Adams as Sec. of State plus later President and legislator, and the subsequent presidencies of Jackson and Van Buren, who served during the Panic of 1837. I cannot recall any discussion associating Jackson’s veto of the Bank of the United States and the Panic of 1819, which seems like missing the elephant in the room; perhaps Remini’s trilogy on Jackson will offer me some information on that point.

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Return of the C Podcasts

August 18, 2010

I must be in a rut as I’m not sure why all the sources for these podcasts from Friday again begin exclusively with the letter ‘C’, but they do.

As before, the following is a list of podcasts that I consumed the other day.  In addition to the title, link, and descriptions copied or adapted from the source, I have provided a grade for the relevancy of the topic and the quality of the ideas in the podcast.  Of course, these grades are objectively based upon my own individual values and judgment.  In this variety, you might find something to tickle your fancy.

1) The Trader Principle (2010-06-04 Cultivating the Virtues)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Situation of the Week (Kelly): Helping a child manage her frustrations, Topic: The Trader Principle (begins at 5:51), and Q&A: Toothbrushing Tactics (begins at 17:07).

Related to the Trader Principle, the Ayn Rand Lexicon identified the following passage from her novel Atlas Shrugged:

The symbol of all relationships among [rational] men, the moral symbol of respect for human beings, is the trader. We, who live by values, not by loot, are traders, both in matter and in spirit. A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. A trader does not ask to be paid for his failures, nor does he ask to be loved for his flaws. A trader does not squander his body as fodder or his soul as alms. Just as he does not give his work except in trade for material values, so he does not give the values of his spirit—his love, his friendship, his esteem—except in payment and in trade for human virtues, in payment for his own selfish pleasure, which he receives from men he can respect. The mystic parasites who have, throughout the ages, reviled the traders and held them in contempt, while honoring the beggars and the looters, have known the secret motive of their sneers: a trader is the entity they dread—a man of justice.

2) After Words: Mia Bay, “To Tell the Truth Freely” (2009-08-01 C-SPAN Book TV)

Relevancy B, Quality B+ – Mia Bay, associate history professor at Rutgers University, recounts the life of 19th century suffragist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells in her book, To Tell the Truth Freely.  Ms. Bay recalls Ida B. Wells appeal to the Supreme Court after being removed from a seat on a train due to her race, her assistance in founding the NAACP in 1910, and her international campaign against lynching.  Mia Bay discusses her book with Elsa Barkley Brown, associate history and women’s studies professor at the University of Maryland.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUpWpOnDUqs]

3) Organized Crime and Transnational Threats (2009-11-18 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality B – This session was part of the CFR symposium, Organized Crime in the Western Hemisphere: An Overlooked Threat?, undertaken in collaboration with the Latin American Program and Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and made possible by the generous support of the Hauser Foundation, Tinker Foundation,  and a grant from the Robina Foundation for CFR’s International Institutions and Global Governance program.  This panel featured: David Holiday (Program Officer, Latin America Program, Open Society Institute),  William F. Wechsler (Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats, U.S. Department of Defense), and Lee S. Wolosky (Partner, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP; Former Director, Transnational Threats, National Security Council).

Wechsler and Wolosky are coauthors of Terrorist Financing.

4) Local and National Policy Responses (2009-11-19 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality B – This session was part of the CFR symposium, Organized Crime in the Western Hemisphere: An Overlooked Threat?  This panel featured:  Ramon Garza Barrios ( Mayor, Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico) and Rodrigo Pardo García-Peña (Director, Cambio; Former Foreign Minister, Republic of Colombia).

5) After Words: Harry Stein, author, “I Can’t Believe I’m Sitting Next to a Republican,” interviewed by Stefan Kanfer, City Journal (2009-07-25 C-SPAN Book TV)

Relevancy C, Quality B – In I Can’t Believe I’m Sitting Next to a Republican, Harry Stein uses humor to describe being a conservative locked in a community of liberals, both in his neighborhood and in his professional life.  He details the difficulties he’s had with family members since crossing the political spectrum from left wing to right, and he talks about being misrepresented as a racist by the Dallas Morning News.  The interview was conducted by author and journalist Stefan Kanfer.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LQ_4bhOzGY]

6) Academic Conference Call: Enhancing U.S. Preventive Action (2009-11-19 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality C – Paul Stares is coauthor of CFR’s special report “Enhancing U.S. Preventive Action.”  Few would dispute that preventing conflict, instability, and humanitarian disaster is preferable to confronting these problems after they arise. Preventive measures are generally less expensive than remedial ones. They also allow policymakers to address potential crises before they threaten international stability, U.S. interests, and human lives. Building an effective U.S. government capacity to take preventive action, however, has proved an elusive goal. And the challenges to achieving it have perhaps never been greater.

7) After Words: Joe Scarborough. “The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America’s Promise” (2009-07-11 C-SPAN Book TV)

Relevancy C, Quality C – From BookExpo America in New York City, Joe Scarborough on his book, The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America’s Promise.  The former Republican congressman and current host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe presents his thoughts on the Bush administration, the current state of the Republican party, and the Obama presidency.  Joe Scarborough discusses his book with Peggy Noonan, columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHDBxznrbuw]

8 ) Foreign Aid, Civilian Capacity, and U.S. National Security (2009-11-19 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy C, Quality C – U.S. Rep. Nita M. Lowey (Chair, House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs) discusses how if only more money was spent on diplomacy and development through the subcommittee that she leds, then there would be less conflict for the military to resolve.  Isn’t it always the case with the cardinals of the Appropriations Committee: the key to a better world is more money under their domain.

I could not find a book by her as evidently ideas and words make her head hurt.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXaC6ubCxww]

9) How Should Governments Drive Industry Change? Lessons Learned from the Global Automotive Sector (2009-11-19 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy C, Quality D – Carlos Ghosn (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Renault-Nissan Alliance) and Steven L. Rattner (Former Head, U.S. Treasury Department’s Auto Task Force) discuss government led industrial policy in the auto industry.

Ghosn is author of Shift: Inside Nissan’s Historic Revival.  Rattner is author of Overhaul: An Insider’s Account of the Obama Administration’s Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry.

10) After Words: Edward Humes interviewed by Matthew Kahn, UCLA (2009-07-18 C-SPAN Book TV)

Relevancy F, Quality F – The Pulitzer Prize winning author profiles the multi-millionaires and high-profile people who are trying to take the planet green.  The episode was filmed on the C-SPAN bus at the L.A. Times Festival of Books about his latest book Eco Barons:  The Dreamers, Schemers and Millionaires Who are Saving Our Planet.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p11P-f782zw]

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A Very C Collection of Podcasts

August 14, 2010

I’m not sure why all the sources for these podcasts from Thursday begin with the letter ‘C’, but they do.

As before, the following is a list of podcasts that I consumed the other day.  In addition to the title, link, and descriptions copied or adapted from the source, I have provided a grade for the relevancy of the topic and the quality of the ideas in the podcast.  Of course, these grades are objectively based upon my own individual values and judgment.  In this variety, you might find something to tickle your fancy.

1) Free Range Parenting (2010-05-27 Cultivating the Virtues)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Situation of the Week (Jenn): Dealing with pointless bickering, Topic: Free Range Parenting (begins 4:26), and Q&A: Childhood Fears (begins 18:45).

This discussion references Lenore Skenazy’s book Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry).

2) Cold War Reflections and Today’s Realities (2009-11-16 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality B – Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, at cfr.org, leads a discussion about “Cold War Reflections and Today’s Realities” with Bob Kimmitt, who’s now with WilmerHale, but in those times was undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, and later became, probably, our first ambassador to the unified Germany; and Jim Goldgeier, who is the senior fellow for transatlantic relations at the council, and also is a professor at George Washington University.

Goldgeier is author of Power and Purpose: U.S. Policy Toward Russian After the Cold War.

3) After Words: Schmidle interviewed by Peters (2009-05-29 C-SPAN BookTV)

Relevancy B, Quality B – Nicholas Schmidle went to Pakistan in 2006 to learn about the country and the people who live there.  He stayed for two years and wrote about his experiences in his book “To Live or to Perish Forever.”  Mr. Schmidle talks about his book with Ralph Peters, columnist for the New York Post and strategic analyst for Fox News.

4) State and Local Officials Conference Call: U.S. Immigration Policy (2009-11-18 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality B – Edward Alden discusses the results for a bi-partisan task force on immigration.  The task force’s report examines immigration into the United States in a foreign policy context. It broadens the debate by analyzing issues of economic competitiveness, terrorism and national security, human rights, and public diplomacy in the context of globalization. The report then offers recommendations for a twentyfirst-century immigration policy that serves U.S. economic, diplomatic, and national security interests.

Alden is the coauthor of U.S. Immigration Policy: Independent Task Force Report No. 63.

5) Trial of Accused 9/11 Terrorists (2009-11-08 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality C+ – The decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the accused mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, in federal court in New York has elicited strong reactions from across the political spectrum. CFR Adjunct Senior Fellows John B. Bellinger and Steven Simon  support the Obama administration’s decision, arguing that it gives the United States the opportunity to demonstrate globally the administration’s commitment to fair trials for detainees.

Simon is coauthor of The Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam’s War Against America and The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting it Right.

6) Update on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (2009-11-12 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality C – CFR’s Steven A. Cook discuss the Israel-Palestinian conflict in light of the release of the Goldstone Report, which was recently completed by the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, as part of CFR’s Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series.

Cook is author of Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey.

7) After Words: Wangari Maathai, author of “The Challenge for Africa” interviewed by Nicole Lee (2009-05-26 C-SPAN BookTV)

Relevancy C, Quality C – 2004 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Wangari Maathai talks about her latest book, “The Challenge for Africa.”  In the book, Ms. Maathai looks at the problems facing the continent and provides advice on how to improve things there.  She discusses her book with Nicole Lee, executive director of TransAfrica Forum.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEpcQ-3oJas]

8 ) After Words: Eduardo Galeano, author of “Mirrors” interviewed by John Dinges (2009-06-20 C-SPAN BookTV)

Relevancy B, Quality D – Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano talks about his latest book, “Mirrors,” a history of the world told through 600 brief stories.  Mr. Galeano is interviewed by Columbia University journalism professor John Dinges, author of “The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents.”  The two men also discussed Mr. Galeano’s 1971 book, “The Open Veins of Latin America,” which Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez gave to President Obama during the Fifth Summit of the Americas.

This would have a more interesting interview if Dinges had not been such a smitten fanboy, and had engaged and exposed Galeano’s premises.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMFMbIky_8c]

9) After Words: Tierney Cahill, author, Ms. Cahill for Congress, Interviewed by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC (2009-05-28 C-SPAN BookTV)

Relevancy C, Quality D – The story of how an elementary school teacher told her class that anyone can run for Congress and was challenged by them to prove it.  With a $7,000 initial campaign chest and her students as her campaign staff, she won the 2000 Democratic nomination in Nevada’s 2nd district, which includes Reno.

Cahill is coauthor of Ms. Cahill for Congress: One Fearless Teacher, Her Sixth-Grade Class, and the Election That Changed Their Lives Forever.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33BPJiKUWnk]

10) The Challenge of Somalia (2009-11-05 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality F – Bronwyn E. Bruton proposes a strategy of “constructive disengagement” to combat terrorism and promote development and stability in Somalia. Instead of supporting Somalia’s unpopular Transitional Federal Government, Bruton argues that the United States should accept an Islamist authority as long as it does not impede international humanitarian activities or support international jihad. Bruton also advocates for a decentralized approach to U.S. foreign aid distribution by working with existing local authorities. And she counsels against an aggressive military response to piracy, making the case instead for initiatives to mobilize Somalis themselves against pirates.

Burton’s book is Somalia: A New Approach.

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Wednesday’s Podcasts

August 13, 2010

The following is a list of podcasts that I consumed Wednesday.  In addition to the title, link, and descriptions copied or adapted from the source, I have provided a grade for the relevancy of the topic and the quality of the ideas in the podcast.  Of course, these grades are objectively based upon my own individual values and judgment.  In this variety, you might find something to tickle your fancy.

Also, check out this week’s Objectivist Round Up for insightful posts.

1) Temperment (2010-04-24 Cultivating the Virtues)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Situation of the Week (by Kelly), Topic: Temperament (begins around 4:54), and Q&A (begins around 28:17).  Yes, we went REALLY long on our topic, partly because it’s a favorite one of ours, and partly because we forgot to watch our time!

This podcast mentions two books: Elaine Aaron’s The Highly Sensative Child and Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.

2) Why Non-Punitive Discipline? (2010-05-03 Cultivating the Virtues)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Situation of the Week (Jenn): A child models correct behavior for another child, FTW!  Topic: Why Non-Punitive Discipline/The Ambassador Analogy (begins 3:42)  Q&A: Celebrating Holidays as non-religious parents (begins 12:55)

RationalJenn provides a number of resources related to this podcast at her site, including How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

3) Independence (2010-05-12 Cultivating the Virtues)

Relevancy A, Quality A – This podcast features a discussion on the virtue of Independence and how parents can encourage independence of thought and action in children. Here’s the lineup:  Situation of the Week (Kelly): Handling conflict with a child/choosing battles, Topic: Independence (begins 5:30), and Q&A: What are some ways to deal with kids interrupting? (begins 19:06).

4) I Am Murdered: George Wythe, Thomas Jefferson, and the Killing That Shocked a New Nation (2009-08-02 C-SPAN Q&A)

Relevancy B, Quality B – Bruce Chadwick recalls the murder of George Wythe, who represented Virginia at the Constitutional Convention and was a close friend and teacher to Thomas Jefferson.  Mr. Chadwick examines what he deems America’s first “trial of the century” as former representative Wythe lived long enough after his deliberate poisoning to attribute the murder to his grandnephew, George Wythe Sweeny.  However, despite Mr. Wythe’s claim and the first-hand account of his maid, Lydia Broadnax (who survived the poisoning), Mr. Sweeny was never found guilty of the charge.

I have added I Am Murdered to my Amazon wishlist.  Also discussed in this podcast is Chadwick’s book Triumvirate: The Story of the Unlikely Alliance That Saved the Constitution and United the Nation, which is about Madison, Hamilton, Jay and the Federalist Papers.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMGjgayvh_w]

5) Neil Sheehan, Author, ”A Fiery Peace in a Cold War” (2009-09-20 C-SPAN Q&A)

Relevancy B, Quality B – Neil Sheehan is the author of a new book, ”A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon.” The book tells the story of the nuclear arms race and the intercontinental Ballistic Missile through the eyes of Air Force General Bernard Schriever. In 1954, General Schriever was the head of a research team that led to putting satellites in space and the development of missiles like the ICBM.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q-vOZUoVsg]

6) Fiscal Irresponsibility Clouds The Future Of The United States (2009-11-04 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy A, Quality C – Richard A. Posner, judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, analyzes how past fiscal irresponsibility has led to challenges to the global standing of the U.S. financial markets.

Posner has written A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of ’08 and the Descent into Depression.

7) Christopher Caldwell, Author, ”Reflections on the Revolution in Europe” (2009-09-13 C-SPAN Q&A)

Relevancy B, Quality C – Christopher Caldwell  is the author of the new book, ”Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West.” The book looks at the immigrant experience in Europe, specifically immigration from non-European countries. Caldwell explains that there are 1.7 million new arrivals in Europe each year, half of which are followers of Islam. In his book, he says, ”Europe’s future peace and prosperity depend on how easily these newcomers (and their children and grandchildren) assimilate into European life.’

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1sBXX6WhH8]

8 ) Tracy Kidder, Author, ”Strength in What Remains” (2009-10-11 C-SPAN Q&A)

Relevancy C, Quality C – Pulitzer Prize Winning author Tracy Kidder  talks about his newest book, ‘‘Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness.” It’s the story of a young man from Burundi who comes to the United States after narrowly escaping civil war and genocide in his home country. With little money and few English skills, he works delivering groceries, sleeping in Central Park. Eventually, he meets people who help me in his quest to become a doctor. The man, named Deogratis (Deo), returns to Burundi and builds a clinic and health care system through his organization Village Health Works.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shNPGX-v40Y]

9) International Security: A World Free of Nuclear Weapons: Illusion or Possibility (2009-11-04 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy A, Quality F- – Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, speak about the current nuclear situation, threats to stability, and ways to further promote nonproliferation.

10) T.R. Reid, Author, ”The Healing of America” (2009-09-06 C-SPAN Q&A)

Relevancy B, Quality F- – This week, our guest is T.R. Reid (Reed), author of the new book ”The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care.” The former Washington Post reporter traveled to a variety of  countries, including France, Germany, Japan, India, Canada, and the United Kingdom, for a first hand look at their health care systems. He also looks at the moral question of the right to equal health care notwithstanding ability to pay.

Reid makes a moral argument founded in altruism; thus his book, perspective, and conclusions are utterly EVIL. For an objectively moral investigation of the health care issue see Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM).

[youtube=http://www.westandfirm.org/; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxNhOBemsic]

11) After Words: Peniel Joseph author of ”Dark Days, Bright Nights” interviewed by Kevin Merida (2009-01-16 C-SPAN Book TV)

Relevancy D, Quality F – Peniel Joseph recalls the black power movement in his book, ‘‘Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama.” Mr. Joseph contends that the 1965 Voting Rights Act played a significant role in the ascendancy of black radical politics and assisted in paving the way for future African-American political leadership. Peniel Joseph profiles several of the movement’s key figures, including Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X, and Paul Robeson. He discusses his book with Kevin Merida, national editor of The Washington Post.

Having studied this subject myself, I find Joseph’s historical analysis to be ideologically corrupt in a way that would make Karl Mannheim proud.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwxnmDWKkek]

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This Weekend’s Podcasts

August 8, 2010

The following is a list of podcasts that I consumed this weekend.  In addition to the title, link, and descriptions copied or adapted from the source, I have provided a grade for the relevancy of the topic and the quality of the ideas in the podcast.  Of couse, these grades are objectively based upon my own individual values and judgment.  In this variety, you might find something to tickle your fancy.

1) Yaron Brook on The Wall Street Shuffle (11/11/09)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Yaron Brook is a guest on The Wall Street Shuffle. Topics include government health care and cap-and-trade legislation.  A collection of information created by the Ayn Rand Center for Individiual Rights and related to health care legislation is available at their health care issue focused page.

2) eBay Jim Griffith TJMax Story (9/17/2009)

Relevancy B, Quality B – When Susan Su asked Griffith for any secrets on getting inventory to sell on eBay, he said, “think local.”  Instead of thinking only about how to sell YOUR stuff on eBay (like your old stereo, computer, designer jeans), think about how to make a micro business selling OTHER stuff on eBay, that you obtain locally…

More information on rethinking your personal finances from Ramit Sethi is available in his book I Will Teach You to be Rich.

3) Letters of Bess Truman (2009-10-29)

Relevancy B, Quality B – Pres. Harry S. Truman’s grandson, Clifton Truman Daniel, spoke about the letters written from Bess to Harry Truman at the National Archives in Washington DC.  Previously, Daniel has written the book Growing Up With My Grandfather: Memories of Harry S. Truman.

4) Public Pulse interview with Elan Journo (2009-09-14)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Elan Journo is interviewed on Public Pulse about his book, Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism.

5) Simon Johnson Reports (2009-02-09)

Relevancy B, Quality C – MIT Sloan interview with Prof. Simon Johnson on the financial crisis.  Johnson is co-author of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown.

6) The Teachings of Ayn Rand (2009-08-28)

Relevancy A, Quality A – In this interview from the “Taking Back America” podcast, Onkar Ghate offers an overview of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, the importance of the self, and philosophical reasons for today’s erosion of freedom.  Ghate is a contributor to Postmodernism and Management, Volume 21: Pros, Cons and the Alternative (Research in the Sociology of Organizations).

7) Job Board Scams (2010-03-16)

Relevancy B, Quality B – WNYC’s Brian Lehrer interviews Ask the Headhunter (Nick Cocodilos) about bogus and misleading job advertisements.   Cocodilos’ book is Ask the Headhunter: Reinventing the Interview to Win the Job

8 ) Marc Kudisch in Terrence McNally’s Golden Age (2010-03-10)

Relevancy B, Quality C+ -Terrence McNally’s new play Golden Age, which just had its successful debut at Philadelphia Theatre Company…Actor Marc Kudisch takes us on the journey of this new play – from workshops to rewrites to the debut in Philadelphia,  to more rewrites with a new director, and finally to the Kennedy Center.

I don’t know anything about McNally although this interview raised my interest.  I see a couple collections of his plays on Amazon Three Plays by Terrence McNally (The Lisbon Traviata, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, It’s Only a Play) and Terrence McNally, Vol. 1: 15 Short Plays.

9) Sale Process Engineering Conference Call (2010-04-12)

Relevancy B, Quality A – Justin Roff-Marsh of Ballistix discusses salles process engineering as a preview to his presentation to Constraint Management Group’s annual conference.  His book is Reengineering the Sales Process.  Roff-Marsh is an advocate of applying Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints to the sales process, see Goldratt’s book The Goal as an introduction.

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