Taxing Congress

September 28, 2011

While listening to Senator Lindsey Graham’s recent talk at the Council on Foreign Relations, I heard him mention cutting congressional pay by 10% as part of a revised deficit reduction package.

As an alternative, I have a modest proposal to evade the 27th Amendment and achieve an immediate financial penalty upon Congress. In the spirit of Jonathan Swift, I suggest that Congress pass a special tax that would apply only to their salary. The rate of such a tax would be calculated based upon the size of the federal deficit; for example, if the federal deficit were 43% of revenue, then our Representatives would pay an additional 43% tax, which we could call an Incompetence Tax.

This tax would embrace erroneous principles currently in fashion with our legislators. First, it would be a use of the tax code to do what is prohibited to Congress by the Constitution. Second, like ancient Athenian democracy, the majority can target a tax upon a specific unpopular individual or group for expropriation of their wealth; is anyone less popular than Congress? Third, it uses the taxing authority not to raise revenue but as a punitive instrument.

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On Jury Service

May 22, 2011

Amy Peikoff provided an analysis of Diana Hsieh’s podcast statement (starts at 28:13) that Hsieh’s view on jury duty was the “complete, complete opposite” of that previously expressed by Leonard Peikoff.  Diana Hsieh expressed that it was a violation of the juror’s individual rights.

Personally, I am for jury service.

I posted the following comment at Don’t Let It Go:

DH’s conclusions on jury service and her separate conclusion against publicly paid defense counsels for indigent defendants reflect her not considering these trial issues in the context of the defendant’s right to a fair trial.

Related to the charge of jury service being an unreasonable compulsion, at least here in Virginia, individuals can opt out of jury service with cause; the principle of respecting the life of the potential juror is established and can be procedurally modified where deficient without violating the defendant’s fundamental right to a fair trial by hindering their civil right to a jury.

Related to the essential nature of a jury to a fair criminal trial, I cite Jefferson’s Louisiana policies for transforming the former subjects of Spanish tyranny into citizens fit for republican government.  While extending limited civil rights to the residents of Louisiana, the right to a trial by jury was one of the first; in Jefferson’s judgment, participation in a jury was an essential mechanism for educating the Louisianans in self-governance.  I observe that unstable Latin American republics liberated from despotic Spanish rule do not have juries, thus this right may contribute to a republic’s longevity by checking executive authority and demagoguery.

For reference on establishing republican governance in Louisiana, including multiple comments on trial by jury, see excerpts from Dumas Malone’s Jefferson & His Times Vol 4:

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

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27iLueZrqdU]

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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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Tuesday’s Podcasts

August 12, 2010

The following is a list of podcasts that I consumed Tuesday.  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) Immigration and Individual Rights (2010-04-01 The Objective Standard)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Zeros in on the basic principle of America and demonstrates that this principle mandates a policy of open immigration, debunks several common arguments for prohibiting or limiting immigration, shows why all such arguments are necessarily invalid, and indicates what Americans must do if we are to reestablish and maintain the kind of moral, rights-respecting immigration policy that was advocated by the Founders.

Craig Biddle is the publisher of The Objective Standard.

2) Peikoff – Episode 123 (2010-08-02 Leonard Peikoff)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Philosopher Leonard Peikoff answers questions.  1) As a student of Ayn Rand did you realize that your understanding of Objectivism to some extent had been in your views even before you read her? 2) If after years of consistent good parenting a child turns out bad, can a parent still feel pride in their accomplishment in raising him to adulthood? 3) Why aren’t Christians the most outspoken opponents of multiculturalism since they claim absolute truth, believe sinners are going to go to hell, and have a huge moral gulf between the godly and the unchristian? 4) Ayd Rand said that there are certain philosophical questions that are improper, namely questions that contradict philosophical axioms. Why did she say these in particular? 5) Have you considered cryogenically freezing yourself in the hopes that future technology will be able to restore you? 6) I am an Objectivist. Why should I make a detailed study of the epistemological ideas that Ayn Rand originated? 7) Imagine you are at your funeral at 80 years old. All of your friends, family, and colleagues come to honor you. Now think about what you would want them to say about you. Most people want to hear how great they were in their relationships, not how great they were in their business or career. What about you? 8 ) Did Ayn Rand ever worry that the KGB might try to do her harm? 9) According to Objectivism, is it okay to have sex with anyone who is the highest and best partner that I can find at this time?

Peikoff is author of Objectivism:  The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

3) Peikoff – Episode 122 (2010-07-26 Leonard Peikoff)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Philosopher Leonard Peikoff answers questions.  1) Around what time would you say that you became a full-fledged philosopher as opposed to a philosophy student? When would you say that you became an Objectivist as opposed to a student of Objectivism? 2) We disregard ESP and the like because we accept the five senses as the only base of knowledge. Would it therefore be rational for a man who was blind from birth to disregard claims about reality based on the sense of sight?, 3) Is environmentalism the new communism? What are the similarities and differences?, 4) Is it permissible or moral to date a non-Objectivist?, 5) I am a homosexual who only finds romantic value in full masculinity. However, in my opinion a fully masculine mind is possible only in heterosexual men, and I am therefore only attracted to such men. How should I deal with this painful situation? 6) How much should you expect to love what you do for a living? Can you settle for non-love, but find ways to like what you get paid to do? Or Is settling like that selling yourself short? 7) Why did Cherryl Taggart in Atlas Shrugged have to commit suicide? 8 ) Can irrational philosophers still be called philosophers?

Peikoff is author of The Ominous Parallels:  A Brilliant Study of America Today – and the ‘ominous parallels’ with the chaos of pre-Hitler Germany.

4) Arts Writer Dianne Durante on Sculpture’s Forgotten Delights (2010-02-24 WFIU )

Relevancy A, Quality A – Arts historian Dianne Durante tells WFIU’s Adam Schwartz how to enjoy outdoor monuments, which she calls “forgotten delights.”

Durante is the author of Forgotten Delights: The Producers and Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide.

5) The new dynamics of book publishing (2010-07-19 Seth Godin)

Relevancy B, Quality A – In May, Seth Godin gave a talk to the Independent Book Publishers, which will probably of interest if you are focused on how industries are making (or not)  the shift to the new rules of a digital age.

Godin referencew the ideas from his book on leadership titled Tribes.

6) Social Media Makes Email Even Stronger (2010-07-06 Duct Tape Marketing)

Relevancy B, Quality B – Gail Goodman, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of leading email marketing service provider Constant Contact.

Over the last year or two email marketing has taken a back seat to social media in terms of buzz. However, during the recession, firms that had a solid relationship with an audience via email held a much stronger position. Email marketing still produces the highest ROI of any online marketing tactic.

Eric Groves has written Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing.

7) Russia Update: Is the Reset Working (2009-10-28 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality B – A panel discussion on U.S.- Russian relations, including:  Stephen F. Cohen, Professor of Russian Studies, New York University; Dimitri K. Simes, President, The Nixon Center; and Celeste A. Wallander, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense For Russia, Ukraine And Eurasia.

The discussion refers to Stephen F. Cohen’s recent book Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War.

8 ) Color as a Branding Element (2010-07-13 Duct Tape Marketing)

Relevancy C, Quality C+ – Interview with Kate Smith Color Expert, Career Color Trend Forecaster, and Editor of Sensational Color, a site featuring a wealth of information on the subject of color, which has built in meaning and symbolism and can be a strong element of your brand when used strategically.

Her website features book recommendations, including Real World Color Management.

9) Media Conference Call: CFR Scholars Return from AfPak Region (2010-10-30 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality C – CFR Senior Fellows Max Boot and Daniel Markey, following their recent visit to the Afghan war theater, expressed deep concern about the ability of the Obama administration to stabilize the region with the current level of military and civilian resources.

Max Boot is author of The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power.  Daniel Markey is author of CFR’s Securing Pakistan’s Tribal Belt (Council Special Report No. 36).

10) The Art of Leading Well (2010-07-29 Harvard Business Review)

Relevancy B, Quality C – Warren Bennis, professor at the University of Southern California and author of “Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership.”

11) Why Delighting Your Customers is Overrated (2010-07-23 Harvard Business Review)

Relevancy B, Quality C – Matthew Dixon, managing director of the Corporate Executive Board’s Sales and Service Practice, says that delighting your customer is overrated and that operations should focus on reliability.

Audio of his co-authored HBR article is available from Audible.com.

12) Kosovo’s Moment of Opportunity (2010-07-28 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality C – The International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion  July 22 that Kosovo’s 2008 independence declaration did not violate international law. Though the opinion is non-binding, it has implications for Kosovo and Serbia, as well as countries and secessionist movements around the world.

13) How Evernote Is Changing the Free Model (2010-08-03 Duct Tape Marketing)

Relevancy C, Quality C – Interview with Evernote CEO Phil Libin.

Evernote is a simple service that allows you to track and store everything you want to remember and get it out of your “meat brain” and housed somewhere safe and trustworthy. About 9,000 people a day are joining the free version of this service that also syncs incredibly well with iPads and mobile devices.

Evernote is reportedly popular with fans of David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, about which friends have heard positive comments.

14) G-Lab ’10: Intergrupo, Columbia (2010-02-24 MIT Sloan)

Relevancy C, Quality C – Growing a business by cultivating relationships.

15) Will the Economic Recovery Run Out of Steam? (2010-07-21 Knowledge@Wharton)

Relevancy C, Quality C – After a year of solid gains, the economic recovery is beginning to slow. Demand is trailing off as inventory levels have been restored and emergency stimulus measures withdrawn. Continued high unemployment and a downtick in housing are weighing on consumer confidence and spending. Add unexpected shocks from Europe and a slowdown in China, and forecasters are now ratcheting down their expectations for growth over the next year.

Peter Cappelli is coauthor of The India Way: How India’s Top Business Leaders Are Revolutionizing Management.

16) Shooting the Messenger: Quarterly Earnings and Short-term Pressure to Perform (2010-07-21 Knowledge@Wharton)

Relevancy C, Quality C – As the quarterly earnings season for the second quarter of 2010 gets underway, investors, analysts and the media will be watching to see how well public companies are emerging from the economic downturn, and what that might mean for the stock market. With unemployment rates still high and federal measures of economic growth shaky, observers are hoping for earnings numbers that reaffirm signs of a recovery.

Michael Useem is author of Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both Win.

17) WikiLeaks’ Fallout for U.S.-Pakistan Ties (2010-07-30 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy C, Quality C – The classified U.S. military documents  related to the war in Afghanistan leaked by WikiLeaks.org paint a grim picture of collusion between Pakistan’s intelligence service, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and members of the Afghan Taliban. While the allegations laid out in the documents–that the ISI supports Taliban insurgents fighting U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan–may not be new, they exacerbated strains in U.S.-Pakistan relations. In Pakistan, the allegations feed a growing paranoia that the leaks are part of a “conspiracy aimed at damaging the Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship, which is in a nascent stage, as well as the U.S.-Pakistan relationship,” says Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Washington-based Atlantic Council.

Shuja Nawaz is author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within.

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Monday’s Podcasts

August 10, 2010

The following is a list of podcasts that I consumed Monday.  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) Justice Thomas’ Writing Breathes Life Into Important Privileges or Immunities Clause (2010-06-30 Institute For Justice)

Relevancy A, Quality A – The Institute for Justice (IJ) has for decades been among the most consistent defenders of an engaged judiciary and an appropriately originalist interpretation of the Constitution, including particularly the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment.  As today’s ruling makes clear, the right to keep and bear arms is a uniquely American, and decidedly fundamental individual right.

After this podcast, I am particularly interested in reading Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion, which begins on p. 67 of the Court’s release opinion.

2) Bill Maurer discusses SCOTUS decision on Arizona Clean Elections case (2010-06-09 Institute For Justice)

Relevancy A, Quality A – On January 20, 2010, a federal district court judge declared unconstitutional the challenged “Matching Funds” provision of Arizona’s so-called “Clean Elections Act,” striking a blow for the rights of individuals and groups to speak freely during political campaigns.  The Institute for Justice is challenging Arizona’s scheme of publicly financing elections, which drowns out the voices of individuals and groups who wish to support privately financed candidates who run against taxpayer-funded candidates in a misguided effort to “level the playing filed.”

Historian Eric Daniels has a lecture on Freedom on Speech in American History.

3) EGO Interviews Artist John Cox (2010-05-23 EGO)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Martin Lindeskog’s interview with John Cox provides interesting details about what Cox is up to now and his process.  Most surprisingly, he talks about the possibility of a return of Cox & Forkum…I am willing to pledge money to see that happen.

Collections of Cox & Forkum political cartoons are available at their website.

4) The Linchpin Session (2010-04-09 Seth Godin)

Relevancy A, Quality B – If all you are is a replaceable cog in the system that makes the widgets, and there are a hundred people as competent as you around the world, you might get away from it for a little while, but you’re not going to get away with it in the long run…and that is the challenge.  Seth Godin talks about the six reasons why he thinks this is hard for people and what we need to do to train them to think about it.

Godin discusses his latest concept in Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

5) Fair Elections Now Act (2009-10-07 Federalist Society)  <break> Relevancy A, Quality B – The Fair Elections Now Act (S.752, H.R.1826) would allow qualified, legitimate candidates to receive grants and matching funds to run competitive campaigns instead of relying on contributions from lobbyists and other special interests.  Who will decide which candidates qualify for funding, and how? Is the legislation a step closer to public financing and, if so, what are the implications?  In this podcast, Craig Holman and Bill Maurer debate the proposed legislation. Allyson Hayward moderates.

Allison R. Hayward has written a study “Campaign Promises: A Six-year Review of Arizona’s Experiment with Taxpayer-financed Campaign“.

6) Embracing Reality (2009-09-10 Living on Earth)

Relevancy B, Quality B – After experiencing severe famine in Malawi in 2001, William Kamkwamba wanted to find a way to protect his family in the future. So he set out to build a windmill, using diagrams from an old physics textbook and scrap parts that he collected in the local junkyard. Host Jeff Young talks with William Kamkwamba and journalist Bryan Mealer, co-authors of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

7) DCTS columnists reveal their Tony favorites (2010-06-09 DC Theater Scene)

Relevancy C, Quality C – In what has become an annual tradition on DC Theatre Scene, DCTS columnists Richard Seff and Joel Markowitz met in Richard’s penthouse on the Upper East Side of NYC to share their thoughts with you on the current NYC theatre season.

Seff recounts his life in theater in his book Supporting Player: My Life Upon the Wicked Stage.

8 ) The Light in the Piazza interviews (2010-03-31 DC Theater Scene)

Relevancy C, Quality C – Joel Markowitz interviews actresses Hollis Resnik and Margaret Anne Florence, who star as Margaret and Clara in “The Light in the Piazza“. They talk about the relationship they have built for these mother and daughter characters, and the advice Molly Smith gave them.

9) Irish actor Des Keogh on playing Da (2010-04-10 DC Theater Scene)

Relevancy C, Quality C – Surely, Hugh Leonard writing his autobiographical play Da in the early 70’s could have hoped for no one better to portray his da than the well known Irish actor Des Keogh, who is full of wit and charm with just a touch of mischief.

10) Afghanistan: Defining the Possibilities (2009-10-26 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality F- – U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry [D-MA] spoke at the Washington office of the Council on Foreign Relations on October 26, highlighting the array of U.S. policy challenges in Afghanistan. Kerry stressed that defeating al-Qaeda remained at the center of U.S. mission in Afghanistan. He defined U.S. success in Afghanistan “as the ability to empower and transfer responsibility to Afghans as rapidly as possible and achieve a sufficient level of stability to ensure that we can leave behind an Afghanistan that is not controlled by al-Qaeda or the Taliban.”

I wonder allowed if Senator Kerry’s book The New War:  The Web of Crime That Threatens America’s Security is a comedy of errors.  Published in 1998, it predates 9/11 and his failed Presidential bid while being informed by his experience as the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations.  I note that a search for al Qaeda and bin Laden in the book found no results.

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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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