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Everything posted by Skywalker

  1. It's amazing to me how instantaneously everyone ganged up on the thread starter here. He clearly has an understanding of Objectivist principles, and a desire to implement them properly. If you think he is failing to do so, why not try to explain to him how, since his intentions are obviously good? Why all the hostility toward him simply for questioning? I don't agree with all of what he says, and some of it is clearly inaccurate. But he is obviously trying hard to square Objectivist ethics with reality. How could any Objectivist deny that this is admirable? But I think many Objectivists have a tendency to whitewash American actions. We are not on the level of terrorists - this is self-evident, I believe. But some of the actions of our government have been For example, Andrew Jackson's treatment of the native Americans was genocide. An obvious evil, which killed many more innocents than Osama Bin Laden has managed to so far. But many Objectivists claim this shouldn't be discussed because to do so would be "anti-American." This is silly, and more consistent with the irrational conservatives than supposedly rational Objectivists. Our government, drunk on its own power, has committed actions which are tantamount to terrorism. This does not mean America is an evil nation, or that we are doing these things today. What is so blasphemous about that that statement? How can you contradict it? I also agree with the thread starter's assertion that we do not have the soldiers to take over Iran and Syria. Our only recourse would be to nuke them into oblivion. If that is what you want to advocate, then by all means do so - but don't make the indefensible claim that we could raise WWII-era troop levels without conscription. And be prepared to explain how nuking two countries whose populations oppose their governments is consistent with Ayn Rand's ethics, which says that all individuals have a right to life. I would suggest people try to seriously answer these questions. And while I hate Noam Chomsky, how can you claim that all his statements are lies? I believe he proceeds from real facts; it is his conclusions which are always erroneous.
  2. Kerry is clumsy and uncomfortable discussing his religion. Plus, he's a Catholic, not a "born-again" Christian. At least with Kerry, we know he's only talking about religion to get votes. I don't think his faith is very strong. That line from the book of James is one of the most well known bible quotes, not one of the obscure Old Testament lines Bush quotes to show how intimately he knows scripture. Bush has almost never had a speech where he didn't mention God or Jesus; Kerry only started talking about religion in recent weeks, to get votes. Bad, but not as bad as actually having religion so central to one's life. Simply put, Kerry could never be as bad as Bush on religion. It would pretty much take an Iranian Mullah to top our president in this regard. The other issue is that Bush makes POLICY DECISION based on faith. They went into Iraq because they had "Faith" in outdated intelligence; "faith" that people brainwashed by Islam would want to establish a democratic republic and welcome westerners into their country; "faith" that they had enough troops to secure the country when many military officials disagreed. Faith that a corrupt regime like Pakistan's is a genuine ally in the War on Terror. Faith that North Korea and Iran can be stopped in their nuclear quests through diplomacy and dialogue. The list goes on. You can find plenty of articles on the subject of how many born-agains are in high places within Bush's administration, and how much of a guide "faith" and "gut feelings" are for collection of idiots. People talk about how they like Bush's foreign policy, but if he doesn't have the competence and rationality to implement his ideas within reality, what does it matter?
  3. Nowhere in Dr. Hurd's article is there any evidence that Kerry blamed capitalism for the flu shot shortage. I'm not defending Kerry, just wondering what the heck he's talking about.
  4. Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders trilogy ... not only are the characters larger-than-life and the plot very intelligent, the ideas in the book are great. It's pro-individual rights in its condemnations, both implicit and explicit, of slavery and gender inequality; and its pro-free trade stance.
  5. Despite their tactics, is there any validity to the cause of Chechen independence? I'm afraid I can't find much information on that aspect of the situation. From what little I've heard, it sounds like the Russian government under statist Putin oppresses the Chechens, and they have little in common with the rest of Russia. Of course this doesn't justify in any way the actions of the Chechen terrorists ... I'm just curious if the independence would be deserved if it was sought through proper, moral means of resistance.
  6. Why "Teddy Roosevelting" free speech? Bush's speech proposed some serious new spending. With the deficit what it is, I'm extremely wary of such promises to create new government programs. I don't see how Bush is going to keep his tax cuts, continue fighting terrorism abroad, AND spend more on domestic programs. Does anyone agree? At least Kerry admits he'll have to raise taxes somewhat to pay for all of HIS promised spending (not that that makes it more acceptable to tax-and-spend). Also, I still don't think Bush has made a convincing case that Iraq is anything other than altruistic nation-building which has distracted us from the war on terror and even helped the terrorists recruit more angry, hopeless young men to fight us. Since everyone here seems fairly pro-Bush and pro-Republican, I was wondering how you respond to these concerns.
  7. There are two H's in Fahrenheit. I saw the movie with my conservative family; they wanted to poke holes in its arguments, so I tagged along. It occasionally makes a good point - including drawing attention to the Bush administration's pathetic attempt at war in Afghanistan, which didn't ruthlessly eliminate the Taliban and local al-Queda, but instead pussyfooted around and allowed many of our enemies to escape - then botches that point, by making a contradictory statement - in this case, suggesting that Bush failed in Afghanistan because all he cared about was building a gas pipeline, not fighting al-Queda, and that the attack was immoral. The movie has no integrated thesis or argument, it's just "everything Bush has done is bad, including things that contradict each other." I'm no Bush fan, but I can't understand Moore's irrational hatred for the man. Why must he endeavour to prove that the man's every action is evil, when that clearly is not the case?
  8. Here's an interesting article by an Indian writer, attacking the State department's report on terrorism for evading the reality of terrorism in order to court the favor of countries like Pakistan. I'm curious as to people's thoughts on this. I would agree with the author that our government seems intent on focusing on the wrong targets in the fight against terrorism, and conveniently evading the culpability of others for political reasons. Here's the link: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/FF16Df03.html
  9. Does anyone think there's hope for former communist countries like Poland and Estonia to become true laizzes-faire free countries? From what I've heard, the people in these countries are fiercely protective of individual rights, especially in the realm of economic freedom.
  10. Kitty Hawk - Inara may use the term "selflessness," but Simon risked his life to save River because of his love for her and her value to him. In Objectivist terms, that is a selfish and noble act. Mal's religion isn't really dwelled upon often, but I think it's clear he's realized believing in God won't help him anymore - it didn't alter the reality of the battle he lost, and he's learned to make his own way instead of putting his faith in "unseen forces" and the like. It's been years since the battle, so I don't think he's just "pouting for a while." However, that is my interpretation and I cannot speak for the writers. It would be annoying if, in the upcoming feature film, Mal "regains his faith," but I don't think it would alter the rugged individualism, bravery, humor and sense of justice that make his character kick so much tail. I'd like to add a little side comment on this issue - My personal opinion is one shouldn't let ideological disagreements ruin one's enjoyment of an otherwise great story (unless of course those disagreements are so great that they eclipse the story's worth; this, however, is not the case with Mal's religion). There are questionable ideas in other great adventures, like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, but that doesn't change the fact that they're both incredible experiences and fantastic stories filled with noble, memorable characters. Oh, also, the Independents aren't really a "society" - they were a coalition of individuals from several worlds, fighting to maintain their own freedom and autonomy in the face of totalitarian Alliance hegemony. If you watch more of the series, especially the episode "Ariel", you'll see just how evil the Alliance can be.
  11. AshRyan, thanks for your articulate reply to my questions. I understand your perspective better now, and while I agree that any intentionally degrading sex act is immoral, I maintain that it's difficult to judge such, as different people enjoy different things, and the reasons why are not always clear (this is where science comes in). However, if someone is clearly or explicitly seeking to harm or degrade, this is clearly unethical. (When I say harm, I am including intentional psychological harm under that umbrella.) By the way, I wasn't putting sex on the level of hair combing - I was looking for an everyday, frivolous issue with which to question your contention about every act being analogous to nutrition. If sex was as commonplace and trivial as hair combing, the world would be a very different (and less interesting!) place.
  12. AshRyan, can you give me an example of a non-physically harmful sexual act that would be immoral, and the reason why? I am referring to something that is outside what you call the "legitimate range of optionality." A couple additional comments - first, I didn't say there's no sexual act that can be psychologically harmful. I said to attempt to deem certain acts mentally harmful (and thus immoral) amounts to psychologizing, because there is not yet an objective standard for doing so. If you can present a satisfactory one to me, I will change my position. But my opinion is that it is a task for the science of biopsychology, not philosophy. One would have to fully understand why certain things make certain people sexually excited, and be certain that one has complete volitional control over these things. This understanding requires scientific proof. Second, in a tangentially related topic, I didn't say that not every action has an effect on one's life. What I meant to say was - many actions have a NEGLIGIBLE effect. Combing one's hair, for example, cannot be compared to nutrition - its effect on one's being is not worth noting. It is an overstatement to say EVERY action has a significant enough effect on one's well-being to be comparable to proper or improper nutrition. In this context, I see the difference in effect on one's well-being between standard missionary sex, and menage a trois, or a foot fetish, as negligable. Homosexual sex is a broader topic with more issues to consider, but if one looks at the thread concerning it on this site, one will see not a single argument proving it is immoral or psychologically damaging. If you can offer one, I would like to hear it. As for the nutrition issue - Is it immoral to eat a poor diet? What if someone loves hamburgers and french fries? He could make the conscious decision that, because he derives so much pleasure from eating them, he would rather continue eating them and risk heart disease, because his life would be significantly less pleasurable without them. This constitues choosing his own values, and setting his own terms for life. Is it irrational? Perhaps it is immoral to eat carelessly, without regard for one's health, but if one chooses to enjoy a shorter life by eating tasty junk food, rather than living a long life of despised tofu and veggies, that is a rational decision, is it not? Sorry for the long post, AshRyan, but I've respected your opinion on other threads and would fully understand your disagreement with me here.
  13. I can't believe everyone's taking this thread so seriously! I thought it was a joke. Who cares if people want to engage in this kind of stuff? It's not "libertarian" to say people can do whatever they want as long as they don't hurt one another, in the privacy of their own bedrooms. No one has made any sort of rational argument to show that any nonviolent sexual practice is immoral. Weird, yes - bukake gives me the creeps - but I don't see how it's evil if it makes people happy, and there's no way to prove that it is. Sex and nutrition are different, because nutrition is a matter of physical health. Eating feces will kill you. Licking someone's feet will not. Sex is too complex to try to place into convenient moral categories. We don't yet understand enough about the biopsychological mechanisms that cause people to like certain things. Any attempt to morally judge nonviolent sexual practices amounts to what Rand called "psychologizing."
  14. Hey there. What are you favorite musical artists? Do you like any non-rock music?
  15. Monmouth county, right off sandy hook. I've been down to that area, Cherry Hill is nice, but it's about an hour and a half from here!
  16. Hi everyone, I've been discussing things on this forum for a while, but I've never formally introduced myself. Time to remedy that. I'm a college student (soon to be a graduate student) from New Jersey, with interests in music, literature, politics and philosophy. My introduction to Ayn Rand came in my last year of High school when I read the Fountainhead to enter ARI's essay contest (in which I achieved second place out of many applicants). Since then I have, over a large period of time, read most of her other material, fiction and non. While I am not an Objectivist, I am looking to learn more about Ayn Rand's ideas. As an English major, I am particularly interested in her uses of philosophical language and aesthetic theories. My other area of study was music, with my recent work focusing on the Romantic period (seen as beginning w/Beethoven's 9th, and ending somewhere between Tchaikovsky and Mahler), and I am very interested in discussing the music of these Romantic composers, which I love, with people on this board.
  17. asia, you say about Kerry: "His web site even includes a promise to shrink the size of the federal government and reign in out of control spending." I think this is a good thing. Why do you think it's not? That money being spent is our money, taken through taxes and pumped into Medicare and faith-based programs. And those government officials are the ones deciding what to do with our money, based on pull and popularity. Sound like Atlas Shrugged? I don't understand how an Objectivist could take issue with decreasing government spending and government size.
  18. Black Sabbath, you are right in pointing out that the cultures of the Middle East seem to share an obsession with death and the mystical. However, this doesn't refute the Sailor's point. While it does not justify 9/11 or any other form of terrorist retaliation, I think America's foreign policy in the region was, and for the most part still is, hugely unprincipled. We did fund the militaries of both Saddam and the Iranians during their war - the morally proper thing to do would have been to stay out of a conflict between two evil regimes, not fund and arm both, especially when we know how willing either side would be to commit atrocities with the weapons we'd give them. Our support of Saudi Arabia is another unprincipled problem. Even during the Gulf War - we removed Saddam, then placed the Kuwaiti monarchy, who are no lovers of freedom, back into power. I'll admit that the people of the Middle East seem to hate us to an absurd and irrational level, which is caused in part by our culture and our support of Israel. But I don't think you can deny that they also have legitimate gripes with things we've done in the region. As to Kerry not invading Afghanistan, American support for military action at the time was 90% or something similar. Kerry will do whatever's popular in the polls to boost his own image. Besides, the invasion of Afghanistan was executed very poorly. It destroyed some terrorist camps, and technically deposed the Taliban, but the new government is no better, and the Taliban are still around, because we didn't ruthlessly eliminate them. Same goes for Al-Queda - I think the claims that we've "killed 2/3's of their leadership" are greatly exaggerated. The one thing we DID do is blow up a lot of towns and accidentally kill women and children, contributing to more anti-American sentiment. In my opinion, constant, sustained bombing campaigns in a region like Afghanistan only serve to kill the wrong people. You've got to spend more time on the ground if you want to get the right ones. The point is, Bush didn't accomplish much in Afghanistan anyway.
  19. The sci-fi television series Firefly, favorably reviewed elsewhere on this site, is in my opinion the best TV series to come along in a while and a great example of romanticized storytelling. It's a shame that it was cancelled, but fantastic that the DVDs are selling well and a full length film is now being made. There's so many good things about it - I particularly like its anti-authoritarian government, and the writers' deft ability to borrow elements from classics like Star Trek, Star Wars, and Dune, while retaining an original, modern plot. The acting is great too! So has anyone else experienced this sci-fi series and have any comments on it?
  20. So I read the Norquist article a couple posts back, and it seems like a lot of Orwellian doublespeak to me. "Tired of crazy government spending? Here's the solution: re-elect the guy who's doing the spending!" Most of the article only serves to cite examples of Bush's crazy spending and debunk the myth that a national debt is a "Good thing" because it's just "money we owe ourselves." It adds at the end that Bush is pushing a whole bunch of reforms that will reduce the debt, but I don't buy it. Our money is not his to use for funding charities and building schools in Iraq. The man has spent more than any Democrat in history, and while a lot of it was on the legitimate war in Afghanistan, more was on the pointless war in Iraq that deviated from proper targets in the struggle for security. I don't think anyone on this forum has offered a legitimate defense of how Iraq benefited America - people just point out that Bush was "willing to defend America." If he was willing to defend America, he'd have invaded Iran, the country that's ruled by ACTUAL Islamic Fudamentalists, with CLEAR ties to terrorism, and REAL nuclear weapons baking in the oven. Given that he's done nothing right, it would be difficult for Kerry to be worse. Because his social-program initiatives would be decimated by the Republican congress, I don't see how he could do much damage. (The Norquist article makes the interesting point that with a Democrat congress and Republican house, spending always decreases. Our military languishing in Iraq and spending billions on building schools isn't helping American security, so I don't see why the troops should stay there - especially since many, perhaps most, Iraqis want us out ANYWAY. I would also suggest that people read the sailor's post closely. While I know he will be attacked for sounding like a "peacenik" with his war-is-bad language, he has a point. War isn't frivolous, and willingness to go to war isn't necessarily a good quality in and of itself. (I feel that people on this forum sometimes suggest military action, even the use of nuclear weapons, frivolously, without realizing that such solutions sometimes create worse problems, as in Iraq.) Willingness to go to war when necessary is a good thing. Willingness to start wars loosely connected to something that "might" benefit American security, but mainly waged in the name of "compassion", is not. A nation's self-interest doesn't always mean going to war, and Iraq is clearly a situation of war gone altruistic and self-sacrificial. I hope I have made somewhat clearer the reasons why I believe Bush has no merit whatsoever as a president.
  21. Kerry is definitely an expert at making his positions palatable to various opposing groups. But he's a politician, and yes, a smart one - much more intelligent than Bush, who can't get through a speech without maiming the English language. While I do not have any particular plans to vote for Kerry, I think an argument can be made for his superiority over Bush. The main reason people on this forum claim Bush is better centers around one thing: his "willingness to defend America." Yet look at his record. He invaded AFghanistan - something which, given the overwhelming amount of popular support for military action at the time, Kerry would have done as well. Then, he invaded Iraq, which has thus far done nothing but cause our soldiers to die. It is highly likely that the WMDs are in Syria, thus changing little for American security. And Bush now wants to keep our troops in Iraq to serve the cause of compassion. He has no plans to attack Iran, Syria, North Korea, or any of the other countries that most people on this forum want to see regime change in. (I personally do not believe there is currently a satisfactory militarty solution to the North Korean conflict, but that is another topic.) And even as he restrains our soldiers so they die at terrorist hands, he allows Iraq to come closer to becoming an Islamic state. Meanwhile, in terms of domestic policy, Bush continues his assualt on individual rights in the US. His anti-abortion, anti-medical technology, pro-funding religious charities stance contradicts everything America is supposed to stand for. Kerry is pro-choice, anti-funding religion, and pro-stem cell research (that last is very important). He has vowed to scale back the Patriot Act, which while useful in many respects does impair individual rights in certain places. The main area where Kerry is worse than Bush is in terms of tax cuts and medical care: he wants to scale back the tax cuts for the richest, and try to expand medicare. But in terms of tax cuts, I believe Bush may end up having to scale them back as well, because the federal defecit is really out of control. 581 billion dollars is unprecedentedly huge, and Bush's spending (mainly on "compassionate" activities in Iraq) shows no signs of abating. The issue of medicare brings me to my final point: true, Kerry's plans are worse, but he will not be able to enact them. This is because a Republican controlled congress such as we have now will not allow Kerry to implement such policies. (Although if it's medicare expansion you're worried about, you shouldn't be supporting Bush, who's already expanded it tremendously). With Congress overwhelmingly Republican, I'd rather not have our resident Fundamentalist W. in office. With congress and the executive branch in partisan conflict, less of our rights are eroded. Ultimately, everyone here is arguing that Kerry is a UN-lover who wants to surrender our sovereignity. But how is what Bush is doing in Iraq any better?? I'd rather have international troops dying for "compassionate" causes in a country that wants our soldiers out, than our own. Bush and Kerry are both horrible candidates, but I think Kerry may be the lesser of two evils. That's not necessarily reason to vote for him, but it IS reason NOT to vote for W.
  22. I have add a bit of support to JC's position. There is a strangle pro-right slant to this forum which I don't usually see in Objectivists. It's not that I expected libertarian left-leaning, but a lot of people here seem pro-Bush simply because he attacked Iraq. I also don't feel comfortable with a born-again in charge of the country. I think part of the reason he doesn't seem to care too much about protecting American troops - in Yaron Brook's words his "immoral approach to war (which) wantonly sacrifices the lives of (our) soldiers" - is because of his "turn the other cheek" Christianity, and his belief that this world isn't as important as the next, so those soldiers will "live on" in Heaven.
  23. So Robert Tracinski DOESN'T believe gays have the right to get married? I haven't read this article, but I fail to see how marriage IS anything but a subjective, human-created category of relationship. It's a contract between two individuals and there's no reason it extends merely to heterosexuals. Perhaps if you are interested in defending this position, you could explain the article, as I do not receive The Intellectual Activist. The main difference between Bush and Kerry is that Kerry is a smart but unprincipled politician who'll knowingly contradict himself to appeal to multiple factions, whereas Bush is a fool who can't understand how talking about promoting freedom, then trying to outlaw abortion and gay marriage while establishing "faith based initiatives", is a huge contradiction. They are both unacceptable, and I honestly don't think their behavior would be that different on the whole. Kerry might not have invaded Iraq, but then, it's debateable whether or not not that promoted US security anyway.
  24. Ok, I don't buy the idea of a "right" judgement about music, unless you mean "what the composer intended"? Even so I'd say such terminology is incorrect, but I'd like to discuss it more to see what you mean. What'd be an example of a "Right" judgement about, say, Beethoven's 9th? Mozart or Verdi or Berlioz's Requiem? Or, something different - Britney Spears? Country-western? New age relaxation music? Miles Davis? Heavy metal? What are the "meaning" of such sounds, to use your terminology?
  25. "Remember, no dictator can long hold his power without the sanction of the people." ??? That simply doesn't make sense. A dictator can't hold on to power without the sanction of his ARMY. If he keeps the people in a tight enough stranglehold, there's nothing they can do to remove him. In Iran, every time there's a massive student protest, the mullahs unleash their thugs to beat and jail some of the dissenters. Just because a regime is still in power doesn't mean the people like it, it means it has enough military might to crush any civilian uprising. With such constant protests and the recent widespread boycotts of the corrupt "election," how can you seriously maintain that the majority of people support the Iranian regime? Clearly, it maintains its power only through the powerful Islamist minority's superior force, and I think it's insulting to the liberal-minded population of Iran to suggest otherwise. It's a different place than Afghanistan or Iraq. (As a side note, Saddam held his power for a long time despite the 70% Shia majority wanting him out of power. Doesn't that contradict your statement? A dictator will stay in power long if he learns well how to crush uprisings.)
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