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Patrick N.

Harry Binswanger For Bush

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And some people call Objectivism dogmatic...

As always, Dr. Binswanger epitomizes the purpose of philosophy by seamlessly traversing between concretes and principles. Anyone even casually following this election has a very difficult choice before them with thousands of concrete facts to sort through. To most people it is just an undifferentiated mess that cannot be coped with. That article is standing proof of the value of philosophy in your life.

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Great article!

Anyone even casually following this election has a very difficult choice before them with thousands of concrete facts to sort through.

Do you think this is the major reason why it is so hard to make a choice?

It seems to me another problem might be the impossibility of predicting the future precisely, which is what you are trying to do when trying to decide who would be the best President.

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It seems to me another problem might be the impossibility of predicting the future precisely, which is what you are trying to do when trying to decide who would be the best President.

Predicting the future "precisely" is not a problem in a rational man's mind since he understands that this demands a standard of cognition equivalent to omniscience. Trying to accomplish a feat of omniscience would certainly be a problem.

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Do you think this is the major reason why it is so hard to make a choice?

For me there is only one key reason why this election is a hard choice: because there is much to dislike in both candidates. Each candidate will work to deny some of my rights and the rights of someone else. So, I find myself trying to figure out whose evil will be lesser and more delayed. Also, I keep cross-checking that there one really is better than the other, and that I should not simply boycott the election.

A minor reason why it is such a hard choice: becaise having gone through the rigor described above, I selected Bush. Then, I found that someone who I believe is pretty rational was very strongly opposed to Bush and in favor of Kerry. That meant a rigorous re-examination of my decision.

I am still voting for the religious right (sigh!)

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I agree with Robert Tracinski's point:

"The growing influence of the religious right at home is indeed an ominous threat to liberty. But whether or not America retreats in the War on Terrorism will be decided in the next four years. Whether or not America maintains the separation of church and state is an issue that will be fought over a much longer time. It is a threat that is gathering strength, not one that has come to a head." ("Anti-Bushites for Bush," The Intellectual Activist, Sept. 2004)

In his article Dr. Binswanger did not address the argument that we are already retreating from the war, thanks to Bush. We are already losing the war, thanks to Bush. Kerry could not possibly make it much worse.

Anyone who reads Bush's recent comment that he would accept an Islamic government in Iraq and leave Iraq when asked to by such a government, anyone who reads that should realize that Bush is not on the offensive in this war. He is prepared to hand over the Middle East to Islamic totalitarianism. How is that acting like a "cowboy?" How is that projecting the quality of "independence?"

The fact is that neither Bush nor Kerry can project the virtue of independence. At the height of Bush's cowboy days he was little more than a sheepwrangler. Let's face it. We got fooled. We thought Bush was going to fight the fight. But he chickened out.

Bush is a gutless, wannabe cowboy. And practically everyone in the world, especially the enemy, sees that now.

If Bush symbolizes independence, then I don't want to be independent. I'm going to have to find a new term to describe myself.

The main thing to notice about this article is that Dr. Binswanger did not address the crucial issue of whether a half-war or no-war is preferable. He assumes that Bush's half-war is better than whatever Kerry would do. But that is not obvious, and many Objectivists have argued that a half-war is far worse. Dr. Binswanger did not address this point in his article.

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MisterSwig, why would anybody want to stay in Iraq in the first place?

Our object should not be to bring democracy to the middle-east. It should be to rout out dictators who threaten us, as we see fit. That, Bush has done.

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y_feldblum: There is no reason to stay in Iraq, but there is a good reason to prevent it from becoming another Iran. That means imposing a secular constitutional form of government on Iraq, whether the majority likes it or not.

This comment was intended for Bowzer:

Right; that's what I mean. (sorry if I was unclear)

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In his article Dr. Binswanger did not address the argument that we are already retreating from the war, thanks to Bush. We are already losing the war, thanks to Bush. Kerry could not possibly make it much worse.

Anyone who reads Bush's recent comment that he would accept an Islamic government in Iraq and leave Iraq when asked to by such a government, anyone who reads that should realize that Bush is not on the offensive in this war. He is prepared to hand over the Middle East to Islamic totalitarianism. How is that acting like a "cowboy?" How is that projecting the quality of "independence?"

The fact is that neither Bush nor Kerry can project the virtue of independence. At the height of Bush's cowboy days he was little more than a sheepwrangler. Let's face it. We got fooled. We thought Bush was going to fight the fight. But he chickened out.

Bush is a gutless, wannabe cowboy. And practically everyone in the world, especially the enemy, sees that now.

If Bush symbolizes independence, then I don't want to be independent. I'm going to have to find a new term to describe myself.

The main thing to notice about this article is that Dr. Binswanger did not address the crucial issue of whether a half-war or no-war is preferable. He assumes that Bush's half-war is better than whatever Kerry would do. But that is not obvious, and many Objectivists have argued that a half-war is far worse. Dr. Binswanger did not address this point in his article.

Again, I agree with your assessment of Bush. But, what you always leave out is Kerry. Kerry, from his disgrace during Vietnam, through his senate career, to every flip-flopping lie, (not to mention treasonousness actions with the North Vietnamese) makes me dream of the Camelot that was Bill and Monica. Kerry is the filthiest piece of garbage ever dumped on the American political scene.

You've made your estimate of Bush very clear. But, why vote for Kerry?

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y_feldblum: There is no reason to stay in Iraq, but there is a good reason to prevent it from becoming another Iran. That means imposing a secular constitutional form of government on Iraq, whether the majority likes it or not.

This comment was intended for Bowzer:

Of course ideally, we should not have to care about what kind of government anyone adopts because the world would be on notice that even the remotest threat would mean total destruction.

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"The main thing to notice about this article is that Dr. Binswanger did not address the crucial issue of whether a half-war or no-war is preferable. "

No, I think that Dr. Binswanger did address that point. It's not half-war or no-war. Those days have sadly passed us by. It's half-war or retreat/surrender. The principle probably is relevant to war, but the time of relevance for the principle of halfwar/nowar has passed.

That's a huge reason why this is a referendum on American independence. Now we have to push forward.

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y_feldblum: There is no reason to stay in Iraq, but there is a good reason to prevent it from becoming another Iran. That means imposing a secular constitutional form of government on Iraq, whether the majority likes it or not.

This comment was intended for Bowzer:

What do you mean by "another Iran"? And what is that good reason?

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Again, I agree with your assessment of Bush. But, what you always leave out is Kerry. Kerry, from his disgrace during Vietnam, through his senate career, to every flip-flopping lie, (not to mention treasonousness actions with the North Vietnamese) makes me dream of the Camelot that was Bill and Monica. Kerry is the filthiest piece of garbage ever dumped on the American political scene.

You've made your estimate of Bush very clear. But, why vote for Kerry?

I'm not sure if you read my take on what a Kerry presidency might look like. But you can read it here.

The primary reason to vote for Kerry is still the fact that he is not working toward the spread of religious fundamentalism. Bush is.

But to accept that reason, you would probably need to first agree that Bush is no better (and probably worse) than Kerry on the war issue, and that Kerry's disgraceful actions and flip-flopping are inconsequential compared to the damage that Bush's faith-based policies and initiatives will do to this nation.

It is perfectly understandable that you want to vomit when thinking about voting for Kerry. He is a piece of garbage--I agree.

But do you really think that a piece of garbage is going to be an effective president? Is a piece of garbage going to muster support for his stinky policies? Why are you so afraid of this piece of garbage? Rush Limbaugh works himself into emotional tirades every day over Kerry. Do you think the religious right is going to let Kerry get much done as president? Are they going to let Kerry substantially change the direction of the war? I don't think so.

I'd rather have a piece of garbage than the faith-based initiatives. On one hand, we are talking about a man whom I find personally disgusting and politically ineffective, while on the other hand we have a man whom I find personally pathetic and politically dangerous.

I'm willing to look at the garbage for awhile and vote for the least dangerous one.

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I'm not sure if you read my take on what a Kerry presidency might look like. But you can read it here.

Sorry, I meant to add that I may have missed such a statement by you as is possible.

I disagree with the Bush danger, but I don't think I have anything to add to what has been beaten to death here. And since you appear to have no illusions of the person of Kerry, I have my answer, thanks.

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In the military, there is an expression that is apt regarding the half-war, no-war argument: Overcome by events. This is something that Kerry doesn't seem to understand. He is arguing about something that has already occurred -- the Iraq war. There is nothing more to talk about except perhaps a post-action debriefing. The focus is on pacifying the country now, not winning the war. Now we can only throw our victory away. It isn't even surrender; I'm not sure what I would call it. Vietnamization?

Bush says what he says about an Islamic Fundamentalist political structure because he knows that it won't happen. There is no way to wipe out Islam completely in the politics of the Middle East. The best that we can hope for is to plant the seeds of reform. If you do not understand this, I suggest that you study the history and nature of Islam (and, perhaps, human psychology). While the Iraqis are religious, they have a history of secularism that precedes the Baathists. They are better educated, on the whole, than almost any other Islamic country. It simply is not realistic to demand that we impliment a form of government that we do not own ourselves. We have the history, and part of the philosophy, to be a capitalist republic, yet we are heavily mixed politically, shading further and further towards socialism.

I'll be happy if we can just neutralize Iraq as a source of danger. It isn't the best solution. I fear it isn't a permanant solution. History offers us few examples of "permanant" solutions, which is why the history of nations is a history of warfare.

I'm thankful Dr. Binswanger wrote this editorial. I wish I could have been a part of the discussion on his list. <sigh>

And the originator os this thread was right: if this doesn't prove that the accusations of dogmatism are wrong, I don't know what will. Perhaps "they" expect Dr. Binswanger to be "excommunicated." :D

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What do you mean by "another Iran"? And what is that good reason?

I meant that Iraq could become another antiAmerican theocracy that sponsors terrorism and would be a worse threat to the US than Saddam. Iran is actively working toward that goal and may yet succeed.

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Of course ideally, we should not have to care about what kind of government anyone adopts because the world would be on notice that even the remotest threat would mean total destruction.

I don't agree. I don't think we can justify "total destruction" of a country based on a very remote threat. The response needs to be proportional and aimed at getting the country to behave properly. And I do think it is in our interest to encourage proper governments rather than relying purely on military force.

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Do you think the religious right is going to let Kerry get much done as president? Are they going to let Kerry substantially change the direction of the war? I don't think so.

There's not a lot the Religious Right, or anyone else, can do about John Kerry if he wants to retreat from the war, or not go to war. Congress doesn't decide when or where to send our military---the President does. With respect to Kerry, that means not sending it anywhere. Congress contols the purse strings, but that has no effect on not going to war.

Here's a new thing to consider. Bill Clinton, it is being reported (on the Drudge website), wants to be the Secretary General of the United Nations. To secure that position, he needs the backing of the US Government. He will not get that backing from Bush---but he almost certainly would get it from Kerry.

Do you want Bill Clinton in charge of the United Nations?

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I don't agree. I don't think we can justify "total destruction" of a country based on a very remote threat. The response needs to be proportional and aimed at getting the country to behave properly. And I do think it is in our interest to encourage proper governments rather than relying purely on military force.

Why?

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But do you really think that a piece of garbage is going to be an effective president? Is a piece of garbage going to muster support for his stinky policies? Why are you so afraid of this piece of garbage? Rush Limbaugh works himself into emotional tirades every day over Kerry. Do you think the religious right is going to let Kerry get much done as president? Are they going to let Kerry substantially change the direction of the war? I don't think so.

The mainstream media of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Washigton Post, The LA Times, etc., is overwhelmingly anti-America, anti-military and dearly itching to see America surrender.

With respect to Iraq, the media and the Democrats are trying to do exactly the same thing they did about Vietnam. In that war, they convinced the public that we could not win, despite the fact that every major military engagement between U.S. and North Vietnamese forces was a smashing victory for America. The TET offensive was such a disaster for the north that the Viet Cong was never again an effective force and the North Vietnam Army was unable to conduct offensive operations for another two years. Yet Cronkite and his cronies declared over and over, "This war cannot be won", and enough people believed him that we gave up a winning hand.

Can there be any doubt that Kerry will capitulate to this pressure? He has already announced an intent to eliminate two important military programs: the bunker busting bombs and a missile defense system. He has already ruled out a military response to Iran and North Korea. His "global test" remark reveals his desire to put America's defense in the hands of the "international community", which, by the way, shares the media's intense desire to see America humiliated.

All that is left to do is find some way out that can be painted as something other than surrender. For Nixon, it was the "Peace with Honor" slogan. As soon as Kerry's advisors or cronies in the media can articulate something similar, the retreat will begin, with all the world hailing Kerry's leadership and with the regimes in Iran and Syria licking their chops.

How will the religious right stop this?

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I think there is a distinction between a battle half-fought and a nation half-defended.

Bush has at least shown he is willing to put the military where is his mouth is, even if we aren't all satisfied with the current scope of the operation and level of aggression. The war against terrorism may be half-fought, but I think if push came to shove Bush would absolutely defend the US.

Kerry talks about defending the US in the same breath as he talks about usurping our sovereignty. His voting record for providing defense this country is laughable (if such a thing can be thought of as funny).

I found Dr. Binswanger’s analysis quite helpful. Theocracy is a threat, but death by terrorism in the here-and-now is a greater one.

This may be over-simplifying the question, but for me it comes down to:

1)Who is the US’s greatest enemy today?

2) Which candidate would that enemy vote for?

Over the next 150 years, Christianity may be the greatest enemy of the US, but (and perhaps this is the optimist in me) I honestly cannot see the US public handing over control to religion; the occasional religious leader, perhaps, but I don’t see the separation of church and state eroding irrevocably anytime soon.

9/11 has shown us that what can happen soon is a deadly attack on US soil. I have a wife and 2 children; terrorists are a more immediate danger to them than the Christians. I will vote for the man who is willing to use military force to stop them. Although Bush has not fully followed through on his own Doctrine, some defense is better than no defense at all.

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The primary reason to vote for Kerry is still the fact that he is not working toward the spread of religious fundamentalism. Bush is.

Binswanger addressed this point, by quoting Tracinski.

If Bush symbolizes independence, then I don't want to be independent. I'm going to have to find a new term to describe myself.

I agree with you that much of his cowboy image is undeserved, but it is perception that counts. The more the world thinks we are arrogant and imperialistic, the better. That defiant American image is excrutiatingly important to how we act as a nation, and whether we will be motivated to live up to it.

Kerry would take that image away not only on the foreign policy front, but also back home. He's repeatedly complained that we are the only industrialized nation that "doesn't understand health care is not a privilege for the wealthy" -- something to be proud of, to say the least. On a symbolic and psychological level, what do you think it will do to us if that is taken away?

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More on Kerry: let's not pretend he doesn't bring his own religious beliefs to the table. Kerry may not be evangelical in the way Bush is, but I believe he, more even than Bush, buys into the fundamental ideas of Christianity: altruism and self-sacrifice.

While I may cringe when Bush seeks to legislate us into a more socially conservative America, he does recognize the power of the dollar and free trade and will attempt at least to keep government out of the way (relatively speaking) of those aspects of our lives.

Kerry will seek to inculcate the religion behind the religion, namely altruism, by further controlling our most important tool of freedom: the $.

At the end of the day I think the dollar is a more powerful tool for spreading Objectivism, than a less restrictive FCC or gay marriage.

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hello? does anyone read my posts? I've been stressing those points for some time now. The problem with religion v. sovereignty (or statism to an effect). which is worse will decide who you vote for. It's a well-thought-out article, but nothing new to me.

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